Sunday, June 28, 2009

My dang dad

When I was 14, Mom tried to get me to learn to bake bread. I hated cooking, I hated homemaking, and if my parents wanted me to do anything, I generally hated whatever it was just on principle. (I resisted)

My dad was in the bishopric at that time, and spoke to the bishop about having me called as the ward sacrament baker. Bishop did extend that calling, and I was furious. I must have been a real darling to live with for a few weeks. My dad was such a jerk, that was so unfair, boy was I mad at him. (those of you without the blessing of puberty in your homes may have to use your imaginations on how sweet the age 14 can be)

I baked wonderful bread for the ward. I was so mad every Saturday when I kneaded that stupid bread, I about kneaded it to death. Well, really good kneading is what good bread takes! I'd bake it, then after it cooled I'd cut all the crust off, slice my bread and bag it up. Mother would make roast beef and gravy, and on Sunday we'd have bread crust with brown gravy over it. I began to enjoy the crust and gravy, and noticed that the family enjoyed it too.

I took some secret pride in the bread I was making, secret I say because to let on to Dad would be to give the man some victory. (I spent my whole youth being careful never to let him win if I could help it) When the deacons skipped Sunday School to sneak into the sacrament prep room and eat all the sacrament bread, I was very flattered! (I think the bishopric had to speed to the Circle K for more) The other kids noticed the good bread and it gave me some small status with the very mature older kids, who never gave me the time of day because they were so magically mature! (I could hardly wait to be that old)

As a young mother I needed desperately to paint and express myself creatively. With a zillion kids trying to help, painting was a joke. I felt I was getting lost to all of those wonderful little people. We were also pretty broke those years, and couldn't afford storebought bread. I began to bake again. As I read, and experimented and began to really understand my new art Tom got involved and built me an adobe oven so that I could replicate European artisan breads. That oven and that bread saved my sanity. I loved my dad for seeing that I learned to bake bread. I still do!

Every Saturday I'd bake the bread I needed for the coming week. After the baking was done, I'd line all the breads out on my table and just watch them cool off. To see the rustic breads, the sophisticated breads, the golden loaves full of nutrition (24 of them) for my family all in rows fed some thing needy inside my spirit. The scriptures about bread are still some of my favorites.

Here is what I learned. Don't laugh. When you make food for your loved ones with your own hands, with a desire to feed and nourish them, using the best ingredients you can afford the Lord blesses it and makes it into an offering for them which, I believe, has more nutrition temporally and passes on the love you feel for them, increasing the bonds between their hearts and yours. I love to bake bread. I love to pass it to others warm and fresh. I love to smell it, feel it and taste it. It is an expression of myself, and a heart offering to others. Especially my dad.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cheddar Biscuits

Once a month I get together with friends for dinner. It is a fun night that I look forward to each month, not only for the friendship we share, but to sample some new recipes and to have the recipe so I can make it for my family. This month I was assigned a bread and due to my busy schedule today, I chose to make Cheddar Biscuits. Biscuits are great when you don't have the time for a bread that needs to rise and they remind me of my grandmother who made biscuits every day.

This recipe calls for buttermilk, which I don't always have hand. I do have powdered buttermilk in the pantry but there are times I have had to make my own substitution, which works just well using two ingredients.

Buttermilk Substitute:

milk (just under 1C)
1T vinegar or lemon juice (I've always used lemon juice)

Place 1T of the vinegar or lemon juice in measuring cup and add the milk to bring it up to 1C. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then use the amount your recipe needs.

Cheese Biscuits

1-2/3C flour
2t baking powder
1/2t salt
1/4t baking soda
1/4C shortening
1C (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
3/4C buttermilk

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese. Add buttermilk; stir just until dough clings together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough lightly until easy to handle. Roll into a 12-in. circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Begin at wide end of wedge and roll toward point; place biscuits, point side down, on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 8 biscuits

Friday, June 19, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread

I am "teaching" a cooking class at my house, and the last lesson was on making bread. I made whole wheat bread to share, and also made some to demonstrate. This is a picture of a loaf, as well as 4 slices. The two slices on the top are made with 100% hard red wheat, and the two on the bottom are made with 100% hard white wheat. The red wheat creates a much denser loaf with a slightly nutty flavor. The white wheat bread is very mild, and tastes more like white bread, but with the benefit of 100% whole wheat bread.

I grind my own flour, and then made the bread with the fresh ground flour.

The recipe is from a bread handout off of

EZ Wheat Bread recipe

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tblsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey or 1/3 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
2 Tblsp nonfat non instant dry milk
1 Tblsp butter/margarine/oil
1 Tblsp vinegar
1/4 cup potato flakes (NOT potato pearls)

Mix ingredients in order listed in mixing bowl of mixer with dough hook attachment (like kitchen-aid) for 12-15 minutes. Let rise until double, 1- 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, and shape into loaf or rolls. Let rise again until double and bake 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
If you are making this recipe in a bread machine, follow your bread machine’s directions for wheat or whole grain selection and add the ingredients in the order listed for their recommendations. (only one loaf will fit in a bread maker)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Home Cooking a Lost Skill

Lately I have noticed that many younger women get married with little or no skill of cooking at home.

With the disentigration of the family, and mothers working outside the home, the art of home cooking is getting lost. Girls (and boys) aren't being taught how to cook. They can open cans, microwave frozen dinners, or maybe make Ramen, but that is about it.

I have decided to try to make a difference in the lives of some women at church and started a basic cooking class. Attendance is sparce, but those who have come seemed to learn some and have a good time. I invited anyone with interest. It is fun to get women with more skill than I have to come and help to improve my skill.

I found that it is hard for me to share actuall recipes. I don't know where I learned, but I many times just mix without measuring (when cooking, not baking!). So it is good for me to think and write things down. That way I can share my recipes with others including my children.

My older children bake and do some cooking. I am hoping to have them be self sufficient when they some day move out on their own. It is fun to watch them learn. They really get a kick out of making their own birthday cakes. That doesn't hurt my feelings. We have a birthday this weekend. I will post their birthday cake creation.