As a child, I lived in a small town in southern Ohio. This was long enough ago, and in an obscure enough place, that some of the things we took for granted have entered into the realm of nostalgia for all but a fortunate few communities. I remember the family that lived on the other side of the block in an enormous Victorian gingerbread house. There must have been seven or eight children in that family. Of the father, I remember only that he restored steam tractors-there was always a wonderfully greasy pile of machinery in their back yard-something that called out to be climbed over and through, much to my mother's laundry-day dismay. The mother I recall as a wonderfully calm and friendly woman-and a great cook. Her apple cobbler was every little boys ideal-but what I remember best was her kitchen on Saturdays, when she made a weeks worth of bread for her family. If you haven't already figured it out-that is a lot of bread. Looking back, I realize now that they didn't have much-might even be considered barely getting along-and really couldn't afford most store-bought products. Yet even with the knowledge that what she was doing was a necessity, I can not shake the belief that the act of providing for her family in that way was immensly satisfying.
Yes, I have a bread machine. As busy as we all are, the time to make bread by hand is almost never available. But every now and then I just have to spend a day baking.