Thursday, February 04, 2010


Julie's $10 bread machine works well. She's tried various recipes and will try another one tomorrow. Today the book "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" came in the mail. On the way home we bought beets for a recipe in the book that was mentioned in a recent issue of Mother Earth News. I must admit the machine saves her much time as compared to the bread she was making by hand.

Watching the ease with which Julie makes bread using the machine caused an old memory to surface, a memory of making bread.

About 1953 when I was seven or eight my paternal grandmother lived in a three room log house without plumbing, a phone or a television. Wiring leading to ceiling lights and outlets for small appliances like a radio were mounted on the surface of the walls using white ceramic insulators. The well was just a few steps from the door opening into a small kitchen. Beside the door was a pail of drinking water with a communal ladle. Cooking was done on a wood cook stove.

I no longer have a perspective on the size of the property. Eighty acres? One hundred and sixty? I'm not certain. There were four houses scattered at some distance from one another. My grandmother and an uncle lived in the log house. An uncle and perhaps eight cousins lived in another four room house. The third house was three rooms and was built by my father just before World War II began. Across the creek was a large two story house where my father was born. No one lived in it any longer. A couple years earlier my grandmother had moved from the large house into the log house. I assume she moved because it was larger than needed after her children left home. I have only fond memories of the old house, the large front porch, the flowers in the yard and the time I spent there. After almost 60 years I can vividly remember the laurel lined path that led to the spring a short distance away, the hummingbird that flew in a window one Sunday morning, the cries of a cousin who was bitten by a Copperhead and wrestling with a favorite uncle.

My uncle had a cow that stands out in my memory for two reasons. First, it had one horn that grew at a odd angle in tight curve that caused the point of the horn to touch the upper eyelid of the cow. I wondered if it was painful and questioned what would happen as it kept growing. I never received an answer to that question because the end of the horn was soon cut. The second oddity about the cow was that the tip of one teat was missing. She had attempted to jump a barbed wire fence and had torn the tip off. When she was milked the teat would emit a constant stream of milk.

But, back to making bread.

One summer day I was visiting my grandmother and cousins. I seem to remember six or eight of us. My grandmother who was in her late seventies at the time baked four or five loaves of bread in the wood cook stove and called all of us to the house. She sliced bread and buttered the slices with butter churned on the farm. We ate and ate. In short order every loaf of bread was gone. I remember an unpleasant feeling when I realized there was none left for her. But she wasn't concerned. She had baked the bread for us. I have nothing but good memories of her.

I sometimes wonder how much my enjoyment of homemade bread is influenced by memories of that day and memoires of my grandother and the work she put into making bread.


Blogger graceonline said...

Thank you so much for this story! It brings back many good memories. My family had no indoor plumbing for most of my first decade, and I remember how good the ice cold well water tasted from the big dipper. And the bread! My grandmother made homemade bread, and cut the slices thick while it was warm from the oven. We slathered freshly churned butter over it, topped with Grand's homemade apple butter. Nothing so good.

2/05/2010 01:54:00 AM  

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