Do you remember when I used to make Anadama bread that summer? It was best right out of the oven with a little bit of butter on it. It melted in our mouths, sweet and salty all in one bite. How quickly it disappeared off the counter the same day that I baked it made me smile. Little brown crumbs left a trail on the cutting board and my hands were Hansel and Gretel as I picked them up and swept them into the compost. I was always the one that baked it, but I’ll tell you how in case someday you want to make it for yourself.
It started with the neighbors. They told us tales of perfect sandwiches and melted mornings, butter spread across the sunrise to make waking up a little easier. Chasing the perfect slice of bread, I bought cornmeal in bulk because its cheaper that way. 42433. That’s the product number for bulk corn meal, write it on the little white twist tie and take it up to the checkout counter. You’ll want to check the prepared food bar for that corn salad the girl at home likes so much incase you can bring her some and make her day.
I usually used The New York Times recipe but any one will do. You need to start with an easy kind of love and a pot on the stove and you need to burn your hand on the handle so that you feel pain and remember that it’s not going to be this good forever. Next, add the water and the molasses, don’t stop stirring it until it becomes the dirt that forms on the knees of our overalls when we spend too long in the pen with the goats.
At this point you can let it sit and cool, stir it, but not too often, let the dog in from outside and tell him how good he is and how much you love him. Then go and stand by the window and watch the tree outside try to flower in January, some things always try no matter how hard it is. Wish for a moment that all people were like that, then return to your bread. Stir your wet ingredients into your dry ones and don’t forget to add just a tiny bit of nutmeg if you have some.
Pick a bowl the size that you would use if you hats made of kitchen ware were in style. Oil the inside of it lightly and place your bread at the bottom. Cover it with a towel the way you would a child’s eyes in a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Take the bowl over to the wood burning stove and set it next to it to rise. While you’re there take a log from the porch and stoke the fire, remember that this will keep the house warm through the night.
Open the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book that is sitting on the couch and read for a while. Try to lose yourself in the story, forgetting that a world outside of the pages exist, it is easier that way. When the weight of the pages has worn your fingers down, write. Write about the time that summer when that girl showed you how to drive a manual in her pickup truck. Don’t write for too long though, you need to find two bread pans, roughly the same size. Mine never were, and often I would wrap the smaller of the two loaves in parchment paper and give it to the butter sunrise neighbors. Warm bread is better shared and it made the mornings taste a little sweeter.
Once your dough is in your pans let it rise one more time. Know that it is the last time, and don’t wish for more. Wishes go to waste on things that aren’t meant to be, remind yourself of that as you preheat the oven. Write it on your hand and in your heart so you do not forget and when the oven beeps, put the loaves on the second rack. Let the smell of the bread tell you when its ready, let it fill the house and find its way into your clothing so that next week when you put your sweatshirt on you remember how good it was.
When its ready don't cut it right away. Give it some time. Resist the urge to consume the entire loaf, go back to couch. Open your book and read some more, build a maze that you can get lost in, and wait. Wait for the morning, wait for bulk product number 42433 to go on sale, and wait for your turn to spread butter on the sunrise so that it makes waking up, a little bit easier for everyone else.