Thursday, July 28, 2011

our favorite: honey and oatmeal bread

Why a recipe for bread?? 
For 2 reasons:
  1. I'm following in the footsteps of my bread-making mom.
  2. This has become such an ingrained part of my weekly rhythm of life, I thought I'd share it with you.  We received a bread maker as a gift many years ago, and that started our appreciation for fresh bread.  It broke down after many years of good use, and while we were investigating repair costs and time, I found a recipe for bread from scratch.  We loved it, making minor adjustments over the years.
This is our breakfast staple, grilled cheese sandwhich building block for feeding hungry high school boys, soup companion, and end of the day comfort food when there's nothing else to eat. 

Add 1 cup of quick oats to 1 cup boiling water, stir, and let it sit.  In the meantime ...

In a very large bowl, combine:
3 cups white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
some salt (I add a few shakes - less than 1 Tbsp.)
1/2 cup (more or less!) cornmeal

In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup honey
1 cup oil (part of the cup can be leftover bacon grease from Friday's pizza night)
Stir it up till all is liquid, and add another 1 1/2 cups water

Add liquid to the dry ingrediants in the large bowl

1 cup water
oatmeal/water mix that you started with
1 egg

Also add this liquid to very large bowl of ingredients and stir it all up with a wooden spoon.
Keep adding flour, a cup or two at a time, and stirring ... till it's too sticky to stir (about 6 cups more ... I alternate whole wheat and white flour, but any combination will do, depending on how you like it).

Sprinkle some flour onto the counter, scrape the dough out of the very large bowl, and start mixing with your hands.  I use the official "fold and punch" method :).  Fold the dough in 1/2, punch it down, turn it 1/4 turn, fold and punch again.  Too sticky?  Add more flour (1/2 cup at a time).  Fold and punch some more.  Once the dough isn't sticky any more, and starts to show cracks in it when you fold, don't add more flour.  Just keep folding and punching till it shapes into a nice ball.  Throw it into a larger bowl or pot with a lid, and put it into the oven (not turned on) for about an hour.  More if you want to.  The dough's not very fussy.  If you leave it alone for too long, it'll rise too far, and start to push up the lid of the pot.  No problem - just punch it down again, and it'll keep rising.  An hour is usually good though.

Spray 5 bread pans with oil, and sprinkle them with flour.  Cut the dough into 5 similarly sized pieces, and then shape them into loaf shapes, slapping and slamming the dough onto the counter to get rid of air bubbles.  Works well when slightly frustrated about something!  Dough doesn't mind at all.

Cover the bread with plastic while it rises another hour or so (not too long this time, or it'll creep out of the pans), and then put it into the oven at 350 for about 23 minutes [how's that for specific?  no idea how much actual flour I use, but it's a definite 23 minutes till done in my oven!]. 
Let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes or so before sliding a knife around the side and shaking the loaves out of the pans.  Leave the loaves on a baking rack till fully cooled before putting them into plastic bags.  Or cut them while fresh, and have them with strawberry jam, or honey and butter. 
mmmmm good. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

moving day for mom and dad

My morning glories have reached the top of the supports, and are leaning and reaching upward and outward for something else to climb.  They'll eventually bend downward to find another morning glory arm, and twist around themselves for support.  Always upward.  The west-facing vine is exploding with flowers.  The one facing east is still focused on climbing.  No flowers yet.

So Mom and Dad are moving today. 
Funny thing about parents ... children who grow up and leave home often operate under the assumption that parents just keep on doing what they've always done, being who they've always been. 

As we packed and sorted and talked and laughed and cried our way through rooms of assorted books and collections and furniture and pictures, I saw evidence of things I did not recognize. 
Things they had done while we weren't looking; ways they had grown, ways they had kept a foundation, ways of faithfulness, ways of laughter, ways of living with heads up and eyes forward and upward. 

