Two days in a row, I’ve baked bread. Two days in a row, it fell and was too hard. It didn’t look right at all.
What’s going on? I don’t know. Is it me or the ingredients or the oven?
No time to bake more. Heavenly days! I’m in a real pickle. I need to put the zucchini bread in the mail. But I can’t send any of these four loaves to John, our birthday boy.
I’m set on it because he doesn’t get homemade. And he knows the difference between homemade and store-bought. It’s in the taste.
Now, what do I do? My pose is like that of one who’s fighting the wind.
Panicked as I watch the clock move along and still trying to think my way through this situation. I need to get bread to him by Thursday. Today’s Monday. That means I use UPS if I can get a loaf made within a couple of hours. It’ll take 30 minutes to drive into town for mailing.
I just want to send a son a little touch of home.
We haven’t seen John since last December. Some of you mothers understand. Covid-19 hit, and family connections suddenly lessened. Face time is not the same as the real thing.
He works from home now, orders many things from Amazon including food products. He says, “My work. I just can’t risk getting sick, so I’m watchful and careful.”
So, there you are. That’s my predicament.
I read a devotion, hoping it’ll calm me down. Not slow me down, you understand, just calm me down, so I can think. I look at the date at the top of the devotional page. It says November 16th. No, that can’t be right. I walk around the counter to check the calendar.
“No, no, no, no…” Tomorrow is his birthday!
I let the dogs out. I let the dogs in. I pace a bit. I let the dogs out again.
I message John and tell him my quandary and say that his little happy gift might not get there until Thursday. I confess that I was focused on Thursday, the day of the week, not on the date. No idea why I did that. It’s clear as day now.
He gives grace. No problem for him. He’ll take homemade bread any time. The problem is totally tangled up inside me. I wanted to get the bread to him in timely fashion.
As my friend says, “My stars and garters!” I borrow her phrase and say it aloud twice! It just feels good to say it when you can’t control anything. I’m at that point.
So now what?
I reread the recipe. It’s tried and true. I’ve made this recipe at least 30 times. It never fails me. I have enough ingredients to make it one more time, just enough nuts, just enough grated zucchini.
"Okay," I say to myself, and I pray a little prayer. One more time. But that’s it!
I try to think like a chemist. It could be one ingredient, but which one? I start guessing and decide I may need new flour and new baking powder.
No time to go to a store. I call a neighbor, tell him my story, and ask if I can borrow 2 cups of flour and ½ teaspoon of baking powder.
“Sure, if I have ‘em,” he responds. “I’ll get back to you in a few minutes.”
His truck pulls into the driveway ten minutes later. He hands me plenty of flour. “But no baking powder. I don’t even know what baking powder does.”
I thank him and hand him a loaf of fallen bread. Looks a little like a sink-hole in the middle. Beige rather than brown. He looks at me.
“I’m calling it sweet bread now. I don’t know if it’ll taste good or not.”
“Sure, I’ll take it.” Off he goes.
I check the date on my baking powder again. 2010!! I get in the car and check on my closest neighbor’s baking powder. Hers is out-of-date, too! Not as out-of-date as mine, but out-of-date. Lord, help! Can’t risk with out-of-date anything. I drive half a mile to another neighbor’s. I knock on her door and tell her I need help.
“Come in, come in…”
“I need baking powder.” She hunts for it, saying she bought some last week. I retell my story about the mess I’ve made with four loaves, how time is an issue.
“Take more than you need.”
“Thank you, thank you.” My heart is grateful.
On opening the car door, I see the other fallen loaf. I call back to her, “I can give you a fallen loaf of sweet bread. Got it right here. Not sure how good it is.” I hold nothing back. “Definitely the wrong color. You want it?” I hand it to her like a player might hand off a football.
Back home, I race the clock. Heat the oven. Dump wet ingredients together. Throw dry ingredients together. Mix the two. Grease and flour the pans, pour batter into pans, pray, and put them into the oven. Wait 50 minutes, knowing whatever will be will be.
I ease open the oven door. Voila! Looks perfect! I let loaves cool 15 minutes, then turn them out to finish cooling. No time for total cooling! I wrap a loaf in a clean dish towel, grab a gallon storage bag and purse. I head for town.
UPS is still open. Standing in line, the girl inside my old body is exuberant.
When I hand the covered loaf to the man behind the counter, he looks up and says, “It’s warm.”
“Yes, just took it out of the oven. Can you wrap it, ship it, and get it there by Thursday?”
“I don’t know,” he teases. “Half of it might be gone before it gets there.”
Time to joke and laugh and sing. I roll with it.
I wonder how many times I’ve said “Thank you” today. More than I can count on fingers and toes! Mainly, I thanked God and neighbors for helping me send my bread to a son.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you.
P.S. Remember to be thankful. It’ll make everything happier.
Zucchini bread, made with over-the-hill baking powder! Photo taken by Pat Durmon in November of 2020.
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