Making It Yourself: Why Bother?

Kathy's homemade soap. Find the supplies you need to make yours at and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Kathy’s homemade soap. Find the supplies you need to make yours at and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

I recently taught a workshop on soapmaking at our local folk school. I was telling a friend about it and she asked a pretty profound question: Why do you bother? Continue reading

English Muffin Bread: A Toasty, Fill-You-Up Breakfast

English Muffin Bread

On a recent snow day at home with my kiddos, I decided to try this recipe, which I had been eyeing on Pinterest for a while. We love English muffins at our house, and this seemed like a perfect case of “something we like from the store that mom can make at home.” The original recipe called for using rapid rise yeast and a single rise for the dough. I didn’t have rapid rise yeast (and I wasn’t about to pack up three children and brave the roads to get some). So, I tweaked the recipe by using regular yeast and two rise times.

I will admit, when I took the freshly baked loaf from the oven, I thought, “Oh no. I just baked a brick!” Do not be alarmed if this happens to you. It’s supposed to be a very dense, heavy bread. And even though it did not contain the famous “nooks and crannies” that some brands of English muffins boast, we all loved it. Eaten plain, it would have been passable, BUT toasted, slathered with butter and either honey or some of our favorite jam, it made a delicious, fill-you-up breakfast (the little ones had orange juice and I nibbled mine while sipping my coffee). Continue reading

Simple Sourdough: Make It and Bake It!

Click here to get this national bestseller at

Click here to get this national bestseller at

Bread baking is one of those skills that it feels like a person should have.  Learning how to knead and form a loaf is a valuable, grounding process.  After all, every loaf of bread bought in a store or at a farmers’ market has gone through the same process of kneading and rising, and it’s nice to know how to create that process yourself.  I learned how to bake bread in my youth—I’m not sure exactly when—but I must confess, I was by no means an enthusiastic bread baker.  It was a very occasionally used skill.

Make A Sourdough Start Yourself
And then this past March, I moved into a new house, and somehow Wild Fermentation by Sandor Elliz Katz was the cookbook on top of my pile when I unpacked.  (His newest is The Art of Fermentation, and it’s excellent too!) Continue reading

Daddy Bread

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He used to make it only when the snow was flying, usually on his days off from his job as an ICU nurse.

My sister and I knew Dad had baked bread as soon as we hit the door, just off the school bus. Our little house would be filled with a welcoming, unmistakable aroma, and big, crusty loaves of his signature whole-wheat bread (“Daddy Bread” to us) would be cooling on dishtowels on the counter.  We’d eat some hot right then (if he’d let us), and multiple pieces of “Daddy toast” were often breakfast each morning before school. It was best with just a bit of butter – no jelly to overtake the nice, yeasty flavor. Continue reading