Cathy Althaus has rediscovered her love of cooking now that she has retired from teaching and has more time. She and her husband, Rick, live in Lake Winnebago and enjoy entertaining family and friends. They have two grown daughters, and Cathy especially enjoys cooking with her 4-year-old granddaughter.
Q: How did you learn to cook?
A: My father was Italian, and we had lots of good cooks in my family. They lived in the northeast side of Kansas City, and while I don’t remember my grandparents, I particularly remember cooking with my great aunt. She was a wonderful cook and enjoyed fresh food.
One dish she prepared was fried fresh squash flowers and now, as an adult, I realize that squash flowers were a gourmet treat and not every family had them.
Q: Have you always enjoyed cooking?
A: Yes, I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen, but when I was teaching full time, I simply did not have as much time as I would have liked. I think my cooking has improved since I retired. I really enjoy hosting family dinners and inviting friends for casual dinners.
When I was first teaching kindergarten, I could incorporate cooking and food lessons into the curriculum, especially for our annual class Thanksgiving feast. It was a fun class, with lots of food, and the children wore costumes. I missed the food lessons later in my career, when school policies limited the food, as so many children were dealing with food allergies
Q: Do you enjoy new recipes?
A: Yes, I like to try new recipes and always encourage people to try new recipes. It seems that many people are afraid of preparing new recipes and yet it is definitely worth it. You may not hit it right the first time, but I suggest you keep trying, and it will get better.
Q: Why did you share the poppy seed bread recipe?
A: I got this recipe from my sister, who received it from her friend, which makes this a popular recipe that has been shared many times. I bake this bread often and “gift” a lot of loaves. One recipe makes two loaves, so it is ideal to share, and the bread freezes well.
A loaf is perfect to give to neighbors as a holiday treat or to share with friends anytime, even for funerals. I deliver this poppy seed bread and my banana bread, sliced and arranged on a platter, as these breads are ideal to serve any time of day, including for breakfast. My neighbors always expect to enjoy a slice when they come to my home for bunco.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants who make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published 11 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com
Poppy Seed Bread
Makes 2 (8-by-4-inch) loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon butter extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer at medium high speed, beat together the sugar and oil. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the milk.
Add the poppy seeds, vanilla and almond extract and mix well. Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While the bread is baking, stir together the topping ingredients. Brush the topping over the bread, allowing it to soak in. Let the bread cool about 15 minutes, then remove from the pans.