What kept me silent on this blog for some time? It’s coz I’m into another hobby! Not about coffee, but something too closely related to it.
I’m now baking my own bread!
Well, I’m not actually into baking, but I found the baking equivalent of, um, instant coffee — automatic bread maker.
I know I know … you non-rice eating folks knew about this thing for the longest time. But for us Pinoys, this is something as hi-tech and as rare as a dishwasher! (You Americans and Europeans, I bet you don’t have rice cookers at home, right?)
In fact, I heard of the bread machine only about a year ago. I was doing a shoot for a book project of an NGO, the Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) here in the Lanao provinces in Mindanao. I was with the writer, Nicole, a Dutch girl. [From being a journalist to development worker, she’s now into Thai massage!] While having bread in some remote area somewhere one early morning, Nicole mentioned about missing her bread maker back home, of this automated machine that will let her make bread at home without much work, program it so that she’d have hot, freshly baked bread upon waking up in the morning.
I was so amazed that I said, “There’s a machine like that? I’d buy one right away!”
For me, and I’m sure for most folks, too, bread is best eaten while still hot. (Like coffee should be drunk while still hot, right?) But that’s not possible for most of us Pinoys, coz the nearest bakery is usually a few kilometers away. (Lucky are those who live near bakeries!) Who would drive to the bakery early in the morning? Even if you do, by the time you get home, the bread isn’t hot anymore. And once you’re home, you’d still spend time to make coffee. So we do the next best thing — toaster.
The moment I got home after hearing about Nicole’s magical machine, I googled the thing. Went to Ebay and Amazon, too. And there, bread machines of various models and brands! Usually in the $70 to $200 range. Not bad for a machine that, coupled with my coffee, would do great wonders to my and my family’s mornings.
Problem is, most of these operate at 110 volts. Difficult to find a model that runs 220 volts. Yet another problem — they’re huge, and heavy! Shipping would really be expensive.
So I tried looking for bread machines in all the department stores and appliance centers here in the Philippines, in Manila and everywhere else. I couldn’t find one. The sales ladies usually show me where the toasters and ovens are. When I explain further, I get that puzzled look. They don’t even know that such a thing has been invented. Talk about this machine to most Pinoys, and you’d get the same comment.
I kept looking, and kept looking. Nada. I gave up.
Then a few weeks ago, a fellow home coffee roaster and fellow photojournalist, Buck P., who once accompanied me in the department stores in Manila looking for the bread machine, texted about this bread maker being auctioned at ebay.ph. It’s not brand new, but I think it’s a surplus item from one of those First World countries, and not used yet. It’s cheap at 1,600 pesos (around US$33), and 220 volts!
Wow! I contacted the vendor right away. They shipped it to me by sea, so I paid only 230 pesos for it to be sent from Manila to my home here in Iligan. Took a few days, but it got here safe.
It’s the Lumina XBM1089. And like everything else, it’s made in China. (As they say, “God made man; everything else by China.”)
So I’ve been baking my own bread since then. My son Arkay knows how to use it, too, coz it’s really sooo simple to use. Just place the ingredients in the bread pan, and hit the Start button. Three-and-a-half hours later, or much later if you programmed it to start baking at dawn so the bread is ready when you wake up, voila! Hot bread to go with the best coffee in the world!
The sales girls at Kristine’s Bakeshop must be wondering why I haven’t gone back there these past several days.