What kind of weather does it have to be for me to want to make bread? All I need is a day that is cold so that I want to have the oven on. Our close to zero days certainly fulfilled that.
I chose to make the kind of bread that my mother-in-law made most of the time. It is a little bit sweet because there is honey and molasses in it. People lovingly referred to it as "garbage bread" since she used some leftovers in it. It always turned out fine except for the time she added Christmas candy. That made the bread a rather funny color.
I like making the old-fashioned kind of bread because there is something very therapeutic about the kneading process. The directions say to knead for about ten minutes. It is not difficult to push and shove the dough around for that amount of time.
Bread is one of those things that I need to feel to see if it needs more flour. People laugh, but feel is important. The more you make bread the better your sense of touch is. The family will be together Friday night so I plan to serve the bread along with homemade vegetable soup.
The time right after the new year begins, I use to make things that I get hungry for like that bread. Soup is also on that list. I do not have to persuade my grandson that soup is good. He even chose it as his birthday meal this year. I also hear that he usually orders soup when he eats out.
I made three different batches of soup during the holidays. Of course, you cannot make a small batch since there are so many ingredients. Large batches mean that I have some soup to share. That is not a bad thing. I have yet to make some chili, but maybe later on this week I will get around to it.
I also made potato pancakes. I usually make those once or twice a year. When my husband and my mother were around I made them more often since they were a favorite. There are more potatoes in this recipe than anything else. I also made homemade applesauce to eat with them. I enjoyed every bite. You have to eat them quickly or they turn brown even though the potatoes are cooked.
There is still some pumpkin in the refrigerator so I think I will try out my new waffle maker with some pumpkin waffles. I also make pumpkin pancakes. They are good with applesauce, too.
We have no family must haves for the new year. It becomes a time of remembering as I create the dishes that past family members and I enjoyed. Cooking is like that. Many families have recipes that have been handed down.
I talked to the grandchildren about my Christmas cookie recipes. They know that the recipe I make for the gingerbread men came from my great-grandmother. I have tweaked it a bit adding a little more spice since I prefer a heartier cookie. As for the other cutouts I use different recipes depending on what kind of cookies I want. The one I did this year made soft cookies. I also have one for crispier cookies.
There are several more dishes on my wish list this season. I will probably make goulash and I will definitely make Spanish rice. Since we had rice pudding over Christmas my taste for that has been satisfied. I also want to make some cooked rice like my mother-in-law used to make. She cooked the rice for a long time adding milk to make it extra creamy. She also added a cinnamon stick as well as some ground cinnamon and sugar. It was a good winter meal.
It has been quite a while since I made homemade pizza. That is on my list as well. The children used to ask me if it was round pizza or rectangular pizza. If it was round it was store bought. If it was rectangular it was homemade. That is no longer the case by the way since I now have a couple of nice round pans that I use to make pizza. Sometimes I use my cast iron skillets as well. They are good if I want to make some with different toppings.
My grandson and I discussed how I started to cook. When we were making the vegetable soup he was right by my side peeling vegetables and generally absorbing what was happening. When the top fell out of the bottle of worcestershire sauce, I was flinched. He asked me if it would spoil the soup. I told him I would just make a larger batch than I was intending to compensate for the extra salt. He learned a couple things during that process I am sure.
When my mother and I took an apartment on our own I became the cook. I was usually home from college before she got home from work. I had a brand new electric stove to cook on and I enjoyed it. I loved to experiment. I used the broiler frequently for the meat since it cooked a lot quicker than it did on top of the stove or in the oven. Remember that was before the microwave age or the time of George Foreman.
My husband was not as fond of my cooking when we first got married. I cooked different than his mother and he noticed. I remember many tearful meals when he pushed his food around the plate and ate only a little. I thought at that point that I would never get it right in his eyes. By the time we were married for many years he enjoyed my cooking and told me I was a good cook. I did not take that compliment lightly. I figured I earned it with my persistence.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org