Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Baking Bread

I’ve been baking my own bread for a long time. Forever, I suppose. As a child, I watched my mother make bread, and I have always associated it with that warm and fuzzy homey feeling. The smell of bread baking, the warmth of the kitchen, the happy faces of those who bit into the freshly baked bread–a basic anchoring of a primitive nature.

I wrote a post about The Staff of Life last February, after I discovered how to make easy ciabatta bread. (Click on the link if you’d like to see it again.)

I mumbled to myself as I kneaded the dough for regular whole wheat bread this morning, “The staff of life … hmm … people have been baking bread for many hundreds of years.” I got hung up on the term “the staff of life,” and decided to look it up.

A staple or necessary food, especially bread. For example, Rice is the staff of life for a majority of the earth’s people. This expression, which uses staff in the sense of “a support,” was first recorded in 1638.

Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company.http://www.dictionary.com/browse/staff-of-life (accessed: April 27, 2016).

That got me thinking, only some cultures bake wheat bread. Some use corn, or other starches. Then there are those countries that grow rice more easily than wheat. The staff of life is rice for millions of people the world over.

Every culture has its own special kind of bread. I love experimenting with baking them, but I tend to come back to my basic whole wheat bread as the staple in my own family.


Today I threw some caraway seeds in my whole wheat bread even though it is generally meant to go into rye bread. I know the flavour will be fine in this batch too.

Do you bake your own bread?





The Staff of Life

For many civilizations over hundreds of years, breads of various types have been a staple of diet, “the staff of life.” For as far back as I can remember, my mother baked bread. The whole family loved it. You know there is nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked bread to start one’s mouth watering. It is especially comforting on a cold winter’s day.

Recently a friend passed on a bread recipe to me. He knew that I had followed my mother’s lead and had been baking bread for all of my adult life. He was right in thinking that I might appreciate the link to a good bread recipe (which I include here). Click on “bread” to view the tutorial on easy ciabatta bread.

In the photo below, you can see the freshly baked ciabatta bread waiting to be sliced by the very old bread slicing machine (also a meat and sausage slicer) that my family brought to Canada in 1953. It wasn’t new even then!


I tried the bread recipe two days ago and the bread was so good that I made it again yesterday. Notice how the bread has holes in it. This is normal, from the bubbling of the yeast. It’s not a fancy cake-like bread, but more of a rustic bread, very moist on the inside with a crunchy, chewy crust. Delicious!


But the air holes in the bread, and the fact that the bread was so similar to what my mother baked, brought back a memory I had forgotten about for more than half a century. I was about five years old and my mother had just taken a huge loaf of bread out of the oven. She  cut it in half and set the two parts on the counter to cool.

The steam wafted out of the center of the bread, filling the room with that mouth-watering aroma that most people find irresistible. Being very young, I certainly couldn’t resist it. I waited until my mother’s back was turned and picked a tiny crumb out of the steaming bread.

Oh, it was good! So good, in fact, that I had to have another little nibble. When my mother was busy elsewhere, I stole another little crumb. My mother was very busy that morning and so were my fingers. I thought if I only picked out the tiniest piece of bread no one would know. Unfortunately for me, my five-year-old brain hadn’t been smart enough to spread out the nibbles. I had continued to worry the same little hole in the bread, enlarging it until it was quite noticeable to my mother, but not, at first, to me.

When my father came home for lunch, my mother said to him, “We have a terrible problem. Look what has happened to our bread.”

I think my eyes must have gone wide and I expected a boom to be lowered on my head, but my mother continued talking to my father as if I was wasn’t even there.

“I think we must have a mouse in the house.”

“I seeeeeee…” he said. “Well, I think I have a mouse trap in the workshop.”

“Yes, we’ll have to set it up. I can’t have this happen to my bread. Imagine trying to cut that slice and serving it with a mousehole picked through it.”

I know they exchanged glances and smirks throughout the whole conversation and they must have had a hard time not to laugh at my red face.

I never picked at the bread again, but I will never forget its lovely flavour.

So if you want a taste of this irresistible bread, click on the link and give it a try. It’s very easy to make.

A tip from me: Maybe keep a mouse trap handy.