Monday, December 18, 2017

Bread Baking

Bread Making

Dear Kitchen Saints,

Jill wanted me to write about how I make bread. I thought I had written about it enough that you all would be tired of me writing about it. But I guess for the newcomers I could write it.

My friends get a kick out of how I make bread. One time Aunt Toot was here visiting and drinking Pepsi and I took the can and threw some in my bread, proving you can make bread out of anything.

Well, basically you need 2 cups of liquid for 2 loaves of bread. This liquid could be milk, water, or juice. You could use a strained meat broth or potato water or any water you have cooked veggies in or whatever. When I would can tomatoes, I would sometimes make a tomato bread with the leftover juice from canning. So put your 2 cups of liquid in a big bowl. Then add a fat like oil or melted shortening. You can add up to a cup or a Tbs, either one. Then add some salt, up to a tsp. Then add a sweetener. This could be pancake syrup or jelly or honey or sugar, brown or white. Add some eggs with this if it flips your trigger. You don’t have to add eggs but if ya wanna, go ahead knock yourself out. Add up to 4 or 5 if the hen is layin’ more eggs then you can figure out what to do with. Then add enough flour and stir it all up until it looks like pancake mix or a cake mix. Stir it good.

Now get out a little bowl and put warm water in it, a little hotter than spit, about a half cup, and put in 4 Tbs of yeast or 2 packages of yeast for 2 loaves of bread. Now don’t get in a big hurry with the yeast. If the yeast isn’t good, then your bread won’t be good. So test your yeast as it is in the water. Add about a Tbs of sugar and see if the yeast bubbles. This should take about 10 minutes for the yeast to bubble. If it don’t bubble, then toss it and go buy some more yeast or try putting hotter water in. Yeast has to be kept snug and warm and secure. Put a cloth over it, too. Well, really, you should do the yeast first and then let it set a bit of time as you mix all the other stuff. But it don’t matter! So after the yeast bubbles, then put it in your bread mixture that looks like pancake mix.

OK, now start stirring up your bread and put in a cup of flour at a time. Now this could be white or whole wheat. You will get a lighter loaf if you use mostly white flour. But for health sake, throw in a cup of whole wheat and also you could add a cup of oatmeal and a cup of cornmeal. Or just do straight white. But like you end up using about 6 cups of flour for 2 loaves of bread. So a good combo would be 4 cups of white and then like 2 cups whole wheat or oatmeal or cornmeal. I have put my oatmeal in the blender and made oat flour. Well, go to kneading and mixing the bread, adding a cup of flour at a time.

Add herbs and spices if ya wanna. See, I made bread with what I had. We had 6 children and little money. So many times for breakfast, I made a big batch of pancakes to feed my hungry children and maybe fried potatoes. If I had a few cups of pancake mix left, I would start bread from it that morning after breakfast. I would heat up the pancake mix and put yeast in it and have that to be my yeast starter. I made many different kinds of pancakes like sweet potato pancakes and Chrissy’s favorite garlic pancakes. I cooked by inspiration and used up what was handy in the fridge. If I had a scraping of jelly, jam or peanut butter in a few jars in the fridge that weren’t being used up, I would put it in my bread. Or like the bottom of the bottle of syrup or even ketchup — no mustard. This way, you can use up leftovers and design your own bread.

You can get pretty free spirited with your bread but some measurements must stand unquestioned… well, at least in my book. Such as the yeast. You use about a pkg for each loaf. The old recipes say to just use one pkg of yeast for 2 loaves but I have always used 1 Tbs of yeast or one pkg for one loaf. I buy my yeast in the big bag, 2 pounds for about 5 bucks. I keep it in the fridge or even in the freezer.

It’s nice to make a big pot of soup on a cold day to warm up the kitchen for the bread. The hot soup keeps the yeast bread happy and friendly. After kneading your bread, set it someplace on the cabinet close to the hot soup to keep it warm. Put a pretty dish towel over the top. The yeast in the bread needs the warmth and covering. Don’t get the covered bread dough too close to the soup as the heat would kill the yeast. Cold won’t kill yeast but heat will.

And it takes a happy Mother to make good bread. If it don’t turn out, you didn’t love it enough. Yeast is alive and does respond to your personality. If I am upset and make bread, it will NOT be good. So be happy when you make the family bread. And ya know if ya have good bread on the table, then just about any dinner will be good.

