Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Old Fashioned Way

Do you ever wonder why we never read about pioneer women going out for a run or working out at the gym three times a week?

It’s because they didn’t have to!

Lately I’ve taken to making my own bread, partly to save money and the other part because I find it relaxing and fun (I’m weird that way). I don’t do it all the time; only about once a week. Since I never bought a bread maker I do it the old fashioned way. You know, the way that involves softening yeast, mixing, kneading, giving the dough a satisfying punch before dividing it in half? Oh, you don’t know? Then I suggest you try it. It’s great when you need to get some pent up aggressions out. And honestly, if I had to do the job daily, I’d have the strongest arms in the neighborhood.

Today, for some odd reason, Nathan wanted to make butter. He must have seen it done on Reading Rainbow or something. So we now have fresh butter for the bread that I made yesterday. My dad called while we were in process.

“Nate and I are making butter,” I bragged.

“Butter? Like with a churn?”

“No, we’re shaking it in a jar.” I fought to keep my shaking rhythm while talking on the phone.

“Homemade bread, homemade butter . . . all you need is a cow in the backyard.”

As I told Dad, butter is actually very simple. You basically dump a container of heavy whipping cream into a jar, shake it until it stiffens then wring out all the liquid. In the end you also have a tiny bit of buttermilk for pancakes (that’s on the agenda for tomorrow morning). But again, it takes work and if my family’s butter supply depended on me and my churn I’d never have to work my upper body again (not that I do).

I couldn’t help thinking maybe we’re all missing out with so much convenience food. There is something about eating the real stuff, especially after mixing, baking (or in today’s case shaking) fresh ingredients. It smells great and tastes so good! And, I must admit, I get some satisfaction out of making things from scratch. I doubt I’d go so far as insisting that our entire food supply come from our garden and 100-lb bag of flour, but it’s fun now and then. If nothing else I appreciate that I don’t have to do it 24/7.

This summer, just for fun, try making bread, butter, jam, or some other food that you take for granted. Have fun with it! Consider how much easier your daily life is than, say, your grandmother’s. When you’re finished, taste the difference. Thank God for providing you with your daily need for food and for giving us the knowledge to create delicious choices.
If you get stuck post a comment and I’ll send you a recipe.

1 comment:

Jan Kern said...


I used to make homemade bread all the time but haven't in . . . well, years.

I love the kneading process especially, and then the joy of seeing the rise. And of course the amazing flavor that can't be matched by most store-bought breads.

I can almost taste it now. Yep. Time to bake some bread. Maybe shake up a little butter too.

Thanks, Jeanette, for the suggestion.