The Myra Merryweathers love to celebrate special occasions. This week's celebration is on behalf of the Roman goddess Fornax, the goddess of ovens, whose feast day was celebrated on February 17. What? You've never heard of Fornax? That's okay--most of the Merryweathers didn't know about her, either. She's one of those obscure goddesses that never get enough respect.
But the Merryweathers are out to change that. They had a big herbal bake-off this week, in Fornax's honor. Everybody brought a home-made herb bread and a recipe to share. The breads were polished off in record time. (You know the saying: Good bread never loafs around.) And since few of the Merryweathers have a lot of time to spend slaving over a hot oven (sorry, Fornax), the top two prizes went to the fastest bakers. Here are their recipes, guaranteed to please even the pickiest Roman family.
Betsy Blumefield’s Quick and Easy Herb Biscuits
Betsy is a home-schooling mom who likes to cook with her kids. She says they love the part where they get to scoop the dough into two dozen bitsy balls and roll them in the cheese. ("They get to sweep the floor afterward," she adds. "It's part of the lesson.")
2 cups baking mix
1 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese mixed with 1/4 cup flour
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan. Mix baking mix, herbs, sour cream, and butter. Dough will be sticky. Scoop into 24 balls and roll in cheese/flour mixture. Place in mini-muffin pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, until brown.
Lillian Lippencott’s Saturday Night Special Herb Bread
Lillian works at the dry cleaners in Pecan Springs and doesn’t get home until four on Saturday. She says that if she puts out frozen dough to thaw in the morning, and gets started on it when she gets home, she has hot bread on the table by 6. The Romans would be astonished.
1 1-pound loaf frozen white bread dough (follow package directions for thawing)
2 teaspoons dried basil, or 4 teaspoons fresh, minced
2 teaspoons minced dried rosemary leaves, 3 teaspoons fresh)
1 tablespoon minced chives
Briefly knead thawed dough on lightly floured board,. Knead in minced herbs until evenly mixed. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Shape into a smooth ball and place in a loaf pan. Cover, let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Bake in 375° oven until golden, about 35-40 minutes.
“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”--James Beard
"How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?"--Julia Child