I especially like to make an ITALIAN BREAD. For the liquid just use tomato soup or a cup of sauce with a cup of water. For this bread I use olive oil and no eggs. I make this bread very plain and use a lot of herbs — no milk or any other ingredients but salt and a bit of sugar, maybe a Tbs. I use mainly white flour for this bread but knead it in cornmeal, about a cup. I use many herbs in this bread. If it’s in the summer, I use my fresh herbs. I use a lot of basil and rosemary in this bread. You would want to blend these herbs up in the blender with maybe your oil or sauce, but you don’t want long pieces of herbs in your bread as you would in your soup. You want just bits of green in your bread. Anyway, I use coarsely ground black pepper in this bread and garlic and sometimes onions, also, ground up with the other herbs. I either put this bread on 2 long cookie sheets or I make round loaves and put them in cast iron skillets to rise and to bake. When the bread is half done and a bit brown, just check it and put butter on the top of the crust and Parmesan cheese and bake abut 15 minutes more.

I guess I would just say, to end this, that you have to take your time when making bread. You can’t hurry it. And when learning to make bread, I ended up throwing a lot of it out in the back yard. But the birds will eat it if it is too hard and they have to eat, too. Or a stray dog or squirrel, whatever. But making good bread will take a large family through a lot of meals.

Bread and Salad

And you know I have told you all that when I homeschooled, I would buy the leftover veggies from the grocery store that they could not sell, for like a buck a box. Sometimes I would get a whole box of lettuce. Or a box of carrots and onions or whatever. So, anyway, our John who was a teen at the time would eat a whole head of lettuce on a dinner plate. And if we had other veggies, he would top it all with these. That and some big slices of crusty bread and some potato soup was a hearty supper.

I had 50 bucks a week to spend on groceries. Jim gave me 100 bucks every 2 weeks. So the first week we would eat pretty good and the second week mainly vegetables, fruit and soups and lots of bread. Often I made homemade popcorn with our soups. If I didn’t get potatoes in the boxes of veggies, I would buy huge bags of them. We went through 20 pounds of potatoes in 2 weeks. I made lots of mashed potatoes with a meat gravy. Sometimes I would get odds and ends of citrus fruits from my boxes behind the store. Fruits like grapefruit, lemons, and limes and oranges. So I would get out my old fashioned glass juicer and juice these fruits and make a good juice. Papa usually did this as he made the best juice you could imagine. You have to add water and sugar. But, oh, is this juice good.

As a mom, it took a lot of wheelin’ and dealin’ to keep my children in good food. The world would have called the boxes I bought for a buck or 2 just garbage. But I would take my produce home and throw out on my garden what wasn’t good, on my compost pile. Then I would peel and carve and save what was good of the produce. My children were all healthy and we never had to go to a doctor for colds, etc. But talk about a working mother — I worked like a dog keeping my family in clothes and food.

I didn’t complain if Papa didn’t have enough money to give me for much food. I knew he was doin’ his best and supporting all of us the best he could. It was my job to keep a home. The Bible says that there is profit in all labor. And I felt I had an important job to do to keep food on the table and the wolves away from the door. I didn’t have much money to work with but I learned as I stayed in obedience to my husband that God certainly does provide as I walk as Keeper at Home.

If Mother will remain content and happy and trusting in the Lord, her family will stay happy and quiet, too. And the heck with what anyone thinks about it. I was so busy when I was raising my 6 children, I didn’t hardly notice what others outside my home were doing. I didn’t watch TV except for Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons and some other family specials. I was almost continually in the kitchen or wheelin’ and dealin’ ways to get food. Mainly prayin’ for food. And I saw miracles of answered prayer. The Lord knew I had 6 children and I had them all by faith. Wouldn’t He make a way for me to raise them? Yes, He did. He was faithful. Oh, yes, he was faithful to me.

I didn’t complain to Papa. I made sure I always spent some of my grocery money on coffee for Jim’s breakfast and after work. I kept a lot from Jim. I didn’t want to worry him. He was working as hard as any man and I didn’t want to discourage him. As Mothers we can’t set a fire of fear into our homes with crying over the obvious. Jim gave me what he had to give and any decent wife should be happy with that and I was. It was my job to make a home with 50 bucks a week and by God’s help and grace, I did.

I remember my Mom bringing over a bunch of paper towels. We ran out of toilet paper and so I took my bread knife and cut the paper towel roll in half and put the rolls on my toilet paper roller. Christian Joy laughed so hard about that, but it kept us in toilet paper for a few more days.

In my last book, I wrote about the Fancy Water I gave my children as a treat. Just ice water in a beautiful old crystal glass pitcher. They thought it was a treat!

Soup’s On!

