Steamed Boston Brown Bread and the Kids I Feed.

It's getting rather tricky trying to get ready for the holidays and cooking for the kids every day but so far I'm balancing it out.  I've been asked some questions about what exactly it is that I do so I thought I would answer them today.  But first, this is what the kids are eating today.  Good old fashioned steamed Boston brown bread. I am making them baked beans with hot dogs and Boston brown bread goes so well with them. It's really simple to make too.  I use pudding molds but traditionally, coffee cans are used.  Here is the recipe from King Arthur Flour:


1 cup whole cornmeal
1 cup pumpernickel flour
1 cup King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins (optional but good)
2 cups buttermilk, nonfat yogurt or sour milk (1cup of milk can be soured with 1 tablespoon of vinegar; let clabber for 5 minutes)
3/4 cup dark, unsulphured molasses


Mix the cornmeal, flours, baking soda, salt and raisins together. Combine the buttermilk and molasses and stir them into the dry ingredients.

Place the mixture in two greased 1-pound coffee cans or one 2-quart pudding mold, filling them about two-thirds full. Cover these loosely with foil that has been greased on the inside (to prevent sticking) and secure with rubber bands. You can grease the inside lid of the pudding mold as well.

Place the cans, or mold, in a kettle or saucepan on top of something (crinkled aluminum foil or a stainless steel vegetable steaming insert will do nicely) to keep the can off the bottom of the pan. The kettle should be deep enough so its lid can cover the pudding container(s).

Fill the kettle with boiling water two-thirds of the way up the cans. Cover, bring the water back to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Steam for about 2 hours, adding water if necessary.
I steam it for more like 3-4 hours.
In the small town which I have adopted, there is an after school program for teenage kids.  The town is one of the poorest in the country.  There is hardly any money at all for this program and there certainly is no money for food of any kind. These kids arrive after school at 3:30 and are there until 6:30.  I have never met any of these kids but I am told that they say that the lunch they receive at school is mostly inedible.

I can't wrap my head around how hungry these kids are when they arrive at the center.  I am pretty sure they are getting next to nothing, if anything, for breakfast.  How are they supposed to sit and do homework and study for 3 hours after school with no food? I remember how hungry I was when I was their age.

So, each day except for Friday when they aren't there, I provide them food.

There are 18 very hungry kids that attend.

There are so many hungry people out there that I would love to be able to feed.  I've tried my best for years making meals for underprivileged families and cooking for 2 years for the homeless shelter.  Nothing has come close to the satisfaction I get from feeding these kids.  They eat everything I send to them.  They share and always make sure that each of them get the same amount.  Sometimes when one of them is sick, another one will take their food to them at home. They have such an interest in the food I send and are very curious to hear stories about its origins and how it is made. This is the second year I've done this.  And though I can't feed everyone, I know each day that I am making 18 kids very happy. It's a drop in the pond but at least it's a drop.


When I was a kid, a friend's Mom always made her steamed bread in coffee cans, as you noted. You are making a real difference for those kids -- I bet the "snack" (more like a full meal) that you make them is the highlight of their days!
Mary said…
I will try that bread recipe, the stuff in the can is passable only. It is not A drop in the pond but 18. These children will have good food, and will grow up knowing about good food and your kindness. This "J dog" cannot be measured!
The JR said…
Wow, a very important drop in the pond. I enjoy reading your posts and seeing what you've been feeding these kids. I've been wondering who you were talking about.

What a generous lady you are to share your time and cost to see that these needy kids get a great meal each day.

Anonymous said…
It's lovely that you are able to share your cooking talents with children, but is this a private school or public? I am guessing private as public schools are very particular about where food comes from. The students should like they are very appreciative of your culinary offerings which makes it even better.
jaz@octoberfarm said…
this is not a public or private school program. these kids go to public schools. the program is an after school program held at a local community center. it was put together by the small town to give the kids somewhere safe to go after school to do their work. it is not affiliated with any schools. the program has volunteers that help the kids do community projects and help each child with their homework.
Susan said…
It's so important for kids to have a safe place these days. And how nice for ALL of you that your food is appreciated and has piqued interest in its origins. You are doing a wonderful thing.
Anonymous said…
I have a few recipes for steamed bread but I've never tried them. Strange because one of my favorite breads are steamed :-)

You are making such a difference for those kids! It is impossible to try to study if one is hungry, well it is impossible to do anything if one is hungry.

Have a great day!

Teacats said…
You have a bright heart and many blessings to you, and your hearth. Hospitality and sharing food is the deepest kind of magic! Cheers!
Ian's Girl said…
God bless you for what you do. Someone should be in contact with the school they attend though. There are Federal programs in place for public schools to provide breakfast and lunch for underprivileged kids. The school should be made aware of those programs, or ( far more likely) be made to explain why the meals they make are so unpalatable.

The kids would most likely still be starving after school; that's normal. But the school needs to step up and do better.
Guillaume said…
You are doing such a great work feeding all those people who need it! And this bread with the molasse and everything, I'd love to try it.
Anonymous said…
Ah, now I understand. My daughter runs a similar after school program at her church in San Mateo but only one day a week. In Fresno, where I live, all of the schools have an after school program that is paid for by state and federal funds. These run every day, every week. Food is included.
Mary Ann said…
It's an important drop, and you know I know!
...and just think, if there were more drops in the pond what difference it would make. Especially when those that have the know how, time and money to do so. Even I could do more..we all could.
Heritage Hall said…
Excuse the lump in my throat and for reaching in front of you to grab a tissue..... Another star in your crown, dear one. What a model you are for others to follow in their communities.. Bless you, bless you.
Leanne said…
Thank you so much for explaining the program, why and how you feed the kids. I've often wondered whom you were feeding and the story behind the gorgeous and delicious food you share with us.
We have just started a similar after school program at our local small town community center and you've inspired me to cook for them when I can; I travel away from home a lot. I know even a batch of cookies or cheese and crackers would be welcomed. What kid isn't famished for a snack or meal after school?
Love your blog, LOVE your house and gardens. Thank you for sharing your slice of life.