Last month, after unsuccessfully shopping for a loaf of bread under $4 that did not list corn syrup as an ingredient, I started baking bread. As I’m neither a saint, nor a perfectionist, nor do I have time to knead bread while my children make “science experiments” out of any and all liquids they can find, I used a bread machine. Every other day for the past month, I have dutifully measured out and piled eight ingredients, one over the other, into a mountain of powders floating on a warm oil slicked foundation of water. I put the sloshy concoction into the bread machine, push some buttons, and four short hours later a loaf of whole wheat bread is born.
It Always Gets Eaten
Sometimes, for whatever reason (usually having to do with improperly measuring ingredients) the loaves don’t turn out so great, but we eat them anyway. The small ones don’t complain, but ask for more peanut butter on their bread or more milk in their glasses. The larger ones remark on ways to tweak this or that ingredient to improve the loaf. We mix different flours, add nuts and wheat berries, switch out the oil for melted butter, sometimes we stop the bread machine after it’s finished kneading and let the bread dough rise on the counter or in a loaf pan before popping it in the over. Sometimes it’s delicious, sometimes it tastes like beer flavored cardboard, but the bread always gets eaten.
Astonishingly, not one person in my family, during this entire month of trial and error, has suggested that we just go out and buy a better tasting loaf of bread. Making bread was never announced as a “thing. I never said to my family we would not be buying bread anymore, never made an ultimatum, never forbid any one of them from going out into the world and buying pre-sliced, perfectly spongy, perfectly cooked bread, but no one seems to miss perfection.
We are different that you.
I imagine my children on the playground, I imagine them whispering to their friends “We are a family of bread makers, we are different than you” I wonder if they feel the same pride I do, if they feel the quiet creeping in of an actual “thing.” We have become a family that makes things, a family that understands and appreciates “craft”… well, at least, we don’t seem to mind the imperfection in it. I’m afraid to stop baking the bread, afraid that if the smell of fresh bread leaves the house, we will lose something much more precious than I can articulate.