“To the small ones Mama often gave pieces of dough which they were free to shape and bake or eat raw as each child desired.  Sometimes the baked pieces had more than a tattle-tale gray color from much kneading by little fingers.  Such dough had a marvelous taste.”  from a story about baking bread with Mama, When Meals were Meals, by Maude Dickenson.



I got a box in the mail yesterday from my brother David.  He had been to a library book sale a few months ago, and picked out a couple of old cookbooks for me.  At the same time, I was here in CT, thinking of him, and sent him a treat in the mail, too (it was peach slice candy and mealworms for his birdfeeder, LOL, nice combo, huh?).

I just thought it was so sweet that we were both thinking of each other at the same time. 


I had a relaxing little rest time yesterday on the couch, reading a portion of this book, When Meals Were Meals, Recipes and Recollections from a Farmhouse Kitchen, by Maude Dickinson.  It is a book full of old family recipes, and the author’s lovely memories of her mama & papa, siblings, grandmother (who lived with them) and the farm hands.  I read about pancakes, and butter, and how they made apple butter outside every year.  I read about baking bread. 

On Mondays, Jacob, Ethan, and Grace all have music lessons.  I leave the house at 3:30 in order to get Grace to her piano lesson at 4.  I leave the three of them there, and Rich goes after work to wait out the remainder of the time with them, and to bring them home.  They are away from home for four hours, missing their normal dinner hour, tiding themselves over with snacks.

While they are away, I am home with the three little boys, and we are beginning a new tradition of baking for the musicians as we wait for them to come back to us.  Last week I made a double batch of homemade blueberry muffins.  I went to bed that night, smiling over the one lone muffin that was left on the table, out of 24.

Last night, we made homemade brownies and cornmeal yeast rolls (using recipes that I have already made, over and over).  I suppose all the reading I did in that old fashioned cookbook got me in the mood to make some bread.

“One of my earliest memories of my mother is associated with bread and its splendid fragrance as it baked.  Even now when kneading bread I find myself almost listening for the echoes of the lively life of our old farm kitchen.” ~Maude Dickenson

It was a cozy, together time, when Rich got home with the three older children.  David and Caleb ran to the kitchen, and we all stood around eating brownies and waiting for the rolls to finish baking.  We opened the oven door to peek, and to get a good whiff of one of the best smells in the world, homemade bread baking.




1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup flour
2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.
Blend oil, sugar and vanilla, then add eggs and mix well.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Add to egg mixture.  Stir in nuts if desired.
Spread in a greased 9 by 13 pan.  Bake about 20-25 minutes.  Brownies are better if you take them from the oven slightly undercooked.

Last night Davy cut himself a perfect square of warm brownie, right from the very middle of the pan.  When Rich came home, he thought I had done it!  (he knows I prefer the middle pieces)……..

Cornmeal Yeast Rolls

3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

Stir together 1 cup flour, the cornmeal, and yeast.  In a saucepan heat and stir milk, butter, sugar, and salt until warm (120-130 degrees) and butter almost melts.  Add to flour mixture; then add eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl constantly.  Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.  Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough out on floured surface.  Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total).  Shape into a ball.  Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface.  Cover and let rise in a warm place till double (about 1 hour).

Punch dough down.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough into fourths.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.  Divide each fourth of dough into 5 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball.

Lightly grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.  Place the balls in the pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

I brushed melted butter on top, we ate them piping hot.  David dipped his into the rest of the melted butter and then dunked it into cinnamon sugar.  Yum! 


29 thoughts on “

  1. I love making rolls…and your first quote is what I do with my girls every time I make the rolls.  I give them each a piece of dough of their very own to do what they want with…and often it does get gray and very tough.  I occasionally will give them a greased custard cup to bake their own creation in – for their very own snack.  My niece Leah is here when I make the rolls for Thanksgiving and she always wants her piece of dough, it has become a family tradition of sorts.  I love old cook books – especially the more homemade ones or community ones.  Have a great Tuesday!

  2. I got into the habit of baking bread last winter, after we moved to our current house. This kitchen is well set-up for baking, and I love homemade bread. Now, a little over a year later, we’ve gotten so accustomed to having homemade goods that the only storebought item we have is bread for Carl’s sandwiches at work! This fall I taught myself how to make bagels, and now we can’t even buy those!Love those quotes – and I really like the idea of passing small pieces of dough to little ones to do with as they please; I’ll have to try that!

  3. Thank you so much for those recipes..I love simple recipes with simple ingredients…i am going to see if they have the cookbook at my library. Blessings for a wonderful day.

  4. Another “middle of the pan person” as far as brownies go!  Works out b/c my husband likes the edge.  That Williamsburg book…is there a recipe for gingerbread cookies/cakes?  I remember when our family visited there a few times and they served these delicious gingerbread cakes…oh my! 

