Saturday, August 19, 2017
 

Archive for February, 2001

Barefoot in the Garden

Dear Sisters of the Land,

Yesterday I didn’t get any quiet time to write in my garden journal or write down my garden dreams. Today I plan to cook this morning and get something in the oven and out of the way so that I can make a mess with my papers and gardening books this afternoon.

In the spring, after the garden is tilled, I love to plant my beans in the rain … barefooted of course. I make a long furrow with my hoe … uncover the earth and drop my bean seeds in, one by one. Then, with my right foot, I toss the dirt over the top … then step down on it, and next my left foot and step on that … walking backwards down the row. As I put my seeds in the furrow, the rain sprinkles each seed.

I love to plant a garden in the rain … the earth is so yielding and forgiving. It’s like us, when we weep and are so vulnerable … we invite precious seeds from the Lord into our hearts. Tender hearts … forgiving hearts … are so precious to Jesus.

About the time I am so muddy I can hardly walk another row, Papa will yell for me out the back door, “Telephone” or “We have company.”

Then reality hits and I say to myself, “Connie, your fingernails are black. Why didn’t you stick your nails in a bar of soap before you went outside? It will be a week before your hands look right again.” I don’t worry that people will see me soaking wet in my garden, but my fingernails are sort of embarrassing in the spring and summer.

Oh, I love the rain on my long hair … it makes it so soft and gentle. As the rain falls on my hair, I think of how the Lord is washing the worldliness from my glory. A soft warm spring rain is so comforting and healing to both the gardener and the earth and its seeds.

I need the winter to hibernate and rest but when the spring comes, it is to me like a new morning. Everything is fresh … and so much work to do to prepare for the planting season.

Papa is so weary of the winter. He seemed so tired as he left for work this morning. The spring is like a tonic to him … he will feel the joy when it finally comes. This winter has been especially hard and long and it seems the darkest now … just before the dawn of a new morning.

It’s definitely a day to dream and plan in front of my south living room window. The rays of the sun in the afternoon streaming through my angel wing begonia in the window is so comforting … a wonderful place to dream of spring.

Weeping lasts for the night … but joy comes in the morning.

Love,
Connie

Homemade Aprons Over Bare Feet

Dear Kitchen Saints,

Soon… very soon… I hope I can get Jim to take me to the Salvation Army. I want to get some prairie skirts to make a few more aprons. They are fun to make. Just pick out a flowered skirt, soft and cotton. Then you take your sewing scissors and cut the back of the skirt out, so that all you have is the front part of the skirt. Then just buy some cotton washable ribbon and sew them to each side of the waistband and you have a nice long apron. Sometimes, if you cut it just right a long the side seams, then you don’t even have to hem the sides.

I love the really long aprons to cover my skirts. I may even find some more long cotton skirts for spring. In the warm days I think cotton skirts are so much cooler even than shorts.

Of course, I run barefoot all year outside as I hang the clothes on the line and putter in my garden. I promised myself that when I became 40 that I would begin to wear shoes. As it ain’t even decent a woman my age, a grown mother of six children, barefoot. But I turned 40 and I still don’t wear shoes, and then 50 and now 53. I don’t imagine I will ever wear shoes. Well, except when I go to town, ya know? When I first started writing, and to my surprise I got published, I would say to the Lord, “But Lord, I don’t even wear shoes.”

I told Christian Joy, my 27 year old, how I felt. She said, “Oh, Mom, don’t worry about it. Anyone who reads your writing would already know that you don’t wear shoes.” So I guess I’m not fooling anyone, even though I hide behind this email machine.

Well I need to get busy. Just wanted to tell you about the aprons so that maybe you can get some made before spring.

I think for supper I will fix Papa shepherds pie. I just put layer of cooked and drained hamburger at the bottom of a pan. Then put some green beans on the top. Then pour gravy or diluted mushroom soup on the top of that. Then I make mashed potatoes and put them on the top and bake them until they are brown. Papa will be needing some gravy by today. He has some errands to run after work so I will have plenty of time to do my gardening plans on paper this afternoon.

