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Potato Bread

Apr
28

Bread, bread, glorious bread!
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I used to make bread every day when I had three voracious teenagers at home. I still make bread several times a week. I’m spoiled to fresh bread and after a few days, leftover bread goes to the chickens. I’ve been enamored with bread and breadbaking since I was a little girl and taught to make it by my mother.
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And what’s not to love? I don’t think you can trust a person who doesn’t like bread!
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I get bored making “regular” bread, though, so I love variations, adding this or that just to make it different. One of my favorites is potato bread. Mashed potatoes (this is a great leftovers recipe!) makes a deliciously moist loaf (or rolls!) using my Grandmother Bread recipe.

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How to make Potato Bread:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup mashed potatoes*
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

*For the mashed potatoes, you can cook and mash plain potatoes, or use leftover mashed potatoes. If you use leftover mashed potatoes, you’ll be adding some milk, butter, and salt to the dough–which is extra delicious, but you will probably want to omit adding any further salt to make up for the salt that may be in your leftover potatoes.

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Add the mashed potatoes.
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Stir in the first cup of flour with a heavy spoon. Add more flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary with your mashed potatoes, which will slightly decrease the usual amount of flour. I just eyeball the one cup of mashed potatoes, without measuring. Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again. With floured hands, shape dough into a loaf (or a dozen dinner rolls) and place in a greased pan. Cover and let rise. (About an hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)

Bake a loaf for 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Rolls will need a slightly shorter baking time. Because of the potatoes in the loaf, be sure the loaf is well baked!
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See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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The Best of Biscuits

Apr
14

I’ve written about biscuits many times on this website. Biscuits are good people. Case in point, one of my favorites, Biscuits and Gravy.
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Or Sour Cream Raisin Biscuits.
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And don’t forget the Ultimate Cheddar Bay Biscuits. (My homemade take on the famous Red Lobster treats.)
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Of course, once you have a Homemade Biscuit Mix, the world is your biscuit. You could make Strawberries and Cream Coffee Cake.
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Or Fast Cinnamon Buns.
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Or just about anything else you can think of, or can find–on my all biscuits, all the time Biscuits Page.
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When I was growing up, Saturday mornings always meant biscuits with molasses. Homemade biscuits, of course. My mother was a biscuit maker. My biscuit mix is based on my mother’s biscuit recipe, which came from her mother before her.

In my Oklahoma grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen, there was a stand-alone cabinet with a big bin of flour over a sifter that was part of the cabinet. The flour bin held lots of flour, and even in Depression times, that was one thing farmers had in plenty. My grandfather would save wheat out of the harvest and take it to the mill to have it ground into flour. Because people were so poor, they would put it in printed materials instead of plain sacks.

In my mother’s words: “Sometimes Mama would go with Daddy to choose the prints and sometimes he’d do it himself. They were all so pretty, he couldn’t make a mistake. So Mama not only made the bread, but they grew the wheat for the flour and I had lots of pretty dresses to show for it. Mama would take me to town and we’d shop til I found a dress I liked, then we’d go home and Mama would cut out a pattern for it and make it.”

One of her fondest memories of her mother is of all those times she watched her work at that stand-alone kitchen cabinet making biscuits in the big wooden bread bowl that always stayed just below the sifter. When she was ready to make bread, she just turned the sifter handle and flour came down into the bowl.

“I can just see Mama making the biscuits, mixing mostly with her hands, then throwing a little flour on the dough board, cutting the biscuits out. When they were in the oven she pushed the mixing bowl back under the sifter and closed the door. Rarely did she wash the bowl so that the nest of flour was ready for the next time.”

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are the same–my mother making biscuits. She didn’t have a stand-alone cabinet with a built-in sifter and a bowl always at the ready, but she might as well have since she made biscuits on a regular basis. You could always count on them on Saturday mornings. She’d poke the small end of a spoon or knife into the soft, still-warm-from-the-oven biscuits then pour molasses in the hole and that’s how we’d eat them. We always brought molasses back whenever we went to West Virginia. I can’t remember a time in my life that we didn’t have West Virginia molasses in the house. How would we eat biscuits without that?

It’s amazing how many memories are built around food. Food is basic but deep, simple but evocative.

This morning, I had the easy but perfect sausage biscuit.
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And thought of my mother, my children, my past, my future. Because it’s all there. In a biscuit.

Better make you some. Get started here–the Biscuits Page.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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