It's been a while... I have not written anything for a while, or baked anything for a while. It was a combination of work, and also a certain level of frustration with making bread by hand.
At first, what I made turned out pretty decent. But over time, the dough I made stopped rising, or was too dry, or had some other problem. Combine that with my frustrations with kneading dough, and I had the perfect storm of feeling of not wanting to bake anything... I think that last point, kneading dough, is where I large amount of my frustration was. I simply wasn't good at it. It never worked the way I read it should. I know some people would say, just keep practicing, you'll get it. Call me impatient, but I didn't want to have 100 failures before I had a success.
I think of it similar to body boarding vs. surfing. Yes, when you surf, you have much better control. I can ride a wave much better, you can go faster, in general, you can be a better wave man than a body board. But with a body board, you can get out there and start cracking on waves right away. I mean, after about 2 years of body boarding on and off, I drove up to the north shore (on Oahu), and was ripping on waves that were 10 to 12 feet, while my surfing friend, who has been surfing for a long time, was missing wave after wave... The point to all this is, I went and bought my kitchen body board.
I made the most wonderful bread I've made ever with this last night. It took a 1/10th of the time and made about a 1/100th of the mess. With all due respect to those who made bread by hand, you have mad skills, but you're crazy. Mixers kick major rear. Also, I love my mixer. Did I mention that? All of a sudden, I'm having fun making bread again! Sweet.... oh maybe I'll make sticky buns next...