Well, I had better start rattling pots and pans, as Mary Lehman always says when she is starting to fix a meal. Have a good day.

Love,
Connie

Home Made Soup

Dear Ladies of the Pots and Pans,

This morning I am making soup.

Now, soup is sort of a personal thing to us housewives. If I have left over chicken, I make chicken soup. Or whatever. Left over beef? A beef stew. We need to be prudent with what food we have. Let’s try not to waste anything the Lord has given to us and that our husbands have worked for.

Last week, we had a roasted chicken and I have some left. So today, I have cooked the meat off of the bones and I am making chicken vegetable soup. I have some tomato juice that no one is drinking and so I am using that to make the soup look colorful. I also put in broccoli and carrots, so with the white meat, it looks pretty and colorful. Now, the folks here are onion haters… not me but Papa is, and his children follow him. So when I put onions in anything, I leave them in big rings so that the family can eat around them. They like the taste of what onions do for a meal, but they don’t want to eat one. I do the same with green peppers. So my soup is full of onion rings, too. And our family is darned particular about black pepper. It has to be the coarsely ground pepper. And that always makes the soup look pretty, too.

But, as a housewife, my soup is my own creation, made of this and that.

I keep telling Mary, our girl 15, that one of these days, I want to write an article called the Romance of Thrift. Someone already wrote an essay on it, but I can’t remember who it was. I was reading about it once, but never read the essay. But it sounds like a wonderful title for a writing. Because it is romantic to be thrifty… to feed our families our own creations from the money our husbands gave us for groceries. Because, really, it doesn’t matter how much we mothers have to spend on groceries. Mostly, we live on love. The whole family does.

Love can make a soup out of the leftovers in the refrigerator and make it taste like it is fit for a king. The best and most expensive dinner can be served in a house of strife and envy and won’t taste as good as a poor housewife’s hamburger vegetable soup. It’s romantic to have your husband come home to you, his wife, who has flour all over the floor and table, and some on her nose. She is baking his bread and making him a fruit pie. It’s a form of submission to his manliness. It’s a way of building a warm sexual climate for you and your husband. It is a woman waiting on her man and serving him with the fruits of her hands.

My daughter-in-law Alecks, when she cooks, oh mercy! She is a picture of romance. She dances about her kitchen and takes hours to make anything. She wears a long skirt, one of those wrap around gauze type flowered skirts that ties in a knot at the hip. She is Italian. And can she cook! Our son chases her all over the kitchen and hugs and kisses her the whole time she is cooking. He just thinks she is beautiful when she cooks… and she is. I am always barefoot when I cook and Alecks is, too. We can’t cook with shoes on. Alecks says shoes are blindfolds for the feet… and they are, to her and me. One time our son Jimmy tried to tickle her while she was taking something hot from the oven. Oh, he is a character. Boy, she let him have it! Her food is always delicious. But the love she puts into it is what makes it reeeeally good.

Cooking from cans and boxes is ok in a pinch… but it’s far more romantic to cook from scratch.

Love,
Connie

Our Sweethearts

Dear Ladies,

Yesterday morning Christiane, our girl age 27, called from New York. “Just called to see what you girls got from your boyfriends for Valentines Day.”

I answered, “Oh, Chrissy, hi. Oh, we had a wonderful day. How about you?” Well, we talked a bit and then Mary got on the phone and told what her sweetheart had gotten her.

Chrissy had made her young man an apple pie. “I may live in New York,” she said, “But I know how to treat a man.” Yaaaaay, Chrissy… you go, girl!!!

We girls were showered with presents from our sweethearts, and we just rejoiced together.

I tell Mary often that it is a privilege to have a man care about you, and that she should always have a true heart towards Brandon.

