Here it is, my go-to homemade bread recipe passed down from the ancestors of old to me and now to you! Delicious, nutritious, easy to make, this bread winner is especially dreamy just out of the oven with a pat of melted butter…The finished product may remind you of the good earth.
You’ll begin with hot water, honey or maple syrup, and a dab of shortening. (Brown sugar works well too, but we’re veering toward more natural products.) Next, using the same measuring cup used for the honey/maple syrup, you’ll add warm water and yeast. This way the yeast flirts with the sugar on the bottom of the measuring cup to make the magic happen.
Add more water, a bit of salt, and white whole wheat flour and that’s it. The party has started.
The dough will rise twice for two super loaves. I like to bake bread on our baking stones, with a little corn meal laid down underneath. After the second coming rising, the dough looks like this beauty.
Bake at 400 for about 24-30 minutes. I mean, is that beauteous or what?
If you prefer more traditional loaves, you can plunk dough in bread pans. Could even sprinkle some oatmeal on top. Let rise until double in size like so:We are now ready for the oven!
Time? Yes, homemade bread takes time. It requires a morning, afternoon, or evening at home so bread can rise. The anticipation is part of the joy of baking, adding one ingredient at a time, letting dough rise, the smell of flour and gluten rising in the air and then baked bread filling the kitchen while children jump at your feet (drooling. always drooling.)
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup warm water
3 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoon salt
6 cups whole wheat white flour (OR 3 cups white flour and 3 cups whole wheat white)
1. Combine first three ingredients: 1/2 cup hot water, 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup, 3 tablespoons shortening. Mix until dissolved. (I use a kitchen aid mixer with dough attachment but this is optional – bread can be made completely by hand).
2. Combine *next two ingredients: 1/2 cup warm water and 3 teaspoons yeast. Let stand about 5-10 minutes until frothy/bubbly. *(Use the 1-cup measuring cup you used for the honey/maple so the yeast will rise in the water.)
3. Pour yeast mixture into mixer/bowl where the first three ingredients are waiting.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups warm water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously to make a sponge. Mix in remaining 3 cups flour (and 1/2 cup wheat germ or cracked wheat if you like). Knead or mix, adding more flour as needed. You want to be able to knead or mix until it no longer sticks to your hands.
5. Leave in mixer bowl and cover with a damp towel or saran wrap, preferably in a warm place. Let rise until double in bulk (45 min-1hour.) Punch down. Form into two loaves. Put on prepared pizza stones (sprinkled with corn meal) or in bread pans (with a non-stick spray). Let rise double in bulk again (30-45 min).
6. Bake on 400 for 24-30 minutes until the bread is toasty brown.
Still Aliceis haunting me. Other than frequently losing my mind, there is another theme that resonated. I don’t like it. It comes from this passage:
“I wish we’d spend more time together,” she said.
“What do you mean? We just spent the whole summer together.”
“No, not the summer, our whole lives. I’ve been thinking about it, and I wish we’d spent more time together.”
“Ali, we live together, we work at the same place, we’ve spent our whole lives together.”
In the beginning, they did. They lived their lives together, with each other. But over the years, it had changed. They had allowed it to change. She thought about the sabbaticals apart, the division of labor over the kids, the travel, their singular dedication to work. They’d been living next to each other for a long time.
“I think we left each other alone for too long.”
“I don’t feel left alone, Ali. I like our lives, I think it’s been a good balance between an independence to pursue our own passions and a life together.”
She thought about his pursuit of his passion, his research, always more extreme than hers. Even when the experiments failed him, when the data weren’t consistent, when the hypotheses turned out to be wrong, his love for his passion never wavered. However flawed, even when it kept him up all night tearing his hair out, he loved it. The time, care, attention, and energy he gave to it had always inspired her to work harder at her own research. And she did.
“You’re not left alone, Ali. I’m right here with you.”
He looked at his watch, then downed the rest of his coffee.
“I’ve got to run to class.”
He picked up his bag, tossed his cup in the trash, and went over to her. He bent down, held her head of curly black hair in his hands, and kissed her gently. She looked up at him and pressed her lips into a thin smile, holding back her tears just long enough for him to leave her office.
She wished she’d been his passion.
Oh my, I adore this couple. (and people say I look just the same – ha!) This couple is so young, now changed, but better too. I think so. I hope so.
When I read the Alice passage, my heart beat abnormally fast. I felt a cold flash of fear.
It happens so easily and innocently, doesn’t it? The separating is so slow and natural that it’s hardly even noticeable. “Separate” is a necessary, normal, and healthy part a marriage. But there’s this passion thing I can’t stop thinking about.
