There’s really nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread and the satisfaction of pulling a fresh baked loaf out of the oven! Baking bread is tastier and contributes to healthy eating since one can control the ingredients.
In addition to nutritional benefits, studies have shown baking bread has therapeutic benefits such as making one feel happy and relaxed. It’s also an excellent activity to do with children and friends, helping to create and nurture happier and healthier families and communities.
Two young moms, Melanie and Jessica, attended Vlada’s cooking class on making sourdough bread. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to interview them and learn about their experience baking bread and why they felt it was important to learn how to bake bread. You too can make sourdough bread, just follow the step by step easy instructions on this youtube link:
What motivated you to learn how to make sourdough bread?
Melanie: “We have four boys and organic sourdough is the only kind of bread that doesn’t make their bellies hurt. We have eggs and toast just about every morning and probably once again in the afternoon or with dinner. It makes a great late night snack before bed as well! So, as you can imagine, it gets a little expensive going through a whole loaf of organic bread a day! I had to learn to make it at home also because we live an hour from town and we don’t like to be without sourdough!”
Jessica: “I love sourdough and loved the idea of making my own so I can truly know the ingredients and process of how it was made, while also saving money from buying store bought sourdough.”
In addition to the nutritional benefits of homemade bread, studies have revealed baking bread has therapeutic benefits, such as making one feel happy, more relaxed and a sense of achievement. Do you agree?
Melanie: “Yes, it’s very empowering to cook from scratch and I like teaching my boys how to help with some of the easy stuff in the kitchen to get them ready for more challenging kitchen endeavors.”
Jessica: “Absolutely! It’s a great sense of pride knowing the effort put into providing homemade food for your family.”
Baking bread is also an excellent activity to do with children and friends, helping to foster healthier and happier families and communities. Do you plan to continue baking bread as a family and/or social activity?
Melanie: Yes! I may never have met Vlada if I hadn’t wanted to make my own sourdough. I was looking for someone local who had a starter to share. Her starter has expanded to my circle of friends as well! My oldest son is almost ten and he helps me in the kitchen quite a bit. He likes to joke with me after feeding our starter and say “Oh, Mom! Your starter is overflowing on the countertop again!” Which, by the way, did happen once early on when I made too much and forgot to check it. He likes to rub that one in so I don’t forget again and potentially waste even one drop (or maybe it’s more of a blob…if you have worked with sourdough, you know what I mean)!
What skills do you believe your children learn by baking bread?
Melanie: “Research, creativity, weights, measures, choosing kitchen tools best for the job at hand, using hands to mix for that tactile experience, trial and error, improving with experience, working the oven, being watchful to get that perfect crust, patience, clean up, and of course, sharing!”
Jessica: “They are learning life skills in the kitchen that I hope they carry throughout their lifetime. How to make nourishing food with little ingredients.”
What do you believe is the value of teaching children to cook homemade meals and grow their own food?
Melanie: “These boys will be proficient in the kitchen and will not need to rely on unhealthy fast food-like substances when they go off on their own. They will be a valuable boyfriend, husband and dad someday! Skills like keeping ourselves alive on your own (with helpful trades with local neighbors) are worth more than gold in my opinion!”
Jessica: “My goal is to be as self-sustaining as possible and I hope to instill the same desire in them. I believe in whole foods and the importance of a nutrition dense diet so gardening and homemade cooking goes hand in hand with that. We have a garden growing that we started with some seeds we received from Vlada when I bought the sourdough starter. I’m a first timer into gardening. It has been a learning experience and we had to overcome some pest problems, but I am so happy with how the garden is thriving now. My son enjoys helping me water and maintain the garden. I can’t wait to show him what we get to eat from the garden.”
To conclude, we’d love to hear about your overall experience baking the sourdough bread and do you believe the time was of value to you?
Melanie: Absolutely valuable. It has been really fun and this is a great way to start learning more kitchen skills because working with sourdough is very forgiving (even if you messed up the recipe a little). And those hard crusty ends are great for croutons, breadcrumbs and I started making dinner pies and lining the bottom layer with crusty ends which soak up any liquid so the pie doesn’t turn into runny, soggy pie soup! And extra starter makes great crepes, tortillas and pancakes!
Jessica: It was very intimidating at first, especially looking into recipes and tips online, there are many variations and I wasn’t sure which to follow, but Vlada was so gracious and helpful. She let me FaceTime her multiple times and walked me through the process and how it’s like second nature. We enjoy a fresh loaf every week, it’s our favorite!
Interviewed by Gail Boros