Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bread Making Woman

Tonight we teaching the young women from church how to make bread. I am making both my Grandmother's White Farm Bread and my mother in law's honey whole wheat bread. I already have the white dough made and we will just be baking that with the girls. We will help them to make the whole wheat dough and get it all baked and ready to eat in the hour we have with them. In all we should have about 13 loaves when we done. It should be yummy. 

Since I have spent time this morning making my grandmother's bread, I thought I would share a bit about her and some of the lessons she taught me. My grandmother (yes this is the one who bit my mother-in-law the first time they met) was an amazing woman. 
Grandma Mary Ann Harris, age 98 with great grand daughter Sabrina, age 7 months.
She grew up in Malad, Idaho. She lived in that area the majority of her life. She went to college and then got married to my grandfather and they started a family. They lived a farm life. Grandma told me she made 14 loaves of bread and 2 tins of biscuits everyday for the men to eat in their noon meal. 

I loved going to visit Grandma on the farm when I was little. Grandma would put an apron on me and put me to work in the kitchen with her. When that became boring she would send me "fishing" in a bucket she would fill with water and weeds. My fishing pole was a stick with a string and a paper clip at the end. Honestly, I LOVED this kind of fishing. I would sit for hours trying to fish the weeds out of the bucket.

I remember once I complained that I was bored and that grandma had no toys at her house. Grandma took me into her room to her little sewing desk. She took some extra fabric and cut out two identical pieces in the shape of a person. She stuffed it with stuffing she had on hand and sewed it up. I think it took her about 15 minutes. She handed me my "doll" and told me to go play. I was amazed at her and have treasured that doll above any other I ever received. 

Grandma was not a hugger and she didn't ever say she loved you. She showed her love through work. I remember one night on the farm I was hungry. It was late. She asked what I wanted. I told her scones. She had no dough to fry for me. My parents told her to ignore my request and even I thought it doubtful I would get it. But grandma didn't even think twice. In minutes she whipped up some bread dough and heated the grease for frying. 

It seemed a lot of work to do for one little girls whim. When she was frying the scones she accidently spilled the hot grease all over one of her hands. She had second and third degree burns to her whole hand. I felt terrible that I had asked her to make me scones so late at night. But grandma never let me feel guilty about it. She treated this severe injury as but a bump in her road. It took months to completely heal. The way she handled the injury and treated me afterward were proof to me of the depth of her love for me. To my child mind, she loved me enough to go through that pain for me.
Grandma lived a very long life. She had 4 girls and then had her first son, my dad. 10 years later she had her final child, a boy. She died at 99. When she was 98 she lived with Jon and I for a little while. We had just had Sabrina about 7 months earlier. By this time, Grandma had fairly severe dementia. But she LOVED Sabrina. She would sit with the baby and give me parenting advice. I started writing it down. Here are a few gems of wisdom she shared:
"Teach her right and wrong and the rest of her life you'll cooperate."

"You make her clothes and treat her like a little girl growing up and she'll never forget you and your way will be her way."

"You choose her friends for her, but don't let her know you are doing it. Start when she is little and you have those kids over to supper who you like."
I often think about Grandma Harris and wish I had her energy. Even at 98 she was working, folding laundry and helping out in any way we would let her. There is so much I admire about this bread making woman.

Here are the recipe's for the bread we are making tonight. 

Grandma Harris White Bread

Description: The famous Grandma Harris farm bread.

Ingredients: Mix together

1 cup warm water

3 T yeast

3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

Lard the size of an egg (egg sized dollop of Crisco)

4 cups warm water

1 dessert spoon (2 T) salt

8 cups flour or enough to clean the bowl so the dough doesn't stick to it. 

Directions: Knead it for 10 minutes then form into loaves and let it raise till doubled.  Bake 30 mins at 375 degrees

Number Of Servings: about 3 loaves

Preparation Time: 1 hour


Whole Wheat Bread


7 cups warm water

¾ cup honey or sugar

4 t salt

½ cup veggie oil

7 cups whole wheat flour

Mix above for 30 seconds. Then add

4 T Instant yeast

9 – 11 cups whole wheat flour till dough leaves side of mixer and is not so sticky. Do this within about 4 minutes.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes by hand or according to mixer directions (4 mins.) Form into about 7 equal loafs. Spray bread pans well with PAM. Put loaves in pans and let rise till about doubled (20 minutes in a warm room) Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Crust should be nicely browned.


Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

t = teaspoon

T= Tablespoon