Alice’s neurons are literally dying and she knows she’s going to lose even the memory of knowing her husband. It is the end of their life as it was. There’s that word: regret.
Alice’s husband loves her, but he’s not facing THE END. Maybe that’s the difference. Or maybe he likes their life and their space. Maybe his other passions are enough.
When we were first married I went everywhere with Gregor. In the beginning, they did. They lived their lives together, with each other. We always found each other. Everything was so new and exciting – I mean, I was living with A MAN! We taught and coached and then I’d come to his soccer field and we would shoot on the net. Then we would shower and go eat at the dining hall. I pitied those couples who entered and left the dining hall without each other, who were too busy to coordinate dinner together, who sat separately. I felt secure, that our love was strong and impenetrable, that we must like each other more than others. How lucky we were!
When we had our first babies, our love was even stronger. Children made us a family and we loved them more than we loved our own lives. There came a need for a division of labor. I wanted to be home with baby, and I was nursing. So I was the one getting up at night so he could work the next day. I still went to all his basketball games, even the away ones, even when they were in Roxbury Massachusetts and I drove for six hours trying to find that stupid gym.
But over the years, it had changed. They had allowed it to change…Then we had more babies and our older children started school. What a wonderful unit we were! And as was necessary as responsibilities were bigger. The “divide and conquer” method was needed for home, work, church, hobbies, and volunteer work.
They’d been living next to each other for a long time.
Then came all those lessons of one kind and another: soccer, baseball, swimming, basketball, cross-country, dance, scouts, camp-outs. Our children made friends and went to their houses. And the mall! One of us was (is) always driving in the car, picking someone up and dropping someone off while the other was (is) at home doing bedtime, teeth-brushing, and homework.
And the work became even more important. I sometimes worry about this, all this time spent apart. But we make efforts. It’s been good. It’s been enough. We’re happy.
Nothing says passion like the wolverine beard…right?
But this past fall, our friends: the “perfect couple” with the “perfect family,” with four children the same ages as our own, quietly divorced. It was shocking. Obviously, “the perfect” was not. I cried, got angry, asked really personal questions, and felt a sad soul-sucking hopelessness.
It happens all the time. And it scares me. Couples “drift.” We “grow apart.” Over time, the little things become “irreconcilable differences.” Most couples who divorce probably wouldn’t say it was one big thing. They say, “we were too young,” “I don’t know what happened.” “He just wasn’t there for me.”
Or are those just things we tell ourselves?
So I’ve been thinking. This is what passion looks like to me:
find one another when you come through the door after being away
say good-bye with a kiss
date nights. and often.
get-aways. just the two of you.
small, considerate acts of kindness. (he scrubbed the carpet this morning. WIN.)
“I love you.” every day.
pray together. every day.
his interests are my interests – not because I like electronic stores, but because I love him.
when we speak to one another, it’s always with respect.
Nothing on this list is big. Everything is very small. And critical to a marriage. It’s this couple. It’s Exercising our Kindness Muscles. It’s the small things that keep the passion, not just the grand overtures, diamond rings, and over-the-top birthday parties (I mean, honey, those are nice too!)
I guess I don’t want it to take tragedy or feel a great regret that we could have done it better. I want to say he was the love of my life, because I chose him and he chose me. That we loved each other on purpose. While the neurons are still alive.
She wished she’d been his passion.
The heartbreaking thing here is, too much time had passed and Alice couldn’t do anything about it.
Here we go with some book recommendations that will surely thrill your heart and stir the soul. I tell you what, a good book is what gets me through February and March in New Hampshire.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Young Adult. Tragic, page-turner, very tight writing. John Green says,”Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable.” I liked this, didn’t love it, but it’s a great book to study for sparse but powerful language, the ending is what Cope calls, “cray-cray.” Interpretation: crazy. I didn’t see it coming!
Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell. Young Adult. I thought this could have been 100 pages shorter but it was really funny, the dialogue was fabulous, and I thought Rainbow (great name!) did freshman sexuality well. A few too many swears for my taste, but Ms. Rowell (Eleanor and Park) is a superb storyteller.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Loved this! Baker tells a forgotten chapter of American history, (at least I didn’t know about it) the part where hundreds of thousands of orphans would get on a train and travel across the country, hoping a family would adopt them. Babies, toddlers, teens. Love the structure of this novel, how it switches back and forth between present and past. Big take away: the human spirit is incredibly resilient. I shall never complain again.
