On Saturday mornings, Mill Valley interior designer April Lawrence makes pancakes for her husband and young son from a family cookbook titled, The Stories and Recipes of Lake Shore Farm. Besides heartfelt, homey recipes, this second printing of the paperback, staple-bound booklet, self-published in 1985 by Lawrence’s grandmother, Eloise Watson, contains plenty of lore dating back to the family’s colonial history on the 500-acre farm, located in Northwood, New Hampshire. One of these stories is about Lawrence’s great, great grandfather, Edville Watson, who gave up farm life in 1913, heading west to California, where he made and lost a fortune speculating in oil wells and even patented plans for a helicopter craft, which never, er, took off.
Lake Shore farm grew crops such as hay and wild strawberries—the rolling hills were blanketed in tiny ripe-red fruit, dangling heavy like a ruby earring. From 1926–2012, the farm was also a bed and breakfast. Guests who were interested in the homestead’s heritage and Eloise’s 1950s-style comfort food, could purchase the book as a souvenir. “There’s a lot of instruction to, you know, throw in a can of green beans or something,” says Lawrence. “I’ve adapted a lot of these recipes to be fresher and healthier.” Another treasured recipe is for the milk bread, a dense loaf that transports Lawrence straight back to childhood, back to making forts with her cousins in the birch forest, back to learning how to swim in Jenness Pond, back to that big wooden table where her grandmother would knead all of the dough, back to the memory of homemade butter melting on hot bread. Lawrence, who has been “noodling with the idea” of writing her own family cookbook, enhances this particular recipe with garlic and rosemary. “My love language is food,” she says, riffing on Gary Chapman’s 1995 bestseller, The Five Love Languages. “It’s how I show people I really care about them, and how I thank them for spending time with me.”
“My love language is food. It’s how I show people I really care about them, and how I thank them for spending time with me.”
Recipe adapted from The Stories and Recipes of Lake Shore Farm
Makes 3 to 4 dozen rolls or 2 loaves of bread
In a large bowl, mix together:
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups hot water, about 140 degrees
- ¾ cup shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 envelopes dry yeast
- pinch of baking soda
Let mixture stand until yeast begins to work.
Stir in thoroughly, a little at a time:
- 6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour.
Then, make a paste of:
- 4 minced cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper.
Mix in with the dough.
Cover and allow dough to rise until double. Punch down the first rising and after a second rising, turn dough onto floured board or countertop and knead until all air bubbles are gone. Form dough into bread or rolls. Cover with a cloth and let rise until double. Bake rolls at 425 degrees; loaves of bread at 400 degrees. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter as they come from the oven.