It’s alive

There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you all for a while now. I’ve been keeping it a secret because I wasn’t sure how it would affect our imaginary relationship.

You see. When I was in the third grade, I developed this strange belief that everything had life. Straws. Napkins. Milk cartons. Candy wrappers.

I pretended to collect these things for a perfectly good reason. Ummm. Because every third-grade girl needs her own collection of candy bar wrappers? Because I was making a pretend telephone by stretching drinking straws out the window to the neighbor’s house?

Afraid to discard any of these objects and hurt their feelings, I stuffed them in my desk at school. I pushed them behind my dresser in my room. I piled them under my bed. All of this continued until my usually mild-mannered third-grade teacher had enough of my messy desk.

She dumped it. That’s right. She tilted my desk on its side and dumped out all of the contents to reveal to the entire class a mountain of used straws, napkins and other paper goods. Clearly, she did not share my belief that any of these items had life.

And I have decided to finally come clean with this story to ask you this: Do I seem like a good candidate to own a batch of Friendship Bread starter?

My rational side is very excited on Day 7 that I am a few days away from baking my first loaf of Friendship Bread and slicing into its warm goodness.

But I have to admit that when my friend handed over the bag of starter, my former wrapper-collecting self was trying to hide a little panic. What if I failed to divide and then pass on the starter?

I mean, most of the plants in this household are down to only one green leaf. The dirty clothes are piled 3-feet high above the rims of the laundry baskets. I haven’t mopped the kitchen floor in more than a month. I’m not exactly keeping up with things over here.

If I didn’t pass on the starter, would I be subjected to seven years of bad luck?

My mind started racing. We love bread. So, I could just keep the bags of starter and make more bread. And more. And more.

I was practicing my math facts as fast as my sleep-deprived brain could multiply. Four bags of starter times 4 would make 16 bags. Sixteen times four is 64. Sixty-four times 4 is 256. Oh man. This stuff is multiplying faster than a family of bunnies in my flowerbed.

I’m going to have so many bags of starter on my counter, I might have to give them names. But the alternative was unthinkable: Throw them away?

At first, that option didn’t sound so bad. But that was before I reached Day 6 and added the cup of milk, flour and sugar.

Just mushing the bag for a few minutes a day up until that point seemed simple enough. I could remember that. But once I put in the extra ingredients, I had no doubt this bag of stuff on my counter was in fact alive.

It was gurgling. It was churning in there. I had to open the top a little to release its gas. I am 90 percent sure that I did indeed hear it hiss. I kid you not.

I asked my friends on Facebook if it was really safe to leave a mixture containing milk sitting out on my counter for days. And then adding more milk and dividing it to give to my “friends”. Was this a secret plot to use a so-called Amish tradition to annihilate the human race? Had I become nothing more than a pawn in a foreign nation’s trick to use food poisoning to knock out American households one by one in the name of friendship?

I was shocked at the wide-ranging opinions that were coming in. Apparently, people have VERY strong feelings about Friendship Bread. It is either something to be loved, cared for and doused with chocolate chips. Or it is a gift to be loaved… I mean loathed.

One thing was for sure. It is not something to take lightly, like Facebook, where you go around befriending every person you vaguely recall from high school or your waitressing job in college. Before you pass along Friendship Bread starter, you better know your friend and be darned sure she isn’t going to toss that bag of fermenting goo in the garbage while cursing your name as you leave the house.

I’m not sure where I stand on Friendship Bread at this point. I have been wanting to start baking my own bread so I’m hoping I will like it, despite my reservations about unknown numbers of strangers who have added their portions of milk, flour and sugar to the bag that now lives in my kitchen.

But, I’m not sure what I will do with all of the starter it creates. At some point, my counter top will be too full to collect any more starter and I will have to make the awful choice of whether to risk a friendship by passing it on, or be haunted by its gaseous groan if I throw it in the garbage.

One thing is for sure. My bread is scheduled to rise in the oven on Easter Sunday. And really? How can that be a coincidence?

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  1. I love this post! And can I just say that after spending the afternoon with your daughter, you two are very much alike. She was a joy. Anyway, I heard that Friendship Bread could quite possibly be one of the unhealthiest foods in America. Just to warn you before you get addicted. If you even care. I had no idea.Michele

  2. Oh, you will know where you stand after you bake the stuff. It's actually darn good! You will be glad you toughed it out. But then you will be wary to accept another starter, because you will realize the commitment involved. But how crazy is it to say no to a friendship bread starter? You might as well slap said offerer of starter in the face. I have actually witnessed people do this. But I never would!By the way, I haven't been offered a starter in a while. Is someone trying to tell me osmething?:)Lynn

  3. Something about looking a gift horse in the mouth? Just Kidding. My opinion… You are going to bake it at very high temperatures for a pretty decent amount of time. Enjoy! And share. Hopefully if your "friend" doesn't want it they will have candy wrapper free guilt about just throwing it away and won't consider "unfriending" you in the process.

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