I started Blue Bowl Breads to honor the tradition of bread baking passed on to me by my mom, Betsy Oppenneer. Mom was a world-renowned author and baking instructor whose honey-sweet Southern charm and deep knowledge of the kitchen led Julia Child to call her The Pied Piper of Bread Bakers.
Why this site?
My Mom was an accomplished International Association of Culinary Professional certified “foodie” who wrote several highly-regarded cookbooks on bread baking and released two instructional videos. Over her long career, she was a teacher, author, restauranteur, cookbook judge, and caterer. She sold her successful bread baker’s catalog to King Arthur Flour in 1991 (which grew up to become The Baker’s Catalogue, King Arthur Flour’s flagship publication). In 2004, Mom was invited through a USAID program to be a bread baking consultant to Volgograd State Technical University in Russia (read her story here). I could go on…
In October of 2015, I was one of five workshop leaders in Oaxaca, Mexico, presenting on the preservation of traditional knowledge using open source software. During that workshop, I was talking with some young people from the community of San Miguel Tequixtepec about their connection to tradition. One of the kids asked me to talk about my own cultural traditions and I told them about learning to bake bread with my Mom.
I grew up in my Mom’s kitchen, learning, baking, testing recipes – and later in life, editing her cookbooks and supporting her culinary research. The spirit of my Mom visits me almost every weekend when I don my apron and thrill in the adventure of baking bread. I can hear her voice in my head coaching, guiding, making suggestions as I mix ingredients. Bread baking resonates with me not only on a personal level, but through it, I feel connected to the larger history of humanity spanning the entire globe. Bread is imbued with mythos and poetry, the sacred and the secular. It is… Better stop here before I start spouting verse.
This blog then is the artifact of my tradition, started upon my my return from Oaxaca where it was inspired. It is a testament to how one person’s passion can ignite the passions of others.
Why Blue Bowl Breads?
When my family lived in Issaquah, Washington, my Mom discovered a potter named Ty Olson who sold her several large pottery bowls over the years. My Mom loved his bowls for their quality, heat retention, beauty, and utility. Of all of the bowls, the big blue one was my Mom’s favorite (she even used it as a prop for her promo photos).
When I decided to rename this blog from the ridiculously bland “Dough Boy,” I struggled to find something pithy, bold, clever, etc. When I challenged myself to stop using words and choose images that might evoke a good name, the only thing I could see was that blue bowl. It’s the bowl I use every time I bake bread. It is a physical thing, yes – but it is a spiritual thing, too: a thread that keeps me tied to my Mom’s memory.
I hope you enjoy perusing Blue Bowl Breads even half as much as I enjoyed baking the breads. May you be inspired to start your own bread baking adventures!