Beginning in the Covid shutdown of March 2020, Elizabeth Mendenhall was making bagels in her Red Bluff home kitchen. Inspired by the quality of the boiled bagels at Dave’s Rockin’ Bistro & Backstage Lounge, in Bend, Oregon, and dismayed by the very different bagels available at chain and big box grocery stores, Liz had a mission. By the end of January this year, she had perfected her recipes, gained certification as a home kitchen, and begun selling Izzy’s Bagels through orders placed on the Izzy’s Bagels’ Facebook page. Now Izzy’s Bagels are available at several Red Bluff and Cottonwood locations. This New Yorker can attest: Izzy’s are some good bagels. Mission accomplished.
Liz makes these bagels by hand, and she reported that the trickiest part was getting the timing right in boiling the dough. A true bagel is boiled for anywhere from a half minute to three minutes before it is baked. The boiling results in that chewy, shiny crust and moisturizes the soft interior in preparation for baking. Mass production of bagels often skips the boiling stage; true bagel lovers shun bagels with the resulting simplistic and uniform texture. Liz hovered over her boiling vats until she got the outside and inside textures right.
More than the perfect bagel motivates her: her three nieces and one nephew. She wanted a career where she could be available to the kids, chauffeur, sports booster, favorite auntie, and one that could provide them employment when they came of age. Those four kids may have been her best critics during the bagel development phase. If a kid goes mini bagel crazy, well. . . .
Liz proudly brags that her bagel dough contains just six ingredients, unbleached white flour, salt, sugar, very active dry yeast, olive oil, and water. This contrasts, she said, to the twelve to fourteen ingredients of a Safeway or Costco bagel, with additives like preservatives or dough conditioners attempting to imitate the boiling step. By supplementing the basic six ingredients, Liz makes bagels in several flavors. In the savory department are Everything, Garlic Herb, Garlic Cheese, Tomato Basil, Jalapeno Cheddar, and Onion bagels. In the sweet department land Orange Cranberry, Cinnamon Raisin, and Blueberry bagels. All her bagels, except the ones with cheese, are vegan, and she recently perfected a gluten-free bagel, made with rice and tapioca flours. She’s also proud to source the ingredients for Izzy’s Bagels locally, from Moore’s Flour Mill in Redding.
That kind of local connection is how you can eat Izzy’s Bagels, too. At present, The Bean in Cottonwood and A & R Meats, SIP Coffee Bar, and Legendary, all in Red Bluff, offer Izzy’s Bagels by the bag. Liz recommends wrapping and freezing individual bagels to store, then defrosting overnight in the fridge for eating the next day.
Also in Red Bluff, Main Street Deli offers any sandwich on Izzy’s Bagels, while E’s Locker Room offers Izz-E Bagel Pizza. By fall, Elizabeth Mendenhall envisions selling the bagels, along with breakfast and lunch bagel combos, in Izzy’s Bagels’ own storefront. Buy now, and stay tuned.
- Visit Izzy’s Bagels, on Facebook, for updates on where and when fresh bagels are available
Earl Bloor and Candace Byrne were introduced to Edible Communities when Candace googled “sustainability Cape Cod” and the search revealed Edible Cape Cod. After Candace wrote for both Edible Cape Cod and Edible Sacramento and the couple saw first hand how the publications encouraged sustainability in two very different locales, they embarked on their own publication, Edible Shasta-Butte. This new venture, grounded in Edible Communities’ goal to “connect consumers with family farmers, growers, chefs, and food artisans of all kinds,” complements the couple’s long careers in education. It also takes them back to their roots, when Earl grew up next door to his parents’ eatery, The Spot, in Kincardine, Ontario, and Candace’s mom engaged all the kids in baking and wrapping goodies as gifts for every holiday.