Homesteading Blurb: Baking as a Magical Art

So, earlier this month, we bought a convection oven. We have not had an oven in a really long time. Even before we moved out to woods. The last house I lived at had a stove-top, but the oven was broken. So, it’s been almost three years, I think, since I’ve had a working oven. So, as you can imagine, I’m really enjoying it. It was actually not planned, but when we went to one of the foodbanks at the beginning of the month that we occasionally go to, one of the things they gave out was bags of “yeasty bread and biscuit dough”, ready to be baked. We showed up near the end of the food distribution day, so they had to get rid of all the extra food they had left, which means they gave us a lot of it. Luckily we had not decided what to do with that month’s “homestead money” yet. So, it was pretty easy to decide on getting a convection oven. Like I said before, I’m not going to buy a microwave, because it will encourage laziness and I think it’ll be too easy to fall back into old habits. You can still cook a lot of the crap processed foods in a convection oven, but it takes longer, and if it takes 45 minutes to cook a $1 pot pie, than why not make something that’s actually good? Anyway that’s my reasoning. Sometimes to make good decisions you have to fight your baser instincts. Human beings love instant gratification, and the processed foods industry has succeeded like it has for good reasons. I admit that we did treat ourselves to a couple of pizzas in the oven, since it’s been years since we’ve had one, but that’s going to be a very, very rare thing, unless we make it ourselves.

Anyway, the bread dough we got was delicious, and it fills the house with a wonderful smell. I love it. It really made me want to start to make my own from scratch. I’ve tried making my own bread before, but the dough always failed to rise. I didn’t know what I was doing so I cooked it anyway, and of course it was really, really dense. We found out later that our mistake was using tap water when we lived in the city. The chlorine and fluoride and all the city chemicals just straight-up killed the yeast organisms.

When I told one of the neighbors that I had gotten the oven and I had been enjoying baking bread, I could see her lusting after it. Her family lives completely off-grid, with no electricity. Alex and I actually had so much of the dough that I was worried about it going bad before we could use it all, so I offered to bake some fresh and bring it to her family in a few days. I obviously wanted to do it in the evening so that her kids could enjoy it when they came home from school.

Anyway, when I was making the bread today, something happened. Kneading the dough was also really therapeutic. It filled me with a profound sense of peace, which was really incredible. I had already baked bread for us several times, but something about making it for somebody else changed the experience. I prayed to Demeter, Goddess of grains, and Hestia, Goddess of home and hospitality, to bless the bread I was making so that everyone who ate from it would be filled with peace, love, prosperity, and health. Before the biscuits went into the oven, I also pressed the shape of the Wunjo rune into them, the rune of friendship, family, the bonds of kinship, and community harmony. Literally Wunjo means “joy”. When the bread was finished baking, you couldn’t see the rune in the bread very well, because the dough was very sticky and knit together really well. But oh well, the intention was there. So then I walked down to the neighbor’s and shared the fresh, hot bread with them, and sat and talked with them for a while. It was nice. I really like it out here. She recently took me to the nearby town to fill up our water jugs and go shopping (Sarah* and Ben* left a few weeks ago), so I wanted to try to do something nice for her family since she was helping me out. It was awesome. I want to bake more. Sharing the bread with my neighbors today felt really good. It was a magical thing, to share life, to share community, and it’s wonderful.



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