Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Can Too Live On Bread Alone!

We have all known a child who can't sleep on Christmas Eve because he or she is waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus and his eight tiny reindeer. For that child, the night is endless - lying in bed wide awake for what seems like hours to discover that only nine and a half minutes have passed; tip-toeing down the hall to find mom and dad still awake and wondering when they will go to bed so that Santa will come; being sent back to bed at two am and three am and four am by parents who have had equally little sleep because they were putting together the tricycle with seven hundred and fourteen parts and trying to remember where they hid Grandpa's Christmas gift.

Thankfully, neither of my children ever spent a Christmas Eve like this. Erin thinks that Santa Claus in a creepy pedophile and goes out of her way to avoid him from August or October or whenever it is now that the Christmas season starts in our consumer world. Brooke, even from a young age, valued sleep too much to give up even a minute of it to spy on the antics of Jolly Ol' St. Nick. Her philosophy was that either he would come or he wouldn't. She'd deal with it in the morning. And as long as he, or someone, left her a book under the Christmas tree, all would be well in the world.

Though Erin never exerted any energy on the anxiety and anticipation with regard to Christmas morning, she does manifest that same level of anxiety and impatience when it comes to waiting for other things.

Family dinners are an important part of our daily routine. They do not always happen the same way, but they always happen. Sometimes we eat at five and other times it is eight. It just depends on the day. Regardless of when we eat or what we are having, we all agree that every meal should be accompanied by bread. I don't mean to sound snobby, but I don't mean just bread, like store bought sandwich bread, I mean good, homemade bread - the kind that should be kneaded and left to rise a couple of times before it is baked and then eaten. This process can take several hours. As you might imagine, when we get home from school at six, starting the bread making process would yield a warm loaf of bread about midnight. Even with our flexible eating schedule, that doesn't work.

Problem solved! Weber found a book that claims that you can have a fresh loaf of bread every day in just five minutes a day. As you might expect, with most things that sound too good to be true, there is a catch. This bread-making process involves about five minutes to mix the dough. It DOES NOT require kneading. After sitting for about two hours, it is ready to bake. That takes thirty five minutes. I know, you are thinking that we have already spent close to three hours on this bread. Here is where the five minute part comes in. When the dough is mixed, there is enough for four or five loaves. The assumption by the book's author is that you will make a loaf a day. The unused dough made on the first day is refrigerated. When you are ready for the next day's loaf, you pull out a hunk (Yes, that is a technical term.) shape it into a ball, and place it on a bread stone. This part takes five minutes - or maybe less. Then, the bread must bake - for thirty five minutes. So, the five minutes a day is a little misleading. Yes, you probably are only touching it for five minutes a day; however, it does take about forty minutes from start to finish. All in all, that really is not an unrealistic investment of time considering that the yeild is a piping hot loaf of fresh bread.

Unless, you are a starving teenager. Then, the minutes tick away like hours. You feel like in the time it takes for those thirty five minutes to pass you will age such that when the bread is done you will be eligible for Social Security. (Yeah right, but that is another story.) You are forced to stand in front of the over and try to exert mind over matter. You chant your wishes as if casting a magic spell. "Rise. Rise. Rise. Bake. Bake. Bake. Brown. Brown. Brown." You ponder questions like, "If God created the whole universe in only six days, why does it take Him so long to make a loaf of bread?"

"Thirty three minutes and counting . . . .very slowly."
The sound of the oven's timer chiming as the display reads "0" is a moment of ecstasy.
And when I mentioned earlier that you only touch this bread for five minutes a day, that includes the eating of it too. Once it comes out of the oven, the five minutes that it took to shape it and get it in the oven is an eternity compared to the time that it takes a starving and impatient teenager and her boyfriend to devour this long awaited loaf of bread, including the time it takes to spread the butter.