Research Thoughts

The Kitchen is the Place for Celebrations

This archived post is the first that I wrote for “The Aroma of Bread,” and was published 23 May 2012. It seems that I had high hopes for participation.

Four months ago we celebrated Marie’s life as family and friends gathered for a final farewell. As it usually does, the topic soon turned to bread. Not just any bread, but Marie’s famous loaves. The best bread stories are told by the the family of Butch’s younger sister, and that day was no exception. The first bread story was told by Mike. The family drove up to Hollandtown from Rockford on a fairly regular basis, and on one particular visit, Syd must have had a lead foot as they arrived to find Marie still on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor.

This past Saturday, May 19th we celebrated. We honored two people who mean so much to us. Butch and Marie Fassbender, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma Marie and Poppa. As the weekend was all about memories, my family gathered at our table for dinner and talked some more. This time the conversation turned to Marie’s recipes that we have been gathering and scanning. I am still hoping to find her index card box which contains so many handwritten favorites, but we have made a start with her cookbooks, and all the recipes that have a handwritten notation. 

This blog is for us, her family. As we scan a batch of recipes they will be first posted here for you to comment on – share your memories of your favorites. We will then include these memories in the printed version.

But! She was not totally unprepared as the house was filled with the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread, and the counters were filled with the mornings baking. Standing in the entry, Mike yelled: “Hey Marie! Throw me a loaf!” And she did. The kids high-tailed it off to the factory for some fresh butter, and a favorite snack.

But the story that had us laughing till tears were streaming down our face was one that Kady shared. Her mother Hank was determined to learn the secret to Marie’s bread. There HAD to be a secret as she was not able to come close to producing a loaf as fine as her sister-in-laws. On another visit, Hank found herself alone in the house, Marie had gone somewhere – possibly to the grocery store, so Hank set out to determine the magic ingredient. She opened every cupboard, scanned the labels of every block of yeast, looked at the brand of flour, the type of bowl, the size of the loaf pan, and she also hunted for the recipe. We could just see her, one ear cocked for the slam of a car door, snooping and looking, and digging in the cupboards. Frustrated that she was coming up empty.

Marie just had a knack. She made bread by “feel.” She added flour till it “felt” right, and to watch her in front of her huge bowl (a bowl almost as big as she was) as she kneaded, and kneaded that dough, was something to see. I believe the magic ingredient was her love. What is your favorite bread story? Please share in the comment section below.

The following recipe is not THE bread recipe, but one that Marie deemed: “(Good)”

St. Mary’s Hilbert Cookbook, 1970ca, p. 1

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