Arming Your Children With the Gospel by R. Wayne and Leslee S. Boss: I try to always be reading something enlightening and spiritually beneficial for my family. This is great. Told with real life stories and great quotes, this book is very applicable to modern culture. I dog-eared many many pages. Chapters I particularly liked: Why Teach the Gospel in the home (no one can do it better than you), The Good Neighbor Policy (sometimes we treat neighbors better than our family), Teaching Children Obedience (obedience is the first principle of family life; all interactions and behavior flow from it), and Developing a Love for the Scriptures (it’s not a burden, rather a marvelous opportunity.)
Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M Appel I’ve long-admired Mr. Appel’s ability to have a full-time career as a doctor AND write hundreds of short stories. He’s won the Writer’s Digest Competition a few times. I received this for free (by emailing him after a webinar!). I have to say, this collection is brilliant story-telling. Didn’t love all the swears in a few stories, but wow, this guy can write!
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly Saw the movie many years ago, but never read the book. Love lawyer conundrums with page-turning story telling. And all I could see was Matthew McConaughey on every page. Need I say more?
Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Just finished this yesterday! This is my kind of book. Told from the perspective of a brilliant Harvard professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s (she’s only 50), this is a book everyone should read. Loved all the medical jargon, human interactions, and the thoughts of a mother who knows she will forget her children. Heartbreakingly good. Now I need to see the movie…Julianne Moore won the Oscar! Also, if you’re a writer, Ms. Genova has some fantastic advice. For instance, this was originally a self-published book. Her advice: don’t get stuck in that holding pattern of not writing and waiting for the literary agent to pick you. Act! Pick yourself. Um, hello Amy.
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass. Middle grade read my 5th-grader loved. Mia Winchell has synesthesia, the mingling of perceptions whereby a person can see sounds, smell colors, or taste shapes. A coming-of-age book. I thought it just okay.
1. We did it. In one year, averaging one show a night, we finished all eight seasons of 24. (I’m so proud). Jack Bauer, we love you. No, really. LOVE.
2. We did it. In 6-7 years, we watched the last episode of Parenthood. Best series of real life on t.v. Loved this show. I cried during the season finale…dare you not to.
3. Downton Abbey! The girls and I looked forward to this bonding Downton night every week. The season finale? Carson and Mrs. Hughes! So amazing. And who is this dashing man with a too-fast car? I have high hopes for Mary. Oh, and Edith and her baby! There’s never enough!
4. Chicago PD. A little obsessed with Sophia Bush. I want to be her. Love this show.
The two movies we saw in the last year were recent:
1. McFarland. This is a post by itself so I’ll just say: FANTASTIC! I LOVED it. A must-see for more reasons than running shoes, a coach seeking redemption, and rooting for the under-dog.
2. Cinderella. This movie sparked quite the debate in the house. I loved it. Not everyone did Casting was terrific. Cate Blanchett as wicked stepmother? Perfect. And Lily James from Downton? Maybe I was just obsessed with her hair. Her hair. Did you see her hair?
Well, that’s how I got through winter. How did you do it? Did it involve books or shows? I’d love to hear.
Yesterday morning we had another school delay, due to 3-5 inches of SNOW getting dumped on New Hampshire. These are the times that try the souls of men. And mothers. The kids need to be outside romping! Dear Mother Nature, it’s time to move on to a different season. How do we cope? We make the ultimate comfort food: soup. I owe the deliciousness to Curt, my dear brother-in-law, who prepared this classic tomato soup one year ago when I was in Utah, preparing to run the Salt Lake City Marathon. They don’t eat much meat in their family due to my sister’s stomach issues.
My mouth dropped open as his children devoured this tomato soup, asked for more, and ate it as leftovers the next day. I mean, I had to elbow my way in for a slurp; a soup is filled with vegetables. And the kids were loving it! It’s filling, delicious, and gut-friendly (and believe me, before and after a marathon your gut needs friends).
Let me introduce you to the leek. I’d never cooked with leeks before. What a beautiful food.
Fresh garlic was a Christmas gift. Priceless.
Leeks, celery, onion, garlic will be your base, sautéed in butter.
Topped with fresh cilantro. Are your salivary glands working?
No fresh tomatoes? No matter. Canned work well in the middle of winter.
Light, fresh, and packed with whole foods, you’re going to make your body happy with this dish.
