Short and simple. That is what this week's recipe is all about.
With that concept in mind, I must dedicate this recipe to my late mother, Gloria Pesch. As a child (and some would say as an adult, as well), I had a tendency to over-explain things. For example, when I was in high school my mother would ask if I had finished my biology homework. In response, I'd start to go into detail about the differences between meiosis and mitosis. After about 30 seconds, my mother would start to smile and she'd gently pat my shoulder, look me in the eye and say, "Bill, please keep it short and simple."
She was also very humble and down-to-earth. She maintained these qualities even as my father climbed the military ranks to become a two-star general. She treated all people equally and had little patience for any sign of arrogance. She reinforced humbleness within our family. I lived with my parents when I attended law school in Washington, D.C. Shortly after I graduated, they hosted a congratulatory dinner at our home. As we sat around the dinner table, someone asked my opinion about some legal matter. I launched into a lengthy technical response. After about two minutes, my mother, who was sitting next to me, gently rubbed my hand, smiled, and said, "Bill, stop showing off. Keep it short and simple." I zipped my mouth, appropriately chastised.
Even with the passage of time, my mother's repeated refrain continues to echo in my head. Several times, as I was arguing a legal case in court, I'd look at the judge and notice that his or her eyes were starting to glaze over. My mother's voice would emerge from my subconscious and whisper to me, "Bill, keep it short and simple." In response, I'd quickly summarize my argument and sit down. Often, the judge would be visibly relieved.
So here I am, nearly 30 years after her passing, sitting at my computer typing up this article. There are so many more "keep it short and simple" stories that I want to relay to my readers. But as my fingers start to punch the keys to begin a new story, my mother's image comes to mind. She's smiling, gently waving to me and whispering, "Bill, keep it short and simple." Ok, Mom, this one's for you!
This recipe for beer bread is a perfect complement to a spicy main meal, like chili, or a spicy soup, such as chicken tinola. The sweetness from the bread counters the hotness. The end result is a loaf of bread with a firm crust and a sweet, soft, interior.
This is a no-fuss recipe. And the best part is, it's short and simple.
Week 24: Beer Bread
(As a continuing sign of the aging process, I can't remember who gave me this recipe. But I did find a version of it online credited to a Gerald Norman.)
3 cups regular flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of sugar
1 (12 ounce) can of beer
1/3 cup (5 1/2 tablespoons) of butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease a 9" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.
3. Mix the dry ingredients and beer.
4. Pour batter into greased loaf pan.
5. Pour melted butter over mixture. (Don't stir!)
6. Bake 55 to 60 minutes – until top is browned.
7. Remove from pan and cool for 15 minutes. Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the bread. Serve while warm and spread some butter over the slices.
*As I've said in the past, be sure to either sift the flour before measuring, or use a spoon to spoon the flour into a 1 cup measure. Do not simply scoop the measuring cup into the bag of flour or you'll turn the loaf of bread into a hard biscuit.