“If you want people to enjoy the food you cook, you have to enjoy cooking it.”
Darlene Kronschnabel’s mother would say this as she stood over a hot wood stove in her floral feed sack apron and bake 8 loaves of bread on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. There were lots of hungry people to feed on Darlene’s farm, not only the immediate family, but hired hands, neighbors, and business associates, -anyone who happened to pass by at mid-day was invited to share the meal. “Times were hard” in Wisconsin in the 1930’s when Darlene was helping her mother and grandmother cook. The family moved from farm to farm as her father took a series of jobs as a tenant farmer before finally able to purchase his own farm. But surrounded by loving family and eating fresh, nourishing food with good friends and laughing over tall tales told by passer-bys, Darlene never felt poor, -even in the most uncertain of times.
Darlene describes growing up in rural Wisconsin, and raising fruits, vegetables, and livestock. Her recipes for farm food reveal the flavor of her life and give a taste of the time. Some recipes arrived in Wisconsin with her Hungarian grandmother, and others came in recipe swaps with neighboring farm women. Darlene writes that on the farm, what folks ate changed with the seasons. She describes this cycle of tastes through recipes and stories in her book, Seasons in a Country Kitchen Cookbook.
I happened upon Darlene’s stories when I renewed my search for an edible Easter centerpiece. I found Darlene’s recipe for Twisted Easter Egg Bread Rings, -a holiday bread that looks festive as a centerpiece and is fun to make with kids. But before I hurried into the kitchen, I read Darlene’s description of Easter on the farm. My urgency dissipated, and I read her other stories as well. The stories made me re-think the rushed ‘quick-n-easy’ recipes I favor in this hurried 21st century. I decided it’s time to get back to basics, -time to bake bread. I haven’t baked bread in years, -so here goes. Here’s Darlene’s recipe for Twisted Easter Egg Bread Rings and pictures of my attempt to make them.