Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Going Home

I went home this week.  Well, not exactly my home but the one that belonged to my mom until she up and moved to heaven. It had been nearly two years since her death and this would be the first time I would be back in a place that had always included her presence. I wasn’t really sure what feelings would be stirred up within me.

Stepping through the door, I realized things had not changed in her absence. My sister now takes Mom’s place in the kitchen where so many celebration meals have been prepared. From the look of the counter, the tradition carried on.  It was covered with good things to eat.  Luscious flatbreads, pans of lasagna and that green pudding with its bits of pineapple and pistachios were all present as they had been in the past. Additional yumminess arrived. Aunt Sarah’s Cheesy Potatoes, Breaded Morel Mushrooms, compliments of my brothers, and my own cake slathered with Browned Butter Frosting rounded out the already abundant selection.

Daughter, Genevieve and sister, Jeannie.
Daughter, Genevieve and sister, Jeannie.

We filled our plates and ate and talked and talked and talked. It was all very comforting to sit around the table and enjoy each other’s company. For the moment, it all felt very normal as if no one was missing from the circle. I guess in a way everyone was accounted for.  Even though Mom was not physically with us, her heart had stayed behind. The spirit of the day made that evident. It was exactly as she would have planned it. I will hold the memory close as one of the best.

Where we love is home–home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Enjoying the beautiful afternoon.
Enjoying the beautiful afternoon chatting and laughing.

I asked my sister, Jeannie, to send me the recipes she cooked up for our visit. I left them in the form they were sent. I like that it is less formal and more like the way we would tell someone how to prepare the dish.

The following are the recipes for the bread, green pudding and the peanut butter cookies. The lasagna is just your basic recipe but she says she always uses Prego.

Bread Machine Flat Bread
The bread is easy. In the bread maker I put in one cup of water and one packet of dry yeast. Wait ten minutes for yeast to bloom and add three tbsp sugar, three cups of flour, two tsp salt and one third cup oil. Set bread maker to dough sitting and start. When the dough has risen I spray a little Pam on a larger pizza pan, dump the dough on it, sprinkle a little flour over the top and spread it out by pressing it with my hands, as large as it will stretch without making holes in it. I let in rise in a warm place and brush with about three tbsp melted butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 until brown and lovely.
Green Pudding
Green stuff is two pkgs of instant pistachio pudding, two cups milk and one small can of drained crushed pineapple . Mix the pudding according to pkg directions, then add the well drained crushed pineapple.
Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies
Mix one cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg and half tsp vanilla. Scoop onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Press with fork. Bake at 350 until golden brown.
Posted in Baked Perfection, Warm the Soul

The Gift of Hospitality

Forty years ago, I found myself living far from home in San Jose, California. My husband took a job with his dad in that city so we packed up our belongings and moved. No longer could I just drop by Mom’s for a quick visit.  As a newlywed with no kids, no job and no car it could have been a very lonely existence. That is, if it hadn’t been for my neighbor, Janis.

Janis lived across the walkway in our group of duplexes.  She was older and wiser– all of thirty [maybe] but seemed so mature to my eighteen year old self. If anyone had the gift of true hospitality, she did. Janis invited me into her home and into her life.  I am very grateful to her for that.  She took me under her wing, mentoring me in my new role as wife to my husband.

One of the things she taught me was how to make bread. I only have a faded memory our time in her kitchen making that first loaf but I do remember the smell and the taste.  It was Easy Buttermilk Bread. It was light and delicate and oh so yummy.  This afternoon, I pulled out the cookbook she gave me back then and stirred up a batch.  It’s in the rising stage as I write this.  We shall see if it stands up to my fond memory.

Thank you, Janis, for helping a lonely girl make a home where she was planted.  It made such a difference in the woman I became.

There is no hospitality like understanding.  ~Vanna Bonta

Easy Buttermilk Bread

I have changed the recipe to accommodate a bread machine if you prefer.  No bread machines back in the 70’s.

  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1  teaspoons salt
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups flour, sifted
  1. Heat the buttermilk until it is hot enough to melt the butter.
  2. Stir in the sugar, salt and butter. Cool.
  3. Proof the yeast in a small amount of water with a pinch of sugar and add to the cooled buttermilk mixture.
  4. Combine the baking soda and half the flour.
  5. Add to liquids and beat until smooth.
  6. Stir in the rest of the flour and turn out on floured surface.
  7. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  8. Place in a greased bowl, brush with butter, cover  and let rise until doubled.
  9. Shape into two loaves and place in buttered 8 inch loaf pans, brush tops with butter and let rise again until doubled.
  10. Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes.
  11. Enjoy!

I used a bread machine to knead the dough. Just put ingredients in in recommended order and put on dough mode.

Good Ingredients
Good Ingredients
Ready to Rise.
Ready to Rise.
Finished Product
Finished Product
Thanks, Janis.
Thanks, Janis.

This original recipe is from The World of Breads by Deloros Castella.