Updated: Oct 27, 2020
I used to make bread with my mom every weekend. The whole house would have that yeasty smell that would set tummies rumbling and mouths watering. Mom worked full time and often overtime when I was small so baking wasn't just a nice family-time activity, it was a financial necessity. Homemade bread is cheaper and healthier than store bought bread, but it does cost a lot of time.
"Baking is still cheaper than therapy" My mom always jokes when someone asks her why after an exhausting week she still has nine loaves of bread baking in the kitchen.
My mom always cooks bread in batches of nine. Three loaves of bread is exactly the amount her thirty year old kitchen aid mixer can handle without being overloaded. Three batches is the amount she can keep pace with. One batch in the mixer one rising and one in the oven. My mother's kitchen was a well oiled machine.
I cooked with my mom, but I never had to cook everyday. I started cooking in earnest when I moved out on my own for the first time. My friends didn't cook, there weren't healthy foods at their college cafeteria, and they didn't have the funds to eat out. They started coming to my apartment for dinner occasionally, then sometimes, then often and then almost every night. Like I was raised, I always invited friends for dinner if they were there at the right time and just like young people they didn't realize they were taking advantage of my hospitality and I didn't realize that I was getting taken advantage of. That was until I woke up to realize I had no grocery money and nothing but, a jar of peanut butter, a half gallon of milk, a jar of mayonnaise and a grape soda I had no recollection of buying. Something had to change.
My friends came to my apartment just before dinner time right on cue and I was in tears. They were shocked and a little embarrassed when they realized that the "free" homemade dinners they were scoring were not free and they were taken from someone with the same limited budget as them. They pooled together their wadded up dollars, change in their pockets and their cars and took me to the grocery and filled up my fridge.
After that it was better. I had a cup by my door and when any of my friends walked in they put $3 dollars in it. That covered dinner. I got to be creative, college kids are not usually picky, one night discount shrimp made into a scampi, another night burgers, sometimes tacos and sometimes toasted cheese with homemade bread and homemade tomato soup. I fed them wholesome home-cooked meals and they made sure I never had to buy groceries. It was a great arrangement.
A couple years later but, before I had a chance to graduate, I had to move home. My mom had lost her job and I couldn't afford to go to school, pay my bills and help mom. Now, of course my mom did not ask for help, but you do what you need to for your family even if they don't ask. I worked while my mom went to college, got a decent job, and was okay again. I was in the midst of being an adult. Working, living on my own again, and trying to generally be a responsible human being.
Years have passed, I am an Americorps member. I serve my community by helping refugees and immigrants find gainful employment and learn new job skills. The Covid-19 pandemic hit and my husband lost his job, I lost my contract position that helped pay the bills. I am still an Americorps member, but we didn't have enough money for food or rent so I started baking to save money, then baking for neighbors and friends to make money.
I am realizing that I am not only good at this, but I could feasibly make a living feeding people. Something I find very exciting. So I am going to do my best and let you know how it goes every step of the way.