Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homemade Bread

The past several days here have been bitterly cold, snow on the ground and frost on every tree.  It makes for beautiful mornings and great days for baking, sewing, plotting out our spring gardens........countless things!  Yesterday we made our usual bread for the week and I finally had the time to take pictures of the process to share it with you.  This recipe is an old Amish recipe that I got directly from an Amish bishop here in our neck of the woods.  For some reason, his still tastes better than mine, but its still the best bread I've ever made.  He hand grinds his wheat, which I am not able to do until we get our mill.....if you're reading this spring would be nice!  Other than that, I make it the same way he does.
Gather your ingredients...

As you can see, I have been using my bread maker for mixing the dough.  I used to mix it by hand, but my hands don't take kindly to mixing bread dough with a skinny handled wooden spoon.  (Another thing for the wish list....a BIG handled wooden spoon.)  This recipe is one that was taught to me by one of our Amish Bishop neighbors, except he makes it by hand (not a breadmaker obviously).  It is supposed to make about 7 loaves of bread, but since this entire recipe will not fit into the bread maker, I do it in halves for the mixing part.


  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 handful of salt (my handful isn't as big as his so I use about 4 tsp and its good)
  • 2 packages of yeast (or 2 Teaspoons but note the picture with the size of the teaspoon)
  • 3/4 cup lard (we use pig lard but you can also use oil or shortening)
  • 2 quarts of warm water
  • 3 cups whole wheat
You will add more flour as you go until it isn't sticky, about 3 more cups or so, you have to just figure as you go.

Now the smaller spoon pictured here is a regular table spoon, the larger spoon is the one we use for measuring the yeast.  You don't need a large serving spoon, just something in between a serving spoon and a regular spoon.  

I put the ingredients into the bread maker in the order of the liquids first and then the dry ingredients, yeast last on top.  Make an indention in the top of the flour, big enough to contain your yeast.  I don't know if this is necessary, it's just a habit I have.

If you decide to use a bread maker for half of this recipe at a time like I do, just set your bread maker on the dough cycle, otherwise mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, continuing to add flour until the dough isn't sticky and then knead it.  

I usually leave the lid to the bread maker open during this first mixing part to add flour about a half a cup at a time.  These next few pictures are a bit fuzzy due to the mixing of the machine, please excuse that.  you can see in the first picture that it is still runny so I'm adding more flour.

Here you can see the dough beginning to form and pull away from the bowl, I'm still adding a half cup of flour at a time.  It mixes in pretty quickly.

Here the dough has formed a firm ball and has pulled away from the edges.  It is still a bit too sticky, but I go ahead and turn it into a bowl.

This dough is still too sticky, I can really tell now that it's in the bowl.

This time I add just one more half cup of flour, knead it slightly and the dough transforms into...

 I let the dough rise for about an hour or so in front of the fireplace with a dish towel over it.  It should almost double in size.  At that time, I'll punch it down and then let it rise again for another hour or so.

Now the dough gets turned out onto the counter and divided, placed into greased bread pans and let rise one more time.  Only let it rise till it is barely over the bread pans, otherwise you might get too much air in your bread.  I know some people poke holes in the tops of the dough to release the air before this rising step, I don't bother with that.

 Bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour or so.

This batch isn't the prettiest batch I've ever made, but it is soft, hearty and delicious with soft crusts even without buttering the tops!  It's delicious smothered in homemade butter straight from the cow!

I've tried to explain my process in detail, but when you do something so often, you tend to forget little things others may need to know.  If I have done that, please let me know and I'll gladly fill in anything I've left out :o)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


J.R. Miller has beautifully portrayed a Godly marriage in his wonderful writings.  Some of which I would like to share with may find this particular writing in full by following the link below.

One of the first essential elements in a wife is faithfulness, in the largest sense.  

The heart of her husband does safely trust in her. 

Perfect confidence is the basis of all true affection. 

A shadow of doubt destroys the peace of married life. 

A true wife by her character and by her conduct proves herself worthy of her husband's trust. 

He has confidence in her affection; he knows that her heart is unalterably true to him. 

He has confidence in her management; he confides to her the care of his household. 

He knows that she is true to all his interests that she is prudent and wise, not wasteful nor extravagant. 

It is one of the essential things in a true wife that her husband shall be able to leave in her hands the management of all domestic affairs, and know that they are safe. 

Wifely thriftlessness and extravagance have destroyed the happiness of many a household and wrecked many a home. On the other hand, many a man owes his prosperity to his wife's prudence and her wise administration of household affairs.

A true wife makes a man's life nobler, stronger, grander, by the omnipotence of her love, turning all the forces of manhood upward and heavenward. 

While she clings to him in holy confidence and loving dependence she brings out in him whatever is noblest and richest in his being. 

She inspires him with courage and earnestness. 

She beautifies his life. 

She softens whatever is rude and harsh in his habits or his spirit. 

She clothes him with the gentler graces of refined and cultured manhood. 

While she yields to him and never disregards his lightest wish, she is really his queen, ruling his whole life and leading him onward and upward in every proper path.


by J.R. Miller

I just recently discovered this writing and will be printing it out to keep in front of me as a reminder along with my Proverbs 31 study.  What a beautifully strong and fearsome creature a true wife is, as we keep our eyes on this goal, praying for strength, through Christ, as we journey through each day, each incident, each challenge, allowing ourselves room to stumble, but never taking our eyes off of the goal.  We do this to honor our husbands and our families, but most of all, to honor God.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Raising a Maiden of Virtue / Being a Godly Woman

 There are so many paths I could take with this issue, but what has recently been on my heart is the behavior of a Godly woman.  What does the demeanor, attitude and behavior of a Godly woman look like?  In being a keeper of the home and raising our daughter to be a keeper of the home, this issue has come before me time and time again and it is something I cannot ignore.  So how are we supposed to act?

