Baking Bread and Quiet Thoughts



It has been such a loud week, and I know that I’ve contributed to that volume. The news of the world and the news here at home, not to mention the constant roar of the air conditioner and the screams of two little boys has really made this week intense. While I was able to accomplish everything that I had on my tasklist this week (including, but not limited to, an average of 2,000 words per day, either in fiction or in blogging), I’m sitting here on Friday afternoon an exhausted woman.

Thank God for the Wynton Marsalis station on Pandora. I’ve got him to calm me down.  One day, I plan to visit New Orleans and eat my way though it, listening to as much jazz as I possibly can. And I’m going to make sure that every dish is spicier than the last.  One day…

I chose to bake bread today, from scratch and by hand. I love French Toast, King Arthur has a fantastic Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe that I love to us for it. I use orange zest instead of lemon zest when I make that recipe, and today I experimented by using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

I love baking bread, and I’ve learned an appreciation for doing it completely by hand. I do have a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (the best wedding gift that I gave to myself), but on days like this, there is nothing like taking the time and the energy to do your own kneading. I love the process of it, the work that goes into it, the burn in my arms and the cramp of my hands. I love the tangible result of baking bread, and the connection to something quite ancient and important as I use my strength to create pliable dough. My loaf is starting on its second rise, and I absolutely love the smell of yeast that is permeating in my apartment.

Kneading bread takes it all out–all of the thoughts about packing, all of the worries about the house search, all of my annoyances with my realtor, all of the disruptions from the boys, all of my concerns about the republic. It even takes my mind away from the roar of the air and the screaming from my television. The only thing that could better clear my mind would be to find myself on a fishing boat. Heaven is a boat, a fishing pole and a sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay. If only I could be there every day.

It is good to disconnect from the loud, loud world and to reground yourself in the things that comfort. I don’t want to say “the things that matter,” because I think that all of the news that happened this week mattered a whole hell of a lot. We have to be careful when we decide that only the immediate actions and connections of our day-to-day are the ones that matter in life. We live in context, and that greater context can have great ramifications on our precious day-to-day existence. Tuning out the world in the name of false inner peace is foolish. Stepping away briefly but keeping an attentive ear toward the world is important.

There are many things that I want to write about–including the Zimmerman trial, which is very important to me–but I cannot contribute to the loud volume of the week any longer. I’m choosing to whisper on my blog today. Motherhood has taught me a lot about the power of whispers. They are wonderful little tools to get a toddler’s attention or to tell a husband a secret, or to communicate when babies can hear. Whispers can be little songs–like at midnight when the Husband and I know that we should be sleeping but can’t keep our minds and hearts from racing. Whispers seem to be the little strings that keep us together when are bodies are too sore, our hands are too cramped, and our heads a little too full. I can’t tell you how much a whispered “I love you” means at 12:30am. Sometimes it seems so much more powerful and necessary than when it is said with fullness of consciousness at 5 in the afternoon.

I hope that you’ll take the time to whisper today and this weekend. That you’ll listen to the whispers of those around you and delight in quiet company. I wish you giggles and tickles, snuggles and cuddles. If your days are spent alone, I hope your find connection in an email, phone call or skype.  I hope that each of you has the opportunity to sleep until you are no longer tired this weekend, and that you fill your mornings with rich food and good coffee. I wish you moments of reflection within the religion of your choice (or a quiet moment of thought if religion is not your thing). I wish you all profound moments, quiet and powerful, dignified and important. Until Monday, when the volume will be turned up again and the pace will resume to break-neck capacity. This blog, most likely, included.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. zeudytigre says:

    I love to bake bread from scratch but do it so rarely now. Inspired by this post, perhaps I will do so this weekend 🙂

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I hope that your loaf is as wonderful as mine was! It really is a wonderful hobby that I’m glad I picked up! 🙂

  2. We only ate homemade bread till after the birth of my fourth child- we all love it

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I really should invest in some whole wheat flour and start making my own sandwich bread. I see no reason to pay this money anymore if I know how to do it myself.

      Best to you and your children. My goodness–4 must be a handful. I was just sitting here daydreaming about having a third….then a toddler started screaming and I came back down to earth.

      1. three is the easiest because community springs to life. Even th toddler will adore “helping”, making the baby laugh and fetching for you ofr picking up the toys that the baby tosses from the highchair. I have 9 kids

        1. K.C. Wise says:

          WOW!!! 9 children!!?!?! God Bless!!!

