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No Shame in Baking

(by Linda Thorburn)

The smell coming from my middle daughter’s room is oppressive. I’m not sure if something literally has died in there or if it's a science experiment gone wrong. Regardless, the room has to be cleaned.

When you grow up in one after another residential placements, failed foster placements, and several failed adoption placements, hoarding food can become your crisis reaction. I know this of my child. We are stuck at home; we can go out to do almost nothing; and we cannot see friends except virtually. Yes, we are in a crisis, and I should expect the reaction to be what I know it has been in the past: She will steal and hoard food.

After an hour of raging against me about how life is so unfair and how she has rights, we get to the point where she can talk calmly again. It is hard to be adopted when you are a teenager. You’ve missed so many early life events with your family, and you sure as heck don’t believe this family will keep you around because “all of the others didn’t.” I get it, I do, and it stinks, but so does your room, and it needs to be taken care of immediately.

We clean for almost two hours, and I fight every urge I have to lecture, get upset, or lay a guilt trip on her. We talk about clothes she likes and does not like, the perks of vacation, and how her birth family is doing. She scrubs and scrubs while I find a ridiculous amount of stolen food—soda and peanut butter and chocolate chips—much of which has gone moldy and attracted bugs. Finally it is done. Now, the second part of the behavior: She will refuse to come out of her room because of the shame about what she knows was wrong but seems unable to control. I have to entice her to come out, and I’m not sure what I have in my bribery arsenal.

I trek downstairs to the pantry and pull out my old bread maker. It is a Sunbeam that might be close to my youngest daughter’s age. I hope it will work, but who knows after all this time. My daughter sees me bring it past her room and up the stairs. Her curiosity gets the best of her, and she follows me up the stairs. I start to clean it, and we play a game of “guess what this machine does.” No, she has never seen a bread maker or, it turned out, actually eaten homemade bread, other than the soda bread I make each year for St. Patrick’s Day.

I download the bread maker manual from online and look at some recipes. I check to see what ingredients are in the house, and see we have what we need to make Parmesan bread. The two of us work to get the ingredients in the machine and then set it to do its thing. After three and a half hours, the house smells amazing, and we can finally taste our creation. Fantastic recipe. We slice up the bread and serve it with dinner. While we’re eating, both kids ask if we can make it again, and the youngest one wants a turn next time.

Okay, sure, I can’t stop you from stealing, but I can control how I react and can limit the shame you feel about your reaction to stress. No, it is not perfect but the bread…now that was perfect.


Linda Thorburn is a training specialist and mom to three from Albany, New York.

Parmesan Bread

(Do not use the delay bake option of the bread baker for this recipe.)

3/4 c. water

2 t. olive or vegetable oil

2 c. flour

1/3 c. grated cheese

2 t. sugar

1 1/2 t. dry active yeast

3/4 t. salt, optional (garlic salt also works nicely)

Put water in bottom of the insert, and add oil.

Sprinkle flour on top of water, creating a barrier with the remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle cheese evenly around the insert.

Make an indent in the flour, and add sugar and yeast.

Sprinkle optional salt around the flour (not in the sugar/yeast indent).

Use these settings:

· White bread

· Light crust

· Large loaf

(Do not use Rapid Rise.)

1 Comment

Loved this piece, especially how you directed your feelings about the stealing and hoarding into the baking of bread. Such a lovely story. I’m sure you are a wonderful mother with beautiful children.

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