Friday, June 23, 2017
 

Archive for December, 2004

A Late Supper

Jim had to work today and won’t get off until about 7:00 this evening or, hopefully, earlier. I made him some sausage links and made gravy from the drippings. I made home made baking powder biscuits, too. And I have the coffee on.

I was going to tell you about an old time recipe I read today in a cookbook I had gotten at a book sale this summer. It was put together in the 1970s. I had seen this recipe in some of the really old recipe books before this, too.

Anyway, it’s a stew and here is how they did it. Just get out a big 9×13 casserole pan. Put some grease in it. And then slice potatoes as a layer on the bottom. Salt and pepper this layer. Then, the next layer, slice carrots over the potatoes. The next layer is celery and onions. Then the next layer is beans … any kind. (I would use green beans or peas.) Then the next layer is ground beef. (I would cook it part of the way first.) And the next layer is tomato sauce over the top. (I would use 2 of the small cans.) Then you bake it for 2 hours, covered, at 300 degrees. Put salt and pepper over the top. You could make this recipe in a small square pan, too. Or even make it for a big family in a turkey roaster.

I am gonna make this soon, I think. I read the recipe to Jim and he said he would like it. I know the kids would love it. I would make homemade bread to go with it.

Another old time recipe I am going to make is this …

Cabbage Casserole: Just fry up some hamburger with onions and salt and pepper it. Add a large can of stewed tomatoes and a half head of cabbage and cook until done. Now, I would use my big cast iron skillet for this, start it on the top of the stove, and then put it in the oven and bake it until done. It would taste like cabbage rolls, I think. Anyway, a pan of cornbread would go good with this meal.

Get Down Hillbilly

Yesterday, as Papa and me were out shopping, I told Jim I needed to send in the simple recipe I had for chicken soup. I used to make it for the children and they loved it. It’s very quick and easy. Just take a can of chicken noodle soup and a can of cream of chicken and a can of mixed vegetables. Just dilute each can of soup with water and throw it all together. If you have leftover chicken, you could put that in. Or cook up some onions to put in it. Put in parsley and some other herbs. It’s a quick soup, and my children always loved it. It’s not homemade but would do in a pinch.

I used tuna in place of chicken in my soup at times. The kids thought the tuna was chicken. When they found out it was tuna, they called it “Chicken of the Sea Soup.” My kids were always diggin’ around in their food, wondering what Mama put in it this time.

And we did a load of stuff with a box of macaroni and cheese. You can add a can of cream of something soup to it to make it taste better. We would often add more cheese to it, with the can of soup to stretch it. Aunt Toot used to add a can of prepared chili to her macaroni and cheese. I have fried up hamburger with onions, added it to the mac and cheese, then added a can of stewed tomatoes and some green beans. Or, for another meal, add tuna and peas to make a tuna caserole.

I mean, a hot meal can go a long ways in keeping the family happy and content. Just serve each meal with dignity and grace. No matter what it is, just be thankful for it and keep the faith. And ya know? No, maybe your husbands wouldn’t eat this stuff. But, ya know, the kids probably would, and it is so much cheaper then fixing meat sandwiches or whatever. And, if you have a bunch of little ones, it’s so much easier to make a casserole and dish it up. Making sandwiches for a whole bunch of children to me is a lot of work, and a hot dish with vegetables is so much better for them.

I buy the cans of mixed vegetables at Aldies for about 39

Cherry Kolaches and Hot Soup

Oh! My Dear Husband has been out workin’ all day today. The temperature is in the single digits and, when it gets cold in Iowa, then, Baby, it is cold! I have made him a nice hot vetgetable soup to come home to. Also, some dinner rolls and some Kolaches for dessert, and, of course, I have the coffee on.

Now, to make the Kolaches, all you do is make up your favorite sweet roll dough. You shape rolls like dinner rolls, round, and about 9 rolls in a square pan. Then, after they have risen, you make a good dent in them in the middle. In the dent, I put cherry pie filling, and I am baking them now. I put like 5 cherries in each roll. You push it down with a small teaspoon when you are putting the cherries in, so as to keep the dough punched down in the middle. After they are done baking, I will put powdered sugar on them. I have them baking now, along with the dinner rolls. With one batch of roll dough, I made both the dinner rolls and the kolaches.

