Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Amish Invasion

My friend Ellen left it at my house one evening in January in a ziploc plastic bag and accompanied by a recipe with the print slightly splodged. She was smiling when she gave it to me, but I noted a slightly strange and desperate gleam in her eye. "Amish Friendship Bread," said the writing on the bag, but it actually was a glob of batter that over the next 10 days, lay on my on my counter top requiring daily attention.

The instructions said that I had to "feed" it at 6 and 10 days, and I did my duty faithfully, "mushing" it on the other days and periodically "burping" the air that built up in the plastic bag as surely as flatulence after brussels sprouts.

My grandchildren observed the bag with interest and got into the habit of squeezing what seemed almost like another family member, whenever they passed by.

On day 10 I divided the growing batter into 4 bags and baked two loaves from what was left, keeping one bag, to start the process all over and having 3 to give away. I gave one to my friend Susan at cell group, but she left it behind on the counter top (as a mother of 9 you'd think she'd know better), so for the next 10 days I had "twins" to feed. This meant that I ended up with 6 bags of batter to find homes for at the end of the cycle. I was beginning to notice a gleam in my own eye whenever I thought of a victim to inflict one of my bags of batter upon.

Yesterday happened to be the "harvest" day again; it's funny how fast those 10 day cycles come around; so I took three bags with me to the office, complete with "the recipe." My colleague Greg, had a day of interviews with another co-worker, Karen. I bided my time, and at an opportune moment between interviews I popped into their room, feeling like a Stealth Bomber about to drop its load.

"Would you like some Amish Friendship Bread?" I asked cheerfully. As soon as I said it I could see by their faces and smiles that they were anticipating an actual loaf of bread, and then they saw that what I was holding out to them was a droopy goopy bag of raw batter and confusion flickered in their eyes--until I explained the wonders of the dough.

Greg said, "I'll take it home to Iris."

I thought, "I hope she doesn't mind." Well, it was Valentine's Day the next day. I was picturing Greg presenting Iris with a bag of batter, which she would be feeding and squeezing for the next 10 days. Karen was taking hers back to Huntsville. I also gave her a bag for Gloria. I did this knowing that Gloria is going on vacation on Friday. "She can take it with her in her suitcase," I thought mercilessly.

I have made three batches of different delicious loaves from my batter--it's just the multiplication factor that becomes a bit of an issue eventually. Ellen confessed that after 3 months of loaf baking, she's about to freeze her batter next time she divides it up. Hers has gone around her church and even to her neighbours.

The week I was a surrogate parent to Susan's batter as well as my own and had the double batch of bags to give away on a Sunday, I found it quite an ice breaker at church.

I have a vision of every one at church making friends with all the people they've never actually met and friendships forming and spreading along with the batter!

Wouldn't that be nice?

6 comments:

Angcat said...

Dear Belinda,
Gotta love that bread and it does taste so good. In answer to your provocative question..."wouldn't that be nice"? Yes it would, but like you already said, when someone approaches you with a desperate gleam in their eye and a bag of mush, I'm not sure if it's friendship that's about to develop, or a frantic need to run away. I say this mostly tongue in cheek, but I think we've all been around this loop before. It's yummy, until you just can't figure a way to get rid of the little beggars and then you feel so guilty if you let the them ferment and die.
Perhaps we should make a rule like the one that says on Passover,(or for our purposes, even on Shabbat)we should cleanse our homes of everything containing yeast, but in this case we'd make it batter.

Thanks for the chuckle.
:-)

Joyful Fox said...

Hi Belinda,

I'm laughing so hard this might be difficult to write. It's hard to see when tears of mirth are flowing from my eyes and I'm blinking as fast as my suburban's windshield wipers.

Incidentally Jason tried to give it away the night we were at Writer's Group, at the same time we were talking about the Amish Curse and aborted babies, nurturing twins and well...you know.

One of our church elders though his teen-age daughter might be interested but 9-year-old Hannah rescued our "baby", stating, "Daddy, you can't give away that one. We need it to make more."

Eight-year-old Joshua quickly offered him the freshly-baked loaf, I had tucked into a zip-lock bed, just before exiting for Writer's Group. To which Jason quickly said, "No, not that one. That's the loaf I love."

In spite of the generosity of the family, and our well-meaning rescuers, we still have an Amish Alien in our home. It seems to have a permanent birth on our counter and at the Foxden, "Mush the bag", applies to everyone who passes by, numerous times a day.
I have wondered how well these Zip Loc Bags (I buy extra-strong) hold up.

Visions of fermented goopy batter volcanizing out of a plastic crevasse may give me nightmares.

However, visions of Amish Bread Batter dancing to the Freezer, will have to wait till the next 10- day-cycle because my children have just found surrogate homes for 3 more fledglings.

Ah... has this become another family challenge where mom carries the batter?

So the Saga of the Amish Alien continues as the World Turns.....

Belinda said...

My friend Alex asked me what it was that was growing in the bags. I told her, "I don't know what it is that is growing in there! On the recipe it says ominously, "Only the Amish know how to make the starter, so don't give your last bag away!" :)

"Only the Amish" really know!

I'm so glad it made you laugh Ellen and Ang! Mission accomplished! Laughter is good for the soul.

Dave Hingsburger said...

This was very very funny. I can just imagine the crazed look in your eye as you start to hand it out on the street to passersby ... and they wondering what happened, what dreadful circumstance that ended with a pretty blond lady on the street muttering about friendship and handing out dough.

Belinda said...

Dave, you are so lucky that you are in BC because friendship has its price you know!

Oh how I laughed at your mental image of me.

Greg forgot his bag of batter a the office yesterday. He confessed at lunch today, looking mortified, as well he might. It is a living thing after all.

Another friend wanted to adopt it, but he said, no, it's going home to Iris tonight!

Tracy Huurman said...

Oh my goodness, I have been laughing out loud as I read your blog and then all the comments. I too have an Amish Foster Bag, and reach out to mush, squish or burp the 'baby' every time I pass by.

My two teens question me daily, the best response coming from my 14 year old son one day as I 'burped' a very full and fermented-smelling bag.

"What IS that mum?"

"It's Amish Friendship bread batter Alex. I have to squish it and mush it every day, and add some stuff to it once on the 6th day, then on the 10th day I add a bunch more stuff to it and bake it. It's really good, you'll love it. But before I bake it I make some more of these starter bags. It kind of keeps growing. Cool, eh?"

"So you're leaving food on the counter, poking it a couple of times a day, and squishing all the stinky air out before passing it on to your friends. And you're gonna want me to eat it?"

'Nuff said.