          You know, if I had the financial means, I really would try to have more. I feel like 2 is just barely financially possible right now. 3 will really be stretching it, and that’s why we’re so weary. We really want a third, but we know it would be a financially impractical right now. It’s not just about the food and diapers right now, but the clothes and the field trips and the sports and stuff later… not to mention college!

          I can only imagine what you’re doing with 9!

          The thought of 9 college tuitions makes my stomach turn.

          But really, God Bless and more power to you. I wish I could be you, I really do!

          1. no you don’t. this was a specific callin and vocation. We did on a farm with grace and miracles. Luckily in canada university ic chaper, a lot of grants, bursaries, interset free loans are available. NOT the same as the S.S. at all

          2. sorry for all the typos but you get the gist

          3. K.C. Wise says:

            That totally makes sense–they are personal choices, all. I was really expressing that I wish I had the opportunity to have more than we are planning. It would be liberating to feel like we COULD have more children if we really wanted to, rather than feeling constrained.

            If only the US could figure out a way to make our higher-ed system more affordable.

            and you should know that my husband and I absolutely LOVE Canada! We’ve been twice since we were married–once to Niagara Falls and once to Montreal. We’d really like to get over to Vancouver one year. We’re always absolutely happy when we are up there. Canada is such a beautiful, giving, and welcoming place. .

          4. K.C. Wise says:

            Oh. Oh snap. Really? It’s on like Donkey Kong!!! You know that it’s July 4th week, so I was feeling all hooorah American anyway! And now this? THIS!?!?! This is wonderful inspiration!

  3. Carolyn Dekat says:

    Thanks for a lovely, calming post! It’s been too long since I baked bread…. I think this is my weekend to enjoy the company of my sisters for a few hours and then read as long as I want! 🙂

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      That sounds like the perfect day!! I hope that you enjoy it!

  4. This was so cool. I like the idea of stepping away but remaining attentive.

    So…how’d the brown sugar turn out?

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      It turned out very well! It made the dough rise faster and higher. I don’t know anything of the science of it, but I suspect that there is a higher sucrose content in brown sugar and maybe the yest liked that more? It made the bread less dense and our french toast this morning was delightfully fluffy. Very good stuff!! You should try it!

      1. I would rather drive to a few thousand miles to MA and have you do it than do it myself. I am NOT a cooker person. I hate touching food and paper. Irony: my two favorites things are reading books and eating.

        Congratulations on your toast-experiment! It sounded so yummy this morning. Way better than the slice of cheese and piece of gum I had. Well, yes, i AM on a fast track to certain death by diet, why do you ask?

        Now, to this dough rising business. I’m no scientist, but I think it’s the added moisture of brown sugar (due to its molasses content) that increases the activation of the yeast. Yeast doesn’t actually consume sugar, it consumes the oxygen (and other fiddly bits) in all of the ingredients: water, air, sugar, etc.

        Since white sugar is just brown sugar without the molasses, it would naturally have fewer O2 atoms in its structure for the yeast to eat.

        That’s my so-got-D’s-in-science-all-thru-school theory. You’ll have to do some snooping to find out if there’s any proof to it.

        Pun not intended.

        1. K.C. Wise says:

          Well look at who has been watching too much Bill Nye the Science Guy! Thank you for the lesson. 🙂

          1. HAHA, yeah sure. sounds all fancy, but i couldn’t bake that bread of yours without burning that kitchen down, or tell you the difference between forks. total culinary fail.

  5. Joyce says:

    New Orleans is about three hours from me so I’ve had the opportunity to go many times. I haven’t seen Wynton but I’ve seen his daddy 🙂 The music is great everywhere you go and the food too. I highly recommend a trip there at your earliest opportunity.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I am so flippin’ jealous. One of these days, I’m just gonna buy a ticket. I want every dish to be spicier than the next. Tabasco and Sweet Tea will be my only companions. lol

      If I had a heart attack with tabasco on my tongue and jazz in my ears, I’d die a happy woman. Lord knows, with my high blood pressure, that would very likely happen if I spent a weekend in NOLA.

      1. Joyce says:

        Do it! There’s never a bad time to go.

  6. Loved your whisperings today…came at just the right moment…have inspired me on my blog post…reflections…a lot to reflect on… Thank you.x

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