Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Make it Rise

I read somewhere recently that women have forgotten the crafts of homemaking. No, I'm not talking glue guns and scrapbooks I'm talking about the "craft" of living. Making candles, making soap, making bread, butchering, gardening, sewing....back in the day women were required to do these tasks in order for their families to survive and prosper. Women took pride in their everyday housework. The industrial revolution changed all that. Instead of being self sufficient, families began to rely on wages. The husbands went out to earn money, leaving an IMMENSE task list to the ladies at home. Modern conveniences were invented to help women with the  "drudgery" of home keeping. So what's left? Millions of women, stuck at home with a brand new vacuum cleaner, prepackaged food, a credit card and a whole lotta depression and loneliness. No wonder the housewife gets such a bad reputation.

I would like to relearn some of the traditional homemaking crafts so as to make my home the best that it can possibly be. This IS my job. Just because I don't go out and earn money does not mean my contributions to my family aren't as important as my husband's monetary ones. The home should be your oasis and it is my job to make that true. That's not saying I'm going to be butchering my own animals or sewing up homemade maxi pads, but there are a few things that would not only be practical to learn, but that would instill in me a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I don't need to make my own candles, or chop wood, or sew a button hole but acquiring these skills will make me feel good about being able to take care of my family without whipping out the cash. Who knows? Given the state things, we may have to revert back to the simple, non-manufactured way of doing things. And, making anything from scratch is an opportunity to green up your home by avoiding excess packaging, petroleum product and yucky chemicals.

Anyway, homemaking skill #329 I want to learn is making bread from scratch. I'm an old pro at quick breads. No rising, no punching.....just mix, pour and bake. I've never made a yeast bread without the aid of the bread machine and even with an automated helper, the bread still wasn't quite right. My aunt, who is a chef, makes French bread every few days. She never uses a recipe, just goes by the feel of the dough. Right. You wanna know how my dough felt? Wrong. That's how it felt. It felt wrong. I misread the directions and neglected to add about three cups of flour. After a few fistfuls of flour and some very stick fingers, I got the dough kneaded into something resembling a ball, oiled it and set to rise.

 My Little Dough Ball

It Grew!

It rose as expected. Punching it down was the best part. Long story short, I divided it, let it rise again, egg washed it and finally, two decent looking loaves emerged from my oven. The best part? It was good. I think next time I'll add a little more salt and a hair more yeast to make it a little fluffier. It was a bit dense. But certainly not bad for my first time.  The kiddos certainly enjoyed it. They killed half a loaf before dinner!

Purty, no?
How much bread can I put in mouth?
It's delicious Mom!

I paired the bread with a beef stew made with homemade stock, carrots from the garden,and beef from the family ranch. The crusty loaves were a perfect companion. An entire meal made from scratch. Every single bit of it. Super cool! One up for the housewife...


  1. so on my final exam, we had to write an essay about social history and the women's societal roles...i legitimately wrote, "It was common back in that time for the man to be considered the "breadwinner" of the family and for the woman to make a sandwich out of that bread."

  2. Boo to Eric C.'s comment. He can make his own damn sandwich and he can't use my bread to do so!

  3. i love the post stephanie! I feel the exact same way. I'd love it if every woman would just go back to the good old days when we were happy with the few things we had and we could do the laundry and clean the house and bake bread all day.