‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? So, why then is everyone always stressed out about money and scheduling and wrapping and everything else that goes into seasonal bliss? Or, is it just me? I’ve been gone for the last week, unpacking decorations, budgeting, planning and pretty much anxiously awaiting the arrival of some much needed cash. I, normally, am done with my shopping by now. But, I haven’t bought one single present. Nope, not a single item. This terrifies me and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it until I have money, which I don’t right now due to some changes made a few months back on my employer’s end.
Now, before you get all buddhist-hippy on me and tell me that it’s not about things and possessions, it’s about the love we share and yadda yadda, just let me tell you that I’m well aware of all of it. I had a hippy phase in college and I remember it well; you’re right, it’s more enjoyable to not care about things and ownership. We do that part too, and I stress giving more that receiving with my kids, but in a reverse (sort of) way, that puts me on the responsible end for giving. I don’t have much to give other than cookies, kisses and love at the moment, which isn’t all that impressive to a six year old who deserves and expects some decent toys, if you catch my drift.
I’ve done without before and I could easily do it again. But, then again, I’m going to have tiny little bright-eyed wonders staring at me Christmas morning and they deserve a good Christmas. They’re selfless (mostly and usually), lovely little people that I love and want to make happy. Granted, surely Santa will come through as he always does. But, it’s nice to have a few extra presents from mom (aka me), just to be safe.
So, I’m going to distract myself from holiday budget anxiety by baking, running, and telling you fine and wonderful people all about it. You’re welcome? Err…maybe. Anyway, I’ve done what I can so far, and made hypothetical lists, game plans for shopping, diagrams of where and how we plan to get everything we need and backup plans in case of emergency. But, nothing will make me feel better than just being done with all of it and being able to enjoy the season like every other year. That won’t happen for another two weeks, so let’s make bread and butter which makes sense, sort of…kind of…maybe.
Something I know for certain is that bread is delicious and butter is delicious on bread. It’s one thing I know for a fact and that will never ever change. This super easy country bread recipe is a basic not to be missed that I found in an old copy of southern living magazine. Follow the directions and you’re bound to have a perfect country rich sandwich bread every time. People are surprisingly impressed by bread made at home without a machine too. And butter is just a matter of whipping cream way passed the point of whipped cream into the land of butter, (sounds like a wonderful and magical place, doesn’t it?) which is hit once the cream separates. You’ll have buttermilk and butter just by whipping. Squeeze the solid butter in a cheesecloth to squeeze out all the buttermilk, and store in the fridge. Way easier than stressing about money and Christmas shopping, for sure. I enjoy things that will work every single time, no matter what. This is one of those things.
- 2 (1/4-oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 6 to 6½ cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1½ tablespoons butter, melted
- Whipping cream
- Combine yeast, warm water, and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in eggs, next 3 ingredients, 3 cups flour, and remaining sugar. Beat dough at medium speed, using paddle attachment, until smooth. Gradually beat in remaining 3 to 3½ cups flour until a soft dough forms.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes), sprinkling surface with flour as needed. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half.
- Roll each dough half into an 18- x 9-inch rectangle. Starting at 1 short end, tightly roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, pressing to seal edges as you roll. Pinch ends of dough to seal, and tuck ends under dough. Place each dough roll, seam side down, in a lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Brush tops with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Preheat oven to 375º. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to a wire rack, and brush loaves with melted butter. Let cool completely (about 1 hour).
- Whip cream for several minutes on high speed with an electric mixer, past the point of stiff peaks until it forms into solid (butter) and liquid (buttermilk).
- Gather solid butter into a cheesecloth and squeeze tightly over bowl to strain all of the buttermilk. Store buttermilk and butter, separately in air tight containers.
- Try These Twists!
- Country Crust Wheat Bread: Substitute 3 cups wheat flour for 3 cups bread flour.
- Country Crust Cheese Bread: Sprinkle 1 cup (4 oz.) freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese onto each dough rectangle before rolling up.