One soup I used to make the kids they called “Chicken of the Sea Soup.” I made it like a chicken soup but without the chicken. I used drained tuna fish. But the children for the longest time thought the tuna was chicken. Well, they loved it, anyway, but named it “Chicken of the Sea Soup.” It was not really a homemade soup. I would take a few cans of cream of chicken soup and add veggies and milk or water. I could get a lot of mileage out of a can of soup. You could also add a can of chicken noodle soup to this. But I would put in my herbs and pepper, and the soup looked good and the kids thought that was chicken in there and thought we were rich.

Often I would buy a big turkey after the holidays for 59 cents a pound and I would always pass it off as chicken. Dan always loved chicken! But he barely got any. One meal I fixed went like this. You make the tuna patties mixing drained tuna with eggs and crackers. You fry the patties in a hot oiled skillet. When brown put them in a baking dish. Then over the top you put diluted cream of chicken soup and bake it in the oven. I would use one can of tuna for the whole family so that meant a lot of crackers. I called this “Chicken Sasserole.” Dan loved it as he thought it had chicken in it but, with so many crackers, no one could tell. But the cream of chicken soup over the top was enough to give it all the smell of chicken and so that was enough for Dan.

Another meal I made smelled just like a beef roast. I put a frozen pound of hamburger in the middle of my roaster and added potatoes, onions and carrots. It smelled like a roast and I sliced the meat like it was one. The kids didn’t care until they got wiser and older. Then they noticed I was just slicing a pound of hamburger and calling it a roast. I hid it under a brown gravy mix and called it a day. Of course, the Swiss steak was hamburger hidden beneath tomato soup and onions. And Salisbury Steak was hamburger patties under mushroom soup with onions. Jim and I would sit at the table and say how tender the steak was and how good of a piece of meat it must have been. Well, it was very tender!

Well, I am laughing too much to write so I must go for now. I am sending this to Christian Joy and I hope she will tell some more of the things we used to have for supper.


Household Bread

Dear Kitchen Saints,

This morning I am making bread. I had bought this apple cider at the store on sale? Well, it’s gone to hard cider? So it has some of its own natural yeast. This stuff gets my creative mind going. So for my liquid in the raisin bread I am using the cider. I just made up a loaf of bread, and it is rising. I imagine it will rise like crazy. That cider shudda been tied to a post with a strong cowboy rope. But that’s beside the point.

Also, this morning I had fixed Jim some sausage and pancakes. I fried the sausage in a big cast iron skillet. The skillet was still warm so I put the bread dough in the skillet to rise, and I put a lid on it. The skillet has the leftover sausage grease and tiny bits of fried meat in it. So I rubbed the bread dough in that and let it rise. Now, the old time mothers did stuff like that. They made bread and soup or whatever from what they had on hand. They didn’t have corn oil and just used bacon grease or lard for their baking if they didn’t have butter.

My sugar bowl was about empty of sugar so I just put my yeast in there to rise and to use the scrapings of the sugar stuck in the bowl to make the yeast rise. Yeast loves sugar.

During the Depression a lot of folks started using the canned milk. I think the government gave it away to poor folks. And after they used the milk in the can, they used the rinsing of the can for something else. They would fill the empty can with water and use this light milk for baking biscuits or to make gravy.

I love having canned milk on hand. I use it in my coffee mostly. When the children were home, I would take a pound of butter and add it to a can of evaporated milk and beat it with my mixer and this made 2 pounds of butter out of one pound of butter. I had an old fashioned crock I kept it in, and kept it in the fridge.

And sometimes, if the Mother at home on the farm ran out of sugar for her desserts, she would use a lot of fruit in her cakes to make things sweet. Or if she had homemade canned jelly and preserves in the root cellar, she would use that to make a dessert. Jam cake was probably invented by a mother who needed a dessert for her family. She made a lightly sweet butter sheet cake then baked it. After it was done, she would spread the top with her home canned peach jam and then roll it up. Then she would slice it. I think they were called Jelly Rolls.

When the children were young and the peanut butter was all gone, I would take the jar with the scrapings in it and add warm milk and honey. Then I would put the lid back on the jar and shake it up and called it peanut butter milk. The kids loved it. And I would do this with leftover jam in a jar with warm milk and honey. You need the milk to be warm to melt the peanut butter or jelly or whatever. But the old time Mothers never wasted even the scrapings from a jar. And she saved the jar.

When the old time Mothers made butter, they would have the light watery milk left over which is called buttermilk. But it wasn’t thick and rich and white like you buy in the store. It was watery. But mother saved this buttermilk for making biscuits and all sorts of breads and pancakes. Buttermilk will make biscuits rise slightly without using baking powder — well, depending too on how ripe it is.

