I’m not much of a cook. I don’t have the patience. But there is something about baking that I really enjoy.
I don’t remember doing anything useful in the kitchen growing up except baking with my mom. (And seriously, that’s me up there. Get a load of our kitchen wall paper. It was blue and red with a white background. I am not kidding.)
Well, I rephrase that because I did clear the table, load the dishwasher, wash the pots and pans and sweet the kitchen floor every day. Actually I’m not sure if it was every day but it feels like every day. I should probably add that there was a little teeny TV – a Panasonic black & white with a pop up top and, I’m guessing, a 7″ screen on the counter. I remember days when I’d put on The Lucy Show and stand there and watch it, and then the next show, and sometimes the next before I really got around to cleaning the kitchen. So when I reminisce that I spent 2 hours to clean the kitchen every night, it might be a warped memory. Maybe it took 10 minutes and the rest was listening to Ricky say, “Lucy, I’m Home!” and to Bud Anderson say, “I think you look real young. Honest. Younger than Joe Phillips’ dad, younger than Claude Mesner’s uncle, why even younger than…” and to, well you get the point. But either way, I often start my homework until 8:00 or later.
It’s not like that at our house. My guys like to get their homework done after school so there’s more time to play. That is, unless it’s really nice outside, in which case they might play first.
But I digress.
I love the feel of the dough when I knead it. I love knowing that the gluten strands stretch and expand, allowing the dough to hold in gas bubbles formed by the yeast, which will make it rise. I love knowing that the house will smell amazing as the bread bakes. I love the sound of the steam when I throw the water into the oven as the bread first starts to bake to help make the crust crustier.
And when I make challah on Friday afternoons, I love knowing that Andrew and the boys will stand around it with me in a few hours as we prepare for Shabbat dinner.
I remember making challah with my mom. Well, I remember bits of it. Mostly I remember braiding. And being together and talking. And the wonderful smell as it baked.
Baking bread = happiness
Breaking bread = family
My bread today did not come out all that well. I was rushed and distracted.
But even less than perfect homemade French bread is better than none. And the house does, in fact, smell amazing.