Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Firstborn

I am embedded once again at my daughter, Katie's, home in Michigan. For those of you who don't know, before living in Oregon, I lived in Michigan for nineteen years of my life. I went to school here, got married here and gave birth to five children here. The Regentin centennial homestead is in Michigan and our ancestors sleep here in quiet graveyards. It's the fatherland for our family. Returning to Michigan is always nostalgic for me.

Michigan is very, very different from Oregon. The Midwest is different from the Northwest. The landscape, the climate, the people, the politics, the trees, the birds...I could go on and on. In Oregon the landscape is dominated by fir trees. In Michigan it is hard wood and in October the sugar maples and oaks are turning red and orange. The houses and architecture in Michigan are different from Oregon. Walking into Katie's farmhouse always immediately draws me back to the farmhouses of my youth, the homes of my grandparents and cousins in the midwestern states of America. We don't have farmhouses like these in the Hood River valley of Oregon.

I don't think my daughter knows how much her life reflects the life of her ancestors here. She and her husband are living the country life, self-sustaining on a little patch of land, working hard from dawn 'til dusk, just like her grandparents did.

Yesterday morning I woke up to the aroma of bread baking. 

When was the last time I awoke to the smell of baking bread?
Answer A: I've never awoken to the smell of baking bread.
Answer B: The last time my firstborn was at my house.

My firstborn daughter and I are alike in many ways but since Katie is so much brainier than I, she has taken her creativity, inquisitiveness and talent to a much higher level than I will ever achieve with my interests.

I've made lots of homemade bread in my lifetime, but my firstborn doesn't just make bread. She makes artisan sourdough bread which requires a scientific understanding of the structure, formation, and baking technique of bread dough. She makes sourdough instead of regular wheat bread because she has researched and understands the health benefits of fermented wheat flour. She makes this bread several times a week.

My firstborn also milks her own goats and makes cheese. I've made some cheese in my kitchen with only occasional and very moderate success (making cheese is not that easy) but Katie successfully makes her own delicious mozzarella, ricotta, chevre and feta cheeses.

She also makes yogurt for her family. By the gallon. Every week.

My firstborn child is also interested in brewing. She's made ginger soda pop, root beer and this week she's working on hard cider and vinegar from the apple cider pressing. She plans on getting into brewing beer too.

My little Katie Rose is also an excellent cook and not necessarily because I taught her anything useful in the kitchen because I don't think I did. She has honed her skills and kitchen talents with her own brains and perseverance.

These home-making skills are becoming more and more rare, the methods are being forgotten. It's exciting for me to see my firstborn daughter practicing and becoming proficient with them. I can't wait to see what she does next!

(Could it be a baby?)


  1. Haha, my Mom came over this summer to see me produce a baby too. Well, she didn't see the actual production of the baby, but that's OK with me! She got to hold her hours later, and lots for several weeks, and the first granddaughter too.

    She didn't see me making bread, yogurt, or cider, though! I could hardly walk. I did make apple crisp with apples from our garden...felt like an accomplishment at the time! I don't know how Katie can do what she does, pregnant and with little ones. You're rightly proud.

  2. Could be a baby girl who will carry on those methods into the next generation?

    A smart girl you've got there.

  3. Well Chris! Congratulations! You've been busy and I'm glad to hear your mama got to visit.

    @SG- I agree!


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