Tag Archives: bread

First Child Syndrome

 My wife informed me, as we detoxed from dinner-bath-bed routine, that two of my daughter’s contemporaries who are also first children can now write their names. Our daughter has always lagged these two in language development, yet the impulse to wake her up and get her started writing not only her name but a long dissertation on the relative merits of crunchy cereal versus many color Cheerios (multigrain).

I have to push down this impulse, but how much? Right now, she is happily tracing her name on a placemat that her father-in-law brought to us many moons ago. This is her right place, or is she doomed to never be admitted to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or any other big name school?

Having taught in elementary school for a long time, I have seen many first children who were pushed way beyond comfort levels to perform well academically. They became people pleasers and perfectionists to the point of major anxiety. Also, these students were often the ones who had difficulty taking risks intellectually, and thus did not develop their intuitive skills. All of this is something I want to avoid for my daughter. So is not being able to spell her name at three and a half helping?

All I know that is today, we baked bread, we cooked potato dal (she used the food processor and measured ingredients; I did the chopping), and she walked to the store and back for groceries. She must be learning something.


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Painting her World

 My daughter loves to paint, and luckily she gets the opportunity often at school. Today, she asked to paint, and we got out the supplies. She chose the small brush that comes with the set, and I got the large one. We experimented with mixing different colors in the palette area of the paint set and rinsing the brush between different colors. I created a few shapes at her request that she then tried to trace around. There were so many learning experiences wrapped up in just a short painting session. 

Earlier, we made our second batch of bread dough. This time we used less salt and a bit of whole wheat flour because we ran out of white. The dough rose, so the yeast is working, and tomorrow we will bake more loaves.

 A very large part of my childhood involved creative materials and baking. Paint sets and paper, some scissors, crayons. We used these to decorate our world and create our play. We had very few pre-determined toys that had a story already attached. I remember once I got an Evil Kenevil motorcycle and rider that had a pull cord to make it go. It was soon broken. The robust blocks and legos, the endless supply of paper from dad’s school, and even things like lawn chairs and blankets were, in the end, much more satisfying.

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A half-baked loaf

Today we baked the first loaf! Using the brand new oven thermometer, I heated the oven to 450 (475 on the oven) and let my first loaf rise. The crust looked nice and brown, and the whole family was finishing dinner. I took it out and sliced through– dough!

We cut off a few edges that were cooked through and ate our first baked bread. It was yummy if a bit salty.

I stuck the remaining loaf back in the oven, and it came out fifteen minutes later cooked all the way through. It was still moist, too. My daughter was proud of her bread. 

Dough – not bread

 Well, after getting the tools and materials to try out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, I got started today after nap and quiet time. I don’t know if the one year-old took his nap, but I sure did!

The 3.5 year old was very excited to get started. First we measured warm water into the mixing bowl. Then we measured and added yeast and salt. Last, we measured and added flour. We put the bowl in the mixer, its inaugural use, locked down the arm, and turned it on. It was amazing how much easier it was to watch a mixer create dough before our eyes than the many times I have hand kneeded or stirred dough or batter of many kinds. I am a convert already!

We then set the timer for two hours, an amount of time outside the comprehension of my daughter, and left the dough to rise. With dinner starting early, we were not able to bake bread today. Probably Wednesday will be the first chance to see how this recipe works.


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Give them Bread

 One of my fond memories from childhood is making bread. We kept a sourdough start in the fridge, and each week we baked bread. I don’t remember how long this went on or how old I was, but I do remember the wonderful smell of baking bread, the chance to participate in cooking, and the small muffin sized breads that my sisters and I were allowed to make.

My wife had a bread maker before we married, and it has sat in a cupboard or on the kitchen counter when I get it out intending to start making bread. This impulse has done nothing but take up counter space and add a layer of dust to an already neglected bread maker.

Last week I picked up Artisan Bread in Five Minutes by Hertzberg and Francois in hope of kicking my bread making into gear. Tonight I will read enough to get the basics and go shopping tomorrow for the materials and ingredients I need. Bread will happen, and the kids will be part of the process. 


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