The world sure doesn’t know what love is. Last night on the news, they said that we parents should never let our young people fall in love. No. They want to give them a package of condoms and tell them to have sex without love.

In our house, I teach my girls that sex is for marriage and that birth control is a perversion. Both of my daughters want to marry and have lots of babies. Those girls have been hard to handle at times. But I thank God that at least I have taught them how to love a man and want a marriage. I tell my girls that a lot of what women think is horrid submission to a man, in my book, is just good manners.

When Papa has worked all day and comes in the door tired and cold, I make a place by the heater for him and fix him a cup of hot coffee. That isn’t submission exactly. That is just good manners. The man has worked all day to support me and Mary. Wouldn’t we even have that much compassion if we had a roommate and we lived as old lady widows? If one person has been out working and on their feet all day, husband or not, wouldn’t we want to refresh them and give them a place to rest?

The other day Mary was angry with me because I said she had to stay home and help me with something. She couldn’t go anywhere. “Well, Mom, I am young and I don’t have to stay home all the time like you do.”

I told her in no uncertain terms, “Hey, I don’t have to stay home. I like to… and I have earned the right to. I have a man that works every day for me so that I don’t have to go out and work in this ungodly world.” And I thank the Lord that Jim does put his shoulder to the plow for me.

We wives, some of us, need to earn our right to stay home. No man is going to go out and work for a woman that is at home on the phone all day or watching TV. I think some men want their wives to work just to keep them out of trouble. These women are far from virtuous… making long distant phone calls… running up bills all day, or running out shopping, actually charging more on credit cards than what her poor husband even makes in a day. Why wouldn’t he want her to work? No… we earn our right to be stay at home mothers.

A man has to be appreciated. They have to feel that all is well at home before they can do a good job at work. I would never dream of laying in bed when the alarm goes off in the morning for Jim to go to work. I am not a stay at home mother so that I can sleep late in the morning. Even if I was sick, I would get up and make coffee and sit on the couch with a pillow and a blanket. Not because Jim says I have to. No. But I know that Jim needs me. He needs my loving touch and my kisses good-bye. He needs my presence.

For Valentines Day, I made the family a delicious chocolate cake. I will send you the recipe for it later.

Also my Valentine card to the family is made like this. I take those white doily-like placemats made of paper, and decorate one for each family member and put it at their place at the table. I just write sweet love notes to each of them with magic markers.

I use a red tablecloth for Valentines Day. I decorated the table with candles and my kerosene lamp with a gold bow tied around it.

For our supper I fixed baked pork chops with dressing covering the top. Then potatoes and a vegetable… and of course, the cake. I put the lovely card Jim got for me in the center of the table, to honor my sweetheart.

Nothing we do costs a lot of money around here. Love and tenderness isn’t expensive and can’t be bought, anyway.

Sometimes when Jim is at work the kids want to turn up the heat. I tell them absolutely not. Our heat bill went up to four times as much. Papa will have to work four times as long to pay for the gas bill for one month. I am cold, too, but I am getting used to it. I feel a lot more hardy, I will tell you that. But I am not going to turn the heat up and make that man work like a dog to keep me warm while he is at work. How rude and ungrateful that would be on my part! And if I have to hustle to keep warm, my kids sure can.

It’s fun to work in the kitchen in the mornings after school and have something in the oven to heat the kitchen up. That is what our great grandmothers did to keep warm on cold winter mornings. She would get up to milk the cows around 4 o’clock and to fix breakfast, and light the stove to warm the house up for the family.

My grandmother did all of this when I was a little girl. And oh, her breakfasts! The men were all up early and had done chores and came in for breakfast at about 6 or so in the morning. Grandmother had a nice cloth tablecloth spread out on her table. And, oh, the breakfast she would have. Fried meat and potatoes… always homemade cottage cheese, and pancakes or some kind of home made bread. I loved sitting at her table as a little girl. She was always up waiting on the others, pouring coffee and cold milk from a glass pitcher.

