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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:
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!



Christmas Cookie

For the past six days or so I’ve been trying to catch up with my baking. I’ve baked thirteen different kind of cookies–two are double batches, too. Here’s one of my favorite recipes. It’s one of the most involved recipes I make because it involves grating fresh ginger and chopping crystallized ginger, but the cookies are worth all the work. Enjoy!

Spicy Ginger Cookies
2 2/3 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking soda
2 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 ground allspice
1 C packed brown sugar
3/4 c softened butter
2 eggs
1 T honey
2 t grated ginger root
2 T finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 C sugar

Stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and allspice in bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add molasses, eggs, honey, and ginger root. Beat until well mixed. Add flour mixture at low speed until well mixed. Stir in crystallized ginger. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar and place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until puffed and centers just begin to set. Don’t over bake.

Makes about 60 cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Recipe for a Care Package

My mother-in-law used to say a parent is a parent “from the womb to the tomb.” I’ve had time to contemplate those words as my house is changing into an empty nest. I’m still a mother, but now I’m mothering from a distance most days.

This past week I’ve heard, “Please pray for boxing.,” “I can’t figure out if I should…,(fill in the blank),”Please pray for a friend,” “Please read over my essay. It’s due Friday,” “The banana bread was delicious. Please send more.”

So. I haven’t lost my job. It’s just changing. Moving forward. A good thing.

Here’s a recipe that leaves my crowd begging for more.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas , mashed                                  2 cups all purpose flour
*1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce               1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar                                                        1 teaspoon dissolved in 4-5 tablespoons boiling water
2 eggs, slightly beaten                                       3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Combine bananas, applesauce, and sugar thoroughly. Add eggs, lemon juice, soda and water, chocolate chips, and flour. Stir only until blended. Pour batter into a **bread pan lined with sprayed, wax paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed.

*A full fat recipe would call for 1/2 cup butter.
**I use four mini loaf pans so that I can mail separate breads to different colleges!

Recipe for a Last Supper

Tomorrow we leave for West Point.

If everything goes as planned, Quinn won’t be back home until Thanksgiving. For the past two weeks, I’ve been cooking his favorite meals and desserts. He asked for pesto twice, so I thought I’d share my recipe today.

2 cups packed fresh, washed and dried, basil leaves
¼ cup pecans *
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
¾ parmesan cheese
olive oil**

Puree the first four ingredients in a food processor using the steel blade. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the top or the feed tube. Process until mixture is combined.

Enjoy with pasta or spread on crusty bread. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator or freeze.

*The original recipe calls for pine nuts, but they are expensive–even in whole food stores or in the strip district of Pittsburgh. I always have pecans in my freezer and use them because my family doesn’t taste a difference. I’ve also seen recipes using walnuts. Experiment.

**The original recipe calls for ½ cup of olive oil. I can’t bring myself to use that much, so I drizzle the oil in the mixture until all the ingredients bind together in a paste.

This is a quick recipe (except for picking and washing the basil) and good for hot summer nights. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

He’s had his favorite meals, broken in his new boots, and packed his bag. We’re ready for the new chapter God’s written for us.

Go Army! Sink Navy!