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?