After breakfast, after the men were on their way and back to work, grandmother would hold me and rock me on her lap. I was her third grand baby. She had just stopped nursing her own babies by the time I had come along. I remember laying my head on her breast and thinking it was like a soft sweet pillow. Her apron smelled like the wind… mixed with fried meat from breakfast and fresh milk from her early morning milking. I loved her and her presence. I miss her even now.

Jim used to like a big breakfast before he went to work and I loved getting up early and fixing it for him. Now he says “Oh, Honey, I’m not hungry. Coffee is all I want.” Lately Danny (18) has wanted a big breakfast in the morning. He started a new job and works nights and gets home around 5:30 am. So Jim eats a little with him, and I love fixing it. I fix fried eggs, hash browns, and pancakes. Then Dan drinks coffee with Papa. Hopefully, I am creating a home and memories that will shape Danny’s life. He is a young buck strong and muscular… built more like Papa than the other boys.

Well, I have to get Mary up for home school. Love to each of you.

Love,
Connie

Chocolate Cake and Fried Potatoes

Dear Kitchen Saints,

Here is my chocolate cake recipe.

3 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
2/3 cup of cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup of cooking oil
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of water

Mix this all up with your mixer. I pour this in a 9 by 13 greased baking pan and bake it at 375 for 30 minutes.

This is a very good brownie like cake. I like it because it can be made from the things I always have in my cupboard. I like chocolate cocoa cakes because you don’t have to use that expensive chocolate that you have to melt. This cocoa cake can be mixed up in a jiffy because you don’t have to cream the sugar and eggs (no eggs) and all of that. Just dump all the ingredients in and mix it up with your mixer. You do have to mix it really well. It makes a lot, too, and you could freeze some if it lasts that long.

Fried Potatoes

I just fry my potatoes in a big iron skillet.

Jim likes fried potatoes a couple of times a week… well, sometimes more then that. The kids like them, too.

I just put oil in my skillet and start peeling potatoes. I slice them into the skillet. Once I get enough to cover the bottom of the skillet, I let them cook a few minutes while I peel and slice some more and put them in, and I start turning them over. Then I put in another bunch and turn the bottom ones. This is opposed to peeling them all and slicing them and putting them all in at once. They seem to fry better if you just put them in the skillet in thirds rather than all at once. They get browner.

Also I use oil and a bit of butter or margarine. The oil will stay at the bottom and the butter will stay on the top. Nothing fries well for me in margarine… but a little margarine makes the potatoes taste more buttery. At the end of the frying, to make sure they are cooked all the way through, I add about a fourth of a cup of water and put a lid on them and let them simmer a bit… until they are done and the water is cooked in. You could even use left over chicken broth instead of water, or ham broth.

When the children were young, I would fix fried potatoes for breakfast. Then, when they were done, I would add maybe 6 eggs and scramble them up in the potatoes. Often, if I hadn’t made enough potatoes, I added extra eggs to make up for it. I used to get in such a big hurry at times, I would forget to peel enough potatoes.

Also at times for a supper meal I would add cooked hamburger to the fried potatoes, or ham or whatever. Then I would put the fried potatoes in another pan and make gravy from the left over potatoes and meat in the skillet… the scrapings. I would just add about 5 tablespoons of flour to my pan I had fried in… mush it up with the scrapings until you have a paste… no dry stuff left. Then stir in milk, about 2 cups, and stir constantly until your mixture bubbles and thickens. With this supper meal I would just have a canned vegetable or canned fruit. For a one dish meal I would add drained green beans to the fried potatoes and ham mixture and then put cheese on the top. Put a lid on the top and let the cheese melt… takes about 10 minutes.

We Hultquists are good potato eaters and like them any how we can get them. If we have had chill or spaghetti or whatever, Papa will ask me, “Honey, are you gonna fix potatoes tonight for supper?” And the same with gravy.

Happy Cooking.

