The Bread Doctor

artisan bakery in Torrington, Wyoming
September 8, 2013

Poker, Pets, and Pain Perdu

Well, no baking at the school this weekend, which is a good thing.  I know that I wore my teacher out by Friday evening, and I also felt that my mind needed a break.  The roomies were going to have the Friday night Poker game and asked if I wanted to play, but it got late and they just went to a movie.  I really wondered if they were just nervous to have it with me here.  I assured them that I would not be bossing them around this month, but I think just my presence is a bit parental and they have been very and respectful.  Apparently last Friday, the police showed up because the neighbors did not like the noise..hmmm.  We are living in a covenant neighborhood and you can’t even park on the street overnight, so I park in the driveway and figure out who is leaving first every day.  I tried to put the truck in the garage last night…..not happening.

In the Bend house I get up the earliest and the cat, Max, is ready to go.  He yowls, rubs up against my leg, and waits at the door, until he is let out.  I was nervous at first, but Papa Nolan says that he goes out all the time for hours and comes back whenever.  This is great for me because while I was doing laundry yesterday, I finally broke down and dumped out the kitty litter box in the laundry room.  The fetid “cat smell” was too much.  I had smelled it all week as I walked by the laundry room and vowed not to be the one to clean it up, but I just could not take it anymore.  So if he stays outside all day and is not here….great.  My family knows how much I enjoy living with an animal.  Last night, Max walked over to me on the couch and reached out with his paw and touched my leg…no claws this time.  Then he jumped up on my lap and did a few circles and snuggled down.  I think that I was just the only warm thing in the house.  I actually had to buy a lint roller, which I have never owned, because my pant legs were covered with cat hair when I was headed out the door for class this week.  When I go to the baking school, the pet world does not leave me.  My teacher has a miniature beagle, Nana, who is trained to eat “chicken”(any animal flesh) and bread.  When I was working with the sheeter rolling out the pie crust in large 2 foot sheets, she was right there waiting and if a scrap falls off, she is as quick as lightning, and the scrap is in her mouth.  It is like she is attacking the crust.  She runs around the yard and retrieves pine cones from the ubiquitous evergreens around,  Some are bigger than her head.  She then brings them into the kitchen and drops them, or attacks them and chews them apart.  What normally happens is that she brings them in and trades them for a piece of “chicken” and the pine cone gets tossed so that she will not make a mess.  The dog is not dumb and she has a pretty good racket going on here….”Will work to make a mess….or feed me.”  Marda said that one day, she brought in over 50.  When we sit down to lunch every day, she is right there waiting for tidbits, or she jumps right on your lap or the table and starts checking out your lunch plate or sits on the chair anticipating a table treat.  That is exactly what she was doing when I caught this photo of her. 

Marda says that they have never gotten a good photo because she never holds still.  But, she was holding still for a piece of Char siu bau (Chinese barbecued pork bun that is steamed) that we were having for lunch on Friday.  Marda had some in the freezer because you can make them with one of the breads doughs that we baked Friday.  They were delicious.

Last night, I was invited over to have dinner with Bob and Jill Sauter and their son, Derek (21).  They are the connection that helped my find the great housing situation I am in.  They are church friends that I knew in California 30 years ago.  Bob was my Scoutmaster through most of my time getting my Eagle.  I went on many hikes and camping trips with this man, including a 50-miler in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.  When I told my mother where I was going to school, she reminded me that they lived here.  I wrote a letter, and they put me in touch with the owner of the home that I am staying in, which has been a great blessing.  Dinner was great and we spent the time talking about their ranch, and sharing stories about having a child with disabilities in the school system.  We face many of the same hurdles and struggles, even though Bend is a much bigger town. 

Derek has autism, and as Jill and Bob were speaking, I realized how much our stories are similar.  I feel certain that each family that is blessed to have a child with disabilities, is also given the responsibility and the ability to work through what is best for their individual child. No single answer fits every situation.  What does fit every situation is the desire for your child to reach their maximum potential.  The parents should have the ultimate say in what is best for their child if they are actively engaged in making their lives better.  There are many who would like to give an opinion from the outside or try to manage for you, and we simply have to stand our ground and politely refuse.  We had a wonderful evening, and Bob grilled a fabulous steak dinner and I brought bread.  I will be sitting with them in church today, and then home to cook afternoon dinner for the boys…..homemade macaroni and cheese.  This morning, I baked Pain perdu with blueberries for breakfast (Ree Drummond from the Food Network) to use up some of the baguettes that have gone stale. 

I will also sprinkle some French breadcrumbs on the mac and cheese this afternoon before baking.  I need to study for my class tomorrow and read the syllabus.  This is croissant week among other things, and we will be using the sheeter all week.  I am sure that I will have Nana at my feet the entire time, waiting for me to misfire or get messy……the race is on.