People cope differently when their oldest kid leaves the homestead and flies to a far away college campus in a different state.
Some travel, take on new hobbies, volunteer in the community, or find a new job, while others grieve for a long time and stalk their children at all the social media outlets available to mankind to the point of their kids’ exasperation.
As for me, I must have been bracing for the momentous event because weeks before her eventual departure, I adopted two pets.
They’re not the furry nor scaly kind. Neither do they require significant time and resources that I definitely don’t have.
Ever heard how much a private university costs these days? Even with the scholarship my child received, I still couldn’t afford a pet that walks or crawls or swim. Nor do I have the time to care for one.
These two new pets of mine, however, require feeding, but I can put them to sleep when I’m away. No need to hand them to the neighbors or pet caretakers or lug them with me.
The first one came to me by serendipity. I was on a training mode that day.
College Transition 101 is one course that I had to shove on my daughter at the last minute when I realized how much I’ve failed as a mom in training her towards independence.
Laundry skills, toilet and shower cleaning experience, sewing techniques, cooking styles, personal financial planning and management, and street smart common sense were part of the syllabus.
So for the latter part, I had her download the Uber app to meet up with a friend. Me Mom, of course need to hover like a helicopter over this fine chick as she activated the app and rode the car that would bring us to this nice coffee and bakery shop in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas.
I interviewed the driver quite a bit and realized I could make a living writing stories about Uber drivers. I met one in California who’s actually a CEO of his company and drives a couple of hours a day to keep his feet on the ground, much like my character, Dr. Anthony Sparker from my web novel.
Anyway, when we got to this fancy bakery, and while my daughter ordered her coffee, my writer instinct perked up again upon seeing the D Magazine sign over the counter.
Can I spin off another newsworthy article for this restaurant? I took some photos, just in case.
My eyes landed on this big round package of sourdough bread beside the cashier.
I took a piece from the sampling bowl and popped one in my mouth. It had a soft chewy bite with just a hint of sourness that puckers the inner lining of my cheeks.
“How much are those?” I asked.
“$9.00.” The young man behind the counter flashed his white teeth.
I frowned. The cheapskate in me activated. Why would I spend that much on a bread when I bake my own almost everyday? I could buy three bags of 5-lb bread flour for that price that would feed my family for months.
But I’ve been curious about sourdoughs and never got to experiment with sourdough starters.
A plan brewed inside my cunning head.
I gave this young man a huge smile, and said, “I bake my bread and I don’t want just the eggs, I want the goose that lays the eggs. Do you sell sourdough starters?”
He batted his lids. I must have been the first customer who asked such a weird question.
“Hold on, I’ll talk to the baker.”
Go talk to your manager, if you must, I thought. I want my sourdough starter.
A minute after, he came back and said, “Yes, you can have it for $9.00.”
I fumbled inside my bag. Of course, of all days, I forgot my wallet! Lucky I didn’t drive a car. Now don’t ask me why my daughter is still working on getting her driver’s license at 18. I’m not talking to you. Talk to my insurance guy who thinks it’s okay to add a hefty amount into my spreadsheet of increasing expenses this year.
Anyway, I called my daughter to pay for the bill and took my sweet bubbly baby nestled in the mason jar. I called him Baby Doughy.
It was love at first bite when, after feeding him according to the baker’s instructions, and King Arthur’s Flour website, and mixing him with the right ingredients, a golden bread came out of my oven.
Ooh-la-la. That’s how I met my Baby Doughy. He is a gift that keeps on giving. Investment: $9.00 plus tax. He only eats all-purpose flour and water so if he goes gourmet on me (Bob’s Red Mill), I’d spend less than $5.00 per bag depending on which grocery I go to, and this would last him two weeks or so. Baby Doughy is not a picky eater though. Even the ones that cost about $2.44 per 5 lb (HEB brand from Central Market) makes him happy. Aldi sells their unbromated, unbleached all-purpose flour for about $1.52 per 5-lb bag. What a steal!
To bake the bread, I only use bread flour, oil, water, salt, maple syrup (my arthritic joints are not big fans of sugar, which causes them to swell and redden), and finally yeast.
(Fast forward 2020: I only use flour, water, sourdough starter, and salt. Less is more).
Some of my friends bake their breads without yeast, but I like mine soft, just like the store-bought brands, yet crusty and dense, unlike the store-bought brands.
(Lesson learned, as of 2020: If you want a soft bread and don’t want the extra calories from butter, milk, or oil, just bake at a lower temp—350ish all throughout).
So that’s baby number one.
When Baby Doughy got too handful, my husband and I gave one jar to a couple. Guess what they gave us in return?
Visit my site again to hear about baby number two.
This one gave my Baby Doughy a fit when I put them together on the same shelf!
Watch out for this feisty one in my next blog.
By the way, I still have a younger daughter who’s 13 years old. She did say, “Mom, I’m still here!” when I took on these pets.
Her older sister spoke words of wisdom when she said, “Don’t worry, she’s doing it to maintain the equilibrium.”
I laughed and said, “Yes, you wouldn’t want all my mothering instincts showered on you and you alone. Mothering with a capital S is smothering.”
That’s it, folks! Happy baking!