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I did it!

I finally managed to capture my mother-in-law, Rita in the midst of making her delicious bread.

As I mentioned previously, Rita raised nine kids on her bread and over the years, she has mastered the art form of baking bread.

Here is Rita’s homemade bread recipe.

 

To make four loaves of Rita’s bread you will need:

5 cups water

Approximately 8 cups of white flour

Approximately 4 cups of whole wheat flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon yeast

 1 T salt

1 T bacon grease

 

 

Rita uses a mixer to make her sponge.  

She mixes five cups of tepid or lukewarm water with the yeast.

She then adds the sugar, and gradually incorporates four cups of white flour and two cups of whole wheat flour.  

I am not sure how to technically describe a sponge for anyone who might not understand what it is, but it is just the first step or the first ‘rising’ in the process of making a batch of bread.

 

 

 

 

 

Rita keeps her white flour in an ice cream bucket.

She also keeps her compost in an ice cream bucket

I also keep my compost in an ice cream bucket.

You might want to double check your ice-cream just to make sure it is actually ice-cream, should you ever eat any at either Rita’s or my house.

 

 

 

Rita also wanted to point out that she did not always use a mixer to make her bread sponge.  

This is a recent development.  

She spent most of her life making bread using only her own two hands and an occasional twig from a sturdy oak tree.

Not really on the twig part.

 

 

 

 

Rita likes to mix up her big batches of bread in a large plastic bowl set down inside of her kitchen sink.  This allows her to work at a level that is more comfortable and also much more practical than say building a ‘baking center’ that you only use once a year in your brand new house.  

This method also keeps all the flour mess in the sink, instead of on the floor underneath the kitchen table, or sprinkled all around the kitchen cabinets, which is very nice.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Rita’s sponge after it has doubled in size. 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, Rita adds one tablespoon of salt.

 

 

 

 

 

And one tablespoon of bacon grease.

Normally, Rita would clarify her bacon grease by heating it up and letting the black specks fall to the bottom of the container so that they did not end up in her bread, but in this instance…

she couldn’t be bothered.

 

 

 

 

 

After stirring in the salt and the bacon grease,

Rita begins to incorporate the rest of the flour.  

 

 

 

 

Four more cups of white flour from the old ice-cream bucket.

 

 

 

And two more cups of whole wheat flour.

 

 

 

 

She uses a spoon to mix in the rest of the flour until the dough becomes too stiff at which point she starts to use her hands.

 

 

 

 

She frequently covers her hands in flour

to keep the dough from sticking.

 

 

 

 

How long does Rita knead her bread?

Here is a quote from Rita to help you…

“You work it until your shoulders hurt

and you get a little pain down the center of your back.  

Then you’ll know that you worked it enough.”

 

 

 

 

This is what Rita’s dough looks like after all the flour has been incorporated.

She then covers the dough and places it in a warmish spot to raise for around two hours or until it doubles in size.

 

 

 

 

When the bread dough has doubled,

Rita greases four bread pans with vegetable oil.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what her dough looks like after it has doubled in size.

 

 

 

 

 

Rita then divides her dough into four equal sections.

 

 

 

 

 

After shaping three of the loaves herself, Rita let Ethan have a hand at shaping a loaf of bread.

First he put some oil on his hands to keep the dough from sticking to them.

 

 

 

 

 

Then he worked the dough into a nice loaf shape under his grandma’s tutelage.

 

 

 

 

 

Rita put cinnamon on Ethan’s loaf so we would know which loaf was his.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She covered the loaves in a warm sunny spot to raise for another two hours or until they too, doubled in size.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the loaves ready to go in the oven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rita bakes her bread at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the loaves fresh from the oven.

Is there a better aroma on the face of the earth than fresh baked bread?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are four of Rita’s grandsons drawn to the freshly baked bread like a flock of hungry crows.

 

 

 

 

But Rita is not about to let them have any of that bread yet!

First she brushes a light coating of vegetable oil on all six sides of each loaf.

