There is nothing like the smell of warm bread to give you a sense of home. When we were growing up, bread was the first thing I can remember my mother making. We also learned to make bread at school.
Getting bullied, making friends
I went to L.D. Bachelder School, and remember most of those days with fondness. Sure, there was bullying, and sly comments made that hurt to the core. Thankfully, I didn’t get shoved on the stairs or have the books knocked out of my hands until Junior High, but kids did call me robot legs. Kids did stare at me and point and laugh sometimes. But really, other kids got made fun of, too. I saw that happening, and at least didn’t feel so alone. And I had a couple very good friends who I met at that school. One friend, Robin, spent hours with me on the playground carving little paths through an old tree trunk. A nearby tree used to blossom in the spring and we’d crouch there and smell the floral scent on the breeze and pretend we were creating a fairy world.
Mainstream or Special Ed, the choice was mine, sort of…
The school system in my town told my mother I should be placed in the “special” class for children with special needs because I wore a metal leg brace. My mother asked questions of the school, asked me my thoughts (at just 5 years old), and decided I should be a part of the mainstream classes. I could already read and write, knew colors, shapes, and could do basic math. She learned that the special ed class was primarily for children who, it was decided, shouldn’t be mainstreamed with the other kids. Children with downs syndrome or other health issues that required extra care and attention. They also were given limited access to the actual basics. I actually don’t know what was taught in those classes but I knew I wanted to be with the other kids. The kids from the neighborhood. My mother wanted me to have the full experience of life and learning to deal with people in every setting. So that’s what we did.
A long flight to school
Kindergarten was private, and my parents didn’t have the money to pay for that, so I started my formal education at 5 years old in 1st grade. I carried my papers, pencils and homework in a PanAm flight bag I got from my uncle. My teacher Mrs. Snyder used to ask me when I arrived to class, if my morning flight had been long. At first, I didn’t understand but eventually, I did, and I just smiled.
A school that believed in everyone getting involved
It was a fairly progressive school actually. We learned about different cultures, and I remember we had Japan Day in 4th grade. They actually folded up the legs on the tables in the cafeteria and we ate on the floor. We also had an evening concert featuring Japanese music and dance. The fact that I also got dressed up as a geisha in full makeup, hair dressing, and an old kimono my uncle brought back from Korea kind of horrifies me today, but we definitely didn’t know better back then. My teacher, Miss Gleason, had spent a year in Japan teaching and stayed after school the day before to show my mother how to put my red hair into a high beehive with chop sticks and gold dangle earrings in it to make it look right. I felt quite special to have so much attention from a favorite teacher, that’s for sure.
Around 3rd grade, our class got to make bread. We mixed the ingredients, kneaded the dough, waited for it to rise once, then twice. And then we sent the dough to the kitchen for it to be baked. We also got to take turns shaking a big bottle of cream until it turned to butter. Then we each had our own little loaf of bread with fresh butter.
Bits and pieces of that day filter through in memories that look like a sunny autumn day, with windows open, a breeze blowing in, and tiny desks and chairs pulled up to larger tables to work on our project, and then sit and enjoy the fruits of our labor before we headed home for the day.
Making bread is a great first baking lesson for kids
It’s an amazing thing to teach a child to make bread. It’s something we see every day and more than likely take for granted. Until we learn about the power of yeast and how flour and water and a little bit more can turn into something delicious! I’m sharing this recipe in honor of those memories, although it’s nothing like what we made that day. We didn’t even have yogurt back then, and the idea of grating up carrots to bake with was also something my mother would probably never have imagined. But it’s delicious, and if you have a breadmaker, it’s a definite must to try with kids!
Yogurt and Nectar Bread
- ¾ cup Goya fruit nectar (I used pear but you can use peach, mango, passion fruit, guava…)
- ¼ cup yogurt (I used Blackberry Boysenberry skyr but again, you’re free to use what you like)
- ½ cup grated carrots (make sure they are dried off after grating. Otherwise the top of your bread will be rough, like mine was)
- 2 TB oil
- 2 TB honey
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp yeast
- Place all ingredients, except the yeast, into the dough container of your bread machine in the order indicated above. The nectar and yogurt should be room temperature.
- Before adding the yeast, make a little pocket in the top of the ingredients, and pour the yeast into that pocket
- Use the white bread cycle, and set for 1.5 lb loaf
I hope yours comes out as good as mine always does. I’m tempted to make a larger loaf, but so far haven’t. But this one is so simple to throw together! And don’t think we spent a fortunate on a fancy breadmaker. We shopped at the local “re-Sale” center, which is a recycling store and they had 3 machines, brand new in the box, for just $25 each!