Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Baking Mix

Ya know, I know Wal-Mart has taken over a lot of the little Mom and Pop stores, and I used to never shop there. But we went the other day and I loved the family atmosphere. Ya can’t fight city hall, I guess. (Well, sometimes ya can.) But all said and done, I love Wal-Mart.

As Jim and I thread our way through the store, I see so many young families. I love to minister to the Mothers with little ones. The little boys love running through the clothes racks and the Mothers are telling them to settle down. I will visit briefly with the Mother and tell her I had 4 boys and I know what it is like. Hopefully, my few words bless these Moms a little. So many seem so condemned … I can tell an older feminist mother has put them down and it has made them overly nervous about their children being children. They tell me that their little one is hyper. I say, “Oh, they are just being children — all children love to play and run around.” They run into me and Jim and we love it and would love to run and play with them. But of course we may get kicked out of Wal-Mart. Yet, any store that welcomes families, I love.

I get this one baking mix there that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s called Pioneer Brand. You find it over by the baking stuff. It is a baking mix and it has all kinds of simple recipes on the back with pictures, etc. It has simple old fashined recipes. Of course, I have made my own baking mix for years, but I buy this mix to use for the canister it’s in. It’s so cute and costs less than the Bisquick Mix. If you learn to bake biscuits using this mix, then you could start making your own mix later on. I had to always use a recipe in the beginning. Of course, now I know what a biscuit dough or muffin batter is supposed to feel like, so I don’t need a mix. But it takes a while to learn the feel of a pie dough or the feel of a bread dough.

I used to knead so much bread, and then I would try to knead a pie dough or biscuits. Well, any dough short of a bread dough doesn’t need to be kneaded a lot. With pies and biscuits, you have to use a quick hand and a hot oven. You want to make your pies and any quick breads quickly. Noodle dough, you have to knead, but roll-out cookies should be made quickly … don’t add a bunch more flour or they will be hard. But as you go, you learn to know if a dough is good by the feel of it.

I honestly never got the feel of a pie dough until the past few years. I followed a recipe, but I would knead it too much and add too much flour. My pie crusts were like cardboard. They looked good — perfectly sculptured with designs — but, boy, they were tough and hard. I would make the crust really thin as to attract as little attention as possible to my mistakes. I finally learned I had an obsession with flour, so I put in more shortening than what the recipe says, to make up for all the flour I seem to have to use. Now my pie crusts are tender and crumbly like we like them. When I cook and bake, the flour just flies like clouds of a snowstorm. I get a lot on the floor and always have to vacuum, once I am done.

I roll out pie dough on my table here in the dining room and the flour goes all over the chairs and the floor. My kitchen hasn’t any counter space to roll dough out on — well, about as much space as an ironing board would have — so I cook and bake on my big wooden table here in the dining room. This is why I always cover it with plastic tablecloths and, even for just Jim and me, I have two leaves in the table. We have meals at one end and I use the other end to cook on. But then, when we have company, I put everything away and use the whole table for dining. The table seats 8 comfortably and 10 very uncomfortably, and if we end up with more guests than table, we seat some in the living room at the coffee table.

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