Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thin Walls

Joe and I were married five days after he graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in May of 1974. Following a honeymoon, we stayed with his parents until Joe’s assignment to his first church. Actually, we had three churches and split up meeting times between two of them...and meeting every Sunday at the main church on the circuit.

Most United Methodist ministers live in parsonages, which are homes a church provides for the pastor’s family. Our very first home was an apartment inside the church building. We literally lived in the church.

It wasn’t a bad deal when I was running late for service. I’d just run through from the bedroom, through the dining room, kitchen, and laundry room - make a left turn and walk through a door into the sanctuary.

Really convenient. Except when you needed to do laundry on Wednesday night during prayer meeting. That spin cycle was a doozy! And loud. When it would start the spin cycle, the washer would creep out to the middle of the laundry room floor. (Good thing there were long hoses from the wall...) Joe and I would take turns running out and jumping on the washer to hold it in place till the spin cycle was done.

Another interesting thing about living in this church is that the bathroom and guest room were located just behind the chancel area. One Sunday I stayed home because of a stomach virus. Folks called all afternoon, checking on me. I asked how they knew I was sick and they’d all say the same thing, “We heard you!” Guess you shouldn’t flush that commode during worship.

While sitting in the choir one morning, I heard commotion coming from the guest room. I slipped out during the Pastor’s Morning Prayer. Our cat (I wasn’t allergic way back then) was having a party on the top bunk with my sewing patterns! Confetti! Spaghetti! It was a mess, but he was having the time of his life! I picked him up by the scruff of his neck and spanked him. “I’m gonna KILL you, you stupid cat!!!!!!” I’m a loud person. I said that with great emotion and great volume.

After a good cat-scolding, I slipped back into the sanctuary during the offertory. Von Fletcher leaned over and asked, “Did ya kill him?” You could tell by looking out at the congregation that everyone heard me. My hard-of-hearing husband thought he’d been healed because even HE could hear me!

This is just one of many moments when our church members found out that the preacher’s wife was weird.

I still am.
But I’m happy!

Remember, if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sourdough Bread - Part Two

If you haven’t read my last blog posting, stop here...go back and read it because it’s important for you to understand my excitement! It worked! The moonshine. The yeast. It worked!

So, as promised, I’m giving you the recipes for Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread. The recipes were given to me in 1986 when I spoke at a UMW meeting for Apison United Methodist Church (which my husband now has as one of his 68 churches in the Cleveland District). Debbie Rockholt is the girl that shared these recipes with me...but my ‘starter’ came from another source. And my original starter was given to me 29 years ago. (again, read the previous blog so you'll know the significance of that)

Instead of getting one cup of Starter from a can start from scratch, Debbie’s recipe for Starter is as follows:
3 packages yeast
1/2 cup very warm water (not boiling, or you’ll kill the yeast)

Once that is dissolved, stir the following ingredients into the yeast mixture:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons instant potato flakes

Leave out overnight in lightly covered bowl. Then pour into a quart glass jar with wax paper lid. Refrigerate 3 to 5 days before feeding again to make your first batch of bread.
This is the original starter for first time use only. After that, follow the sugar/warm water/potato flakes instructions...and refrigerate remaining Starter.

When ready to make bread, feed your starter, stir well, then let stand for 8 hours or overnight.

Sourdough Bread
In a large bowl, make a stiff batter of the following:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn oil
1 cup Starter
1 Tbsp. salt
6 cups Bread Flour (not all-purpose or self-rising)

Grease another large bowl. Put dough in and turn it over so that the oily side is up. Cover and let stand 8 to 12 hours. Then punch down the dough and knead. Divide into 3 equal parts and knead each part a bit more before placing in bread pans. Brush dough with oil (I spray the dough with Pam). Cover and let rise 4 to 5 hours...all day is okay, too.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove and brush with butter. Cool on rack before wrapping. Bread should be stored in fridge if not eating right away. This bread also freezes well.

If you want to make a pan of rolls, just bake them about 10 to 12 minutes.
Pizza crust? Easy. Roll out dough (1/3 of your stiff batter) and put on pizza pan. Allow to rise for an hour or two, then put toppings on and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Get creative! You can make Pepperoni-Mozzarella Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls, Garlic Cheese Rolls, and lots of other yummy things. Just use your imagination!

Who knew that cleaning out my cupboards and finding a pint of moonshine would lead to me starting to make sourdough bread again after all these years!

And just so you know...a church member gave us the moonshine.

Remember, if you have a pulse, you have a purpose…so make your life count!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sourdough Bread

Just the mention of Sourdough Bread conjures up memories that take me back to 1986 when I began to make it for our little family. Hannah Beth was six months old when I got the ‘starter’ for the yummy bread. Wish I could remember for sure, but it came from either my friend, Ninkey McCarty, or from my mother-in-law. Either way, for all these years, I’ve kept Sourdough Starter in my refrigerator.

You’re supposed to ‘feed’ the starter every week, then use one cup of it to make a batch of bread and refrigerate the rest. The ‘feeding’ is warm water, sugar, and instant potato flakes. I’d say that if you took a swig of the mixture you’d get a little tipsy!

About ten years ago I stopped making bread, but would feed the starter periodically just in case I decided to resume the wonderful habit of serving that homemade yumminess.

One time a friend told me that I shouldn’t store the starter with a lid on it, but instead should put a paper towel over it while it’s in the refrigerator so it can 'breathe.' I'd never heard that before but tried it anyway. Well, that didn’t work out too well because I forgot about it and it dried up in the bottom of the jar. Oh no! Now I’ll have to start all over and that was from my original 1986 starter!!! I started over. But to make sure it was still from my original starter, I scraped the dried stuff from the jar (that sounds disgusting but it isn’t) and put it into the new batch. Hence, I basically still have the original!

While cleaning out and reorganizing my cupboards last week, I found an ingredient that might be helpful in getting my starter active again. Moonshine. 

Now before you get all upset with this preacher’s wife for having homemade moonshine in the house, let me explain...
Three years ago when we moved from Alcoa to Cleveland, Tennessee we were given a gift. It was a little pint jar of Moonshine. The bearer of the gift makes it in his garage. I didn’t know what we’d do with it, so shoved it in the cupboard when we moved. I’d pull it out whenever I cleaned but always put it back........WAY in the back!

See? That isn’t so awful, now is it? Do you use Nyquil? Or cough syrup? Is that the same difference? Just sayin’.

Back to the bread starter...
I pulled the starter from our fridge, stirred two tablespoons of moonshine into it and put it back in the fridge. Yesterday, I fed the starter like usual, but I put some yeast in the warm water, thinking it’d give a little kick to make it active again. (like the moonshine wasn’t kick enough!!)

This morning I went into the kitchen and saw that my starter was ready for use (it fizzes and kind of moves around in the jar) so I made a batch of bread. It remains to be seen if things turn out the way they used to, but it gives me a smile to think I’m still using basically the same starter from 29 years ago!

If it doesn’t work, I’m out of luck because I threw away the rest of the Kickapoo Joy Juice (aka moonshine)!

P.S. If this turns out well, in my next blog I’ll post the recipes for original starter and the bread.

Remember, if you have a pulse, you have a purpose…so make your life count!