Parris House Savory Dill Easter Bread

We all have THAT cook book, especially if we’ve been around the kitchen for a while.  It’s the cook book with the dog ears, the stained pages, and a history.  For me, THAT cook book is the old 1980s version of the Betty Crocker Cook Book.  I received it as a gift for my bridal shower in 1987 and have used it faithfully ever since.  It has the best mac and cheese recipe ever in it, and the recipe for quiche which wins me accolades.  In fact, I served that quiche at our Maine studio opening event in 2013 and a couple of people still talk to me about that quiche.  Really.  But aside from using the recipes just as they stand, following this classic cook book also taught me a lot about cooking, and how to make my own recipes.  I even have a four leaf clover pressed in to the pages of this cook book. I think that makes it extra lucky.

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For a lot of years I used the basic bread recipe in this cook book when baking bread, but gradually over time I started diverging from the recipe, and then I started just winging bread recipes entirely.  It became like soup; you just do it.  The recipe for the Parris House Savory Easter Bread is a combo.  The basic bread recipe in this cook book was the jumping off point, but I changed it considerably.  And the traditional Italian Easter bread, which is actually a very sweet bread with lots of sugar in the dough and sprinkles on top, also inspired this bread in form and appearance.  My mother made Italian Easter Bread every year, and so I hesitated before so radically changing the recipe for our Easter dinner, but I wanted something savory with a rustic farmhouse look. Here’s what I came up with…

  • 1 package dry yeast (or 1 TBSP)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 TSP sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3-1/2 cups bread flour (add more if you need to but be careful not to make the dough tough)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Just before baking:

  • Six RAW eggs, colored or not (your preference)
  • 3 TBSP melted butter
  • 2 TBSP sea salt

OK!  Combine the yeast and all the wet ingredients, the sea salt, and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk them well. Gradually mix in the flours  until you have a wet dough, then add the chopped dill, mix some more.  Add the rest of the flour and when you have a knead-able consistency turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead it for several minutes until it starts to become nice and smooth.

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Use a little cooking spray or oil in a large bowl and plop the dough down in to it.  Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm location to rise.

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While the dough is rising, choose your decorative eggs.  I chose to use the eggs just as they are straight from the Parris House Hens.  These girls lay pretty eggs.

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However, you could certainly use any eggs you wanted, and in traditional Easter breads, dyed eggs are used.  I chose these six:

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After about an hour your dough should be at least double in size.  See the before and after pics here…

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Now it’s time to punch the dough down, and create the circular braid.  Divide the dough in to three equal sized balls, then roll them out in to equal length and width ropes.  From there it’s just like braiding hair.  Braid the dough and then form it in to a circle, molding together the two ends.  Don’t worry that the connection doesn’t look braided; you’re going to just put an egg in there.  Space the other eggs evenly tucking them in the nooks in the braid.  These eggs should be RAW because they bake in the oven as the bread bakes, so be careful about pushing on them too hard at this stage lest they break.

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Now you need to let the bread rise again, about 45 minutes.  It will again almost double in size and puff up around the eggs.

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Now it’s time to prepare the bread for baking.  Melt a little butter and brush it on to the bread, avoiding the eggs so that they do not discolor during baking.  Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the buttered areas, again avoiding getting it on the eggs.  I actually did get a bit of sea salt on my eggs and they speckled from it.

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Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (I’m sorry, my Canadian friends, I don’t know what that translates to in Celsius) and bake on the top rack for about 15 minutes, then move to the bottom rack for another 15 minutes.  I do this in my oven because I find that way it doesn’t get too brown on the top or the bottom.  However, I would caution you to check the bread frequently because ovens differ.  For example, the electric oven at my lake cottage will burn things like this in a heartbeat if I’m not carefully watching them.

When the bread it finished it will be golden top and bottom but not too dark.

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That’s it!  It’s a very easy bread to make and would go nicely with a variety of dishes.  The eggs are hard boiled (or really, hard baked) when the bread is finished and can be eaten along with it.

Tomorrow my husband Bill will be making his family’s homemade French vanilla ice cream recipe.  Stay tuned for that as well.

Happy Easter, happy Spring, and happy hooking! – Beth

What’s In Store for 2015? Maine Edition

designed by Freepik.com
designed by Freepik.com

It’s been an exciting 2014 for Parris House Wool Works.  2014 was the first full year that the Maine studio was open.  This year we firmly established the best.hooking.group.ever meeting every Tuesday in Maine, we were welcomed in to the Beekman 1802 Rural Artist Collective (thank you Josh, Brent, staff, and every living thing at Beekman 1802!), we were finalists in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, and we had an even better 2nd Annual Paris Hill Hook-In.  We redesigned our website, made many new friends and customers, and introduced our soap line and other new products and patterns.   I continued my participation in The Keeping Room’s fall Harvest Hook-In and Hooked Treasures’ Spring Fling Hook-In (thank you Toni and Cherylyn!).  Thanks to Cathy at the Oxford Mill End Store I taught quite a crop of beginning hooking students there this year.  I also got to teach a wonderful group at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village last summer (thank you, Michael and everyone at SDL!) and participate in Open Farm Day there.