Love,
Connie

Making a Home

Dear Sisters of Light,

I think, for many of us, when we get up in the morning we wake up to a blank canvas. We must paint a picture on this white open sheet of paper. On it we paint a home in order. The Father guides our paint brush.

For so long now, I have felt for myself and our family that I have been out in a wilderness. I think for many of us ladies… we feel like this. Nothing around us says home and family. In the late 60s and early 70s, we housewives were encouraged in our home making. The Christian feminists were not really the popular ladies of the hour as they are now. A woman had a choice. She could be a homemaker, a stay at home mother, and she wasn’t put down for it. Now the world is going in the other direction… no choice. You have to be a feminist or you are a sluggard, supposedly. For a lot of us die hards, it makes for a walk through the jungle just to get up in the morning and maintain our dignity.

So, sisters in the wilderness, how shall we then live? Of course, we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave His life for us. In the wilderness, we build our homes each day. We know that we are to be keepers at home, dutiful wives and mothers who teach our children the word of God. And so we must be… even if the world don’t like it.

We must each day build our spiritual temples of home and family. It starts with a vision in your heart. We must see our miracles inside us… in our inner man. We must build it by creating a picture of righteousness in our visions that are alive in our spirits and in our souls. It is our hope in God… our vision, our dream… our creativity made into reality.

Bible schools and many great ministries started with a vision… a plan in a man’s heart that came from the word of God. We women have the same opportunity to use what any great preacher has done. We, too, can build a home out of our visions from God. Building a home in this horrid wasteland is not any harder than what Oral Roberts did when he built his university. He built his dream under God’s hand. He moved out of his heart, out of his vision. We mothers of the hour must be visionaries, too. We must live out of the picture of victory in our hearts. This picture of our vision in our inner man is our hope in God. It must be protected and watered until we see it come to birth.

Ladies, if you sing along with the rest of the world, you will get what the rest of the world has… a broken home. It’s like an epidemic out there of broken homes. Unless you have a different plan for your home you will be swept up in the sin that is out there. This is just reality. If you go with the world, you will bear the same fruit that the rest of the world has.

Today build your holy vision in your heart. Get out the word of God and write scriptures on the home on a sheet of paper. Then eat these scriptures and hide these words in your heart. Water this vision daily as you read the scriptures you wrote down. Let the Lord paint a picture of a God centered home in your spirit. Catch the Lord’s vision and picture of a saved and good husband and saved children. Cast out satan’s picture and plan for your life, and water and build up God’s vision in your heart. This is your hope that will create your faith.

And don’t let anyone or anything — not even your husband — steal your hope and joy. If you let go of your hope, then satan can get you to sin. Don’t let go.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the day to day, we must submit to our husbands. But in our area of our hearts, where we come to Christ as daughters of God, it is different. No one, not even your husband, should steal your hope.

I remember at the prison when Jim would tell me he was absolutely hopeless. Now, was I to submit to such a horrid statement? He told me all the time he would never amount to anything. And crowds of people told me this baloney. But was this the word of God? No. It was Satan’s lies. Reality was such that he was hopeless. But God’s miracles set this man free.

God could care less about reality. He doesn’t move in this realm. He moves in the supernatural. Jesus is not bound by what the world says has to happen.

I have seen so many miracles… but I don’t have the ok from Jim to tell you all of them. If you want to hear them, pray that Jim will let me tell them. Also, the Lord had told me that I would have three more children. I had the first three and the devil said you will never have three more. Jim would sit across the table from me at the prison and tell me we would never have more than three children. Well, I didn’t get up and start yelling at him. I just sat in silence and tried to encourage my dear husband. But in my heart I listened to God. I wasn’t about to let go of the hope in my heart. The word said that I was to be fruitful and multiply. And I planned on my husband being saved and I would have three more babies. I did go on and have three more babies and Jim was miraculously saved and healed, and has been healed now for 20 years.