Last night for supper, I took about a pound and a half of hamburger and flattened in a pan. When it had baked most of the way, I drained it; then I cut it in 4 serving squares and salt and peppered it. I put tomato soup on this with onions and carrots and pieces of celery. Anyway, I had a lot left over, so to make my soup today, I cut the meat all up in bite size squares and made soup with it. I have had it in the oven for hours and, oh, it smells good. I put more tomato soup in it and cut up potaotes and carrots. Also, corn, green beans, tomatoes and green pepper.

I had frozen some of my tomatoes in my garden this fall. I just put them in plastic bags and keep ’em in the freezer. Then, when I need some, I just take them out and drop them in the soup. I had also frozen green peppers, and orange and red. They freeze well and are so handy for winter soups and stews.

Anyway, I have been alone all day and had a lot of time to pray and get my bearings. But now, I am feeling lonley for Papa to get home and to eat supper with me.

Christmas Fudge

I think today I will make my Christmas Fudge. Annie was telling me that she don’t like the marshmallow fudge. And I thought to myself, “Is she for REAL???” I thought everyone liked the chocolate marshmallow fudge. But she has to be difficult and like the “Old-Fashioned Fudge” that ya gotta beat with a wooden spoon. Well, while she is givin’ her fudge a beatin’ I will be happily eating mine. “While she is beatin’ I will be eatin’.” Well, Annie should make fudge every week, so she can beat the heck out of something.

Anyway, my fudge is called EASY Fudge or “Never Fail Fudge.” The recipe is on the back of the marshmallow cream jar. I make it once a year at Christmas and it makes a lot. I mean, if you go to buy the fudge at the mall, it costs plenty. But this recipe on the marshmallow cream jar is just as good and rich and sure a lot fresher … and it makes 3 pounds. That is a lot of rich Christmas Chocolate.

I sometimes buy a can of mixed nuts and put this into my candy. But you may just want to use peanuts or walnuts or pecans. I don’t crush the nuts up; I leave them whole. And when you cut the fudge you cut right through the nuts. It’s a nice clean cut. But, anyway, I won’t write out the recipe because if you plan to make this fudge, you need the marshmallow cream, anyway, and the recipe is on the back of the jar. I just dug around in my freezer and found some fresh walnuts in a bag, so I will use walnuts to make our Christmas Fudge.

In the old days, I used to buy a jar of marshmallow cream at Christmas and, if I didn’t hide it right away, Dan and David and the boys would all get into it and try to eat it. So when I would go to make my fudge, the marshmallow cream would be half eaten. So if ya think about it, when ya go to the store to get the marshmallow cream, if its on sale, buy two. One for the fudge and one for the kids to sneak into.

A nice thing to do with your Christmas Fudge after you make it? Well, you can go to the Salvation Army and get the most lovely Christmas tins. I just take mine home and wash them out real good. And then I line mine with the light tissue paper that is a buck for about 10 big pieces … it’s beautiful paper and I would have died for it in the 70s. But, anyway, line your tin with the tissue, and then put a layer of plastic wrap over the tssue so the candy won’t melt through. But this makes a nice candy box to put on the table for the holidays. And, of course, this recipe makes 3 pounds of candy. You could give some of this fudge away for a Christmas gift, wrapped in pretty Christmas tissue and a nice Christmas tin. We used to do this and, oh folks, love fudge for Christmas.

I buy a container of the old fashioned hard candy at Christmas. (Mary always loved to get into that when she was little.) It only costs 2 bucks at the Dollar Store for a big can. And, often, if I was giving fudge away for Christmas, I would sprinkle some of the hard candy in my tin along with the fudge to make it festive.

And you need a heavy pan to make your fudge. I love my old pan I got at the Salvation Army right after Thanksgiving … the one with the big heavy red lid? The pot is black and is like a cross between a cast iron and an enamel. The red lid is enamel but very heavy, like cast iron. But I have had a ball with this pan ever since I got it. I have made lots of soup in it.,And it has a nice heavy bottom, and this will be perfect for candy makin’.

You could use your heavy cast iron dutch oven to make your fudge, too. I usually use mine each year. But this year, I am using my new pan, as it is a bit lighter. And I have to hold it and scrape the candy out at the same time. So a lighter pan will be easier to work with.

The kids get such a kick out of me when I show them my big pan with the red lid on my stove. I just think it is cute.

Also, when I got my last stove I got a small white stove, as my kitchen is so small. I call it my Minnie Mouse Stove, as my kitchen looks like Minnie Mouse cooks in it, anyway. But this little white stove reminds me of the 1920s stoves. The ovens in them were so small. But the Mothers cooked huge meals in them.

