Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Parable of the Potato Bread

Well, my dears, today I tried a new recipe for potato bread, thinking that it might be good enough for the bakery.  This one starts out the old-fashioned way, by peeling and boiling some potatoes--no commercially prepared potato flakes for Pioneer Woman!  Our grandmothers not only used mashed potatoes in the bread, but also used the water the potatoes were boiled in for the liquid.  Nothing was wasted.  The potato starch in the water makes the crust more crunchy and the bread more chewy, and imparts a sweet taste to the bread.  The flour is Hudson Cream bread flour, locally milled from locally-grown wheat.  The honey is from an apiary near Norwich.  (Note to self:  I need to find a local source for butter, cream, and milk.)  It is a good recipe, but I made some mistakes along the way.  I mashed the potatoes with a potato masher, but when I mixed them into the other ingredients, they stayed in little lumps.  Now obviously our grandmothers did not use food processors, or even electric mixers--hmm...they must have used a ricer!  I'm going to  use a mixer next time.  This time I hoped that the potato lumps would absorb into the loaves as they cooked.  As I always do, I made three slashes in the loaves as I placed them in the pan, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.  Thus blessed, the loaves, I pray, will be good for whoever eats them.  But when I heated the oven a little for the last rising, I let it get too hot and sent the poor yeast into shock.  Fortunately, I didn't kill them, so the bread rose, but not correctly.  It rose too quickly at first, then fell a little, then rallied and finished rising.  This can adversely affect the texture, and inhibit the full development of the flavor.      

We are told by our Lord to feed the hungry.  "If you love me, feed my sheep."   Jesus means not only with tangible food, but also with whatever his people need in response to their spiritual hunger.  What we feed them in His name must be wholesome and nourishing.  We must be honest, so that what we give them is truly what we say it is, not some artificial or superficial substitute.  If we say we care, we must really care.  If we can barely dredge up a civil response to someone, we must acknowledge to ourselves and to God that we are acting out of duty and pray that the Holy Spirit will intervene.  We will be imperfect in our ministration -- the potatoes will be lumpy and we will fail to maintain full attention.  It's a given.  However, I can assure you that the lumps were absorbed into the loaves, and the texture and flavor were perhaps not what they could have been, but were, nevertheless, awfully good.  Bread is alive, and works differently each time.  That's what makes feeding Christ's sheep such an interesting experience:  each sheep is different, and each time we interact with a spiritually hungry person, we ourselves are different.  Nevertheless, the feeding itself is a good thing, because we are acting out of love for our Lord, and according to God's plan for us and his other sheep.


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