Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dear Ruth

Hi Ruth,

I’m making your bread again today. I just can’t believe how good this bread is – and it turns out so well every time! I’m so glad you shared the recipe.

I bought the Netarts Friends Church cookbook years ago and was so excited to see the recipe in there. I was intimidated though because the directions were so vague and unhelpful. Sorry – but they were. It’s what happens when you know how to make bread so well you don’t have to trouble with the details. You just needed the basics of how much of what ingredient. I needed the recipe to be spelled out in every minute detail! I got some advice from a friend and made the bread. It turned out well, of course, and was just the way I remembered it. That was probably six years ago now. I hadn’t made the bread since then.

I just moved to Minnesota a couple months ago and I’ve been unemployed. Nothing like unemployment to spur one on to fantastic tasks! I dug out a bread recipe and went for it. It was a disaster. I didn’t realize the yeast was “quick yeast” so I handled it wrong and killed it. The dough was cold and tough and didn’t rise so much as a millimeter in two hours. It was devastating. I rolled the dough out flat and made crackers out of it. Lots and lots of crackers. We still have some left. Then I got smart and pulled out your recipe. It worked perfectly again! In fact, I let the bread rise for too long the second time and my loaves ended up collapsing in the oven. I didn’t even know that was possible!

I make my loaves a bit bigger than you made yours. I still remember those Saturdays when I’d come over to help clean and dust and work in the garden. You always had a loaf or two of that bread around, though I never actually saw you baking it. I may have been young, but I knew you were cleaning up before I came over. That always made me laugh, and I didn’t mind. You would busy yourself with something and I’d start cleaning the bathroom, then move to dusting and vacuuming everywhere. Joe would usually be asleep on the couch. We joked a bit about his ‘after-breakfast nap, before-lunch nap, after-lunch nap,’ and so on. At lunchtime, Joe would join us in the kitchen. You sliced up beautiful thick pieces of this bread and laid out sandwich fixings. Wow those were great sandwiches. Then I’d get back to work and Joe would get back to napping.

I heard Joe passed away a couple years ago. I was amazed he made it so long. Maybe it was all those naps! More amazing is that he outlived you by so many years. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see either of you again after I moved away. I enjoyed our Saturdays together and I’m glad I have this wonderful bread recipe to remember you by.

I’ve got to get going now: the dough needs punching down!


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