So what’s on tap for 2015?  Well, here are just a few of the ideas I plan to bring to fruition.

MORE CLASSES

I’ve been asked to teach a beginner dye class for a very long time now.  Our first beginner dye class in Maine will be held in January, with beginner dye classes held quarterly thereafter in April, August, and November.  I will also start beginning hooking workshops quarterly, in February, May, September, and December.  In addition, I will try to schedule more classes by other teachers, including Connie Fletcher for her popular Tips & Tricks class again if possible.   Watch the “Classes & Workshops” section of the website for specific date announcements!

The incomparable Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Rug Hooking teaching her Tips & Tricks class to the Maine studio hookers.

MORE HAND DYES

Our hand dyed wool is becoming more and more popular and in demand.  I will be setting aside more time to bring you beautiful hand dyes.  I will continue custom dyeing services as possible, but hope to increase the variety of hand dyes on the shelf so as to bring more options in any case.

PARRIS HOUSE PUBLICATIONS

There’s been banter in the Maine studio about creating a cook book based on the recipes and hooking experiences of our Tuesday group.  I would like to make that a reality this year, as well as a Parris House Wool Works calendar (obviously a priority given that it’s almost January!), and possibly hooking themed note cards and other paper goods to celebrate our love of the craft.  And, of course, our quarterly email newsletter will continue.  Stay tuned for news on this.

Vegetable latke recipe made by Beth, but given to her by Maine hooker Libby Armstrong.

EXPANSION OF OUR SOAP AND SPA PRODUCT LINE

We are working on new all natural scents all the time.  In Maine, our newest soap scent is Winter Peppermint Potpourri.  These new soaps will be available in January at the Maine studio, at the McLaughlin Garden gift shop, and in our Etsy shop.  Also in development are lotions, cream perfumes, and candles.  We hope to eventually offer “spa sets” for gift giving or just for personal pampering.

SEPTEMBER MAINE LAKE HOOKING & HIKING RETREAT

This is the year we do this thing, the Hooking & Hiking Weekend Retreat at Sunset Haven on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, Maine.  As a Registered Maine Guide, I have been looking forward to combining two of my passions, hiking and hooking, and sharing them with hookers at a special, restful retreat.  We’ll keep the hiking at a level everyone can do (or if that part of the program is not your thing, you can hang out at Sunset Haven on the lakeside deck with a glass of wine) and bring the warm and relaxed ambiance we have at Tuesday group in Paris to the lake.  Space will be limited.  I will have detailed information and registration materials up on our web page and social media by March, so keep an eye out.

MAINE STUDIO HIT AND MISS RUG FOR CHARITY

Again, acting on an idea that came from the Tuesday hooking group, I will provide a large hit and miss pattern on a single piece of linen for our hookers – or anyone who comes in to the studio – to work on at their leisure.  We still have a BIG basket of random worms bequeathed to us by Artful Hands, and we ALL have our not-so-secret stashes of leftover worms from other projects.  Two of our Tuesday group hookers have been affected by kidney disease, and so, when the rug is finished we will raffle it off to benefit a charity relating to that disease in 2015.

Rug by kidney transplant recipient and Maine studio hooker Irene Adams as a gift to her transplant team this year.

TEACHING AT SQUAM

Honestly, I am so bowled over by the opportunity to teach at the Squam Art Workshops in June, I don’t even know what to say.  Thank you, thank you to director Elizabeth Duvivier for this opportunity, and dear friend and poet Sarah Sousa who brought my art to Elizabeth’s attention.   Join us for a wonderful hooking workshop!

Those are just some of the highlights, but also on the goal sheet are:

  • the addition of many new patterns to our offerings, including more abstracts and contemporaries to go with our traditional fare
  • get a pattern featured in Rug Hooking Magazine!
  • be a featured maker on the Etsy blog!
  • enter the Martha Stewart American Made contest again
  • enter rugs for exhibit to Hooked in the Mountains
  • our 3rd Annual Paris Hill Hook-In – be there!
  • teaching again at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
  • possibly do a hooking retreat at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs, NY – TBD
  • attend the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival as vendors this year
  • the development of a line of both more hooked and non-hooked scented and warming pillows for the Etsy shop

Running a small business that is your dream and passion can be serendipitous, so in spite of all the careful planning and goal setting, I know there will be surprises along the way.  Goals set may happen slightly differently, and opportunities I can not dream of at this moment may present themselves.  In any case, none of this would be possible without you, dear reader, and so I thank you and wish you the happiest and most prosperous of New Years!  Happy New Year and happy hooking!  – Beth

A Special Holiday Thank You to All of Our Friends and Customers

New clock in the Maine studio made by Ron Adams of Bear Pond Wood Works (maker of our popular frames) and his wife, beloved member of our Tuesday hooking group, Irene Adams.

