Whenever someone tries to dictate my ability level based on what they see (a woman in a wheelchair), I think of the story of the Little Red Hen. Did any of the other farm critters even notice that she had other stuff that had to be done during the day? Maybe a bunch of chicks to look after? A messy nest that needed cleaning? Pest control in the yard? Did anyone see that a chicken was doing something above and beyond the ‘typical ability level’ of a chicken’s natural ground-pecking for food – and going the extra mile to make bread?
Now, granted, this chicken didn’t have any of the ordinary physical limitations (well, with the exception of doing it with wings and not hands!) But I see a lot of myself in her when I get the infamous “YOU did that?” reaction if I do something beyond the scope of what others THINK I should be able to do, based on my physical appearance.
What ‘normal’ people really need to try and understand is that disabled people have ALL the same daily struggles that everyone else does. From bad hair days and car troubles, to cranky kids and an endless stream of bills that need to be paid. Disabled people just have to figure those things out without the use of whatever their particular uncooperative body part is. Sometimes, the limitation plays into the problem – but many times, it really doesn’t.
Now, admittedly, I’m pretty domestically-challenged, too. Especially with cookies! Am I seriously the only one in the world that can’t crank out a decent chocolate chip cookie?! SO frustrating! But the effort IS there – if the results aren’t always right on target. Life has taught me, though, that eventually I will have that magical day when a perfect cookie will come from my oven. (I’ll probably frame it for posterity, too! Ha!)
One thing I CAN do, though, is make bread. I know – that’s usually the hard thing for most people! Just one more check mark for the weirdness column in my somewhat backwards world. Because I’m not particularly known for my domestic prowess, though, I usually get a few shocked ”YOU made this?”-type responses. Why, yes….Yes, I DID!
But I want to ‘up my game’ a bit in that area. So, last night, I ground some wheat berries into flour. (I think I should get domestic points for that! Just sayin’!) I usually just use white flour from the store, but I wanted to see how it would go to start COMPLETELY from scratch! This morning, I tried out the following recipe. Sorry in advance for the pictures. One of these days, I’ll invest in a decent camera and not have to rely on my cell phone!
3+ C whole wheat flour
½ C rice flour*
½ C white sugar
½ TB salt
1 TB Dough Enhancer**
2 TB yeast
1 ½ C warm milk (or water, but milk will make it softer)
1-2 TB vinegar
3 TB oil
Mix the yeast, warm milk, and a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix it all together. If you have a Kitchen-Aid or other mixer, you can use that, but I like to use my hands, so I can feel what’s going on with the dough. Wheat dough is stickier than white bread dough, so keep that in mind. Add more flour, a bit at a time, as needed. Knead for about 5-10 minutes, until you can feel little bubbles start popping in the dough and it gets a pretty smooth texture like this:
Form into a ball and cover, then set aside in a warm place to rise for about an hour. You want it to at least double in size. It will look like this when it’s ready to go:
When it’s raised enough, go ahead and punch it down. I know – it will kind of break your heart the first time you do it, as it’s SO satisfying to see it all fluffed up, but it’s a necessary evil. It will help the end result be fluffier/softer, so it really IS a good thing!
At this point, either roll into balls*** and place in a greased pan or shape into a loaf or two for loaves, if you want slices from it later.
Then, cover again, set back in the warm spot, and let it raise for another hour or so.
After the second rise time, bake rolls at 350 for 15-20 mins and loaves for about 30-35 minutes (depending on how dark you want the crust).
You’ll know when it’s done cooking by lightly tapping your finger on the top. It will sound hollow. After it’s done baking, take it out and lightly brush it with butter for a glossy, beautiful finish. Then, either eat right away or throw some jam or jelly on it for extra pizazz!
*If you don’t have rice flour, just use wheat or white. The rice just helps lighten up the dough a bit so it’s not quite so dense.
**If you don’t have dough enhancer, you can sub with a crushed Vitamin C tablet and about a tablespoon of baking powder.
***When you’re making the balls, pinch the dough toward the back of the roll, so it will stretch and make smooth, pretty top for it. All the creases/folds will either be cooked out or at the bottom.
Whether you have physical limitations or not, YOU CAN DO THIS! Give it a shot, and don’t forget to come back here and let me know how it goes! Have a great day!