On Friendship, Humility, and a Cheese Board

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This may look like an appetizing cheese board now, but let me tell you about the embarrassing conditions under which it began. :)

Friends invited us over for Sunday dinner. This is the family of my other friend Jamie. (You’ve met Jami who taught you to season cast iron and who made nachos with me — today you’re meeting the other one.) Jamie said she was making chili, so of course I offered to bring the rolls.

Because, you know, I’m so good at bread. Especially sourdough.

Yes, that was foreshadowing.

I made the dough Saturday night and let it sour all night. It rose nicely and felt like great dough by very early Sunday morning. I punched it down and shaped the rolls.

They didn’t move — they didn’t rise, didn’t warm up, didn’t do anything. At 8:30am, I had no choice but to bake them because we were headed to church in an hour. I baked them in a hot oven, hoping it would make them go “poof” — nope.

They just sat there like stubborn little bumps on a log. Little pellets, I called them.

They did taste good, though. And they were chewy inside — though the outsides were quite crisp. Those were two redeeming qualities.

But the size… huge downfall. Could these little pellets even try to masquerade as rolls for chili? I thought not.

I texted Jamie: “Would it be bad if my rolls didn’t turn out and I didn’t bring them?” She didn’t text me back before we had to leave, so I packed them up anyway. I wrapped them warm in towels in a basket, hoping the warmth would soften them up. (It did not.)

After church, Jamie called (we go to different churches) and asked whether I had brought the rolls (I had). She said I should sneak them into her house and we would have a private assessment of whether they could work or not with the chili. I was already sure they could not, but I had some hope that maybe I was wrong.

I was so embarrassed to even bring them in because another family was going to be there, too (whom we had not met yet). Remember how I’m supposed to be a really good bread baker? A lesson in humility, for sure. And I thanked God for it, by the way.

Anyway, in our “private” consultation in a corner of the kitchen away from curious eyes, Jamie and I opened my basket of rolls.

She agreed they just didn’t work with chili. Like a true friend, she was truthful.

Then without skipping a beat, she said, “…but they’ll be great for a cheese board.” She got out that beautiful cutting board you see above and while A. cut the rolls pellets in half, I sliced the cheese. We added the bowl of olives and the platter of butter. Everyone munched happily.

To go with the chili, Jamie put on a pot of rice.

Problem solved. Quite deliciously, and all the credit goes to Jamie’s creative and frugal nature to make lemonade out of lemons. Or in this case, a cheese board out of hard little pellets of sourdough bread!

Turned any disasters into wonders lately? Please share!

This post is shared with Simple Lives Thursday.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    Oh Wardee, I had to giggle at your humility part. My muscles are quite sore from the flu, so it hurt to laugh if that makes you feel better. I have done the same thing (not sourdough… yet) with rolls and bread so many times. People expect (or at least I think they do) great things from my kitchen and some times I so prove my humanness. :) Glad the day was saved!!

  2. says

    Oh, I feel for you, Wardee! That is so encouraging to me to know that even “experts” have their bread not turn out right at times! And what a blessing to have such a kind friend! :)

  3. says

    :) God has a faithful way of bringing us down a peg or two when we need it. I have had my fair share of “adjusting” as well. It helps us grow, right?

  4. Jamie says

    Ha! What she didn’t tell you all was the rice didn’t exactly turn out either which required another “private assessment” in the kitchen. The dinner was delicious all round and…what a fun afternoon.

    Lesson. God knew we needed a cheese board appetizer and He used Wardee to accomplish it. Thank you for being His servant, Wardee. And for the Bi Mart stop.

    • says

      Oh, I totally forgot about the rice!!! So funny! We definitely had our challenges!

      Yes, the dinner was delicious and the afternoon fantastic. Thank you so much for your hospitality!

  5. says

    Oh, Wardee, that is priceless! Yes, I’ve had plenty of bread disasters through the years, and a number of times it’s been when I was making bread to take to some sort of pitch-in dinner. But everyone always loved it anyway. It’s homemade…. not “edible napkins,” which is what I call “Wonder Bread” and its ilk. I LOVE the idea of a cheese board. Hooray!

  6. Lisa Kreinbrook says

    Ah yes, I have managed to forget the salt several times when making it for others, and had to throw it out. Yikes!

  7. says

    Oh, Wardee! I know it’s not easy to publicly share the “failures” but it gives all of us novice bread bakers HOPE! Thank you for a good reminder that perfection isn’t the real goal and that with a little creativity, even the flops can be a success!

  8. Stefannie says

    This is what i really need to read for now…Anyway, I enjoyed reading this and the humor part, I like it a lot…

  9. Lisa says

    Do you have any idea why the bread failed? Just for future reference. I plan to experiment with bread this summer so I am gathering all the tips I can and am sure I will have my share of failures. Cute story!

    • Christie says

      Yes, I’m curious too, since my bread seems to do this quite often. Maybe understanding your flop will teach the rest of us.

      The cheese board looks great. And what a sweet friend to confess to a rice flop too. 😀

    • says

      I think it was several things:

      –not enough time to rise (sourdough is flexible, but you can’t rush it)
      –house too cool (cool temps slow down the rising)
      –instead of the hot temp oven poofing them up, it was too hot and caused the rolls to just set in place. I’d have been better off putting the rolls in a cold oven and letting them rise while the oven temperature rose
      –I had skipped a feeding the day before, so perhaps my starter wasn’t as active as it should have been

      I hope this helps. Have fun baking!

      • Christie says

        This list *is* a help! I’ve been guilty of all of those things … no wonder I have trouble with true breads (things other than flat breads, tortillas, muffins, etc). Thank you!

  10. elena says

    Wardee, thank you for sharing your honest, humble story with us. **A friend like Jamie,…..big blessing, love to hear about such a friendship. :) Thanks again!

  11. says

    My first attempt at sourdough biscuits turned out so hard you couldn’t even bite into them! After dinner we played a game of hockey with some sticks we found in the yard. lol We still laugh about that.

  12. tanya says

    I loved this story! Especially how the replacement rice didn’t turn out either, how funny!

    I shared this story under your soaked muffins but I’ll share it again…

    I made guava jam and it tasted good when I tested some but when I opened a jar for toast it was harder than the toast! It was like fruit leather, but a whole jar of it! I think I used too much pectin… Anyways I decided it was still tasty and I didn’t want to throw it out. So I pried it out of the jar, and after bending my knife back to the right shape I sliced it up into cubes and put it in your soaked muffin recipe! It was DELICIOUS!!! Probably a bit more sugary because of the jam, but oh well, it was worth it to not be wasteful!

  13. says

    This happened recently when I baked a cheesecake for a friend’s birthday. (Our family lovingly jokes that we have the “cheesecake gene” in our DNA… whatever that it. 😉 ) I made a cheesecake, and the crust flopped. I mean something terrible! So, in my pride, I made another one… which also flopped. The entire thing, not just the crust. I poured my heart of to my Savior (I know, it is just cheesecake, but He comforts in all things, correct?) and I felt impressed to serve it anyways. It looked pretty rough- uneven, a little sunken, etc. but it was delicious. I learned quite a lesson in humility and in judging myself or others. No apologies were offered for the cheesecake, I simply just set it out and let people enjoy it. Flaw and all. Like I said, quite humbling to remember that I am more than just my cheesecakes. :)

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