All of my stuff ferments anyway. The kids, when they are here and I show them how to make bread, say, “Mom’s yeast rises like I have never seen before.” So then they will want to take some of my yeast home to see if they can get it to rise like mine does. They will say, “Well, Mom does this or that with her yeast I will do that, too.” But, actually, it’s just the house here, I think. I bake a lot and I think a lot of natural yeast is in the air here. Because everything bubbles here.

I think a house where folks are telling jokes and are happy that the yeast loves it, too. Also a hot blooded Mama helps.

Winter Spice Bread

Good Morning, Dear Domestic Mothers, Keepers at Home, and Tenders of the Fire,

This morning I am making a Winter Spice Bread. I just made up the recipe as I went along.

I put a cup of the Ladies Cordial in it. And I put in fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Also I put in a tsp of black pepper. I made it pretty sweet using a cup of sugar for 2 cups of liquid. For the liquid I used a cup of water and a cup of the Cordial. For each cup of liquid in bread, you will end up with one loaf of bread. Also I put in some corn oil and 2 eggs. Eggs are cheap right now so I will be very generous with eggs in my baking and cooking.

Then, after ya get all of this stuff mixed up, you just add enough flour to mix it all up. You will end up using about 6 cups of flour. And you can add whatever kind of flour you like. I will add some cornmeal and some oatmeal to my bread when I mix it up again. I just put in about a fourth cup of oatmeal and corn meal. The cornmeal makes the bread look more yellow and the oatmeal gives it a bit of texture.

Now today I am just making this bread with a big blue crock bowl and a spoon. I didn’t want to take it out of the bowl and so I have kneaded it in the bowl. If my bread dough doesn’t want to do as I want it, then I will knead it on the tabletop. But if it is kneading up like I like it, then I will just knead it in the bowl. It’s simple to clean up as everything is in the bowl and no flour on the table. I read once of a man on a wagon train that made his biscuits right in the flour sack. Just added liquid and bakin’ powder and mixed it up in the sack.

But, anyway, if you are having trouble getting your bread kneaded, try this. Just knead your bread until it is all together and not sticky. Then just forget it and put a towel over it. Let it sit for about a half hour. Then knead it again… it will be more cooperative. If your bread is made of mostly white flour, then the bread should feel like a baby’s behind when it is done being kneaded. It should feel soft and smooth.

Always test your yeast in a bowl to make sure it is good. Make sure your bowl of water is pretty warm. Put the yeast in and add some sugar. If the yeast isn’t bubbling up in about 10 minutes, then it isn’t any good. I always test my yeast as I don’t want to waste my flour and all, if the yeast ain’t gonna rise.

And also it is very easy to make crackers. If your bread doesn’t rise and you have tried everything, then just make your dough into crackers. All you do is take your bread dough and roll it out with your rollin’ pin. Then cut the dough in big squares. Lay them on your buttered cookie sheet. Prick holes in them so they will lay flat when they bake. I would bake these in about a 350° temp. I used to make these and add seasoning salt and garlic. They can be stored in a dry container and will stay good for at least a few weeks. All of the old time mothers used to make crackers. It was just part of being a housewife. They are just like a flat bread, I guess.

Also, ya know, dear Housewives, yeast is a living thing. Some days your bread won’t rise like it should or will be doughy in the middle. That’s not always your fault. Yeast is alive and will react to the weather or even to the spiritual temperature of the household. A lot of women love to knead bread when they are mad. They think it gets rid of their pressures. But I would never make bread unless I am right with my home and family. I think making the family loaf of bread takes a lot of lovin’ and Joy. I think yeast reacts to Joy.

And ya know? Bread dough sometimes just won’t knead up and get smooth like you hoped. So when this happens to ’em, I make bread rolls. Just make the dough into round balls and let ’em rise. Roll dough is usually a softer dough. So just make rolls instead of bread. Your bread dough should be a harder, stiffer dough.

Happy Baking.

Warm Happy Kitchens

Mothers who have busy, warm kitchens and happy hearts can make good bread. Your yeast is alive and loves to be warm and active. I think old houses seem to make good bread. I think it is because of all of the other yeasts in the house. Yeast is in the air and a housewife can learn to harness and use whatever yeast she needs. You can ferment fruit to make a wine yeast and then just keep using that to make wine. Or like a sour dough starter is harvesting yeast for bread and rolls. I know this house is loaded with yeast of all kinds. The old time mothers knew all of this and used what she had to make her food.

But I usually tell a young mom that if she can’t make a good family bread, it was because she didn’t love it enough. A happy kitchen with steaming soup simmering on the stove and the coffee pot perkin’ is a joyful place to make bread. Your bread won’t rise in a cold kitchen and if is too hot, it will die.

