Posts Tagged With: Butter

The Best Thing Ever to Cross Your Lips

“All sorrows are less with bread. ” ~ Miquel de Cervantes Saavedra 

It’s Gratituesday! Today I obsess about and express thanks for and praise the powers that be for the miraculous marvel called bread.

I’m not talking Wonder here either.

This morning I’m enjoying the delightful stylings of a new recipe I’d never tried until now; English Muffin Bread. It’s what you’d imagine given the name. Nooks and crannies, slightly chewy but crisp where the toaster has caressed it. Real butter, some grape jelly and the day can’t get much better.

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ~ James Beard

Well, the day could get better if I bake my standard bread loaves, a white bread recipe I’ve modified some by tossing in some fresh ground wheat. Mmmm. A slice of that stuff not ten minutes out of the oven atones for most anything I may have gotten wrong throughout the past twenty-four hours.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” ~M.F.K. Fisher (Author of “The Art of Eating”)

A braided loaf, from flour to finished only takes two hours, and disappears in less than ten minutes when family flocks around.

Other favorites? Oh, let me name a few.

  • Orange bow knots
  • Parker house rolls
  • A cinnamon bagel
  • Donuts, almost any kind
  • Artisan bread
  • Sour dough
  • Cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
  • French bread
  • Challah
  • Pita with hummus
  • Garlic Naan
  • Scones
  • Biscuits – with sausage gravy
  • Corn bread
  • Banana bread
  • Indian Fry bread
  • Breadsticks
  • Rye
  • Sopapillas
  • Waffles
  • Tortillas
  • Pretzels – the big soft ones
  • Focaccia
  • Hush puppies
  • Pancakes
  • Croissant
  • Muffins
  • Ciabatta

No. I don’t personally bake all of those, although I’m happy to imbibe. You could almost call my love and adoration of bread an addiction, but we won’t go that far. I will say a meal seems most complete when bread hums a melody alongside the vegetables and meat.

I consider far too many meals complete with bread alone, unaccompanied by any other food, except perhaps butter or some honey. The bread-only meal provides most satisfaction when it’s warm and filling the place with the scent of heaven.

Is it any wonder that the last meal many people partake of is bread? Not to me.

“I’ve heard it said that when you die you enter a room of bright light, and that you can smell bread baking just around the corner.” ~ Rick Bass

I’ve always envisioned the manna spoken of in the Bible as bread. Freshly baked by angels in bakers hats, to sustain and lift the bodies and souls of the children of Israel. That’s just my spin on it. I couldn’t quote scripture on it. Hardly so. But it’s a nice thought. What else could you eat day in and day out for so long without getting tired of it?

My Dad has Celiac’s disease, which means, among a bunch of other not so thrilling things, he can’t eat regular bread. If I end up with that malady just put me out to pasture and let me go the way of all the earth. Oh, sure, he’s adjusted his diet to avoid gluten, but it’s just not the same thing as the breads I know and adore.

I shouldn’t be choosy though. I’m filled with gratitude as I eat each morsel and crumb. I recognize the beauty and the bounty of my life and try desperately not to take it for granted that bread will always grace my table.

 “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

That quote takes my breath away. Makes me want to put on the habit of a missionary and distribute bread wherever I can.

Bread for everyone, please.

Bread for everyone, please.

When we were dating my not-quite-yet-sweet husband planned a picnic that surely sealed the deal and made me fall in love just a little more. French bread, butter, summer sausage, cheese, complete with glass wine goblets and some bubbly. Not your ordinary picnic faire. But then, this man fell way outside the ordinary spectrum. Impressive. Delicious. Delectable. 

“For less than the cost of a Big Mac, fries and a Coke, you can buy a loaf of fresh bread and some good cheese or roast beef, which you will enjoy much more.” ~Steve Albini

It’s true. Sure, it isn’t quick. It’ll require that you get out of your car and walk into a store or a deli, but it’s worth a try just this once. Stop in at the deli counter, get a few slices of a cheese that sound interesting and if you must, a few slices of ham or roast or pastrami. Then look at the lovely loaves sitting in their paper wrappers or tucked behind the counter. You can’t go wrong with any one of them. And to make the meal completely decadent, swing by the dairy case and put real butter in your basket. You’ll have a meal you don’t want to eat while watching the evening news or perusing Facebook or email.

