The $5 Bread Maker

As part of an effort to reduce our dependency on the local grocery store, a few years ago I decided I wanted a bread maker.

As a family we consumed quite a bit of bread and I thought by making our own we might save a few dollars and have better quality bread. I’d never owned or used one, but they seemed easy enough to operate. Throw the ingredients in, set the timer, and a few hours later, out comes wholesome, nutritious, economical bread. What could be simpler than that?

The idea became an obsession. At one point I was anxious enough to set out on the one hour round-trip journey to Wal-Mart to buy a new one. Thankfully, reason and sound judgment won out – meaning Vicki talked me out of it.

Craigslist had plenty of bread machines advertised, ranging in price from $10 to $100. One day I found an advertisement offering a Panasonic Bread Bakery listed on Craigslist in a city about an hour from home for $5. I called, made arrangements to pick it up, and drove forty-five miles one way to get it.

The seller was apologetic about a sizeable dent in the front of the machine and the fact that he had no manual. He said his wife had used the machine once or twice, but the bread it produced was “too crusty.” He was speaking my language. I like crusty bread. Five minutes worth of small talk later, he was $5 richer and I was the proud owner of a dented bread machine.

As soon as I got back home it took about ten minutes to Google the make and model and find a manual for that exact bread maker.

Using the standard ingredients, our first loaves of bread were excellent. I kept a log of various recipes I tried for the first two dozen loaves or so. When I had to leave home for a few days on a work-related jaunt somewhere and Vicki took over bread-making responsibilities, my detailed log went out the window while she played.

And the bread got better and better. Soon we bought a grain mill and bulk grains and started grinding our own flour. Within a few months we were making just about all of our meals from scratch.

That dented bread maker revolutionized our diets. It led to us experimenting with things we otherwise never would’ve tried. It’s funny how something so seemingly insignificant can so drastically alter one’s life.

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