Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Patron Saint of Bread

Despite being raised by a mother who wasn't an enthusiastic cook, my Uncle George was a foodie.  My dad is probably the world connoisseur of bread, but George knew meals, the whole meal from cocktail to aperitif and everything in between.  Not only did he enjoy good food, he appreciated it, he savored it.  When everyone was full and clearing their Thanksgiving plates, he was still on his first helping and would soon be heaping on the seconds.  And my mother loved to cook for him because he was so appreciative, and it's nice to make someone happy, especially someone who never asked for anything.

I doubt a hot dog ever passed his lips, unless he was at a baseball game.  No, he'd opt for a slow-grilled hot sausage smothered in sauteed onions and peppers on a hoagie roll.  When he ate, he made it count.  He was also a good cook.  I don't think he cooked himself meals much, he was known for eating at his country club among friends/family.  But my mom loved this BBQ sauce he made occasionally and since he obviously didn't follow a recipe, he called her once while he was making it so she could write down what he put in.

Sadly, Uncle George passed away Saturday.  My parents were with their brother when he passed and were taking care of the arrangements and all the painful things one has to deal with when they lose a loved one and insisted there was nothing I could do right now.  (George was my father's brother, but I think if you cook someone's favorite holiday dishes for 45 years and stay up nights worrying about them you can drop the "in-law" bit.)  So I felt helpless for my parents and needed to do something, to accomplish something, so I baked bread for my daughter.  I began the long process of baking sandwich bread, a recipe I have failed at three times already, but since she was out, and Saturday was my only chance to bake, I had to get it done.  I was frequently distracted during the process and I swore over and over that I was wasting ingredients because I was forgetting things and it would be a disaster.

Well, it would take a member of my dad's family to ensure a loaf of bread was not wasted.  It came out perfect.  Thank you, George.  You are missed.

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