Book Review: Bake Your Own Bread (and Be Healthier)

A Fair Trade Book? Possibly…

Title: Bake Your Own Bread

Author: Floss and Stan Dworkin

Date: 1972

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

ISBN: 0-03-091886-3

Length: 197 pages plus index

Quote: “Bread baking is a lot like married love. The first loaves of bread you make are not the best you’ll ever make, but they’re better than any you’ve ever bought.”

The subtitle of this book is …and Be Healthier. True? Yes, in the sense that your kitchen probably contains fewer germs than a commercial bakery, and if you eat or freeze your bread while it’s fresh you won’t have to add any preservatives. When you start using whole-grain flour and meal you’ll be even further ahead.

That said, it’s also true that for some people, e.g. this reviewer, good health will not be possible until we stop eating bread altogether. Sad but true. The good news is that, once we achieve gluten-freedom and reprogram ourselves to think of wheat products as things that made us sick rather than things we crave, reading and even using this book won’t make us hungry.

Other people can safely eat bread in moderation, but when they bake bread and have it in the house they tend to binge-eat it. Some of these people are undiagnosed celiacs who will be cured of stubborn chronic conditions when they go gluten-free. Others are allergic to one or more of the other chemical compounds of which wheat is made, but are not gluten-intolerant, and may be able to use bread as long as they don’t binge.

Unfortunately, people in either of those two categories are likely to be drawn to the idea of baking their own bread. Binge-eating homemade bread may be a little safer than binge-eating factory-produced bread, but if you’re a carb-craver who really likes bread, baking bread may be a bad idea for you.

If you are not, and are not feeding, a carb-craver, you’ll enjoy having a book that contains complete recipes and detailed instructions for 34 different kinds of bread. Bread has its place in a balanced diet for most people, and learning to make your own is definitely worth the trouble. Baking bread at home is a great rainy-day treat for children; they’ll love all the mixing, kneading, and shaping. And you’ll always have not only good food to pack in a box lunch, but a conversation piece to take to parties and a gift your friends will recognize as “from the heart.”

Bake Your Own Bread also contains a long rant, unfortunately still mostly accurate, about the hazards of using factory-made foods. It’s not much fun to read but it does explain some, not all, of the emotion with which people discuss the pros and cons of “natural,” “organic,” and home-cooked food. Why do I say “some, not all”? Because in 1972 food crops hadn’t been genetically modified; selectively bred, yes, but bred only for traits that occur naturally in the plant genus being bred. The new hazards of gene-spliced foods, made from plants that have had DNA from animals or disease germs spliced into them, are only beginning to be confirmed. Much of the new information about these new hazards is still available to the general public only on the Internet; type “genetically modified grains” into your search engine if you want to spend a lot of time online becoming increasingly perturbed. Or you could skip the unpleasant reading and just start buying local organic grain.

Is Bake Your Own Bread a Fair Trade Book? I think it still qualifies. Floss Dworkin died recently, “suddenly” and “too young,” in her late seventies. Her obituary lists Stan Dworkin as a survivor. There’s quite a lot of information about Stan Dworkin on the Internet but, so far as I’ve read, what’s not about the books he co-authored with his wife is about a younger man by the same name. If you send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, I’ll make a more diligent effort to find out whether and where the co-author of this book is living, and send $1 per book to him or a charity of his choice. As always, the “per package” shipping fee means that if you want four copies of this book, or the Dworkins’ other books or other books of similar size, you send me $25 and I send Dworkin or his charity $1 for each book by him in the package.

Bread image from Agathabrown at Morguefile:


How Do You Change the World When There Is So Much Sadness?

Topic credit: @angela just asked everybody, “How do you change the world when there is so much sadness?”

I can only say what works for me…

1. I gave up trying to change the world. I’ve accepted the fact that I have changed the world about as much as an individual human is entitled to do, which isn’t much. Most of the changes I’ve been entitled to make, and have made, have been to myself and my immediate environment. There’s a tendency for teenagers to ask this question and for unsympathetic adults to snap back, “You could make the world a more attractive-looking place by making up your bed.” Snarky, but true.

