Daily Bread: April 30, 2015
Our Daily Bread is from guest writer Carol Pavlik
by guest writer Carol Pavlik
Bread is in my DNA. Some of my earliest memories in the kitchen with my mom are of kneading dough, checking on loaves left to rise in the oven. My grandma baked her own bread, as did her mother and grandmother before her.
Have you ever walked into a home where bread is being baked? Nothing can compare with that full frontal assault of yeasty, warm goodness. And the sound of a crusty loaf of bread crackling as it cools on your counter suggests impending yumminess. That first bite of bread, the steam rising around a pat of butter, is something so joyful and soothing all at the same time.
Despite being around bread baking all my life, I was afraid of doing it on my own. In my first decade of marriage, I didn’t even attempt yeast bread. Sure, I made the quick breads like banana and zucchini, but yeast? No thank you. I always had an excuse: my kitchen is too small! I don’t have enough time! What if after the mixing, the rising, the kneading and the second rising, something goes wrong?
The bread machine is what finally connected me with my yeasty familial history. Although I’m made from the same cloth of my foremothers, I live in a faster paced world. Soccer practice, music lessons and my part time job pull me out of my kitchen. But I still answer to the primal beating of my heart that marvels at the perfect marriage of flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast. Using my bread machine, the dough mixes up perfectly while I’m off doing something else. But then when it’s ready, I lovingly remove the dough that feels so alive in my hands and I shape it into loaves or cinnamon rolls, or pull-apart sweet bread.
My grandmother passed away in 1996 of pancreatic cancer. I still think of her daily. A few years ago, my mother started a tradition of making bread on her birthday, and I’ve taken up that tradition as well. Each year, in late January, mom and I both are in our kitchens, baking up some bread and we feel connected to her, even though she’s no longer here with us. As the bread cools and crackles on my counter, the tea kettle whistles. These are the sounds of being connected, of taking the time to make something that feeds us.