The old time mothers used to sing in their kitchens. An old friend of mine used to say that her Mom always sang a certain song when she made bread. When she got done with all of the verses, then she knew the bread had been kneaded enough. My friend thought as a child that the song was a part of the recipe. So when she grew up and was a young bride in her own kitchen, she thought she had to sing the same song, so she did.

In the old days, when the family needed to be cheered up, Mother seemed to be the inspiration to get them up and going. Mother would announce, “Well, you all are hungry I will fix supper.” Maybe the afternoon was quiet and not much goin’ on. But as Mother would get up to put her apron on, things would begin to move about again. She would scurry the children about to pick up their games and get ready for supper. She would tell the boys to bring in the wood for her cook stove and some for the fireplace. Mama would tell the girls to help peel potatoes. And pretty soon, the family would smell Mama’s biscuits and fried meat on the stove. Last of all, before the family sat down to supper, Mother would stir the gravy. As she stirred, she would tell the girls to set the table and slice the bread. Light the lamp on the table and call Papa in for supper. Mealtime was an event — a time to fellowship with the family.

After supper, Mother would set out a sponge, a starter for bread making for the next day. After the supper dishes were done and the girls dried them and put them away, the table was cleared and Mother got out her mending. Papa read the evening paper and the children played games and did homework. The winter kitchen was the warmest place in the house and the family stayed in there and kept warm.

This is a Quiet Evening?

Good Morning! Remember how I wrote last night that Jim and I had a quiet day? Well, it was quiet until after supper.

I was in the kitchen doing my dishes. And again I looked at my water I had cooked the corn on the cob in. And again, as I did before, I decided to make bread out of the corn water. Well, it didn’t look like as much water as I had used before. Remember how I had written before, a few months ago, that I did this and I had way too much bread? Well, the water looked like about half of that this time.

So while doing my dishes, I put some yeast in the water and some flour. I had planned on letting this mixture work overnight, as I planned on a big day of baking bread the next morning. I figured this water would make about 4 loaves of bread.

Well, because of the heat and the corn water … wow, that stuff began to rise and rise. Well, I thought maybe I will add more flour to get it to the pancake batter stage. I thought, “My, my, that is a lot of flour.” And then I thought, “Mercy, this is as much water as I had the last time!!!” But I kept trying to slow this dough down and it just rose like a balloon.

It was very hot in my kitchen. So I told Jim, “Well, I hadn’t planned to make bread tonight, but I guess I better use some of this wild and crazy dough.” So I made a big pan of rolls and 1 loaf of bread. And still this stuff kept rising. So I punched it all down again and put the big pan in the fridge to slow the yeast down. Even at that, the bread tried to rise over the top and come out. So I punched it down again.

Finally, I put a lid on the pan to hold that stuff in. And I just decided to forget it. Well, in the fridge, it got out and ran over the side of the pan. It wasn’t a real big mess, but mess enough. Finally, it quit rising and stopped for the night. My pan is one of those tall silver spaghetti pans? I mean this is a lot of bread. But I had used whole wheat flour for my starter and I have never seen whole wheat flour rise like that!!! It was scary.

Well, I just can’t throw that corn water away … it smells so good. Jim always comes in while I am boiling the corn and puts honey in the water, and butter … it just smells heavenly. Sometimes we put milk in the water, too — just a tad. But who could throw all that water out?

So I made the most heavenly rolls. I took some of the bread dough, laid it on the table, and spread it out. On the dough, I put butter and brown sugar and raisins, some cherries and some apples. Then I rolled it up and sliced it into rolls and laid them in the pan. I let them rise and then baked them. I put cinnamon on them, too. Then I made a loaf of bread with the fruit in it, too.

When the bread and rolls were out of the oven and done, I made a maple frosting for them. I just took a bowl, put in a bit of butter and powdered sugar, and stirred it up with some milk. And then I added maple flavoring. The frosting was thin like a glaze.

Wild Man loved the rolls.

I didn’t put in any eggs like I usually do. The bread was just basically whole wheat flour, yeast, butter, and honey, and sugar.

Jim, when he saw all the dough, said, “Well, leave it to my wife to do that.”

An Everlasting Yeast

I had some apple juice that we didn’t like, so I threw it in my sour dough pot and, just now, made a loaf of bread. A few days ago, I had made Jim a pan of sweet potatoes. I had a bit of the brown sugar syrup left in the pan, so I added this to my sour dough, too.

Ya know, with a sour dough starter, it is so quick to make bread. I use like about a cup and a half of starter to make a loaf of bread. (Well, I do it different each time, but today, that’s how I did it.) I just put the starter in my bowl, and then I add some cooking oil and the flour. I mix it up, knead it, make it into a ball, and let it rise on the stove in a covered crock bowl. Very simple. And it’s the best bread I have ever made. It’s so light and fluffy!

