The best thing since sliced bread!

Well hello, handsome! This isn’t my first bread-maker; it’s actually my third.  He’s actually not even here yet–but my friends over at Amazon say he’ll be here tomorrow.  Squeee!!  I cannot wait to make all sorts of numminess in this machine–I have a KitchenAid but the bread-maker takes out just enough of the steps to make bread-making somewhat do-able for my scattered brain.

My first love was a 1# horizonal loaf machine that my mom gave me for my first Mother’s Day. It was great for its time, but small horizontal loaves weren’t ideal and even though she also gave me a great cookbook (which I treasure because of the hand-written note inside) I didn’t have the nerve to try anything more than boxed bread machine mixes. Often the bread was damp and gummy…with enough butter hubby happily scarfed it down…but it wasn’t anything we could use for sandwiches (believe me, we tried) or anything needing a decent presentation.  Eventually I gave up and at some point gave it away–I can’t remember to whom but it likely was in a mad kitchen declutter involving lots of unloved things like waffle irons, sandwich pocket molders and quesadilla makers.

Several years later, I decided I needed another bread-maker. I’ve had aforementioned KitchenAid stand mixer since before the first bread-maker, but again, making bread is a daunting process for me, from moving the bread to a bowl to rise, punching, rising again, etc. I’d learned to do it, mostly to make our Friday night challah, but my ADD self craved the simplicity of being able to dump in all the ingredients and walk away, returning later to a delicious loaf–or going back after the first rise and punch down, to move the dough to a traditional loaf pan (or form into rolls or braid for challah).

I spent $79 on a well-rated bread machine which turned out to be OK, if not a bit complicated to program and difficult to clean.  Unfortunately, Mr. Breadman met a gruesome and untimely death.  I enjoyed him regularly for about two years before this occurred–it’s difficult to recount, but I’ll try.

We were preparing for a vacation to S. California and as usual, I was doing everything at the last minute and not being very orderly about any of it.  For some reason (coughADDcough) I’d decided that before we left, I needed to bake off about a dozen loaves of bread; four to take with us and eight to freeze so we’d have bread upon our return.  I often used the bread machine to make the dough and then transferred it to loaf pans. Each batch of bread machine dough made 2 nice loaves.

I returned from our trip not feeling well and ended up dealing with a 6-week flare of PCOS and then several more weeks of severe fatigue, Dr’s appointments and medical tests.  I didn’t even think about baking bread for weeks.

One sunny afternoon I was cleaning my counters when I noticed there we a couple dead gnats on the counter next to Mr. Breadman.  I wasn’t alarmed as these gnats are generally harmless and very common in AZ during that time of year, and everyone we know has had them indoors at one time or another.  We’d had a few hanging around the kitchen and we were especially careful to not leave dishes/water in the sink and that seemed to do the trick on getting them out of the house (thankfully they’d ignored us, choosing instead to roost on our kitchen fixture while they were visiting).

Knowing that Mr. Breadman had a habit of allowing excess flour to sit under the bread pan, I lifted his lid to see if maybe the flour had attracted gnats.  What I saw shocked me–somewhere after loaves 9/10 I got distracted (coughADDcough) and thought I was finished, when in reality, my last batch of dough was still waiting for me inside Mr. Breadman!  The dough wasn’t moldy (thank G-d!) but was a somewhat-petrified little graveyard to a dozen or so gnats.

I moved Mr. Breadman to the garage to contemplate my next move. I considered cleaning him out but ultimately decided  that I wouldn’t be able to use him again–too many bad memories would be relived, opening that little black lid to find dead bugs (however small, harmless and few!) was just too traumatic.  We happened to have a Bagster because we were purging and I said goodbye to Mr. Breadman (R-I-P) that evening.

Perhaps Mr. Breadman was a strong believer in re-incarnation, because the next morning, K noticed a woman rummaging through our Bagster, rescuing various items, including Mr. Breadman!  I ran outside and warned her, “Um, I feel like I should tell you, there are dead gnats in there!” and she said, “So, nothing I can’t clean up!’  With that, I ran into the house and grabbed the case of bread machine mix I’d purchased on Amazon in a fit of laziness and gave it to her.  I said, “Enjoy, but hope you don’t get any extra protein in there!” and she just smiled.

Hubby playfully joked about how I was banned from bread machines FOREVER and I figured he was probably right.  That was two years ago and the past six months or so, I’ve really felt as though a bread-maker might make my life easier (and save $$ in the long run).  We still make our challah almost every week but something about the process has been wearing me down lately.  And I damaged the motor in one of my KitchenAids (yes, I have two…long story for another post).  I’ve been researching them on Amazon for a few weeks and decided that now, my Summer of Change, would be a great time to try again.



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