From the Kitchen: Post-holiday still good time to share with family and friends

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By Elli Rarick

Christmas and even New Year's is past for another year. We have all somehow survived one more year of trying some new recipes and making the traditional ones. It seemed like I would never be done; there was always one more recipe to prepare. But then, a few days before Christmas, everything was made and stored so that gift plates could be made and Jim and I would have goodies throughout the remainder of the season.

Now, as I prepare to put away all of the holiday decorations for another year and the big kitchen table is nearly bare; I begin thinking of what to fix as we head into the long month of January. Some mornings look rather bleak and gloomy; like it could snow at any moment. Of course, we know that will not happen here in sunny Florida. However, it could be happening up north somewhere!

The ambiance of winter puts us in the mood to cook or bake something even when we are trying to take off the extra weight gained during the holidays. We always resolve to cut back and during January it seems to be the subject most addressed. Since New Year's is just a couple of days behind us, let's stay in holiday mode for one last week! We still have four more weeks to get serious about ways to trim down!

Recently, I had a request for a recipe for Friendship Bread starter. When I lived in Oregon, I was introduced to a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread and given a container of starter with all the instructions on how to keep it going. As I was going through cookbooks I also found a recipe for Sourdough Starter followed by one for biscuits made from it.

When I made mine it turned out like a sweet bread or coffee cake and was delicious. I am sure there are many variations and ways to make it your own creation, as I did.

As we enter into a new year with all of its uncertainties, let's remember our family, friends and neighbors and share a little bit of friendship and love in everything we do, including our cooking and baking. Let's create memories that will bring a smile to our faces. Have a happy and blessed New Year!

Sourdough Starter (and Biscuits)

James Hutchison, "Country Cousins II cookbook"

2 cups self-rising flour

1 package dry yeast

lukewarm water

Mix yeast in a little warm water and stir to dissolve. Add flour and more water to make a thick batter. Stir only enough to break up lumps. Let stand for 24 hours, covered. I like to make this in a crock with a lid. House will fill with yeast odor. When you take out a cup of starter to use in bread, replace with flour and enough water to make a thick paste. NEVER put anything in starter crock but flour and water. If the starter changes color (a yellowish orange color), throw out and start over. Do not refrigerate. This starter will keep indefinitely if you always replace what you take out as described.

This recipe was used by pioneer families traveling to the west. Recipe for Sourdough Biscuits follow:

Sourdough Biscuits

1 and one-half cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

one-half cup or more buttermilk

3 tablespoons bacon fat

Mix all ingredients to form a stiff batter. Add 1 cup of starter and mix well. Turn out onto a floured board and roll or pat out about one-half inch thick. Cut out biscuits and place on greased pan and bake at about 400° until browned. Serve hot with meal.

"Wouldn't this be great cooked on a campfire with plenty of bacon and gravy and boiled coffee? Let's go camping!" James Hutchison

Amish Friendship Bread

Origin unknown

*Do not refrigerate

*Do not use a metal spoon

Day 1: The day you receive the starter, do nothing.

Day 2, 3, 4: Stir with a wooden spoon.

Day 5: Add 1 cup each: flour, sugar and milk -- stir.

Day 6, 7, 8, 9: Stir with a wooden spoon

Day 10: Add 1 cup each: flour, sugar and milk -- stir well.

Pour one cup each into three separate containers. Keep one cup for yourself to begin a new batch and give the other two containers to two friends with copies of these instructions.

To the batter that remains after you have taken out the three cups, add:

two-thirds cup oil

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

Mix together:

2 cups flour

1 and one-fourth teaspoon baking powder

one-half teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

one-half teaspoon salt

one-half teaspoon nutmeg

Stir into liquid mixture. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add chopped nuts, candied fruit, chapped dates, raisins, apples, pears, etc. Whatever your choice, one-half to 1 cup each, if desired.

Pour into 2 well-greased and sugared loaf pans (lining the bottom with waxed paper cut to size will prevent sticking)

Bake at 350° 40-50 minutes. Press with fingers to test for doneness (if it springs back, it is done). Cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing -- cool on racks. Enjoy!