  5. That your brother would think of you and send you those books – that is one of the nicest things I ever heard of! Homemade bread…when I was growing up, it was someone’s chore to make it every day, 5 or 6 days a week, at my house! 6 loaves every day! (It took only 20 minutes to make the dough and get it into the pans, rising.) It always looked and smelled so good.Is that Grace’s piano book? The Fabers’ Piano Adventure series were my favorite method books to use with my students, when I was teaching piano. Looking at that picture makes me miss teaching so much!Have a great week! We’re snowed in here, and it is fun having Terry home from work!

  6. That is so neat that you and David thought of each other in such special ways. And a handwritten note from your brother — so sweet! And thank you so much for sharing the recipes. Now for some odd reason I’m craving brownies and homemade bread. šŸ˜‰

  7. I love yeast rolls, but I’ve never tried cornmeal yeast rolls–I may try those today.  We’re having friends over for dinner so if I have time I may whip us up some.I love cookbooks, too, especially old church cookbooks.  Oh, I wanted to let you know that I made the chicken cordon bleu that you had posted the other day, it was a hit with my family.  It is now one of our family favorites. 

  8. That is so special that you were both thinking of one another. And your brother knew what to pick out for you! Great cook books. Everything looks so yummy. Your house must smell divine when they come in after practice.

  9. i could eat yeast rolls for forever. they are soo scrumptious. one christmas for our staff meeting this lady made a pan of them..i think it way about 50 and my brother and i filled our plates with food and when we got there each had about three each and loaded them with butter. oh they are soo tasty. those books look wonderful. you have a love for beautiful older books like Joanna does. so beautiful. i love that you can spend time immersed in them. so awesome to know that your hubby spends some of this down time with the kids and you guys at home are doing something to pass the time till the family is reunited. sounds like a good bonding time for each parent! be blessed today Shanda. i also love that your brother was thinking of you and sent you those beautiful things. what a precious family you have and must come from.

  10. Looks scrumptious, Shan!  Think I’ll have to try the cornmeal rolls today.  I was already contemplating having a pot of potato soup ready for the girls when they get home.  Your rolls would be the perfect “go-with”! 

  11. Oooo.  David knows you so well.  What an awesome gift!  I loved this post Shan.  Food in our family was the center of our gathering for so many years.  It’s no wonder most of us love to bake and cook and share recipes.  I have pride in that.  I know grandma and great grandma would love that about us.  Sharing the dough . . . . makes me smile and get teary eyed. . . . I don’t know how many times I made rolls with grandma but I can picture her hands right now working the doe and rolling it out with speed and expertise, her smile, her hair coming lose, the smell of her kitchen . . . it’s moments like that that I wander back to in my mind and my heart swells with love out of my chest.  Thank you for prompting this memory for me today.  Love, Lish

  12. That is so sweet that he thought of you, the books are fantastic!!!  Really so wonderful to have a brother who knows you!  The recipes are great!  I am running out in a min. to go shopping because they are calling to for a big big storm and I am all excited about being snowed in, even though I already “stay-at-home” it just makes me feel like baking and have already been planning all sorts of baked love, so your post was perfect for my mood!I am typing with a small ball of sleeping fur on my lap. I can hear Coco humming upstairs, Steve is on his way home early so all is cozy and nice here.  Wish you were here with your baked goodies I would eat and let you hold the new addition!lots of love, JO

  13. The hard things for me is down sizing! My bread recipes make so much for just the two of us. I always figure if I am going to all the trouble and mess, I may as well make a full recipe, though. We have a small freezer, so much of it is given away to neighbors and friends. I guess there is really no down side to that! I will have to try that brownie recipe. I have been trying to find a good one “from scratch.” I confess that in America, I always relied on boxed mixes for brownies.

  14. And here I sit, drinking coffee without a delicious brownie or roll. It makes me want to go to the refrigerator and microwave one of the carmel rolls my sister brought for my birthday the other day. I think I will. šŸ™‚

  15. Good Morning, Shanda!I found this quote on my morning blog rounds. Thought you would like it.______________________________There is nothing which has a more abiding influence on the happiness of a family than the preservation of equable and cheerful temper and tones in the housekeeper. A woman who is habitually gentle, sympathizing, forbearing, and cheerful, carries an atmosphere about her which imparts a soothing and sustaining influence, and renders it easier for all to do right, under her administration, than in any other situation.–from “American Woman’s Home by Catharine Esther Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe 1869_______________________________I made a triple batch of biscuits last night. Our son and his family was here for dinner. Chicken soup and hot biscuits! YUM!Such nice gifts from your brother…Have an excellent day!D xo

  16. Pingback: “just to be alive is a grand thing” | Good to be Home

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