Bread, Tradition & Memory

Yesterday, as is tradition in my family, I rolled up my sleeves and measured, mixed, kneaded (and then punched down!), kneaded and braided my favorite recipe of all time: Swedish Coffee Bread:


It’s only my second year making it by myself, and I’m so happy with how it turned out. But as I was hand-folding in 8 cups of flour to the mix, I was thinking about my Grandmother, who, legend has it, could mix up the whole dough using a wooden spoon. Anyone who has made bread like this knows what kind of feat that is.

My grandmother passed away several years ago, but as I was folding and punching, huffing and puffing to get this bread ready, I thought about how amazing she was and how lucky I am to come from such strong blood. My grandmother was a prolific home gardener, a cook, a mother to four, a self-taught painter and a self-taught writer, among many other things. She would spend her summers on the same island in Maine I have visited my whole life, and there she did a send away course in writing. Eventually, she used her social and research skills to collect oral histories and paper artifacts from the community on the island and wrote a book chronicling it all.

When I get frustrated with a draft I’m working on, or feel as though I’m a little restless or directionless, I think about all of the amazing things she accomplished just by sheer will. So on this Thanksgiving, I want to honor her memory.


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