Monday, December 18, 2017

Archive for April, 2003


Dear Kitchen Saints,

I was just going to share some cooking ideas I did yesterday and today. I have been low on groceries. I just haven’t gotten to the store, I guess.

Anyway, yesterday, I had just a pound of hamburger and some ground turkey. I took both of the packages of meat and thawed them out and mixed them together. Then I just spread the meat out in a 9×13 pan, just flattened it out, and then salt and peppered it, and baked it. When it was done, I just poured any grease off and then I put a gravy mix over it. We ate it in squares, like salisbury steaks. I cut it in about 9 squares. Then I fixed mashed potatoes in the crock pot and I also made pickled beets for Papa.

Well, we just ate half of the meat dish, and today I cut the meat up in small squares and I made a stew. My mom had been sick, so I brought her some, and we have some now that we will eat for supper. With the leftover crock pot mashed potatoes from yesterday, I made potato soup.

Papa would do anything for pickled beets. I just take the drained canned beets and put them in a sauce pan. Then I put a cup of sugar over them and a cup of vinegar and some salt and pepper. Just bring them to a boil and they are done. We eat them after they are cold. With the left over beet juice, you can make pickled hard cooked eggs. I love pickled eggs but I am alone on that one. Papa has a fit when he sees my eggs floating in his pickled beets. But they are so good and, left alone in the fridge for a few weeks, they get really purple and good.

I love being low on groceries, as it makes me get even more creative. (I wish the electricity would go out so I could really have some fun.)

A few days ago, I fixed spaghetti. I had some left over hamburger buns. I split them up and put them in the oven with butter on them, and some pizza seasoning, and also parmesan cheese. We had them with the spaghetti. Then, the next meal, I had the leftover spaghetti and I flattened this in a 9×13 pan, and over the top, I put a can of crushed tomatoes. And over that, I put cheese and then I baked it. My kids like the spaghetti dish the second time better than the first. Mary loves it like this and her friend Lacey can smell it a mile away and comes for some. It makes a lot.

I should bake something for the evening to have with coffee and Papa’s company. I may make a coffee cake. I will just make the homemade baking powder biscuits, but I will add some sugar and eggs. I will flatten the dough in a pan. Then I will make up some brown sugar mix to put on the top. I will just put some brown sugar in a bowl, and some flour and butter, then mix it up with my fingers … probably put some cinnamon in, too. Then I will just sprinkle this on top of the coffee cake before I bake it.

Dog gone it! I thought I had some raisins to put in the coffee cake but I think Papa snuck them and ate them … “Sorry, Papa. I was lookin’ for an apple and I found the raisins, after all.” Well, I had better go make my coffee cake before I lose anything else. I am going to turn all the lights off and pretend I am in a log cabin cooking on a wood stove.

Love from
a Pioneer Mother

Walking By Faith

I don’t know what to write but know I need to. Got some bad news last night. Please don’t ask me what it was. But, oh, please pray for me that I will do right. It’s nothing to do with Jim.

On the other hand, Dan (21) is keeping me laughing. That girl he was going with? The girl he brought to dinner with the pig iron in her nose? That his grandma asked about? Well, she bonged him on the head with a skateboard. He had to have stitches. Knowing Dan, well, he told it in such a funny way, ya had to laugh. David (22) said that Dan found out about the scorn of a woman. Well, I guess.

Boy, am I glad to have the Lord. Last night, as I prayed before bed about the bad news I had gotten (the other bad news, not the news about Dan), the Lord comforted me, and then He gave me this dream. I dreamed that I was at an Amish community and I was lost. And this dear mother told me that I could take her buggy and go find some help. Well, in the meantime, I had somehow lost my glasses and I can’t see without them. Anyway, it was at night and I was going to drive this buggy by faith. Well, you know me — never say “Die.” I have hardly ever made the acquaintance with a horse in my life. But this dear little Amish lady, she says, “Oh, it’s easy — just drive the horse and buggy to the next town. As she was talking to me in her house, of course, it was night time and no lights, just a candle. I could hardly see her without my glasses and in the dark. And I couldn’t see anything as I got into her cart with the horse. But I went ahead by faith, barely able to see the road. And I just kept going. The road was so hard to stay on as I had never driven a horse cart before. But I did my best. And I drove all night and later found out that I had only gone a few miles. But I made it to the next town and it was daylight. And in the next town, I saw this child that was in great need of my care. And then I woke up.

