Jun 202014

From the writing prompt: What is your secret for good health?

Our daily bread is whole wheat, kernels pulverized, a loud cracking sound emitted from my machine that grinds it all into ten cups of coarse, sand-colored flour. First I cut the butter into small cubes and drop it into the bowl, then add a generous spoonful of salt and a slow dripping of molasses with some hard-packed brown sugar that softly crumbles out of its bag. I add the warm water, remembering the trick I’ve learned with whole wheat bread: the water is not on the verge of being hot, but just barely to the left of warm, and mix them all together. The flour slowly mixes down and molasses steam rises out of the bowl. It starts coming together now, following the hook on my mixer, tearing apart and coming back together. There is satisfaction in watching a loaf of bread rise and not fall when it’s put in the oven.

Josh and I sat at a table at Tepanyaki this week and watched our chef dance with knives and juggle eggs and bowls of rice. He made the knife sing as he hit the grill with it and spun it around the spatula. He sliced an onion and separated the rings, piling them gingerly one on top of the other on the grill until he had a volcano that he filled with alcohol before lighting the whole thing on fire. He cut zucchini into matchsticks and charred them with onions and mushrooms, then caramelized them with a teriyaki sauce drizzled from a bottle. My husband, who avoids zucchini whenever possible, couldn’t stuff it into his mouth fast enough.

There is no poetry in pouring a bowl of cereal, but if you were to, say, make a plate of waffles, you would hear the sound of an egg hitting a glass bowl and breaking. You would feel the silk of flour on your fingers and see the dust from the flour billow out when you dropped it into the bowl and you would see the dark amber in a pot of homemade syrup as it waits for you on the stove.

I’ve often thought that the pioneers and old-time homesteaders must have eaten very well, with meat grown right outside their house, vegetables picked from their garden, bread baked in a wood-fire stove, served hot with a pat of butter churned from the cream they milked from the cow in the barn. The warmth of the sun and the growing things that come from good clean dirt baked into everything on the table.

Technology is good and wonderful, but could we maybe go back just a few days to a time when food was more like that? There is great joy in a loaf of whole wheat bread or a zucchini or waffles with syrup when you add a touch of art and goodness.


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