Friday, January 3, 2014

An Era Passing

An era in my life has passed.  After many years of dedicated service my bread machine kneaded its last loaf.  Eighteen years of mixing, kneading and baking peasant breads, pepper biscuits, Sally Lunns, challah, pizza dough and Pan de los Muertos it gave me and I shall remember it dearly.

I remember when I received it.  I was living in a little house out in the middle of the Salinas Valley in California.  One day the box appeared on my doorstep.  I wasn't expecting any package.  I hadn't ordered anything.  I was mystified by its appearance, until I opened it.

My mom had been singing the praises of home baked bread.  My dad thought she was crazy.  He did the calculations of how long it would take to pay off a machine by not having to buy bread and just rested his head in his hands and sighed.  That is, until he got hooked on freshly baked bread, and then he understood.

Now my mom was coming for a visit and she was not going to go two weeks without home baked bread.  The only issue I had with the machine initially was that no one else in the area was baking their own bread and the bread flour in the markets was so old that it was rancid.  One trip into the city fixed that and I was off!

That machine traveled all over the country with me, it crossed the nation to New England, it followed me to sticky Florida and then halfway back up the coast to DC Metro.

To be honest, the last couple of loaves weren't great, some of it was my fault, I was experimenting with wild yeast sourdoughs and it just wasn't working.  The monkey bread that I put in this morning was a pretty straightforward undemanding loaf, but a few minutes into the mix cycle I smelled the motor running too hot and noticed wisps of smoke rising from its vents.  Then I knew, it had come to its end.  The dough was completely unmixed and had to be mixed by hand.  I have spent the last couple of months trying to do a decent sourdough by hand (the loaves were very tasty, but like bricks), so I knew what had to be done to save the loaf.

Several hours later we mourned our old Black and Decker machine as we demolished the monkey bread (dinner will be very light this evening).


On another topic,  all four chickens laid eggs today, Ursula waded through the snow to get to her regular spot behind the bush, but the rest decided it was to cold for that and laid their eggs in the coop.
Paisley and Lucy fluffed up by the sand box.
Athena barely emerged from the coop all day.  Paisley and Lucy spent hours huddled together by the sandbox and Ursula the adventurer wandered about.
It is supposed to go down to 3 degrees tonight, the chickens have been given deluxe garage accommodations.

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