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.