The Staff of Life

 

I love bread. I find it satisfying, intimidating, humble and rewarding, all at the same time. As a young person cooking, bread was a daunting chapter in any cookbook. It was not until recently that I screwed up the courage to take on that food central to survival for so long; the staff of life.

In my teen cooking years, I was thrilled to discover I could veer onto the side road known as “Quick Breads”, and worked up my confidence with Soda Bread, Zucchini Bread, Baking Powder Biscuits and cornmeal muffins.

One of my childhood friends was German, and her mom did a lot of hearty baking. She had an old family recipe for bread rolls that she made once a month. If the universe was smiling on me, I would happen to be stopping at my friend’s house after school, and we would be allowed to have a warm bun with butter. It was my first taste of Nirvana.

buns with butter

I have been working with my sourdough starter for a year and a half now, and I am still humbled every time I make a loaf. Just when I think I am the master, the starter behaves differently or the weather changes or the flour combination seems not work as well… it’s all edible, but I am far from the works of art I see on Instagram and in my cooking magazines. Those elusive bubbles and the intricate scoring patterns are like a foreign language – one in which I have only learned a few greetings and a few cuss words, like any other novice.

Yesterday, though, I think I got back to the heart of the matter. I made a recipe that I turned into a sort of pull-apart loaf and some rolls, and it was divine. It was an enriched yeast dough that I just happened to add some starter into, so it was truly a mish-mash of ingredients and techniques. But never mind, it worked. It tasted good. Even my chef hubbie said so!

I think perhaps that my interpretation of bread being “the staff of life” involves a more complex sort of survival than just sustenance. The shared experience of breaking bread is truly part of the magic for me. The love shared for the meal is also something I crave. (Like they say, we cannot live by bread alone.)

So I’m rejuvenated for another day, another effort, another bake. Leaving more crumbs, in case there is someone else out there, struggling along the same road. I posted my Kindred Spirit Milk Rolls, as a record of my progress and a message for those souls who want a taste of the magic.

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About happygourmand

I am a professional gourmande - a lover of life. Not only food and drink, but life in general. I love experiencing life to its fullest, and I love sharing my adventures with others.

Posted on March 1, 2019, in food, history, recipe, seasons, winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You really hit the nail on the head about bread! My mother would treat us to homemade loaves of white bread for toast and foccacia for soups. It is the most comforting expression of love through food, homemade bread.

  2. Bread making is magic! I grew up with a mother who baked bread, rolls and sweet rolls twice a week. When, for some reason she didn’t bake, I was sent to purchase delicious Icelandic Brown bread from a baker some distance away. There is no other aroma quite so alluring. Bake on, I think you have inherited this wondrous gift! 🥰

    • Thanks! I have a recipe for Icelandic Brown Bread – I remember Daddy saying Amma (Icelandic for Gramma) used to bake it in large tomato juice cans. I shall add that to my list and report back!

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