Putting Bread on the Table

Hat says, ‘There’s something wrong with the bread; I don’t think it’s meant to look like that’.

 

She means the bread I’m making; the loaf that is ready, judging by penetrating beep of bread machine, but has yet to be removed and sliced for breakfast.

 

I got it for Christmas from Best Beloved. The bread machine. He gave it to me because we cannot always buy bread in the Outpost and because he could not bear for me to attempt to make my own unaided as I did in manner persuaded to me by Isabella Beeton when at 23 and newly married and naïve I thought the ability to make yeast come alive with fat bubbles and elevate dough to glossy springiness was fundamental to a happy marriage. Luckily it was not: though the yeast stayed stubbornly flat and the dough was the consistency of a cannon ball and the bread utterly inedible, though best beloved suggested I sell it to demolition mobs that were breaking down old buildings in the city we lived in then – Dar es Salaam – in favour of newer ones, we have remained together.

 

So. Almost twenty years on and because we no longer live within a 20 mile radius of a reasonable bakery, I was presented with a bread machine. Something small and dainty and sparkly in trademark blue Tiffany bag might have been nice to own, might have impressed my friends, something from Prada might have done too. But neither are of much use in hard-line, out-lying Outpost.  So a FastBake it was instead.

 

The family watched as I fastidiously measured the ingredients for the first attempt into the tin with the precise little measuring spoons provided and regular reference to recipe in accompanying booklet. They observed as I carefully set the timer and they applauded when my fat, light loaf appeared on the breakfast table the next morning.

 

Three months later, though, and I had become a little slapdash. Remembering there’s no bread for breakfast at 11pm when you’ve had a few glasses of Red isn’t a good approach to cooking. In my rush to get the necessary done – ‘I must just put the bread on’, I’d say importantly to BB when he enquired (by hollering through house) if I was planning on coming to bed anytime that week – I began to carelessly gauge amounts, quite disregarding the ominous little warnings in booklet: Please use measuring cup and spoons provided accurately. I also cut back on the salt – two tablespoons of it – since I thought it’d please my doctor if I did so whilst simultaneously displeasing gathering cellulite which I understand thrives on a diet stacked with sodium secreted into benign looking foods like homemade bread, for example.

 

On Hat’s ‘I don’t think it’s meant to look like this’, I got up to examine the fruits of my midnight labours. And she was quite right: bread’s not meant to look like that. It’s meant to look arched with pride and deliciously, inviting promise. Not slumped with soggily, grey misery.

 

Hat is quite a stickler. Unlike her sloppy mother.

 

‘I think we should look them up in the book again, Mum’, she said, ‘the instructions, she pressed.

 

I did.

 

Under Troubleshooting.

 

Who’d have thought you could troubleshoot a loaf of bread?

 

It said: if you are so slovenly you can’t be bothered to measure things out properly or if you think you know better than us and begin to invent your own recipes or if you ditch the salt because you a vain cow who would rather have sleek thighs than feed her family properly, your bread will sink disastrously in the middle and be hard and lumpen and you might just as well use it as demolition fodder. Or words to that effect. I got the message though.

 

I made my bread at 7 last night. Before I was too tired to see my way around the kitchen and before the Red had interfered with my eyesight so that I was unable to decipher the calibrations on the cups and spoons. 

 

I will – as a consequence – be able to set before Hat for breakfast today a loaf that has risen to perfect roundness, a loaf with a firm, brown crust and innards the consistency of warm marshmallows upon which her butter will melt just as she likes.

 

And I shall be able to bask in both her praise and a very, very rare glow of domestic and maternal success.

 

*****************

 

I am going away for a bit. Far away. For a fortnight. I shall begin my journey tomorrow and arrive at my destination 48 hours later. I like to think I’m going where I am because I’m needed there for now, might make a difference. I’m not sure I will.

 

But I have to try.

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14 Responses to “Putting Bread on the Table”

  1. Alice C Says:

    Safe journey.

  2. Primal Sneeze Says:

    Yes. You have to try anyway.

    ps. The bread sounds great. Even the unleavened variety.

  3. nuttycow Says:

    Have a safe trip RM and see you on your return.

    My bread (despite the fact I was always awesome at making it at school) always turns out very hard and very “yeasty”. Nice.

    xx

  4. Roberta Says:

    Hmmm. A mystery trip! Good journey and good luck.

  5. Potty Mummy Says:

    Good luck RM.

  6. Molly Winters Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your posts. Your writing is beautiful. Interesting, I was looking for summer employment with a family in Tanzania (I am a middle and high school teacher in Miami, Florida) and this is the website that I somehow came across. I would love to visit Africa, it has been a long-term dream of mine. Thank you for allowing me to experience a bit of it through your words.

  7. R. Sherman Says:

    Safe journey.

  8. Tom Says:

    May the wind be at your back

  9. Expatmum Says:

    Safe journey – hope it’s what you want it to be.

  10. maggie may Says:

    Have a good stay & return safely. May you always have enough bread on your table.

  11. aminah Says:

    bon voyage and enjoy!

  12. Becky Says:

    Safe travels.

  13. Pig in the kitchen Says:

    thank you for reminding me to make bread NOW instead of in a few hours time. Your trip sounds like it might be difficult, good luck
    Pigx

  14. ExpatKat Says:

    Have a good trip. Love the bread machine. Mine has been a godsend. In fact, I’ve worn it out in 3yrs.

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