Yesterday, the last day of snowy wintery January, I had the time and inclination to oatmeal bread and it all came back, why I LOVE toasting bread.
Making bread is something I just know how to do because I learned it at home from my mother and my Grandma Minta, both of whom were excellent bakers. I am not an "excellent" bread maker like my grandmother and I don't think my mother was nearly as excellent as her mom. Minta always said her mother was an extraordinary cook and that her own cooking was not even close, not even close, to the food that her mother Jesse Belle Wood made (that was her name Jesse Belle- my great grandmother). So maybe that attitude runs in the family.
I will say that I can whip up a pretty tasty loaf when I want to, even though this batch was a little less than perfect to look at.
The loaf stuck to the bottom of the pan and I had to work it out so it flattened a little at the top under pressure. I made bread on the fly, sans all the extensive techniques required to make a perfect Minta loaf. She was a perfectionist and I, at the moment, am still an ordinary everyday bread maker. But that might change after the bread I just made. I may have seen the light to a new cooking craft.
I know what a good loaf of bread must look like, I know what it should taste like. I know from strong memory and experience what my grandmother's oatmeal bread toasted with lots of butter tastes like. Minta made loaves of bread weekly for years and perfected her production techniques. Her bread was always easy to slice, light, yet firm. It was delicious toasted and she allowed her 5 hungry grandchildren to indulge in buttered toast whenever we visited her humble home.
The funny thing about my grandmother was that we never "helped" her make anything. She was in charge. The kitchen was her domain, the quality of the food was her standard. It was through observation and osmosis that I learned and carry on the traditions of her cooking today. We learned to taste good food.
When G came home from school, I cut a slice of fresh warm bread and offered it to her. One bite and I could tell the tradition of quality was being transferred to her. This morning we had a slice of toasted oatmeal bread for breakfast and the same sense of appreciation of quality happened again.
This is how we can teach kids to cook well. First, they have to taste quality and then they can learn to prepare food that is good to eat.
Here is the recipe I tried yesterday. I talked to my sister who has Jesse Belle's recipe for Oatmeal bread, which I'll try next.