It’s 10pm. Before Andy went to sleep he helped me put the ingredients in the bread machine. We’ll have fresh multigrain bread to eat in the morning. Baking our own bread is cheaper ($3 for two pound loaves), fresher, and faster since we have a bread machine and I buy the ingredients in a pre-mixed package.
I wonder how many other families are dragging out their bread machines and dusting them off to deal with the ever-increasing price of bread and other necessities. Have American women taken to baking fresh bread again to stretch the family dollar or is it not worthwhile time-wise? The newspapers say that attendance is down at eateries so I guess people are staying home and cooking more.
My Guymon brother, Antonio, runs the family tortillería bakery. They make about four thousand tortillas a day. They were afraid to raise the prices of the tortilla package and lose costumers but they didn’t want to be working for free either. They finally did raise the prices. At first the customers complained and thinned out. A few weeks later they all came back. They found out that prices had gone up all over. Few, if any, made the lifestyle change of making homemade tortillas. It’s too time-consuming and the time could be better used financially by working outside the home. Guymon has a low unemployment record. My Boise City sister, Teresa Ramos, is the only Mexican woman I know who still makes homemade tortillas almost daily. Of course they taste better than store bought ones. She works full-time but after work she likes the homemaker life.
Here in Korea, rice and kimchi are the staple foods. Rice is easy to make. Just wash it, put it into the electric rice cooker, add one and one/half cups of water for every one cup of rice, then set it and forget it. Kimchi is another animal altogether. Almost all dishes, other than rice, are kimchied (mixed with a hot red pepper and garlic paste). Usually it takes a day or two to make a month’s stash of kimchi that will be set aside to ferment before eating. Usually it’s the halmonys (grandmothers) that make it. The younger generation doesn’t go to the trouble. Most women my age (40) don’t make it. They’ll either go to their mom’s house to get some of hers or buy it at the store. Well, I never intended to be a homemaker. Actually, I specifically remember telling my uncle one morning as we sat on a log outside my grandmother’s house in Mexico during one of our Christmas trips, “Uncle, see that lady across the street throwing out her dirty dishwater? I’m never going to be a homemaker. I’m going to be a professional and go to an office to work and travel”.
“Is that so?” asked my uncle. “But keep in mind to respect these women that do all of this boring dirty work. They are the ones that are holding the families and society together.”
Well, my mother-in-law’s kimchies keep food in our stomachs and the grocery bill down, but I get caught between a rock and a hard place when she sets to making her kimchies. I would rather go out and buy it. I feel that I have better things to do with my time. She and her weekend gal pals are in the same boat. Recently they got smart and placed a bulk order of homemade kimchi (can it still be called homemade if it’s made in a place of business?) and they divided it among their households. That was great with me.
I write about the high cost of living because I am thankful that I am no longer poor. But I do remember my family’s lean years in Mexico. Yet, through it all, there was also beauty in our poverty. We were thankful for simple food, health, family, and friends and were ever-reminded of our dependence on God.