I think I will make a cinnamon loaf out of the dough I have rising. Sour dough bread isn’t usually light, but mine is. It’s supposed to be more chewy, but it just depends on the housewife and the yeast spores in her home.

I smell my sour dough starter often. It should smell like beer. Now, if it gets to smellin’ like sweaty feet, then throw it out. It should smell yeasty and be a light color. Mine has a stout yeasty smell. I smelled it after I had made it into a ball to rise, and it smells sweet and plain.

Also, for supper, I am fixin’ Papa a pan of fried potatoes with hot dogs. I just fry the hot dogs and take them out of the skillet, and then fry the potatoes, and then put the hot dogs on the top and cook ’em in a bit. Maybe add some onion. I will have the coffee on, too.

Ya know, sour dough is an everlasting yeast. You can use it for biscuits or any of your baking. It’s something you can pass on to your daughters if you keep it going. It’s good housewife wisdom to learn and will always keep you in yeast. As long as you have flour and a sour dough pot in your kitchen, your family will never go without bread.

Makin’ Potato Yeast

Ya know, this idea that you have to have a starter to make a good sour dough is sort of a hoaky idea. I mean, you can get a starter from someone, but ya don’t have to. You can just make one yourself. Potatoes and sugar and yeast will make a starter sing in the moon light … and howl like a wolf. (Just kidding.) But you can get a good starter goin’ with potatoes.

I had this left over potato soup? It had milk and butter in it, and lots of potatoes. It had been mashed potatoes, and then I had added milk, salt and herbs to it, and made soup with no meat in it. And the left over soup was about 3 cups? So, anyway, I added about 3 tablespoons of yeast to this and some sugar, and mercy, it about got up and left the pan. I stirred it all up good. And then I put it in this old crock I have … it’s an antique crock with a lid and has a little hole in the top of the lid … it has a handle on one side … it isn’t a tea pot … I don’t know what it was supposed to be used for to begin with … but it makes a nice sour dough jar. Anyway, I let this sour dough bubble up. Then I took a cup of it, put it in a bowl and then added a cup of warm milk, and added flour and made a dough. This will be a batch of dinner rolls. I had the dough ready to make rolls last night, but Papa brought home Pizza from work, so I just put the dough in a plastic bag with cooking oil in it and put it in the fridge. So today, I will make some nice fat potato buns.

My sour dough in my pot was so active, I didn’t need to feed it. But usually, if you take a cup out, you would add some flour or whatever to the pot to keep it going and the yeast growing. In a few days, I will add some water … maybe a cup … and some flour. It should look like pancake batter in your pot. Then, when you go to make rolls again, just take out another cup of starter and add a cup of water.

So you will have the 2 cups of liquid to make 2 loaves of bread or 2 batches of rolls. Bread is only a liquid, a shortening or butter, salt, sugar, yeast and flour. You can add eggs or fruit or vegetables and herbs. But, basically, you just need the basics to make bread. The sugar makes the yeast grow. Just like the ol’ moonshiners would tell ya, yeast needs sugar to put life into it. See, beer has yeast in it. And you can take a can of beer and add flour and oil to it and make a bread.

I had made this Sunday School Rootbeer once and it was too strong, but I just used it to make bread. I would take like a cup of rootbeer and add the flour and shortening and a cup of milk or water, some salt and a bit of sugar. For each loaf of bread, you will need a cup of liquid. Now, this can be apple juice or any kind of juice, too.

But, ya know, I will bet ya that some of the old housewives of yesteryear would never admit to doin’ it? But I bet many a mother who ran out of yeast made a starter from her husband’s whiskey and kept on truckin’. I mean, you couldn’t go to the store back then everytime ya needed something. I know the old timers kept whiskey on hand to make cough syrup and to give to the livestock to keep ’em warm in the winter. (Not that I drink whiskey, as Jim wouldn’t allow any strong drink like that in the house.)

But, anyway, if ya make this starter, you need to use it every day for your bread and feed it again after each time you take out a cup. Because, otherwise, the starter will get moldy just sitting there in the kitchen. So if you aren’t using it every day or every other day, then just put in the fridge. Then, if you plan to make bread the next day, put your starter out that night and let it begin to bubble again. Put it in a warm place, like on the stove or on a heat register. Cover it good and make sure there is room in the jar for it to bubble up without bubbling out of the jar. If it don’t bubble at all, don’t use it. The reason you use the sour dough is so you won’t have to buy any yeast. You are growing your own.

