Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Rite of Passage

Since coming here I’ve tried my hand at making wheat rolls. However, it’s time for a confession: although I love cooking and baking and have made everything from Pad Thai to Spanakopita and more, I had actually never made bread before. Gasp! I know, I know. How can I truly be a woman, right? I regularly make sweet breads like banana, zucchini, etc., and love to cook and bake when I have the time, but when it comes to rolls and bread, I’ve always just bought the premade loaves in the nice preserving packaging or the Pillsbury rolls you take from the container, put on the baking sheet, and bake. So when I discovered there is nothing in the way of wheat bread here, I borrowed a recipe from one of the other missionary women and decided to try my hand at it. I wish I could say the first time I just whipped it together and voila, we had wheat rolls, but my first experience didn’t happen quite like that…
I was a little over zealous in my attempt to make big, fluffy, moist rolls, so when it called for warm water to be mixed with the yeast, I boiled the water because I don’t have warm water in the kitchen. I mixed in a little cool filtered water so it wasn’t boiling, but hot, and then added it to the yeast and honey. Yup! You know what happened next. I mixed it together and waited for the reaction with the yeast to take place. Nothing happened. I started preparing the second set of ingredients. Still nothing. I decided that enough time had passed, so I combined the 2 mixtures together, kneaded, and then formed the dough into rolls. I waited for them to rise…and waited…and waited. Finally I gave up and threw them into the oven thinking they would rise while baking. 20 minutes later, they were cooked, but still as flat and unfluffly as they were when I put them in. I was a little bummed, but decided to try one hoping they still tasted just as good. Hmmmm, the best way to describe them would be firm and chewy. Actually, chewy is a bit too generous—think physical therapy for your jaw. Most of those immediately found their way to the garbage can, the others were set outside to choke the rats (hee hee, j/k). When I found out that I had killed the yeast, I decided to try it again with warm water and that made ALL the difference. I now can make warm, moist, fluffy, soft, raised rolls!
Now that I have accomplished this great feat that most everyone else in the world (men and women alike) have achieved, I must say, there is something earthy, rustic, and gratifying about this simple task. There’s something to watching the yeast bubble and froth and then kneading the dough. I felt like I was living before my time when this novelty was an everyday occurrence. I felt a bizarre connection to all the women who have lived before me because I have now taken the leap and experienced what most other women have done for thousands of years. I’ve made bread!!!

Is this to say that when I head back to the U.S. that I will make all my bread from here on out and throw off the chains of modernization? Absolutely not!! I appreciate others hard work to make my life easier. I also LOVE to find a good deal and sometimes I can buy a $5 loaf of bread for $1 through sales and coupons, so I have a very similar feeling of gratification without actually needing to bake it myself. But if I find myself with a little extra time and the desire to do something as easy as it is timeless, you may find me mixing a little yeast with some warm water and honey and smiling at the reaction.
Here are a few more pictures of food preparation.

The start of a casserole. A delicious variety of colorful vegetables.

A little sauce mixture added. I'm not normally a complete vegetarian, but while we're here I am. Just look at the meat market pictures from my previous post and you'll understand.

Hot and steaming from the oven.

Banana bread

Cleaning the green beans. You have to soak everything in bleach water for 5-10 minutes to kill the bugs.

Fresh papaya--mmmmmmm!

And juicy pineapple

I also buy a bunch of flowers every week from a local stand outside the grocery store. The 2 men who sell to me have started to remember me, so I'm getting better deals :-)

Also, don’t forget about the giveaway that’s ending in a few days. If you haven’t signed up yet, click here to read how.


  1. Well, I think I made bread for the first time when Grant wanted to make "Saint Lucia's Bread" for the Ethnic feast!! haha!!
    I have found a couple of very easy (and yummy) pizza dough recipes~~type of bread,right?!
    And lately, I've been giving my $$ to Kalyapi...she is in the bread making business and I'm supporting the young businesswoman!

  2. everything looks great! needed to see a finished bread picture! you'll need to bring me the rolls recipe when you get back :) have a great day!

  3. yummm.... can I come to your house for dinner?

    Try adding about 2 tbs of gluten flour to each cup of flour you use. It will change your life! haha. :) Really. It will!

  4. Thanks for keeping this up - we love to keep up on your adventures.