When I dreamed about having children, one of the things I imagined was making baby food, nursing them until whenever,canning, and gardening, and making all the food from scratch. Especially bread. Well, let’s just say it hasn’t worked out that way. (Photo by Andrew. )
Sometimes, I find myself making three different meals for my family, just so the girls will eat something and not go to bed hungry. (This is something my mom would never understand. As the Kitchen Queen of her domain, she and her food were never to be questioned.) But this is a reality of my life. I simply try my best.
When it comes to feeding my family, I’ve found that it’s a matter of give and take and being willing to settle for the best I can do at the time, instead of my pie-in-the-sky notions of what family eating should be.
Case in point: I “baked” bread the other day. Not from scratch, but still. I bought frozen bread dough loaves. I was happy to find whole wheat in the grocer’s freezer. And even though I did not mix the dough myself, I reaped some of the benefits of baking bread. All I had to do was pull the frozen dough out of the freezer, place it into a greased pan, and let it rise all morning. When we came home from the library, my kitchen had a homey, yeasty smell. Then it went into the oven and filled my home with its glorious smell.
The scent of bread baking is right up there with the homespun, warm smells of cinnamon, nutmeg,
and vanilla. For me, these are the scents of home. When I smell them, I think of Fish Pot Road and my mother in her green and blue kitchen, sweating over something in the oven or stirring something in a big bowl on the green counter. The funny thing is, my mom was not a bread baker. (She is a magician with pumpkin pies.) But the scent still takes me to her.
Okay, so, my bread didn’t look as perfect as it could. There was a big air bubble in one side of it. But, as I ran my hand across the top of it and felt the heat, it seemed to me that even the warmth flowing from it has a different quality than, say, the heat coming from a cake, or from just-cooked macaroni.
When my daughter came bounding in the house from school that day, she grinned ear to ear as she saw the loaf of bread on the table. (Not on a wire rack–I don’t have one.) “Look what you did, Ma,” she said, as if I had written the Great American Novel, or scaled Mount Everest.
Making this bread, like so many things in my parenting life, was not quite the way I had imagined it. My high ideals give me something to strive for. But in the mean time, who could ask for more than the grinning pride on my daughter’s face and the hunger in her belly?