Battling Bread Beasts and Family Dynamics

Reader Contribution by Angela Pomponio
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Homestead.  Hearth. Home fires. Warmth.  Safety.  Sustenance.  Store Bought Bread.  Which of these things doesn’t belong?  You can read (and I have) books, methods, articles, pins and recipes for bread for your entire conscious life.  Unlike the myriad other absorbable skills, knowledge bits and gleaned wisdom baking bread is a fluid process.  Like a lot of my interests, I have been grabbed by inspiration and a desire to at least dabble if not master the skills needed.  I see gorgeous hand spun hand dyed Alpaca yarn and I simply must knit it into a gorgeous textured cable cowl.  Why waste time mastering simple stitch washcloths when glory awaits?  So I look up, ask, Google the how and limp through.  The product is usually a poor imitation of the masterpiece I envisioned.  I become discouraged, then interested in something else, abandoning knitting until next fall when new inspiration strikes.

So goes it for bread baking.  I am Mother Earth, producing food, warming hearth, and welcoming all who enter … with store bought bread.  Over the years inspiration has struck.  Mostly in the form of 5 minute bread books and that intoxicating smell.  My attempts have been deep end endeavors for sure.  Why try a simple sandwich loaf when twice weekly fresh authentic baguettes await?  Why bother with training wheels when you can wreck a top of the line speed racing model right out of the gate?  

I suppose this is obvious for most folks.  People raised by people who taught them to set goals, make a plan, work them through and enjoy the process along with the end result.  In the world of my mother we operated either on whim or out of desperation.  Rarely was a goal clear.  Steps were winding along a path strewn with confusion, discouragement, and more often than not criticism leading to a premature end.  It took nursing school for me to understand method.  Assess, plan, implement, evaluate evaluate evaluate.  37 years old and still learning.  On an optimistic day I would say every day brings the opportunity to learn something new.  On a cynical day … really it took this long?

So today I decided to cut myself some slack.  Learn with training wheels, well a training bread machine.  I will bake delicious wholesome value-packed bread this year.  I will try bread machine recipes.  I will work towards a simple sandwich bread and fill it with love, self respect and honest effort.  I will knit a scarf.  Just a scarf. I will learn to put my energy into kneading instead of self abuse. Today I followed a recipe in the bread machine book, the house is smelling doughy.  I will see how it comes out and either repeat with variation or move up the bread ladder.  I will apply this systematic approach to all learning and growing until the system itself becomes a soothing, reassuring, dependable innate model of living. I’ll keep you updated … and the butter and homemade jam at the ready.