Savoring the Seasons: Cooking up connection: Enjoy community cookbooks

  • Mary McClintock

For The Recorder
Published: 4/11/2017 4:12:54 PM

I’ve lived in Conway for almost 33 years — since my then-partner and I bought the house that Alice and Dick Hassell had built on a lovely hillside. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many Conway neighbors, starting with Lillian Boyden, Walter Goodridge and Helen Spencer.

More recently, after helping with the Festival of the Hills, pre-Town Meeting dessert potlucks, local food potlucks, and the Planning Board, I have been introduced to more Conway folks. One of them is Kate French, who does so much with her kindness and boundless energy. For several years, Kate has collected recipes from Conway folks to create a cookbook as part of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration.

I stopped by OESCO last Friday to pick up a hot-off-the-press copy of the new cookbook, and wow! What a great collection. Not only are there many intriguing and tasty-sounding recipes, but there are comments and stories from folks who shared them, introducing me to even more neighbors.

One name I recognized is Jennifer (Hassell) Coliskey. Her Easter Basket Bread sounds marvelous, and I wondered if she is related to Alice and Dick. Kate gave me Jennifer’s email address and I asked if I could share her recipe. She said, “Of course! I know your house very well. Alice and Dick were my father’s brother and his wife. I was there when they built it.”

I look forward to meeting Jennifer and hearing stories about Alice and Dick and my house.

Have you and your neighbors created a cookbook? I’d love to share your community’s recipes and stories in this column. Together, we’re creating more than good food — we’re cooking up community.

This week we’re eating ...

Easter Basket Bread

By Jennifer Hassell Coliskey (from “Conway’s Open: Savory Eats & Conway Treats”)

1½ C. milk

½ C. butter or margarine

2 package dry yeast

½ C. warm water

6½ to 7 C. flour

2 C. rolled oats

3 eggs (1 egg is separated)

C. honey or molasses

1 T. salt

2 cookie sheets

1½ qt. round casserole bowl

Scald milk, remove from heat and add butter. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water, cover; set aside. In a large bowl, combine honey, salt 2 well-beaten eggs, and 1 egg yolk. Mix well. Add cooled milk, butter, and yeast; mix well. Add rolled oats, mix well. Add 6 or more cups of flour gradually to make a moderately stiff dough. Knead 8 to 10 minutes on a floured board. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough and let rest 10 minutes. Grease 2 cookie sheets and outside of casserole. Cut dough into 1/3 and 2/3 pieces. Wrap the 2/3 piece in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Handle: Roll out smaller dough and cut into 3 strips. Roll between hands to form ropes. Braid and place it in a U-shape on the cookie sheet. Cover and let rise 15 minutes. Brush with beaten egg white. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375. Set aside.

Basket: Place casserole bowl upside down on cookie sheet. Roll out remaining dough. Cut in strips (usually 9 strips will do) and braid. Wrap braids around the bowl. Brush with egg white. Let rise 15 minutes. Bake 25 to 35 minutes at 375. Remove from bowl and turn right-side-up and bake 20 minutes. Let cool. Set handle on basket and secure with toothpicks. Makes 1 basket.

(Note from Jennifer: This may look complicated, but it really isn’t. Just follow the recipe as written and when you’re done, fill the basket with Easter grass, colored eggs, jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. It is edible, but not after it has decorated your table for any time.)

(Note from Mary: Make it with local flour from Northfield’s Four Star Farms and local eggs, milk and honey. Find the flour at Green Fields Market in Greenfield, Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne, Quabbin Harvest in Orange and Mim’s Market in Northfield.)

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to:


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