13 Feb 2014

 I’m not good at failure or trials or fighting the good fight. I don’t like the struggle. It doesn’t ignite in me a drive to do better or fight harder or push myself further. It just makes me want to hit something or someone and usually ends in tears and really aggressive anger and, more than often than not, broken electronics that were innocently left nearby.


And now I’m baking bread. Like full time baking bread. Like I have something growing or rising or kneading or baking every day. And the whole underlying message of the book I’m using to teach me how to make incredible bread is how baking bread is a trial of errors, of “learning” and “feeling” and making mistakes and that in the end everything tastes fine toasted.


Unacceptable. I find this absolutely, teeth-grindingly infuriating and it makes me want to throw some kind of electronic out the window but I decided this whole bread-making thing was supposed to be some kind of spiritual awakening about simplification and life perspective and so there are no electronic devices – just me and my raw hands kneading dough every effing day.


Thus far I have created a really dense German Graubrot; ten loaves of an edible day loaf which I’m currently working on perfecting the white/wheat balance of; four sourdoughs with my own sourdough starter that were all too dense but each cracked in a different spot (each crack signifying a specific thing I’ve done wrong according to my book); one extremely edible sourdough that I’ve been unable to replicate; two batches of semmel rolls – a German everyday bun – the second much more authentic than the first; an Armenian pizza dough called lahmajo that was incredible topped with a leftover cream pasta sauce; chapatti – the real daily bread of India – for my January book club’s Indian theme; whole-wheat pita bread that was good right out of the oven but stiff and crusty after 24 hours; six loaves of a very delicious scalded-rye bread; and two really incredible, labor-intense, but totally worth it, batches of baguettes.


And three rounds of pasta. I promised myself I wasn’t going to go there but with all the flour and the kneading and over-indulgence in carbs after six months of being off of bread and pasta, it just felt like the right thing to do. The only thing to do. Again, a completely infuriating process that makes me want to jerk the little handle out of the pasta machine and hit someone (like the four year old sitting across from me the whole time telling me she thinks I might be doing it wrong) but so worth it. Attempt one was kale and cream stuffed raviolis. Adventure two was a vegetarian Bolognese with fettuccine and, the third time was the charm, with pesto stuffed raviolis.


Five weeks in and two weeks beyond from my lowest point where I really wanted to throw in the literal tea towel, I’m back to my spirit quest of searching for higher meaning in the kneading of bread.


I’m pretty sure I’ve found it in our most recent child-rearing endeavors. With the Winter Olympics underway and an overwhelming need to force our children to be athletic, we’re five weeks in to Anabelle’s first year of formal ski lessons. Week one was pretty disastrous. Sure that her skills from the last two seasons of being dragged down the mountain by Henric and I qualified her for an advanced class, I spent the first half of the class watching from a lodge window as she was pretty much carried down the mountain by an exhausted instructor. The second half of the class was spent bribing her with hot chocolate to get back out on the mountain. Week two through four she went back to an age-appropriate lesson and has flourished with kids her own age and a magic carpet going her speed. By week five she was back at the top of the mountain. My tiger mom intuition tells me that if she just pushed herself a little harder she could have kept up with the advanced class.


But then, on my first attempt at snow shoeing with Jannik, I got my own lesson in perseverance and patience and measured expectation. When the tears started to fall and the screams (perfectly positioned above my left ear in the baby carrier) began to rail, and we still had a good half a mile to get back to the car, I was reminded that sometimes being a quitter who doesn’t fight for the long haul is good. A beer in the ski lodge is so much nicer than a not-so-quiet walk in the woods.

1 comment

  • Jenny - February 13, 2014

    Wow! I wish I could have been at your house lately!

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