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home : readerswrite : yourstory April 29, 2016

My sister got the bread gene
"I make really good soup. You are welcome to stop over and have some, but please bring a loaf of bread."- Chris Quaal Vinson

by Chris Quaal Vinson

My mother always made the best homemade bread. Family legend has it that my dad asked for her hand in marriage once he tasted her Swedish rye.

With seemingly little effort, she would mix and knead, and before we knew it, have six loaves of delicious crusty bread cooling on the counter. As kids, we didn't appreciate it and begged for "store-bought" bread ... that soft, white gummy stuff that is so bad for you.

When I married and moved away, I wanted the same wonderful tastes and memories for my own family. Unfortunately for us, my sister is the only one who inherited what I call "the bread gene." She makes delicious whole-wheat bread while she listens and sings along to the radio.

Me? I am yeast-impaired. I have tried to make bread, rolls, pizza dough, or just about anything that calls for flour and yeast. I follow the recipe exactly. I use fresh yeast. I punch it down. I knead and I knead.

Sometimes in desperation I have even tried turning on the radio and singing to it. Some days it rises, and some days it doesn't. Occasionally, it will trick me and rise beautifully, only to come out of the oven looking and tasting like a soggy, heavy brick.

Some of my failures have been cleverly disguised as Italian focaccia bread when spread out on a cookie sheet with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. My sister has offered to give me lessons, but I don't want to learn from anybody who can whip up a homemade pizza crust AND walk for four miles after working all day when I am almost too tired to lift my fingers to dial for take-out.


I haven't given up, though, especially on those chilly Sunday afternoons when I have a pot of soup simmering on the stove. I make really good soup. You are welcome to stop over and have some, but please bring a loaf of bread. Just in case.

Chris Quaal Vinson lives near Bowstring, Minn., and blogs at http://themnfarmwoman.com

Editor's Note: This essay was previously published in the Western Itasca Review, Deer River, Minn.

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