Friday, June 23, 2017
 

Home Cooking

Good Morning

Dear Mothers,

Well, it is snowing like crazy here in Iowa. Wanted to share also a recipe idea.

I am trying to fast for the radio show and have given up eating meat for a time. Last evening I fried up a big pan of vegetables in my cast iron skillet. It was onions and green peppers and a package of frozen vegetables. This consisted of cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. Anyway, after they were done, I put in some leftover spaghetti with sauce on it. No meat, of course. Christine, John’s wife, has fixed this before and it is very good. I would call it a vegetable spaghetti. Of course, now Wild Man had to have meat. So this isn’t a meal you would fix a man usually. But I do try to just stay with the fruits and veggies for now.

I am tryin’ to stay away from worldly foods. I think we have missed something when we have read the story of Daniel and his fast. Daniel didn’t eat the king’s food. Or the food of the world. He ate the simple foods that he was used to eating coming from a godly Jewish household. Daniel didn’t bow to idols. Not in his physical body or in his spirit.

I get teased a lot about not being worldly. But there is power in hiding away unto God. When you do go out in the world, you can discern spirits easier. Women are more easily deceived, I think. It’s because they aren’t made for the world and are geared to be sheltered. They are so anxious to please people. This is why they do so well in the work force as they please people so well and have servant spirits. They are called by God to be helpers of men. Of course, the world takes advantage of them. They knock the queen off her throne and get her to give her gifts to the world. She gives her strength to other women and her ways to destroy kings. In her pride, she refuses to care for the baby. She wants to please the world and not God. And the world causes her to cast her princess and her prince to the world to be taught and raised by unbelievers.

Mother is called to be keeper at home. But she cannot cast the idol of pride down. She has been too long in the world and the world becomes her authority. But the wages of sin is death. Death to the family and God’s will.

Love,
Connie

Baked Apples and Potatoes

Dear Mothers,

It is still pretty cold here in Iowa. It is warming up, though, today and it is about 5 above. PTL.

When the children were all home and I was tryin’ to warm up the house on cold days, I would use the oven a lot. I would load the oven with potatoes to bake and also I would bake apples at the same time. Just take your apples and core them out with a knife. So they are still together with a hole through the middle or through the core. Set the apples in a buttered pan and put butter in the hole and brown sugar and cinnamon. The potatoes and apples will be done about the same time, I suppose. Put the oven temp at about 350 for about an hour? Just check them with a fork to see if they are soft, then they are done.

We also made fried apples. Just take out your fryin’ pan and put some butter and oil in it and brown sugar, then just fry the apples. I would use about a half stick of butter or margarine and about a cup of brown sugar. Might need to add a bit of water. That way you have plenty of syrup as we used the syrup for pancakes. I would make pancakes and then set the fried apples on the top and some syrup for each family member.

Love,
Connie

Crock Pot Meals

Dear Kitchen Saints,

A few years ago, my kitchen stove about blew up. Well, the thermostat went out about a year earlier. So everything I baked I had to really watch as the oven temp went to 500 degrees in about 15 minutes. So to bake bread, I had to turn the oven on and off to keep a lower temp. Well, one day my dog died and I wasn’t watching the oven and it caught on fire. That was my second fire! What a deal it was as the house was so thick with smoke. I thought for sure I had finally burned the whole dang house down. Thank God I didn’t. Anyway, I was without a stove for about a month until we got another one. Sooo I cooked and baked in my crock pot. It was fun.

I baked bread in my crock pot. I had out two crock pots. So I would make a meal in one and bread in the other. Just make up your bread and let it rise. Then shape it onto a ball and put in the crock pot. I let it rise and bake in one shot. Put it on low until it rises then on high when it bakes. Put oil in the pot so it won’t stick. But it made good bread. It doesn’t brown on the top, of course, but it makes good bread.

I also learned to make crock pot mashed potatoes. Just put water in and raw potatoes and let them cook. Then when done just drain the water out and mash with milk and butter and salt. I loved doing the potatoes like this when we had company. It keeps the potatoes hot and fresh.

