We took a break from unpacking, washing and cleaning.
The sun was shining and reflecting off the water in front of our new home in the country. We don’t just have a pond at the bottom of our garden, we have Strangford Lough! I decided to make some Irish wheaten bread which cooks beautifully in the Aga. Brendan wanted to go for a walk. I asked him to wait till the bread was cooked before we left. A friend said he would go for a walk and leave the food in the oven but too often they were away longer than they intended and the food was burnt. I didn’t want that to happen.
Brendan and I went for a walk along the bay. The water lapped against the sea weed covered rocks. I forgot my binoculars to do some bird watching. I didn’t need them today as some birds were close by, gulls, sandpipers and many more were feeding on the shore. We walked around a little peninsula which becomes an island when the tide is high. We sat down in the sunshine had coffee from my flask and enjoyed the view, Bella Vista.
The Lord is my shepherd; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalms 23:1-2 KJV)
When my children were young I always wanted to move to the country to live. I thought they could work off a lot of energy playing in the open spaces, like I did as a child. It was not practical to live in the country for my family. Living near schools, shops, friends, health centre and dentists in the town was more suitable. The children could attend after school activities and sports events without me taking them by car. They could walk home. We weighed up the benefits of living in the country or the town. Living in the town suited our young family better.
I haven’t made bread for twenty years. When the children were young I made a batch of wheaten loaves every week. Our children loved the hot bread with butter and jam running over the sides. It was very satisfying. Baking bread was gone for a season but not forgotten.
When I was in Canada recently my host, Maureen, relaxes on the week end and makes a wheaten cake of bread for her family. Her mum, who was from Belfast, taught her how to make it. She keeps an Irish tradition going. Perhaps she inspired me to get going again making bread.
I remember my mother made griddle soda bread for us. It is made with flour, baking soda and buttermilk mixed together. The dough was turned out onto a floured baking board, shaped into a circle an inch deep and cut into four parts. The dough was placed on a hot griddle on top of the cooker. When one side was cooked it was turned over to finish it off on the other side. The smell of the cooking bread brings memories of provision, warmth and comfort. If I was about when the bread was ready I loved to have a piece with butter melting on the fresh slice. Homemade soda was fat free, nutritious and inexpensive. Those were the days before supermarkets and mass produced food.
My first loaf of wheaten bread on my new Aga turned out tasty. Brendan enjoyed it for lunch after our walk. The smell of the freshly baked bread filled the room. We will have daily bread from now on.
Jesus told us to pray, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:9-11 KJV)