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One of the most requested topics this year on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:
For sure the staple give-away from the Colley kitchen for the past twenty-five years has been sourdough bread. We have continuously made it, frozen it, and given it away. Thankfully, we’ve never eaten nearly as much as we’ve shared. I will share the recipe below. But you should know that if you really decide to do this, it will become very popular. People will ask you to provide the bread for fellowship meals, sleepovers, ladies nights and retreats. I have baked this bread as we have worked in four different congregations. I put a loaf in our back-yard cabin when we have guests. I send it back to the dorm with college kids. I use it for gifts for Bible class teachers and piano teachers. It just comes in handy at every turn.
Best of all, it has truly been a blessing to Caleb and Hannah as they have learned it’s more blessed to give. Hannah has been helping to make this bread since she was about two. She has taken it to hand out at ladies seminars and as prizes in VBS. She loaded her wagon with it when she was very small and delivered it to neighbors. It has served as many a hostess gift or birthday surprise for a secret sister. But just last week she asked me, after being away for college and work for several years, if I would make sure she has bread-making down before she moves off with her new husband to do their own work in a Dalton, Georgia congregation. “Ben wants me to be a bread maker like you, so we can take bread to the sick people and the members when we visit. I mean he is all about this, Mom.”
Well, that’s all. I mean that’s the most gratifying thing she can say about any childhood service project. Multi-generational service ideas are the best. The bread is not perfect every time. The dough may rise better next week than this. The air bubbles may often have been smaller with a little more kneading. But, if it’s good enough to serve the next generation of preacher’s households in our family, I’ll take that! This recipe was a favorite of Guy N. Woods. He loved baking it right up until he died! I’ve shared it with a long list of people who have shared it with their own lists of women.)
Here it is (Read to the bottom to find out how to start the whole grand process by making your own starter):
First, you get the starter out after three to five days of refrigeration (but you can wait up to eleven days if you want) and add 3 TBSP of instant potato flakes, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of lukewarm water. Let this sit on your counter all day and shake it up or stir it a couple of times through the day. After five to 10 hours on the counter, it should have this white foam on the top and it’s ready to rock and roll! So you take out a cup and add to this cup six cups of BREAD flour, 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of cooking oil and 2 tsp salt. (If you have a bunch of starter, you can use two cups of starter, of course, and double all of this.) You mix all of this together and pour it into a big mixing bowl that’s been well greased with Crisco. (Use a plastic or glass bowl). Then let it sit out on the counter for five to twelve hours till it’s grown to twice its size.
Second, you knead it lightly adding a little flour so it won’t stick to your hands while kneading (not much flour, though, and not much kneading either…just get the big air bubbles out). Grease your pans with cooking oil and flour and then divide up the dough and put it in the pans (each recipe should make three medium loaves). Don’t fill pans more than 2/3 full. Then rub the tops of the loaves lightly with cooking oil. I use my fingers to do this. Cover lightly with a thin cheesecloth or with Saran Wrap, but do not cover tightly. (You don’t have to cover at all if you don’t have pets or bugs.) Wait for the bread to rise–another five to twelve hours.
Finally, bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees if you have regular sized loaves. Then brush the tops of the loaves with butter.
As I told you, you can use up all of your starter and take a break and then start over. To start over, you just put the three basic beginning ingredients together and add a packet of instant yeast to your cup of lukewarm water. Let this set out on the counter all day and then refrigerate it till you’re ready to start making bread again (3 days to a week). Or if you want, you can just go ahead and make bread with what you just mixed together and then you won’t have any leftover starter to keep. Bread freezes great and “gives away” even better! There!
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. “ But listen, ladies: There have been many times when a good loaf of bread has opened the mouth and the heart at the same time! Sustenance for the soul sometimes starts with sustenance for the body.