And I have to say something. This picture in the newsletter I have been working on seems to really have an anointing of courage on it. As I look at the picture, I feel courage. I love pictures and feel they can say so much. I have a picture in a frame in my window that I just went to look at. It’s a young woman. She has the word of God, the Bible, held close to her breast. And under the picture, I put the scripture Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against thee.

I have been under great temptation to give up. I told the Lord last night, “Why do you keep me here Lord? Please take me home.” I have always thought it a sin to pray to die. But the Lord Jesus was so tender as He spoke to me and to my heart. “Connie. You are the apple of my eye. And whoever hurts you hurts me. I am touched by your heartaches.” I told the Lord that I hurt so deeply — why does it hurt so much? And I just kept seeing the angels talking to God about me. And, oh, I know I can trust in Him.

And, no, I don’t do things right. And most of the time I am driving a horse hooked up to a cart to a town I don’t know, and in the dark with my glasses off. But I think this is how it is to walk by faith. And maybe it was wisdom in her cabin telling me, “You can do this — just go get in the cart and drive it.” And, no, I don’t make much headway, but I do make it to the next town by daybreak. And now I am up and awake. And it is daybreak now and I am here. I didn’t get far but I am still here this morning and I guess I can make it a few more miles.

I guess we go one mile at a time and one day at a time. Weeping lasts for the night but Joy comes in the morning. Our ways are not His ways. We have to trust Him as we follow Him. One shaky foot at a time. Walking in His footsteps. Praying for the Mind of Christ. Oh, we wish for a vision to live on and yet we can’t see it. As it is hidden in the plan of God. We just keep goin’.

Chicken Soup and Homemade Bread

Chicken Soup

Here is how I cook chicken soup from scratch, making the homemade broth. I just take a whole chicken, clean it up, and put it in a big pot on the stove with water to cover it. You could use just chicken parts. I cook it until I can take the meat off the bones. Then take the chicken out of the pan, let it cool, and take the chicken apart. Throw all of the fat and bones away, and then cut the meat up into bitesize pieces. Then put the clean meat back into your broth (the water it came out of).

So now ya have the cut up chicken and the broth. To this, I add onions and salt and pepper and parsley. And then I add cut up carrots and celery, and garlic, if ya like it. Often, I will add some cut up tomatoes for color and flavor. Then, after the vegetables are soft, I add (depending on what I have) maybe some chicken noodle soup or some cream of chicken soup. It gives it more flavor. You could add a handful of rice or some noodles and cook it with the vegetables. And that is how I do it.

This recipe makes a lot, but this is always better the second time. You could also can this soup in canning jars if you have a pressure canner. I would leave out the store bought soup at the end. You could add it later for a meal. The old time Mother canned a lot of this soup to have on busy days when she didn’t have time to cook and she needed an instant dinner. I have canned hamburger before … it was fun. I left the fat in it and the fat on top helped to seal it in and I didn’t have any of it spoil. The fat came to the top, ya know what I mean?

Oh, it’s fun to make the old timey comfort foods. I have made a lot of soup in my day. It sure kept my family healthy and well fed. Many times, when I was busy with the children, I wouldn’t have time to watch my soup, so I would just put it in the oven to cook on a low temp. When I homeschooled, after devotions around 9:00 in the morning, I would start my soup and it would be ready for our family meal.

Jim used to work at the airport, and he would go to work around 2 in the afternoon, so I always had our family meal around 11:30 or at noon. Jim would want me to go with him to do errands, if we had any to do, before he went to work. I would have the children do their hour of reading after lunch. But many times, we took all the children with us to do errands and they did reading when they got back. Papa always wanted all of the children with us wherever we went.

Often, we had five children with us to go to the grocery store. One cart was for babies and one was for groceries. I would buy a lot of food to make food with. My grocery cart would be so full, people would say, “Are you all going to eat all of that?”

I always said proudly, “Well, we have a large family.” My cart would be mostly full of of potatoes and carrots, apples and oranges. I didn’t buy much juice for the children but fed them a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our tables were always full of fresh lettuce salads and fruit.

Sometimes I would take a big can of peaches and put it in a big bowl, leaving all the syrup in. Then I would add bananas and apples, cut up. Sometimes I would add the little marshmallows and some coconut, whatever I had, but the bananas were especially good in the peach syrup.

In the spring, like now when my rhubarb is coming up, I made a lot of stewed rhubarb and then the strawberry rhubarb jam. Danny, especially, loved this jam.

And ya know, Mothers, if you make plenty of homemade bread the children always have bread and jam to eat as a snack. The homemade bread is so good for them.

