The Heavenly Smell of Warm Bread

Sourdough–cooling in the early morning light

All through church! a dear friend said emphatically to me after the service. All through church I smelled that loaf of bread!

Oops.

For over twenty years our parish has been trying to build a church on a piece of land here in Santa Barbara. Our city hasn’t been very receptive to our plans, but persistence has won in the end, and the ground has been broken! In an effort to help with the fundraising, our church recently held an event, and I sent out the word to all my children’s book authors and together we donated lots of books, and even an original illustration, to help the effort. Of course, when I donated a copy of The Woman and the Wheat, I also offered to bake a giant loaf of bread to accompany the book–just to add in a bit more fun.

My son happened to be graduating the same day as the fundraising event, so I couldn’t attend, but learned later that we raised over forty thousand dollars. I also learned that a fellow writer bought my book along with the promise of the giant loaf of bread. He came up to me a week or so ago, an enormous smile on his face and said something like, I just couldn’t NOT buy that book, knowing that I’d get some of your delicious bread. 

Usually I get notes about my writing, but Richard loves my bread!!! Really. I think every other time we talk, somehow the conversation is turned to bread and all its glory.

Anyway, I mixed that giant loaf of bread for him, and baked it off fresh and hot right before church last Sunday morning. I wrapped it in some brown paper, tied it with a string, and placed it under Richard’s seat so he wouldn’t forget to take it home after the service.

And there it sat, cooling, letting off that warm fresh bread smell all service. All service. Forgive me!

And if my friend, who sat next to Richard, wasn’t such a good baker herself, I think I’d make her a loaf all her own–as an apology.

Well, maybe I’ll just bake for her anyway.

Cheers, friends!

Farmer’s Market Fundraising

All week I’ve been baking and giving. Molasses bread, a new challa recipe with sesame and anise, sourdough… They’ve all turned out nicely, and I’ve given the extra loaves to good friends.

But one day of giving especially stands out for me–and I want to share it even though I TOOK NO PHOTOGRAPHS! It was so odd. I brought my camera, tucked it into the cutest little straw basket, but I was so caught up in the moment I forgot to be an observer, and instead was a happy, wandering, purchasing participant…

Our church decided to have a Farmer’s Market right after the service this last Sunday. People from the parish brought all sorts of garden goodies: lemons and limes, oranges, avocados, bags of lettuce, buckets of strawberries, guava, apples, tomatoes, zucchini, homemade granola and salsa… The list goes on, and all out of our own gardens and kitchens. So fun. Because our figs are not yet ripe, and our oranges aren’t terribly plentiful, and because my pomegranate tree is struggling (!!! such sadness) I decided to bake several loaves of bread and bring them to the table.

I started the bread the night before, (using the no-knead recipe, adding in some of my sour starter) mixing up two 1 lb loaves of sourdough, and one giant, 3 lb loaf. I rose early on Sunday and molded, then baked them off. Ooooohh, our car smelled so very yummy while driving to church.

All the money ($843!!!) from the sale went to the Pastor’s Fund, which our church uses to help send kids to camp, to use in emergencies, etc… The reaction from the church folk was crazy! Everyone was buying up the goods, talking about their gardens and trees. It was an ultimate Woman and the Wheat experience!

I hope I’ve inspired you to think about doing this in your own community. Folks are always looking for fundraisers that don’t hurt…

And today, after I ate some homemade granola, I pulled my camera out of my little straw basket

and shot a photo of some of the goodies we snatched up.

Next time I’m hoping I’ll remember to both shop, and shoot. We’ll see!