This Bread is Love

If you read this blog regularly you'll know that my sister Susan is a regular contributor. Although we currently live 300 miles apart, we exchange notes daily, especially on what we've been cooking and eating. It's been a real lifeline these past few months when we can't visit each other. And we collaborate on recipes as we recall our many food memories. Susan is retired now from her second career as a teacher (her first career was paralegal) and we had hoped to spend more time together. Regrettably, that hasn't happened but we "cook" together almost daily.

I recently asked Susan for a recipe that meant something "special" to her. Here's what she sent me.

I was a new mother when we lived in Colorado Springs 25 years ago. I was also a stay at home mom trying to figure out my daily schedule with a newborn daughter. By 5:00pm every day, I was tired and had to figure out what to prepare for dinner. We were fortunate to have wonderful neighbors who were always dropping off food for us to enjoy. One of my favorite "drop off dishes" was a delightful homemade bread made by Ann, our next door neighbor. She was a petite woman with three active children who were very involved in baseball. Ann hailed from Texas and had a big voice, a true southern drawl and an infectious laugh. She often admitted she was no cook but she could make a mean loaf of bread. 

Late one afternoon when faced with another "what's for dinner" moment, Ann appeared at the door with a loaf of the most delicious bread right out of the oven. It was on a cookie sheet covered with a red plaid tea towel. The bread was so aromatic, I tore off an end and ate it. She explained this was a bread her mama showed her how to make and she made all the time for her family. I had never baked bread before so I asked for the recipe which she dropped over the next day. 

It was written on a recipe card which I keep in a ziplock bag in my spice cabinet. When we moved from Colorado Springs to Virginia 22 years ago, I placed that ziplock bag in my handbag so it wouldn’t get lost in the move. I’ve made this bread many times. Sometimes it is a bread loaf sometimes it’s a round loaf. 

One of my brother-in-laws gave me a bread machine as a gift one Christmas years ago. I used it a few times but wasn’t impressed. I loved the feel of kneading the dough as it was very relaxing. Ended up gifting the bread machine to a neighbor.
Recently I made this bread 🥖 during the pandemic as I am cooking more. I kept one loaf and gave a still warm loaf to my neighbor who is a nurse anesthetist at a big Washington hospital. My husband took it over one evening after she'd worked a grueling 12+ hour shift at the hospital with some homemade soup; she texted me to say she was fighting over eating it with her husband.

This bread is very simple according to Ann and you can’t mess it up. I’ve made this bread many times over the last 25 years. This bread is made with love. 



My own bread baking experience has been limited (with the exception of mastery of Parker House rolls) yet I do appreciate good bread. Yeast has always scared me quite frankly, but my friend Carol gave me expert guidance this winter, even sending me yeast in the mail from Michigan which was in short supply everywhere. I'm nowhere in Carol's league--she is a bread connoisseur and truly a bread scientist. Another friend, Judi was kind enough to leave a jar of yeast at her front door during the early days of the COVID shutdown, so I could bake bread. That's what friends are for. 


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