How I Have Enjoyed Greene Traditions

History and legacy are important to the Greene’s. They’re diligence of keeping historic records and appreciating the “things” passed down from generation to generation has helped maintain the beautiful tradition of family union alive. Even as I write this post, family members who are able to attend the “Opening Weekend” of The Manse are already there working hard and strengthening the family ties. 

Every year the Greene and Torrey families gather for a family reunion in Jaffrey, New Hampshire at the old family home; The Manse. Over 200 years of American history, this large house has kept the branches of this family tree connected. Each year the schedule is made and every family branch gets their chance at residing in the old home for a portion of the summer and that family gets the honor of hosting the big family meeting that we have each year. Una tradición muy bonita. Our families have experienced wonderful times and strong family bonding, Gracias a Dios. God has given the Greenes and Torreys vision and perseverance and they’ve used it well. The San Diego Greenes have had their share of history, connection and bonding, y pues, we always look forward to our time in The Manse. Those early days were scary for me but my flaco and my suegra helped me adjust to the quiet New England ways and I then learned to embrace this history with my Cold Blooded Englishman. 

This is a shout out to my suegra, mother in laws aren’t always looked at positively, pero gracias a Dios that I was and am able to appreciate and remember Nancy T. Greene, my husbands’ strong mother, my kids’ sweet nana and my quiet and poised mother in law. 

I had just a few short years with my mother in law in which she imparted into my life a few lasting wholesome traditions that I’ve shared with our family and friends. 

It was at The Manse where I learned the age old practice of making homemade bread. Asi es, this strong latina woman makes some pretty delicious homemade bread. One of Bens’ early days of marriage “hints,” was about his moms delicious bread. He said his mother would bake homemade bread?! Y, she did it for the week. I couldn’t imagine that, how could  a nice square with dome top bread slices come from pan made at home? My ama didn’t use her oven for baking, it was for storage! Ya se, it is a typical stereotype of the kitchens of Mexican women in America, pero pues, it was like that en mi casa. My ama made sweet delicious desserts only on the stove top or pan dulce from the panadero. I could talk about whipping up some homemade flour tortillas, but bread? It came from the grocery store. 

On our first trip back East, Ben was so excited to show me all of his childhood and family history, it took everything in me not to panic. How would his family treat me? We were staying with his mother, hijole! Thankfully, my wise mother in law  planned for a few quiet days in her home in Connecticut, it was Bens’ childhood house, gracias a Dios. It helped me to adjust to the New England climate and culture; calm and quiet. I felt out of my league and I needed a few days to absorb this new way of living. On to The Manse in New Hampshire.

As far as I could tell, New Englanders did nothing, except relax on vacation?! Por supuesto que I had never even experienced a “vacation,” pero I thought vacations were about traveling, going places and seeing new things, not relaxing. I wasn’t completely off, but for the Greenes going to Jaffrey and residing at The Manse is about simplicity, quiet, rest and leisure. Imaginate?! Shocking! Y aun ahora, this California girl can only handle just a short time of this peaceful living. I need activity and noise. I need things to do. On that first visit,my mother in law saw my need and used it to benefit us both. We connected while I learned some family traditions. 

One day, Nancy graciously offered to teach me how to make homemade bread.  Ya te imaginas, all the crazy thoughts that formed and cluttered my head. Imposible! Maybe she’s worried about Ben? What if I fail? But I answered, “that would be great, Ben will be happy.” And my flaco was happy. He yearned for me to embrace what he loved. He was quite pleased that his little wife had learned to make his moms delicious bread. Y sabes que, it wasn’t hard at all. Well maybe the part of my mother in law being nearby to teach me was nerve wracking. It is a simple recipe that took, muscle for kneading and some extra time. Ya se, nowadays, there are so many “time saving” appliances for the kitchen, pero after 34 years I still make my bread the way my suegra taught me, the old fashion way. I love it. It has been a tradition I passed down to my hija, and my nietas, and working on passing it to my own daughter in laws. Just this week I made 10 loaves of homemade delicious bread. It gives me such pleasure to share my loaves with others. In a few days I’m gonna teach some of the young ladies from church, you know a hands on experience. Pero, if you are interested in a good old fashion method and simple recipe, aqui tienes.

Nancy’s Homemade Bread

        Makes 2 loaves

  • 3 cups of flour  (I use all purpose flour and the brand that’s on sale)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (not margarine, it makes all the difference)
  • 4 tablespoons of white granulated sugar (I have made a small optional adjustment here by using 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, it seems to me that it has a nice moist texture)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of yeast
  • 2 ½ cups of very warm water.
  • Extra butter and flour will be needed through the process.

Use a mixer to mix all the ingredients, mix well for a couple of minutes. Then add 3 more cups of flour. With a cooking spoon mix it well. Then, sprinkle lightly flour onto your surface so that you can knead your dough for 15 minutes. At first it will be messy. While I knead, I sprinkle flour very lightly as needed. Do not add too much extra flour because it will make for “tougher” dryer dough that will not stretch and pull nicely. Also, I “butter” my palms as I knead. Dough should feel soft, when you poke it, it will spring back. 

Butter the bowl you mixed in and place your ball of dough in it. Let it rise until it doubles in size.

Punch out the air, reshape it into a ball and cut it in half. With a rolling pin stretch out the dough, get any air bubbles out and then roll the dough back tightly, like a rolled taco 😀 Pinch each end closed and place each roll into your butter loaf pans. Let rise until they double in size, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When they are brown on top, lightly tap the top, it will sound hollow, they’re ready. Place them on your rack and butter the tops and let them cool. Listo! Homemade bread for la familia. 

I made my homemade bread like this since my mother in law taught me, and I’ve gotten great results with the extra confidence that comes from others, very culeca, I am loving it. Let me know if you decide to make it and how it went. Have a beautiful weekend, que Dios los bendiga.