Saturday, May 13, 2017

Amazing Moms and Bread

Some people accomplish amazing feats-- swallowing swords, hitting home-runs out of the ballpark, or performing brain surgery. As for me, I have two astonishing accomplishments under my belt.

My first feat was accidental. I once somersaulted down a flight of stairs while holding a tray of pizza. When I landed at the bottom of the steps, I was unhurt and unbelievably holding a tray that still had pizza on it.  It sounds impossible, but it happened; I even have a witness.

My second great achievement is more common but infinitely more amazing; I gave birth. Seven times I’ve been an integral part of the miracle of life, and the whole process reminds me of flip-flopping down those stairs. In the end, I had no idea how I made it through, but there I was holding a gift more precious than un-spilled pizza.

But my mother-in-law has given birth to 13 babies, potty-trained 13 toddlers, nursed 13 children through who knows how many sicknesses, and not once has she killed a mouthy teenager. I am in awe of her. 

You definitely won’t find me in the ranks of women groaning about stereotypical mothers-in-law. However, I admit that I used to question her ways.

For example, why in the world did she so often answer my questions with, “Let me think about that”? Why wouldn’t she just give the advice I needed already? But I’ve learned for myself (thanks to my own children asking thousands of questions a day) that a quick answer often causes more problems in the end. She was right; it is so much better to think things through first.

She’s wise, my mother-in-law, and her brand of wisdom is rare. Not only does she think before she speaks, but she also holds her tongue when necessary. I’m proud to have as a second mother such an amazing lady.


For Christmas, my mother-in-law typed up all of her favorite family recipes and put them in a cookbook for all of her children, so I had almost too many recipes to choose from for this week’s Mother’s Day column. But as I was flipping through the pages, a note at the bottom of one page caught my eye. It said, “This Bread Is Amazing!!” It seemed like the perfect fit for a column about an amazing woman.

Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar (or maple sugar)
1/2 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the boiling water, oats, maple sugar, maple syrup, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead about 10 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes by machine, until the dough is smooth and satiny. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let dough rise for 1 hour. Dough should be doubled.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in 2 greased bread pans. Cover pans with lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow loaves to rise until they’ve crowned about 1 inch over rim of pan-- about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350℉. Bake loaves for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven when they are golden brown and interior registers 190℉ on an instant read thermometer. Drop out of pans and cool on wire rack. 

**This column ran in The Hancock News on May 10, 2017.
***This post has been shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth:The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

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