January 11, 2010

...back to the basics & a good day!

i'm a big believer in getting back to the basics.  my mom was a home economics teacher in the 50's, 60's & early seventies which meant as her only daughter, i had the blessing of being by her side and learning all the wonders of baking and cooking and sewing.
after my mom passed away 5 years ago, i took her wheat grinder and bosch bread mixer home to arizona with me.  i hadn't made bread from scratch in years.  i went and purchased some wheat from a local store and started on an adventure that has brought me much more than bread.
the aroma of that first batch of whole grain wheat that i ground, hit me like a tons of bricks.  i was a little girl again.  back in the kitchen of my childhood home.  my little apron around me.  pig tails.  freckles.  standing on a chair so i could see over the counter.  carefully pouring the wheat into the top of the old wooden grain mill and listening to it churn and crack.  i was always amazed when my mom would pull out the drawer at the bottom after the grinding slowed, that it was full of flour.  warm flour.  and it had such a peculiar smell.  i didn't realize until 30 or so years later, that it was one of the most wonderful, sweet smells in the world.     the tears flowed freely.

this was the smell of love.  it was the smell of comfort.  the smell of home.  it was my mom.
i really needed this experience at that point in my grieving for her.  it brought her to me in a way i never expected.  i would.ve ground wheat everyday the rest of my life for that feeling and for awhile...i did.  but my family couldn't keep up with all the loaves of bread i was putting forth and the neighbors all thought i was trying to poison them with as many loaves as i passed around the neighborhood each week.  so i resorted to making bread on sundays.   sunday is bread day at my home.

my newest obsession is to cul*ti*vate the art of "artisan" bread.  i am late on this trend i know.  but i wanted to learn how to make those beautiful free form loaves with whole grains, crusty on the outside with a dusting of flour and chewy and moist on the inside.  i picked up a new book called...


i made my first several loaves this weekend.  it was so much fun and if i do say so myself, i was quite impressed.  i feel like a success when all 5 of my children will ALL eat something i make without complaining.  then i know it's good.   i know it's a work in progress, like painting or writing poetry or learning to ride a bike but anytime i can slather up a hot piece of bread with real butter and feel my mom's spirit around me is a good day!


  1. What a great story, Chrissy - the details, the emotion, the promise... I swear, I am staring at that last picture of the butter dotted on that slice of bread. Seriously, warm, fresh bread with real butter is (to me)one of life's transcedent experiences. I mean it has to be really fresh and it has to be real butter. I know cooking can be just as valid of a creative expression as any other art, but it's certainly not my forte, so I am in awe. I just don't get how you do all this and raise 5 kids too. You are amazing!!!

  2. Guess what? I just picked up the first Artisan Bread book in the holidays and have been baking up a storm. I don't have the same memories tied up with my baking, but there is still something so good about baking bread. I'm a total convert of their books and method.

  3. you write SO beautifully my dear friend...the details were so vivid of you as a child helping your mom! you painted that visual PERFECTLY! i loved hearing about this...hearing about how that smell of bread was the smell of love, the smell of comfort, the smell of home...your mom.

    it is clear by looking at these SCUMPTIOUS pictures that you have a talent for making yummy breads...but you also have a talent for writing. i love reading what you have to say!

    love you.

  4. What a great story. I feel like I was there.

    There really is nothing quite like hot bread and butter. My first loaf was sort of a disaster, but I was so proud of it nonetheless - I took photos and sawed through the (very very hard) crust to eat one piece with butter.

    A friend just recommended this "process" to me; I didn't realize it was actually a book. It looks so good; I might have to try it eventually!

  5. that bread looks delicious! you are a wonder and an inspiration to me. you are so willing to try new things and make them a success. you are one good mama!

  6. Ahh! I was going to send you this recipe a friend of mine has perfected it for high altitude. I am so glad you found it. By the way home baked bread reminds me of you!

  7. mmmmmmm. I'm drooling over here. I have always wanted to bake bread. although if I could bake beautiful, scrumptious bread like you I would have to step up the workout plan. Wish I was in the kitchen with you dear. kneading, baking, chatting and getting messy.

    what a wonderful memory and tradition to carry on. our culture needs more of this!

    love you girl.


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thank you so very much!