Our Stories

Baking Memories

November 13, 2017

Mrs. Sowerby said, “I’ve thought of a way to help ’em.

I’ll bake ’em a crusty cottage loaf, same as you children like.

Nothin’s so good as fresh bread.

Then they could take off th’ edge o’ their hunger while they were in their garden.”

The Secret Garden
by my great great grandmother…Frances Hodgson Burnett

Good…Fresh….Bread…I LOVE it.

And I noticed long ago, that one of the best ways to connect with people…is to feed them…nourish them. Susan Sowerby in The Secret Garden knew this truth too. Bread especially can “take the edge off” she noted, which opens us up to each other, no matter the setting.

I have not always been a bread baker, so I am thankful that nourishment can be given and received in so many different forms. Food of course nourishes…but so do words, music, and even smells.

Is there something yummy that you can always come back to in your mind or even in person…that instantly fills you up with joy and sweet memories? Is it the smell of Grandma’s homemade bread slathered in butter, a song your daddy used to always play in the car, or an encouraging word from a dear old friend?

Go ahead…breathe it in right now…let it fill and nourish you…whatever that smell, song, or word is for you.

Doesn’t that feel good?

It’s so incredibly important to know what nourishes and sustains us, so we can come back to it when things get tough in the varying seasons in life.

What nourishes me? Well…this beautiful box of goodness below. (do you see the bread right in the middle?)

This is my HAPPY PLACE, and everything on here feeds my soul.

In this space, I can SMILE BIGGER, Breathe Easier,
and I am quite sure when I am there
I am Reflecting Big Doses of JOY back into the Universe.

my happy place

CLICK HERE to read more about My Happy Place and consider creating one of your own!

But today I also want you to consider this:

What are you nourishing others with these days?

Baked fresh by me, the “bread lady” aka Lawsin’s mom each game day.

For the last two seasons…my son’s football team has been routinely nourished by one large pre-sliced loaf of my homemade game day bread. Like clockwork on Wednesday nights, our home will fill with the blissful aroma of fresh bread baking…signaling to all in sniffing-distance…that a Warrior’s game day is near.

Perhaps like Susan Sowerby said…it “takes the edge off” their hunger between the time school ends and their game, and perhaps it gives them energy to push through the hard times on the field. But what matters most to this Momma, is that this bread is connecting me to my son’s tribe. They may not know my name, but they know my bread. I am to them, not just Lawsin’s mom, but the game day Bread Lady…baking magic into each loaf of bready goodness…JUST FOR THEM.

I hope for a minute, while they savor each bite, that they feel special, loved, and full inside before they pour themselves out again on that field.

But for now, football season is over. And as I type this, I am reminded that I need to be more purposeful in what I “cook up” and feed to those around me. This point was driven home recently, when my sweet sister-in-law Gina shared with me a speech she had written and presented at a recent Toastmasters meeting. Honestly, I cried when I first read it…as I had no idea that my simple loaf of handmade bread, my words of encouragement, and my recipe had NOURISHED not only her…but now her whole family.

Her words below are such a great reminder that:

We are ALWAYS feeding those around us…

so BE AWARE of the ingredients and words

you are stirring into the mix…

as you never know which ones

they will chew on the longest. 

Enjoy her beautiful words below and the link to “the book” that can make even the worst cook into a confident bread-maker in honestly 5 minutes a day!

Bread-y, Set, Go, 

FHB and Especially this “thinks she’s Punny Girl”…Me


Baking Memories Speech by Gina D.

“Imagine you are standing next to an oven from which has just been pulled fresh…baked…bread.  (*Inhale)

How many of you can recall the yummy fragrance?  I can remember it well, like it was yesterday, because it was.

Yes, I bake bread for my family, but I haven’t always done that – No, don’t let me mislead you to believe that I am the Susie Homemaker type, because I’m not.  In fact, I’m more the sous chef/dishwasher type supporting my husband the Head Chef, only taking over when he travels for work.  But these days my family looks expectantly for the crusty light brown loaves to appear each week, usually on Sunday.

