Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lots of Bread

My house smells so good. There’s nothing like the smell of baking bread. Even if you don’t want to eat the bread, it’s worth baking it just so you can experience the aroma.
I’m testing recipes for my cookbook and my daughter Liz is coming in from California tomorrow morning: two perfect excuses to bake bread, lots of it.
The braided challah really does taste as good as it looks and Liz has already made me promise to make challah French toast. She asked me to text her some pictures of the bread so she could tantalize her friends. I think my children’s friends were able to smell the French toast from across town. Somehow, when I was frying the French toast, kids just started showing up.
That’s the way it was when we lived in our big old house with its commercial range: kids just showed up. Sometimes they stayed for dinner and sometimes they stayed overnight. When we were doing construction on our house, the contractor asked how many children we had. “Every day the total is different,” he said, “and where do they all come from?”
Food was always the centerpiece of our lives. We tried to have dinner together most nights--dinner provided a forum for communication. Every night we had school reports: the kids told us what they had done that day. The reports were graded, but I don’t remember how old they were when they figured out that everyone got the same grade.
Dinner may be the twenty first century’s missing link. Even if the family eats together, kids come to the table with their cell phones, video games, and ipods. I might have been mean with all my rules, but our dinners proceeded without interruption: no phones, no TV, no leaving the table until everyone was finished eating. And everyone was expected to come to dinner when called. We started eating regardless of the attendance tally and sometimes the tardy kid didn’t find much food left. Hunger is a good teacher; no one came late more than a few times.
Now I’m working on a cookbook that will include food for everyone, including the dogs. My children are grown and have homes of their own, but they still remember the busy dinners at our house and I know they can smell the bread. Let cooking for the dogs and baking dog biscuits awaken your family to the fun you can have cooking and eating together, dogs included.

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