There are certain smells that pick me up and carry me into the kitchen. Homemade bread has got to be the best smell in the kitchen. Onions and peppers frying are a close second. But nothing compares to hearing the oven door open and smelling that bread. Yum.
When I was little, I was very picky. Uber picky. I didn’t eat much. I wouldn’t eat potato salad because it had too many “things” in it. I didn’t even eat pizza until I was a bit older because of the “things” on it. I ate pumpkin pie (my favorite food), but don’t even think about putting Cool Whip on top. And I still don’t eat the crust. I know I have offended a lot of relatives over the years who pinch their crusts and take great pride in the result, only to see Vickie’s crust on her plate, pumpkinless. But, bread, ah, heavenly homemade bread, I love you! That’s all you are. Just bread.
So, I have already talked about our food fights and our whoopie pie wars. They pale in comparison to our homemade bread battles. When I think about it, I now understand why my mom let Cheryl have first dibs on the soup. I totally ruled the whoopie pie war. And I was a ruthless leader during the homemade bread battles. I was relentless, sneaky, and manipulative.
When my mom made homemade bread, she would put kitchen towels over them when they came out of the oven. I don’t remember how many loaves she made during “baking day”, but I could see the lumps under those towels. My mom had strict rules about the bread eating. We could NOT, under any circumstances, eat the bread as soon as it came out of the oven. I think that was the rule for me, because I was right beside her, waiting for them to come out of the oven. I was a little pesky gnat.
Now, you would think that the homemade bread battle would be against my sister or brother. But, no, it wasn’t. There was another foe in this battle for the bread. My father. My dad taught me everything I knew about stealing bread. He was the best. But, there was a downside. My mom always thought I was the culprit.
Yes, my dad would go in and slice off a piece and then skedaddle somewhere to hide while he ate it. My dad even used that word, “skedaddle”, which means, to flee, scram, to run away hurriedly. So, he would slice the bread, and skedaddle, leaving me to take the heat. He would teach me, though, his art of bread stealing. “Make sure you don’t drop any crumbs,” he would tell me, as he took off. I was his apprentice.
”Vickie!!!!……Vickie, did you eat the heel?………….Well, it is gone…….Vickie, you are the only one who always takes the heel……Quit blaming your dad………..Well, let’s go see where he is since you are blaming him……” (We would walk into his bedroom. He was smart. Had his own bedroom.)…..”Elwood, did you eat the homemade bread?” My dad always had that nonchalant, “I don’t know what you are talking about demeanor.” He would be lying on his side on his bed, watching his little red tv that was parked right by his head. I never knew until later, but my dad would turn on our 1950′s intercom system before he made a run for it with the stolen bread. So he knew when we were coming. He was good.
One time, I got in a lot of trouble for something my dad did. It was pure genius. I remember my mom calling me into the kitchen. “Vickie!!!!…….Vickie, get in here……….Vickie, I can’t believe you did this!” She raised the towels to show me the bread. Well, nothing was missing. My God, this woman was a bread Nazi. Then, she showed me what “I” did. My dad had sliced off the heel, and flipped the bread over so you couldn’t tell that the heel was missing unless you took off the towel. It was in the back. Well, he taught me to do that a long time ago. But, this was new. The heel was still there, right up against the bread. But, and this is unbelievable, but my dad had sliced the bread, hollowed out the bread, put the heel back against the bread, and skedaddled with the innards. Wow!
Well, how can one blame a grown man for that one? That was a child’s stunt for sure. I tried to tell my mom the truth, but she didn’t buy it. Hell, I didn’t buy it. I later walked into my dad’s room and plopped myself down on the bed. He handed me a chunk of the bread.
Bonding moments like that last a lifetime. My dad died 21 years ago, and every time I eat homemade bread, I think of him…. King of the Bread Battles.