2. I’ve accepted the fact that this is, in some ways, a sad world. A mortal world, where living creatures die and non-living things change. A world of suffering. A world where our actions have consequences, and where some of those consequences aggravate the suffering of other living creatures (who don’t particularly deserve this additional suffering) more than they cause additional suffering to us (who do deserve it). A world where the past can be learned from, but not altered or even forgotten. Sometimes when these natural laws of the universe affect us, directly, they cause us to feel sad, and it’s perfectly proper and appropriate for us to feel sad, and we’re better off experiencing our sadness than trying to hide from it.

3. I’ve accepted the fact that even while we’re living in a sad world we’re built to experience happiness, cheerfulness, passion, delight, and joy. A healthy person’s baseline mood is cheerful. Regular digestion and a vigorous immune system charge us with pleasant energy. (Due to hereditary gluten intolerance I spent most of the first thirty years of my life faking this pleasant energy, and most of the past twenty years actually feeling it. Sometimes I’m so cheerful and energetic as to be positively annoying.)

4. I’ve accepted the fact that I wasn’t built to be an extrovert–even though I have had brief successes at passing for one. Nobody I really enjoy spending time with was built that way either. During my lifetime scientific progress has led us away from the false belief that introverts are depressed extroverts, to the awareness that introverts are actually blessed with more complex neurological systems than extroverts, to what I believe will probably become an acceptance that extroverts are victims of easily overlooked but major brain damage. I don’t define happiness in terms of spending much time around extroverts or appearing to be happy to them. Or even trying to relate to them as equals. Extroverts can be loved, but more in the way dogs are loved than in the way real friends are loved.

5. Extroverts probably aren’t capable of understanding this, but introverts practice good will toward other people primarily by showing them respect, leaving them alone, letting them make their own decisions. We don’t shove “caring” or “friendly” acts upon strangers, because we actually do care about them and don’t want to cut off the possibility that some of them will eventually become friends. We don’t inflict our happiness on other people. Like, I blog about things that interest me; the act of blogging pleases me, and if it also pleases you, that’s very good–I don’t have a need to broadcast my words out of the walls in public places or anything tacky like that.

6. Some things in my private life about which I don’t write, and some things in the public world about which I do write, do not please me. The golden key to happiness when dealing with these things is: Fix facts first; feelings follow. I don’t feel a need to write about some sources of private unhappiness like my minor foot injury this summer because I have some general knowledge about how to fix that fact and, if that’s not enough, I’d want to consult a specialist rather than burden youall with my unhappiness. I do feel a need to write about some sources of public unhappiness, such as Syrian refugees and the possibility that the State Department is about to bungle our collective response to them, because I believe some readers may be able to help fix some of the more distressing facts there. On the whole…y’know that silly foot injury could become a metaphor for my approach to happiness. I want my foot to feel better, yes. I also know that if the source of pain in the foot is a dislocated metatarsal bone, the way to make the foot feel better is to get the bone into its proper place and let the peripheral inflammation and muscle cramps subside, not to cut off the leg or form a painkiller pill habit.

7. This world is also full of safe, healthy, natural mood boosters that we can and should use regularly and that will usually eliminate the need for painkillers and mood-elevating drugs. Brisk walking, singing or chanting, listening to music, being close to the people we love, doing things to help others, being among plants or trees, and stroking a purring cat, each have subtle but verifiable healing benefits.

So, what about the rest of the world? It can be too easy for people who like computers to plug ourselves in, ignore the rest of the world, and become depressed from lack of exercise alone. On the other hand, we’re not likely to change the whole world by very much. What we can change is our environment…starting with the bed, if it’s still messy, and working outward. Maybe we can buy something from a local business and boost our local economy. Maybe we can walk instead of driving and reduce local warming. Maybe we can help a few orphans or disaster victims or Syrian refugees. Anything we’re likely to accomplish won’t seem like much, relative to the whole world…but then again, we’re creating one more pocket of niceness in the world, one more point of light, and that does change the world.

Bless us all, I’m starting to sound like SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), whose Magic Marker art books have done so much to cheer so many. Y’know, she’s going through a rough patch now. Some readers might want to register for her and Dr. John’s fundraiser, er um, virtual writing retreat. If you don’t already know the way to Planet Sark in cyberspace, click here:

(Bluebird of happiness courtesy of Pippalou at Morguefile: .)