You may already know that last winter's weekends revolved around a concerted effort in bread baking. All that fell by the wayside over summer and fall when the weather and work simply don't cooperate with my best intentions.
It was last year's deer hunting season that triggered all this. When serving the hunters -- a collection of family and friends -- some topnotch venison stout stew, I warmed up two loaves of grocery store bread. The hunters loved it and asked if I made it. Slightly embarrassed by the confession of being a complete failure at all things bread, I decided then and there to change that. I've had some success, some chewy challenges and a lot of wondering how women did this for large families all the time. Of course, after a few days of feeding 8 or so hungry hunters, I wonder how women of large families got anything done without modern conveniences, especially a dishwasher.
My most recent bread baking endeavors were inspired by the King Arthur flour blog. I have this wonderfully aromatic Maple Oatmeal bread rising right now. Yesterday produced some plain white loaves, also from the King Arthur site. Despite misreading the recipe and adding a tad too much flour, the loaves came out very well. One disappeared with last night's ham supper. The other will go with tonight's leftovers. With two kinds of soups, a bit of ham, a bit of turkey, and some other odds and ends to clean up, my weekend of cooking will come to an end. Fresh bread will complement it all.
Speaking of bread reminds me that while Evan was staying with Alyssa two and three years ago, he sometimes baked bread to pass the time in her apartment. That was a tough time for him, for Alyssa and for all of us. But somehow, baking helped Evan get through the long boring days of doctor visits, tests, and more doctor visits and tests. Grandma's rye bread and ginger cookies were his favorite recipes and they must have done something more than just lift his spirits. After more than four years and two bone marrow transplants, Evan finally received word that he is considered to be in full remission from Hodgkins. By sheer coincidence, I spent Thanksgiving weekend cooking and baking, including his favorite ginger cookies. And why not -- it appears that it's all good medicine.