When Papa and me were first married, we had this apartment that had a huge kitchen. It was really old fashioned and I loved it. It had very little counter space, as the kitchen cupboards went from the ceiling to the floor. The ceilings were very high, of course, probably 10 ft high. You had to practically get a ladder to get into the highest cupboard. I didn’t even use these cupboards, as I was just a young wife with barely any dishes anyway. But I filled up the lower cupboards.

Anyway, this kitchen had an old white stove in it from the 30s or 40s. The stove had 2 ovens in it with 2 thermostats. The small oven, you used for every day, and the big oven was for big family meals. But you could have 2 things goin’ on at the same time, as each oven had its own temp control. I loved baking bread in the big oven and baking the family meal in the other side.

Happy Cookin’

A Christmas Hearth

It’s an early winter morning here in Iowa. I am awake, as I wanted to get my Christmas Sausage into the oven. I took the meat out of the refrigerator and shaped the rolls and put them on a cookie sheet. I peppered the outside just before they went into the oven at 200 degrees. I will check it every hour to drain off the grease and to turn the rolls to make sure they are staying round. I wanted to bake the sausage this morning, as it takes 6 hours, and I didn’t want to tie the oven up for the day. Hopefully, later on today, I can make some Christmas Breads.

Yesterday, I made the sugar cookies and I used the butter flavored Crisco. Boy, that is a nice shortening to use for butter cookies, as it has the butter flavor without the butter price.

Also, sometimes I make the mince meat pies? I just buy the fresh mince meat at the store. Then I mix it up with my own cut up apples and raisins. The mince meat at the store is expensive. So I just mix it all up with my own apples, etc. Just taste your mix after you have it done, and then add more brown sugar, if ya need to, and some more cinnamon and nutmeg or ginger. That isnt a true mince meat pie filling, but Papa likes it like this. The kids don’t really like it that much. But me and Jim like it.

You can buy the fresh mince meat pie filling at the meat department at our store. Mince Meat Pie is a very Old-Fashioned Holiday pie and it’s fun to make. They have the canned mincemeat, too. But I just buy the fresh, and then mix it all up with my own fruit. Then I make my pie crusts and put the filling in. Make a top crust, too, and then bake it.

Papa is up and I am talking to him as I write. I just made some Seasoned Oyster Crackers as we visited. I wanted to get them in the oven to bake with the sausage, as both mixtures need the low oven for and a long baking time. I just took the package of store bought oyster crackers and I put the whole package in a 9×13 baking pan. I melted a stick of real butter and poured this on the crackers. I added some dry parsley, powdered garlic, red seasoning salt, and black pepper. Just have fun with these crackers and add what ya want. I mixed these all up and put them on a rack to bake along with the sausage at 200 degrees until brown.

Now, these crackers we will use for soup. I have a big coffee can and will decorate the can on the outside with Christmas paper. On the inside, I will put Christmas tissue paper. And then I can put the cooled and dry soup crackers in the can. Then, when I serve soups over the holidays, I can just put the Holiday wrapped can on the table. It’s quick and easy to put out.

And I have a large and lovely tin I will use for my Christmas cut out cookies. I got it at the Salvation Army for $1. It has little Victorian sisters on the round lidded tin. I will put tissue in this tin also and then lay the cookies inside. I get the pretty tissue at the Dollar Store and line Christmas presents on the inside with it.

Now, the crackers could be used for quick and easy Christmas presents. They are easy to make and fun to have for winter soups.

Sorry I don’t have exact recipes for any of this. When I was raising the children, I just used what I had to make things. I could never afford all of the expensive mixes. So what you see is what you get, Dear Chistmas Sisters. Mostly old-fashioned Christmas cookin’ on a shoe string.

Papa just told me how good the sausage in the oven smelled, and the crackers. He said he could smell them all over the house … it’s the smells of Christmas. The scents of home and family.

Mother calls her family home for Christmas with her prayers and loving hands. Jim just told me this morning, “Dan is coming over today.” I said I wasn’t surprised. I think maybe some of the other kids will come over, too. I will make soup and we can have crackers and a taste of the Christmas sausage.

Christmas Sausage

I am up early this morning, as I usually am. Jim won’t go to work until late this afternoon. I think today I will make the Christmas Sausage. It’s called summer sausage. I am just going to make it simple.

I have 3 pounds of hamburger, unthawed, in the refrigerator. I will drain it a bit and put 3 teaspoons of table salt in it. Actually, if you are planning to mix it for 4 days (as the original recipe calls for) you should have the Mortons quick salt for that, or the curing salt. But I am just going to mix my sausage and leave it a day, and then bake it the next day.

