Swedish Rye Bread
I had Hazel’s rye bread before and knew how good it was. Her rye bread was legendary throughout the church. For years, those magnificent loaves showed up at potlucks, were served at numerous meals following funeral services, and went to families receiving meals during a time of crisis. Hazel loved making that bread as much as others loved receiving it.
We met at her daughter and son in law’s house where she was living. Sharron, her daughter, made sure we had all the necessary ingredients. Making rye bread is an all day process so it didn’t surprise Hazel or I when Sharron and Char disappeared.
Hazel instructed me on what to do from memory. She would ask to touch the dough and then instruct me with kind and gentle words.
“Honey, it’s still a little sticky add just a pinch more flour.”
“It’s close, but Honey, it needs to be kneaded more.”
“It needs to rise a little longer, Honey.”
Whenever she instructed me on what to do she called me “Honey”. Over the years, Hazel and I had developed a friendship. “Honey” was a term I heard her call many, many people who had a special place in her heart. I don’t know what I did to deserve that place but it always made me smile when she called me “Honey”.
As soon as the bread came out of the oven, Char and Sharron reappeared. The wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen was calling to them. We immediately sat down to enjoy a slice of bread.
While I would like to say the bread came out perfect – it didn’t. Hazel took a bite and I could tell something was wrong. So, I asked, “What’s the matter Hazel?”
She replied, “It has a good flavor but it’s a little denser than I like. I don’t know what I did wrong.”
“Hazel, you didn’t do anything wrong. Most likely it was the fault of your assistant,” I replied. There was more laughter.
A little dense or not, those were great loaves of bread. The bread is gone but the memory is not.
Tonight all of Heaven is feasting on Swedish rye bread. Hazel Johnson started baking in Heaven on July 27, 2008.