I had a vision in my heart and I wouldn’t let it go until I saw HIS GLORY. Satan tried to beat it out of me plenty of times, but I refused to sin and let the devil have my family.

Make a picture of godliness and hide it in your heart. Don’t let the world and their opinions move you an inch. You don’t have to argue with the world. Be gentle with those who have no faith. They are ignorant of God’s miracles. God’s people perish for lack of vision. Gently, with longsuffering, teach the world of the faith of God by your own actions. Put a smile on your face and put hope in your heart. Walk out your faith for the world to see. Make a home in the midst of a storm. Set your eyes upon God and look neither to the left nor the right.

Today, this day, choose righteousness. Today get alone with the Lord and allow Him to paint a picture with His word. Put it in your heart and live off of it until you see His glory.

Love,
Connie

Breadmaking

Dear Ladies,

It is Tuesday. Mondays around here are like stopping a parade after the weekend. I do this because of that… and that because of this… but nothing on purpose. On Tuesdays I do things on purpose. Today I will make homemade soup… probably chicken. And hopefully homemade dinner rolls.

Papa brought home some bread last night that a friend at work had given to him… it was an expensive pumpernickel brick bread. Well, some people may like it. But, well, I think it’s the day for me to bake bread.

I don’t follow a recipe for bread, so get ready for a joy ride as I explain this.

First I test my yeast. I put about 2 tablespoons of yeast in a bowl of hot water with a little sugar. 2 tablespoons is about 2 packages of yeast. When the yeast starts to bubble then I know the yeast is good, and also ready to use. Set aside.

Then I get out my big bread bowl… it’s a crock. I start out by adding 2 cups of heated liquid into the bowl. This liquid can be anything. Such as water, milk, fruit juice, tomato juice, left over potato water, buttermilk, just a liquid… 2 cups.

Then add your oil for the fat… oil or melted shortening… anywhere from a tablespoon to a cup… what ever. Sir that up.

If you want to add a few eggs at this point, go ahead. If you are out of eggs, skip it. If you love eggs, add 1 to 3 or so. Stir that up.

Pour in some sweetener. A tablespoon of sugar or up to a cup. Whatever… Use a cup of honey if you want to. Or use leftover jelly or pancake syrup… not too much more liquid, though, unless you want to add more yeast, another tablespoon or 2.

Then begin adding your flour… Stir it up good until it looks like a cake mix… beat it up good.

Then I add my yeast.

Then carefully, cup for cup, stir in about 6 cups of flour.

You will end up with a glob of dough. So now take the glob out, put it on a floured surface and kneed it, adding more flour as you go. If your dough turns out soft and easy and sweet, just make dinner rolls with it. If it is more stiff and elastic, then congratulations, you made bread dough.

Let it rise in a warm place, then shape it and let it rise again, and then bake it. About 375 degrees for about a half hour? I don’t know — I just check mine.

Now here are some housewife secrets to making really good bread or dinner rolls.

Ladies, ya gotta love it. If it turns out wrong, you didn’t love it enough.

And it helps to wear a long skirt and an apron… an old fashioned one of your grandma’s… or one you got at a garage sale… and a bandanna on your head. The apron has to be old and look comfortable.

It has to be quiet when you make bread. So get the children settled with their toys and games and books. Tell them everything has to be peaceful. Mama is going to make home made bread.

It helps to have soup simmering on the stove, also, to create a warm steamy kitchen. Then when you set your bread out to rise on the stove top, the soup keeps the bread warm, friendly and comfortable.

Yeast is alive and it likes a warm happy atmosphere. And good homemade and handmade bread creates a happy home. Papa always comes to my kitchen after work and starts lifting up lids on pots on the stove. And if he sees bread rising on the stove, under an old cotton print cloth, it sets his mood for a quiet evening at home.

Good bread… made with willing hands. A happy mother whose aim is to make a quiet and loving nest, always makes good bread.

 
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