I will put in some minced garlic from the jar that I got yesterday … about a tablespoon. Then about 2 tablespoons of mustard seed and a tablespoon of the coarsely ground black pepper. Maybe some Worcestershire sauce and celery seed. I have some dried chives I will put in, and parsly, if I have some.

Anyway, ya mix all of the herbs and spices up with the 3 pounds of hamburger. Then just leave the meat in the bowl and put this in the fridge for the day. The next day, mix everything up again with your hands to make sure it is all mixed up good, and the spices are evenly distributed. Then shape this into 2 long logs — the size of the frozen bread dough in the store? Then take these logs, put them on a cookie sheet, and bake them on a low oven of about 200 degrees for 6 hours.

Now, the meat will get flat on one side if you don’t turn it every hour to make nice round long sausages. Also, drain the fat off every few hours. This baking cooks all the fat out of the hamburger. But you do need the fat in the meat to begin with as it keeps the sausage from getting dried out. So use the cheapest fatty hamburger you can find as the fat will cook off, anyway.

Now, you can blame JillR. that I don’t have the original recipe that we used in the 1970s, because she didnt email me back yet as I asked her for the recipe. That naughty girl. And God knows I lost my recipe right on “Q” in the 70s. And, of course, I have been guessin’ at it now for 30 years.

But everyone loves my Christmas Sausage. I have even made it with brown sugar and apples in it, and nutmeg and cinnamon. But my family likes it best with the salty spices. But just add what ya like to your sausage.

After this sausage bakes for 6 hours, you just take it and wrap it in wax paper, or whatever, and store it in the refrigerator. When it is cold, slice it thin and serve it with crackers and cheese … it is really delicious.

My brother Kirk makes his sausage with hamburger and deer meat. The deer meat alone is too dry and it needs the fat in the hamburger. Kirk is a hunter and his freezer is always full of deer meat. He brings a lot of sausage to family get togethers and we all can’t wait to eat some … its very fun to make and very traditional.

But have fun with it and don’t worry it. Just pray and ask the Lord what to put in it. Keep the sausage drained, round, and spicey, and have fun making it.

Merry Christmas.

A Christmas Homestead

Dear Christmas Mothers,

Good morning. It’s early morning on the Hultquist Homestead. Just made myself a cup of coffee and I am ready to visit. Found a ladybug in my cup. It’s OK — she didn’t drink much.

It’s another day for me to make a home here for Papa and for the older kids who run in and out. Dan was here last night with Suzy. Papa was at work. So Dan will be back this afternoon to visit with Jim. Late morning here, we will be putting up the Christmas tree. Today is Jim’s day off so he will have a ball putting up decorations. I will probably make popcorn this afternoon after lunch.

When Dan came in last night, he said, “Oh, Mom, the house looks so pretty.” Jim and I have cut branches of evergreen from our tree and put it all over the house. We put branches over the doorpost going to the kitchen and on the one to the upstairs. We made a wreath for the front door and I put branches of evergreen in the windows. To make the wreath, Papa just cut a bunch of branches about 2 feet long. And then I just gathered them all at the top and put a ribbon around it. We didn’t make it round. Then I just stuck it on a nail on the door. You could put a wire around it if you wanted to and then twist a circle to make a loop to hang on a nail. Then I hung a strand of gold bells on it.

One thing I like to do with the branches is I like to soak them a bit in a bathtub of water. This way, it makes the branches easier to work with. They aren’t so stiff and immovable. Also my branches will be up for a few weeks so I don’t want them to dry out.

About 5 years ago, Jim planted a blue spruce in our back yard. It is so pretty and tall now. It grew quickly. So a few days ago, Papa just took his saw and cut the branches for the house from the bottom of the tree, so it doesn’t ruin the beauty of the tree. When I decorate, I love to bring the outside in and then spruce it up a bit. We have tiny red bows that we put on the swags of evergreen. Well, except for the front door evergreen. I have a bigger ribbon for that. Still, I keep the colors more subdued and old fashioned.

