Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marvin, Kareem and a Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of America

Yesterday was a Motown Old-School type of day (yeah, I know, which day isn't, right?).
So, I'm listening to the handsome, make-a-girl-sweat-her-bangs-out, crooner himself, the one, the only, 
Mr. Marvin Gaye!

Who, as all red-blooded women, and most men, of a certain age know was truly gifted in making any song his own.
Right down to the basics,

Our National Anthem

My fellow round ball connoisseurs will surely appreciate this as Marvin is singing Our National Anthem at the 1983 NBA ALL-STAR game. The west was led by the greatest player who ever pounded the hardwood, master of the Sky-hook, the great
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

and the game featured my Florida homie, and alum of my stepsister Cheryle's alma mater, Jacksonville University (go Dolphins), the great
Artis Gilmore.
I love this game!
Love grooving  Old-School from 'back in the day.'
(a la the Rascals, ...Grooving...on a Sunday afternoon...)

Got me to thinking about living this attitude of gratitude, and all the things I am grateful for, like living in the time of great crooners, like Marvin, and great ballers, like Kareem. 
Marvin singing "...Give us this day our daily bread..." got me to appreciating fresh bread, and how baking it makes a house smell so indescribably delicious!
However, since Houston is still rocking triple digits (we did have one day of Fall weather, on the autumnal equinox - thank you Mother Nature!), my house oven is in hiatus until maybe November.

Did I mention that I have a bread machine?
My current bread machine was re-gifted to me from my beloved Sister-in-law, Linda M, and her wonderful Mother, Mrs. Margaret. 
Seems that one of Linda's brothers, (thank you Chris or AJ!) gave it to Mrs. Margaret as a present, and she, being in her 70s at the time, accepted it graciously, as we Southern Belles do with gifts. She put it away, and there it sat for a time until she decided it was taking up space, and asked Linda if she wanted it, which she did not.
They thought to whom they might gift it, since it was brand new, and had never even been out of the box, must less used, and the inspiration was to box it up and send it to the family's own 'Betty Crocker' -

You see, years ago, yours truly really did win the 
Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of America Award
in high school. 
No, I was not the only one in the competition.
And, yes, it did come as a huge surprise to me, my family, my high school, and the young ladies who had hoped to win (Guys need not apply back then).
Seems it was a cumulative score thing; the others may have won first in biscuit making and sewing, yet my placing or showing in those events, and the fact that I aced the written test (a written test in home ec - who knew?!?!), gave me the best overall score.

I still have that charm and bracelet, thanks to my Grandmothers, who kept everything.

Those Betty Crocker people might have been on to something, since I am somwhat passionate about this homemaking stuff, though I'm not sure this is what they had in mind. Oh well...

Bored with the taste and shocked by the ingredient lists on whole wheat 'balloon bread,' I started baking my own in the late 70s. Good for me, great nutritional excellence for my babies.
After moving to Houston in the 80's, home bread machines came on the market. I bought one, and we used it constantly over the next ten years, until it finally gave it up.
Bought another to replace the original, yet it was never quite the same quality.
(My 30-year old Vitamix is a testament to Old-School, as well; saving that story for another day.)
Whole Foods became my backup for fresh bread, so I used them after machine number one died, and when I was not up to kneading.

Then my gift from Mrs. Margaret arrived!
Thank you so much, dearest Mrs. Margaret! You are in our thoughts and prayers, you wonderful octogenarian
God speed in recovering from your recent health challenges!
Mrs. Margaret's gift

I modified the 'honey wheat bread' recipe from this book. 
This vegan loves bees, and the great work they do pollinating our planet and especially my gardens, much too much to steal their honey. My sweetener alternatives?
When dates are in season, I'll make a date paste to use for a wholesome, organic sweetener. It's pretty basic, a half cup of de-pitted dates, pureed in the food processor with enough water to make a paste.
Otherwise, I like Brown Rice Syrup, for its taste and low Glycemic Index (around 25). It's healthy, too. Medical research suggests that lower GI sweeteners reduce risks for debilitating lifestyle diseases like diabetes, some cancers, obesity and heart disease. 

Soy milk, sweetener, pinch of salt, whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, and yeast prepped for the machine:
After about 4 hours in the machine, maybe another hour on the rack to cool,
fresh bread!

You're welcome.

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