From time to time, my Knights of Columbus Council is called on to do pancake breakfasts, fish fry dinners or baking bread for brunch at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Cloud, Florida. It is a labor of love, especially when the prettiest gal in church told me “Your buns are fantastic!”
Recently, we had the privilege of having the assistance of a professional chef and we endeavored to bake bread literally in the entrance foyer to the church. Our chef, Steve Le May brings his ovens and prepares the bread and we’re good to go.
You had a choice between Italian, French Rosemarie or sweet cinnamon pull apart bread… powered with white sugar. The latter is to die for and, of course, we sold out of it first.
Our Knights of Columbus Council uses functions like this one to raise money for various charities to which we contribute as well as providing funds to support Vocations in the Catholic faith and specifically for St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Each loaf of fresh baked bread is sold for a $5.00 donation to our charity fund.
Charity or not, some people can’t resist the opportunity to complain.
“I’m not paying $5.00 for a loaf of bread,” wined one of the old-timers coming out of church.
My response was simple: “Can I help the next person in line?” I learned a long time ago that if you get into a wrestling match with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.
Still, I get why Steve enjoys his work so much. Yes, baking is his business but more importantly, it’s his passion. And doing it can be about the least expensive and most enjoyable pastime that one could have.
The place to begin for the do-it-your-self type chef is with a loaf of bread.
Next you have to decide how you want to flavor your loaf. Like many endeavors in life, once you understand the basic principles you can begin adding new ingredients, flavors and textures.
Steve tells me that time and temperature is almost as important as what you put into your loaf of bread as well as the fermenting and baking process. Glazing your bread may not be as important as the ingredients found therein but it’s critical nevertheless to the baking process.
One grumpy teenager came wandering up to our ovens and presentation booth with a list of questions and comments. Since he was looking down at his phone through the entire process, I gather he wanted to give me a lecture on the good, the bad and the ugly of bread, including a dissertation on gluten, whatever that is.
The grumpy teen went on to tell me some questionable and totally unnecessary facts. “Did you know that 99.9 percent of all people who die from cancer have eaten bread? Did you know that 100 percent of all soldiers have eaten bread and that 96.9 percent of all Communist
sympathizers have eaten bread?”
The cranky teen continued. “Did you know that 99.7 percent of the people involved in air and auto accidents ate bread within 6 months preceding the accident and that 93.1 percent of juvenile delinquents came from homes where bread is served frequently?”
My response: “Do you know how little I care? Next in line please. And how many loaves do you want this morning?”
Now get this… I’m not the baker.
I’m the dude selling bread by the loaf for $5.00, all of which goes to charity. I don’t know what goes into a loaf of bread and when you tell me I’m not likely to inscribe it above my navel. It’s not one of the biggies in my life, with all due respect.
Julia Childs, the renowned cook was once quoted: “How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?”
And Steve Weiner said it best: “I like bread and I like butter, but what I like the most is bread with lots of butter!”
The grumpy teen wouldn’t give it up. He advised me that newborn babies can choke on bread. I’m trying to think of a way to get rid of this pest so I finally announced to him that we do not sell bread to minors. “Do you have some proof of age?” Yes, I actually carded a kid who was trying to trash me for selling bread. Bless me Father… I continue to sin!
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Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.