Danny wanted to go upstairs last night to borrow one of Jim’s T-shirts. But he said, “Mom, I better not go upstairs, huh? Dad probably has Christmas presents up there.” Oh, Danny Dee — at 22, still a hungry hearted little Christmas elf. We pick out funny things for the kids for Christmas. Well, Dan has needed a winter coat. He has one but — well? Well, anyway. Jim decided to give Dan his black leather motorcycle jacket. Jim don’t drive a motorcycle but we had gotten this really nice black jacket with the zippers on the sleeves, etc. at a sale last summer. Well, Dan loves it. And for Christmas we are wrapping it up and putting it in a box for Dan. We will put in new gloves and a black scarf for his neck and some Elvis sunglasses. And then we have a card from last year that Brandon gave us. It’s a big card with Elvis on the front? In the inside, it says, “I hope your Christmas rocks.” Well, anyway we will take the picture and get a frame for it and put those in with the coat. Dan will love it. He thinks he is Elvis, ya know? And if ya look at the old pictures of Elvis, Dan does look like him. And, yes, our Christmas did Rock last year and I am sure it will this year, too. But I am glad that Dan is getting out of the Punk Rock. Thank God!

But, anyway, it will be a fun day today as Papa will be off putting up the tree. And Dan will come over and maybe some of the other kids. I may have Baby today — I don’t know. I am going to bake this morning and make Christmas cookies and maybe some bread. I will make some Cheese Potato Soup. I will put some left over fried bacon in it that I saved in the refrigerator. Dan loves coffee so I will have the coffee on. I know coffee isn’t that good for ya but, Christmas Sisters, things cud be worse! I can’t believe that some of you won’t fix your husbands coffee?

And don’t forget, Christmas Sisters, that a homestead just means a place where you have a home. Like a bedstead is a place for a bed. So you can call your home a Christmas Homestead, too, even if you live in a trailer or apartment.

I always decorate like I live in a cabin in the woods. Papa and me always get a real tree for Christmas. Yes, it is a mess and, yes, Peggy Sue is just a kitten and will climb it and Jim will have a fit. And, yes, Baby Rose will get into it, too. But that’s OK. Life is goin’ on at the Hultquist Home and we wouldn’t know what to do without some action, anyway. Papa had said a few years ago that we would just get a small artificial tree as the kids were all gone. But Mama insisted that we have a real tree. Then this year, I gave in and said, “OK, we can get a small tree.” And Papa wouldn’t hear of it and went out and bought one the same size we use every year. Well, that is fine with me. And I am letting Papa have a ball with it.

While I am the type to want the more subdued colors of nature, Papa loves the brightest he can get. Soooo — this year the tree is all his idea as I got to decorate with the evergreen in an old fashioned way. Papa is going to decorate the tree in the 50s style — the bright, hanging green and red Christmas ornaments? Oh, I hate those things! Metallic red and green and silver? But Papa will love it, and I will just wear sunglasses when I look at it.

And ya know, I know that Jesus is the reason for the season. But I don’t try to hook Jesus in with this as an afterthought with Santa Claus. To me it’s two different things. Jesus is my Lord. But ya know, I am dealing with folks around me that aren’t all believers yet. Or they are young in the faith. And I can’t make this holiday time a time for fighting and hell on earth. I use Christmas as a time to celebrate family and a time to show the ones I love a fun family time. And if Jesus wasn’t my Lord, I couldn’t even have the courage to do that.

I try to make a Joyful Holiday for my family out of a heart that sometimes wants to just roll over and play dead. It takes a lot of spiritual strength to make a Christmas for our families. I mean, especially if they aren’t all saved. It’s hard to look past the obvious things that just ain’t right yet in the family and go on and be joy filled. And yet, as we Christmas Mothers make our holiday preparations, we walk by faith and not sight. We go on in God and make the holiday a Joy. Because one of these days when we least expect it, all will be well with all of our families. And won’t we want to hear our children say about us, “Mama made a Christmas for all of us. Her heart must have been broken as she saw some of us living against what she taught us. But Mama walked in faith. Her and Daddy made a Christmas. An old fashioned Christmas that we can never forget.”

We must remain strong, dear Sisters, in the face of adversity. We must remain the stars of our homes. The light that shines brighter than the Christmas lights.

Let us
this Christmas season
light our kitchens with
Love, Forgiveness and Hope.

Let’s keep our visons
crisp and clear.

May our faces shine with the anointing
of Jesus Christ.

As servants of Christ
let’s make our homes
Christmas homes
of Joy.

Cocoa Mix

You need a big gallon jar to make this mix. Or just make it in a big bowl or a sack* and then distribute it into other containers. But this mix will last a big family the whole winter, well past Christmas.

Ok, put in your bowl:
7 and a half cups of instant milk.
Add:
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of cocoa
one fourth teaspoon of salt.
Now mix this up really good and you got it, Darlin’. Use a third cup of mix for a mug of hot water.

