first bread story

by mirielle sanford


when i was thinking of who my first bread story would be about i thought of my cousin Liz. i have grown up with her. we have spent summers frolicking in the forests of maine together. i knew that she made bread because we have discussed what a gift this is. plus its easier to start with someone you know. these images come from last saturday. it was lovely to come into a familiar setting to see and feel the community that liz is building in her home through her baking and mothering.  the words that follow are hers.

miss addie and her mother measuring flour 

miss addie and her mother measuring flour 

"I'm not sure how old I was when I started making bread. My mom has made bread for as long as I can remember---I would say a safe bet would be the first time I was about 7. It wasn't until I moved out though that I started making it periodically. My mom usually made it while were are school when I was in Jr High and High school so it would be done when we got home. I made bread the first weekend out on my own and as needed ever since."

addie trying her hardest to be helpful  

addie trying her hardest to be helpful

 

"I bake bread for several reasons. The first is we need bread-Nephi can eat a whole loaf in one sitting- and the bread at the store isn't very good and the good stuff is expensive. Also, I rotate my food storage, the bulk of which is about thousand pounds of unground hard red wheat which makes excellent bread. There's also a sense of pride, and obligation, continuing on a craft that no one knows how to do in general anymore. I'm preserving art and the knowledge in every loaf of bread I make. And it also helps that after making 6 loaves of bread of any kind that I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and gratitude o the women before me that passed down the knowledge and recipes."

kneading whole wheat bread

kneading whole wheat bread

"This is kinda cheesy, but right now, with school and work and my and Nephi's schedules being so opposite so I can graduate and not pay a babysitter, baking bread is what's holding together our marriage in a sense. It's become a symbol that I'm still there, creating and providing a warm home and good food. And as Addie gets older, she likes to help, swishing in the flour and squishing dough, but generally hanging around in the kitchen as I work."

forming challah to braid

forming challah to braid

"I think one of the most lasting things I've learned from making bread is how to work with something. Bread dough is alive and the chemical processes are delicate. You can't force it to do what you want. You have to work with it. The salt has to go in a certain time, the water has to be a certain temperature. Every step of the process is specific and the whole thing can be ruined in an instant....Essentially, there are things you can't change, but you just have to figure out all the little ways you can work with it to end up with something good in the end."

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"I think my favorite memory of baking bread was the day my dad was fired from his job. That kind of a day is stereotypically supposed to be a bad day and in many people's lives, it changes a lot financially and that financial impact trickles down into many aspects of their lives, like the food. But on this day nothing had changed that much. He had called ahead so only my mom knew. In the time between us coming home from school and my dad coming home from work, she had us help make dinner and clean up. Isaac, in the middle of it all had bread going, and my mom timed it so that when my dad got home, there was dinner, pie and bread cooking in the oven."

admiring the hard work 

admiring the hard work 

"He told us over dinner that he didn't have a job anymore. It wasn't easy news, but dinner, pie and warm bread with butter reassured us that we would be ok. Things didn't change as drastically as they could have, and even today I remember that day, the smells of the pie and the bread permeating everything, the soup we ate, the cold outside and the bad news, as really a good day."

nephi gets home and its time to eat. addie cant wait.

nephi gets home and its time to eat. addie cant wait.

as my time with liz and her family came to a close she brought this beautiful quote into our conversation. it fits closely with my last post "what must you break apart in order to bring a family close together? bread, of course." -jodi picoult 

what do you do to bring your family close together? is there something you can do to foster a community spirit in your home?