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It is freezing, bitter cold.  What could be better on a frigid evening than the sensual pleasures of . . .  baking bread?

While some folks relax with a manicure, I find delight with hands submerged in a gooey batch of bread dough.  Baking can be therapeutic, especially on a cold winter day. Organized people keep recipes in computer files. I dig through an accordion file amassed over the past 40 years. A favorite recipe (see Shredded Wheat Bread below)  is handwritten on yellowed paper that is splattered with food stains.

My baking ritual begins by lining up all the ingredients on the countertop. This assures that nothing will be left out and provides a feeling of accomplishment as each item is used. Reaching up to the cupboard over the stove, I’m beaned by a measuring cup. More baking paraphernalia clatters to the floor while digging bread pans out of a lower cupboard. I am a collector: tube pans, springform pans, lamb and heart shaped pans.  They’re rarely used, but feel like part of the family.  Almost ready...tie up my hair and slip on an apron to avoid the white line of shame: a streak of flour where my protruding belly meets the kitchen counter.