Now, of course you could add less instant milk and add a container of the instant dry cream. Or add brown sugar instead of white, or use powdered sugar. You could add a can of Herseys Cocoa Mix to this, too. But, if you are poor, you can just make it simple like my recipe.

And it’s ok to be poor. It ain’t a sin — it’s just uncomfortable. You won’t have the same kick in your cocoa as your rich friends but you will be thinner, and for this, you can smile smugly. And, actually, you could laugh out loud when no one else is around.

But you must never, ever complain that you don’t have the money to buy the dry cream or the Herseys Cocoa Mix. Never let the rich ladies see you sweat … as they don’t know that you have to make your Christmas Cocoa Mix with just cocoa and instant milk and plain table sugar with a pinch of salt. Of course you can’t afford a vanilla bean that costs 3 dollars! But add instant vanilla pudding and fake it, and smile big like you have a vanilla bean in your Cocoa Mix but some how it just dissolved. Hhmmph!!! Never let the devil see ya sweat. Or Jezabel, who couldn’t make a biscuit if her life depended on it.

Ya know, Dixie used to tell me a story. It was about this husband who was always drunk. At one point, he got full of whiskey and shot up the town with his shot gun. His wife was a saint and prayin’ for her wayward husband. When someone asked her about her husband shooting all the street lights out, she said, “Well, he is a pretty good shot for being so drunk.” This woman never let the devil see her sweat. And ya know what? That woman’s husband got saved because his wife wouldn’t give up prayin’ for him. And that’s all it takes, simply, is prayer.

We ain’t supernatural. We can’t make things happen. But we can stand with our arms raised up like Moses so that God can defeat the army against us. Just stand, dear saints, with arms lifted to Jesus, for in Him comes your help. Stand up in His glory. Having done all to stand “Stand.” Stand in Him and, when your arms feel tired, let the saints come along and help you hold up your arms of faith. But don’t put ’em down, dear Mothers and wives. If ya don’t give up, you will see His glory.

*Put 2 paper grocery sacks together to make it strong. Then roll down the top of the sack to make a bowl. Roll about half way down.

A Baking Mix

I am going to give you a recipe for a Baking Mix. I used to use this mix a lot around Christmas, as it is so quick and easy to use. You can use it for pancakes or muffins or quick breads. I used mine mainly for pancakes and biscuits.

Here is the mix. First off, you may have to go to the Buck Store and buy a big plastic dish pan to mix all of this in. Or use a big turkey roaster. Or, possibly, use a big paper grocery sack? I mean, put 2 paper sacks together to make it strong. Then roll down the top of the sack to make a bowl. Roll about half way down.

Here is the Recipe.

Take a five pound bag of flour. You could use half whole wheat. Anyway, pour this in the bowl.

Add to this 3 cups of instant milk.

Add a cup of baking powder and 1 cup of sugar.
3 tablespoons of salt.

Mix this all up with your hands.

Then throw in 2 pounds of shortening or lard. Now roll up your sleeves and work this shortening into the dry mix. Just mess with it and play with it. Squeeze it in your hands and rub the lard into the flour until you have all of the lard mixed into the flour mix. Now, there is no perfect way to do this. Just be a kid again and mix it all up and have fun.. And that will take you about a half an hour?

When you have this all done, then put the mix in some containers, like coffee cans or whatever. Keep one sack of it in the kitchen in a cool place to make biscuits, and keep the rest in the fridge. When it gets steadily cold here in Iowa, I store things on my closed in front porch.

To make biscuits with your mix, just put 2 cups of mix in your bowl, add a half cup of water, and stir to make a dough.

To make muffins, just put 2 cups of mix in your bowl and add a couple tablespoons of sugar, brown or white. Add a large egg and 2 thirds cup of water and stir up your muffins … the dough will be clunky. Don’t over stir it. Bake in a hot oven. You can add a cup of fruit to this, like apples or raisins, and add cinnamon to taste. Just experiment.

For pancakes, you add more water than the muffins or biscuits. Just put in a few cups of mix and an egg, and add water until the pancakes look right. The pancake batter should look like school glue, or that consistency.

I am hell at recipes. God help us. I just cook and bake by inspiration. I do go by a recipe, as far as the mix goes, but from then on, I go by hook and by crook.

But, Good Night, ya got enough mix here to kill an elephant, so if ya make a mistake making something, you can try it a half a hundred more times until ya get it right. And if ya goof this up, throw it outside to a crow.