Today, I’m going to share with you the story of why I started baking, what happened to me after I did, and why I still do.

I would like to be able to stand before you and tell that my baking began as an act of generosity on my part, but that isn’t the case.   It actually started out of jealousy of my sister-in-law and her ability.  I adore Keri like my little sister and have always envied her a little.  I remember clearly how the atmosphere of Tad’s 50th birthday party soared when she burst in the front door of our home, calling “Hellooooo!”.  Then she presented her simple yet personal gift and my husband was obviously moved as he untied the twine wrapped around the bright red dishtowel to reveal the handmade creation and exclaimed “You made me BREAD??” I was green!  “How did you DO that?  Is it hard?  Would you share your secret with me?”, I gushed.  “Gina, you can SO do this!  And you already have the recipe – it’s in the family recipe book!”, she replied encouragingly as she quickly recounted the few simple steps.  Of course, it had been right at my fingertips the whole time, but you see, that’s not how I do things.  I was ignited by the desire to accomplish what she had already proved could be done and motivated by the few easy steps in the recipe and her belief in me, but at the end of it all, it was envy that pushed me to dive in – I wanted to be like her!

The next week, I purchased the ingredients at the store and gathered the tools I, fortunately, already had in the kitchen: a giant mixing bowl, a pizza peel and a pizza stone and set about this business of baking bread.  On the first batch, I forgot to score the top so both of my loaves birthed appendages out of one side; on the second batch, I forgot the salt.  I began to doubt my ability to follow a simple set of directions.  Do I really have the right stuff to bake, I wondered.  I reflected back to my childhood and summers spent baking with my grandmother and the rolling cloth she made me that I still have today.  No, I protested, my baking roots run deep.  Then, I remembered my mother saying “You can do anything you put your mind to” and I kept going.  I eliminated distractions when mixing ingredients, tested different oven temperatures and even split the dough in half before baking.  The more I practiced, the better my bread got.  Everyone in the family was very complimentary, especially my husband, but I realized I was no longer in it for the attention and appreciation.  Once I mastered the challenge of making bread, I stopped.

A few weeks went by, and members of my family started to make comments here and there about missing my bread.  At first, I really thought they were just being nice.  They had watched from a front row seat every trial and tribulation of my efforts to make bread and offered encouragement along the way and I thought this was more of the same.  After I made the first batch, though, I realized they really did enjoy my bread and I enjoyed seeing them enjoy it!  I began to make it from time to time, whenever I could.

My weekly commitment started one Sunday in the bread aisle of the grocery store. My youngest told me that if I was making bread that day she would not need to pick up a loaf because she liked mine better.  I don’t think I’ve missed a week since.

I never dreamed someone would prefer my bread to Mrs. Baird’s, and that’s not why I carefully plan time to mix the dough, let it rise and bake two batches every week.  It’s about strengthening the bond with everyone in my family, from my precious Sister-In-Law Keri to my darling husband.  It’s also about drawing those big girls and the boys/men in their lives to come for a visit with the promise of fresh baked bread.  And it’s about knowing that in two short years, that precious youngest child will go away to college and I won’t be able to make her bread but she will remember a time when I did.  It’s about making memories – or rather Baking Memories.”

P.S. Like my sister-in-law Gina, I am not The Pioneer Woman, Betty Crocker or Mrs. Baird, but guess what…I CAN bake bread and so can you! My friend Katie gifted me the book below…which is pretty much responsible for my “bread lady” status at Ingram High School. The basic recipe I use every week is made with the boule dough from this book with very little adjustments. And NO, the title is not false advertising…I spend no more than 5 active minutes making bread each week and I don’t own a bread machine. I LOVE this book because not only does it make it so simple, but it also has this great chart in the back for when things don’t turn out right…it’s too gummy, dry, it crumbles, etc…that helps you make adjustments going forward.

CLICK HERE to read more about the book and/or to purchase it on Amazon.