Home and Family

Life’s little surprises

Last evening we had a bread baking class in our home.  Our new neighbor and her teen-aged daughter came over and we made bread, meal-in-one wraps, and cinnamon rolls together.  (Recipes for basic breads posted on 2/21/2013.)   Then we ate results of our labors in a shared meal.  While the cooking was fun and the food was seriously tasty,  my favorite bits were the unexpected moments.  Having a young woman really talk to me about life, school, and goals is something which hasn’t happened since my children grew up and left home.  Watching her mother’s face as she realized how much money she can save as she cooks from scratch was such fun; seeing how much her father enjoyed the food was even better.  (We’ll be cooking more together as school gets out for the summer.  I’m looking forward to that!)

Other unexpected events included our three-year-old grandson playing with their son, and keeping him busy.  Our five-year-old grandson who struggles with focus spending 40 minutes on a book of word finds;  I was blown away.  Even the 16 month-old twins were enjoying the meal and visiting.  It was surprisingly relaxing and we have a new family on the block who will be a tremendous boon to the neighborhood.  Who knows?  We may have just gained a baby-sitter, and willing hands for the garden.

The entire experience reminded me why we live in communities.  We are here to serve, share, and find joy in each other!  While I am not an extrovert by nature, I still feel gratitude when a sweet experience like this one happens.

May you have a great day filled with a pleasant surprise or two!

Cooking, Homemaking

Baking bread is cathartic!

There is something about the feel of bread dough in my hands that is soothing, and centers me.  And what can beat the smell of freshly baked bread in the kitchen?

After years of experimenting, I have finally found a recipe that seems pretty “idiot proof,” which means I can make it even on my less-than-stellar days!   A foolproof way to check the loaves after baking is to insert an instant-read thermometer in the heel.  If it reaches 185 degrees, the bread is done!

Becca’s Basic Bread


2 1/4 Cups Potato Water or 2 1/4 cups Water and 1/3 cup Potato Pearls

3 Tbs. Yeast

1/2 Cup Honey or Sugar

1/3 Cup Oil

3 Tbs. Gluten flour

2 Tbs.  Dough Enhancer

3 cups Whole Wheat or Whole Grain flour.

Let sponge for 3-5 minutes. Then add:

1 Tbs. Salt

2-4 cups flour.  (Whole grain or All-purpose)

Knead for 4-6 minutes.  Let rise.  Form into loaves.  Let rise again until double.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.  This recipe can also be used for any recipe calling for basic bread dough.


Sweet Dough


2 Cups Very warm water

1 Cup evaporated milk

2 tsp. salt

1/8 Cup sugar or honey

1/4 Cup oil

1 tbsp. instant yeast

1 Cup flour

Allow to sponge for about 5 minutes.  Then add: 5-6 Cups flour.

Use this recipe for sweet breads such as cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, etc.  .  Bake most sweet breads at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.