 

 

 

 

She uses a dishcloth to apply the oil.

 

 

 

 

To avoid a ‘soggy bottom’, Rita likes to set the loaves on their sides for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

She covers the loaves and then after ten or fifteen minutes have passed, she will give the loaves another turn to avoid ‘soggy sides’.

At this point you may start to wonder if you are EVER going to actually get to EAT a piece of her bread!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Rita slices some bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her bread is tender and fragrant, with a mildly sweet, yeasty flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

 


I wish I could send you a piece.  

Thanks Rita!

 

My eldest son’s face has been changing at the speed of light lately.  Every time I look at him I swear, he looks drastically different.  Two months ago, I was completely obsessed by his nose.  

“Where is that nose coming from?”  I asked him.

“Whose nose is that?” I queried.

“Where did you get that nose?” I badgered him endlessly.

“Is it your dad’s nose?  Is it my dad’s nose?  Is it a Bishop nose, a Heitschmidt nose, a Hogan nose…?”

My son did not answer any of my questions.

 

He just rolled his eyes, looked at me with utter disdain, and asked me if we had any food in the house.

 

Now I have moved on to his jaw.

Every morning I look at his jaw and I swear it is different than it was the day before… it is wider… it is fuller… it is thicker…

 

 

 

 


I stare at his nose.  

 

 

 

 

I stare at his jaw.

 

 

 

Who is this kid?  

 

This little boy?  

 

My first born baby.

 

Who is this boy with the nose… and the jaw… and the shoulders…and the deep voice…

 

and the height!

 

Good Lord… the height! 

 

He is as tall as me now. 

 

Who is this tall kid with the nose, the jaw, and the deep voice?

 

 

 

 

 

I hardly recognize my own tiny, little, baby boy anymore!

The Morel Report

April 28th, 2009

This winter we have been slowly finishing our basement.  The Country Doctor did all the wiring, and right now we are in the passionate throes of sheetrock.  A man, whom I will refer to as ‘Mr. Morel’ has been installing ‘the rock’ for the past two weeks.  When he is not hanging sheetrock in our basement, he is a passionate morel hunter.  Every day when he arrives at our house, he gives me the daily morel report.  He tells me how many he has found, what his hunting conditions were the night before, how many beers he drank while he hunted them, how he has to sneak into some places while people are at work so they don’t know he is on their property finding mushrooms, and whether or not  he thinks there will be good hunting after he gets off work.  He won’t tell me where he finds the mushrooms, but I know he takes the same route everyday.   A few days ago, he had a good haul and he brought me some to try.  I have never had a morel before.  He told me exactly what to do to store and prepare the mushrooms.  I followed his directions precisely.

I placed the morels in a dish of water in my refrigerator and changed the dirty water several times.  One time, I found a roly poly in the water.  This made me not want to eat the morels at all, but then I remembered that I have a blog.  What is a little rolypoly in your food compared to having nothing interesting to write about on your blog? 

So I dumped out the rolypoly, added new water, tried to clear my mind of thoughts of rolypolys in my food and went out and bought a box of saltines.

 

This is how ‘Mr. Morel’ told me to fix the mushrooms.

 

Ingredients:

Crackers, eggs, butter, morels (with rolypolys removed).

 

Look morel over closely for any more rolypolys.

 

 

 

Shudder.

 

 

Swallow hard and continue with recipe.

 

 

 

 

Smash crackers.

 

 

 

 

 

Mix in eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

Try not to think about rolypolys.

 

 

 

 

TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT ROLYPOLYS!

 

 

 

 

 

Fry in butter.

 

 

 

 

 

Force children to eat them first.

 

 

 

 

 

Force children to write their thoughts about eating rolypolys… I mean MORELS!

 

 

 

 

 

They didn’t hate them.

They also did not love them.

The morels tasted like eggs and mushrooms.

I can not imagine EVER hiking through a bog to find one.

But that is just me… 

As far as I am concerned…

The rolypolys can have them!