No, you’ll want to give your full attention to the bread.

You’ll thank me. Really. You will.

You’re welcome.

Categories: Food, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Exploding Butter and Other Things That Never Happened

Growing up in a large family as one of the two oldest children I got the chance to babysit fairly often. At least to me it seemed often. Maybe it was only once a week or so. Being in charge of three to five younger siblings who refuse to acknowledge your authority, wisdom and higher rank makes for a tough slog at the babysitting stint.

Maize for popcorn, cultivated in Hungary, prod...

Add a little heat and pressure and voilà!

It gets more complicated if both your older sibling and yourself  get told, “you’re both in charge.” There’s a recipe for disaster right there. The older sibling will invariably try to pull rank based solely on a few extra years. While the younger, wiser sibling will try to lead from the bottom and behind without being noticed.

Much of the time the little ones would go off to bedrooms or already be in bed by time we older two got placed in charge. That made things easier, but it didn’t solve all the potential problems.

It didn’t always go so well.

Try to envision life without a microwave oven, dishwasher, iPad, cell phone, video, remote control anything and five hundred television channels. I know, it’s a stretch to harken back that many decades into the presmarteverything era. It was a dark time.

Not.

It was a glorious time, the best ever!

We had FIVE channels to choose from on the television! Most people only had three. The three big C’s showed up on everyone’s TV (ABC, NBC, and CBS.) We enjoyed the thrill of two, yes two, Public Television stations. What a luxurious life we led when the parentals left us in control.

List of U.S. state foods

Once the tiny kids got snuggled safely  away and snoozing we could settle in and watch ANYTHING WE WANTED! And to make things even better we could have popcorn with extra butter! Yum!

The way we popped corn back in the olden days involved a saucepan and lid, vegetable oil and popcorn kernels. It’s still the best way ever to make popcorn, by the way. (That microwave crap will put you in an early grave, believe me.)

If you want to learn how to do this on your own check out this recipe or this website for great instructions. It’s not that tough and you’ll thank me for pointing you toward popcorn perfection.

So we popped our own popcorn all the time. No big deal. Mom and Dad simply wanted us to clean up our mess if we did that.

Mom always melted the butter in a one-cup metal measuring cup that looked like a miniature saucepan. We’d plop an extra dollop or two of butter in there when we were in charge. Being in a hurry, ie trying to get the popcorn popped and buttered during commercials meant we set burner for the butter on medium instead of low.

Here’s where two heads without a real leader went south that evening.

When we heard the commercials end and the show start again both of us left the kitchen and went downstairs. One of us sat on the second to the bottom step in a token, “yeah, yeah, I’m paying attention to what’s going on in the kitchen” gesture, while still being able to see and hear the television.

That gesture served only to alert that child to the presence of a burning smell in the kitchen. One of us screamed and the other came running. On the stove sat a flaming cup of butter. Big flames, one or two feet high it seemed. My brother, being older and generally the one to take action, grabbed a hot pad and gingerly took the flaming butter across the kitchen to the sink.

Nuclear weapons test in Nevada in 1953

Not the actual butter explosion…(Photo credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons )

Then he turned the water on to put the flames out.

Water and oil don’t mix. We all know that. Imagine what water and flaming oil does.

BOOM!

The room filled instantly with smoke. And when the smoke finally cleared, the burnt butter appeared splattered all over the kitchen ceiling.

I have no idea how the two of us didn’t get burned. Angels intervening perhaps, or chemistry and physics perhaps. We got lucky. I know that now.

We never went back downstairs to our television show because we spent the evening cleaning off the evidence of our disaster from the kitchen ceiling. If Dad and Mom found out, we’d catch heck and pay a heavy penalty.

As far as we know they never suspected we’d nearly burned up or exploded the kitchen. Phew!

Luckily both my brother and I live in different states from Dad and Mom so when they read this I think we’ll be in the clear.

At least, I hope so.

Categories: Family, Food, Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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