Saturday, February 28, 2015

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Bread Recipe

Way back in 1968, our little 4 room school house grew so big that we needed to move the 7th and 8th grade classes to the church basement.   We we privileged to have an amazing teacher that felt we needed to raise money for the school and at the same time, grow proficient in baking bread.  With those two goals in mind, she had us bake bread to sell.  Thus began my love of baking bread.  There have been few weeks in these 47 years of bread baking, when my hands have not kneaded bread dough !  No matter how many new recipes I try, I come back to two.  One is this Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin bread that I came up with many years ago.  Its a combination of two recipes we used way back in that church basement kitchen.  And the other, is a delightfully simple Amish White Bread recipe that is delicious and yet so very simple. 
I know lots of folks love their bread machines, but not me.  Don't own one and don't want one.   I like how it keeps my hands strong and I long ago adopted the habit of praying for my children the entire kneading process and that has proved to be of great value through the years.
Here is the recipe.  Makes two loaves.
Mrs Lockwood's Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Bread
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
4 T honey
put these ingredients together in a bowl and let set until bubbly

add to that 
4 T oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup raisins
1 cup white flour
1 cup oatmeal  ( I use quick oats but old fashioned oats work fine too)
5 cups give or take of whole wheat flour, added a cup at a time, to make sure you get the right amount.
I usually save 1 cup of flour to be added as I knead the bread, added as needed on the counter to keep the bread dough from sticking.   
Knead about 5 minutes or until you are done praying for your family.
Shape into a round ball and put in lightly greased bowl to raise, cover with clean damp cloth and let raise until double in size, about half an hour

preheat oven to 350 F punch down dough, let it rest for a few minutes, usually this is done while I grease the bread pans.   Shape into loaves and put in pans, let raise another half hour or so and then bake for 45-50 minutes until browned nicely.  Thump to test that its done.   Butter the tops when you take it out of the oven cool 5 minutes before removing from the pans and you are done !

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tracks In The Snow

A bit of afternoon exploring in the snow led me to several tracks in the snow...ducks, rabbits, squirrels and human.   What a fun wintry day I have had.   Now, its time to sit by the fire, next to my beloved, sip hot chamomile tea and enjoy the quiet of the evening

Hot Chocolate, Marshmallows, Knitting and Dutch Apple Pancakes

Sitting by the window, watching the snow fall once again, made me wonder about our decision to plant the garden a couple of weeks ago, but then I remind myself that we planted only the seeds we know can handle this type of late winter weather.  The stove feels good and my feet, clothed only in woolen socks, are toasty warm as they rest on the brick hearth as my knitting needles fly and the candle in the window flickers.  I don't need the candle for light, but just for its simple beauty on this cold wintry day.  How glad I will be to hear that all my children and grandchildren are snuggled in their homes.  One more to be retrieved from school and then all will be safe from the slick roads.   We have watched more than one tow truck pass by the house with a smashed car on it.  
Emery is busy putting up a shelf in the kitchen for me to store some of my canned goods on while I knit and will later get a bit of sewing done.   I passed by the spring fabric sitting by my machine that I purchased for spring and summer skits...seems almost silly to sew on them today, so I may just work on a quilt I have started.  Today, spring and summer feel far away.  Our wind chill is in the low teens and our actual temperature is 23F which isn't very cold compared to other places in the world, but it wasn't that long ago, just over a week, that we had temps in the low 80's F .  I like this weather, this winter cold and snow.  I always think God gives it to me as a gift, since I love it so dearly.  A Fathers tender gift to his often times rebellious child, but His child that loves Him with all her heart and soul.
The kittens are curled up in one singular ball of red fur, content to sleep most of the day away, well, that is until that time when they decide to run in circles, climb on everything and wear themselves out once again.   Such is this fine winter day on our little homestead.

Winter Beauty

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snowmen
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.
~Ogden Nash

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tasha Tudor On Snow

Quotes by Tasha Tudor 

Thoughts On Being A Home Body

Great white flakes of snow are falling once again, slowing falling from Heaven with an unspeakable grace.  Each flake seems to have its own definite purpose, passing other flakes or momentarily suspended, as if to wait its turn to land.  I just saw one flake that was at least an inch in diameter !   When the wind decides to blow, the flakes just take a sideways approach to their landing.  Since I am a "home body"  I have the joy in just standing by the window for as long as I want, just watching these miraculous crystals fall from heaven.  Yes, I know that snow can be problematic, I grew up in New England and have family there so I know all about what happens when snow falls in excess, but for me, right now, its just pure beauty falling from the gray sky.   Mornings like this drive me to seek poetry, not the deep minded stuff, that you have to try to dissect line by line in hope to get a glimpse of what the poet meant when he penned his words, but the poetry of simple folks that weave words in beautiful colors of the ordinary in life.   This morning, I pulled out my well worn copy of "My Kitchen Window" by Edna Jaques.    I love her poems, they so often say exactly what my heart feels.  I think she would have been a "kindred spirit" as Anne of Green Gables spoke of.   This well worn book of poems, first published in 1935, but in its fifth printing in my 1942 edition,  was dearly loved by its previous owner, Gertrude Howard.  There are well worn pages, and page corners turned for the favorites.   I suspect, I would have liked this previous owner.
The snow, now accomplishing the joint goal of each flake, to blanket this tired, worn land in a soft purity, that chases away so much that wears us down.  Snow is a gift of purity for a moment in time at least.  That hushed silence that comes with it, a break from all the noise of life.  It gives us the opportunity to breathe in deeply that magical scent of cold winter air, that reminds us of childhood memories filled with snowball fights, sled rides and snowmen. How is it we so easily forget the joy of the simple when we grow older ? 
I am heading out for my walk among the flakes.  I may just stick out my tongue and catch a few, and laugh at myself for doing so.  I am a home body, so I will just stick to my own land. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow is softly falling

