Making Lasting Memories with Bread
by Elizabeth Goddard
Now that the holidays are over, you’re ready to put away the Christmas decorations. It’s time to prayerfully consider making resolutions, or if you’ve already made your New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to consider how to implement them.
New beginnings have a way of giving us that extra something we need to start afresh, and a new year brings new opportunities. Thank goodness that “His mercies are new every morning.” Often I view my resolutions list as the chance to make good where I’ve failed the previous year, such as lose fifty pounds or perhaps just another ten. The start of a new year is often the time people begin an exercise program. But if you’ve ever frequented garage sales or thrift shops in the spring, you’ve seen the evidence of all those failed resolutions to keep exercising.
Some things in life are too valuable for us to allow failure as an option. We need a plan so that we have every chance of success. If you’re like me, there’s nothing more important than creating a warm and nurturing environment for your home and family—a place where your children can grow in faith in God, and can feel safe and secure. The importance of providing your family with a sense of stability can’t be overstated.
One way to do this is to create lasting memories through family traditions, and through good smells. Most of us have either experienced this or remember a television commercial where mom bakes cookies that are hot from the oven and ready for her children when they get home from school. Baking bread is another way to fill your home with a wonderful, comforting aroma and also provide your dinner table with added sustenance—there’s nothing better than hot buttery rolls or a buttered slice of bread to accompany dinner.
When I first started baking bread, I didn’t realize how the aroma and the simple fact that I’d made bread would affect my home. I’ll never forget when my oldest son strolled into the kitchen, drew in the scent of my bread, and grabbed a roll fresh from the oven. He hugged me and told me how much he loved me and loved my bread. Another of my children stopped by while I was kneading to say how much he loved watching me making bread. It made him feel warm and happy.
It doesn’t get better than that.
These are all good memories that were created by a simple act of baking bread. The smell of yeast and flour rising and then baking in the oven is warm and inviting, and will always send your children back to that moment in time. Have you ever come across a scent that reminded you of your grandmother? Instantly in your mind, you were in her home. That’s because the first time we encounter a smell, our brains link that smell with the memory and with that memory comes a sense of comfort and happiness. Of course, some memories are not so good, but for this article, we’re talking about creating good memories and making our homes a wonderful place to be—a place that will always reside in the hearts and minds of our families. It will never be forgotten.
Now, that’s creating a legacy.
I recently moved to Louisiana from Texas, leaving my twenty-year-old daughter behind to finish college. One weekend she came to visit and ended up driving late at night. When she was still about two hours out, she texted me asking that I please save her some pizza. This was our Friday night pizza night. She hadn’t eaten much that week and was beyond hungry. Unfortunately, the pizza was already gone because I have three growing boys. But I quickly made one of her favorite stews, and I whipped up a loaf of bread to rise because my daughter loves my bread. What better way to welcome her? I took it out of the oven just as she walked through the door. I loved that I was able to quickly make bread and create that warm and cozy feeling for her when she came home.
If you’re not already familiar with making your own bread, let me assure you it’s easier than you can imagine. As soon as I learned how to make bread, I never again used my bread machine. Of course, you can use your machine, and I hope this article encourages you to use it more, but it’s not necessary. I started making homemade bread on a regular basis almost three years ago. I bought several books on the topic and experimented, mixing and matching the various techniques and recipes. That gave me the confidence to know that anytime I mix flour, water and yeast, I’ll get bread. From there, I experimented with adding additional ingredients such as sugar or butter, olive oil or olives. The combinations are infinite.
Bread is easy and fun. I don’t always knead either, especially when I’m short on time. I use the no-knead recipes but there are times when I want to knead. I love the feel of the dough beneath my fingers. The end product results in the golden crust of a French baguette or boule, and always leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.
For millennia, women around the world have been baking bread, feeding their children, and creating so much more for their families than nourishment with this simple act.
Leanne attended a university in Marburg, Germany as an exchange student, steeping herself in all things German. Some of her best memories are of eating Schwarzbrot—German black bread—and drinking tea for supper in the home of her hostess.
Leanne: “Schwarzbrot is a dark-brown colored, very grainy looking bread which German people often eat for breakfast or supper. A thin single piece is spread with butter and jam or Nutella, or with butter and cold cuts or cheese. Vegetables such as sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, or radishes may also be added. The open sandwich is eaten with a knife and fork. The sweet version is only eaten at breakfast. Because of all the whole grains this bread has a lot of fiber and B vitamins, which help you feel more energetic, I think.
When I make Schwarzbrot here, I sometimes slice it and freeze it in small packages.”
Rel in Australia shares about her grandmother:
“I’ll always remember my Grandma and her lovely pikelets – think mini pancakes but sweeter – topped with homemade raspberry jam and fresh cream! She made them without a recipe or measuring tools and would use an old spoon to pour the batter in the frypan. They were always made with an extra helping of love!”
Remember, bread is only the beginning as Lisa shares about topping her homemade dough to make pizza. She’s a missionary serving with her family in Mozambique. With no pizza delivery in her town, she took on the challenge to make homemade pizza on Friday nights, establishing a family tradition that’s important to her kids. Pizza is an all-American, favorite food. Her children know that no matter how the week goes, Mom will make pizza on Friday night and that brings a sense of stability for all.
Lisa says she experimented a long time to get the pizza right, and admittedly, the dough was the hardest to perfect.
Lisa: I’ve settled on a simple, thin crust yeast recipe that my family loves. It’s basically yeast, sugar, 3/4 c warm water, and 1 3/4 c flour. Along with the no pizza delivery, I also make my own sauce and ground sausage since I don’t have access to these either. For toppings, I typically start with a basil paste on the crust to add flavor, and maybe some fresh garlic. Homemade sausage is simply ground beef with a lot of sage and onions cooked into it. Then, besides lots of mozzarella (which I don’t make BTW) our new favorite topping is a handful of cut up Peppadews. Peppadew is a wonderful sweet piquant pepper grown and produced in South Africa. It’s now available in the States in some places and is sold in glass jars.
Karen, a veteran bread baker, adds a special, loving ingredient to her breads—shapes. For the holidays, Karen shaped her bread into Christmas trees, wreaths, candy canes and more—as you can see in the image of Karen’s heart-shaped bread.
There’s something about the aroma of bread that makes a home warm, inviting, and memorable. If you add only one new thing this year, give bread a try and take notice that such a small thing can make a big difference.
The books that I love and use for baking bread are in no way an exhaustive list, but they’re a start: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, My Bread by Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, and Zoe Francois, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by the same authors.
If you want more information about the breads mentioned you can find my email on my website contact page.
Elizabeth Goddard is the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels, including the romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies—a 2011 Carol Award winner. A 7th generation Texan, she graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.S. in computer science and worked in corporate America for a decade before retiring to home school her four children and write romantic suspense novels. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and children.