Sunday, December 17, 2017

Archive for January, 2003

Happy Morning

I am up early this morning. I planned on sleeping in, as I waited up for Papa to get home late last night from work. But I guess I am just used to rising early.

I just put some chicken in the crock pot. I plan to make bar-b-qued chicken and then, in the other crock pot, potatoes of some kind. I gotta think about that. I also have my list out on the table to write down a few groceries that I need.

Yesterday, our Mary had to go to the Home school library to renew a book. She got me the Tightwad Gazette 3. I have read Tightwad Gazette 2 to my kids when all were home. We would read to each other a little bit of it every day after devotions and before they started school. It’s a book on things like recycling and how to pinch a penny. I read it with my kids so they would understand when I recycled things or did something else the world would call nuts, like not wasting things and using common sense.

One way I save money on the garbage bill is that I throw all of my vegetable peelings on my garden outside. I always have a lot of potato peelings to put on my garden. We should all do this when we can because our soil is so depleted, and it shouldn’t be, with all the things we have to feed it. It’s good to throw old bread to the birds, too, so that they will come to your house and keep your soil fertilized.

I have herbs that grow all over my yard. Some folks would call them weeds. But many are foods and seasonings and medicines. June is white clover month and I make tea with the clover and it is a good cleanser. I don’t have the purple clover but I am sure this works the same way.

I long for my herbs as I stand here writing. Last summer was sort of a pruning for me, and I didn’t do much with my herbs. But I feel the calling of spring as I stand here, thinking of my catnip and other mints and many other herbs. I am longing for my seven sister roses. They are an old fashioned brier rose, some of the first planted when the pioneers first traveled to the midwest. They are hierlooms. They were here when we first moved to this house almost 30 years ago.

And I have never used poisons on my yard, so I have many old fashioned herbs that grow happily here. Neighbors on both sides of us use so much pesticides. It’s all so unnatural and can get down into your water systems. We, as housewives, need to do common sense things in our yards to protect our soil and, also, to feed it and to encourage the healing herbs to grow.

My two brothers are both back to the land type guys, and Papa is, too. Both brothers have a few acres apiece of good land. When they went walking through my yard with me, they could name every herb. Some I didn’t know, and Scott (age 52) told me the name and history of it and the Latin name for it. One I didn’t know was shepherds purse. Scott pointed it out to me and told me how to recognize it, as the tiny leaves on it look like a shepherd’s purse. You can use the little leaves to season foods.

I used to have rabbits and I fed them comfrey that I had grown. Rabbit fertilizer is the best food for your soil.

Also, I have always had house cats and they have been good workers. If they see a rabbit or some kind of animal in my garden, they chase it out. And they keep my house free of mice, too. One time Kitty brought in a little rabbit to play with, but we popped him on the head and told him “Bad Kitty — you keep your friends outside.” In the afternoon, if Kitty would run after birds, the blue Jays would sure tell on Puss. They would squawk until I came out and got Kitty, spanked him and brought him inside.

Cookin’ and Bakin’

It’s 6:30 am. I have my bread started and my little square kerosene heater on in the dining room. It gives off less heat but is fine for now, when I am running back and forth from writing to cooking in the kitchen. I have some hamburger cooking and plan to make vegetable soup. I am making the bread from last night’s potato soup. It has cheese in it, pepper, parsley and garlic, and the bread should be good. I had put the soup in my cast iron dutch oven and will now make the bread out of this pan. The potatoes will make the yeast rise extra well.

The seed catalogs are coming in the mail, and if you plan on planting anything inside to plant in the garden later, now is the time to do that.

This morning, I am making cheese. I saw on a cooking show a real easy way to do it. I have been making it the hard way. All you do is put some milk (I put in a half gallon) in a clean pan. Bring it to a boil and then shut the heat off and add some vinegar or lemon juice, a few tablespoons. The whey separates from the curds in a few minutes. Then, when it is good and separated, you just put it through a cheese cloth to let the whey run off and you have cheese. You let it dry out for a while, then you just cube it up and eat it. The lady on tv cut hers in cubes and then fried it. I told Papa about it and he looked at me like “You wouldn’t … and if you do, I ain’t eating that.” He says all of this with his eyes. No fried cheese for Papa.

Last night, I left the potato soup on the stove in my dutch oven, as it is real cold in my kitchen, especially now. So when I made the bread, I made it right out of the dutch oven. I just added water and heated the soup back up and added eggs, shortening and yeast, sugar and salt. Then, after the yeast bubbled, I brought the pan to the table and began adding flour to it to make a bread dough. I made the whole mixture in my dutch oven and kneaded it in there, too, and after kneading it, I have left it in the same pot to rise.

I also put some chicken breasts in the oven to bake. I had started vegetable soup and will finish that, too. But I forgot I had soup yesterday and Papa will need something more substantial today, as he has to work this evening, so I started the chicken and have it in the oven. At the meat market, I bought chicken breasts that were still together, so it looks like a whole chicken without anything left but the 2 breasts. It looks like a half a chicken, in other words. It was just 88

Old-time Housewifery

You know, those mothers back in the old times … Good grief! They knew their way around their kitchens. They were chemists and biologists and herbologists. They lived off the land and knew every plant that grew on the praire and what it was used for. They ate from what they had or could make.