This morning huge snowflakes feel softly as we started our day.  Snow in this part of Texas is always a big deal, we only get one or two snowfalls a year and last year we had no snow in our area.  The birds were flocking to the feeders by the window.  Hungry from trying to stay warm.   I got the fire going in the stove and then hurried outside to soak in the wonder of the snow.  The air felt and smelled like so many of my childhood memories of winter in Massachusetts.  I love that hushed silence that arrives with snow.  It feels like a holy moment.  I whispered a prayer of gratitude for all that is good in my life, including the joy of this snowfall. My boots creating that crunching sound in the snow.  Edgar, our resident crow, hopping from tree to tree, following me, looking puzzled with my interest in the snow.  Finally he "caw cawed" right at me and went to his feeder for breakfast.   The duck, let out of their house, run out and just as fast, run back into their house.  Snow is not for them !
The sun is now out and its warmer up a bit so the snow will soon be gone, but memories were made and I soaked in all the beauty of the February snowfall.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow On The Way

Last week I finished a Barn Bonnet to go with my red shawl that I made recently.  With the warm temperatures we were having, I assumed this barn bonnet would be put in the cedar chest until next years winter, but low and behold, winter has returned and how thankful I am for this warm wool bonnet !  Tomorrow we are due for a snow storm, anything over 1/2 inch in this part of Texas is paralyzing !  I have made several of these Barn Bonnets but when someone tells me they love it, or wish they had one, I seem to just take it off my head and give it to them, but this one I plan on keeping since it matches my Tasha Tudor shawl I made. 
Other posts about Barn Bonnets can be found at   2007 Barn Bonnet and 2011 Barn Bonnet

Wooden Spoons etc

Our friend that makes the wonderful wooden spoons has a Facebook Page where you can see what he has for sale   GLS Woodworking   please visit his page and check out the wonderful items he makes

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice Storm

The ice pellets came in the dark of the night, tiny ping pong balls hitting the metal roof of the porch, and covering the ground in white, like snow, but just ice.  The morning arrived with frigid temperatures and the sound of car wheels spinning out at the corner of our road.  How thankful I am that we had no place we had to go.  Chores done with care and loads of wood hauled into the house, that would provide us with cozy warmth for the day.   The bird feeders have been a hub of activity.  Hungry birds needing food to keep warm.  Many of them arriving with ice on their tails.  The garden covered with a white blanket, "poor mans fertilizer" as it is often said of these late winter storms. Lets hope it is.  Warm winter tights, flannel skirt, wool knee socks and my new barn bonnet kept me warm while outside doing chores, my long wool shawl wrapped around my shoulders keeping me wrapped in comfort. I looked like someone from a century ago.  Perhaps that's where my thoughts keep me.  A century behind the present times.  Embracing the simplicity of those days, yet, embracing the good things from this age.  Each step I took, my eyes viewed another scene that looked like a painting to me, beauty in the way the ice clung to a branch or hung like a crystal off a baby leaf.   Coming back into the house, the sound of the tea kettle, spitting and singing of greeted me, ready to be turned into a hot cup of tea. Hat, gloves and winter shawl, tossed on the kitchen chair, boots by the stove.  Time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Beautiful Craftsmanship

A friend of ours stopped by our house for a visit yesterday and brought some of his wooden spoons and knives that he has been making.  They are unbelievably beautiful and the craftsmanship is superb.   Gary was raised Amish and you can tell by the care and detail in his work.  Each piece is truly a work of art.  The spoons are made of mesquite, black walnut (our neighbors tree) and maple.  The mesquite knives are able to cut steak !  I tried them.  These spoons,spatulas etc are sanded so fine, you find yourself just touching them.   He sells them for a mere $15 a utensil.  If anyone is interested in purchasing some, let me know in the comment section and I will get you in contact with him.   They are spoons to last a life time.  As you may have noticed, I think they are well worth the investment.  

See Saw Weather

Today is spring, but tomorrow will be ice and snow !

A New Year

It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...