Sunday, December 17, 2017

Archive for April, 2004

Garage Sales, Butter Cake, Jam and Wine

Yesterday, we went to a bunch of garage sales and had a ball. We got our daughter Mary and her husband a cappuccino maker for two bucks. It was at our neighbor’s church sale. We like to buy the Baby Rose little outfits, too. I love to dress her really old-fashioned. I got a very pretty china cup and saucer, blue and white. It’s from the Ozarks and it has hillbillies on the cup, and hound dogs, and on the saucer is a woodsy log cabin. Aaah, yes, my dream home.

I love to buy cookbooks but never follow recipes.

Yesterday, when we got home, Papa went out and mowed the lawn. He picked my rhubarb and brought some in, so I cooked it with sugar and added some frozen strawberries. Then I made an old fashioned butter cake to put the fruit on. I just made one big enough for a square pan, but I didn’t use a square pan. I used a heart shaped pan to be “romantic.”

This is how I make the butter cake. I get out my electric mixer for this. I take a stick of butter, if I have it, or a stick of margarine. Sometimes, I just use a half a stick or a fourth of one. Well, I mix this with a cup of sugar until it is smooth. Then I put in 2 eggs, and I beat this real good. Then, some vanilla or butter flavoring, or whatever. After that, I add about 2 cups of flour and some milk … I think I add about a half cup of milk, or a full cup, I dunno … and some baking powder, about 2 teaspoons. And I start mixing it. If I need more liquid, I add it. It should be the consistency of pancake batter … Well, maybe a little thicker. Anyway, it turns out good. I used about a fourth cup of sour cream in my cake yesterday.

Papa had brought in a big batch of rhubarb and I only used two cups for yesterday, so today, I will cut up the rest and make something else with it. I just turned around to Jim and ask him, “Papa, what do you want me to make with the rest if this pile? Jam?” and he said, “Yeah, that sounds good.” So I guess I will.

I just take 6 cups of rhubarb and put it in a pan with 6 cups of sugar and a little liquid. Then ya cook this down until it is soft. Then you just mix a small package of strawberry Jello with this, and this thickens it, and it is done. Then I just boil up some jars and fill the jam into the hot jars while the jam and the jars are both hot. But, heck, you could freeze this in jars, too.

Actually, when the kids were all home, I just made a quart jar of this and kept it in the refrigerator. They would eat it up in a few weeks or a month. No sense in canning it when the kids will eat it that fast. But we ate it on pancakes and hot biscuits and just plain bread with peanut butter.

I usually use strawberry jello in the rhubarb, but you could use lemon jello or lime, if you are so inclined to be “sinfully” (kidding) creative. I have used cherry jello, too. Papa likes his jam to be red.

And talk about being sinful … I have made rhubarb wine before, but didn’t really like it. Ya just take a big gallon jar and fill it half way with cut up rhubarb. And then fill it with boiling water and 2 cups of sugar. Then stir it up and let it set in a warm place for about a month. You may want to put in a bit of yeast. If you are using bread yeast, just put in a pinch. Cover the jar lightly with a lid, put on loosely. When ya think of it, smash the rhubarb down with a potato masher, and stir it up every now an again. Like, maybe once a week or so. You could add some fresh lemon to it, too. When it is done, just strain it … it will be clear, or should be.

I imagine you would make the dandelion wine the same way. That is supposed to be good for arthritis. Personally, I would rather have the arthritus than have to drink dandelion wine. Well, depending on if I could still walk or not.

Wilderness Wisdom

I just wrote a whole thing on herbs and lost it. Mary (19) wanted a copy and, by faith, I tried to work my printer. I unplugged my e-machine accidentally and lost the whole writing. So I am beginning again. I taught Mary, when she was little, about all the herbs, and she loves the herbs and gardening. Anyway, here I go again.

