Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chain Letters

This has been a week or so of chain letters. I got one in the mail that said if I would just send $1.00 to the 6 people on this list, make copies moving all the people up the list and add mine to the bottom, with in a few weeks I would have at least $250,000! Most people make more!!! wha?!

I'm not a fan of chain letters. I remember very distinctly the first time I was ever exposed to one. I was in about the sixth grade and a young lady in our church brought over an unmarked envelope she received in her mail that day. She was very distraught over the contents and wanted some pastoral perspective. I remember my parents reading through and reassuring her that curses wouldn't reign down on her life if she just burned the silly thing up. I don't really remember how she responded, but I remember my dad's general disgust with the concept. He shared a liberal dose of perspective with me that day...

With the advent of electronic communication, chain mail has evolved. It is for this reason I'm not a fan of the e-mail forward. On the occasion I *might* feel the need to forward, if at any point in the articles history someone has tacked on a goofy, "Send this to 10 of your friends and make a will come true in 20 minutes" I will edit that part off. I know that wishing and forwarding combo doesn't really work because the Publishers Clearing House people have never knocked on my door and I have never won the Dream House off of HGTV. Clearly, between various forwards (worth passing on) and the official entry into those sweepstakes, I should have won many times over. I have yet to be ambushed with a large check or cameras at my front door. (which is probably actually a good thing since I am sometimes in my PJ's til around noonish. I know, shocking.).

I dislike the inspirational ones even more. LOVE the stories! Often they are moving, thought provoking and encouraging. Just don't go ruining the whole thing by tacking on a spiritual guilt trip ("if you love Jesus you'll forward this to everyone on your list" or a slight alteration of the wishes...only it says "PRAY for twenty people you know and look for your miracle tomorrow" or some other such nonsense.)

Since I dislike the concept of forwards, but I love meeting new people and sharing tips, tricks, gifts, etc., I have been sucked into trying 'nice' chain letters. You've seen them...most notably, the recipe swap.

Yeah, I tried this. I do like recipes and fun is at the top of my list of ways to spend my day. Here is my favorite reply, from my sister. (my paraphrase)

No one likes chain letters and we don't all need new recipes. Frankly, I am overwhelmed with the ones I already have. Take me off the list, I will not be participating.
She was only slightly less snippy.

And even though they are illegal via the postal mail service, I rec'd *this* one and gave it a whirl. I'll have you know that I did not get a single, solitary reply. None, nada, zip. And I purchased some very cute towels for the exchange!

So last week when a friend offered up the Holy Grail of baking chain exchanges, what was a girl to do? I'd never even heard of Amish Friendship Bread. The premise is a little different in the baking world, a chain is when you are given a starter which you must care for and feed until it's ripe enough to bake. But before baking, you split it off and share your starter with other non-suspecting friends. Of course, the same kind of folk-lore that I detest exists even in the baking world. Attached to this recipe were dire warnings with eternal consequences. Okay, not really eternal.

What it did say that I could NOT use any metal mixing utensils or bowls. Um, hello...recipe writer, I'd like you to meet my lovely kitchen assistant, my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Metal mixing bowl and beaters. If metals out, then so is the completion of this recipe. Clearly, I could not listen to that warning.

After sizing up the recipe and seeing that the list of ingredients included instant pudding mix, I was pretty sure that this did not start with a sweet old Amish woman. After all, I have read Beverly Lewis' books and I know they are simple people and don't do buttons, zippers, or other inventions of convenience so instant pudding would most likely NOT be on their shopping list or a stock item in their kitchen pantries.

Never-the-less, I was intrigued by the concept. SOOO, we gave it a whirl. We fed, mushed and took good care of that starter for 10 days. Then, in my general kitchen fashion, I threw caution to the wind and adjusted the recipe for my tendencies. I did not follow the recipe exactly (reduced the sugar and substituted applesauce for oil), I completely ignored the warnings (used metal bowls and beaters) and I baked the whole thing in a bundt pan rather than loaf pans. It was DIVINE.

