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Whidbey Recipes

"Bread. The staff of life; that which man shall not alone live by; that which ye should cast upon the waters for thou shalt find it after many days; the morsel for which the beggar cries; a symbol of unity when broken and shared. It's a sop for your soup; carrier of peanut butter and jelly; repository for such delights as ham, cheese, tomato slices, lettuce, mayo, mustard, butter, bacon, corned beef, pastrami, bologna, chicken and yes, even sliced bananas. It's toast in the morning, a taste of home in noon lunch sacks, comfort food at midnight, and a whiff of Heaven when it's fresh from the oven. Bread was magical when I was a little girl, sharing a bowl of graveyard stew with my Dad. He worked in a pulp mill in Shelton, doing what was called shiftwork. This meant a month on 8 to 4, a month on 4 to 12, and a month on 12 to 8 (a.k.a. the graveyard shift), a cycle he and Mom lived with for 19 years. If I woke up when I heard him come home at midnight from the 4 to 12 shift, or when he was getting ready to head off for the 12 to 8 graveyard shift, I got to come in to the kitchen and have a bowl of bread chunks sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, soaked in warm milk until the bread was soft and squishy, with a small dollop of butter slowly melting into it all. Dad called it graveyard stew, one of his favorite light suppers before or after late night work. After I started school and wasn't allowed up at midnight anymore, the only time I had graveyard stew was when I was ill, a very rare occurrence.My Dad, now 91, still loves bread almost more than any other food and, thanks to his bread machine, there's a fresh loaf on the kitchen counter about every three or four days. I have no doubt that he fixes Mom and himself an occasional bowl of graveyard stew, especially on a chilly winter evening when he wants to use up the last of one loaf before he stirs up the next one. As for me, I, too, have my own bread maker. His name is John and he bakes fresh bread for us twice a week. I never know what kind it will be when I come home and am greeted by the inimitable smell of baking bread, but it doesn't matter because I've never met a loaf of John's bread I didn't like. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.... famous words of love from Omar Khayyam, but hold up a minute, Omar, you forgot the cheese, ham, mayo, mustard. And what about the peanut butter, pickle and bologna? What, no chicken? And where's the beef? Perhaps you'd like to share a small bowl of graveyard stew? Give us this day our daily bread... please!RecipesFor the fastest little loaf of homemade bread you can throw together, try this easy recipe I found in a California cookbook. I believe I've given it once before but you may have missed it and it's too tasty and easy not to have on file.Basic Beer Bread4 cups Bisquick baking mix1 can beer (12 oz.)3 T. sugar1. Blend all ingredients together. Place in 2 small greased bread or loaf pans, cover; let sit for 10 minutes. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tops are nicely browned. Serve immediately.And now for something only a bit more complicated, a fragrant Italian raisin bread that will disappear in a blink if there's anyone around when it comes from the oven. It's excellent with a bowl of minestrone and if there's any left, hide it for yourself for breakfast toast.Florentine Rosemary Raisin Bread1 pkg. active dry yeast1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees if you're new to proofing yeast)1/2 cup milk3 T. sugar1 t. salt1 t. dry rosemary, crumbled2 eggs1/4 cup olive oil (use quality oil, the flavor matters)3 to 3 1/2 cups flour1/2 cup raisins (dark or golden, your preference)Additional olive oil, for brushing loaf and oiling pan1 T. cold water1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to soften.2. In a pan, combine milk, sugar, salt and rosemary; heat until warm (about 110 degrees). Beat in 1 whole egg and 1 egg white (reserving yolk of second egg for glaze). Add olive oil, mixing well, then add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Gradually beat in about 2 1/2 cups of the flour, making a stiff dough.3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and satiny (anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, usually), adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking. Flatten the dough, top with raisins and knead the dough lightly to work the raisins into the dough. Some will pop out; gently push them back in. Place dough in a bowl oiled with the additional olive oil, turning the ball of dough to grease all surfaces. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending upon temperature in your place).4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and punch down, then knead briefly just to release the air. Shape into a smooth ball and place on a baking sheet coated with olive oil. Pat into a flat round about 8 1/2 inches in diameter and brush generously with olive oil. Cover and let rise again until puffy (30 to 45 minutes).5. Using a floured sharp knife, slash a cross in the top of the loaf. Beat the reserved egg yolk with the tablespoon cold water and brush over the loaf. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.I don't have room now to give you John's recipe for Heavenly Raisin Nut Bread, which is one of the most requested by family members, but if you have a bread machine and would like the recipe, email us at falwal@msn.com and we'll email it back to you. Or, contact The Record office and we'll see that you get a copy. Perhaps sharing the recipe for a good loaf of bread is almost as satisfying as breaking bread together. "

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