Reflections: A Year of Knead NovemberPC: Lauren O’Hanlan
Written By Lauren O’Hanlan
It’s been a year since I made the decision to stop buying store-bought bread and it all started with the Knead November challenge. I will say that there have definitely been times where life has gotten a little out of hand and it may have been easier to give up. But sticking to something that grounds me and provides my family with healthy nourishment will  forever be my number one priority.

Sourdough & Blessings

Sourdough is my bread of choice, and in the last 365 days, I have made many mistakes but learned from each and every one of them. There is a lot of information out there that can make three simple ingredients (water, flour and salt) seem complicated and overwhelming, but a year of repetition and practice has certainly improved my skills and I hope that provides some encouragement to all of you. Trial and error is what it takes to learn. Never fear that!

My kitchen is dated. It has a suboptimal layout with difficult counter space. Everything is crowded and we don’t have a dishwasher. It’s a struggle to do any amount of canning and I feel like I am doing a balancing act whenever it’s time to pull multiple loaves of bread from the oven. From it though, I count some of my greatest blessings; time with family, meaningful conversations and great food.

Bread & Nostalgia

When I bake bread it always triggers a sense of nostalgia. It makes me think of fond memories from my past, not particularly of bread but of loved ones who are no longer with me that went above and beyond to do something meaningful. I think of late nights when I’m in the kitchen baking and my children are supposed to be sleeping. Suddenly, I hear giggles and see their sweet little faces peaking from behind their bedroom door. My husband sends them back to bed but they know that mama will come in soon with a piece of bread and butter. Their faces are relaxed and their smiles are big and I know my efforts are beyond appreciated.

These fleeting moments are some of my most prized possessions and one of the many reasons why I continue the challenge.

When I bake, I contemplate. I reflect on life and I pray. Other times, it’s nothing more than a chance for me to have some time to myself. This is particularly true in the early morning when the world is quiet and I am relying on candlelight and the rising sun to guide me. It’s truly a spectacular experience.

It may take a lot more time and effort to make something from scratch, but the associated memories and health benefits are priceless. It doesn’t need to be sourdough, a simple yeast recipe will do. Homemade doesn’t need to be daunting, there are ways to fit it around your schedule. Take the leap and join the challenge. I promise you that you won’t regret it and will likely make some beautiful memories like we have in your own kitchen.

Warm regards,