In mid-December 2018,
I received a large Christmas package in the mail. It was meticulously packaged and wrapped up,
making me all the more excited and full of childish glee to find out what this
Inside was a
beautifully handmade ceramic bread bowl with two homemade bread recipes tucked
into the bowl. This beautiful bowl came
from my friend Ladybug who recently passed away less than a month from me
receiving her gift. This was her last
tangible gift to me.
One of the enclosed
bread recipes was called “Cheesy Beer Bread.”
Obviously, the recipe required a bottle of beer. I had never drunk a whole bottle of beer in
my life thus far, nor do I have any interest.
I had only taken a couple sips from guy buddies and colleagues who raved
about the tangy beer that tantalized their taste buds. I actually turned to my parents for a bottle
of beer to try to make this recipe. We
all realize how funny this sounds, right?
Asking parents for a bottle of beer? My father proudly gave me a bottle of beer
called something IPA. It was later on
that I found out that this beer was rather on the high end side my Cheesy Beer
Bread came out extremely strong and tasted much more of beer than cheese.
On a cold night that
was all too perfect for hot piping beer bread, I whipped out the recipe,
sprayed down my new ceramic bread bowl, and proceeded to make and bake my bread. I popped open the beer bottle and heard the
fizz and bubbles gurgle. When I poured
all the beer in, everything in the bowl foamed up. I thought it was going to spill over. It didn’t.
It stayed put, but I could see chemical reactions and all the raw ingredients
were marrying and marinating into one another to make something absolutely delicious. The scent of the beer with chili and cheese
was pungent and intoxicating. I poured the batter in the bread bowl. I popped it in the oven. I waited to see how my creation would come
As I waited for my
cheesy beer bread, I was flooded with memories of Ladybug and us baking bread
with her for the first time. She loved bread.
She especially had a love affair with sourdough bread. To her, there was something amazing and
magical about the starter active sourdough culture being fed and cared for that
would result in a crispy and crunchy crust and soured pillowy soft bread. She loved her sourdough bread with room
temperature unsalted butter and fresh fruit jam. She smiled, closed her eyes, and proclaimed: “There
is nothing better!”
To me, what I find so
therapeutic and remarkable about bread and just really cooking and baking
anything is the chemical reaction of all these differing ingredients intermingling
and mixing together, processing, and progressing together under heat to result
in a final product that came from my own hard work and hands. This
is very much like all of us. It is when
we are under a certain amount of stress and heat that process and progress, our
character to possibly create, and our fuel and fire to fight back to do
something positive can result. With this bread bowl, I could see the seemingly
simple ingredients rise up into bread. It
is only under heat and fire as the fuel to light up all these ingredients that
a final product comes about. I could
bake. I could use my hands and not feel
helpless. I could do something. I could create.
Approximately an hour
later, my Cheesy Beer Bread came out. As
with anything you bake and cook, you wait again and see. You wait for the flavors to integrate after
the extreme heat. You wait for just the
right time to cut into and taste. The
right time for everything and everyone.
You know it. You feel it. When the time is right, the time is right.
We can and will rise
up when we are in the process or progress of transformation and placed under
heat, just like bread. When have you undergone a ‘chemical reaction’ that
involved process and progress and then to create and do something? What has been your fire to fight back and get
up again? Do you have fire in your
belly as fuel to create from your hands to not feel helpless?
Thanks for the gift,
Ladybug. I get it. There is fire in my belly. There is fuel in my soul. It is time for me to create. It is
time to bake some bread.
Keep smilin’ until we