Category: Family Reunions

Recipe: Grandma Gardner’s White Bread

Grandma Pat Gardner’s handmade breads, at Sunday Dinner on March 8, 2009.

There is nothing like a slice of freshly-made white bread.


My dad would tell the story of coming home from school in the late 1920s/early 1930s (of course, after walking the four miles home uphill in the driving snow) and, each and every day, finding two still-warm, thick slices of  white bread on the table, slathered thick with fresh butter. Grandma Liske’s bread was so classically made with farmhouse methods that it was baked with the wood stove. Grandma also churned her own butter, the cream coming from the cows on the farm.

I’ve written about various breads in the past, including breads from Zingerman’s and recipes from Pepperidge Farms’ founder Margaret Rudkin. But this bread recipe, from Patricia Gardner (who shot the photo of Mary and I on the LPC About page), is one recipe whose results we’re able to enjoy more regularly than any other fresh-made bread I know of.

So, without further ado, here’s Pat’s locally-popular recipe. Make ya’ some!

Grandma Gardner’s White Bread
Makes 2 loaves

6 cups Pillsbury bread flour
2 cups warm (115F) water
2 packages dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl combine water, salt, sugar and oil. The water needs to be the temperature of bath water. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid. Let sit for a few minutes until it begins to bubble. This is called “proofing”. Add 2 cups bread flour; mix with mixer on low speed until mixed, then on high speed for 3 minutes.

Add enough water to make a kneadable dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes by the clock. Do not try to guess this time. This will make a fune textured, high rising bread. Toward the end of the kneading time the dough should become quite elastic.

Place dough in a large greased bowl, turn once to grease top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place to rise until double.

When dough has risen to double, punch down and let rise to double again.

To form loaves divide dough in half. Roll out each half into a rectangle just enough to eliminate bubbles. Roll jelly roll fashion into loaf and place in greased or oiled loaf pans. Oil top of bread and let rise until double again. When the dough has risen 1 inch above the tops of the pans, place in cold oven. Set oven to 325F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until medium brown. Turn out to a rack, butter tops and let cool. Eat first one when slightly warm. It will be a little hard to cut but is wonderful cut into thick slices and spread with real, unsalted butter.

Parents: The Hands of Time

Part of the reason for my lack of posts as of late are that both my parents are in the hospital … in opposite ends of the same hospital … with different forms of cancer. Yesterday I arranged for dad to finally be able to visit mom for a while, and we got the two of them together for an hour or so. Of course after 55 years of marriage they should be able to get together more often than that, and I hope that happens this week.

Dad’s 85 and mom’s 78. You can see in the above photo where dad lost the last 1/4″ of his thumb to a tablesaw a few years ago.

These are the real hands of time, at least in my family.

We’ll get back to food as soon as time permits, probably in a couple days.

Ahhh, Millington; All That Food!

My dinner plate from this afternoon; Roast chicken, meatballs, Uncle Al’s rich baked beans (yeah, those are baked beans on the front-right!), green beans & ham, penne and sausage (which I made this morning), sliced baked ham, deviled eggs, and cinnamon raisin bread. Click the image for a larger version.

Almost exactly a year ago I blogged about our family reunion behind St. Paul’s church up in Millington, Michigan. As this is an annual reunion we were up there again this afternoon for this-year’s reunion. However, this year my mom’s side of the family gathered at the recently-built Millington Community Center. There weren’t as many people there this year, but we had a great time with those who were there. My Aunt Carol has never let me take a picture of her … soooo, here she is with Uncle Rudy (my mom’s youngest brother) from about 50 feet away. Gotcha, Aunt Carol!

Of course, that photo of Rudy & Carol matches Rudy up with a few photos Old Millington Guy has posted on his blog in the past …

The potluck buffet was rather extensive this year:

On rare occasion we’ll end up with too many of one kind of dish. This year the big favorite appeared to be bowls of fresh cherry tomatoes. At one point in the afternoon I counted eight of these bowls of tomatoes, most of the bowls being fairly large! We also ended up with a lot of variations of Deviled Eggs. Still, the eggs were gone after a while and there were only two bowls of tomatoes by the time we left.

People didn’t go as overboard as they usually do with desserts this year:

There were only a few pies, some cookie bars, brownies on toothpicks, and lots of finger-style desserts. And no, there weren’t a lot of dessert leftovers!

I never plan early enough for this event.  This year I made the Penne & Sausage. The sausage, however, was Johnsonville Bratwurst, sliced diagonally and sautéed in a roast garlic & basil olive oil, then sauce added to the assembled dish. Maybe it’s time I started thinking about what to make for next year? Maybe …