finding faith and baking bread

I am a believer in lists. They guide my life.

On my iPhone, I use a notes app to make lists that remind me to buy razor blades or a new backpack for my daughter or to write my little brother a letter. My desk at work is cluttered with file folders, medical journals, and three or four different notepads at any one time. Each notepad has a different To Do list for various projects I’m working on or projects I’m thinking about working on. On the corner of my desk at home, I keep a bulky spiral-bound notebook that contains lists from years past – what to pack for our beach vacations, menu ideas for Thanksgiving, grocery lists for dinner parties, potential baby names for our son (Oliver won out, in case you were wondering) – and plenty of blank pages for lists to come. The latest list in that book, the one I’ve been working on all week, is called “California Trip, 6/2012, Don’t Forget To Pack These!

In my mind, in that warm space nestled up against the Places I’d Love To Visit list, there resides a running list of foods I’d like to try to make one day. Over time, and with an equal mixture of courage and trepidation, I’ve managed to cross some items off.  Bake my first layer cake? Check. Master pie crust? Done. Make gnocchi? Did that one, too.

Baking bread, baking yeast breads in particular, has maintained a nearly permanent residence on that list.  The lengthy recipe instructions for yeast breads, and the amount of time seemingly involved in the process, have scared me away for too long. My excuses for not trying are numerous and wholly unimaginative. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have the right pan. It’s too humid here.

Last month, I grew tired of my own lame excuses, and I took the plunge. I used this empowering book as a guide, and I read the recipe forward and backward. I dedicated some time. I donned my red apron, gathered the ingredients, and combined them just so. And I baked a loaf of bread. Three loaves, actually, over the course of a week.

As it turns out, all I lacked was the commitment to the process, belief in the recipe itself, and trust in my own abilities. But that last one was the kicker, the crux of my problem.

It all came down to this: I lacked faith.

And then I found it.

Oliver, who at one point, was going to be a Jack.

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12 Responses to “finding faith and baking bread”

  1. 1
    Maria Raynal — June 21, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Sometimes that bit of faith is all we need. Nice work, MJ.

  2. 2
    Aggie — June 21, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    I was successful at bread baking with that book too. Love it! Can’t wait to hear about your upcoming trip! 🙂

  3. 3
    Sofya — June 21, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    Beautiful bread! I love your photos an writing.

  4. 4
    Macaroni Mama — June 21, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

    Sweet blog. I’m proud of you!

  5. 5
    Gail — June 21, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    You’re one of the most inspiring women I know. Truly.

  6. 6
    Paula — June 21, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    I believe I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. I do love the way you write. Your posts are always such a pleasure to read and this one was no exception. Beautifully written and beautifully baked bread. I’m sure your family is very happy that you found your faith, Oliver’s (at one point almost a Jack) photo speaks loud and clear of their delight 🙂

  7. 7
    Kathy Gori — June 21, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

    Love this post as I well know the definition of busy… I’ve been using this bread method for the last year or so and it really works. It’s so easy it’s almost miraculous.

    • 7.1
      Merry-Jennifer — June 22, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

      I love that most of the work is done by time in the refrigerator – takes some of the pressure off, for sure.

  8. 8
    Jenny @ BAKE — June 22, 2012 @ 6:38 am

    That loaf looks perfect! I hope you can keep the faith in you up!

  9. 9
    Mary — June 22, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    I really enjoy your writing and I love the name Oliver.

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