Panem et Circenses

Panem et Circenses

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Challenge - How it all began.

During my years in college I have toyed around with the idea of teaching myself how to bake bread.  I have many fond memories from childhood of my mother pulling warm loaves of bread out of the oven and now that I am away from home and living the life of a single bachelor at college there is nothing I wouldn't do for a hot meal and a slice of fresh bread.   I have finally made up my mind that I am ready for a good challenge.  I am in my final semester of college completing my student teaching before I graduate this May with a dual major in Special and Elementary Education, and  I know that between writing lesson plans and correcting spelling tests I am going to need a project that will allow me to have some fun and try something completely new. 
I had heard about bread makers from time to time but I never really gave much thought to getting one myself until this past holiday season.  I was at my sister's home when I saw my first bread maker in action.  It was amazing!  I was hooked on the idea instantly and I knew that I had to have one for myself.  Soon I began shopping around, but for some reason I was not having much luck finding a bread machine anywhere.  I was home from college on my Christmas break and being from a small town my choices in stores was extremely slim.  So I turned to my favorite website... AMAZON!  Within a few minutes I found a model that I liked, (Please remember that I really do not know what I am talking about, since this whole process is completely new to me, I am sure some of you might have recommended a different model, etc. etc and on and on, but for my needs at the moment, I was content.) and I put it in my cart.   I also decided on that same online shopping spree that I wanted to purchase a cookbook at the same time to go along with my new machine.   Many online users said that they loved their bread makers but were not happy with the recipes that were included and suggested that I buy a supplemental book to bake from instead.  Out of a the air I selected  The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and added that to my cart as well.  I was ready to checkout.   It was Christmas night and I couldn't help but think that this was really a fun present for myself.  As I typed in my information to complete the purchase I could almost taste the homemade bread that would be created in my kitchen during the New Year.  With a final click of the mouse my adventure began.
Now I had to wait.  Since I was home for the holidays I thought it would be best to have the items shipped to my home, but as the days began to slip away I realized my purchases were not going to arrive on time.  I went back to college empty handed and irritated.  I found out that a cousin of mine was traveling to Cedar a few days behind me and that she could bring me my items when they arrived.  I frantically tracked my orders as they left Denver and traveled to Salt Lake City.  Would they make it before she left town? . . .    No.  Well, the cookbook did, but the machine didn't. I still was stuck but I had not given up just yet.  A genius idea occurred to me, if I could find a bread maker in Cedar I could simply buy it and send the other one back!  Sorry Amazon, but my hunger for home baked bread simply could not wait any longer.
My second shopping spree began.  I found an Oster Expressbake 2lb. Breadmaker and placed it ceremoniously in my Wal-Mart shopping cart.  Moving up and down the aisles at the store I filled my cart full of flour, sugar, salt, gluten, yeast, butter, powdered milk, and measuring cups.  I was ready to go home and bake my first loaf of bread . . .  only my card would not work and I couldn’t pay for any of it.
One might think at this point that perhaps I should not be baking bread, that I should pay attention to the signs and just forget the whole crazy idea.  Instead it just fueled me with the desire to not give up.  By a chance of good fortune (See, I knew I was supposed to bake bread) I ran into my sister and her husband at the store in my moment of need and they bought everything for me.  Once I get my card working and a loaf of bread baked, I will be right over to see them.
And that is how it all started, on a whim.  I do not know exactly how I came to the decision that I would work my way through all 300 recipes, but after watching Julie & Julia it just seemed like the right thing to do.  As for my writing this Blog, it also just seemed like the fun thing to do.  I hope you enjoy following along and we learn together about different breads, recipes, flavors, and techniques as we bake our way through the 2012 year.
Happy New Year and welcome!
"Breadbaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."

M. F. K. Fisher, ‘The Art of Eating’

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