Sugar Crisps

March 28, 2010

Starlight Sugar Crisps

1 pkg yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar & 2 tsp vanilla

Soften yeast in water. Mix flour w/ salt. Cut in butter and Crisco. Blend in eggs, sour cream, 1 tsp vanilla and yeast. Mix well. Split dough in half; chill 2 hours. (Dough may be kept in fridge for up to 4 days).
To form crisps:
Mix sugar & 2 tsp vanilla. (Use a fork in a 4 cup measuring cup.) Use this to sprinkle about 1/2 cup on smooth surface you’re going to use. (I use our kitchen counter.)
Roll out half the dough to an 8″x12″ rectangle. Sprinkle with about 1 T sugar mixture. Fold one end of dough over center and the other end over that to make 3 layers (4″x8″). Turn half-way around. Repeat above step 2 more times, sprinkling work surface with additional vanilla-sugar, as needed and sprinkling about 1 T vanilla-sugar each time dough is rolled out to 8″x12″. After 3rd rolling out, cut into 4″x1″ strips; twist each strip 2 or 3 times and place on greased baking sheet. Bake @ 375 degrees for about 15 min, or until light golden brown. Repeat.
Note: Don’t be daunted by this. You can do it. It’s similar to the folding in a croissant-making procedure. But it’s not hard. Once you do it–just read it, one part at a time–it’s just fine. I was freaked out at first at the thought of working my way through these instructions, but Grandma had insisted that they were “no trouble,” so I did it for legacy’s sake. And I’m glad I did. My note: I agree with Grandma. They’re not hard. Easy peasy. (But they don’t seem like it the first time, as you read through the recipe.)

I had always told “Grandma,” my husband’s mother, that I would “never make Sugar Crisps!”  ” Too hard!”  I said.  She reassured me, saying that they were easy.  I didn’t believe her, and refused to ever try….until after she died and there was no one else willing (at that point) to take a step onto that hallowed ground of Grandma’s perfectly twisted pastries.  I loved them and didn’t want to live the rest of my life without them, so I finally bit the bullet and tackled them.  She was right.  They really weren’t hard.  Patricia, one of our guests this past weekend, loved them, too.  As we were sitting and chatting together, I gave her a bit of Sugar Crisp history, and that led to a story…..

My husband and I had only been married 3 months, when it came time to move to the midwest for him to enter grad school.  We were ready to go, with him driving the U-Haul, while I was driving the car.  Before we started out from Chestertown, his mom handed us each a shirtbox full of her signature Sugar Crisps for the road.  You can picture them:  rectangular, white, thin cardboard boxes with lids, each with 2 layers of perfect Sugar Crisps arranged side by side,  with each row separated by a sheet of wax paper. 

Our plan was to drive to Breezewood, re-connect, and then drive to our next checkpoint.  No problem.  Step 1 of our trip was about to be history.  Finding each other easily at the Breezewood gas station, I rolled down my window, leaned my head out, and asked sweetly–(more sweetly than he knew at that moment), “Do you have any more Sugar Crisps?”  He gaped at me, with eyes wide and mouth open, then clapped his mouth shut like the dog in that old Nestle’s Chocolate commercial that used to air when Sky King was on TV on Saturday mornings, in the 60’s.  (Remember him?  Big ole’ dog with a yap trap that clapped shut all at once:  “Nestle’s makes the verry best–Chooooc-l’t?”)  After I heard my husband’s lips smack shut, I think he opened them again, just enough to utter an almost imperceptible, “Yes,” after which he simply rolled his window up, and rolled on out of that gas station, heading for Destination 2.   

 Yep, you can really eat up the miles of a trip when you have 50 or so Sugar Crisps in tow.

Why Simply Bed & Bread?

March 23, 2010

People have asked, “Why Simply Bed & Bread? What made you get started?”
I’ve had different responses to that question.   But part of the reason has to be that it’s because of story….
…..I can still see in my mind’s eye our old heat register where our little family of four would gather when the electricity would go out.  It went out often on the farm, so this was not unusual.  But there was one time, in particular, when it was out, and I think it must’ve been during a big snow.  I must’ve been quite young, but this time of gathering stood out from among all the others.
In our house when I was growing up, desserts were saved for special occasions. And since my mother’s time was limited, she did her dessert baking only on Saturdays.  But oooh, what days those were!  She was always known among her sisters as the “best cook,” so you can imagine what Baking Day meant to this little girl who loved nothing more than to climb up beside her mommy and watch, waiting for her tastes!  (I could always count on pieces of raw pie crust to eat, because my usually frugal mother would throw these away; she saw no use for them, but boy, oh boy, I surely did!)  On this particular snowed-in day, sans power, there we were, my mother and my daddy, my sister and me, eating our supper:  cold white potato pie that had been removed from the freezer, an unheard-of occurrence–dessert for supper!  And that pie was delicious, but my memory is more than that:  it was the warmth, the intimacy, the completely unexpected grace of the moment that that pie supper evoked.  It filled me. And stayed inside of me. So that’s one reason that Simply Bed & Bread is here:  to offer this kind of grace to others.
“I had always felt life first as a story and if there is a story there is a storyteller.”
G.K. Chesterton

Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
Continue reading »