Sunday morning I woke up wedged between a dog and a cat. From my view point, I could see through a crack in the blinds that it was still overcast and dreary outside. We had an odd unseasonably cool Fourth of July weekend with lots of rain. Any way, I'm laying there trying to decide which animal to shove over first, knowing that disturbing the cat will incite Josephine to chew on the cat, when I think "I should bake a loaf of bread!" I know. Just wait until I reach about seventy four when the gaps in my brain are even bigger. I managed to shimmy out of bed without disturbing the animals, slid into a house dress and made my way to the kitchen.
I first made sure that I had all of the ingredients before heading over to the cookbook stack to retrieve my bread recipe. My bread recipe is written on an old scrap of paper that is worn and brown around the edges. It is the recipe I have always used to make bread ever since I started making bread and I made A LOT of bread. I'm going to tell you why I made loads of bread. It's a full confession of my absolute nerdery. Are you ready? Back in my early teens, I was a member of the Food and Fiber Group. It was a 4-H program designed to promote and educate people about Oklahoma agriculture. I think there was like six of us or something and we each had a table. Someone told the story of cotton. There was a table on pecans. Jessica Worstell had a table on dairy because her grandparents owned the local dairy. I don't remember all of the tables, but my table was all about wheat. I grew wheat. I milled wheat. I turned wheat into flour and I made whole wheat bread to hand out as samples. It worked really well when Jessica would make butter with my mom's little butter churn. Then we'd have bread and butter. We all wore matching denim dresses with green bandanas. Our tablecloths matched our dresses.
Yes. I recognize that this was full on dorkery. Say what you want. I learned the value of getting a loaf of bread to the table and a little bit of scholarship money. In those days, I pimped myself out for scholarship money. So yeah, I'd wear that awful denim dress and do my whole song and dance about wheat a million times if I had to. I also became very adept at bread making, but for some reason, mostly because I got lazy, I stopped making bread. It just seemed like it was an unnecessary task, which is why I was a little surprised I woke up wanting to do it. In retrospect, I should have made an apple pie, because of America, but no. I wanted bread with flaxseeds and sunflower seeds. I am pretty sure that I had tucked that scrap of paper containing my tried and true bread recipe into one of the cookbooks in my collection. At least I was pretty sure. Turns out I may have stuck that recipe into a three ring binder that contained recipes torn from magazines; the very three ring binder that I threw away during one of my cleaning fits.
That's right people. I've lost or thrown away the National Treasure of a bread recipe. I even called Mom to see if she had a copy and she said "nope!" There's no copy! I guess it's not really that big of a deal, because a bread recipe is a bread recipe. They all contain flour, yeast and maybe honey. Except that this was the bread recipe that I learned on. This was the recipe that I knew. When I was being taught to kneed dough, I was told to think of the dough as a punching bag. My Mom had just been fired from her job. Her supervisor, who was a real jerk, came up with some cockamamie reason to fire my mom. I used to imagine that dough was Mom's supervisor. Later that dough would become other mean hateful people that would skirt on the edges of my life, but the point is that I could take out all my frustrations on this lump of flour, yeast and water. Then I could bake it and turn it into something delicious.
I ended up using some random bread recipe that I found online that seemed pretty close to the one I used to use. I'm out of practice. The bread turned out good, but dense and not as fluffy as it should be. It still makes great toast though and maybe this will become a regular Sunday thing. Baking bread could go on the list with CBS Sunday Morning, laundry and waiting until late afternoon to brush my teeth. Maybe I had some frustrations that needed to be turned into something delicious and that's why I got all obsessed about baking bread. Maybe it is just a good idea to practice releasing frustrations every week by pounding a lump of dough with my fists.