A few days ago my friend gifted me with a loaf of Amish Friendship bread...and a ziploc bag filled with bubbling goo. I devoured the loaf of bread. It was sweet and had crystallized sugar and cinnamon and it was delicious. It was then I turned my attention to the bag of goo. Which, I almost forgot to mention, came with directions. Apparently the whole idea of the friendship bread is to give a friend some bread, as well as a bag of starter to make their own loaves and extra bags of starter to bestow upon friends. As I read the very precise directions I started to feel a little anxious.
Day 1: mush the bag
Day 2: mush the bag
Day 3: mush the bag
Day 4: mush the bag
Day 5: mush the bag
Day 6: Add to the bag: 1 c flour, 1 c sugar, 1 c milk then mush the bag
Day 7: mush the bag
Day 8 mush the bag
Day 9: mush the bag
Day 10: follow directions below
and the actual directions to make the actual loaf of bread followed.
The reason I began to fret, you ask. Well, I couldn't quite remember which day it was I received my loaf and bag of goo. I had it to narrowed to one of two days but not sure exactly which. Do you think it would make a whole lot of difference if the goo ferments one day too long or one day too little? Hmmmm. So I made a decision and marked my paper with what I believed to be day one and started to mush the bag. Was it okay to mush it for just a minute or do I need to mush it for a longer time. What is the proper length of time to mush this stuff? The Amish really need to lay these things out for anal compulsive people like me. I continued to mush the bag each day and then I really effed up.
I forgot to add the flour, milk and sugar on day 6 so I added it on day 7. I mean, seriously, this stuff is fermenting on my counter, can one day change things all that much??? Do you think? Mushing, mushing, mushing for another few days and then I go on to actually make the loaves of bread. I mix and bake them up and they come out looking pretty good.
I can't give both away though because what if they're disgusting because I screwed up the oh so complicated mushing instructions? So I tried one and deemed it just fine, but as I chewed insidious little thoughts ran through my brain. The starter that made this bread could be years, even decades, old. 10 year old flour, milk and sugar that's been fermenting and bubbling on kitchen counters all over the country. How do I know how clean someones hands were that mushed and mixed. And fermented milk. I throw away milk that is old, I don't consume it! How does something that really should kill me with food poisoning taste so good? And what if I ruined the starter because I didn't follow the instructions to the letter. Should I throw it away? That seems akin to breaking one of those email prayer chains. You know the ones that tell me God will curse me for all eternity if I don't send it, within 7 seconds of reading it, to 27 of my closest friends. The Amish are a religious group after all. Do I give the starter to three friends or keep them all myself. I could give them away and pretend to my friends that the starter is just fine and dandy, no need to worry that I may be LYING about which day it is really on. And that gets me thinking too. How do I know someone, like myself, didn't make the same mistakes I did or worse? I could have started with screwed up goo. After exhausting that tangent I start to explore the possibility of keeping all the goo myself and I see myself drowning in bags of bubbling fermenting goo and spending hours upon hours mushing the bags and keeping track of which bags are on which day and the bags just growing exponentially until I have more bags of goo than I could ever, ever give away. And that's when I needed to step away from the friendship goo and take some deep cleansing breathes.
So here I am, still in a quandary, mushing my bags of goo and trying to figure out which friends I should delight with a gift that lets them know just how very much I love them.