Ok, I guess I have done all the damage I can do on this baking mix. I better write down the Cocoa Mix and keep on keepin’ on.

Handmade Christmas

Dear Wise Christmas Sisters,

Yesterday, Papa and me went to the Dollar Store, and I got so many cute things. I put way more in my shopping basket than what I need. Then, just before I got to the check out, I put a bunch of stuff back. I will say about candy and crackers, “Oh, I don’t need them I can make them.” And I will look over my cart and think of what I can make at home and not buy.

I used to make crackers out of left over bread dough. Just roll out the bread dough really thin and then cut it in squares with a pizza cutter. Then prick holes in the squares and salt them or put parmesan cheeese over the top, and bake them like cookies. You could put garlic and pepper on them. But the old time Mothers never bought crackers … they made them.

And I used to make bread sticks a lot to use with soup. Just take your bread dough and flatten it on a pan and let it rise about 15 minutes … not long. Then just cut strips with your pizza cutter. I would fix these plain and then, when they came out of the oven, I would butter them and put Parmesan cheese on ’em. Our children would eat these as they played outside on winter evenings after supper. They would run in the house, “Mom, can I bring out bread sticks for Nathan and Tiffany?” (neighbor children.) I would say “Sure, I have plenty.” And my bread sticks were big and fat and, when you ate one, you got filled up.

Anytime I made bread, I made a lot of dough and made bread rolls, cinnamon rolls, and a few loaves of bread. At Christmas, I would take my bread dough and make 3 long strands of bread. I would sugar and spice the long ropes with cinnamon and brown sugar and butter. Then I would braid the pieces. Sometimes, I would put the braided dough on a long cookie sheet and then flatten it so it would be wide, then let it rise and bake it. After it was done, I would decorate the bread. Sometimes, I would sprinkle on homemade green sugar. But then sometimes, I would put some butter frosting on it and color this green. Then I would take the marachino cherries, slice them in half, and put them on the bread. And then put pecans on it, like every other one. Pecan and then cherry, etc., down the center of the loaf. If ya just used a package of pecans sparingly, and the cherries, you can make a lot of Christmas bread with them. Then sometimes I would make the cinnamon braid and I would put it in a circle and bake it like that, in a round pan. Or make a circle with the dough and put it on a large cookie sheet and it will turn out like a Christmas wreath. And then just decorate it like a Christmas Wreath.

You could even use the frozen bread dough for some of this until you felt sure enough of yourself to make your own. But a bread machime, I think, would interrupt my creativity. But, ya know, with a big family I would just make up a big bunch of bread dough and make things for Christmas. And we always give Christmas bread to the neighbors. To use the frozen bread dough, just put your loaf out on the cupboard and let it soften, and then slice it length wise in thirds. Then butter it and put the cinnamon on it and the brown or white sugar. Then braid it up tight and put it in a loaf pan and let it rise, and bake it. When it is done and cooled, you could frost it with butter frosting. White frosting with colored sugar on the top looks “Christmasy.” Or stick nuts and cherries on the top of the bread, down in the frosting, so it will stick good.

Butter Frosting: Just take a stick of butter, put it in your sauce pan, and melt it. Put in about a fourth cup of milk. Then, just add as much powdered sugar as ya need to make a thick frosting. (I have never used a recipe for this — sorry.) But then, at the end, just put in vanilla. There were years, back raising the children, that I would run out of powdered sugar. So I would use half powdered sugar and half flour. I really like it better with using half flour. Ya have to keep stirring when ya use the flour and let it thicken.

And, ya know, I couldn’t afford all the sugars when we had all the kids home. Often, I would make the powdered sugar with putting plain table sugar in my blender with a bit of white flour, and then just blend it up. This makes a nice powdered sugar, and often I would add molasses to my white sugar to make brown sugar. Heck, if I got white sugar and plenty of it for baking, I was cookin’ on all 4 burners, huh?

But I always just made up my mind that my children would not have lean Christmases, as long as I could buy flour and lard and sugar. I mean, I would not confess negative over my Home Christmas. If the children would ask to invite the neighbor children in for cocoa and treats, then I made the children welcome. My children were proud of Mama, that she made such good holiday treats. And, of course, many of the neighbor children had never tasted a homemade cookie, and they loved my baked goods. But I would just try to be gracious and kind hearted and enjoy the children.

Often, we didn’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of … just kidding. But, ya know, I would just get busy and make a Christmas. Papa would haul in a big 50 pound bag of white flour on his shoulder and I would make Christmas out of it. Papa would carry it in at Christmas and slam it on the table like it was fresh meat, and he would say, “There ya go, woman … ya got flour.” And with some meat and some potatoes and vegetables, we raised 6 children, and always had a Merry Christmas.