Homemade Bread

Really, the whole wheat bread made with honey is the best bread. But, ya know, my family just liked the texture of the white bread the best. So I just figured that my white bread made from scratch was better than whole wheat store bought any day. A lot of the time, my brother would give me fresh eggs in the spring so I had these to make my bread. And my milk man gave me free goat milk. And to my white bread, I would add maybe a cup of whole wheat flour, then maybe a half a cup of cornmeal and maybe a half cup of oatmeal. Then I would almost always add a cup of mashed potatoes or a cup of fruit, maybe a cup of applesauce, or I would use the syrup off the peaches as part of my liquid instead of the milk called for.

I would make bread out of whatever I had. If I had a tablespoon of jam or jelly on the table and the kids weren’t eating it, I would add it to the bread. Or maybe the peanut butter was about gone and I wanted to get rid of it, I would add it to my bread. If the cookie plate had some crumbs on it, I added it to my bread mixture. I tried not to waste anything. If I had made pancakes in the morning for breakfast and had some of the batter left over, I would heat it up a bit and add my bread yeast to this and make bread, using this as a starter.

Johnny used to eat about 10 pancakes in the morning before school. I am not kidding. I used to make pancake batter from scratch in one of those big plastic salad bowls, and the pancakes would be as big as a plate. Johnny was always really hungry in the mornings. Christian Joy would eat at least 5 big pancakes. The other children would eat about 2. They loved pancakes.

I would make surprise pancakes. They had to guess what was in them. One time, I had some left over chip dip that I thought was really flat. I put some in the pancakes. Actually, the dip was really garlicky … Christian Joy loved them. They were her favorite. But not the rest of us. I probably made bread with that batter. Those pancakes were bad news.

Jill and I would make a package of chocolate chips last forever. Jill would make her chocolate chip cookies without any chocolate chips in them and, just before she put them in the oven, she would put a chocolate chip on the top of each cookie. If the cookie had one chip in them, we called them chocolate chip cookies. We were poor and raising kids. Good Grief!

Just Housewife Stuff

It’s cold in Iowa this morning, probably 5 degrees. A few days before yesterday, it was 86 or so. Hopefully, it will get warm and stay warm.

I went out and cleaned the yard yesterday for Easter. It’s still too cold to plant much of anything. I could plant cold weather crops like lettuce and spinach, peas and onions, or radishes. Jill planted hers before the last snow and is eating salads now, but she is a smarty pants. I may yet today plant a few things where my flowers are usually planted, because the lettuce, etc. would be up before I would plant flowers, anyway.

Jim had gotten me some of those little Easter signs with a stick on them from the dollar store. I put them up in the yard. They are just a buck apiece. I wanted the front yard to look nice for Easter.

Papa bought a picnic ham to have for Easter dinner. I think it was 89

Cooking From Scratch

When my children were all little and at home, I had to cook from scratch. Jimmy was in the Navy, so I had five children at home. But we lived on two hundred bucks a month for food and things like shampoo and toilet paper. In the summer, I had my garden so we did ok, but I still had a lot of cooking to do. So when it got really hot and dry, in August especially, I had a night time schedule of baking.

I would put the children to bed in the evening around eight and I would go to bed, too. Then around midnight or so, I would get back up, as the house was cooler, and I would do my cooking and baking. I would go back to bed around 3:00 or so and sleep until the children got up. Then in the afternoon, I would lay down with the children with fans upon us and take a nap with them.

But in the night, I would make bread and cookies and pies, whatever I needed. I would fry up chicken for the next day and make potato salad … it was just easier to do it like this. Then the next afternoon, I would have a nice meal for the family.

Jim worked in the afternoon, so we would have the family meal at noon. Then, as the day went on and got hotter and more oppressive, I would just have something light for supper for just me and the children.

I was very busy in the summer with the garden and other summer chores. I froze my grapes and then when the fall came, I would make grape jam, instead of trying to make it in the summer heat.

Gardening With Hay

One way I made my garden (and this is how I prefer to make a garden) is the following. You go get some hay. Rotted hay is the best. You just put this all over your garden, thick. Like in a 12×12 area, you would need about 4 bales of hay just to start. Spread this on your garden evenly. You don’t have to plow it up first. Just put the hay on in the spring.

When you go to plant your tomatoes, for instance, dig some holes and part the hay and plant the tomatoes. Just dig a hole and put the tomato plant in. You never have to worry about weeding because the hay covers all the ground around your tomato. When the tomatoes begin to get tall, you don’t have to stake them up. Just get clean hay and bunch it up around them.