Here is a great blog where I researched all about variations and how to make a starter if you have no Amish connections. I decided not to share my starters as there are so many cool ways to use it! And one of the commentors gave mathmatical ways to reduce your starter production so that you are not everrun by too many, but you can still bake your bread when you want to. I am very excited to try my hand at the sourdough bread mentioned in the comments.
With the Holiday season upon us, I see this recipe and starter as a chain letter I can embrace with enthusiasm. That's sayin' something folks!


dianne - bunny trails said...

Great post! I used to do the Amish Friendship Bread thing. But my friend & I tweaked the recipe so that we didn't have to give it away (you can only do that for so long), and so that we could bake it every 2 weeks, not every 10 days (we both worked full-time and that was better for us). I made muffins out of mine and since there were a lot, I always took a little basket with a half dozen to my babysitter and her daughter. It really is a flexible and yummy recipe.

Chain letters? Yeah, whatever . . . I'm of the same opinion. If it's email and it's good, I chop off the stupid stuff and send the part that has value. As if people don't have enough pressure in life! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I will admit to being sucked into the 'recipe swap' email chain letters because I really love getting/trying new recipes. That being said, I only get about 2 recipes (not the 100's the email everytime I have probably recieved one of my forwards :-)

On a different note, Aren't Beverly Lewis books awesome? I love visiting Amish country. The peace experienced there is like no other place on earth (the same can be said of the food as well!) I am currently reading book 3 of her 'The Courtship of Nellie Fisher' series. Book 1 of that series 'The Parting' was dedicated to me & John!!! She actually based one of the characters on our 'adoption situation'..(She told me that it is not uncommon for Amish women to have babies for a family member who can't conceive/or carry a baby). Her husband and my husband have been BFFs for over 20 years now!

If you haven't read 'The Parting', you should. This series is very, very good! (insert shameless plug

Mrs said...

I used to write three page letters to my cousins in NM. They would respond with . .. a chain letter.

I begged my Aunt, their mother, to get internet so we could email. After TEN YEARS she finally did! The first thing she sent was . . . an email chain letter.

And they consider this writing to me! "You know, I wrote to you and I haven't heard back from you . . ."


PJ said...

I came over to say hello since the Blog Frog says we have 4 links in common. I figured with only 1 degree of separation in 4 directions, I should at least say hello. Then I discover that you are a namesake (My name as one less "l") and we have more in common. I'm a mother of only two, home schooled for only 1 year (And not terribly successfully), but I also love coffee, dark chocolate, good books, my husband and Jesus. My kids are grown now (You look about their age!), but I'm a delighted grandmother.

I enjoyed your post. I tried the Amish Friendship bread once upon a time, but like home schooling, I wasn't very good at it. Too much timed stuff there. I gave mine to a friend to make for me. (I love good friends!) AND I ALWAYS, ALWays remove those curse/good luck statements in any emails I choose to pass on!!

Nice to meet you!

Tina Elder Riddle said...

Glad the Amish bread finally turned out good for you. When you called me that day I was of no help at ALL!! I finally gave up on our starters because I got sick of it. I do have one in the freezer for the time I decide to pick it back up since John & Samuel love it so much.

I know I sent you that recipe chain. Forgive me!! Only one person responded to me, but not before chewing me out that I had not blind emailed everyone (I had sent it to about 6 or 7 people)...she was very offended that others might see her address. In response, I have refused to try her recipe! lol While she was probably right, the fact the she hit "reply all" and chewed me out to everyone did not really endear her to me.

I did a kitchen towel chain once. It sounded so very cool. I did buy and mail my one kitchen towel, which I took great pains to choose. I think I was supposed to get somewhere around 30 back...I'm not sure of the exact number. Anyway, I got one back. It was a nice one, so at least I broke even.

I feel the same about the email forwards, especially the ones that end inferring that if you don't forward it you are ashamed of God before men, etc...

Charley & Jessica said...

Thank you for the comment! God is so good and we are so excited! :)

Have a wonderful day! :)

love from Alaska,


Donna J. Shepherd said...

Oh, yeah, I've tried them all - recipes, Amish bread, dish towels, you name it. And now I sound like your sis! lol! Thanks for a fun post. Enjoy your bread.