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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

I was just thinking about how good we have it

We take so many items from our daily lives for granted, don't we? For example, take bread, that staple that many of us can't seem to live without. Many of us buy our bread and some of us bake our bread. Even baking bread from scratch has so many modern shortcuts.

I know some of us use bread machines regularly. I use a stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. I still have to form the loaves and bake them in an electric oven. But that's nothing compared to how bread was made in the home for century after century. 

Imagine if you had to dedicate an entire day of the week to baking bread. That isn't so far-fetched. This was typical throughout the 1800s. Housewives would set aside one day of the week just for baking. Baking day may have produced bread and maybe a pie or two. Baking those items alone really would take the better part of a day. The yeast would have to be proofed before adding flour. The dough was mixed and kneaded by hand. A fire would have to be built for baking. Loaves would be formed, risen and baked. Perhaps a pie or two would be made to take advantage of the prepared oven. The clean-up would surely take much longer than today. Perhaps water would be hauled from a well or nearby creek. The water  would need to be heated on the cookstove or over a fire. Bowls, pans, and boards would be scrubbed, perhaps using a homemade soap that may or may not have cleaned all that well or perhaps scouring with sand or cleaning with a combination of vinegar and ash. Pans would need to be thoroughly dried before putting away to prevent rusting. On top of baking bread and a couple of pies, the housewife would also need to prepare 3 meals from scratch and do some housework. That sounds like a full day to me.

We were out of bread, here, so I baked a week's worth on Tuesday. My yeast was instant, so no proofing was needed. As I said above, my dough was mixed and kneaded by an appliance. I did form it into loaves, myself. Modern ovens start with the push of a button, so when I want to bake again, for a pie or other items, I can easily do so. No need to add extra baking work on this day. After my loaves were baked, my dishwasher cleaned the pans for me. And because they're not made from tin, I let them air dry.

In addition to baking bread, I was able to complete several other tasks, go for a 1-hour walk, and take a brief afternoon nap. We really are quite spoiled.


  1. It's good to step back and appreciate how technology has improved our lives. I read an article awhile ago that talked about how our modern view of exercise is a relatively new concept. Fitness was part of everyday life when, as you said, wood had to be chopped and carried for fuel, water had to be gathered from some source outside the home, and so on. If you ever get a chance, try watching Wartime Farm (or any of the other productions they put out). We watched it on Youtube last year at the beginning of the pandemic. It's about a group of historians/other scienc-ey types re-creating life from England during WWII, when farmers had to meet government quotas to help feed their countrymen. It's well-done and interesting enough to keep teenagers engaged. My biggest thought was wow, they worked hard. I think it might be a BBC program, but I'm not sure. There are 2 men and 1 woman on the program. The men address the farming aspect and the woman, the more traditional female roles of the time.

    1. Hi Kris,
      How true. Excess weight was a problem only for the wealthy. The rest of us would have spent our days physically active. Imagine being a school-aged child. No school buses, walking to school even in poor weather. There was likely no need for PE.
      I'll check out that show -- it sounds very interesting. Thanks for mentioning it.

    2. Kris that is a excellent show. Have you watched wartime kitchen and garden coal house, wartime coal house, and tales from the Green valley. Loved them all.

    3. Cheryl, not yet, but they are on my bucket list. For a while last spring, our school district didn't have any classes and we couldn't go much of anywhere, so Wartime Farm was a fun and educational distraction.

  2. Many rural people's education stopped at 7th grade because the high school was too far to get to. That's what happened with one of my grandmothers. My other grandmother's family moved so she could go to high school. Things are not perfect today, but we have definitely come a long way.

    I'll have to check out Wartime Farm. I am always interested in learning about how people lived in the past.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Oh, that makes me sad for your grandmother. Not perfect now, but I hope much better.


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