I made a lot of crock pot soups, of course, and stews. Jim was pretty easy to cook for as he liked meals like this.

It is dang cold this morning here in Iowa. I guess below zero. It’s a good day for a crock pot meal. I just put some home canned deer meat in my crock pot. Also I put in a beef gravy mix and some cream of celery soup. Some potatoes, carrots and celery. Lots of black pepper, salt, tomatoes and onions. I will add spices and herbs as the day goes on and as I taste it all. I put in a whole quart of meat which will be too much but I will freeze whatever is left and then add more vegetables.

You can make a good crock pot meal by basically just putting in a few cups of meat like chicken or beef whatever in your pot. Cook the meat first for a few hours so it will be sure to get done. Then add the veggies… any kind. Then add some soup or gravy and herbs and spices. You can put a whole small chicken in your crockpot and I pour over this a bottle of the Italian dressing? The oil and vinegar one with the spices in it? This way the chicken will marinate as it bakes. This is a delicious way to fix a beef roast, too, in the crock pot. Then you can just make a vegetable dish separately.

I put my crock pot on top of my chest freezer and light a little candle beside it. Every time I write about candles on here, I know Aunt Toot holds her breath. I am more careful with explosives than I used to be. To most people, candles aren’t an explosive but to me they could be! But I pray the Lord protects me and especially when Annie and Kim come to visit as I don’t want a reputation for blowing up my guests.

Anyway, happy baking and cooking.

Love,
Connie

The Home Bakery

Dear Kitchen Saints,

Ya know in the old days the Mothers of the Home did all of their own baking. A few times a week they made yeast bread. Many of them had large families and would make a dozen loaves a week or more. When they ran out of yeast bread for the week, they made a few batches of baking powder biscuits or cornbread. This was weekly baking.

Then Mother made a dessert almost each day for the family meal. Mother baked pies and cakes every few days. Cookies were not really thought of as a dessert. They were something you ate if you ran out of pie or you needed a snack. Old time Mothers would say “Well, I don’t have a dessert made yet but there is always cookies.” For mid afternoon snacks, Mother would sometimes make a coffee cake with cinnamon and apples. Then Mother made homemade noodles and crackers every week. She made the quick breads “to make do” but the yeast breads is what the family really wanted. Quick breads are made in a hurry! Baking powder and baking soda cause dough to rise quickly and also you bake them in a very hot oven and they are done in a “jiffy.”

If I was just starting out as a homemaker and didn’t know the “the feel” of different doughs, then I would start out with Bisquick from the store. Also I would buy the cornmeal mixes until you know what they are to look like. But we mothers have as much time and more than what the old time Mothers had and we can learn to be excellent bread makers and biscuit bakers. Why Not? You can take your own self through cooking school at home. Let it be fun! Some of you are so very intelligent and the cooking I am writing about is not hard. But make your home like a bakery. Learn to be excellent bakers and cooks.

I learned as a Mom to make such light baking powder biscuits they nearly flew off the plate. But only in the past 5 years have I learned to make good pie crust. I kept watching the cooking channels until I learned the secrets of good pie crust. My pie crusts would taste like cardboard. They looked good but were awful. I was making my pies just like I made biscuits and, oh, those poor pies. Pie dough takes a lot more shortening than biscuits. And after the pie dough is mixed up, it should hold its own shape for a few seconds as you make it into a ball before you add the water. Biscuit dough looks a bit like bread dough and holds its shape.

I personally love to make popovers but Jim never was very crazy about them. Popovers rise because of the beaten eggs and they are light and fluffy inside and sorta crisp on the outside. I have read recipes for bagels. But I haven’t made them.

Jill’s daughter Shelly loves to cook and often just freezes what her husband and son doesn’t eat. For some of us who don’t need to cook that much, we can sure freeze it for other meals. Such as make breads for the week and freeze it and cookies, etc.

The old time Mothers didn’t have freezers and most of their baking was daily fresh or just a few days old. Mother was up each morning fixing lunches for the children to take to school or for husband to take to work. Then after the family was off to their day’s schedules, Mother would start her baking and cooking. Mothers of large families had to be thinking all the time about the food she had to fix for the day.

I was like this, too, as I made almost everything from scratch. It was a lot of work but fun, too. I have old writings lamenting all of my work. But the Lord told me, “Connie, you don’t work that hard because you are poor but because you are wise.” The Lord taught me to be wise through a lot of lack in our home. But if you can just trust in the Lord and be happy, the family will never know that you have to bake and cook or you wouldn’t have anything to eat. Make bein’ poor a lot of fun. Makes the devil mad and that ought to make you happy.

The Romance of Thrift

Ya know some of you Mothers with large families, make the world think you enjoy being poor. Become love slaves to your husbands. Let your kitchens come alive with cooking and baking. Enjoy going to second hand stores and finding old time pots and pans and aprons. I have a pink hand mixer I found a few years ago.

The old time Mothers loved their families and they gave themselves whole heartedly to their husbands and his children. She was sold out to her family and home and she could give a hoot what the world thought of her. While the other ladies were out shopping and catting around, she was at home in love with her husband and her kitchen. It’s downright sexy to make your husband’s bread. Whoa Nellie!

And ya know in all the good Fairy Tales you read, you never hear of a haughty lazy wife whom everyone loved or admired. No, it was the Cinderellas and the Snow Whites who had good and loving hearts and loved to keep house. The ladies of yesteryear were always lovely to look at with long pretty hair and flowers in it. Flowing cotton skirts with a broom in their hands. She loves babies and her Prince Charming loves her for her womanly ways. A home graced with sexual contentment will make your bread rise. Happy bubbly bread always rises first.

The feminists of this day would have been called crabby fish wives in the old time Fairy tale books. Mostly wives with tall black hats and scraggly teeth. Instead of sweeping the floor with their dirty brooms, they ride them on dark windy nights. But the truly romantic wife is at home sewing and making soup. She doesn’t care if her husband brings home rotten apples for supper… she praises him anyway for bringing something home for supper. She is a true Pollyanna and her true Prince is Jesus Christ. And if her husband is truly poor, she takes a vow of poverty and lives only under her beloved as she sews and cooks and bakes. She does him good all the days of her life.

Love,
Connie

Cooking Hints

Dear Mothers of the Kitchen,

I have written some cooking ideas before but I will write them again for the newcomers.

I like my fried eggs or scrambled to taste buttery. But if you fry stuff in only butter, sometimes the butter burns and that’s not good. You could use margarine, too. One idea is to put about a Tbs of oil in the skillet and then about a Tbs of butter. This way the butter will float on the oil and it gives the eggs a buttery flavor. This is good also for fried potatoes. I wouldn’t recommend doing this when frying pancakes as your skillet has to be real hot. Eggs should be fried on a medium heat. Also if you are having trouble getting your fried eggs done in the middle? At the end, just add about a fourth cup of water to the skillet and let it baste a bit with a lid on it. For fried potatoes, sometimes it’s hard to get them all done, too. So at the end of the frying, just add a bit of water and fry this until the liquid is gone. Keep the lid on. You could use chicken broth, about a fourth cup.

Another idea for a large family meal goes like this. Take a 9 x 13 pan and just take your thawed out hamburger and press it all down in the bottom of the pan. You would need about 2 pounds. Then salt and pepper this and bake it. When it is mostly done, cut it in squares and drain out the fat. Just cut it like a cake. Spread the squares out a bit and put some onion on each square. Then maybe some green beans over that and some diluted cream of something soup and then mashed potatoes on the top, and bake it until the potatoes are a bit brown. Instead of mashed potatoes, you could use cut up boiled potatoes or tater tots. You could use any layer of veggies you may want to use. The old time Mothers used to make meals like this that were layered. You could use tomato soup or cream of chicken. Then put cheese on the top layer of potatoes if ya got it.

You can also crumble up and fry beef in a skillet, take it out, and fry potatoes with onions. Then when the fried potatoes are done, layer the hamburger on top and then put cheese over the top of that.

In the old days, I would fix fried potatoes for my hungry children for breakfast. If I forgot and didn’t fry enough potatoes, I would then mix eggs up in them and fry them like scrambled. Also if you are frying scrambled eggs and it don’t look like you have made enough, just scramble up about a slice or two of bread in the eggs. My kids never knew the difference as the bread looks like eggs. Just tear it up with your hands. Like for 4 scrambled eggs you could use 2 slices of bread. I just added enough bread to have enough. And if it looked too obvious that I had added too much bread, I would put cheese on the top. And that was good anyhow!

Just always try not to break out laughin’ when you are hoodwinking the family. Keep a very serious straight face! That’s the key.

Love,
Connie

Hamburger Steak Dinners

Dear Mothers of the Kitchen,

Today I am writing about making steak dinners when you have no steak.

This is how I made SALISBURY STEAK. You just fry up hamburgers and then drain them and put brown gravy mix on the top. Serve this with candlelight and mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. Hogwash the children by commenting on how tender your steak is.

Swiss Steak is like this. Fry the hamburgers part way and drain. Then put in carrots and onions and put tomato soup over the top diluted with a half can of water. Bake for about 30 minutes until carrots are done. Serve this with mashed potatoes and plenty of B.S. and you are good to go.

One time in the early years, I managed to get a small roast for the family. It was about 3 pounds but I was going to slice it thin. So I had it on a nice serving plate and my dinner was on its way except to slice the meat. John, my son (13), was standing beside me as I cut off a piece of fat and laid it on the table. Then I told him I needed a sharper knife and went to get it. I called over my shoulder for him to give that fat to the dog. I came back to the meat and it was GONE! I asked John, “What happened to the meat?” and he said, “You told me to give it to the dog.” Well, the dog was happy!

Jim was sitting in the living room watching TV and waiting for the nice dinner he was about to receive. I just didn’t know what to do. I was in Shock! So I just went in the living room and said to Jim, “The dog ate our meat.” And went back to the table. No one said much about it. We just ate potatoes and gravy and a vegetable. I probably had bread and all… I can’t remember. But that was so funny!

Well, Daisey our dog thought she was on a roll. So later in the week, I had this chunk of ham. It was small but I had it in a roaster with vegetables. I had opened the oven door to check it and my dog ran up to it and snatched the ham. I ran after her and made her give it to me and I took it in and washed it good and put it back in the roaster. Talk about fighting for your dinner!

I know I have told these nutty stories before but I have a lot of new readers so thought you all would like to read them again. Life was an adventure raising 6 children on a very small one income. Being a stay at home mother was something I had to really work at.

Love,
Connie

Bread Making

Dear Kitchen Saints,

Jill wanted me to write about how I make bread. I thought I had written about it enough that you all would be tired of me writing about it. But I guess for the newcomers I could write it.

My friends get a kick out of how I make bread. One time Aunt Toot was here visiting and drinking Pepsi and I took the can and threw some in my bread, proving you can make bread out of anything.

Well, basically you need 2 cups of liquid for 2 loaves of bread. This liquid could be milk, water, or juice. You could use a strained meat broth or potato water or any water you have cooked veggies in or whatever. When I would can tomatoes, I would sometimes make a tomato bread with the leftover juice from canning. So put your 2 cups of liquid in a big bowl. Then add a fat like oil or melted shortening. You can add up to a cup or a Tbs, either one. Then add some salt, up to a tsp. Then add a sweetener. This could be pancake syrup or jelly or honey or sugar, brown or white. Add some eggs with this if it flips your trigger. You don’t have to add eggs but if ya wanna, go ahead knock yourself out. Add up to 4 or 5 if the hen is layin’ more eggs then you can figure out what to do with. Then add enough flour and stir it all up until it looks like pancake mix or a cake mix. Stir it good.

