Bread, Hospitals & Army Surplus

By Carson Buckingham



Carson Buckingham knew from childhood that she wanted to be a writer, and began, at age six, by writing books of her own, hand-drawing covers, and selling them to any family member who would pay (usually a gum ball) for what she referred to as "classic literature." When she ran out of relatives, she came to the conclusion that there was no real money to be made in self-publishing, so she studied writing and read voraciously for the next eighteen years, while simultaneously collecting enough rejection slips to re-paper her living room...twice.

When her landlord chucked her out for, in his words, "making the apartment into one hell of a downer," she redoubled her efforts, and collected four times the rejection slips in half the time, single-handedly causing the first paper shortage in U.S. history.

But she persevered, improved greatly over the years, and here we are.

Carson Buckingham has been a professional proofreader, editor, newspaper reporter, copywriter, technical writer, and comedy writer. Besides writing, she loves to read and work in her vegetable garden. She lives in Arizona, with her wonderful husband, in a house full of books, plants, and pets.

Being the self-sufficient person that I am, when I ran out of bread this week, I thought I'd just whip up a loaf in my kitchen.

It is to laugh.

Apparently, in order to make a warm loaf of beautiful bready goodness, you must belong to some sort of secret society—whereabouts unknown. There is a secret handshake that I understand includes a great deal of laughing at photos of failed loaves.

At any rate, I went to the store to purchase a book on bread making. I cannot explain what possessed me to spend $40 on this book when, as long as I was out, I could have picked up about 25 loaves of bread for the same price. In my defense, I failed economics.

I opened my book to what was supposed to be a basic white bread recipe, and gathered ingredients. I already had everything but the active dry yeast, so off to the store I skipped.

I looked everywhere, but the yeast they had didn't look too active to me. I bought it anyway, and hoped for the best.

I mixed the required ingredients and then the recipe instructed me to proof the yeast. I checked it over and three were no typos or style errors, outside of the misrepresentation of activity, so I corrected the empty packet, considered it proofed and moved on to the next step.

I poured the slop, along with the rest of the ingredients, into a huge bowl, and stirred it until my wrist snapped.

Upon my return from the hospital, the dough had set like lead and looked a little like Mt. Rushmore. I chain-sawed it out of the bowl and set to once more.

On the way home from the hospital, I had purchased a heavy duty, 50 lb bread mixer for the sum of $800.00. I set it up and threw in all the ingredients (that yeast was still just lying around), and revved up the mixer.

I had no idea that milk could be flung that far.

After I scraped off the walls, I re-read the directions and realized that I could only put dough in there, not unmixed ingredients.

I started over a third time. Bear in mind, that between wasted ingredients, book and mixer purchases, and a hospital visit, I am now approximately $3700 into this project.


Everything was going pretty well this time, and before long, the mixer was kneading away, after which I put the dough into a bowl to rise, covered the bowl, and went off to do something else, happy and secure in the knowledge that I'd have fresh bread later that day, and impress the hell out of my husband, Stij.

When I came back two hours later, the entire kitchen was engulfed in dough. It looked like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man's cousin had dropped in, and I briefly wondered if Dan Ackroyd would consider making a house call.

As I said before, that yeast seemed pretty inactive, so I had added a dozen packets to my bread dough, just to make sure.

Evidently, it is pretty damned active under the right conditions.

And it was getting even bigger as I watched.

I needed to cook it—it was the only way.

I escaped out the back door before it noticed me and drove to the nearest army surplus store, purchased a flame thrower for a mere $1500, and sped back.

It had swollen to ten feet high, and had stretched into the living room, where it was watching TV and eating the couch. I flipped on the flame thrower and let 'er rip.

Did you know that those things aren't nearly as easy to control as the movies make them look?

I sprayed not only Breadzilla, but also the walls of the house. The whole thing went up in conflagration heretofore unseen by any human being...anywhere.

But it smelled great!

When Stij came home about an hour later, he was treated to a pile of smoldering rubble and a three-storey loaf of now perfectly cooked white bread. The final price tag on this loaf of bread was now $5200, plus the cost of a place to live.

He didn't bat an eye. He didn't say a word. He just pulled a hunk of bread off and started eating.

"Pretty good," he said. "Don't do it again."

By the time we got the house rebuilt (we moved into the bread until then) and moved back in, I noticed that the kitchen didn't have an oven in it.

"Why no oven?" I asked.

Stij just stared at me. It was THE LOOK.

I stared back at him. "How am I supposed to make meals?"

"I bought you a restaurant—it's cheaper than letting you cook."

I was going to ask which restaurant, but that probably would have pushed THE LOOK right into THE REMINGTON, and I'd really had enough for a while.

As it turned out, it was a pizza place, and I've always wanted to learn how to make a pizza from scratch...

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