The Little Red Hen

My favorite and most often heard story when I was a child was the one about the little red hen. If you’ve never heard it I’d be surprised but the short version is this: The little red hen had a hankering for some nice baked bread. The thought of the smell of fresh-baked bread was on her mind and she went around to her friends and tried to interest them in having some fresh-baked bread too. The catch was the wheat had to be planted, watered, harvested, taken to the flour mill, brought home after the milling and made into bread with all that kneading and rising and more kneading.

What it came down to was that nobody wanted to help her so she ended up doing the whole process by herself. In the end when the hot bread was sending out those beautiful smells and she was lathering the butter on a fresh slice of that bread all of her friends showed up outside her door, more than happy to help her eat it. But she said NO, sorry folks; you didn’t help with the labor so you aren’t helping me with the pleasure of eating this bread.

I was never sure what the moral of the story was but I have thought of it often through my life whenever I couldn’t get help. I’m sure it is a book that wouldn’t be politically acceptable now days. It is probably considered offensive.

At any rate I thought of it tonight and had a good laugh with my husband over it. You see we went out and brought a bread maker today. I’m not a big bread enthusiast but my husband likes sandwiches and he has been complaining about the horrible bread in the stores. He has tried dozens of brands and kinds and hasn’t found any worth of eating.

Since he has lost so much of his vision there is less and less he can do. I’m gone during the week out at the communities and only home on weekends. That leaves him with a lot of free time and little to fill in the hours. He was having so much trouble using his laptop and I suddenly realized he needed a big screen monitor to hook up. I felt bad that I hadn’t thought of it much sooner. He has it now and it has improved his life so much.

So in that mode of thinking of his needs when he started talking about how awful the bread was I thought about a bread maker. He likes to cook anyway and those machines are easy to set up and he can still see well enough to get the bread ready and push the buttons to start it cooking. I suggested it to him and he was quite excited about the thought of making his own tasty bread.

Today we went to the only store in town that would have bread makers and had a look. I always price things on eBay and add the cost of shipping before I buy anything.  Our town is in the middle of absolute nowhere. When you buy anything on the internet they always charge a lot more to ship it here than anywhere in Australia. With my eBay prices in mind I looked at the four choices of bread makers and decided on one in the middle price range. We walked out with our prize anticipating the smell of fresh-baked bread. Next stop was the grocery store where we had already scoped out the bread mixes. We picked out a couple of kinds. We had more shopping to do and lunch at our favorite restaurant before we finally got home with our bread maker.

I sat it on the counter in its box and proceeded to tidy up the kitchen. My husband was sitting at his computer waiting for me to open the box. Finally I opened it and got it out, sat it in the place I cleared for it and proceeded to read the instruction/recipe book. Right away I saw all the kinds of breads you can make and soon had a list of extra things we needed to make some gourmet breads.

I thought we’d make bread tomorrow so I did other things which included writing a blog and reading. About 9:30 my husband indicated he’d like to make some bread and maybe set the timer to have it baked in time for breakfast. So we worked on it together getting the bread mix ready and then we saw the time and figured if we started it right then it would be ready by midnight. We laughed about how when it got up for his midnight toilet visit the bread would be ready.

We had watched the bread machine go through its kneading and rising routine. I was in bed reading and when my husband came to bed he said it was starting to bake. He kept talking to me because he didn’t want to go to sleep and miss the bread. Before long there was the faint odor of bread baking and then it kept getting stronger. We started laughing. Our granny flat is attached to the landlord’s house and all the smells float back and forth. When they bake roast lamb we know it. We visualized them getting up at midnight and coming to our door in their jammies asking if we were baking bread and could they have some.

I got up with the flashlight to look through the window on the bread machine to see how the bread was doing. It was huge. In the end we both got up when it beeped it was done and sliced it while it was still warm and spread butter on it. I got the crust just like when I was a kid. My dad and I both loved the crusts so we always cut both ends off so we could each have a crust and my mom got so mad with us. She claimed with both ends off it dried out faster.

After we had eaten our bread I started thinking about the little red hen. I told my husband, “We are just like the little red hen. We didn’t get help or advice from anyone, we just went and got our bread machine and our flour mix and we made the bread all by ourselves and then we ate it by ourselves.” We felt quite proud of our first loaf of bread and didn’t care at all that it was way after midnight when we ate our home-made, wonderful warm bread.

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