!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Kent Rockwell Teaches His Housekeeper to Make Bread

Friday, June 05, 2009

Kent Rockwell Teaches His Housekeeper to Make Bread

In anticipation of my trip to Greenland next month, I decided to read Salamina, Rockwell Kent's account of his time in Greenland in 1931-1932. A passage which seemed particularly apt for a blog mostly devoted to training is reproduced below.

(Rockwell Kent Gallery and Collection
of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum,
State University of New York)

To Salamina I relinquished all the cares of housekeeping, except — this brought contention — instruction in the art of cooking. She knew a little that she'd picked up here and there; that little made the trouble. She was glad to be shown things that she knew nothing about — such as how to make baked beans or cook spaghetti with tomato sauce — but she didn't like my criticism of her bread nor being told her sauce had lumps. When she would listen she was quick to learn, but having learned, she didn't like man's meddling in affairs that were, she held, exclusively a woman's. And over bread-making we had unbelievable scenes. I'd show her how: I'd mix the yeast, the sour dough, and ripen it. She'd never worked with sour dough before. I'd mix and knead the bread. I'd fix it for the night, tuck it up warm against all drafts. I'd work it into loaves and stand the loaves to rise. She'd watch me scornfully. And the minute I'd be out of sight she'd pop the half-risen bread into a half-ready oven, and ruin all. Again I'd make the bread — to have it again ruined by her defiant disobedience. Once, having set the loaves to rise and strictly ordered her to lay no hand on them, I flew into such a fury at her putting them ten minutes later into the oven that I pulled them out again and hurled the lot outdoors. That tamed her for the moment; she left the house in tears. I made and baked new bread. It turned out — God be praised! — perfection. That settled things. And now Salamina, using old-time sour dough — she swears by it — makes the only first-class A-1 white bread that I've tasted in North Greenland. If you're going to do a thing you'd better do it well.

I'll let everybody draw their own moral from Kent's story.


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