Easy Buttermilk Biscuits There are times when I like chunks in my soup. Adding vegetables adds nutrition and substance. Using an immersion blender makes this soup is classically smooth – and the kids are much more likely to eat it.. Paired with the easy buttermilk drop biscuits, this is one beautiful night at home. Does nothing spell love for the man like warm soup on a cold night? Homemade Tomato Soup
Homemade Tomato Soup
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 Leeks, chopped
1 Stalk Celery, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 20 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 Cup Water
2 Cubes Chicken Boullion
1 32 ounce Plain Tomato Juice
1 dash Nutmeg
1 dash cayenne pepper (depending on spice factor
1 Tablespoon Honey
1. Saute butter, garlic, leeks, onion, and celery until soft.
People often ask me what baptism is like for members of the Mormon faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Well, it’s cool! I only know how to write what I know, so this is what it looked like for our family this weekend:
Sunday was already a special day as Christians everywhere began the celebration of The Holy Week, the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. Palm Sunday, seven days before his resurrection, Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem.
It also happened to coincide with the day our sweet Paige was baptized.
As is the Christian custom and belief, baptism is the first step toward living with our Heavenly Father again. In the Mormon faith, there is no infant baptism as we believe babies are all born clean, pure, and without sin. By age 8, our opportunities for naughtiness increase :). Children are capable of knowing right from wrong and are able to take responsibility for their own actions, thus the need for baptism.
We have been talking about baptism for many months now, preparing Paige. It is very important to us that she knows what baptism is all about, what covenants (promises) are, what it means to “take upon us the name of Christ.”
It is amazing what a little child can understand, how close they are to spiritual matters, how soft their hearts are. There was no holding her back – she practically danced her way to church.
Earlier in the week, on her 8th birthday (my baby is eight, an unfathomable topic), the thing she most wanted was her own set of scriptures. She was very particular about the style: compact, black, snap-shut case, and her name scripted on the cover.
The scriptures include The Bible (the King James Version) and The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ’s ministry.
She did not specify a duct-tape scripture case, but that’s what she got Nelson, of course, made it for her, and she was pleased as punch. (Get your orders in now!)
As the big baptism day approached she was so excited, she could hardly sleep.
We had a little photo shoot. I practiced my rudimentary ISO and aperture knowledge, attempting to capture my girl and all her goodness.
Finally, the big day arrived. My parents had flown in from Scotsdale, AZ, my twin brother drove up from New York City, and our dear Makechnie cousins arrived from Needham, MA. Yes, baptism is something so important that family members travel from far and wide.
Paige felt pretty special as we drove to church, stuck right there in the middle.
The program is simple. Paige had made assignments weeks earlier. Grandma Heather gave an opening prayer. Brynne (10) led the music (so darling.) Brother Nelson (13) gave a short talk on what baptism means. He talked about sins feeling like heavy rocks, but because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent (say we’re sorry, try to make things right, pray for forgiveness, and try not to do it again), and that heavy load disappears.
Hearing my boy bear his testimony and share what he believes at such a young age made me teary; I caught a glimpse of the good man and missionary he can become.
Then it was time for the baptism. Paige wore a simple white dress, representing “clean” and the “washing away of all sins.”
In the Mormon faith we are baptized by “full immersion” as Jesus was. It is a sacred ceremony, but all are invited to attend and witness, whether you are a member of the church or not. Gregor performed the baptism as he did for all our children.
When Paige came out of the water she had a big smile on her face. As I helped her get changed and back into her other white dress I told her I was very proud of her and asked if she was happy. She nodded and gave me a big (wet) hug.
While she was getting changed, Paige’s cousins played the violin and the cello (awesome!) When Paige was dressed and we were seated again, her cousin Hailey (15) gave a short talk on what it means to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. Wow. The talk was wonderful and I felt so grateful that my girls have such strong female role models; girls who know they are daughters of God, who have such a strong sense of self and faith.
The baptism was followed by a confirmation as Paige received “the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Hailey reminded Paige that the Holy Ghost would be a comforter in her life. It would guide her as she goes through life, making important decisions, and help her recognize right and wrong.
Paige listened so earnestly and the feeling of love was strong. She was confirmed an official member of church by her Grandfather Nelson, followed by handshakes and hugs.
The “cousin choir” sang a closing song and then Cope gave a beautiful closing prayer. As Grandpa Art said, we were “brimming with joy.”
After the baptism Paige sat next to me during sacrament meeting. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “I am perfectly clean now with no sins. I’m not carrying anything heavy.”
I smiled down at her, knowing how she felt. But the greatest thing I wanted her to understand is that baptism is just the first step. There will be times she feels heavy. She will make mistakes like we all do – and it is okay. There will be heartache and missteps. Like all of us, she will feel badly. She will feel guilt. And, like all of us must do to progress, she will try to do better. That that’s what this life is all about.
When I sat down to write this post I put aside the worry and second guessing my word choices. I tried to just write what was in my heart and then go back and edit. But after, I didn’t want to go back and “fix” and make this all sound politically correct or “right.” What’s in my heart feels right, so I will leave it largely unchanged and unedited.