They were very intelligent women who were always thinking on their feet. They learned to gather berries of all kinds in the summertime from the woods around their homes, and then they made pies and cakes and preserved some of the berries for sauces and jellies and jams. Apples were a staple for them, like potatoes, as they made their own vinegars and apple butters and sauces, and then dried many apples for winter pies. They gathered nuts in the fall to bake with for the holidays. They dried some of their foods and canned their vegetables and fruits from their gardens. They would gather herbs and use them to make medicines for the long winter.

Mother knew just how much liquid to add to her bread because she made it every day, and it produced a knowing in her heart. She lived at home and produced at home. She had a flock of chickens and sold the eggs to buy coffee for Papa and tea for herself. She bought flour and sugar with her egg money, and school supplies for the children.

She quilted and sewed, tatted and crocheted and knitted. She made pillowslips and underwear and dish towels out of old feed sacks. They were washed up on an old scrub board and later ironed and starched and embroidered, and the edges tatted or crocheted. And, of course, she used the feed sacks for all kinds of clothes, dresses, and aprons. I used to have a bed sheet that my grandma made of just feedsacks sewn together, and if it got a hole in it, she just patched it. I am sure they probably used feed sacks for diapers. They probably just bleached them white and hung them in the sunshine to dry to get all the germs out. Old time Mothers raised a flock of geese so that she could pluck them and make feather pillows for the family.

I got an old book from the Salvation Army written in 1909 by Dennis Hanks, a cousin of Abe’s mother, about Abe Lincoln. It said that, as a boy, Abe slept on a bed of leaves on a wooden bed. Abe lived just like the birds and squirrels, and he was so strong and healthy, he was over 6 ft. tall when he was only 14 yrs old. They said that he could easily do the work of 3 men. He lived close to nature in the open air. But he was very intelligent and loved to read and tell stories. He would take a book to read with him as he plowed a field and read at the same time. He was self taught and George Washingtom was his hero. Even as a boy, Abe wanted to be like President George Washington. And the other books Abe read most of the time were the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress.

We as housewives can learn so much, too, just from reading and using the knowlege we attain. Get some good cookbooks, like the older Better Homes and Gardens, and just read them in the evenings as you hold the baby or play with the children. I mentioned this cookbook because it has every kind of cooking in it, not just certain kinds. It’s really basic.

But we as homemakers need to educate ourselves in the things that matter, like the home crafts. We don’t know what lies ahead for our country, but if we live at home and make what we need, we will sure be that much ahead. And we can be confident, as our pantries are full and our minds quick and full of knowlege and wisdom.

The truly intelligent women aren’t just the ones in the work force. Because, if a woman can’t make a home and feed her family, she isn’t really equipped for every good work. She is not really wise in the things that matter, like common sense.

I am confident that I could do all of my wash in the bath tub if I had to, because I did used to have to. So if my washer was to go out, it wouldn’t throw my whole family off. Anyway, I have my wringer washer and I know how to comfortably use it. I have melted snow to do the dishes in the winter when the water was shut off. No big deal.

We should just run our homes in peace and be glad to do the work of housewifery, no matter how much work it is. We should turn the heat down in our homes and wear extra clothes to keep warm, as this is so much more healthy, and the cool air keeps us crisp and ready for every good work. And we should be happy and content and thankful to do our work and to have a private home to live in.

Let us take up our swords and shields, our kitchen utensils and aprons, and pledge ourselves to do good works today to honor the Lord and our families. Let us take a vow of poverty to live and be poor, if we must, in order to keep our families afloat, no matter how much sacrifice this is to us.

I remember when the children were young, I didn’t have any winter shoes to wear for years. I just wore cheap sandals in the summer or mostly went barefoot, and in the fall, I wore socks with my sandals. In the winter, I had some shoe boots and I wore them. And this went on for years. Finally, Papa made me get a pair of winter shoes as I had broken my foot. I never had my foot set, as I just wore a flat sandal. Then Papa made me wear these high top winter shoes, which was so nice for support for my foot, and it all healed up in six weeks. I never have any trouble with it. I just made my own cast, in other words.

Good Morning

I am up doing last night’s dishes. I was so tired, I didn’t get them done last night after supper. Also, I am planning today’s menu. We had burritos yesterday, as I knew Dan was coming over, so today Papa will want something more substantial. I will probably make biscuits and gravy and fried potatoes.

Just now, I cut up some cabbage for the crock pot and put in a some carrots and a slice of onion and some bacon, black coarsely ground pepper and garlic salt, and I put in just about a fourth cup of water, too. Its 6:30 now, so this will be done around noon for lunch. Then, after lunch, I will probably start some yeast bread. You know, potatoes and the water boiled in it makes the yeast go wild. Yeast loves potatoes.

