childhood, Uncategorized

Baking bread

Growing up we made everything we ate. Even at one point grinding our own flour. We made our tofu, mixed our seasonings, stored our food for winter by canning, drying, and freezing. As a little girl I ‘helped’ with all of this. Of course, I began to want to do it on my own! My first cookie dough creation was ‘tasty’ to be sure. I was maybe 4 at the time.

By nine I wanted to make some money and came up with the idea to bake bread and sell it to the families. I realize the contradiction of wanting to earn money when we rarely left the farm and certainly didn’t purchase items very often.  The farm had a store that carried many items that making yourself would be difficult. It was a brilliant idea really. The families received a ‘stipend’ for working there and in turn gave it right back to the farm by purchasing from their store.

It was the juice boxes that got me. We didn’t drink anything but water outside of mealtime. A juice box was unheard of prior to this store.  A tiny box filled with juice that came with a straw that bent… I was hooked.

Smiley orangy juice box boy with its shadow and a straw on it

So here I was with a great idea to bake and sell bread to the local families. My mother even supported it once we had dad’s approval. She got out a piece of paper and we labored over the cost of a bag of flour versus the amount used in a batch of bread that yielded 7 loaves. We did the same for each ingredient. The cost of electricity was harder to decipher. Pretty sure she came up with a low sum like 0.50 a batch. Now we had the cost per loaf and just needed to add on profit. I sold the loaves for $1 each. Making one batch each Friday. After paying mom back I probably made maybe 25 cents per loaf but was happy as a clam.

I knew the recipe by heart. Add yeast to the brown sugar and warm water. While waiting for the yeast to rise, mix the dry ingredients. White and whole wheat flour and a pinch of salt. Once the yeast had risen to a proper head add oil and mix it all together slowly adding more flour until the dough was the needed consistency to knead by hand. Shape into a ball and cover with a towel to let rise. Half an hour later beat and knead it back down. Definitely one of my favorite parts. Then shape into loaves placing them into the pans to rise again while the oven preheated.

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I did all of this alone as a nine-year-old for almost a year. Since no one was looking I used more white than whole wheat flour. I added extra brown sugar and oil to the batches. I had the best bread in the entire community and they loved it. The women would ask my secret and I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. I knew what it was – adding extra oil and sugar. Less whole wheat and more white flour. You know the good stuff! I also knew not to admit that to anyone. Our diet was slowly getting better, we ate supper now, we had margarine instead of corn meal spread acting as margarine. We ate leavened bread and even had Mr. Noodles sometimes. But to admit to changing the recipe – well that would have ended my baking career.

childhood, Uncategorized

Birthdays

Since it’s my birthday today and I’m sitting in an arcade with my son whose playing games while we wait for his sister before going to dinner, it seems fitting to write about birthday’s since I’ve had a few now.

It’s funny I don’t remember birthday’s really, not very many anyway.  I don’t recall having parties as a child with friends over. There aren’t any photos of birthday parties so not sure if I had them and just don’t remember. There is so much I don’t remember. No one to ask really. I do have a photo of me with a cake for my first birthday.

On the back of the photo in moms handwriting is the date and, “First birthday eating popcorn, cake – banana walnut with date icing and banana ice cream on the side”.5972F22E-5A2D-4C33-A163-B01FCE6F6EDA 2

I know I got to choose my favourite meal and dessert on my birthday.  My seventh birthday is near the top for unforgettable childhood memories. I chose pizza bread for lunch, we didn’t eat dinner – two meals a day then. That was the year of the cold winter. More on that at a later date. I chose pizza toast. It was my absolute favourite meal. We didn’t eat real cheese as we didn’t eat dairy.  We usually we made it as rarely purchased pre-made food.  We blended cashews with water to make a paste, added some seasonings and skinned red peppers – voila cheese! I would carefully spread the pizza sauce over every inch of the bread and drizzle the cheese sauce on it. I’d sit outside  the oven door watching and waiting. My tummy rumbling with hunger as I waited for the cheese sauce to bubble. I loved meal time. We would sit and stuff ourselves as full as we could get for an hour for the next meal time would be in roughly seventeen hours. So there we were all seated at the table with our eyes closed for the blessing when the heavens opened up and ruined it all. I’ve never shut my eyes for prayer again!!

Let me take you back to that moment. There were probably 15 or more of us. Two full size tables set up like a T in the dining room. Three benches and multiple chairs. Two families plus the students that all lived in the home with us seated around the table. My little brother properly in his high chair instead of king toddler in the centre of the table. We all had our eyes closed listening to dad’s baritone rumbling the prayer of thanks. My tongue watering from the delicious smells wafting up from the table. When all of a sudden with a loud crack, snap, and woosh water came pouring from the ceiling all over the food, table, and us. It flooded the kitchen within a moment. The pipes had burst from the freezing cold winter. Unheard of in the hottest valley of British Columbia until my seventh birthday when I was dying to shove a piece of pizza into my mouth.

The disappointment and pain of hunger had tears threatening to spill. The fright of the ceiling giving way had me upset and unsure. Mom reassured me I would still get a piece of pizza as there had been a pan left warming in the oven for seconds.

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A fore mentioned brother sitting in the centre of the table. He would get so excited for that popcorn!