From Field to Fork Lessons in Gratitude

growing goodness

growing goodness

Today’s grief lessons are brought to you courtesy of a visit to Manhattan, KS (aka-Man-Happiness) and the 2015 National Festival of Breads sponsored by among others Kansas Wheat, King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast. It was a whirlwind of activity for us 8 bread baking finalists starting with an educational farm to flour tour of the area.

best stuff on earth

best stuff on earth

It was fascinating to spend the day in the life of the Kejr family. I have a whole new appreciation for how hard wheat farmers work and how dedicated they are to grow quality grain to not only feed people like you and me, but people all over the world. Did you know that 50% of the wheat we grow is exported? Wheat farmers feed the world and as well-educated scientists have invested in themselves to develop better crops with less impact on the environment.

what beautiful country

what beautiful country

From the farm we followed the wheat trail to a grain elevator operation where the wheat is stored and then on to the flour mill where 30-inch granite wheels grind the wheat and fill the bags that we so conveniently pluck off our grocery store shelves.

mill stone

mill stone

Did you know that King Arthur Flour bags are coded so that the flour can actually be traced back to the individual farm where the wheat was grown? Yeah-me neither, but we know now and isn’t that amazing? So much care and quality goes into each and every bag. Our final stop of the tour was the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center where we witnessed wheat science in action and the gorgeous kitchen (yes, I have kitchen envy) where our recipes were tested.

use quality ingredients to make tasty winning recipes

use quality ingredients to make tasty winning recipes

Competitors start your ovens. Every bake-off I learn something new and this one is no exception. I am so very grateful to have Ann Domsch as my hostess and baking assistant. Ann is “my rock” as a fumble through my first attempt at baking my bread. She supports me and encourages me on. With every visitor to my table (about 1000 people visited the event) I hear her say, “This is a great recipe. I have sampled it many times.” I realize this is no longer my recipe, but our recipe. We are a team. We are in it together and I am so very honored and humbled to be in her presence. Thank you co-champion!



If I have learned one thing from my son’s death it is to embrace gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for especially the fact that I can share my inspired and spirited recipes across this great nation. Celebrating William and my dear mother in law, Renetta Keys, through my Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread was an emotionally charged celebration of goodness. How lucky am I to have had such a loving woman in my life and to honor her as the 2015 National Festival of Breads Grand Champion? See the winning recipe: Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread

This loaf was auctioned off for $600.00.  Thank you Red Star Yeast

This loaf was auctioned off for $600.00. Thank you Red Star Yeast

To top it off my recipe is going in to mass production and going to be sold at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Man-Happiness. Folks out there will be breaking “my” bread over dinner and hopefully slicing it up for a killer post Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.

30 thoughts on “From Field to Fork Lessons in Gratitude

  1. Beautiful post … grateful to have experienced this wonderful cookoff with wonderful you! ❤

    • Your gift of the most beautiful “whoosh” heart filled me with so much love and gratitude for your friendship. The fact that you thought to make that for me sent me to a place so dear and special. Thank you again. I love your recipe.

  2. Awww, your posts are so inspiring! So happy you had a great trip. Congrats as that was a very well deserved win!

  3. Congratulations! I’m excited to try your Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread during harvest this week! (If it ever stops raining)

    We farm just south west of Manhattan, KS and i would love it if you come visit us if you ever come down this way again! I hope to become a semi finalist someday 🙂

    • Thanks, Amanda. I would love to come back to Kansas and visit with you. I just loved everything about my experience in your neck of the woods and would love to learn some more. I hope you and your family enjoy my bread recipe and good luck with your own Kansas Wheat experiments. Make it simple but interesting and I know you will win. I sure do appreciate you stopping by my blog.

  4. Lisa,
    It was truly a blessing that our worlds collided and we were able to meet during NFOB. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing all about your blog but more importantly, your life and your story behind everything you make.

    I can’t even tell you how much of an inspiration you (and all the finalists at NFOB) were to me, not only in the kitchen but also in life. You’ve turned grief and loss into something to inspire others to really love one another as well as live life to the fullest. And yet you remain so humble in every way.

    You’re a beautiful woman inside and out. I am so glad we met!

    I look forward to keeping in touch!

    ❤ Jenny

    • The feeling are mutual. At NFOB I have never felt such a fellowship of women. It brought back memories of days gone by baking biscuits in the old church kitchen preparing for the local strawberry festival. It took a small army of women to bake 600 of them. There is something about baking that brings out our hearts in the very best possible way. You, my dear, are inspiring. Always follow your heart. As you already know that road will take you to the very best places in life. So very grateful to have met you, too. From NY to Kansas–isn’t that a coincidence?

  5. I can’t express how moved I feel at this moment. What a joy this entire experience has been for the 8 of us. And you, Lisa, are purely one-of-a-kind! This was such a well deserved win for you in more ways than one. I am humbled to have been there to see it unfold! ❤

    • Such beautiful words from a wonderful and talented friend. Thanks for making me laugh all weekend. We were truly blessed to experience this adventure together.

  6. Congratulations on your victory and having your recipe out there for people to enjoy. Good for you, and I’m glad you made so many new friends.
    Brother JJ

    • Thanks big brother-so fun to make you proud. It is gratifying to play a small part in feeding the world.

  7. Your Awesomeness is exceeded only by your loving heart and gentle words…Peace and Hope…

  8. Lisa, congratulations to you and the other finalists! I learned so much from your article about the production of wheat and agree that we take it for granted to toss a bag of flour in our cart… What a labor of love! Thank you for sharing your winning recipe and I am so excited that your bread will be mass-produced and sold! How exciting. Congratulations!

  9. Thanks, Martine. The whole event was so educational. I will never buy a bag of flour again without thinking about how hard the farmer works to get it to me.

  10. Knew you could win but wow! How humbling to know how many others will be touched by your great recipe and wonderful self ❤ so so happy for you xoxo

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence. I was totally stunned, but so excited. It really is an honor to have my recipe on someone’s dinner table.

    • Thank you, Diane. It was such a pleasure learning all about the Kansas wheat industry. It gave me a whole new appreciation of our love for the land and quality of the products made right here in the heart-land

  11. Lisa, with each passing blog post, you remind me that you are truly assembling a recipe for healing through your example (what am I saying … “a recipe”? – You are assembling a veritable cookbook of lessons of love and healing with each new post, each new recipe, each new life adventure). Not all of us are extraordinary chefs, but you are showing us that pursuing an avocation or a job or a cause – if done with love, a sense of remembrance, imagination, and commitment – is not just an act of healing but a celebration of love and life. I may not be following you into the kitchen, but I am still following your lead every day. Thank you, my dear!

    • now there is a thought….your eloquent writing and my recipes to create a “cookbook of lessons of love and healing”…we need an agent!!! On a serious note…I have never considered myself a leader. I prefer we walk side by side ❤

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