I made a spook yeast once. That was what it was called, “spook yeast,” probably because it was spooked. I had read about it some place, I forget now. You took a big jar and put in mashed potatoes and the water boiled in it, and then you put in flour and sugar and a tablespoon of yeast. It fermented just like a sour dough starter. And you used a cup for two loaves of bread. Papa said it wasn’t anything but potato mash, like they made in the prison to get drunk on … well, without the flour. Well, I had to quit making that. I got so teased about it. Papa kidded me and told anyone who would listen that I was making home brew in the kitchen with potatoes. Another lady told me I was making vodka.

But you know what? Yeast is yeast and it is in liquor. Has anyone ever made the beer biscuits? All it’s made of is self rising flour and beer and, I guess, some shortening.

But the old time mothers knew what would make yeast and what would keep it going.

Has anyone ever made the Gold Rush Sour Dough starter? You can buy that at our store, over by the baking aisle by the bread flour. I have made that before. But you can make your own sour dough starter and keep it going forever, as long as you live and need to make bread. And when you die, you can pass it on to your children. You just take a jar and put some water in it and some yeast and some sugar and some flour. Just stir it up … it will look thin and drippy, or should. You need about two cups of this. Then you let this sit in a warm place and it will bubble up and ferment, and then the bubbles will pop and simmer down. Just leave this on your counter in a warm place for about a week and then use it to make bread with. Use about a cup for two loaves of bread, and then replace your starter with some more flour and water, and the yeast will keep growing in it. You would never have to buy yeast again.

And if you wanna put some real bounce into your starter, add some mashed potatoes the next time you have some left over from your dinner. You can even use a big gallon jar and just feed this yeast whenever you think about it. Like if you have some left over syrup from making sweet potatoes, just pour that in. This mixture likes sugar and potatoes and fruits, too.

Now, this starter would be good for a woman who made bread every day, but if you don’t make it every day, then you should put it in the refrigerator or it will turn too sour or start to spoil.

I am noted by my friends to have bubbling jars of this and that all over the house. I make a tea that ferments and I use it for my dog if she has an allergy spell. It calms her right down. (It makes her a little drunk.)

But the old time mothers fed their children a tablespoon of whiskey with sugar for a cold.

Aunt Toot is all worried that I will start sellin’ some of this stuff and be a moonshiner.

Cast Iron Cooking and Crock Pots

I am up late. It’s 7:00 am. I guess I was tired this morning. It’s Jim’s day off today and, after I get Mary started for school, Jim and I will run errands. I forgot to get laundry soap and dish soap the last time I went to the store, and hamburger. Actually, I ran out of money. But Papa did good with his tips last night, and so I will go back to the store today.

I had bought the ground turkey for 59

Hillbilly Bread

This morning, I wanted to tell you all how I make bread. I don’t use a recipe. Basically, you need 2 cups of liquid for 2 loaves of bread and about 6 cups of flour. You need some salt and some sweetener and some grease. I put in about a tablespoon of yeast per loaf of bread. That’s a lot, I know.

Say you need to clean out your refrigerator and need to make bread before you go to the store. Well, just take what you have in the fridge and make bread. For instance, if you have some jelly at the bottom of a jar or a bit of syrup or honey just taking up space, use it in your bread for sweetener. You don’t have to have sugar as the syrup and jelly or honey is the sweetener. You do need a sweetener to make the yeast work, but, you know, use your imagination. I would say you could put in anywhere between a tablespoon of sweetener to a half a cup … it’s not going to hurt anything, either way. And maybe you have some applesauce in the fridge or leftover mashed potatoes or a few bananas you need to use up. You can put it in the bread. I mean, up to a cup. But just make your bread from what you have.

You may start out with white flour, and then when you go to knead the bread, you may want to dust your kneading board with cornmeal or whole wheat flour or oatmeal, or any kind of flour. Just use what you have. I used to take oatmeal and grind it in the blender and make oatflour. But you can just use the oatmeal whole, about a cup or 2. I mean, bread is pretty forgiveable. If you get too much liquid, you can always add more flour as you knead it.

Also, if you have a lot of eggs, you could add up to 3 eggs in a recipe that makes 2 loaves. I mean, just experiment and see how much of what you can get away with using.

If you are using up some bananas in your pantry to make your bread, you may want to put in some cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg, and some more sugar, at least 1 cup for a sweet yeast bread for 2 loaves. Just taste the dough and see if it has enough sweetener. But if you are using up mashed potatoes, you may want to add seasoning salt and herbs like garlic powder or onion, parsley or basil. For 2 loaves of bread, you could use like a tablespoon of parsley. You still need sugar, even in an herb bread, or some kind of sweetener to make the yeast work, but only a few tablespoons.

So you need to start out with 2 cups of liquid. This can be just what you have. If you have milk, use this, but you can use 2 cups of fruit juice for your liquid, too. I have made tomato bread and used tomato juice for my 2 cups of liquid. Then I put in the herbs like thyme, basil and garlic.

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