My Friend Mary Bakes Bread

 Making bread with Mary on a sunny Tuesday morning. 

Making bread with Mary on a sunny Tuesday morning. 

“How’s your yeast?” Mary asks me. Really? What kind of friend inquires about another friend’s yeast? Mary does. My friend Mary bakes bread. And she wants everyone else to bake bread, too. I'm trying. But I'm not perfect. And now I'm guilt-ridden. How do you confess to a friend the live yeast she gave you weeks ago is dead?

                   The live yeast Mary gave me before I mercilessly killed it.  

                  The live yeast Mary gave me before I mercilessly killed it.  

But Mary understands. Like a true friend she accepts me with all my faults and yeast killing tendencies. She gives me another batch of live yeast. As I said, she wants us all to bake bread.

She doesn't bake just any bread, mind you. Mary bakes really fine amazing bread. A tasty boule of bread magically conjured out of flour, yeast, water and salt. It wasn't always that way. Mary once was gluten-free. Then she got married and went to France on her honeymoon.  Imagine going to France and not eating bread.  Here is a photo of me in Paris. As you can see, I'm eating bread.  A lot of bread.  

 Gluten-free? Not for me. I'm in Paris! 

Gluten-free? Not for me. I'm in Paris! 

But back to Mary. 

While on honeymoon in France Mary was forced to watch her new husband indulge on French bread and pastries. Meanwhile she sat on the sidelines, munching on carrots or whatever one eats while not eating bread in France. Eventually she succumbs to temptation, eats the bread, and waits for a reaction. No reaction. Was she no longer gluten-intolerant? Was she ever gluten-intolerant? This inquiry led her down a path of passion learning of flour, gluten content, yeast, baking, and more. Mary is a recent graduate of Yo San University with a degree in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Combining her self-training in the art of bread-making and her TCM background she has taken a medicinal approach to bread making. She can speak to the healing qualities of certain grains, live yeast, and more. As she educated herself, she shared her experiences online via a blog, Bread Culture, which blossomed into a bread-making business. Now she writes bread prescriptions for her patients.

Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals Mary holds no patent on her bread formulas. She shares them widely via her website. And you can buy the bread she makes at local farmers' markets and online. But she thinks it's best to “do” to understand and thus, she also teaches. Mary is happy to walk you through each step in a hands-on class.  One sunny Tuesday morning my daughter and I were fortunate enough to have a personal class with Mary.

Using a scale in lieu of measuring cups she takes the process up a notch.

breadmaking

You feel more like a chemist in the lab than a baker in a kitchen.

                   Making dough, hands thick with yeast, flour and salt.  

                  Making dough, hands thick with yeast, flour and salt.  

And there is always the part where we get our hands dirty, the part I relish most. Fingers through the dough, mushing, mashing, and mixing. I'm a kid again, my brain is in full, tactile sensory processing mode, neurons firing as I feel the process of flour mixing with water and forming food to nourish and sustain.  

The final result.  Bread, piping hot from the oven

                   A boule of my own. 

                  A boule of my own. 

Bread is a healing art with Mary and she wants to teach us how to heal ourselves by baking bread. Come heal thyself and join the break-making revolution today. 

Bread Culture and Radical Cooks unites this month in a Bread baking + Soup making workshop in the Highland Park neighborhood on October 18th, 2015.  Sign up at our Eventbrite link