Kneading our Way Back to Simpler Times

Real Jazz on in the background, a hot tea keeping me hydrated and satiated off to the side and months of self-imposed stress and anxiety ready to make their way into the foreground. I wrote the last blog post while sitting in my in-laws’ kitchen just days before January dawned, blinked twice and now here we sit (almost six weeks later) on Valentine’s Day Eve. Since my last entry, the girls, as well as a handful of household obligations, have been keeping my thoughts (and hands) quite occupied. Well, that’s half of the truth. The other half comes from my sheer fear of just sitting down and admitting that as much as I want to write, sometimes, I don’t know where I want to start. I guess that’s the thing with authors — too much to say, not enough focus. At least that’s how it is for this aspiring author. I have SO many ideas for blog posts, fiction books, non-fiction books, etc., that I have a hard time just picking one and running with it. After speaking with my Dad yesterday on this very topic, I decided to heed his very wise advice — just start writing about something, anything, and see where it goes. So, here we go. I’m going to write about bread. Yes, bread. Let’s see where this takes us, shall we?

Although I don’t eat bread (at least not the gluten-containing kind), I love to bake bread, make pizza dough and just experiment with its minimal ingredients. I am in awe at how just a few pantry staples — flour, yeast, salt and water — can come together to create such an amazingly simple and satisfying carb. My girls love all things bread, so it was only natural that I buy two of Paul Hollywood’s (LOVE, Paul!) bread baking books and start experimenting for my favorite taste testers. I began with his ciabatta, which I now use for my homemade pizzas, and am ready to move forward with every one of the breads in his 100 Great Breads cookbook. Quite ambitious, I know. However, I’ve decided not to venture into this journey by myself — the girls will be coming along for the ride. Not only are they truthful taste testers, but they are also two cute sous chefs. They love to dump the ingredients into the mixer, watch the dough hook combine everything into a big clumpy ball and then knead the dough over and over on the floured granite countertop. They marvel at the feel of the soft dough in their hands, as well as the tantalizing scent of the combination of yeast and flour. I marvel at the fact that they are so entertained by this real life play-doh, devoid of flashy pictures and annoying sounds.

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After we made our first batch of soft pretzels (recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction) together this past Saturday, I decided that baking bread with my girls is something that I want to do on a weekly basis. Not only did the pretzels make for a healthy after-school IMG_20200208_162331

snack and a quick breakfast for Taylor, but they also helped to calm a fire that has been burning somewhat out-of-control within me for the past several months. I’ve just been feeling so overwhelmed by how out-of-touch life can feel sometimes. I often share stories of my childhood with Clara and Elyse (which I’m sure they just love *insert eyes rolling here*) in an attempt to show them that things don’t always have to be so commercialized, exploited and complicated. Just the simple act of putting together natural ingredients and using their hands to make something that will nourish their bodies can be just as satisfying as building a house in Minecraft or watching other people on YouTube play with Barbies (do you kids do this, too?).

The older I get, the more I feel the urge to share with my children those things that I believe made my life special in the hope of showing them that things weren’t and won’t always be this way. It wasn’t until I had girls old enough to actually listen to and comprehend my stories that I understood why my parents felt the very same need to share their stories with me. Of course, I feel honored being a Gen-Xer and having the opportunity to experience (and remember!) the 80s and 90s — simpler times when social media, smart phones and a barrage of marketing and commercialism didn’t threaten to take over almost every waking moment. It’s so easy to get lost in the convenience that modern technology affords. However, it’s even scarier to feel as if you’ve lost a piece of yourself in the process. So, in an effort to bring a sense of peace and simpler times into my home, the girls and I are going to bake and break bread. And no matter how busy our lives are outside of our kitchen, we’ll always be able to bring it back to the basics — even it it’s just for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon.

Up on the menu this weekend: Paul Hollywood’s Basic Bread!

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

 

 

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