Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our Daily Loaf

Was this the first loaf of the new year? I'm not sure. It has become so routine now to have a new one coming out of the oven that it's hard to keep track. This is our daily bread, with only occasional supplementation from the grocery store. We can pretty much count on fresh green salads from the back yard and fresh warm bread from the oven.

We have moved on from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to the advanced version: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The process is the same but is adapted for whole grain flours.

B. has mastered the process to the point where it is a normal part of daily life to mix up a new batch of dough, let it rise a while and stick it in the fridge, or pull the container of dough out of the fridge, shape a loaf, let it rise, and bake it. One batch of dough will serve for four or five loaves, which get tastier and more tender the longer the dough sits. It seems like the hardest part of the process is to find room in the fridge. (That's my job.)

I really like the feeling of having a productive homestead, even if it's only on the very small scale of our whimsical two-person operation plus dog and occasional son. Years ago I saw a magazine article (Time or Newsweek, I think) about the shift over the centuries in the American household from a center of production to a center of consumption. It was the illustrations that were memorable.

On one side of the page was a drawing of a colonial family gathered around the huge hearth in their cozy kitchen. The whole family was there, three generations worth, staying warm by the fire. Everybody was doing something: winding yarn into a ball, shelling peas, mending a rake, stirring the pot hanging over the fire. The scene was alive with activity and interaction.

On the other side of the page was a photograph of a modern family circle. There were only two generations and the hearth had been replaced by a TV set whose wan glow lit up the faces of the silent, unmoving group.

This is not to say, of course, that we don't spend time clustered around the electronic fireplace, passively consuming mass-produced entertainment. In fact, we each have our own little screen to look at, more often than not, happily surfing, streaming, gaming, blogging, to our heart's content. But that's why it's especially satisfying to have the tangible daily projects of garden tending and bread making to confer about. Every day we produce something useful and enjoy every part of the production process.

Except perhaps trying to cram that bread bucket into the fridge.

No comments: