Sunday, December 17, 2017

Archive for February, 2005

Old West Kitchens

I wanted to tell you some ideas if you like the old Wild West look in your kitchen.

Take old tin cans that you like the label on? (Usually the tomato cans are kinda original.) Fill the cans with dirt and plant some flowers or herb seeds in them for spring. Just hammer a few holes in the bottom of the can for water drainage and put a saucer under the can to catch the water. Then, ya know, seeds around here are cheap … you can get some for 10

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Good Morning Mothers.

Are you up yet? Remember, the secret to having a happy Mother in a Happy Home is to rise while it is yet night and give meat to your household. As a young Mother, I thought this scripture meant to give my family meat for breakfast every morning. Well, maybe that, too. Now, as an older Mother, I think this means spiritual meat. So often, if my family was having problems, I would rise early and pray and, when they all woke up and saw Mama happy and full of faith, it came on them, too.

The early bird catches the worm or the devil. Ya got to get up early to go fishin’ and, to pray, you need to rise early and fish for souls. The morning hours are holy precious hours. The moving of the Spirit is so much clearer early, in the stillness of the a new morning. Later on, our dear families get up and they need breakfast or the little ones need their diapers changed and their breakfast.

You can pray on your feet. Yes, all of us Mothers pray all day as we run from one chore to the next. But it’s a special kind of prayin’ early in the morning. Kinda like getting up early to have coffee with Jesus. To have some private time with Him. To talk over the things that really matter deep in a Mother’s Heart. Like, “Lord, does my husband really love me? What can I do to make him happy? What can I do to build faith in my children? Teach me, please, Lord.”

Years ago, we had an incident that just kept our family so upset for about a month or so. The man we were paying our house payment to, with taxes included, hadn’t paid our taxes in about 3 years. We get this card in the mail that tells us that our house is being sold on the auction block for past taxes due. We had no money to get a lawyer … had we had any money, we would have paid the past taxes and then gotten it from the man who wasn’t paying them, later on when the coast was clear. The main thing was to get the money to pay the taxes before the house was sold.

We had 3 children home at the time. This was not in any way our fault, as we had paid the taxes with the house payment, as we had for about 20 years at the time. I had to just cast my burdens over to the Lord. I had 3 children at home that needed me to home school them. Papa needed encouragement. I had to be strong and not give up.

Often, I would rise early to pray and just shake with fear. If our house was sold, where would we go? But I would rise early and pray, and I would just see Jesus as my provider. Of course, Papa was going to punch all of them in the nose. But, ya know, Jesus did give me peace day to day and, finally, this man did pay all the back taxes, just in time before the house was sold. Man talk about livin’ on the edge!

Then, my dear Jim got a loan and paid this man off, that we had the house contract with, and we began to pay our own taxes. Thank God for my husband. I played my part in this and Jim played his. It seems to be my part to pray and seek the Lord and be quiet, and Jim plays the part of provider and shield for me and the children.

I could have gotten up every morning, upset and mad and ready to murder someone. I mean, who would have blamed me? We were cheated and about to lose our house any day. Who wouldn’t be on edge? And yet, the Lord — THE LORD — gave me peace, as I looked for Him early in the morning.

He has a plan for all of us. But the main thing, dear Mother, is to keep your heart in peace, for out of it are the issues of life. Some of our husbands aren’t as spiritual as we may like, but our obedience to God can change this. By the obedience of one, many were made righteous. And we need, as wives, to stay in our places and pray when things go wrong. And any woman of prayer will tell you that the secret to answered prayer is to seek the Lord early in the morning. We may weep for the night but Joy comes in the morning.

Rise while it is yet night and give spiritual meat to your family.

An Everlasting Yeast

I had some apple juice that we didn’t like, so I threw it in my sour dough pot and, just now, made a loaf of bread. A few days ago, I had made Jim a pan of sweet potatoes. I had a bit of the brown sugar syrup left in the pan, so I added this to my sour dough, too.

Ya know, with a sour dough starter, it is so quick to make bread. I use like about a cup and a half of starter to make a loaf of bread. (Well, I do it different each time, but today, that’s how I did it.) I just put the starter in my bowl, and then I add some cooking oil and the flour. I mix it up, knead it, make it into a ball, and let it rise on the stove in a covered crock bowl. Very simple. And it’s the best bread I have ever made. It’s so light and fluffy!

I think I will make a cinnamon loaf out of the dough I have rising. Sour dough bread isn’t usually light, but mine is. It’s supposed to be more chewy, but it just depends on the housewife and the yeast spores in her home.

I smell my sour dough starter often. It should smell like beer. Now, if it gets to smellin’ like sweaty feet, then throw it out. It should smell yeasty and be a light color. Mine has a stout yeasty smell. I smelled it after I had made it into a ball to rise, and it smells sweet and plain.

Also, for supper, I am fixin’ Papa a pan of fried potatoes with hot dogs. I just fry the hot dogs and take them out of the skillet, and then fry the potatoes, and then put the hot dogs on the top and cook ’em in a bit. Maybe add some onion. I will have the coffee on, too.

Ya know, sour dough is an everlasting yeast. You can use it for biscuits or any of your baking. It’s something you can pass on to your daughters if you keep it going. It’s good housewife wisdom to learn and will always keep you in yeast. As long as you have flour and a sour dough pot in your kitchen, your family will never go without bread.

Nest Building

Yesterday, I had such a nice day. I washed the windows here in the dining room and put some cute things in my window sills. As I look up from my keyboard, I can see my two old fashioned double windows.

Ya know, our Mary loves to be wildly creative with her windows. Mary and I will put about anything up for curtains. I mean, some folks think you have to have matching curtains. Our Christian Joy gets very creative with her home.

In my living room, I have two large windows, and I had this one tablecloth that I had gotten at the Dollar Store. It is sort of lace with a gold on one side and a burgandy color on the other side. I used it as a curtain. I didn’t sew it — I just hung it over the rod. It is so beautiful when the southern sun comes through the window in the afternoon. As the sun goes down, the curtain takes on a rose color. It’s very pretty. David commented on it when he was here last week.

Then, on my front living room window, I have a white lace tablecloth. I just folded it over the curtain rod. It was slippery, and the cat would have pulled it down, so I put a lovely cameo blue pin in the middle of it, at the top, to fasten the two layers together and hold them in place. I can’t remember what I paid for those two lace tablecloths, but it wasn’t very much. They may have been around 7 or 8 bucks apiece?

As for my dining room, it is more get down hillbilly. Yesterday, I fixed these windows up. I have some old colored bottles I had gotten last summer from a garage sale. I filled some with water and put plant starts in them. I had some basil that was dying off, and I just cut it up and put starts of the plant in the bottles. They will root and I will plant them in the summer. (Basil loves the hot summer … not spring.) My bottles in my window are dark purple, dark green, and amber. It’s fun to collect these bottles and they bring a colorful sunlight into the rooms.

Then, in the middle of the bottles on the window sill, I have sitting an old small picture of Mary with her baby Jesus. And around her are angels playing instruments. One with a violin and one with a mandolin. It’s a very old picture that someone made. They took a circle of wood from a big tree branch, and they pasted the picture onto it and shellacked the face of it. It’s really old and creased. The bark is still on the outside rim.

As I have written, I wanted it closer to me, so I took it out of the window and put it in my basket I have hanging by the window, closer to my keyboard. The basket has dried Seven Sister Roses in it from last summer, and it has a few dried branches of berries.

And to my right, I have an old basket sitting on my microwave. It looks just like a big bird’s nest, and I have it filled with dried garlic. Mary has a fit when she sees it. “Oh, Mom, that is awful! Garlic stinks, and why do you need that much?” Well, some of the bulbs have sprouts of green coming out of them and, in the spring, I will just plant the garlic in my herb garden. Also, for the dried up ones, I will cut them up and put them in the corner of my door sill, here in the dining room. This keeps the ants from coming in my house in the spring and summer. Also, you can keep garlic in your kitchen cupboards to keep any bugs away. I keep some in my little hoosier cupboard.

Also, in my hoosier, I pasted quilt squares on the top shelf for a covering, like shelf paper. My aunt had given me so many cotton calico squares, and I just wanted to use them right away. And my lil cupboard is so old fashioned and I just wanted to paste those squares in there. It’s not practical. Mercy! The FlyLady would squirt me with fly spray. My mother used to spank me with a fly swatter. But, ya know, it’s a sin to be too organized. It shackles the Spirit and rots the bones.

Our Mary’s home is very creative. She will just take a piece of material she likes and hang it in her window. I don’t mean a sewn up one — I mean just a piece of material with raw edges, with the threads still hanging. Mary likes it like that and I do, too. That little child bride, at 19, has a way with a window. She loves to hand sew, but she likes some of her cutains to be left unsewn.

Her little home looks like a sweet fairy land. And, ya know, she enjoys cutting out pictures and putting them in frames. She will cut a picture out of a magazine or wherever and frame it. I think these dumb Home Decorating Parties stunt your creative growth. They are like tying and roping up your inner man. The spirit of creativity can’t be bought — it comes from your inner man. And especially, a Christian Mother has a lot to say in her home, and woe unto anyone who hurts her creative flow. Mothers, don’t allow anyone to condemn your homemaking.

Like Dixie use to tell me when she would stop by and I would fret as the house was a mess … she would say, “Connie, of course your house is a mess. You have 6 children. If everything was in place, it would mean that no one was doing anything except watching tv.”

At one time, I had two huge pianos in my living room and a chord organ sitting in the middle. My Dad would come over and tell me, “Connie, you have all the weight of the house where those two pianos are. It will tip the house over.” They were two big heavy pianos. The one piano took six men to haul it in. I loved it. One day, my friend was sitting in my living room and she said, “Connie, what you need is another piano.” Well, actually, had I had my way about it, I would have had another piano. My dream was to put a baby grand in my living room and take out everything else. Of course, no one would ever let me.

I wanted to surround my children with good music. I did teach my youngest three to play the piano. I taught them some note reading … the basics … but I play by ear and tried to pass this on to them. The chords with one hand and the melody with the other hand. But I had put out as many musical instruments as I could get in the house. The children each had their own harmonica and they learned to play them. Daddy loves to sing and they learned to sing from him.

And if I don’t get a fiddle one of these days and learn to play it, I will faint. Every time I hear a fiddle in the background of some music, I tell ya, my spirit just aches deep down. Papa and me were listening to some bluegrass music one day and all the intruments were playing. But when the fiddle came in, oh! I could hear it come with my spirit. And I said, “Jim, when that woman came up and began to play that fiddle, did your soul just turn over?” And he said “No.” I guess it is just me.

But when I hear the deep cry of a fiddle, it’s like when Mary spoke to Elisabeth and her baby moved within her. And when I hear a fiddle play, it’s like my spirit, like a baby in my womb, just turns over easy like. It’s like a deep wailing of intercession and prayer takes over. My spirit calls out for a fiddle and the Lord will give me one. Not that I know how to play one, but I could work at it.

I was reading Barbara’s husband’s book, and he was writing about some Wild West women, and a lot of these women were sure rougher than some of us. But, ya know, they give me courage. I mean, they did what they had to do. They didn’t let the world own them. They were where the rubber hit the road. They were made out of something different than what most women are made of.

Ya know, Mothers, don’t let the world own ya.


Native Ground Music – Old time, historic American bluegrass music and American folklore.

Spice Cake in the Cabin

This afternoon, I was talkin’ to Papa, and I said to him, “Ya know, Jim, all I have thought of lately is living in a log cabin.” I don’t know why, but I have such a desire to get back to the land.

Well, I made Jim a nice applesauce cake before he went to work this afternoon. I have bean soup for when he gets home for supper. But, oh, my applesauce cake looked so old-fasioned and Jim loved it. I had gotten the recipe from a Depression era cook book. The recipe was too dry and needed more liquid, so I added cold coffee and a beaten egg. I didn’t get out my mixer — I just made it in a blue crock bowl and stirred it up with a red enamal spoon. I loved making it. For flavoring, I added maple extract. For the frosting, I melted a few tablespoons of margarine in an old 1920s sauce pan. Then I added about three fourths of a cup of brown sugar, a bit of evaporated milk, and maple flavoring. I let it come to a boil and stirred it good.

The cake had cinnamon in it, and with the brown sugar frosting in my little square pan? Oh, it was a sight! It looked like I had baked it in an old wood cook stove. Papa loved it and ate about a third of it with coffee before he went to work. Oh, it was a pretty little spice cake! It just looked like what you wud see on a old homemade wooden table in a cabin in the woods. I told Jim, “Papa, remember when I used to make applesauce cakes back in the old days?” And he said, “Yes” and that he had missed them.

I guess I get into making chocolate and forget the fun of making spice cakes with applesauce. I will try to write the recipe. I just put a half cup of shortening in my blue bowl and 1 cup of brown sugar. I mixed this up good with my spoon. Then I added the 1 cup of applesauce and stirred it good. Then I added 2 cups of flour, half teaspoon of soda and salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder … then a half teaspoon of cinnamon. I just mixed this all up good with my spoon, but it was too dry. So I added a beaten egg and some cold coffee. It should look like thick pancake batter. Then I put this in a buttered square pan and baked it for an hour at 325


Back in the old days, many Mothers left some things on the table for the next meal. Maybe it was cold potatoes or bread. The family snacked on things like this before the next meal, if they were hungry. And some Mothers would make pretty coverings to put over their plate of bread (or maybe a dish of raw fruit or the butter) on the table to keep the flies away. Sometimes the Mothers would crochet a special covering for the bread, for instance. And I have, at times, found a pretty piece of material and hemmed it up to use, just special, to cover my bread as it is rising.

At a sale lately, I found my best buy. I found this group of six cloth napkins, and they have the most wonderful old fashoned pictures on them — a woman making bread and other old time ads. The cloth is brown and has red in it. They are hand-made, simply. I could tell an old time housewife just loved the material and made napkins out of them. I put one on my plastic table cloth in the middle? And, on this cloth, I have my kerosene lamp and an old brown mug with spoons in it. I collect sugar bowls and creamers and have a nice collection, too.

But, Ladies, if you find a material that you like? Just make some coverings to spruce up your kitchen. You don’t have to make a fancy-sewn toaster cover. Just make the material square and hem it up … hand sew it and put it over your toaster.

I put different cloths on my toaster every day. My friend JillC made a precious quilt covering for me. It is about 2 ft square? And I use this daily for just this and that..I have it on my toaster now. One day, I used it to cover some of my homemade sliced bread on the table. I had put plastic wrap on it first, but I love the look of the old time coverings on my table.

Actually, before plastic wrap and wax paper, the mothers wrapped food in paper or cloth. They would wrap their pies and cakes in a white tea towel. The tea towels were very precious to these mothers. They weren’t just towels and, often, the Mothers would embroider on them or crochet around the outside of the hem. They would tat around the outside and then crochet. I have an old dish rag that my grandmother crocheted around the outside. It was a cheap dish rag to start with. But the old time Mothers did stuff like that.

And their tables had to be set just so. My mother says that my grandmother got every dish in her cupboard out to make a meal. The old time housewives always put homemade canned pickles on the table for every meal except breakfast. Also jams and jellies and syrups. Then, always, a plate of homemade bread or biscuits to acompany the rest of a delicious meal. To my grandmother, boiled potatoes on the table was a staple like bread. Every meal that Gram ever cooked started out with boiled potatoes. Then she put on the meat, etc. But my own Mom says that if the children were hungry before a meal, they ate cold potatoes.

I know one day, as my mom was here visiting, I wiped something up with a nice white embroidered tea towel. My Mom about croaked. She said, “Connie, why did you use your nice dish towel to clean up that mess?” Well, I didn’t understand how precious these dish towels were to the old time mothers. They were works of art and were passed down to each daughter. The Mothers’ coverings were precious to them. They didn’t allow them to become stained.

Most mothers had a good store of old rags that they used for cleaning., and it is nice to have a drawer full of rags that you don’t care if they get stained. Often, when the children and I were cutting up old clothes and making things, I would have a pile just for rags. Old cotton T-Shirts are great to dust and clean with. I would cut them so they would lay flat, and I cut the arms off. Otherwise, they get back in the wash and the kids wear them when company comes. Good housewives need a good store of old rags to clean with.

Home Sweet Home

Well, I have some work under way here, so I wanted to write about homemaking. And, again, our homemaking is an extention of our submission to our husbands. Bible says that we are sanctified in child bearing … or made holy … so all that goes along with childbearing is a part of learning our walk with Jesus. Home is the training ground where we learn to serve our families as servants unto Christ. As we show a pattern of good works, our homes become lighthouses as examples for the rest of the world to see — to remember for generations to come.

I loved the writings on the cast iron cookware, about using them and passing them on to the next generation. Ya know, I have a nice collection of them. I have the regular cast iron muffin pan and, also, I have a small muffin one with hearts in it. I have a long narrow heavy silver pan with the corn on the cob shapes in it. I would love to find some cast iron loaf bread pans.

This last summer, I got a cast iron flat round pan for pancakes. It was new at a garage sale. I didn’t pay much for it, maybe a few bucks. But it was a special made by Quaker Oats in 1996 and has Aunt Jemimah on the bottom of it. But, anyway, I had it just hangin’ up in my kitchen, as I have another griddle like this that my Grandma gave me. But, today, I decided to use the Aunt Jemimah griddle and, ya know, I didn’t season it or anyhthing. I just put more grease on it then I usually would for pancakes and then poured part of it off in a few minutes.

You don’t have to season a new pan if you are using it to fry something. I mean, there is so much hish hash about seasoning cast iron and all. Heck Fire! I don’t do all of that. I mean, if it is a new pan you couldn’t just start out baking in it. Things would stick to it. But, if you fry something in it first, then that’s all the seasoning you need. My dutch oven with the bale handle? I often fry bacon or whatever in it to make soup. And, ya know, if ya just keep them well greased on the inside, then they won’t rust. I don’t grease mine on the outside. I use my cast iron all the time, so mine don’t get rusty, usually. If it did rust a bit on the outside, I would just rub some lard on it and wipe it off.

It ain’t no big deal to take care of cast iron. I always wash mine, too … some folks don’t. I think that is crazy, not to wash it. I mean, we need some common sense here. Hello? I mean, just use the cast iron as you would any other pan, and you will learn to cook with it and keep it in good condition. You have to learn as you go. Folks try to make it look hard and it’s easy. Just get out your pan and start cookin’ with it.

You will have to use a bit more grease with the cast iron but, if folks would eat more common sense, they ain’t gonna be fat anyway. I mean, cut out worldy food and don’t eat between meals. Eat a balanced diet and do your housework with vigor. In the summer, plant a big garden and care for it. In the fall, can it all for the winter. Simple stuff like that helps us to lose weight.

Today, I added the rest of my pancake mix to my sour dough starter and about a tablespoon of left over mashed potatoes. This is what the old time Mothers did. If they were makin’ pie or noodles or cake and they had left over mix or flour on the cutting board, they would throw it in the sour dough pot. One meal always led to the next. And each housewife had a strain of sour dough that had her personality on it.

Snacks For Children

To make crackers with left over bread dough, you can roll it very thin with your rolling pin … as thin as pie dough. Cut the dough into sqares and put a few fork pricks in each square. Then just put some seasoned salt on them and bake them on a greased cookie sheet until brown. When they are done, you can sprinkle them with parmesan cheese.

Also, you can make the graham crackers. I made them once and we loved them. My recipe says to take 4 cups of whole wheat flour and mix this with 1 teaspoon of salt and a fourth cup of sugar. You could use brown sugar or honey. I would use twice that much sugar. Anyway, then put in some cream or milk and make a dough. (My recipe just says to put in enough milk to make a dough.) So make a a ball of dough. Then just take parts of dough, roll it thin, cut into squares, and prick each square with a knife. I guess I made mine round when I made mine.

When the children were all home, and I was behind in my baking, and the bread wasn’t ready for our meal? I would hurry up and make pattie pan rolls. Take some of the fresh dough — just made and before it has risen — and pat it in a sheet pan, well greased. Dough should be about a inch thick. Then just cut the dough like a cake in ribbons, and cut across in squares. Then I would let these rise for about a half hour. So I could have supper on time … it’s just a quick way to make bread in a hurry. And, in the same way, you can make bread sticks by cutting these in strips. They turn out fat, of course, but my kids loved these bread sticks for a snack.

Also I would make elephant ears out of fresh dough, if I had time. Just pinch off some bread dough the size of an egg? And roll it out flat so it looks like an elephant ear? Then have a hot pan with grease in it and fry this bread until it is brown on both sides. This is a quick snack for the children when Mama is busy makin’ bread and dinner is a bit late. Just fry them like pancakes. You can then butter these and put parmesan cheese on the top. For a dessert, just put butter and cinnamon and sugar on the Bread Ears. The lil neighbor girl, Heather, was here once, and I said I was makin’ elephant ears for Mary, when she was little. And the lil girl said, “Connie, are these from a real elephant?” I was so busy at the time, I didn’t have time to really kid her about these, so I had to say, “No, they aren’t … they just look like elephant ears.”

Also, for my babies, I would make simple cinnamon and sugar raisin buns. Just use the bread dough for that, too.

I used to make the baking powder biscuits with raisins(or apples, or both) in them for the children, for a snack. Make them tiny, about half the size of regular biscuits.

Another thing I made, too, is Kolaches and, instead of putting pie filling in the middle, I put applesauce.

And then, simple sugar cookies. I have a lot of cookie cutters and the kids would help me. They used all the cookie cutters, no matter if it was Easter or Christmas or Valentines Day. So we had Christmas Trees and Valentine cookies at Easter, plus bunnies.

Thank the Lord, I get to do this, all over again, with Baby Rose. She has such a homemaking spirit, even now at 16 months old. She loves dolls and cooking and baking.

Yeast Raise and Sour Dough

This morning, I made sour dough biscuits. Just make them regular and, before you add the liquid, add about a cup of sour dough, then decrease the liquid.

I had a hard time figuring out sour dough and getting it right. You have to be intuitive. It’s like a spiritual thing, almost, as it is dealing with live cultures from the air. Every day, the yeast culture changes and, I guess, the housewife has to, also.

Sour dough reminds me of the bluegrass music we listened to last night on tv. And then to have gospel bluegrass … it was like putting in 2 leavenings, bakin’ powder and yeast, in your biscuits! If one thing don’t make the flour rise, the other will. I guess the biscuits with yeast and bakin’ powder are called angel biscuits. They are so light, they almost fly off your plate.

So, while ya have to have a few recipes around to be a good cook, I think ya need a lot of intuition. I cook a lot by inspiration. Like the day I wanted a chocolate cake. I took this white cake we had for a birthday party. Well, heck, no one was eating it, so I piled the leftovers in a bowl and chunked it up. I added milk and a few eggs and some Dutch chocolate and some sugar. I mixed it all up and baked it. It was very delicious. Now, no cookbook said I should do that if I wanted a chocolate cake.

And, ya know, in order to hear the Lord and cook and bake out of intuition? You have to be poor. I mean, no one is gonna make a cake like that who could make a regular one. But, like Tom Sawyer, I try to make folks think I enjoy painting the fence or making a chocolate cake out of an old dried up white cake that no one wanted.

But see, we get a lot of beautiful music from poor mountain folks. I love their twangie voices. Slim Whitman is one of my favorites. I really think Dan, my son, has a flair for mountain bluegrass music. Dan has sure been put together by a Mother’s Yeast culture that was home grown and not like any other. He has Jesus and Mother’s prayers, a good recipe for home grown Angels biscuits. Danny always says, “Mom, don’t fix soup in any pan but your black cast iron pot. I grew up like that and it don’t taste like soup to me any other way.” And I think, “Yes, Danny, and I pray that my black soup pot draws you home and back to Mama’s music and culture.”

Yes, Mothers, we can make a soup recipe from a worldly magazine. But to cook intuitively, and then pray over it, will make home grown angels’ food … a manna from heaven that our children will long for all of their lives. Danny, like the priodigal son, comes home and runs in for a minute. “Mom, do you have any leftover goulash from the fridge?” I think, “Oh, my son, you are always welcome to the left overs, but come and sit at the table and get the daily manna. Get ahold of Jesus and He will feed you the bread of life.” His cultures are not a yeast raise that you can buy at the store.

This morning, I am thinking of the poor women up in the mountains. Mothers with very little except for intuition and inspiration. They work with hands connected to their hearts and souls. They don’t have the money for fancy things to cook with, but they have imagination, so they don’t wait until they can go to the store in order to make a special recipe. They wait upon inspiration and the voice of the Lord to tell them what to make for a meal.

And, rich or poor, we Mothers who know God should work with hands connected to our souls and our inner courts, rather than what’s goin’ on at the grocery store this week. Our baking and pantry makings should come from our inner courts. This is why some of you at times feel so hollow and empty. Your homemaking is coming from the world and not from your soul. Some of you need to cut way back on your grocery bills and let the spirit of God inspire you. Let His leaven of Joy be our strength.

Happy Home Yeast

A few days ago, Jim told me that he would like some sour dough pancakes. I really didn’t think he knew about sour dough. I thought maybe he was talkin’ about a mix he had seen. I said to him, “Well, Honey, you have had the real sour dough pancakes?” And he said that all the housewives in his neighborhood had a sour dough pot, and they made all kinds of baking with it. Jim said back when he was a boy, if a woman didn’t have a sour dough pot in her kitchen, then she wasn’t worth much.

Jim came from a family of 13 children and he was the 12th. And just up the street was a family who had 16 …no twins. And another family who had 14 right close to his house. And these were old time families who had lived through the Depression and were still goin’ strong. Jim, of course, was a younger child, having been born in 1940.

Back in the old days during pioneer days, a new bride was given a sour dough starter to take to her cabin. Probably her Mama gave her part of hers. I read about one bride who used a cup of her starter and forgot to feed it again with more flour, and she had to walk a few miles in the winter to get some more starter from a neighbor. And the Gold Miners used to take their sour dough starters everywhere they went. I mean, you couldn’t buy yeast, baking powder or soda at the store, and the sour dough was all you had to make breads and pancakes rise.

In the winter, the Mother had to keep her fire going in the fire place. If her fire went out, she would have to borrow some from the neighbors, so she had to stay home and keep the home fires burning. She needed to watch the fire and make sure it stayed contained and didn’t burn the house down. She needed her fire to keep the cabin warm and for candles to see with.

Mother worked and depended on herself for food and light for her family. She had to be wise and prudent with what she had. She learned to live from the inside out instead of from the grocery store or Wal-Mart, etc. She had sheep and she spun wool and made the material to sew with. And she had a flock of chickens and geese, and she used the feathers to make pillows and matresses for the beds.

And, ya know, here we are … good grief! Feminism and its ways have thrown us out of the kitchen. But, still, we can cook and bake and sew and live by the inspirations that God puts in our hearts. Let’s quit listening to the world and let God inspire us in our homes.

I don’t cook sometimes. I get discouraged and I don’t want to do my housework. But I have a special gift, as far as cooking. So if I need to clean the house, I will start out with putting a pot of soup on the stove, and this gets my Happy Home Yeast to bubbling. It lifts me up and gives me joy. And pretty soon, I am cleanin’ the living room and washing the dishes in the sink. Maybe your gift is sewing, and as you think of a project, you think, “Wow, I am going to take the whole afternoon to sew.” And then you think, “I had better get some soup on for supper, and I will get the beds made and clean the bathroom so I can sew all afternoon.”

I think the Lord gives all of us gifts in our homemaking. You know, an old woman said to me once, when I was a young bride, “Sister made the pies and I made the bread in our family home. I would try to make the pies, but I wasn’t good at it. And Sister wasn’t good at makin’ bread, either.” But I could see early on as a homemaker that each family member was given a gift to help the others out. So, if you had a house full of sisters, you could see many different gifts in homemaking, and the home was run smoothly.

Our daughter Christian was always an excellent organizer, and she kept me organized. She was so gifted as a helper to me when I had so many children. She could find anything, and I was always losing things. But I had to cook and we all knew that, so I was mainly in the kitchen. I made stuff out of absolutly nothing at times.

Makin’ Potato Yeast

Ya know, this idea that you have to have a starter to make a good sour dough is sort of a hoaky idea. I mean, you can get a starter from someone, but ya don’t have to. You can just make one yourself. Potatoes and sugar and yeast will make a starter sing in the moon light … and howl like a wolf. (Just kidding.) But you can get a good starter goin’ with potatoes.

I had this left over potato soup? It had milk and butter in it, and lots of potatoes. It had been mashed potatoes, and then I had added milk, salt and herbs to it, and made soup with no meat in it. And the left over soup was about 3 cups? So, anyway, I added about 3 tablespoons of yeast to this and some sugar, and mercy, it about got up and left the pan. I stirred it all up good. And then I put it in this old crock I have … it’s an antique crock with a lid and has a little hole in the top of the lid … it has a handle on one side … it isn’t a tea pot … I don’t know what it was supposed to be used for to begin with … but it makes a nice sour dough jar. Anyway, I let this sour dough bubble up. Then I took a cup of it, put it in a bowl and then added a cup of warm milk, and added flour and made a dough. This will be a batch of dinner rolls. I had the dough ready to make rolls last night, but Papa brought home Pizza from work, so I just put the dough in a plastic bag with cooking oil in it and put it in the fridge. So today, I will make some nice fat potato buns.

My sour dough in my pot was so active, I didn’t need to feed it. But usually, if you take a cup out, you would add some flour or whatever to the pot to keep it going and the yeast growing. In a few days, I will add some water … maybe a cup … and some flour. It should look like pancake batter in your pot. Then, when you go to make rolls again, just take out another cup of starter and add a cup of water.

So you will have the 2 cups of liquid to make 2 loaves of bread or 2 batches of rolls. Bread is only a liquid, a shortening or butter, salt, sugar, yeast and flour. You can add eggs or fruit or vegetables and herbs. But, basically, you just need the basics to make bread. The sugar makes the yeast grow. Just like the ol’ moonshiners would tell ya, yeast needs sugar to put life into it. See, beer has yeast in it. And you can take a can of beer and add flour and oil to it and make a bread.

I had made this Sunday School Rootbeer once and it was too strong, but I just used it to make bread. I would take like a cup of rootbeer and add the flour and shortening and a cup of milk or water, some salt and a bit of sugar. For each loaf of bread, you will need a cup of liquid. Now, this can be apple juice or any kind of juice, too.

But, ya know, I will bet ya that some of the old housewives of yesteryear would never admit to doin’ it? But I bet many a mother who ran out of yeast made a starter from her husband’s whiskey and kept on truckin’. I mean, you couldn’t go to the store back then everytime ya needed something. I know the old timers kept whiskey on hand to make cough syrup and to give to the livestock to keep ’em warm in the winter. (Not that I drink whiskey, as Jim wouldn’t allow any strong drink like that in the house.)

But, anyway, if ya make this starter, you need to use it every day for your bread and feed it again after each time you take out a cup. Because, otherwise, the starter will get moldy just sitting there in the kitchen. So if you aren’t using it every day or every other day, then just put in the fridge. Then, if you plan to make bread the next day, put your starter out that night and let it begin to bubble again. Put it in a warm place, like on the stove or on a heat register. Cover it good and make sure there is room in the jar for it to bubble up without bubbling out of the jar. If it don’t bubble at all, don’t use it. The reason you use the sour dough is so you won’t have to buy any yeast. You are growing your own.

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Happy Housewifery teaches wives and mothers how to make Godly homes and encourages them to love their husbands and children in trying and difficult circumstances.

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