By DAWNE LEIKER
Opening the screen door of the 1909 story-and-a-half home on the edge of Catharine, the smell of freshly baked bread draws a visitor in. Tacked to the wall of the tiny kitchen, handwritten family recipes tell the origins of the irresistible scents.
"The recipes I use are the ones I use for my family," Tatum Kimzey said. "We try to eat a whole foods type of diet.
"Everything I use is 100 percent whole-wheat and sweetened with honey. No refined ingredients. No white sugar. No white flour or anything like that."
It's Wednesday morning, and Kimzey, owner of Katyedge Farm, has been baking since 7 a.m. when she started her first loaves, readying her supply for the evening's Downtown Hays Market. On Fridays, it's the same drill as she prepares for the Saturday market.
"I'd always wanted to do a market of some sort, but I'd just never gotten into it," Kimzey said. "When I heard this one was going to start up, I just thought, we'll get in from the beginning. And so far, it's been really successful.
"I hope it's a real success for Hays."
In an effort to produce the freshest possible baked goods, Kimzey mills wheat on her front porch as she bakes. Underfoot, Kimzey's daughters, Keeli, 5, and Karci, 1, giggle and play.
"I had visions of doing lots of other things, but once I got going and saw what I could do in a day, well, this is about it," she said, laughing.
Kimzey's whole wheat bagels and breads help entice downtown shoppers to her main business, RagTagTs. She's been crafting T-shirt quilts for customers for four years after making her own and family members' quilts.
Growing up on the Phillip Ranch in Ellis County, Kimzey graduated from Kansas State University where she met her husband, Joe. She and Joe worked for KSU for more than five years. But when Keeli was born, the couple decided to move back to Ellis County.
Kimzey said she is glad for the opportunity to stay home with her daughters.
"It's really important to me," she said. "When we moved out here, we figured out it would work for me to stay home."
"More than anything, I'm doing it for the kids. ... So, I'm here with them."
"And I'm starting kindergarten," Keeli said, eager to enter the conversation. "Because I'm 5."
A quacking timer signals it's time to boil bagels.
"One day I was hungry for bagels, so I went searching online for a good recipe that uses all whole-wheat flour," Kimzey said. "So I combined a couple of recipes off of blogs and made some, and they were really good."
Once the bagels are out of the oven, the bread loaves go in. Then the process starts again until there's approximately two dozen bagels and two double batches of bread cooling on the table.
While little Karci looks for playthings in the kitchen, binkie in one hand and stuffed cow in the other, Keeli informs her mom her little sister soon might need a new box for her box fort.
Depending on the day, Kimzey said, the process of being mom, quilter and master baker can be exhausting. In addition to their other duties, she and her husband also teach horse riding lessons.
"It's more work than when I worked in the lab (at KSU), I'll tell you that," she said.
Kimzey said she's found folks at the downtown market are more interested in food than craft and sewing items, so she said she is glad she made the decision to specialize in her own niche food creations. When she has time, Kimzey said, she brings homemade noodles made with organic bleached flour and farm fresh eggs to the market.
"I'm a noodle," Keeli said with a big smile, after hearing her mom talk about noodles. "I'll always be a noodle."
Up the winding stairs to Kimzey's sewing room, quilting squares and fabric samples decorate the cozy space. Kimzey's own twin-size quilt, a family favorite, is a potpourri of her own T-shirts from Hays High School and KSU. Kimzey has made more than 20 commissioned quilts and finds her creations not only perfect for curling up under, but also for providing a practical use for T-shirt collections.
"What I try to do is help people with the T-shirt quilts to get everything out of the box and get it where it's usable," she said.