Updated: Mar 20
I recently had the opportunity to care for my aging parents. This blessing has allowed me to re-connect with my roots.
Enjoying meals together has always been a priority in my family, and I have strived to continue this priceless tradition within my own home. Knowing that I will be serving a meal to join the family for fellowship helps me be more intentional with both meal planning and preparation. No food fads required!
While some people prefer to eat a very limited diet and rotate the same meals week in and week out – meatless Monday, fish Friday, Sunday roast, etc. – I like to mix things up! I am definitely not a Cheerios-for-breakfast-every-morning kind of person.
I have a deep love for food and nutrition. It is not uncommon for me to voyeur Pinterest, flip through the pages of the many cookbooks in my collection, and, lately, even go so far as to dig deep into my mother’s recipe box for inspiration and ideas.
I rarely abide by a recipe; it is more of a baseline idea. However, while inspecting the hundreds of handwritten recipe cards and notes within my mother’s archives, I was inspired by the legacy and community of my ancestors.
Before Julia Child, Betty Crocker, and even Martha Stewart, there were our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Granted, there are males in my family that know their way around the kitchen, but the majority of the history lies with the women.
It was the women who took the time to handwrite recipe cards, even documenting the men’s “secret” recipes. Although many are memorized, I only have one hardcopy recipe written in my mother’s hand. It is faded and stained (evidence of being well-loved)! That recipe, although I have adapted it over time, connects me with my mom (and her mom).
My parent’s generation is soon coming to an end. The responsibility to continue family traditions and legacy for future generations now fall on us and our children. Remember, you learned your diet lifestyle habits from the example of your parents. Your children and their children are learning from your example now. Gather around the supper table, and enjoy the fellowship and connection.
What do you do if you don’t have a family recipe box? Start your own. Town & Country Market has an excellent recipe database. Often their featured recipes can be sampled. They focus on premiering seasonal ingredients and items that are special. Build your own binder with your favorites.
Give those recipes a personal touch by handwriting notes on them. Personalization is the key to adding sentimental value. I have seen far too many “family cookbooks” that are filled with recipes off of soup cans. I know you can do better!
Here is an heirloom recipe for bread. My grandmother learned to make this as a child. I have made this twice during my stay with my parents, and it is easy to make, delicious, and keeps well. It is great for sandwiches and toast. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Caterina’s Weekly Loaf
Makes 2 loaves
1 cup of lukewarm water
3 teaspoons of yeast
¼ cup of honey
2 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ½ cups of unbleached White Flour
1 cup of Rye Flour
1 cup of Whole Wheat Flour
Combine water, yeast, and honey in a large bowl. Allow the yeast to “proof” - it will get foamy.
Add the White Flour and mix thoroughly. Add the egg, butter, and salt. Continue to mix.
Add the Rye Flour and mix. Add the Wheat Flour. At this point, you will turn the dough out onto the counter and start kneading to combine the flour. Knead by hand for ten minutes,... it's a good arm workout!
Hint: I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook. Once everything is combined, I continue to knead for a good five minutes with the mixer.
Place the dough in a large buttered bowl and cover with a damp towel. I like to let my bread dough rise in the oven. Make sure the oven is off!
Let it rise until it’s doubled. This will take about an hour. At this point, you can turn it out onto the counter and knead for a few minutes. It’s ok to use a small amount of flour to keep it from sticking, although I haven’t had to do this.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the dough into two halves. Form an oblong loaf with each piece and place it on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover it with the damp towel and let it rise on the counter for another thirty to forty minutes or until doubled.
Bake for twenty-five minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when thumped with your fingers. Brush with melted butter. Cool on a wire rack.
I suggest cutting into one loaf while it is still warm from the oven, and top it with butter and homemade jam.