I am often hesitant to share my faith so publicly, for fear of criticism or misunderstanding, but you know, Jack Canfield wrote, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.” The more real and honest we are with each other, the more we do understand. The more open I am, I find that my fears are unwarranted; many many people not of my faith asked how Paige’s baptism went. They want to know. We are curious cats. Pepper me with questions if you like. My blog is as open book as it gets!
As I tucked Paige into bed last night she asked her usual questions and some unusual ones too…”would you still love me if…” I assured her I would love her forever. I think she’s also testing me. Now that she’s all “good” and hasn’t had time to smash the car or smack her sister, will I still love her if she messes up?
She smashed her nose to one side. “Would you love me if I looked like this?” “Would you love me if I did this…” The scenarios ranged from the innocent to the more macabre, “if I killed a squirrel…”
I assured her that there was nothing she could do to make me not love her (though perhaps I might not always like everything!) Times my love by an infinite number and that’s how much I believe God loves her and each of us individually. That love is not conditional. It is always there, waiting for us to receive it.
The scriptures say that this life is the time for “men to prepare to meet God.” Baptism is that first step. We’re so proud of you, Paige.
Hello darlings. I hope you’re going into a restful weekend with your peeps (I’m ready for a nap.) There’s some great things going on in the world. Here’s some game-changing links to inspire and carry you through the weekend: Is it Easter time already?
Unique and beautiful, this Easter Bread is a family hit (cooked with hard-boiled eggs. what???)
This is the easiest made-from-scratch biscuit you’ll ever make. And it’s ever so tasty.
Biscuit history: I loved buying prepackaged biscuits from the freezer & grocery section (Pillsbury! Red Lobster!) but after perusing the ingredient list, reading too much Food Babe, 100Daysofrealfood, and not being able to identify what exactly I was eating, I shed a sad tear and left them biscuits in the freezer section…wo, was me.
I turned to homemade biscuits, like these Greek Yogurt Buttermilk Biscuits (tasty!) but due to time rolling dough, molding, rerolling, remolding, etc…biscuits rarely happened around these busy parts.
Hark! The Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuit saves the day! Straight from my favorite cooking magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, “Drop biscuits are the non-nonsense alternative to traditional rolled biscuits.” So there.
Yes, white flour is used, but these drops of goodness are a huge upgrade from the highly processed alternative. This biscuit features ingredients I can pronounce, real butter and real milk from real cows. Also, they are so delicious.
And easy, did I say EASY? Similar to the Bisquick drop biscuit, I’m partial to these.
A pad of warm butter or perhaps a swivel of your local honey?
Light, fluffy, the perfect compliment to any meal, especially warm soups on these cold windy days. I’m hungry now. Excuse me, I need to go make some more biscuits…
Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar)**
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly***
1. Heat oven to 475. Put 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Let cool.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and the 8 tablespoons cooled butter in medium bowl and stir until butter forms small clumps.
2. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, scoop onto baking sheet.
3. Bake until tops are just golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Gobble!
Yes, all of these statements recently came from the mouths of my dear sweet babes. And, well, if you think this household is all butterflies and sunshine…
The Top Ten:
1. “I don’t need a coat. My coat is in the car.” I go to car. The coat is still in the car. Child is at school. It’s 10 degrees outside. Fine. Child can freeze, but what must the teachers think of me? Image, people, image!
2. Let’s go exercise. “I’d rather be murdered with a rusty fork.”
3. “Ew! You’ve reached a new smoothie-disgustingness high.”
4. “You don’t listen to me! You just say ‘how was your day now go clean the bathroom.'” (I’ll admit, this one hurt. sniff.)
5. “How was I supposed to know your sweater would shrink? Actually, this is your fault; you never showed me how to wash sweaters!”
6. “We should totally get a donut. It’s totally overkill (after our Taco Bell lunch) but it’s the first day of vacation. I’ll work out later.”
7. “Mommy, I just swallowed a firecracker. It was good – kind of salty and kindof sweet.”
8. “I’m not arguing – I’m explaining why I’m right!”
9. “I ate all my snack so I went to the nurse and asked for one.” What did you say? “That I was soooo hungry and didn’t have a snack.” What about this sandwich and clementine? “I didn’t want to eat it. The nurse has pretzels.”
10. “You’re pretty. For a 38-year-old.” I’m actually 40 now. “Woah, really? Huh. I guess you’re really pretty then. For a 40-year-old – I’m kidding, mom, I’m kidding!”
I can not reveal which child said what because there would be a household revolt and they would ban me from blogging, but in my heart of hearts I know. And so do they.