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bread and wine on Camino 5-14-2015

Taking time. Baking bread

The sea life around Bahia Maria leapt up to greet us as we set sail once more on our way south. Harbor dolphins played beneath the boat and booby birds crashed through the waves around us, chasing fish. Fierce frigate birds dive-bombed the boobies to steal their prizes and sea lions leapt free of the water after fish determined to fly. The boat too was on her toes, dancing through the wages. After ten days out at sea, we at last began to get the hang of sailing together as a team. It helped that the wind and waves had settled down. But too, we were beginning to trust our boat, each other and ourselves.

Tim however, was beginning to panic. He had been living on peanut butter sandwiches since we left San Diego, and now we were out of bread! We had 640 more miles to Puerto Vallarta. What were we going to do?

When I got out the flour and yeast, Tim looked at me askance. This mom to whom a meal on shore had meant carry-out, who used the micro wave to boil water, who before this trip hadn’t cooked in recent memory-this mom was going to attempt to bake bread. This did not seem possible.

I told myself that baking bread, in spite of the mystique surrounding it, cannot be too difficult. It only takes a few ingredients. I had done it once before with my mom. So, with bravado of confidence I really didn’t feel, I followed the directions in our trusted Joy of Cooking. Warming the water just so, I lovingly added the yeast. Then I added the flour and sugar and salt to the big steel bowl brought along just for this purpose. The aromas of the yeast and flour filled the boat with an amazing feeling of security and home. As I mixed it all together, kneading it in rhythm with the motion of the boat, I felt a connection with the sea and with others who lived upon it. With a renewed feeling of self sufficiency, I set the bowl aside to rise.

Tim peaked beneath the towel covering the dough as we let it rise, amazed at the miracle of its doubling in size. Finally, when I pulled the first golden brown loaf from the oven, its comforting fragrance filled the cabin and cockpit. And Tim announced to us all that there was something spiritual about baking bread. As we ate peanut butter sandwiches that evening, admiring the sunset together, we all agreed.