Mom has fought some tough battles in the last years.  She has faced down her own cancer 3 times.  She has prayed against and helplessly watched cancer take precious family members and friends.  She drove Dad to the hospital after his collapse 3 1/2 years ago, and watched him come back to her.  There is a new look of defiance in her ... I'll fight.  Never thought my mom was made of that kind of mettle.  Sometimes, though, the defiance is completely gone,and she is at the brink of defeat.  Too many battles to fight. 

So it's moving day.  Transplanting time.  A new transplant needs lots of water, and tender care, so that roots can go down deep into the new soil.  They say there is more than enough water in Morris :).  Grow well in this new soil, Mom and Dad.    

Monday, July 11, 2011

climbing days

It's a cool morning on my deck. 
The wind is restless again, throwing clouds across the sun to try to figure out what's best for this day.

But these are climbing days.  The vines are agressively claiming territory.  I used to measure my boys daily against the morning glories; the boys manage inches annually while the morning glories manage inches daily... twirling quickly around anything within grasp. 
Morning glory

The black-eyed Susans reach out as far as possible before conceding that the best place to wrap themselves is closer to home. 
Black eyed Susan (Thumbergia)
 Virginia creeper has taken over a tall old poplar stump ... long tendrils going in every direction, searching for more spaces to cover.  In fall, this will be a bright crimson corner. 

Virginia Creeper

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 9, 2011


So many of my journal entries over the years begin with:
Monday, [month, date, year]
The bread is rising, the kitchen is clean, and I am sitting in the
[living room, kitchen, back yard]
[the snow come down, the birds flying through the yard, the peonies falling with the weight of rampant blooms, the boys jumping on the trampoline,] ... 
Then come variations of prayers and processing, scriptures and sayings,
and records of the moments of life in this place.

The Monday journal entries happened as my children grew.
Mondays saw them off to school, and I reclaimed physical, mental and spiritual space.
Monday journal entries continued as children's ministries at West Portal gave me Monday space to recover and renew, to reflect and reorient myself. 

But this new phase of life is out of sync with quiet Mondays. 
Today is Saturday.  Bread is baking, kitchen and bathrooms are cleaned but the house is full. 
It's a good full, but Saturdays ask different things of life than Mondays do. 
Saturdays ask for lawns to be mowed, and projects to be completed. 
Mondays at Bethany have been teaching days, so Sunday final prep leads to Monday mad dashes.

It's been more than a year of busy Mondays.  I like to think that I am not a creature of habit, but it seems that I may perhaps be mistaken. 

As my sister's GPS often told me, while navigating construction and highways on unknown Dallas territory: "Recalculating". 

Monday, July 4, 2011

where children grow


they came through the door
into the room for mud
little jackets hung on small hooks
little boots strewn across the floor

always there was mud
and clothes that don't want to stay hung
and shoes of some sort
strewn across the floor

 the sun streams through the window
through the blurred prints of hands
onto the kitchen table
where children grow
on bread and honey

sunlight filters through the frosted glass
as we sit at supper,
arguing over who should pray
all hands reaching for the milk
all voices asking for butter
all of the family speaking a kaleidescope of sound

living room
 there was a place for horses, and giants, and jumping, and camels
where Daddys chase and Mommys tumble
across the carpet
and little ones giggle and hide in the curtains
and sometimes there are Christmas trees
with babies sleeping underneath the twinkling lights;

on the stairs, a million parades
of dinosaurs
of little boys who can't sleep
of thunderous feet propelled by some strong childhood sense of fear or anger 
of children waking from sleep to play, to draw, to eat, to laugh
of girls escaping kitchen duty
of little boys riding watermelons
of friends whispering their way to a hideaway
of tired footsteps going up to rest
of young women slipping through the gate of childhood

We left this house in 2002 ... this house where my children grew.
We've lived in a 'new' home in Saskatoon for nine years, and this house holds such different sounds and memories. Our oldest son turns 17 tomorrow ... my watermelon riding, dinasaur stomping son has grown into a fine young man, and this house holds those sights and sounds.
Happy birthday tomorrow, Adam.