My daughter is a vegan now, so I’m looking at some of our traditional holiday dishes with furrowed brow. I know she’s made (delicious) pumpkin pie, so we’ll figure that out, but what about my famous dinner rolls? They’ve got milk, butter and eggs in them, all off the list.
While puzzling over that—because we’ve GOT to have rolls—I started thinking about how bread is one of the few things I still really enjoy making. Long ago I swore off chopping, peeling, and mincing, not to mention stirring, skimming and simmering. When the girls were little, I cooked all the time, not because I liked it but because the urge to feed your kid is primal. But now that they’re grown, and well able to cook (or order take out) for themselves, the wooden spoon has passed to my husband, who actually enjoys grating cheese.
But bread. I never measure ingredients—I bake it by feel. And I still love getting my hands in that dough, pushing and pulling and thumping, turning it from sticky to satiny. I’m thinking there’s something akin to writing about this process, the intuitiveness of it, knowing when it’s not right, understanding what it still needs, never losing faith that this lumpy thing will bake up sweet and luscious and nutritious. Even though I must have baked a thousand loaves of bread by now, and would swear I know how to do it, no loaf is ever exactly the same as the one before or the one after. Always a surprise: a crack in the crust, a denser crumb or airiness I never again quite capture, rock hard failures. Just like stories.
I’m going to try and make vegan rolls. I’ll read a few recipes to get warmed up, but then I’ll just plunge in on my own. We’ll see what happens.