November, in the U.S. and Canada, is a time to celebrate gratitude. But since I wrote about family activities around Thanksgiving last year, this year I thought I’d write about one of the things for which people around the world are grateful: bread.
1. You might want to start by exploring the many varied kinds of bread around the world. You could begin with this online introduction to the wealth of international options, but it will be a lot more fun to continue the hunt in your local bakery or grocery store. Try a bread you’ve never had before. Have you eaten Boston brown bread in a can (one of my childhood favorites!), middle eastern lavash, Scottish oatcakes, Indian naan, or Native American fry bread? Are there any ethnic bakeries in your area that you can explore? What could be more delicious than taste testing some new breads?
2. Of course, baking your own bread will provide a delicious treat and the best smelling house you can imagine. If you aren’t an experienced bread maker (or even if you are), you might want to explore this website collection of easy bread recipes to make with kids. I was so intrigued by this recipe for bread in a bag, I had to try it out. I had to knead it a bit longer than suggested to get it smooth, but it was great kid-friendly fun.
3. Bread can even be used for art. There are lots of options for making beads out of sliced white bread and white glue—here’s the Martha Stewart version, but there are lots of others. In addition to her suggestions, beads also dry well on a metal or bamboo skewer. Or explore some amazing toast art. It made me want to explore my kitchen for potential art materials!
4. Go with the Grain and Share Our Strength have teamed up to sponsor the Bread Art website where you can make digital toast art for a cause. Each piece of digital art results in a donation to fight childhood hunger, which seems particularly appropriate in our traditional season of abundance.
4. Yeast, the basis of many breads, is a living thing and can be the basis of lots of interesting experiments. Try to have yeast blow up a balloon. I especially like this website because the suggestions at the bottom lead to lots of good scientific explorations. What would happen with different temperatures of water? Difference leavening? Or try this series of experiments from Red Star Yeast.
Whatever activities you choose, bread can be the basis of delicious and creative family adventures. This month I am grateful, as always, for bread. If you have a special bread adventure, I’d love to hear about it. And now, I need to go get mine out of the oven. . . .