Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making Bread

The art of making bread goes back more years than I can count. Women from every corner of our world have made homemade bread to feed their families - some on a daily basis, some weekly, and some just for special occasions. This is an art in itself, and one that is losing its flair.

I remember, as a very small child, my grandmother made bread each week at her table in her very small kitchen. She used a giant green Tupperware bowl in which to mix her dough, and I remember her letting me have a tiny taste once it was fully mixed. She would only let me have a tiny taste, because she said that, if I ate too much, the yeast would expand in my stomach and give me a terrible tummy ache. I'm still not sure to this day if that's true or if she was just trying to keep me from eating too much of her hard work before it was even finished. But back to her small kitchen. Her kitchen was so small that, after mixing her dough, she hadn't enough room to set out all the bread pans to let the dough rise. You have to understand, the recipe she used made about 12 loaves at a time. So, being the industrious woman she is, she would set them all out on the bed in her front room, and then she would forbid us from going in there. I still am not sure exactly how she was able to bake that much bread in her small oven. But she did - every week. She would make her 12 loaves of bread, and she would give most away to friends or family as a gift.

One thing I remember about this entire weekly event was the smell. The smell of bread rising has a way of sticking in your memory long after the baking is over. That smell still lingers in my mind 2 decades later. This is one of those things that, when my grandmother is gone someday, I'll always remember about her.

So this bring me to today. Bread making is something I loved watching my grandmother do as a child. And now, as an adult, I love to do my own homemade bread making. I don't even attempt to do the 12 loaves a week that she did, but I love to make several loaves just to give away to friends and family. So today, I spent a little time in my own kitchen with my 3 year old, and we poured, mixed, kneaded, let rise, and baked two loaves of scrumptious bread. One of these will be given away as a gift, and the other I am saving for our family's Fourth of July lunch. Today, the smell in my house was warm and inviting. It smelled of my grandmother's house. It reminded me of the past, and it reminded me of how much I love the smell of fresh homemade bread.

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