As the holiday season is upon us and the year draws to an end, we would like to thank our friends, customers, faithful Tuesday group in Maine, suppliers, retailers, and business associates for all of the support and enthusiasm that has contributed so importantly to the growth of our enterprise in 2014.  It is with extremely grateful hearts that we thank ALL of you and sincerely wish you love, peace, joy, and especially, happy hooking, this season and all through the coming year.

Our best wishes always – Beth & Jen

Holiday Shop Announcements: Shipping and Studio Schedules

Christmas is ten days away!  Here is some important information regarding the Etsy shop and the Maine studio.

Shipping deadline for Christmas delivery:  For items that are in stock, I believe we can ship through Thursday, December 18th, and still be pretty sure of delivery by Christmas.   It is highly recommended, therefore, that if there is something in our shop you would like by Christmas, ordering in the next few days is your best bet.

On the Bear Pond Wood Works frames, we currently have in stock unspoken for:  2 small and 2 large.  While these are continually being made, these four currently in stock could be delivered by Christmas if ordered before the 18th.  They are also available for pick up in our Maine studio.

Anything custom made or sold as a finished, hooked piece can probably not make it in time for Christmas at this point.

Studio Hours in Maine:  The Maine studio will be closed from December 21st through January 4th for the holidays and inventory.  (Yes, we have to count inventory here now.  Blarg.)  If you have a “hooking emergency” and need supplies during this time, please call Beth at 207-890-8490 for an appointment.

Studio Hours in Tennessee:  Check with Jen at the Tennessee studio at 615-339-6496 should you need local assistance.  

Happy Holidays and Happy Hooking!

We Have Been Featured in In Season Magazine – Take a Peek!

Photograph is the property of Jennifer Burcke and In Season Magazine.
Photograph is the property of Jennifer Burcke and In Season Magazine.

We’d like to thank Jennifer Burcke of both 1840 Farm and In Season Magazine for featuring our 100% natural, hand crafted soaps in the stocking stuffer section of her holiday gift guide!

In Season Magazine is a beautiful lifestyle magazine that you can subscribe to on-line covering food, recreation, product reviews, natural and healthy living, homesteading skills, and more.  The photographs are lovely and inspiring, and the accompanying articles are interesting and helpful.

So, take a look!  Supplies of our soap are currently limited because of the nature of our small batch production method, however, we are always making more, and will be increasing the number of batches in 2015.  If you’d like some of what we have on hand, in a wonderful variety of natural scents, please follow the link in the In Season article to our Etsy shop and order before Christmas!

The First of Our Hooked Pillows are Up at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile!

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Polka Spot hand hooked pillow. 15″ x 15″ Available exclusively at Beekman 1802.

We’ve been working on this collaboration for the better part of this year, and today is the day the first hooked pillows in our line for Beekman 1802 have gone live on the on-line Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  We are so excited to be part of their Rural Artisans Collective!

We hope you’ll shop the Mercantile, not only for our pretty pillows, but for all of the other wonderful artisanal products that Josh & Brent curate for the shop.  Beekman 1802 is a company with a strong ethical conscience, doing well by doing good.  In other words, a company we can be proud to work with.

You can see our pillows in the Home Accessories section of the shop, or also sort on Pillows.  If it’s hooked, we made it exclusively for Beekman 1802!

There will be additional hooked pillows going up this year, including more scented and warming pillows made with buckwheat and essential oils.

Happy shopping and happy hooking!  – Beth

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Mark Your Calendars for the 2014 Holiday Open House at the Maine Studio of Parris House Wool Works!

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Please join us for our second annual Holiday Open House at the Maine Studio, 546 Paris Hill Road, Paris, Maine on December 6th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Welcome to the Parris House!
Welcome to the Parris House!

We will have a cookie swap, delicious refreshments, goodies baked from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, a prize drawing, and a 10% off sale on all wools!

Some of our delicious heirloom desserts from last year’s open house!
We had samples of our handcrafted soaps last year and will have some this year as well.
Hope to see you on December 6th!  Happy hooking!
Hope to see you on December 6th! Happy hooking!