08 January 2008

let's break bread together...

when we traded our sophisticated southern city digs for a return to the country life & D.'s grad school, we thought at first that we had moved in a backward direction. not so! both of us grew up in fairly rural areas & being back in the country became a breath of fresh air...literally! & this particular move found us surrounded by some lovely farmland & even more lovely folks working it. the farm across the road was of great interest to our then-small children (ages 2, 4, 7 & 8). watching the farmer plow with a team of mules held their attention for many hours.
this was also the time we began homeschooling the girls. i took direction from their natural zest for learning about everything around them & began to call upon folks who lived in our area. we visited a sheep farm run by a woman who also spun, dyed & wove her own wools into the most beautiful creations. we visited a goat farm to learn about the care of the animals, their milking & the making of goat cheese (yum!). we visited & rode at a newly established horse farm. & finally, we went across the country road to ask the dairy farmer if we could visit there too.

the wonderful family working the farm graciously offered my children & i a "field trip" that changed our entire stay in that area. B. & her husband were a young amish couple with children the same ages as our children. over the year & a half that we lived there, B. & i forged a friendship that i hold so dear in my heart. we shared work, errands, children's play times, meals, & some sad times. i learned more about cooking & baking & preserving in that short time than i did in all the years preceding.

as our lives change, B. & i remain in touch the old-fashioned way...letters & a very occasional visit when i return to PA. & i think of her every time i use one of her delicious recipes...

the very favorite thing i learned to make in B.'s kitchen was whole wheat bread.kneading this bread is a very tangible connection to the countless women before me who have done the very same thing. the rhythm of kneading calms my spirit. the baking of this bread is warms the heart & soul of all nearby...certainly it is the aroma of heaven, or at the very least, heaven's kitchen! the children, still to this day, cannot wait to slice & butter a piece of it. if only i could post the aroma for you to enjoy. but for what's cooking wednesday, the recipe will have to do...

whole wheat bread

in a large bowl mix together 3-1/2 c. warm water, 2 T. yeast, 1/2 c. olive oil, & 1/2 c. honey, let this mix set for 15 minutes to form a sponge
after 15 minutes, add 1 egg (beaten) & 1 T. salt to the sponge, mixing well
then add approx. 7-8 c. whole wheat flour to the mix...turn onto a floured board & knead for approx. 5 minutes
place dough in a large greased bowl & let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes
after 30 minutes punch the dough down & let rise 30 more minutes.
grease 2 large & 3 small baking pans...add dough to each pan & let rise one more time (15-30 minutes)bake at 350 for approx. 30 minutes...cool on racks...slice as soon as possible & slather with butter!


Anonymous said...

what a wonderful, heart-warming experience! The gentle Amish people have always interested me- even more so now. I have never made my own bread and would love to try your recipe- I must make time to do that!

Thank you for sharing!

Britt-Arnhild said...

I love kneading.......and eating home made bread :-)

watermaid said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and I'm so pleased to have found yours. There's something very special about the smell of newly baked bread and your photos are so tangibly I feel that I can almost touch them. There's also something much more satisfying about kneading bread rather than using a dough hook. Years ago when we baked our own loaves, we put them in flower pots and left them to rise in the airing cupboard. in flower pots

Karina said...

There's something about butter on a freshly baked piece of bread, still warm from the oven. Sigh...heavenly!

I've never tried to bake bread myself, but one of these days I'll attempt it, I think.

AnnieElf said...

Ah Deb, what a touching story of a true friendship that crossed over so many potential social barriers. And, as always, whenever I think of, read of, and/or smell the fragrance of warm bread, I think of my long departed grandfather and his wonderful, huge kitchen.

Anonymous said...

I love making bread. There's something spiritual about it.

rochambeau said...

You are such a special woman to home school!! What lucky children you have.
Your sister in bread making,

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

My grandmother taught me to bake bread & I love it! What a wonderful thing to teach your children. Peace, JP/deb

qualcosa di bello said...

bella...gentle they are. it was a blessing to live amongst them.

britt-arnhild...the sweet reward of the work...hot bread with melting butter

watermaid...i am with you on the joy of kneading. i could not be convinced that it is a chore...it is wonderful to feel in your hands.

karina...go for it!! it takes some practice to get the feel for it, but even the experimental loaves are usually edible ;)

annie...isn't it wonderful how smells can take us to such beautiful places!

maryann...it really is!

constances...it is a blessing every single day to me~~ i love it & cherish every moment with them!

deborah...how wonderful to have learned this from your grandmother!