As you mow the lawn, put all the grass clippings on the garden over the hay to keep the weeds from popping up, as the hay will soon flatten to the ground. You never have to pull a weed if you have plenty of grass and hay around your plants and around all of the space in your garden. By the end of the season, your garden looks like a brown carpet with plants coming up out of the carpet. You should have no weeds at all.

This idea works very well if you can get some hay. Put the rotted hay at the bottom for fertilizer. You don’t have to let the grass die underneath the hay before you plant the garden. You can put the hay down and plant right away. You just dig a hole through the hay and plant the tomatoes. Just dig holes all through the hay and plant. You can do this with pepper plants, too, or any plants. If ya want to plant beans? Just dig a row out of the hay and plant the beans in a row.

Keep the hay away so the plants can get the sun and water it needs, but when the plants start to come up, then just tuck the hay around it so weeds won’t come up. Before you ever lay the hay down to begin with, be sure to water the area really good, until it is soaked in to about a foot into the ground. (This would take about 30 minutes of just letting the water soak into the land.) Because when you put the hay over it, then it will hold the moisture in and you won’t have to water your garden all summer long.

It’s really a good way to garden.

Gravy and Biscuits, Omelets and Muffins

Gravy and Biscuits

Jim will go to work this morning at about 10:00, so I will fix him a brunch. I am fixing beef gravy and biscuits. I just fry the hamburger (or pork sausage would be better) and then add flour to it in the pan, and smoosh it up with my big spoon. I would put in about a fourth cup of flour. After it is pasty, I will add about 2 cups of milk. Then ya gotta stir like a wild dog. You don’t want any lumps. Just keep stirrin’ and stirrin’ until your mixture bubbles, and it should be thick. If it is too thick, just add more milk. Of course, add some salt and some good black pepper.

I usually make the biscuits while the meat is frying for the gravy. I make mine from scratch but, if you are just first learning, you could use Bisquick. Just take 3 cups of Bisquick and add 1 cup of milk. Make a dough and then flatten it out with your hands to about a 2 inch thickness. Don’t use a rolling pin. Keep a light, quick hand and a hot oven. Don’t play with the dough like you would a yeast bread. Be sure your oven is very preheated to 450 degrees and don’t put the biscuits in until it is. I make mine on a cast iron flat skillet, one ya make pancakes on. (It’s real old. I think it was my grandma’s. I have a big collection of cast iron.) If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, just rinse out a soup can and use the end to cut your biscuits.

Omelets and Muffins

Jim has to go to work at 10:00 again this morning, so I will make him a brunch again. I am making baked egg omelet and banana muffins. To make the omelet, just take a small bowl and in it mix 4 eggs, 2 cups of milk, a fourth pound of Velveeta cheese, chopped up, and 12 saltine crackers, crumbled up. Mix all of this together and put in salt and pepper. Then, you put this in a small square greased pan and bake it, I think, at 350 degrees until it gets done in the middle … (you stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean.)

You could add the fried and drained sausage to this, too, or onions and mushrooms, or green peppers. But Papa would howl at the moon if I put onions and green peppers in his eggs. My kids are confirmed onion haters, too. I add onions to soups and stuff, but I add the onions in big pieces, sliced in big rings so they can see them and eat around them. They like the flavor of onions but don’t want to eat one. Kinda like friends you say you love but you don’t ever want to see them. In other words, we have come to an “Onion Compromise.”

When all the family was home, I doubled this recipe and it made 8 servings. This morning when I went to make the omelet, I noticed I only had 3 eggs for the 4 egg omelet, so I just added a bit less milk and more crackers. But I don’t know how I will make the banana muffins without eggs. I may just make banana biscuits. That way, I won’t need any eggs. I will just make biscuits as I usually do, then add brown sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg and the bananas. And then just cut them out like biscuits.

I thought I had more eggs. I think a chicken thief came to my house last night and stole my eggs. Probably just a chicken retrieving what was rightfully hers. Actually, Papa sometimes gets the munchies at night and he fries eggs on the sly while I am asleep. And then I don’t know I am out of eggs.

Pioneer Spirits

The stock market crashed in October of 1929, and things are not good for our stock market in this year of 2003. Folks are scared because of the war. They don’t want to start a new business because they don’t know what this war will do to the economy. A lot of folks are out of work around us.

