Thursday, April 23, 2020


When I was growing up, my mom always kept a bag of Gold Medal flour and six packets of Fleischman yeast in our freezer. When the flour got low in the copper canister on the counter, she filled it back up with the freezer flour and then a new bag of Gold Medal quickly took its place. I never questioned why the back up flour lived in the freezer, I just continued the tradition as an adult.  It wasn't until a few years ago that I learned keeping flour in the fridge was to keep out the bugs they had in the panhandle of Texas, where my mom grew up. Flour was a staple, along with rice and beans and you needed them in the house. at all times, just in case. Her mother did it, and her grandmother did it. It's how it was done.

I like to bake, maybe not as much as my mom did, but I can work my way around a recipe. Back in the 1980s when I got sober, I spent my first few months of sobriety methodically, obsessively, baking bread. It was a deliberate exercise with a beginning, middle, and an end. When my process was finished, there was a tangible result. It kept me busy. One afternoon, I went to the movies with some friends. Because my dough needed to be punched down at a certain time that conflicted with the movie schedule, I brought the bowl of dough with me to a matinee of Less Than Zero at the Beverly Center. Yes I did.

Now, during this uncertain time where we are all locked in our homes, many people have turned to baking bread for solace. Baking is holding many of us together. Loaves of all shapes and sizes are turning up in pictures on social media. I understand this on a deep level. When Mr. Rosenberg turned toward baking bread a few weeks ago, he went through the ingredients quickly and supplies were scarce at the markets. Of course, we had the back up flour and yeast waiting next to the ice trays and the frozen peas. That just in case moment is upon us and we're ready. It's how it's done.

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