This morning, after chickens were let out and goats milked, in that post-breakfast hurrah we seem to have every morning that tends to fizzle out just before lunch, it was chore time. The boys were strangely excited to move large quantities of manure from the barn and surrounding pasture and into the garden. It appears as though my love of animal manure is beginning to rub off on them.
It was a baking morning, the sourdough starter still bubbly from last night’s feed and the bread bag empty for days. Usually I whip up a quick double batch of No-Knead and move onto the impending dishes but it was a cooler morning ripe for a bit of extra time in the kitchen, so we went into full sandwich bread mode.
I began mixing the dough on the table and Annabelle immediately put away her pens and papers and asked if she could add the flour. Then Ruthie pulled up her chair and started to mix. When the dough was too stiff for her little arms, mama finished it up in the bowl.
“Ooh, can I knead?!” Annabelle asked with great enthusiasm. So I split the dough in two and floured up the table and away they went. Pull and fold and push and turn and repeat, we sang. Oh, and Joshie’s trying to eat it, Mama. Ten minutes later I had washed a couple of sink fulls of dishes, my bread dough was ready for the bulk fermentation, and these girls wanted to know why they had to stop.
This scene got me thinking back to when I first began to learn to bake bread. It was nearly twenty years later than Ruthie is getting started and it was one of those first DIY skills that got me hooked. Why couldn’t I make our own bread, yogurt, butter, salad dressing, vegetables, meat, medicine… everything I began to ask myself? In theory it sure would lighten the burden on the pocket book and give us access to better food.
So I began going down the list of the things we consume and tried making it at home instead. Eventually I was fermenting anything I could get my hands on and growing what we could in a small suburban backyard. Ten years later we have more gardens and chickens and goats and cows (!) than I could have imagined back then.
But baking our own bread with real ingredients, feeling that dough change shape beneath my hands, that spurred me on to ask more questions and try to make and produce more of our family’s needs. Recently I shared three recipes over on the Attainable Sustainable blog that might be good for those first starting out in making their own bread: