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Showing posts with label baking bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking bread. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Biscuits, Butter, and Beyond

No, I didn't confuse which blog I was writing for!  I guess I could have titled this Kitchen Tools or Grandma Terrell's Keepsakes.  It was just that I started thinking about the top one when I used it the other day.  Its companion is missing a handle and wears the stains of its years, but it has a place of honor on the granite strip at my kitchen window behind the sink that holds reminders of my faith and family. 

One of the popular apps on FaceBook these days is the posting of an antique object or vintage find and asking you to check like if you remember something or if you ever used it.  So think about it!  Did (or do) you ever use either one of these objects?  Do you remember what they are?  Both were handed down to me by my mother who received them from her mother.  The rectangular wooden box is a butter mold.  Of course, the cow had to be milked and the milk had to be churned to make the butter before it was placed in the mold to harden in a cool place. 

The top round is not so different from today's cookie cutters except I don't have any with wooden handles.  This one doubled as a donut cutter due to its center, which can be twisted to remove.  I remember Grandma making biscuits - folding the soft dough and rolling it out to a sheet on which this biscuit cutter was used to deftly punch out dozens of creamy soft rounds which rose to golden,  flaky rounds in her wood stove.  Mother used it as well, eventually beginning to use the "new" biscuit mix, Bisquick,  to make her dough.  I now use it not only for biscuits (my favorite, angel biscuits have yeast as an igredient) and cookies, but tea sandwiches  and other goodies.  Recently, 6 year old Maddie and her Daddy helped me use it to cut circles from corn tortillas, which we placed in the iron skillet with an egg in the middle - a variation of the "toad in a hole" that my boys liked when they were little.  We saved the tortilla rounds to make mini tacos!

I don't churn and have never really used the butter mold.  But it reminds me daily of family heritage, hard work, and how my life is shaped and molded with love and intention.

Hit like if you know what this is.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Roses for Your Birthday

Another family birthday comes into view while we are still basking in the glow of last week's celebration for Maddie.  One hundred twenty-five years ago on March 15, 1887, a baby girl given the name Mary Clyde Curley was born to a 34 year old  French immigrant whose husband died during the pregnancy.  This baby was the youngest of 9 living children born to Ernestine, who had buried a child in addition to two husbands, both of whom died before seeing their last child. 

Clyde, as the baby was called, was born into adversity and affliction of circumstance.  But she was also born into a close family circle as her mother moved back home to relatives.  I don't know much about her childhood, but I do know she loved her siblings dearly and spoke of them often.  In 1904 she married Hezekiah Peyton Terrell and gave birth to 3 sons and a daughter.  Opal, her daughter, was my mother.  I became Clyde and Ky's first grandchild.

Clyde Terrell mourned the death of her oldest son, Vinnon, due to a hunting accident on Christmas Day in 1922.  She never drove a car, never lived in a house with indoor plumbing until she was nearly 80.  She raised her family on a farm in Smith County, Texas, drew water from a well, washed the family laundry in an iron wash pot set over a fire in the yard, and hung the clothes on a line outside to dry after which she ironed them with a flatiron kept hot on the wood stove.  She planted morning glories and old maids,  kept a garden for vegetables,  milked a cow, hung slaughtered meat in a smokehouse, and kept chickens for eggs as well as wringing their necks for Sunday dinner for the preacher.  She put up berries and peaches along with peas and green beans in mason jars with sealed lids and baked pies and tea cakes. She lived by "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"  Therefore, she sewed her own clothing, replaced buttons, turned collars and cuffs on Papa's shirts, and made patchwork quilts with what was left.  She was an adept seamstress, adding embellishments of crochet, tatting, hemstitching, and cutwork to aprons,  pillowcases and tea towels.

I remember being folded into her soft, sweet embrace and never felt more loved.  I remember drinking cold well water from a dipper, picking berries with her, and stubbing my toe on the red dirt road when we walked to the mailbox.  I remember that she welcomed folks to her door and to her table, the same one that my own family gathered around for lunch after church today.  However, she always put a clean white tablecloth on top, and when anything was blooming, a jar of flowers on the table. Whether we were eating fried chicken or cornbread, biscuits or berry cobbler, the food was always delicious and warm and her welcome even moreso.

But most of all I remember her deep faith in and love of God.  She knew God loved her and trusted him unfalteringly. She was a woman of prayer.  She didn't just go to church, it was a part of her and she was a part of the people and their worship and service.  Her pastor and his wife were her best friends.  I loved going to church with her because she loved it so much.  She had tragedies.  She did not have what most would call an easy life.  But she lived in gratitude and praise for the blessings she had. 

Grandma died one month before her 90th birthday in 1977.  I still miss her. This morning just as dawn was arriving, I went out into our garden and picked these yellow roses in her honor.  She had an old  rose bush near the front window of their house at the top of the red dirt road. She often brought bouquets of the blooms in for her table.  They were golden yellow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Week with Maddie

My granddaughter, Madelyn, has been here for over a week.  She loves to cook as much as I do, so we have baked cupcakes, made Amish Friendship Bread, mixed up egg salad for a picnic, used the vegetable spiraler on zucchini and cucumbers, and enjoyed making Papa's dinner.  That doesn't mean she didn't have time to catch tadpoles, pick dozens of bouquets, raid the dressup basket for fashion shows with her cousin Skye, cut herbs, and harvest every tomato, okra, and cucumber that wasn't hiding under a leaf.  This list hardly begins to tell all the fun we had.  One morning when she woke up and ran in to give me a hug, she asked what I was writing.  I showed her the little journal and told her every morning I write down 5 things I am thankful for.  She wanted me to read her what I had been writing all week. Every day had her name written...Maddies' songs, Maddie's smile, snuggling with Maddie, reading with Maddie, Maddie's prayers.  She took the pen and asked if she could write something in the Gratitude Book and asked me for a little help with spelling.  When she gave it back to me, I read  I  AM  THANKFUL  FOR  GRANMARY. I don't know if she will always remember this week, but I know that I will.  Thank you God for Maddie!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Focus on Foccacia

The previous posts clearly show I like making bread and my family likes eating it.  Without thinking twice, I can tell you the all time favorite any of us would name.  Years ago I found a recipe for Focaccia Bread in a Southern Living magazine which was attributed to Eva Royal from Evening Shade, Arkansas.  I have used her recipe with success, changing size of loaf and what I put on top of it according to how I will use the bread and which herbs are currently flourishing in the garden.  We love the taste of sundried tomatoes, so I add more, plus garlic and Kalamata olives.  I also occasionally use whole wheat flour for part of the flour requested.

 Foccacia is kin to pizza, with almost as many ways to dress up. The main differences are toppings and the thickness of the dough.  Traditionally, once the dough has risen and been punched down, it is shaped and dotted with  indentations that catch olive oil and salt as they are drizzled on before baking.  These little reservoirs are wonderful catchments for chopped fresh basil and rosemary or oregano and chives plus a generous addition of kalamata olives. The fresh herbs contribute texture and delicious flavor and fragrance.

My daughter in law Kristen helped me make dozens of dinner roll size loaves for a family celebration last year.  We have made them into sandwich buns which can also be stuffed with fillings.  But most often, we make two rustic rounds that disappear very quickly.  You will love it, too.

10 pieces of sundried tomato (1/2 cup or more, according to your taste)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
31/2 to 4 cups bread flour, divided
2 packages active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
4 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup shredded fresh basil
1-2 Tablespoons chopped rosemary, stems discarded
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
optional:  1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano. 
(if you don't have fresh herbs, remember that 1 teaspoon dried herbs can be used to 1 Tablespoon fresh)

Add tomatoes to boiling water in small pan and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving liquid.  Finely chop tomatoes and set aside.  Stir milk and butter into reserved liquid and heat until temperature reaches 120 to 130 degrees.

Combine 11/2 cups of the flour with yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Gradually add liquid mixture, beating at low speed with electric mixer.  add egg, beat 3 minutes, stir in tomatoes, garlic, chives, and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.  Put dough into a well greased bowl, turn to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for 2 hour or until doubled in size.

Combine herbs and olive oil in small dish.   Punch dough down.  For round loaves, divide in half and shape each into a 10 inch round.  For sandwich buns, divide into 12 balls, and shape into 3 inch rounds.  Place on ligtly greased baking sheets; flatten slightly, curving fingers to poke little wells into the dough.  Brush with half of the herbs and oil, sprinkle olives,  cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, brush with remaining herbs and oil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on wire racks.

This has never lasted long enough for me to photograph!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baking Bread

I love making bread from scratch. The kneading and punching are therapeutic, and the results are always gratifying.  The family favorite, Focaccia, with its dimpled surface brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, olives, and fresh herbs from the garden might get made 2 or 3 times a year .  A few months ago, a gift from Jeremy and Michala arrived:  a shiny white bread machine that takes all my time honored ingredients and literally gives them a new twist.  I will still bake bread the old fashioned way occasionally to keep my kneading knack, but this is really fun!  I have not purchased bread at the grocery store since I tried it the first time!  Part of the fun is picking which bread to make next.  I have made Banana Oatmeal Bread, Honey Wheat, Egg Bread, and am working my way down the list of rye breads.  So far, we vote Russian Black Bread and Black Forest Pumpernickle our favorites, but Dill Rye and Sauerkraut Rye were delicious, too. I made a sweet bread with mangoes and one with flaxseed.  It is amazing to pop the ingredients in, get it started and wait for the tantalizing smell of homemade bread to fill the kitchen.  Nutritious ingredients, no preservatives, and endless variety.  I have shared my kitchen with alot of appliances that have only occasional use, but this is one that keeps its place on the counter.