There's nothing like a loaf of hot-from-the-oven homemade bread.
ILLUSTRATION: KIM ZARNEY
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There's just nothing as good as hot, steaming homemade bread fresh from the oven, and Susan Wikse says that this is the best homemade bread recipe in the world. If you try it, you may well agree.
For two loaves, pour two cups boiling water over one cup dry rolled oats. Let mixture stand for one half hour (until oats are thoroughly soft). Then soak two packets of yeast in 1/3 cup lukewarm water. Add one tablespoon salt, 1/2 cup honey, and two tablespoons melted butter to the oats. Then stir in the yeast. Gradually add enough flour to make the dough kneadable (between four and five cups. The flour does not have to be sifted). Knead five to ten minutes, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a big bowl, oil its surface, cover with a towel, and place in a warm place to rise. When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down, divide in two, shape into two loaves, and put each in an 8" x 4" bread pan.
Warm your oven to 325°F while you mix a few drops of water into an egg yolk and use the mixture to coat the tops of the loaves. Sprinkle lots of poppy seeds on the bread and bake for about 50 minutes.
Roasting ears are good, you understand, but a family can eat only so many at once. And it seems that a planting of hybrid sweet corn all wants to ripen on exactly the same day. "That's no problem around our place," says Grace V. Schillinger of Colona, Illinois. "We just dry our excess corn the same way both my grandmothers used to do it."
Grace's traditional recipe is easy to follow. To each eight pints of raw sweet corn (that is cut off the cobs and NOT blanched), add six tablespoons of granulated sugar, four teaspoons coarse canning salt, and one-half cup of sweet cream. "Remember that real cream is still sold at dairy stores if you're not fortunate enough to have your own cow or goat," Grace advises, "and, for heaven's sake, don't try to use imitation cream substitutes!"
Boil the ingredients for 20 minutes in a heavy pan while stirring constantly so the mixture doesn't stick. Then spread the cooked corn on shallow trays in an oven turned to its absolutely lowest possible temperature. Stir the grain often as it dries further.
When the kernels are crispy, dump them into clean brown paper sacks. Tie the bags securely to keep out insects and hang them in your home's driest room. The corn will be completely dry when it rattles inside the sacks. At that point it can be stored indefinitely in glass jars sealed with airtight lids.
Grace tells us, "This corn doesn't need to be soaked when you use it, and it's especially delicious cooked in milk instead of water."
With a cold frame you can start plants early, grow them out of season, and raise garden fare that ordinarily does not thrive in your climate.
Place the frame so that it faces south with protection to the north and windy sides (but not under dripping eaves). Drain it well. Two old window sashes, hinged to open on warm days (hold maximum inside temperature to 80°F), make an ideal top. For easiest working reaches, keep frame 6' X 12' or smaller. Fill with good, rich loam and plant thickly.