Miriam's Musings: Breaking Bread


I finally conquered a very old fear. You may find it laughable that for a long while I harbored a terror of unicellular fungi, aka, yeast, but how that fear held me back!

I have been cooking since my late teens, hosting friends at my parents’ house whenever they were away for an evening. When I got married I continued inviting family and friends for meals, cooking in our apartment’s tiny kitchen. You don’t need a fancy or big kitchen to cook, and I managed to turn out plentiful food in a galley with a miniscule refrigerator and essentially zero counter space.

As our family grew, so did the opportunities for preparing feasts. Birthdays, Shabbat and holidays are cause for celebratory repasts. We subsequently moved to bigger apartments with normal size kitchens, so preparing and storing ingredients became easier. I cooked soups, stews, lasagnas and fish dishes, concocted salads and dips. They were mostly vegetarian with the occasional fleishig meal to satisfy the masses. I was happy about what we ate, but something was missing. And I don’t mean meat!

Though I did more of my fair share of cooking, the one thing I did not do was bake. Instead, I frequented local bakeries for fresh breads, pastries and cakes. But as our kids were growing up I wanted to share the joy of scraping the mixing bowl with a spatula and licking it clean. I wished for our house to be filled with the delicious aroma of fresh-baked anything. Occasionally I resorted to buying Duncan Hines brownies or chocolate chip cookie mixes. I got my kids to crack some eggs, measure oil, stir and taste and called it baking but I knew deep down that I was really a poser!

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