And I never started baking for Christmas unless I had a pot of homemade soup bubbling on the stove. Even if I started early morning, I had to have soup on the stove. Because once I got going on the baking, I didn’t want to stop and make dinner. So the older kids could serve their own soup and fix some for the little ones while I baked. It is a common sight to see spilled soup on my table, mixed with flour. Because I never baked without making soup first And then I would make the bread dough as the soup simmered. Then the first part of the dough I would make pan rolls. I would just take the dough before it rose and put it on my baking sheet and cut it like a cake? Then I just had this to rise once and I baked it, and it was ready for the family for lunch … just pan rolls.

But I was not a stingy mother who was always yelling out, “Don’t eat that! We wont have enough.” My children were all thin, and still are, but I always made sure that my children were well fed. I didn’t want them to get sick, as we couldn’t afford a doctor. So they had plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and much homemade vegetable soups and stews. I didn’t think about vitamins; I thought about having a wholesome homemade home to raise my babies in. I thought of their souls and their comfort.

I always had the coffee on for Papa … he needed it … it was a comfort to him, and especially at Christmas, with a piece of cherry pie. A cup of coffee is very comforting to a man, and a hot supper.

A wise Mother builds her house, and especially at Christmas time.

Make a homemade Christmas for your dear Families … don’t think about going to the store first. Go through the pantry cupboards and look at what you have. Do you have some hamburger, and some potatoes and vegetables? Fry up some meat with some onions and fresh pepper and salt. This is the smell of home and family. After the meat has cooked, just throw in some tomato soup and start adding vegetables. Add water to cover the vegetables. Let this cook slowly on the stove, or bake it in a slow oven for a few hours.

Then, if you have no flour or sugar, at least you have lunch started, and you can make a quick trip to the store. But if you have flour and sugar, just stay home and start making Christmas.

If you have to go out, here is a list of things you may need.

  1. Well, first off make sure you have plenty of flour and sugar, and shortening or lard.
  2. I always have cocoa in my cupboard.
  3. Do you have cinnamon? For winter, I often fix a shaker of cinnamon and sugar for the table or to put next to the stove to cook with.
  4. And, even now, as the children are grown, I still have a huge box of instant milk that I cook with. Baby Rose drinks a lot of fresh whole milk, so I sometimes run out of milk and the instant milk is very handy to have to cook and bake with. And God knows I NEVER measure instant milk. To make gravy or to bake with, just throw some dry milk in, and add water until it looks right. If I had to measure stuff all the time, I would be as crazy as a Loon. Not to mention, I wouldn’t get anything else done.
  5. Well, ya need eggs …do ya have some? No? Well, write it down on your list.
  6. Ya got chocolate chips? If you can afford them, be sure to get some for the Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies. And, heck, you don’t need to put a whole package in your recipe. Just use a fourth of a bag per recipe. JillR, if she ran out, would just put one chocolate chip on each cookie. Her kids couldn’t wait to eat to the middle of the cookie to get the chocolate chip. She could make a package of chocolate chips last for months. If the cookies had just one chocolate chip in them, they were “Chocolate Chip Cookies,” by golly, and no one complained. If you are poor, its legal to B.S. your kids. (That’s the law, I think.) But, ya know, if Mama is ok, then all is well at the house.
  7. Hey, and don’t forget to buy coffee at the store for Papa and the neighbors who stop by for a Christmas visit.
  8. And, ya know, if ya plan to make Cocoa Mix for the holidays, don’t forget the instant milk. I used to make ours with just the instant milk and sugar and cocoa. I mean, if you have the money, it’s nice to buy the instant coffee cream to put in it, or a can of the cocoa drink powder, but ya don’t need it. The kids won’t know the difference, anyway. Be sure to put your cocoa mix in a big fancy jar, or even a coffee can, decorated with old-fashioned Christmas paper and a brown string. Put a third cup measureing cup down in the mix, so the kids know how much to use. And, if you are rich, buy a vanilla bean to stick down in the dry mix. But, if ya ain’t rich, buy a few packages of instant vanilla puddng mix to put in the Cocoa Mix. That makes it MMMM Good.

These are simple things to make, and it will keep you from running to the store all the time. Just fill your pantry with as much as you can so that you can feel free to make a homemade Christmas, and many pots of soups and stews.

 
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