The smell and taste of fresh, steaming hot, homemade bread smothered in melted butter soothes my soul still today. I’m not talking about the kind you get from the store, bakery, or the bread maker. This is the real McCoy, the heart warming loaves our grandmothers and mothers make (or use to). In the winter, with windows and doors closed up tight to keep the heat in, the potent smell aroused my senses. Looking out the window on a snowy day, I continually peeked in the oven to get a better look, a better whiff, and to tap on the bread to see if it was done.
I’m carried back to my childhood and the sight of my mother kneading the dough over and over. I looked forward to the wonderful treat of my mother making bread, whether it was squishy white or heavy oatmeal. We didn’t get this special treat every day and usually it was only around the holidays, but I held my breath waiting.
Homemade bread represents home and family to me. Meals were often simple, but when we had homemade bread, we feasted beyond imagination. Time marches forward and our family has grown up. Life today is more complex – we don’t often take time to sit with our children, parents, or grandparents to enjoy the simple pleasure of a family meal. Whether we had a meal of stew, pot roast, or pancakes, the family ate together and caught up on the activities of work, school, friends, and family. Meal time belonged only to us.
Today, the family meal frequently takes a back seat to baseball games, hockey practice, music lessons, the Internet, video games, work or other distractions. This keeps us from engaging with the people who should be the most important. Interaction is critical to the family and we have the perfect opportunity to forge stronger connections at meal time. We need to put the brakes on and sit down with our children every day, and a family meal provides a great opportunity to stay connected, relax and push out the rest of the world.
I have three children of my own, and they believe in homemade bread. It reminds them of home, togetherness, and family. My children differ in their favorite kind, but Mom making it is all that matters. My daughter loves my heavy oatmeal with walnuts, and my sons, prefer Vienna with the shiny and crunchy outer crust. Every family is unique and special, and at times the simple things stand out above all else, just like multiple ingredients in bread make it different and special.
When my daughter came home from college on rare weekend visits, home meant my baking enough of her favorite bread to take back to school. When my son he returned home from the Navy, he requested two loaves of his favorite bread before he wanted anything else. He wolfed them down, looking much the same as he did when he was five years old. I have a picture of my youngest son stuffing a huge slice in his mouth while looking at me over the top of the bread with his blue eyes smiling at me.
I am so happy that I took the time to make many loaves of bread and create those memories. Life adds new chapters to our lives every day, but the bread remains constant. In the end, home and family, in whatever form, are all that matters. I really do believe in homemade bread. What do you believe?