And yet, we as Christian mothers are not of this world and we don’t live by the rules of this world. And the Lord will make a way for us where there is no way. We will be affected by the coming economic collapse and yet, certainly we won’t be bound by it. It will not make our rules for us. But you won’t find this kind of bull dog tenaciousness at a good news club. No, you will find the strength to go on through the spirit of wisdom.

Wisdom is the stability of the times. And this is how the mothers during the Depression kept their families thriving, through wisdom. They found a place for their families to live and then they made a garden. The husband would go fishing and hunting to put meat on the table. He would work odd jobs here and there until better times came. Mother made a home through wisdom. With wisdom a house is built and with understanding it is established, and with knowlege it is filled.

Mother worked hard and created a home. She knew she was there to create a mood of joy and to keep the family encouraged and full of hope. She gave them vision as they awoke each morning to the smell of breakfast. She prayed when the children were at school and the Papa out looking for work. In the spring she would gather dandelion greens to serve her family. She knew the edible plants and herbs for healing. This is the knowlege she used for her family. Of course, she learned all of this from her own mother. But in these days, we have to learn from books at the library.

See, I have studied herbs for years, so my yard is full of them. I have wild onions that come up in the spring … they are up now. I have never used poisons on my lawn. So I have many wild herbs, like how our country used to be probably back a hundred years ago. But all of this Roundup and all that junk is not good. It poisons the water as it seeps into the ground. A lot of what folks kill as weeds are healing herbs.

The food is out there, if we only knew it is under our feet. When I go for walks in the summer, I find chamomile everywhere. It’s that stuff that grows in the cracks of the sidewalks sometimes. It has a ferny stem and the top is a small yellow dome. Folks try to kill that stuff and then go to the store and buy the same herb. Just go dig it out of your sidewalk and save yourself some money.

I have almost every kind of mint in my yard. I planted it and it comes up every year. Comfrey is a wonderful herb as a cure all. All of these herbs come up every year. I have lemon balm and catnip and many others. I have yarrow and dill everywhere in my yard. To me, these herbs are precious.

And the old time mothers knew these herbs on sight. In the spring, they would gather them and make fragrant teas for their families. I can envison many a mother during the Depression weeping and sobbing in her chair after the family had gone to work and to school, praying and asking the Lord how she would feed her family. And, of course, after prayer, the Lord would lead her to go to the countryside and gather herbs and edible plants to feed her brood.

Mother back then didn’t include the children in the families worries. For the most part, I think, Mother cried alone. She was the encourager to her husband. I think if she broke down in front of the family, it was rare. I remember when I was growing up in the 1950s, the adults didnt share much worry with us children. I think we have to be careful not to cause a riot in the camp. Some things are left best unsaid.

And I am not saying all of this about the economy to scare you, but to give you some vision as to how the Lord has taken me through hard times and how you can make it through them, too. You have to keep your hearts in peace, Mothers.

The works of righteousness brings peace … this is in Isaiah 32:17. And the work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness QUIETNESS and ASSURANCE FOREVER.

So, as we walk in His will, dear Mothers, and we continue to build up our homes …

We keep happy hearts and busy hands.

We keep the soup on simmer.

We keep the home fires burning.

We aren’t looking out the windows of our souls for this and that new teaching.

We are obedient to follow the Lord as keepers at home.

Ya know, back in the old days,the mother couldn’t let the fire go out or her family would freeze in the winter. So you would know that the wise mother stayed home and kept her family warm.

In the spring, she went to the store and bought food supplies. But she also bought lots of seeds and she made a garden. Hey, ya know what? Those mothers didn’t have a garden tiller. They just dug up their kitchen gardens with a shovel. The husband usually had the land dug up with a horse and plow for crops he would grow and sell. But the gardens up by the house, Mother usually made herself. I read a story once about a woman who had only a broom to make a garden with. She dug the earth with the broom handle. Then she planted her seeds and then swept the dirt back over the seeds with the brush part of the broom.

And, hey, we wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for old pioneer women that had more guts than money and more ornery hide than common sense. But those women, for the most part, didn’t get that strength from just wanting it. They prayed until they saw a vison and then they followed it. They lived off of prayer and their stability was the visions in their hearts. And this is how we will make it, too, through hard times, and keep our families warm healty and happy.

Happy is the Mother who trusts in the Lord, and I think this is just how Papa and I made it through so many hardships. We just leaned on the Lord and kept pioneer spirits. And we still live like this. Oh, we could worry ourselves to death over this and that, but we choose not to. We just go on and do what we can and what we can’t do, we figure the Lord will provide for us. And that’s all a person can do, huh?

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