My husband has developed a new, dangerous habit.
It shocks me, frankly, because back in the late ’90s, as a newly-minted couple, we knew better. We were wise beyond our years. We were forward-thinking and pragmatic. Yes, indeed-y. We took one look at our wedding registry and averted a looming potential life disaster: we declined to ask for a counter-top appliance called “a bread-making machine.”
My paternal grandfather spent his childhood in the family bakery in Kitchener, Ontario, twirling pretzels in a way that decades later, he could still replicate with our Play Doh. It was perhaps inevitable that all that bread-making enthusiasm and genetics landed precisely where one would expect…around my rather bountiful bottom.
So, in 1998, I knew with utter certainty–the same certainty I felt about control-top pantyhose—that I did not need any appliance on our wedding registry that conspired to deliver hot bread to our daily lives. As for my husband (known around these parts as Practical Man), being the disciplined sort, he can resist almost anything.
That is, with the possible exception of butter.
Especially when said butter accompanies bread, hot from an oven, PEI church supper, vintage Findlay stove, vending machine (ooh, I think I may have just invented something fabulous there) or…well, anywhere.
Really, the smell of hot bread is the devil’s work, isn’t it?
Practical man and I thought so and accordingly, we strode confidently away from the treacherous Bread Machine that loomed large on the wedding registry. But, since neither of us (thankfully) suffers from Celiac Disease, over the years we have cultivated a household environment that is far from being gluten-free. We were and are terribly reckless and unfashionable with the flour proteins and these days, tend to follow more of what I call the “gluten-glee” diet.
Hurray for the wheat bellies!
Pasta? Yes, please.
Baguette? Mais, oui.
Laugenbroetchen? Ja, bitte!
Why, we can ask for the doughy goodness in at least three European languages. Yet, we aren’t pretentious in our gluten glorification. Equally desired are the hand-made creations:
Multi-grain toast with creamed honey and loads of cinnamon? Mmmm hmmm.
Cheese scones and cranberry tea biscuits?
Ahem, hem, hem: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON CARBOHYDRATES.
Bannock, crumpets, pancakes, YIPPEE!
But, the carbohydrate conundrum gets even worse.
Yes, oh yes, it does.
Despite our early marital wisdom and restraint, we have recently succumbed to the perils of something called a “Sourdough Starter”.
It began innocently enough. My godson’s father gave Practical Man the sourdough goo “to try”.
I should have known better. Practical Man loves a challenge, especially when it comes with a high likelihood of built-in failure. He is a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team (Skyhawks) and all-around daredevil inclined to getting wa-a-a-y too close to things like the cliff edges on Grand Manan Island.
I should have known never to let The Sourdough Starter darken our doors.
Far from languishing in the fridge and growing into either a vigorous or lonely, abandoned science experiment (as it would have done for me) or exploding all over (the way it did for my aunt, years ago), The Sourdough Starter was a raving success.
Every Sunday, Practical Man and The Sourdough Starter have bonding time. First, he dumps the goo from its jar into a bowl. He carefully weighs out and feeds it flour and water. Then, he covers it tenderly with a clean tea towel and sets it gently in a warm place. A hush falls over the kitchen as The Sourdough Starter has its little, bubbly nap. Later, Practical Man does some sort of incantation over it, throws a bunch more flour around and voila: the Sourdough Starter turns into fresh-baked bread.
Two loaves, at least.
The last few weeks alone have produced multiples of plain sourdough, roasted garlic, caramelized onion, banana and smoked cheddar varieties.
And, not amuse-bouche, nouvelle-cuisine-sized morsels either. These loaves are the stuff of gluten-glee dreams: Hearty, floured (and–even better–sometimes buttered) boules and gigantic loaves of the sort that I picture rumbling across a field on the laps of French peasants from the ’50s, riding in a Citroen 2CV.
Happy, happy, happy. With double chins.
Centuries back, I come from good, double-chinned peasant stock, like this. Let’s face it, I still AM good double-chinned peasant stock, like this.
Last week, Practical Man started converting some of The Sourdough Starter into whole wheat. Now, we have two jars of goo in the fridge. Count ‘em, that’s FOUR future loaves of hot bread coming out of the oven.
Nearly two decades into our marriage, all our early restraint and wisdom was apparently for nought. Instead of merely registering for it, I am now married to it:
Practical Man has become a bread-making machine.
A darn good one.
There’s no help for it so now, when the charming, evil man pulls his latest carbohydrate creation out of the oven, I immediately order myself to the nearest carb confessional (any old Paleo diet website will do). When I’m truly desperate, I launch myself out into The Nature (which I usually avoid even more than control-top pantyhose). I go anywhere that will allow me to escape the tantalizing smell of hot, fresh-baked heaven.
And that, dear friends, is what is called: the Gluten Flee.