I’ve been baking bread for about 20 years, and have found that the thing I love most about it (besides eating!) is giving it way. Being a perfectionist, I would immediately toss out anything that didn’t meet my standards when I first began learning. A friend of mine saw this and was horrified, telling me there were missionaries living in my apartment complex that would love to have homemade bread. The look of joy on the face of the young man when I handed him what I felt was an inferior batch of English muffins, hooked me on spreading yeasty love.
Fast-forward 10 years when I first met my husband. He was making sandwiches for a picnic we were going on and pulled out a loaf of Walmart “Everything French Bread” (at least it wasn’t Wonder Bread!). Not wanting to offend, I kept my opinion of his bread to myself and decided to surprise him the following week with something a little better. I devised a recipe where I added minced onion to the dough, and sprinkled the top with sesame seeds and poppy seeds, about three years later I moved in…coincidence?
About a month ago, I came across a woman on Instagram who made gift bags full of wonderful things she made which she sent to people who were struggling with mental illness. I watched her push through a particularly bad episode of depression by staying on task with making her beautiful ceramic dishes and sending out her gift bags. Depression had a hold on me at the same time, and I hadn’t baked any bread for months. Unfortunately bread baking is the first thing I stopped doing whenever my depression would envelop me. I started thinking about my friends who have received my bread in the past and how pleased they were (one friend called me the Bread Fairy because I would just pop by with a fresh loaf of bread). Often friends would ask if they could buy a loaf, and I won’t take money but I ask them to simply do something nice for someone else. I put a post on Facebook, naming my project Knead Through Depression, and told any locals that if they wanted bread to message me with what they wanted. The response was wonderful, and my depression was slightly lifted with each loaf I delivered.
My depression is still dragging on me, but I try to make time each week to bake a few loaves of bread…this week I need to replenish my husband’s bread.
If you’re interested, I have a page with pictures of bread I’ve baked and resources I use.