The holidays make many of us especially nostalgic for family recipes: a grandmother's secret turkey stuffing, a great-aunt's delicious ginger snap cookies, or a mother's beloved homemade bread. Krista Ball had a hankering for just that, so she called up her mom in Newfoundland to get the recipe so she could whip up a batch herself.
Silly Krista must have forgotten that her mom, like most mothers and grandmothers, doesn't follow a recipe. That is, unless you define a recipe as a 45-minute conversation in which you end up with a list of less-than-half the necessary ingredients, no real instructions, and two unrelated tangents about another family member's cooking.
What follows is a completely non-exaggerated transcription of Krista's phone call, which is proof that it's going to take a lot of patience and even more trial and error for our generation to keep these traditional family recipes a-cookin':
The following conversation is no word of a lie or exaggeration. Context: "Homemade bread" is a thing we all grow up with in Newfoundland & it's not like any other bread I've had. So us kids grown up & want to make it.— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
The problem is that no one believes in recipes. So anywhere, here is the recipe (this is like the 5th time I've asked Mom)— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Fifth time's the charm? Nope, that's never what it is.
Me: How do I make a small batch of bread?— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Mom: Like 6 loaves?
Me: Less, but sure. 6.
Mom: You needs a bag of flour.
Me: Which one?
Mom: The big bag. Not the big, big bag. But the big one. You don't want the small one. I don't know what you got up there in that place
(note: "up there in that place" = Alberta)— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Me: Do I use the whole bag?
Mom: Not unless you want to make a big batch.
Me: Okay then. Some of the bag of flour. What else?
Mom: You needs a big bread pan.
Me: I got that.
Mom: You needs a big one.
Mom: you needs more than double the sugar than the salt.— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Me: How much?
Mom: Just pour it in your hand and then double the sugar and then a bit.
Me: How much of your hand?
Mom: Just in your hand maid.
Me: Ok, salt, double sugar.
Mom: A bit more than double
Don't you know how to measure? Just pour it in your hand and be done with it already!
Me: Yeast?— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Mom: You needs a pack.
Me: One pack?
Mom: one three pack, yes.
Me: okay, so 3 packs?
Mom: You don't want to put in that much yeast!
Me: ... okay. What else?
Mom: You gotsta heat up the milk. I puts in 6 mugs.
Mom: The glass mug Dad likes.
How many "glass mugs that Dad likes" are in an ounce, do you figure?
Me: ...I know which one you mean. Okay, 6 mugs.— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Mom: If you can't afford all milk, put in some water, but it's not as good.
Me: Ok, just milk.
Mom: With some water.
Me: But you said not to put in water.
Mom: You needs water for the yeast.
Me: okay, so water for the yeast
Mom: Then you makes a well, pours it all in with the melted butter...— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Me: there's butter?
Mom: It's melted.
Me: how much?
Mom: Just a bit.
Me: How much is that?
Mom: A few spoonfuls.
Me: ok. Then you mix it all right?
(explains her personal feelings on double raising bread, which apparently is something people fight over)— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Me: What do you bake it on?
Mom: You puts in the pans, maid.
Me: I mean, temperature.
Mom: Not too hot.
Mom: That's too hot!
Me: Okay, so 350?
Mom: I guess. Yes.
Me: How long?— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
Mom: Until it's baked.
Me: How long does that take?
Mom: Depends on how full the oven is. Then you takes it out, rubs butter all over it, and lets it cool. It's not hard.
Me: ... this is like building a nuclear bomb.
Like, seriously, Krista's mom doesn't have the time to explain to Krista how ovens work.
(note that this is all done while shouting because she can't hear me over the phone and refuses to turn down the TV)— 120/317 pages edited on Ambush (@kristadb1) November 24, 2017
If Krista manages to make homemade bread even remotely reminiscent of her mother's, for the next generation's sake, we hope she writes it down. (And lets us know if it was one or three packs of yeast.)