Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Bread Story.

My poor front lawn is going for GOLD. It has long been yellow and crispy, thirsty and dead. This summer has been sooooo hot. I hate to complain about it...I mean, who doesn't love sunshine...but if you look at the facts (From July 27th on the local weather station):
  • 35 days in a row that we have been at or above our normal high 52 of the past 56 days (since June 1st) have been at our above our average high 
  • We have hit 100 degrees 16 times this summer (that ties us for 4 place all time) 
  • Only a trace of rain at the Joplin airport for July(2nd driest all time) 
  • Since June 1st only 1.26″ of rain For the year 20.69″ (average = 27.11″) 
  • We are behind by 6.42″ of rain
  • the average temperature for the past year has been 61.7 degrees. That is 2 degrees higher than the average for the calendar year 2006, and is comparable to the Dust Bowl year of 1934 (according to the Joplin Globe)
The heat has been relentless. Just a trace of rain in the city means that its been just enough to turn my car from black to leopard print with dust spots.
I remember the last time I saw real rain. It was on June 21st.

The gutters haven't been full, and there haven't been any puddles to jump for weeks.

I remember this day because it was cooler. Much cooler. For a few hours at least.

The morning was absolutely beautiful. I turned on a jazz station on the t.v. satellite and got out a book about baking bread. One of my goals this year is to learn to bake bread.

The book is wonderful because it explains how to use a food processor to mix up the ingredients. I burned up my food processor that day. Oops.

I remember the rain on the windows in the dining room as I kneaded the bread. I really felt like I was  making something living. By making a loaf of bread from scratch, I was digging into an art form that has been explored by nearly every civilization for 10,000 years.

Sure, you can buy a loaf of delicious bread at a local bakery or grocery store for a dollar....but actually going through all of the steps, and getting covered in flour...Yes, it is time consuming, I think I spent 5 hours on the two loaves of bread, but it's worth every minute. It's extremely gratifying to mold and knead the dough with your bare hands. It's a very basic, earth-connecting experience.

The suspense is exhilarating waiting to see if the dough will rise. Then the best part is the aroma. There is absolutely nothing that smells better from the oven than fresh baked bread. That afternoon, I took the honey-oat bread from the oven just before rushing out the door to a hair appointment. I remember sitting in the salon chair, practically salivating for the warm bread that I knew was waiting on the counter at home.

One loaf was eaten within a matter of days. A few slices were consumed warm, immediately after baking, covered with butter...and honey....

A couple of slices were used for BLTs- the tomatoes home grown in the backyard.

Two slices were turned into french toast. 

At least one piece was covered in peanut butter and topped with raspberries.

The end of the loaf was sliced, and toasted and served with fresh bruschetta.

The other loaf is in the freezer....waiting for cooler weather. Once it thaws, it will either become a sandwich loaf like this one, or enjoyed a little at a time with chicken and noodles, or toasted and covered in cheese.

I cannot wait for the summer to end, so I can heat up my kitchen baking more bread. (While it rains outside.)

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