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[personal profile] dogriver
I've talked a lot in these entries about things in my childhood which I took for granted, underappreciated, etc. One of the things that does not fall into that category, though, is my mom's delicious home-made bread.

This was not at all an uncommon scene for me growing up. My brother and I would get off the bus after school. Walking down the driveway to our farm, I would smell the incredible aroma of bread baking in the oven. "Mom's making buns," I would casually point out to my brother. My brother couldn't smell it, he thought I was just making it up. But sure enough, when we got inside, that's exactly what was happening, and I was greated with a plate of piping hot buns that you couldn't touch comfortably, they were that fresh. I'm sure these would have tasted great with butter, peanut butter, or something else on them, but I was never interested. When the buns were that hot, I just wanted to eat them as they were.

One argument that we always had in the house was with my dad, who had grown up with bread that was, to our minds, rock hard. So when Mom was baking for Dad, she had to make the buns that way. Great test of jaw muscles, to be sure, and they were still delicious, make no mistake, but I, for one, preferred my bread to be softer.

I have a memory of me as a very, very young child. Mom was baking, and she pulled a pan of buns out of the oven and, as was her habit, put them on the ironing board, covered with a clean towel, to cool. Then she left the kitchen for whatever reason. Little Brucie, that's me, was very much aware of these buns, and was also of the opinion that the soft insides were the best part of them. So while Mom was out, I proceeded to scoop the insides out of the buns, eat them, and leave the shells on the pan. I'm not positive what Mom's reaction to all this was. I seem to recall she had a very hard time scolding me, because she saw the humor in the whole thing. She did seem to get the point across, though, that this was not to be done, since I don't remember committing any such crimes again.

Less common than the buns were the loaves of home-made bread that Mom baked. These made wonderful sandwich bread, or bread and butter to go with meat and potatoes. But what was really amazing was toast made from this bread. Getting such toast was very much a rarity. Mom always insisted on using store-bought bread for toast. "You don't make toast from home-made bread," she insisted. Until a very few years ago, I thought this was some form of pride, as if to say making toast from her home-made bread was some sort of insult. She never explained it, so I had to realize on my own that the reason she did not make toast from home-made bread was that the home-made bread wasn't quite as cohesive as store-bought bread. Slices tended to disintegrate a little in the toaster, leaving crumbs and pieces of bread that had to be extracted later. When I asked her if this was her reason, she said yes it was. Why she didn't just tell me that in the first place, I don't know.

Mom is well into her seventies now. Still going strong, she is definitely slowing down, and she can't make as much wonderful food as she once did. This is okay, she's earned a rest, and the food she does make is 100% as good as it ever was. And it's something special I can enjoy from time to time, an expression of the incredible love my mom has for her four sons. I have never tasted bread that tastes exactly as my mom's home-made bread does. A lot of other things can be learned by her daughters-in-law, but there is something special about the bread that no one else has been able to emulate. When the food from mom eventually stops, I think it will be a tie between the bread and the chicken noodle soup that I miss the most. But I am so blessed to have such wonderful memories; and, while the chance is still there, may I never pass it up.

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Bruce Toews

August 2017

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