Our daughters reflect who we are.  If my daughter displays a behavior that doesn't seem quite right, I usually don't have far to look in order to find where she learned it.  Nothing besides the good Lord and His Word, has had more influence on who I am today as that single fact has.  So when it comes to my attention that our daughter is not displaying the proper character qualities of a Godly young woman, it is usually because I am not demonstrating it.  I never have to look very far, lol.  Even so, it is a wake up call for me.

When I need to learn something, I search high and low for the information.  I was thrilled to find some solid, biblical teaching with two different books....'Raising Maidens of Virtue' by Stacy McDonald' and 'So Much More' by Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin.  I highly recommend both of them to anyone raising daughters.  Also, there is a great CD called 'What's A Girl to Do' How to Wisely Invest Your Daughter's Time by Douglas Phillips.  These are excellent resources!

One thing I have learned, (which should be common sense, but usually I have to have things spelled out for me), is that our actions are simply a reflection of our heart and spirit.  If we have a rebellious and discontent spirit, it will be obvious in our behavior, our carriage and our speech.  A boisterous, tomboyish, masculine spirit will also come out in many ways for everyone to see.  Is this the picture of a Godly woman?

In Psalms we find some answers...  "....that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.." Psalm 144:12  Our daughters are to be beautifying, supportive, and hospitable within her father's palace and outside her walls, she is to be an ambassador, representative, and .....'as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man'...Psalm 127:5.  Of course as wives, we are to be this for our husbands.  Through our behavior, carriage and demeanor, we should not leave any doubt to anyone that we are submitted to our father or husbands protection, the daughters of a king, a princess worthy of honor.

I can tell you right now, that this does not describe me at all.  I am Irish.  I am head strong, strong willed, loud boisterous and at times I'm sure I can be undignified.  I can be too casual, too bold, too strong, you get the picture?  I used to buy the whole feminism lie, lock stock and barrel.  It drove me into the ground.  God created women to be women!  Not men!  Yes there are many similarities, but HUGE differences!  Once I learned this little fact, I have found that I love being a woman.  I love being a keeper of the home.  I love having the protection of my husband.  Why did I waste so much time of my life trying to prove that I was who the world said they wanted me to be only to find out it was never good enough and that no one really cared anyway?  God cared, because when I had finally reached the end of me......I found Him.  He was waiting for me all along.  So now, I am relearning how to be a woman as God created me.

So here is the question again.  How are we supposed to act?  Over and over again I keep coming across this picture of a Godly woman.  She radiates dignity, regal serenity, respectfulness, grace, a gentle and quiet voice, poise, discretion, self-command, sincerity, peace, compassion, cheerfulness and humility.  She stands out as a woman of quality.  She displays the magnitude of God's grace by showing how our crude, unrefined behavior becomes gentle and quiet.  This is my goal, by the grace of God.

These qualities are a lot to grasp, so I looked each one of them up in the dictionary and here is how they are described:

Dignity:  The quality or condition of being esteemed, honored, or worthy.  Self-esteem, poise.  Stately reserve in appearance and demeanor.  The respect and honor associated with an important position.

Regal:  Relating to a monarch: royal.  Of great magnificence.
Serenity:  Peaceful, tranquil.

Respectfulness:  To feel or show regard (esteem) for  Willingness to show consideration or appreciation.  Polite expressions of consideration.

Grace:  Apparently effortless charm or beauty of movement, form, or proportion.  A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.  A disposition to be generous or helpful (good will).

A gentle and quite voice:    I think this is self explanatory.

Poise:  To hold or carry in balance.  To be balanced or held stable.  Not awkward or embarrassed.

Discretion:  Having or displaying a judicious reserve in one's speech or conduct.  Prudent.  Lacking pretension or ostentation...modest.  The quality of being discreet.

Self-Command:  Self-control.  Control one's feelings, desires, or actions by one's own will.

Sincerity:  Presenting no false appearance;  honest.  Pure.

Peace:  Freedom from quarrels or disagreements.  Inner contentment:  serenity.  Free from strife.  To be silent.

Compassion:  Sympathetic concern for the suffering of another, together with the inclination to give aid or support or to show mercy.

Cheerfulness:  JOY  Being in good spirits: happy.  Exhibiting good spirits.  Producing good spirits.  Willing:  good-humored.

Humility:  The quality or condition of being humble.  Characterized by modesty or or meekness in behavior, attitude, or spirit.  Exhibiting submissive respect.

Meekness:  Exhibiting humility and patience:  gentle.

Can you  picture your daughter radiating these qualities?  To picture our daughter exhibiting these qualities brings a smile to face and a warming of my heart.  How can I teach these qualities to her?  By demonstrating them myself.  My daughter and I have compiled a list of these qualities with their descriptions and have began to direct our hearts in this manner.  It is not an easy process, but I have faith that we will succeed.  God has turned our faces and our hearts to this matter, which I have found is a direct indication that He means for me to get to work on it. :o)  I am but a servant, but I rock the hand of the cradle of the future.  God has given me a very small window of time to write His laws on our daughter's heart and it must be done with purpose, diligently.  God sets nothing before us that He will not strengthen us for nor forsake us as we journey through it.  So I am absolutely convinced that these Godly character qualities can be achieved!.....Pray for me!
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