We have many wild herbs in our yard that I don’t tear out, and they have been here for the 30 years we have lived here. They are:

  • wild chamomile
  • plaintain
  • white clover and some purple
  • shepherd’s purse
  • milkweed
  • bloodroot

Then I have planted many herbs that come up each year. They are:

  • bushes of rosehips
  • 2 kinds of chives
  • dill
  • bushes of purple yarrow
  • comfrey
  • hops
  • wild onions,
  • many different kinds of mints
  • 2 kinds of catnip
  • lemon balm
  • camphor
  • thyme
  • oregano

I have tried to plant the ginger root but I get too impatient and dig it up too early … same with the garlic bulbs. I also planted red raspberries to use the leaves for tea. Then I plant herbs that will only last the summer … mostly the different basils and hot peppers.

The hops is taking over a lot of the other herbs. Boy, does that stuff grow! I am tearing some of that out.

I use my herbs mostly to make teas. Just bruise the leaves and steep in hot water. Bring the water to a boil first, and then put the herb in a cup and pour the hot water over it. Put a little plate over it to keep the steam in and let it steep for about 10 minutes. In the summer, I make a glass of iced tea and then I will wad up a handful of mint and put this in my iced tea … or I use lemon balm or catnip. As you wad up the leaves, the oil will come out into the tea. Very delicious!!!

Of course, with the hops, you harvest the buds at the end of the summer.

The rosehips, you don’t pick until the same time.

The chives, you use for a garnish, and shepherd’s purse, too.

Milkweed we used to get rid of warts, etc.

We used alot of the comfrey for rabbit food, but it can be used for a tea, too. Also, the comfrey roots are a good medicine.

Making Biscuits

To me, it is so satifying to make baking powder biscuits. I don’t use a recipe; I just go by the feel of the dough. The oven should be very hot and preheated before you put your biscuits in the oven. I bake mine in a cast iron skillet. I get my grease hot in the skillet and I put a teaspoon of butter in with the shortening. So when I put the cut biscuits in, I turn them over so the biscuits have the grease on the top. With the butter in the grease, it causes the biscuits to be brown on the top.

As a young bride, I had a lot of trouble making biscuits. They turned out hard as a rock, but I kept trying and I got it right. My problem was I didn’t preheat the oven or turn it up high enough. You need to have biscuits in a hot oven, like 425 degrees. Another reason biscuits get hard is that you knead them too much. You want to work with a light and quick hand, and a hot oven.

See, with kneading yeast bread dough, you have to work slowly and put some muscle into it … but not so with biscuits. Just knead the biscuits about 10 times and, even if the dough is lumpy, flatten it out with your hands and cut the dough into biscuits. Some ladies use a rolling pin to flatten biscuit dough out. I think that makes them tough, too. I just flatten my dough with my hands to about an inch thick, and then I just cut the biscuits out.

Also, make sure your milk or water is cold when you put it in the flour. Self rising flour works good for biscuits but you don’t need it. I got some on sale and I have used this lately for my biscuits. It does make them higher and lighter. But if you are wanting to make biscuits and don’t know how, it would be good for you to buy Bisquick and learn from the directions on the box. Then later, make your own flour mix.

The old time mothers made yeast bread a few times a week and then she made the baking powder biscuits for in between. Then, of course, she made pancakes, too, and muffins for breakfast.

My friend, Jillr, lived on a farm as a child, and there were five children. Her mother made a dessert every day. Like, she made a cake or cookies or pie each day for the supper meal. But back then, folks didn’t go to the Quick Trip for a snack. You made all of the treats at home.

When I was a girl, we would often make popcorn and fudge for an evening snack. One time, Christiane Joy made popcorn balls to surprise us with when we got home from the grocery store. She couldn’t find any syrup, so she used BlackStrap molasses, instead. Wow! Black Popcorn Balls!!! I am sure they got eaten, but they were a real creation.

Joy also made old fashioned taffy candy. She pulled it and everything. She was a wonder at making candy. She took her time with it, and candy does take a lot of patience.

But no matter what we made, someone ate it, no matter what. Even if the kids wouldn’t eat it, the dog would. Well, actually, the dog ate things she wasn’t supposed to. You had to watch her.

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