Secret Ingredients: Grandma’s poppy seed bread recipe

The secret ingredient that makes every recipe better is a story. In this installment of our Secret Ingredients series, Grandma’s poppy seed bread recipe bakes into a loaf full of sweet, buttery nostalgia.

By Kailee Meskimen

Ever since I was a young girl, going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house has always been a treasured time. I remember their house was always stocked with bubble gum and smelled of spiced gum drops — a kid’s dream.  And, I knew if I asked nicely (which I always did), Grandma would make me a small loaf of her light and fluffy poppy seed bread. This melt-in-your-mouth bread has long been a staple dessert for my family’s gatherings.

poppy-seed-bread-recipe

I recently convinced Grandma to bake a few loaves of her poppy seed bread to inspire this story.

Sweet, buttery nostalgia

I was hooked after my first bite nearly 20 years ago. There’s just something about that bread that makes me feel warm inside. The crunchy texture of the poppy seeds complements the buttery bread perfectly. I had never had poppy seed bread before trying Grandma’s, but now I crave it. Not that we weren’t served dessert at home growing up, but Grandma’s sweets were always just a little more special — and this bread is no exception.

The recipe is tucked away in Grandma’s cookbook — but highlighted, starred and bookmarked for easy access because it’s so good and addicting! It’s so popular my grandma continues to make personal mini-loaves for everyone in the family every time we get together, even to this day.

Grandma’s perfect poppy seed bread is surprisingly simple. There are no unique or secret ingredients, other than the nostalgia I feel every time I taste it. The only true surprise is to open up the tin foil-wrapped loaf to see if she brushed her signature hot orange glaze sauce on top, which makes the best bread ever taste even better. The sweet, citrusy glaze acts as a coating, wrapping the delicate bread in a sugary cocoon. She doesn’t add the glaze (also known as the sweet nectar of gods) often, but when she does, it’s an extra-special treat.

I can’t call this recipe healthy, but I can say it’s good for the soul and light enough for a post-dinner snack any time of the year. For a unique twist, try adding chia seeds, crushed almonds or lemon peel. Continue reading

Secret Ingredients: A simple scone recipe and other ‘good things’

The secret ingredient that makes every recipe better is a story. In this installment of our Secret Ingredients series, a simple scone recipe becomes a reminder to pause and enjoy life’s goodness.

simple scone recipe

By Katie Staab

Blustery
is the best word to describe winter evenings in western Tennessee. There might not be snow falling, but the desire to take refuge in a cozy kitchen is just as strong as if there were. I spent one such evening at a friend’s apartment six years ago listening to Ingrid Michaelson’s ukele melody “You and I” on repeat, baking scones and learning to treasure life’s small, yet immensely good, things.

This friend of mine, Jennifer, believed in the value of scattering little, elegant pleasures throughout your day —  like fresh flowers on an end table, her grandmother’s delicate china teacups, a piece of dark chocolate after dinner. Years before Pinterest came into existence, she taught me to keep a “good things” notebook, filled with dreamy recipes, practical how-to articles, fashion inspiration and photos that spoke to me of beauty. Continue reading

Secret Ingredients: Ona’s gingerbread houses

The secret ingredient that makes every recipe better is a story. In this first installment of our Secret Ingredients series, a shared recipe for gingerbread used to make gingerbread houses turns into a memorable Christmas experience for a family.

By Alan Miles

We have a lot of recipes at our house. Besides shelves full of cookbooks, there are notebooks, folders and card boxes overflowing with handwritten ones. But we have only one recipe that’s framed and hanging in the kitchen. Ona Yoder’s recipe for gingerbread houses is singled out in commemoration of a person and a Christmas my family never forget.

Ona

Ona Yoder in one of her many blue dresses.

Ona Yoder

Ona Yoder was our nearest neighbor when my wife, Karen, and I rented a farmhouse in the Iowa countryside in the 1980s. Ona was in her 80s by then, unmarried and still living (by herself) in the same house she had been born in. She grew up with farm-girl responsibilities when the family raised almost all their own food, made their own clothes and cut their own wood. As far I could tell, she owned only blue dresses. She said things like, “Oh my gracious!” and, “Well, I’ll be!” and peppered her conversation with endless homilies like, “Clear moon, frost soon.” And Ona was humble and generous to a fault. Continue reading