Birds And Breads

I received several suggestions last week about how to keep Mama Robin from building her nest on the light above our garage door.

One caller told me she puts mothballs inside a nylon structure and ties the sock to the nesting locale. This tip also works well for keeping rabbits and squirrels out of the garden, she added.

A good friend passed along this advice from his mother: Tie a rubber snake around the light fixture, making sure the head is sticking out. That might also scare off at least one friend who is terrified of such reptiles — even the rubber kind.

An online comment posed this question: “Why can’t you just let the robin nest where she wants to? It will only be for a few weeks, and they’re fun to watch.”

I would have indeed left Mama R. alone, except her nesting spot was perched right above the garage door, which we use to go in and out of the structure many times each day. I don’t think it would have been ideal for either humans or birds, and I hoped Mama R. would find a spot where her young family would be less disturbed.

Readers of this blog online know that I came up with my own solution to the problem. I tied plastic grocery bags to the light, and the flapping plastic kept Ms. Robin at bay. Now, she’s been spotted building her nest on top of the neighbor’s downspout, so I’m sure we will soon hear the sounds of chirping babies through our open windows.

Enough bird talk. About a month ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Lucille Lewis Nelson of Windom. For many years, Lucille was a faithful correspondent for the Daily Globe, keeping us apprised of what was going on in the Windom community and even coming to work in the newsroom when a reporter was out on maternity leave.

On this particular day, Lucille was either getting ready to bake or had just baked this bread. She obliged my request to send the recipe and also included a second favorite from her recipe file.

The first is from the 1982 American Lutheran Church, Windom, cookbook. As I always expect of Lucille’s work, she was thorough in including these baker’s notes: “I place parchment paper in the bottom and spray the pan and bottom with Pam. Use a toothpick to see if the bread is done.

“If you wish to freeze this loaf, wait until it is cooled, and then wrap it in parchment paper and place in a plastic bag. Then put it in the freezer. This seems to make it more fresh.

“Also, buy your apricots at the health food store so you are certain there is an entire cup in the package.

“Instead of using plain butter on the bread, put a pound of margarine into a plastic container and then I add almond flavoring. I stir it fully and cover it for a day or so. This causes the flavor to integrate into all the margarine. This is yummy. It is also good on toast or muffins.”

Apricot Bread

Soak 1 cup dried apricots in warm water for 30 minutes.

Combine 2 tablespoons shortening, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, ¼ cup water, ½ cup orange juice, 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Drain apricots, cut into bits and add to batter along with ¾ cup chopped walnuts.

Put batter in loaf pan and let stand in pan for 20 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 65 minutes.

Aloha Bread

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8- by 3 ½-inch loaf pan or 2 smaller pans. Place parchment paper in the bottom.

Mix 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder. In separate bowl, cream ½ cup margarine or butter with 1 cup sugar. Add 2 eggs, 2 mashed bananas and ½ cup margarine or butter; blend thoroughly.

Squeeze the juice of one orange into a measuring cup and fill the rest of the cup with milk to measure ¾ cup of liquid. Add 1 tea-spoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon almond extract. Add liquids slowly to dry ingredients. Add ½ cup chopped dates and ½ cup chopped nuts.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool for 4 hours. Wrap in foil or parchment paper and place in plastic bag. This may be frozen. Serve with almond margarine.