Sweet Tater Bread

Last evening, we had Dan and his sweetheart over for supper. We had B-B-Q pork ribs and mashed potatoes and corn.

Then, I made this bread … it was so old-timey and Southern. I made it like a white bread, but added 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes and a cup of brown sugar and cinnamon. It was a yeast bread and not a quick bread, and I put raisins in it, too.

It made 2 large loaves of bread, and I made round loaves and put them in 2 round cast iron skillets to bake. One skillet was very big and high on the sides. This made a large loaf of bread. I cut this in half and sent a half loaf home with Dan. The halves would have been a whole loaf of bread.

I had to bake this bread for a long time, as it was so moist with all the sweet potatoes and raisins I put in, so I baked it until it was almost black. So it is moist on the inside and the crust is chewy.

I used the liquid off the canned sweet potatoes for my liquid in the bread. I started out with 2 cups of liquid and about 2 packages of yeast.

If you are making up your own recipe, then just remember that a cup of liquid will make one loaf of bread. So, if you have 2 cups of juice or milk you want to use, and you want to make bread, just start out with 2 cups of liquid if you want to end up with 2 loaves of bread. And I use about a tablespoon of yeast for each loaf. Then it takes about 3 or 4 cups of flour for each loaf.

Then, if you aren’t adding fruit to your bread, then add more shortening or oil. But, if you are adding a lot of fruits or vegetables, then add less oil. Usually, you can figure that you wouldn’t add more than a cup of fruit or potatoes to a loaf of bread. Now, I added 2 cups of sweet potatoes and a cup of raisins. But mine made about 3 loaves of bread, give or take.

And, usually, to a plain loaf of bread, I will add a couple eggs. But my bread I made last night had so much in it that it didn’t need eggs, and (I think) I only added about 2 tablespoons of shortening. You need shortening to hold the bread together. But if you put in a lot of fruit and potatoes, then this is like a shortening, too.

But if ya put too much stuff in your bread, it won’t ever get done in the middle. I had almost gone over this line with my bread last night. But, like I said, I baked it until it was almost black. Mine looks like an Old World bread, straight out of a brick oven.

But, ya know, the old time mothers never used a recipe. And they had what they had to bake and cook with. In the winter, like now, they would have been using their sweet potatoes to make bread and pies and cakes. They stored a lot of pumpkin and would be using this for baking. Sweet potatoes are easily stored in a cool place.

Last evening, Jim had to work until 7, and so we all had supper at 7:30. I made sure I had the coffee on and the burner lit. I made my table look like a little table in the woods. I took out the leaves in the table and made it small for just the 4 of us. I had my pumpkin candle lit.

I sliced the smaller loaf of bread and put it on a pioneer plate Papa got me. It is blue and white, and has a log cabin on it with a Mother coming out the back door, and the rest of the family in the front. It’s one of my most treasured plates and straight out of Papa’s heart. Oh, what a dear Papa he is. So rambuctious and carefree at 64 yrs old!

After supper, we all went into the living room to sit by the burner, and Papa had coffee. Papa and me entertained the kids with stories of long ago when doctors told both Jim and me, at different times, that we were gonna die. And we always just laughed. And these are old stories, and the kids remember them well. Story after story of God’s interventions.

Makin’ Soup and Bread

Yesterday, I was cleanin’ out the fridge and makin’ soup and bread. I made a lovely multicolored chili. I usually just make it with beans and tomatoes and hamburger. But this time, I added a can of drained corn and some cut up cubed pumpkin. Then I had a couple big slices of green pepper in it. Jim doesn’t eat green peppers, so I just slice them big and lay them on top. He likes the taste but doesn’t want to eat one … same with onion.

But, anyway, my soup looked like the fall leaves. It was so pretty! The pumpkin will take on the flavor of the chili … it wont keep its own flavor. So, anyway, my soup was red with tomatoes, yellow from the corn, green with peppers, orange with pumpkin. And it had a pretty reddish brown of chili beans in the background. I added a package of taco seasoning, too.

Also, I wanted to make bread and muffins. So I took some of the pumpkin I had cut up and I put it in the blender with milk and one egg, and some left over candied sweet potatoes from the fridge I was cleaning out. Also, about a half cup of Crisco. I whirled this up and put it in a bowl. Then, I saw some leftover apple crisp in the fridge — about a cup? Well, I added this to my mix. Then some more brown sugar and cinnamon. (I just taste it as I go.) Then I added as much self rising flour as I thought I needed to make a bread or muffin mix. I stirred it all up good. Then I put some in a loaf pan and made a batch and a half of muffins, too. They were called “Sweet Potato Pumpkin Apple Crisp Muffins.” Papa loved them. Well, I loved ’em too.

