Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bread Making Woman

Tonight we teaching the young women from church how to make bread. I am making both my Grandmother's White Farm Bread and my mother in law's honey whole wheat bread. I already have the white dough made and we will just be baking that with the girls. We will help them to make the whole wheat dough and get it all baked and ready to eat in the hour we have with them. In all we should have about 13 loaves when we done. It should be yummy. 

Since I have spent time this morning making my grandmother's bread, I thought I would share a bit about her and some of the lessons she taught me. My grandmother (yes this is the one who bit my mother-in-law the first time they met) was an amazing woman. 
Grandma Mary Ann Harris, age 98 with great grand daughter Sabrina, age 7 months.
She grew up in Malad, Idaho. She lived in that area the majority of her life. She went to college and then got married to my grandfather and they started a family. They lived a farm life. Grandma told me she made 14 loaves of bread and 2 tins of biscuits everyday for the men to eat in their noon meal. 

I loved going to visit Grandma on the farm when I was little. Grandma would put an apron on me and put me to work in the kitchen with her. When that became boring she would send me "fishing" in a bucket she would fill with water and weeds. My fishing pole was a stick with a string and a paper clip at the end. Honestly, I LOVED this kind of fishing. I would sit for hours trying to fish the weeds out of the bucket.

I remember once I complained that I was bored and that grandma had no toys at her house. Grandma took me into her room to her little sewing desk. She took some extra fabric and cut out two identical pieces in the shape of a person. She stuffed it with stuffing she had on hand and sewed it up. I think it took her about 15 minutes. She handed me my "doll" and told me to go play. I was amazed at her and have treasured that doll above any other I ever received. 

Grandma was not a hugger and she didn't ever say she loved you. She showed her love through work. I remember one night on the farm I was hungry. It was late. She asked what I wanted. I told her scones. She had no dough to fry for me. My parents told her to ignore my request and even I thought it doubtful I would get it. But grandma didn't even think twice. In minutes she whipped up some bread dough and heated the grease for frying. 

It seemed a lot of work to do for one little girls whim. When she was frying the scones she accidently spilled the hot grease all over one of her hands. She had second and third degree burns to her whole hand. I felt terrible that I had asked her to make me scones so late at night. But grandma never let me feel guilty about it. She treated this severe injury as but a bump in her road. It took months to completely heal. The way she handled the injury and treated me afterward were proof to me of the depth of her love for me. To my child mind, she loved me enough to go through that pain for me.
Grandma lived a very long life. She had 4 girls and then had her first son, my dad. 10 years later she had her final child, a boy. She died at 99. When she was 98 she lived with Jon and I for a little while. We had just had Sabrina about 7 months earlier. By this time, Grandma had fairly severe dementia. But she LOVED Sabrina. She would sit with the baby and give me parenting advice. I started writing it down. Here are a few gems of wisdom she shared:
"Teach her right and wrong and the rest of her life you'll cooperate."

"You make her clothes and treat her like a little girl growing up and she'll never forget you and your way will be her way."

"You choose her friends for her, but don't let her know you are doing it. Start when she is little and you have those kids over to supper who you like."
I often think about Grandma Harris and wish I had her energy. Even at 98 she was working, folding laundry and helping out in any way we would let her. There is so much I admire about this bread making woman.

Here are the recipe's for the bread we are making tonight. 

Grandma Harris White Bread

Description: The famous Grandma Harris farm bread.

Ingredients: Mix together

1 cup warm water

3 T yeast

3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

Lard the size of an egg (egg sized dollop of Crisco)

4 cups warm water

1 dessert spoon (2 T) salt

8 cups flour or enough to clean the bowl so the dough doesn't stick to it. 

Directions: Knead it for 10 minutes then form into loaves and let it raise till doubled.  Bake 30 mins at 375 degrees

Number Of Servings: about 3 loaves

Preparation Time: 1 hour


Whole Wheat Bread


7 cups warm water

¾ cup honey or sugar

4 t salt

½ cup veggie oil

7 cups whole wheat flour

Mix above for 30 seconds. Then add

4 T Instant yeast

9 – 11 cups whole wheat flour till dough leaves side of mixer and is not so sticky. Do this within about 4 minutes.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes by hand or according to mixer directions (4 mins.) Form into about 7 equal loafs. Spray bread pans well with PAM. Put loaves in pans and let rise till about doubled (20 minutes in a warm room) Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Crust should be nicely browned.


Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

t = teaspoon

T= Tablespoon


Plain Jame said...

What a neat story - thank you so much for sharing about your Grandma. My husbands father grew up on a farm by Malad and the family is so that way. Showing love by work! It's taught me a new dimension of service and love.

Now this probably sounds so silly, but when you say "3 T yeast" is that Tablespoons or Teaspoons? I should know this but I rarely use recipes that just have the T.

Momza said...

Everyone should have a Granma like that...precious.
Thanks for sharing!
BTW...her advice about choosing your kids' friends without them knowing it is SPOT ON!!

Just me! said...

Thanks for the recipe! Can't wait to try it!

Shanan said...

I'm loving the baby pictures of Saby! That is great that you were able to capture so many of her with Grandma Harris.

Sunshine said...

Your words about your grandmother say as much about you as they do of her.

lovinglife said...

Thank you for the recipes and the stories!!

Stephanie said...


How wonderful to have your memories and advice from your sweet grandmother!
I know Malad fairly well. I in Cache Valley and have family in Malad and Samaria, Idaho =)

Take care and thank you for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to meet your grandma, but not in the way most people would prefer. You invited me over to give her a shot in her butt when she was living with you and Jonathan. I was going to share this story a while ago when you first mentioned the biting incident with her. Any ways good memories don't necessarily need to be warm and fuzzy. Sometimes they are peculiar yet memorable. Love you guys. The Smiths

Anonymous said...

What a woman! She reminds me of one of my grandmothers who died at 97. Strong, independent women who demonstrated, rather than voiced, their love. I like to do both though...!

love (see?!)

Jane said...

can you even imagine how strong your arms would have to be to make 14 loaves of bread by hand every day? your grandma was pretty amazing, as are the other women in your family!

The "Street" Clairs said...

thanks for sharing your stories. I started a blog this last year about our experiences and thoughts with taking care of Mike's Grandma. It has helped keep us positive on rough days.

Jonathan Waite said...

I can attest to Grandma Harris' hand strength. when she shook my hand, i thought -- this is from a 98-year-old woman?!? She could have crushed my hand, let alone the hand of any other 98-year-old!

We are a part of a happy family said...

We just pulled our bread out of the oven. Thanks for the inspiration. My other favorite Grandma Harris quote is something about when your husband wants you to go out with him, just go, the dishes can be done later--I bet you know it better than I remember it.

Alisha said...

I LOVE how you wrote down the wisdom of your grandmother. This "treat her like a little girl growing up and she'll never forget you and your way will be her way."....Plus the picking friends comment is something I will remember. How cute she sounds!!! I love how meticulous you are at recording your family history.

Kim said...

OH yum...always love a good bread recipe, hope your activity went well.

Amanda said...

What an awesome lady - grandma's are the best!

Camille said...

Oh my goodness! I think it is all in the Malad genetics. My husband's grandmother, whom I was very very close to just passed away last year at age 96. Same as your grandmother, ours was hardworking until the end of this life. I am quite sure that they would have known each other. Do you mind me asking your grandmother's maiden name? Our was Annis Jones. I have her history. She was an amazing record keeper & recorded all events, the parties, the people, even the food. It would be fun to look and see how often paths crossed years ago.

Kristin said...

My grandmother was from Malad! She was a lot how you describe your grandma. She loved whipping up a banana cream pie for my dad at the last minute. Your post made me think of her - thanks!

Stina said...

I made the whole wheat recipe and used regular flour cause I'm a rebel like that (and didnt have the wheat flour). It was fabulous! Though I should have known it was going to make a bazillion loafs. lol. We have been enjoying the bread today, though. Thanks for the recipe.

Rhett and Tiffanie Jackson said...

I love tradition! I have many recipes from my grandmothers. From cabbage rolls to candy..How did the activity go? Right before thanksgiving we did pie crusts with the young women in our ward...they did soooo super awesome!!! They took their crusts home and made pies for their families. The gal that instructed the activity made 4 different pies..2 cream and 2 fruit for the girls to sample, I love getting back to the basics and teaching it to our girls! thanks for sharing your world!!!

Ruthie said...

You know what I love about American recipes? They intend to feed people. Lots of people. English recipes are so stingy. Would you believe I have a recipe that makes 6 scones. Six isn't even enough to feed our whole family let alone guests! My husband bought me a lovely American recipe book back from Utah and it has recipes that make 48 cookies! That's more like it. So, making three loaves of bread at one time is excellent. Thanks for sharing.