May 17, 2020
Death and Dirty Dishes
Not interested in what I have to say? I'll try not to take it personally.
If you cook a lot, chances are good that you’re cleaning a lot too. It’s inevitable. That’s how the saying goes, right? Nothing is sure in life but death and dirty dishes. No? Well, we should change it. Because some people find loopholes to get out of taxes, but dirty dishes? You can’t escape them. Even Donald Trump has dirty dishes. Sure, someone else cleans them for him, but that’s a topic for another time.
I’ve never been a fan of washing dishes. When I was growing up, my mom was a divorcee and school teacher, raising me by herself. Not surprisingly, washing dishes at then end of a long school day was the last thing she wanted to do. So she washed a week’s worth of dishes on Saturdays. Not exactly the Saturday morning that most of us look forward to. When I got older, I helped, but probably not as much as I should have. Teenagers, am I right?
I think that dread of the pile of Saturday morning dirty dishes has stuck with me into my adult life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a dishwasher ever since I moved out on my own, but still… the dread.
Now that my husband and I are both working from home it feels like there are eons more dishes to clean. During the week, instead of one meal’s worth of dishes, now there are three. And we’re cooking more too. All of those meals we used to indulge in at restaurants, we’re now trying to create at home. Our fridge is groaning at max capacity and we celebrate every time we remove something from it even though we know deep down that an empty fridge leads to the other dreaded pandemic activity. Grocery shopping.
But our dishwasher has never felt so appreciated. We’ve gone from using it maybe twice a week, to running it every other day. There are only two of us! Where are all of these dishes coming from??
Ultimately though, I have to remind myself that a mountain of dirty dishes is a small price to pay for health and safety. If cleaning the kitchen three times a day is the worst of my problems, then who am I to complain? How lucky are we to have food to cook that results in three meals worth of dishes? This is really a first world, gainfully employed person’s problem.
Along with dishes, another thing that has resulted from pandemic living is bread eating. So much bread eating. We are now eating bread almost every meal of the day. Toast for breakfast, sandwiches at lunch and a slice slathered with butter or dipped in olive oil at dinner. And with all of this bread eating comes all of the bread baking.
Seven years ago when I began my sourdough journey, I swore that I would never buy bread at the store again. And I’ve mostly stuck with that promise. Because honestly, homemade bread keeps longer, has fewer garbage ingredients in it, and just generally tastes better.
One fear I have with baking bread on a weekly basis, is getting into a rut. I hate making the same thing all of the time. My husband is the complete opposite. He would eat honey whole wheat for the rest of his life probably. So he’s no help when I’m looking for inspiration. But that’s ok because I’ve discovered something amazing about bread baking. If you develop one basic recipe, you can turn it into hundreds. Variations on flours, oils, sweeteners and seasonings will give you endless options.
So this week when I had some milk go sour in the fridge, I decided to make Milk & Honey Oat bread. Because one thing I hate more than washing dishes is wasting ingredients! Sour milk might ruin a bowl of cereal, but it’s perfectly fine for baking. Don’t throw it away!
This bread like many of the ones I bake is made with sourdough starter. If you have yeast on hand, feel free to sub in one tablespoon for the starter – just know that the timing will be completely different from the recipe.
And yes, ultimately you will have dirty dishes when you’re done making it. I wish I could change that for you. But just remember, while you might not relish the dirty dishes that come with all of this additional baking, be thankful for the bread that it gives you. And be can be thankful to see another day and another dirty dish.