Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sunflower Oatmeal Bread

My husband loves sandwiches made on sunflower bread at a local diner. When we discovered the owner ships the bread all the way from New York to North Carolina (therefore justifying the extra charge for the sunflower sandwiches), I thought, “Couldn’t they just make their own, save shipping and serve fresher slices?” With only a little time online, I found a delicious recipe that might not be exactly like its New York counterpart, but this bread receives rave reviews at our house.

Here’s the recipe:
SUNFLOWER OATMEAL BREAD
1 1/4 C warm water
1 package dry yeast
pinch sugar
1 1/4 C warm buttermilk
1/4 Cup honey
2 T molasses
2 T melted butter
1 1/3 C whole-wheat flour
1 C regular rolled oats
3/4 C sunflower seeds
1 egg, beaten (and divided)
2 t salt
5 cups plain flour (approximately)

In a medium, non-metal mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let mixture stand for five to ten minutes while you mix together the buttermilk, honey, molasses, and butter. (When I warm the buttermilk in a two-cup measuring cup in the microwave, I add the butter to save a step. Then I add the honey and molasses.)

In another bowl,combine the whole-wheat flour, oats, seeds, and salt. Pour in about half of the egg. You’ll use the rest of the egg later.) Combine the buttermilk, yeast, and flour mixtures. Mix with an electric mixer at medium for three minutes.

Add several cups of the plain flour, and then move dough onto a floured work surface. Knead the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and elastic–about five minutes.

Cover the dough with a lint-free towel, and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours. Its size should have almost doubled.

Punch down the dough, shape into three equal, round loaves. Place loaves onto greased baking sheets. (I use baking stones.) Cover and let rise again for about thirty minutes. Brush the tops with the remaining egg.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty to thirty-five minutes. Cool on cooling racks before serving.

The whole process takes around three hours and uses several kitchen tools, but the bread is wonderful and worth all the bother. It’s not too sweet even with the honey and molasses, so it’s perfect for savory sandwiches. I like it toasted with peanut butter and blueberries for breakfast or with a smear of lemon ginger jam.

If you can’t use all the bread at once, freeze one or two loaves.

Try this bread. You’ll be happy you did!

 

Doing Hard Things

My husband and I met an acquaintance back in November who asked about our sons, sophomores in college. The man said his son had decided not to accept a scholarship to play baseball at a local college and was working in the family day care business.

Then he made a comment that has rankled me for several months now. He said, “He didn’t want to go, and I ain’t gonna make him.”

At the time, I just nodded. I didn’t know how to respond to such a stupid statement. Later I wondered how he would have responded if I’d said, “We had to make all four of ours go.”

Actually, we made ours go several times. Every time they came home during the first year especially, we’d have to encourage them to return. They didn’t exactly hate college, but college, of course, is hard. College classes are hard. Living with new people who have different ways of doing things, different belief systems, and different tastes is hard.

But isn’t it a parent’s job to help a child to do hard things? If children don’t learn to do difficult things while they’re growing up, how will they do hard things when they’re adults?

That comment has rolled around my brain since November and brought to mind many of the hard things I’ve pushed and pulled and prodded my children to do.

Every stinkin’ summer, I registered my children for two weeks of swimming lessons. Almost every day I’d make them climb into the pool. I’d steel myself against the boys’ yells echoing from the side, “Mommy, get me outta here. I’m fweezing!” Knowing how to swim is an important skill, right? So I gritted my teeth and ignored their pleas.

Although our four-year-old boys wanted to play soccer, when practice time came, reality set in. I’d hear from the back seat from one to the other, “Just foyce yourself not to cry.” They grew to love the sport and played through high school, becoming captains and winning coaches’ awards.

We moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina when our oldest daughter entered eighth grade. At the end of the year, none of her new friends planned to continue with band in high school. She would’ve participated in band in the old community, so I wanted her to give it a try at the new school. Her tears were almost my undoing, but we held firm with our insistence to participate for ninth grade. She discovered she liked it and continued through high school as did her siblings, learning to play more instruments and making friends in all grade levels.

Writing thank you notes, practicing piano, earning Eagle Scout rankings, or reading Jane Eyre wouldn’t have happened if not for a firm, parent’s nudge.

My children aren’t perfect by any means, but tough things don’t rattle them. They’ve learned to push through their fears so that they can enjoy the blessings on the other side.

Doing hard things is tough—but worthy—just like parenting.