I've been lazy about making bread in recent years - maybe I got over being homesick for American food. But for the last two months I have been making it regularly, because I volunteered to keep our visiting friends supplied with fresh bread. They motivated me further by bringing me two tins of SAF yeast, which is much superior to Indian yeast, after a brief side-trip to Muscat. (And a bag of cheese, too - heaven! - brie, and camembert, and chevre, and boursin, none of which is available here.) The weather is still not too hot, so I didn't sweat into the dough as I kneaded and shaped it, and heated the small electric oven.

Then, last week, a friend showed up, completely unexpectedly, to give me her only-slightly-used bread machine. It's Swiss - Koenig. The manual is in French, German and Italian. I worked out how to use it, and made a respectable loaf of oatmeal bread. While it was rising I opened the lid of the smooth, white, enigmatic machine, and was surprised at how ... alive ... the dough looked. It sprawled langourously, extending a few tentacles here and there, warm and moist. When I looked again later it had moved, like those stop-action photographs of people sleeping, always in a slightly different position. It was exciting.

On the second day I tried some white bread, but halfway through the cycle the electricity went off. This doesn't happen every day, but it happens. When the power came back, about ten minutes later, I went to look at the machine and saw only blinking zeroes in the timer window. So I took out the dough, put it in a pan, let it rise and baked it in the oven. Which was okay, but what if the power goes off after it starts baking?

The machine will mix pasta dough for me, and can be set for mixing, kneading and rising only, without baking. And I suppose an element of risk is part of life. So I'm off to try loaf number three: cornmeal bread. (A few years ago I had to buy dried corn kernels and send them to the mill to make cornmeal. I did the same for whole-wheat flour and chickpea flour. And millet and other grains, which Gujaratis use to make roti in cool weather. Now even cornmeal is often available ready-ground, probably because there are more Punjabis here than before - cornmeal roti being a Punjabi favourite.)

Let's see if the Electricity Gods will smile on me today. I'm feeling daring.

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