Friday, June 25, 2010
Man Cannot Live by Bread Alone
(Abby is right beside the part of the counter where the loaf of bread was. The main counter is to the left.)
My grandmother owned a bread maker which I used a couple of times a month. I would make bread, pizza dough and donuts with that bread maker. Normally I’m skittish about baking with yeast because it’s a pain properly preparing yeast based products since the optimum temperature in which the yeast will work is somewhat narrow, too cold, the yeast’s “activity” is too low and the bread won’t rise, too hot, and the proteins in the yeast will breakdown, and once again the bread won’t rise. The bread maker removed that attention to detail needed for baking with yeast that would otherwise overwhelm my occasional fastidious self. Sometimes in the kitchen, the chemist in me comes out and my overly cautiousness can double the time needed to measure out or weigh things. And yes, I do have a kitchen scale which I absolutely love.
So, on the second weekend of my mom’s Great Britain trip, I baked a loaf of bread. The amount of work needed for fresh bread was cut down quite a bit with this bread maker making this task easy and routine. It was so easy and routine in fact that I can’t even remember making the loaf itself on that day. However where things do become vivid is when I removed the loaf from the bread maker and cut a slice, putting the loaf on the side counter while I put the sliced-off piece on the main counter. Now the loaf, or the rest of it, was at my back. I was putting some butter on my slice of bread when I noticed Abby hustling down the kitchen and into the dining room. “How odd”, I thought. She didn’t seem to be in a playful mood, and no one was in the other room calling her, “Why is she running like that?” As I walked towards her, I noticed an empty space where the remaining loaf had been. Abby took the loaf and darted into the dining room with it (I have mentioned that she was getting bigger, right?). I have no doubt that if I gave her a chance, she would have eaten the whole thing! I couldn’t believe how stealthy and bold she was in taking that bread. I didn’t hear a thing, nothing, and my hearing is pretty damn good.
In my heart, I thought it was cute and funny that Abby would sneak on the counter and take the whole loaf of bread like that, but on the outside, I had to maintain some standards and discipline by admonishing her and giving her a ‘little spank’. I took the loaf from her and threw it away. I said the usual things like “Bad girl”, “Did you do that?” or “Do you want a spank?” I swatted her rump but didn’t hit hard. By this time, the events leading up to the spank, such as saying the word ‘spank’ itself was more upsetting to Abby than the actual spanking itself.
I think the lesson she learned was “Don’t take food from Gary” and not “Don’t take food from the counter” which I intended it to be. A couple of years later when I was no longer living at home, my mom told me a couple of stories of how Abby sneaked food off the kitchen counter and also the coffee table. The coffee table is right at eye level for her so any unattended food there was too tempting for her to pass up. However when she took a sandwich from the counter when she was around 10 or so, she knew better and was trying to get away with something since my mom, the non-disciplinarian, was home alone and wouldn’t spank her.
As a matter of fact, I think her lesson from that day when she took the loaf of bread from was indeed “Don’t take food from Gary” and not “Don’t take food from the counter.” When Abby lived with me at my condo in the downtown Raleigh area, not once did she take food from my counter or coffee table even though she had ample opportunities to do so.
That loaf of bread would be the last I made, ever as of this writing. My aunt wanted that bread maker, so she told my mom to give it to her, which she did. How often did my aunt use it, I don’t know. The last time I saw it was at my aunt’s house sitting in the utility room above the washer and dryer.