ORDERLY – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

After my reasonably successful pretzels, I decided to start baking more. I promise not to get totally crazy, but a few incredible loaves of whole wheat bread might go a long way to fixing what ails me. There’s something wonderfully soothing about kneading bread. Kneading is fundamental. Basic. And you get some really great bread, too.

Kneading not only produces wonderful bread, the smell of which can lure a dead man from his coffin, but it also feels good. You dig your palms into the dough. It oozes up between your fingers. Grab a handful of fresh flour and the dough gets a little less sticky and a little more like warm bread-to-be.

But when you’re digging into the raw dough before it has risen once or twice, it sticks to everything. Flour gets everywhere. When you’re baking, the world knows.

If you ever want to feel totally helpless, get a phone call in the middle of dough prep. You can’t go near a phone or even a doorknob. Until you’re past the sticky, gooey, gluey phase, you are completely immersed in the project.

Your hair and clothing are white from flour. But, after you get the dough ready to rise, put it in a warm place and watch it grow big and puffy. Punch it down and it grows twice as big. One more punch and then you dig the base of your palms into the dough and feel its warmth.

Yeast is warm as it grows. And it smells good, even before baking. Knead it. Not too much, not too little. You can feel when the dough becomes elastic.

Divide it, put it in loaf pans, or if your are shaping the bread yourself, on flat cookie sheets. Bake your heart out. Try not to eat it all in one sitting or for that matter, watch out for hungry friends carrying their own butter.

All of this is great, except that there’s no year or flour in the grocery so I had to order it. And there’s no point in ordering 5 pounds of flour, so I ordered 20 pounds. The price is, ironically, almost the same for a five pounder and 20 pounds.

I ordered four 20-pound flour containers. Two will hold the white flour. Another will hold 10 pounds of whole wheat. The forth will hold something. Birdseed comes immediately to mind.

I’ll try very hard to not mix the birdseed with the flour.

The problem? I got the 20-pounds of white flour today. But I won’t get the containers or yeast until next week. In the meantime, the kitchen is filling up. By the time I add all these canisters, I’m not sure where I can walk. There isn’t much floor space already. maybe it’s time to do something with that old table in the corner.

Do I really need 20 or 30 dog leashes and collars for every dog from a chihuahua to a mastiff? And maybe fifty leashes, many of which are long overdue for retirement?

Eventually, it will all come together and maybe it will keep me from worrying about how we are going to repair the back door, boiler, and the deck.



Categories: baking, Cooking, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Recipes

Tags: , , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. I used to make bread. It didn’t really save us any money because it was so nice we just ate it faster than the shop stuff.
    Before the pandemic, I was thinking about buying a bread maker. I had one for a while given to me by a workmate but when it died I didn’t replace it. My early breadmaking was all done by hand and baked in the oven. I found it harder to get bread to rise in the Geeveston house than in SA. I’m tempted to try again though.

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    • We had a gorgeous breadmaker, but it simply couldn’t make anything but white bread. Which was good, but no one’s favorite and it was too hefty for sandwiches — and too expensive to justify it. In Israel, we always had fresh bread because they didn’t use any chemicals in it. You would buy half a loaf at breakfast and another half loaf (or more if you had lots of kids) in midday. I staled out in hours. When I got back here, I was horrified at bread that stayed “fresh” for weeks. What in the world do the PUT in it? Better not to know! Unless you pay a lot of money for it, the commercial bread is about as tasteless as its packaging. But with an electric oven, the cost of good bread could be REALLY high. Like eating money.

      In Israel, I couldn’t get bread to rise in winter unless I turned the oven on to very low and let it rise there. Otherwise, it just lay there like a wet lump. Also, I do not have a hand for doughnuts. I got the jelly everywhere except the doughnut. And my pie crust LOOKS fabulous. Once I made a meat pie and Garry couldn’t cut it open. He finally tried a hammer and chisel and it STILL wouldn’t open. But it LOOKED great!

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      • There are a couple of commercial brands I really like but they are too expensive to buy all the time. I compromise with a middle priced product. I prefer wholemeal or multigrain or almost anything rather than plain white sliced although that’s fine for toast.

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  2. This reminds me I bought eggs just so I could do some cookies. I have everything else (I think). After air freight, I spend my time cleaning up the seed pods falling from our ancient trees, reading, and writing. I need to make time for cookies.

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  3. Oh you made me wish to start making my own scratch bread again. I used to do that when I was young and energetic and my hands weren’t so painful. One of my paternal aunts used to swear by making scratch bread. She’d make 1-2 loaves every day and said it kept her hands limber and fought off the arthritis that everyone on that side seems to get. As to the kitchen issue, maybe you can decide how you’d like to rearrange it, and get Owen to help you move things around until you feel good about them? The dog items? I have probably a dozen or so leashes, and many sizes of dog collar and harness too. I can’t seem to let go of those, so many memories in each item, even though some of the leashes are sad looking and one good hard tug on them by Ziggy (because Pudge isn’t supposed to be taken on walks any more) would make the old leash disintegrate! The big repairs? Something will come along. You’ve had it happen before. I know having the faith without any concrete support is tough, but I believe faith is a big part of things when one is forced to a less monetary llfestyle. Giving the trouble to God (or whatever you choose – The Universe? A Higher Power?) at least gives you some breathing space for a while. Less worry. Those are important things, especially right now. Take care Marilyn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just worrying about how much electricity I’ll use. When you make your own bread and have an electric oven, you wind up eating $40 loaves of bread.

      I’m hoping the loan cames in so we can get a boiler. The back door badly needs repair and so does the wall and at least one window, but just the boiler will be a start. It gets pretty cold around here. I don’t want to be here in the winter without heat.

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  4. I think you’re on a roll….

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  5. I am enjoying baking too. It’s a bit messy but relaxing.

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