THE AMISH COOK: Gloria appreciates the simpler things…
I know it sounds lazy, but if I could, I’d just press a button and have a whole batch (yes, a whole batch!) of five loaves of fresh, steaming bread right now, straight from the oven. In fact, I’d have a slice right now with butter and plenty of honey! As a little girl, I’d dream of just having buttons to push to wash the dishes or do other jobs I didn’t care for. Recently, Julia came up with an identical brainstorm. I smiled as I listened to her ideas of having things done by the push of a button, then told her how I used to dream about the same things.
Now, 20 years later, I can’t help but marvel at all the things that can now be done by a touch or swipe of the finger, which I never imagined possible. And yes, it’s all to save time. Do we have more time since we have more conveniences than they did 50 years ago?
Let me quickly hasten to insert that I do have a deep appreciation for technology in more ways than I could count. Still, I ask myself, “Are we any happier than they were back than? Are these things, which we’re convinced we deserve, think we need, or at least want real bad, actually giving us what we want out of life?”
I like to simplify and cut corners where I can. It can be a strength, yet it’s also been my weakness. Then I think of Daniel, or his sister Mary — it seems like they really don’t care how hard they have to work to accomplish the task at hand, they just dig in and do what it takes, while I’d probably be coming up with this brilliant (or supposedly brilliant) idea of how to simplify things. Their take on life is so much more straightforward: they have time to do what needs to be done, no matter how unpleasant the job may be, merely because they go at it with a will. And not only that, but once they’re done, they don’t have all these fancy stories telling everyone how hard they had to work.
Now here I’m a mother of five little ones, and repeatedly find myself wondering exactly how I will go about teaching them to work with a will, play hard, and enjoy life, all without feeling cheated if they think their job was harder than their sibling’s or classmates. A thought just popped into mind. At our last parent-teacher meeting, someone mentioned, “You can tell your children whatever you like, but you will end up reproducing who you are!” That was quite sobering for me! If I think I’ll be able to hide negative attitudes or even critical thoughts about others from my children, I just got done playing a big trick on myself!
By the way, yes, we do go to PTA meetings now, I almost can’t believe it myself; our little girl, who was a toddler but yesterday, is now in first grade. Not only that, but Daniel is also on the school board, so we get in on quite a bit of school stuff these days, which we enjoy. Just yesterday, we took hot lunch for the teachers and all the school children. We enjoyed every bit of it, and even got to help the children play during recess time.
Since we can’t just press a button to have our fresh bread walking by on wheels, why not join me as we roll up our sleeves and mix up a batch of good old-fashioned bread? I remember as a very young girl, helping my mother by kneading bread dough for her, and to my shame, I distinctly recall how I thought it was completely unfair that my brothers didn’t have to take their turn. You know what? Today I am going to look for an opportunity to simply thank her for not giving in to all my wimpy ideas and self-pity.
GLORIA’S HOMEMADE BREAD
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon instant yeast
2 rounded tablespoons wheat gluten*
3 cups whole wheat flour
9-10 cups bread flour
Mix well. Rise until double (about 30 minutes), then smash down and rise again until double. Next spread a bit of shortening onto the table or wherever you’re working out your dough. Knead into a loaf shape, one at a time, dividing into four well-greased loaf pans (it’ll be approximately 1 1/2 pound per loaf).
Let rise another 30-45 minutes or until well doubled. Bake at 350 degrees. After 15 minutes, rotate pans and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove bread from pans. Let sit 20 minutes before putting into bags. By placing in bags while partially warm, it produces a softer bread.
*Available in bulk food stores.