When Dorothy was 95 years young, she still baked bread every week like her mother used to, and she saved one loaf out of three for her friends. You see, Dorothy didn’t drive. She depended on friends and neighbors or a local taxi service to get around. She repaid all of us in homemade bread (she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer). One bite of her buttery bread and you’re just this side of heaven.
I’ve also tasted her Cherry Danish, and her chocolate brownies with penuche icing that are so moist and rich the taste lingers for hours. I’m sure her love of cooking and her optimistic outlook on life have kept her young. She’s tiny and petite, but never frail. At 95, she could still climb her front stairs with vim and vigor; although, some days were better than others.
Dorothy’s mother made bread. She passed this skill onto her daughter; a legacy of love that allowed Dorothy to “break bread” with others in the same way. Sharing bread with family and friends is a tradition that strengthens the social fabric of society. Every culture around the world uses bread in one form or another as the building block for each meal. Since the beginning of time, bread has been the “staff of life.” Evidence of grain usage pre-dates recorded history.
It is still being argued over who made bread first, the Chinese or the Egyptians. The Chinese still use the same fermented but steamed bread that they used thousands of years ago. The Egyptians learned how to bake their bread, and probably built the first ovens. They discovered that fermented wheat formed a gas that made their bread lighter.
We know for certain that grains like rye, millet, barley, and wheat were cultivated in Palestine 100 years before the birth of Christ. Flat breads fried over an open fire are still the basis of nomadic diets in the Middle East. Some things never change.
The Bible is filled with references to bread and its importance in human history. When Joseph was in prison, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he gained a reputation for interpreting dreams. The Pharaoh heard of this and called for Joseph to interpret his dream.
God warned Pharaoh in the dream that Egypt would experience seven years of feast and plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph explained the purpose of the dream, and suggested that Pharaoh store up grain in the good years so they might have food during the years of famine. Pharaoh did as Joseph suggested and made Joseph ruler over the land of Egypt. There was none higher than Joseph, except the Pharaoh on his throne.
The scriptures tell us that during the seven years of plenty, so much grain was stored that it was impossible to count it all. But when the famine came, all in Egypt had food to eat, and they had enough to sell to anyone who wanted it. People came from all around the region, and by this means was Joseph reunited with his family; a blessing and an example that God provides for his children when they obey him.
Jesus said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” He knew the people of his day understood the importance of bread in their lives. Now he was telling them that his teachings were as important to their lives and well being as bread and water for if they ate his bread (the Word of God), they would be filled.
We are also commanded to ask the Lord in prayer for our daily bread. Having clothes on our backs and food to eat are basic needs that God promises to provide if we but call on his name and have faith that he will answer.
Wheat and other grains, if properly stored, can last for many, many years and stay viable enough to sprout. Sprouts are chock-full of vitamins and can be used with bread to supplement the diet and add extra nutrition. Sprouts can top a sandwich much like lettuce. Fresh green sprouts can be eaten as a salad, or used as a vegetable. A family could survive and live well in a crisis just by storing wheat and legumes for a designated period of time.
When combined, bread, lentils, peas or beans form a complex protein that sustains a healthy life style. Vegetarians depend on these complex proteins in their diet. The great thing about eating this way is that it’s not only healthy, it’s inexpensive. Who knows, a diet like this may help you live to be 95? Maybe that’s the secret to my friend Dorothy’s longevity?
Dorothy’s bread has been broken and shared with many people. “Cast your bread upon the water,” scripture tells us, “for thou shalt find it after many days.” Dorothy’s bread goes out and returns to her in blessings and love from her friends, but she will tell you she receives much more than she gives.
Dorothy revised her bread recipe to accommodate her weakened arthritic hands. Her recipe requires less kneading because it has an extra rising in the refrigerator overnight. Since it’s a big job, the bread is made in two stages: the first day, she mixes and allows the bread to rise in the fridge; the second day she forms the bread, lets it rise again, and then bakes it. Still, quite an accomplishment for a 95 year old woman!
Dorothy has no children of her own, so I am sharing her recipe with you. Pass it along to your friends, enjoy it yourself, and help her legacy of love continue for many generations to come.
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 C. warm water
Dissolve yeast in sugar water for at least 5 mins. or until the yeast bubbles and grows.
Add 2 large eggs, beaten
Fold into dry ingredients (waiting in another bowl):
6 C. flour (3 whole wheat, 3 white)
1/2 C. Sugar
1 T. salt
Add 1 C. vegetable oil alternately with egg/yeast mixture.
Add 1 C. boiling water, gradually; stirring until smooth.
Add 1/4 C. melted butter over the top; cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
Next day, turn out dough on heavily floured board. Knead a few times and divide into thirds. Roll with rolling pin; form into three loaves; place in loaf pans. Brush with melted butter. Rise for 1 1/2 hours. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for one hour.
Enjoy! And, Dorothy, dear; may God bless!
Epilogue: Dorothy is now 99 years old and has been confined to a rest home for the past three years. Her bread making days are over which makes this article and her recipe all the more special.