Friday, January 13, 2012

The Secret Ingredient

Hubby baked homemade bread the other day, a version of Challah that he and Zach have perfected using Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold whole wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and sunflower seeds. The bread is so scrumptious that it elevates morning toast or grilled cheese sandwiches to a gourmet plane. Although it’s definitely healthier and tastier than its store-bought counterpart, it has a few drawbacks: one, we eat too much of it; two, we quickly become spoiled and disdainful of the more convenient store-bought bread.

Hubby and I were both raised to value home-baked, homemade, and home-grown foods over store-bought or restaurant-cooked. (Don’t tell Mom, but Jen and I did manage to bum some Ding-Dongs from the neighbor kids.) Hubby makes my mouth water with tales of the soups and desserts which his mom made from milk and cream from the family Holsteins. Dad’s biscuits, Mimi’s fried chicken and strawberry pies, Papa’s divinity, Grandma’s blackberry cobbler (from hand-picked berries, of course) and angel food cake with 7-minute frosting, and every one of Mom’s Italian and Mexican entrees are the stuff of legend, and, incidentally, can’t be accurately reproduced because our family is recipe-free.

Everyone knows that the texture and flavor of fresh garden-grown vegetables far surpass those from the produce aisle, even though a well-tended garden necessitates a number of sunburns, blisters, and backaches (hence the popularity of farmer’s markets). And many people are fortunate to have eaten the eggs from free-range, affectionately cared-for chickens. Our neighbor Susie’s cheerful chickens—God bless them--provide us with the most flavorful omelettes, quiches, and scrambled eggs that we’ve ever had. Similarly, beef that comes from our happy forage-fed Angus steers--which have never known the stress of hunger, sickness, parasites, confinement, or rough handling—is at least twice as savory as any we’ve purchased elsewhere.

Science and even common sense can only partially explain why home-raised and home-cooked foods taste better than those grown and cooked by large companies, but I think I can. What do our steaks and green beans, Susie’s chicken eggs, Hubby’s bread, Dad’s biscuits, Mom’s John Mosetti, Mimi’s pecan pralines, Grandma’s chicken spaghetti, Jenny’s sour cream-apple pie, Zach’s whole wheat pizza crust, and my own rather famous home-grown-Yukon-gold-potato-with-hand-picked-wild-asparagus soup have in common? It’s simple: love.

“Love never fails.” 1 CORINTHIANS 13:8

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