Memories of Mom

Sometimes I like to cook and have assorted gadgets and appliances, some to die for. There were either purchased in a moment of rare culinary passion or were gifts. No matter. I gaze at them in wonder at what they can do to please people. After all, eating is one of our greatest pleasures in life.

The bread maker is not often used, however. It seems like too much work even if more or less automatic. I had looked at the ten best bread machine units according to Appliances Reviewed and had Breville, Panasonic, and West Bend brands at the top of my list. Electronic dual blades, yeast dispensers, custom automatic settings—so much to die for. I could have my crust light, medium, or dark in a flash. I could select a finish to match my kitchen. I could be surrounded by a heavenly scent like no other.

This reminds me of my mother’s homemade bread. Talk about aroma! It smelled so good. She would set them on the counter in tidy rows, some ready for the freezer. Few made it that far as the family indulged itself to the max. Sweet butter, raspberry jam, and the world became divine.

Sandwiches were king in our house as a result of mom’s love of bread making and taking a look at this list on BBC Good Food has me taking a stroll down memory lane. She did so much herself by hand in the old way. We didn’t have gluten-free (it hadn’t become a fad yet). We ate whatever she devised on a given day: white, wheat, rye, sourdough, egg bread, or brioche. French toast was the favorite on Sundays. Rich golden syrup would pool on top and run over the sunny side up eggs.

If we were lucky, we got cranberry or banana bread from time to time. Holiday time meant dinner rolls, popovers, and croissants made from freshly-kneaded dough. She had a myriad of recipes which I have inherited. This reverie must mean I need to bring out the breadmaker and give it a try. I will make many types and wrap them prettily in plastic wrap tied with bright ribbons. Homemaker thoughts are starting to populate my brain.

Okay. It’s later. I had a few failures after a bit of trial and error; but in the long run I got amazing results. The kitchen is filled with the fragrance of flour, butter, and vanilla. Bits of dried fruit sleep lazily on the countertop next to the sink. I expect a raft of visitors to be drawn in by the aroma. It actually isn’t long. (I called a few friends and tantalized them with the words “a surprise.”)

Sitting happily around the kitchen table we each eat a fair share. Bread is best when fresh and there is no point in saving it for later. I can just make more. After all, I have finally gotten the hang of it. Some of us go for sandwiches; some for the bread as is with butter. We all try multiple types, commenting on our favorites and the best for Christmas gifts. It is a wonderful and homey experience.