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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

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Ashland Speaks

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 6/7/24 | 6/7/24

By Lula Anderson

What is so rare as a day in June?  I often start my first June column with these words as my friend Rosie would greet me with this sentiment.  The weather has been almost perfect.  The flowering bushes have really been magnificent this year.  The air has been redolent with the scent of lilacs and lily of the valley.  Peonies are starting to open and add their unique scent to the mix.  Gardens are starting to be planted, we sense a new awakening.  Kids are prepping for final exams and the end of school.  What a wonderful month.  

Thank you to all who showed up on Saturday to donate much needed blood.  We were credited with 21 pints. That wasn't bad considering it was the club's first attempt at a blood drive and there were so many other activities to attend:  The Tractor Pull, the Historic House tour and the Athen's Light House.  

On Sunday, I went to an all-day meeting in Saratoga for Eastern Star.  The Grand Matron and Patron of NY State gave reports on the projects that we have been and will be working on.  Tunnel to Towers, and the most important for this area, Straton VA Homeless Vets projects.  We filled shoeboxes with items to give to the homeless veterans through the VA hospital.  They included socks, toiletries, and items to make life a little more comfortable.  Over 100 boxes were delivered.  

The VFW had a very full weekend as they started with a ceremony at WAJ to honor the Vets, then on Memorial Day, they placed wreaths at the Ashland (Pleasant Valley) Cemetary, the Windham Cemetary, and in Hensonville.  Then, on June 9th, there will be a breakfast at the VFW building on Rte 23, Windham.  Free Will donation.

The Mt Top Golden Agers still have openings for the trip to MacHadyn Theatre in Chatham on July 4th to see Sister Act.  $78 includes lunch.  There are also a couple of openings for Defensive Driving Class on July 18th.  Call Patty at 518-821-8670.

Sympathy to the family of James Warner, husband of WAJPL member, Lynn who passes, and the Decker family of Ashland on their loss.

Healing prayers for Ad Armstrong, Gerry Cunningham and Ken Mabey..


First of all, a disclaimer.  I heard from a couple of people that I have my days mixed up according to the old song that we learned in school, but with my 92-year-old memory, I have really just been "winging it".  We were supposed to mend on Wednesday, and clean on Friday.  Today I will be covering Saturday's job, which is baking bread. (But we'll make believe it was Thursday.)

We never ran to the corner store to get bread, as there wasn't one around, so every week, mother would bake enough bread to last.  We always bought flour by the 100-pound bag and had yeast in the fridge . Not the little packets as we see today, but cubes of yeast, or a homemade starter that we kept growing.  If you used starter, you would take about half of it and put it into a big bowl. Flour would be added, and a little water, and that would be put aside for about half an hour to start to proof.  Meanwhile, additional flour would be added to the starter, along with water, and that would be covered and put in a cool area for next week.  Back to the big bowl, more flour and water would be added, maybe a touch of sugar, and salt, and Mother would knead that until it was as smooth as a baby's butt.  (technical term used in baking.)  The biggest crockery bowl would be greased, and the dough would be put in and covered, set in a warm spot and let rise for the first time.  During the rise time, the fire would be stoked so the oven would be at proper temperature, even in the summer.  The kitchen couldn't be too hot or too cold, or the dough wouldn't rise.  While proofing there were always other chores to do, such as feed the chickens, gather the eggs, churn the cream into butter. Anything to keep you busy.  When you checked the dough after about an hour, it would have doubled in size, and it was time to knock it back and shape it.  We usually baked it in large loaf pans so we could have sandwich bread.  The dough would be divided equally into the pans, and some would be made into dinner rolls for that night.  Cover it back up, and let it rise for the second time.  Another hour and you would put the pans into the oven.  What a smell!!  We couldn't wait for the first batch of rolls to be done.  The fresh butter would be scooped into a bowl, and as soon as the rolls would come out, they would be slathered with butter.  Ouch, ouch fingers burned, mouth burned..   MMMM delish!  When the loaves were done and turned out of the pan, we would wrap them in the waxed paper that was saved from last week and put in the larder for the week.  Funny, it never tasted stale, even when the week was over.  It was always good.  

One of Bill Mead's memories of my friend Rose and Marty.  Rose decided to match the cost of homemade bread to store bought.  She could make 5 loaves for the price of one, so she decided to bake her own.  The fresh bread came out of the oven and immediately one loaf was eaten.  By suppertime, the next two loaves were eaten, and for breakfast the next morning it was gone.  With store bought bread, it lasted the whole week.  Moral of the story:  it may be cheaper in the short run but cost way more when she had to keep baking to keep up with the demand.  

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