Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baking Bread

In Birdland the mudscape stretches all the way to the treeline. The dogs do their best to preserve our farm’s topsoil from draining down to the Gulf of Mexico by bringing what they can into the house. Today I was cleaning up for a very special guest, my littlest niece, Stephie, who was coming to bake bread with me. She brought her baker’s hat and her apron, which I had made for her a few months ago. She also brought her mother, and the three of us had a very nice visit.

We talked about the ingredients we need to make bread, and what each adds to the loaf. We used a mix of wheat and steel cut oats for a hearty sweetness and chewy texture. We discussed how the yeast and sugar and grain work together to make the bread rise, and how the salt adds flavor. Since it was the weekend, we decided to make the bread special by adding herbs and cheese for a richer loaf. We put our ingredients in the bread machine and Stephie pressed start. We had an hour and a half break to amuse ourselves while the bread machine kneaded the dough, rested it, kneaded it again.

The break began with plans for a tea party, followed quickly by Stephie asking when the tea would be ready. We all agreed that it might be ready sooner if I turned on the fire under the teapot. With the water finally beginning to heat we could now turn our attention to the important question of whether to knit or to bake something sweet while the bread was rising. We could even crochet. After a spirited debate about the virtues of brownies versus chocolate chip cookies, we decided to knit for an hour, and then make cookie dough, so we’d only have to heat the oven once. In an hour, the bread would be ready to loaf. Another energetic debate ensued about the merits of circular needles versus straight, with Stephie eventually trading her circular needles to her mother for the straight ones. Meanwhile I worked on my crochet project, finishing up my recycled shopping bag I began last week. We chatted and knitted and ripped out stitches to begin again. Steph worked on a scarf with fuzzy yarn, which she later abandoned to play guitar hero. My sister took over the scarf, and I pressed on with my crochet. When the timer rang we began the cookie dough, Stephie and I cooperating to drop balls of cookie dough onto the sheets. Next, we had to decide what kind of bread to make. As the oven pre-heated we loafed half of our dough into little slider rolls, making a cross on the top of each one. The other half of the dough went for pizza. With pizza, rolls, and cookies all baking we cleaned up the kitchen and went back to our needlework. The fuzzy yarn was running out, but Steph proclaimed the scarf a little blanket, and asked me to finish it off since neither she nor her mother could remember how.

By the time the pizza was done, the dusk was gathering, and we shared a little meal before I packed a sack of the slider rolls and cookies for Stephie and my sister to take home. As they drove away I thought about how warm they made my kitchen and my cold winter day. I can’t wait for the next time they come.

Bake in Beauty; Knit in Peace; Blessed Be.

No comments:

Post a Comment