Saturday, June 15, 2013

Baking bread

I haven't baked bread for several weeks. I really like doing that - it's much better, always, than store-bought and (I like to think) more frugal. Someday maybe I'll run the actual numbers on that theory.

In the meantime:

Whole wheat with several other goodly things mixed in

"Grandma Be's Favorite"

Yes, that page is old. I created my bread recipe notebook back in...early 1969. We were living in a basement apartment, renting it from a sweet old lady across from the Dana College campus. I wish now I'd been friendlier with our landlady. I was 19, and pregnant, so doubly self-absorbed, and impatient. But still, I wish I'd been a better friend. Aside from that, I look back on that semester fondly. It was the first three months of my first marriage, romantic and exciting to be on our own. Just thinking about those times, I can smell the apartment, hear how our footsteps sounded on the old linoleum floor. The kitchen was - literally - 6 feet wide and ten feet deep, wall to wall - much smaller of course by the time you subtract the sink and small stove. A true one-person kitchen! But it had a nice big living room and bedroom.

That was the same apartment that a Dana college student couple about 10 years older than I, who became my "adopted" older brother and sister via a church connection back when I was in grade school, lived in when they were first married. These memories are so precious and tender that I can hardly bear thinking of them, and that's all I'll say about that. 

In that apartment I first read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and The Lord of the Rings. And The Hobbit. I first tried my hand at baking bread there, and my mom and my dad's mom both gave me tons of their own recipes, which I still have. I treasure the dog-eared, stained, time-yellowed cards with their handwriting. I had a looseleaf notebook lying around so I covered it with some beautiful pastel paisley fabric (we'd call it "vintage" these days - I found it in an antique shop in Missouri Valley) and glued 8" x 10" envelopes on the insides of the covers, and drew (badly, lol) ball-point pen cherubs with flowers and ribbons: one for quick-bread recipes I hadn't tried yet, and the other for yeast bread recipes yet to test. ("Virgin" recipes, thus the cherubs. So clever.) When I'd try one, I'd re-write it on a typing sheet and make notes on how it turned out, with the date, and put it in the notebook proper. Sometimes I'd add a little drawing to decorate the page. I thought then that this would be a nice thing to keep up and have when I got old. I had no idea what a flood of memories it would evoke every time I take it down to find a recipe.

One recipe is copied from an article about the first female leader of one of the big Native American tribes, in the short-lived Avant Garde magazine. She had supplied a recipe for Indian Fry Bread. We got that magazine when my son was about two months old and we were by then living in a trailer by the Missouri River on the east end of Blair. We were so poor; my husband was still in college and we were living on help from our parents and some college money (I think). I also had a waitress job for awhile then. I bought carpet samples for a dime apiece to cover the skanky kitchen floor. 

See? Memories come flooding back. But the bread dough is ready to punch down and put into loaf pans to rise again. Enough nostalgia...

ETA to add photo of finished bread! It turned out very tasty.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Map-geek heaven

I just discovered a new free film-viewing web site, called SnagFilms. I've signed up and started going through their lineup. Much to my joy, I found a four-part series called "Terry Jones' Great Map of Mystery," wherein he follows the very first map made of the British Isles. It has everything - wonderful scenery, towns and villages, inns, cats, tea shops, fields, ricks, and cots (whatever those are) - massive ancient trees - and those maps! They were drawn in strips! *geekflail*

This is SO just what I need this week!