Today, I have to get some stew meat or buy a roast and cut it up, whatever is the cheapest. Next week, I will make stew and put some pumpkin in this, too. The pumpkin makes the soups and stews look so pretty, and it also has a way of thickening things.

Mama Hultquist Bread

This is how I made bread this morning. Yesterday, I had made corn on the cob for 13 people. In the big pan of water to cook it in, I put in salt, a half a stick of butter, sugar and milk to boil the corn in. Well, I told Jim, “Mercy! I am savin’ that water for something … it has way too much good stuff in it to throw it out.”

So, this morning, I added yeast to the water, and some extra sugar and shortening, and started adding bread flour to make bread. Well, actually, I added the yeast too quick to the corn water that I had heated up. So I quickly added some leftover cottage cheese to cool it off, as the yeast will die if the water is too hot. Well, I didn’t realize I had so much water. The more water ya got, the more bread you end up with. Well, I kept adding flour … and kept a-d-d-i-n-g flour. And kept adding flour and kneading the bread.

I went through 8 pounds of flour. I had to mix it in the big corn pan. I couldn’t mix it that much as I was runnin’ out of pan. So Papa is watchin’ me and wonderin’ “What the heck?”

Anyway, the bread is half way kneaded and I have it sitting outside in a pan on the sidewalk in the sun, rising. I will let it rise some and then knead it some more. Then I will have to let half of it rise in my bread bowl and the rest, I will keep in the pan. I probably have enough bread for about 6 or 8 loaves of bread. What was I thinkin’? Well, for sure, I was thinkin’ of makin’ bread.

What I will do is make some bread today and then I will put the rest in the refrigerator. I can make bread until the cows come on home. I will probably make some cinnamon rolls. too. Whatever!!!

And here I was gonna rest today? I really thought that I would be makin’ about 2 big loaves of bread until I really got into it all … up to my elbows? Well, I won’t have to buy bread for a while.

Well, better go. I have to clean up my mess and get a work space to organize my bread dough. What a riot!

Making Biscuits

To me, it is so satifying to make baking powder biscuits. I don’t use a recipe; I just go by the feel of the dough. The oven should be very hot and preheated before you put your biscuits in the oven. I bake mine in a cast iron skillet. I get my grease hot in the skillet and I put a teaspoon of butter in with the shortening. So when I put the cut biscuits in, I turn them over so the biscuits have the grease on the top. With the butter in the grease, it causes the biscuits to be brown on the top.

As a young bride, I had a lot of trouble making biscuits. They turned out hard as a rock, but I kept trying and I got it right. My problem was I didn’t preheat the oven or turn it up high enough. You need to have biscuits in a hot oven, like 425 degrees. Another reason biscuits get hard is that you knead them too much. You want to work with a light and quick hand, and a hot oven.

See, with kneading yeast bread dough, you have to work slowly and put some muscle into it … but not so with biscuits. Just knead the biscuits about 10 times and, even if the dough is lumpy, flatten it out with your hands and cut the dough into biscuits. Some ladies use a rolling pin to flatten biscuit dough out. I think that makes them tough, too. I just flatten my dough with my hands to about an inch thick, and then I just cut the biscuits out.

Also, make sure your milk or water is cold when you put it in the flour. Self rising flour works good for biscuits but you don’t need it. I got some on sale and I have used this lately for my biscuits. It does make them higher and lighter. But if you are wanting to make biscuits and don’t know how, it would be good for you to buy Bisquick and learn from the directions on the box. Then later, make your own flour mix.

The old time mothers made yeast bread a few times a week and then she made the baking powder biscuits for in between. Then, of course, she made pancakes, too, and muffins for breakfast.

My friend, Jillr, lived on a farm as a child, and there were five children. Her mother made a dessert every day. Like, she made a cake or cookies or pie each day for the supper meal. But back then, folks didn’t go to the Quick Trip for a snack. You made all of the treats at home.

When I was a girl, we would often make popcorn and fudge for an evening snack. One time, Christiane Joy made popcorn balls to surprise us with when we got home from the grocery store. She couldn’t find any syrup, so she used BlackStrap molasses, instead. Wow! Black Popcorn Balls!!! I am sure they got eaten, but they were a real creation.

Joy also made old fashioned taffy candy. She pulled it and everything. She was a wonder at making candy. She took her time with it, and candy does take a lot of patience.

But no matter what we made, someone ate it, no matter what. Even if the kids wouldn’t eat it, the dog would. Well, actually, the dog ate things she wasn’t supposed to. You had to watch her.

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