Now get out a little bowl and put warm water in it, a little hotter than spit, about a half cup, and put in 4 Tbs of yeast or 2 packages of yeast for 2 loaves of bread. Now don’t get in a big hurry with the yeast. If the yeast isn’t good, then your bread won’t be good. So test your yeast as it is in the water. Add about a Tbs of sugar and see if the yeast bubbles. This should take about 10 minutes for the yeast to bubble. If it don’t bubble, then toss it and go buy some more yeast or try putting hotter water in. Yeast has to be kept snug and warm and secure. Put a cloth over it, too. Well, really, you should do the yeast first and then let it set a bit of time as you mix all the other stuff. But it don’t matter! So after the yeast bubbles, then put it in your bread mixture that looks like pancake mix.

OK, now start stirring up your bread and put in a cup of flour at a time. Now this could be white or whole wheat. You will get a lighter loaf if you use mostly white flour. But for health sake, throw in a cup of whole wheat and also you could add a cup of oatmeal and a cup of cornmeal. Or just do straight white. But like you end up using about 6 cups of flour for 2 loaves of bread. So a good combo would be 4 cups of white and then like 2 cups whole wheat or oatmeal or cornmeal. I have put my oatmeal in the blender and made oat flour. Well, go to kneading and mixing the bread, adding a cup of flour at a time.

Add herbs and spices if ya wanna. See, I made bread with what I had. We had 6 children and little money. So many times for breakfast, I made a big batch of pancakes to feed my hungry children and maybe fried potatoes. If I had a few cups of pancake mix left, I would start bread from it that morning after breakfast. I would heat up the pancake mix and put yeast in it and have that to be my yeast starter. I made many different kinds of pancakes like sweet potato pancakes and Chrissy’s favorite garlic pancakes. I cooked by inspiration and used up what was handy in the fridge. If I had a scraping of jelly, jam or peanut butter in a few jars in the fridge that weren’t being used up, I would put it in my bread. Or like the bottom of the bottle of syrup or even ketchup — no mustard. This way, you can use up leftovers and design your own bread.

You can get pretty free spirited with your bread but some measurements must stand unquestioned… well, at least in my book. Such as the yeast. You use about a pkg for each loaf. The old recipes say to just use one pkg of yeast for 2 loaves but I have always used 1 Tbs of yeast or one pkg for one loaf. I buy my yeast in the big bag, 2 pounds for about 5 bucks. I keep it in the fridge or even in the freezer.

It’s nice to make a big pot of soup on a cold day to warm up the kitchen for the bread. The hot soup keeps the yeast bread happy and friendly. After kneading your bread, set it someplace on the cabinet close to the hot soup to keep it warm. Put a pretty dish towel over the top. The yeast in the bread needs the warmth and covering. Don’t get the covered bread dough too close to the soup as the heat would kill the yeast. Cold won’t kill yeast but heat will.

And it takes a happy Mother to make good bread. If it don’t turn out, you didn’t love it enough. Yeast is alive and does respond to your personality. If I am upset and make bread, it will NOT be good. So be happy when you make the family bread. And ya know if ya have good bread on the table, then just about any dinner will be good.

I especially like to make an ITALIAN BREAD. For the liquid just use tomato soup or a cup of sauce with a cup of water. For this bread I use olive oil and no eggs. I make this bread very plain and use a lot of herbs — no milk or any other ingredients but salt and a bit of sugar, maybe a Tbs. I use mainly white flour for this bread but knead it in cornmeal, about a cup. I use many herbs in this bread. If it’s in the summer, I use my fresh herbs. I use a lot of basil and rosemary in this bread. You would want to blend these herbs up in the blender with maybe your oil or sauce, but you don’t want long pieces of herbs in your bread as you would in your soup. You want just bits of green in your bread. Anyway, I use coarsely ground black pepper in this bread and garlic and sometimes onions, also, ground up with the other herbs. I either put this bread on 2 long cookie sheets or I make round loaves and put them in cast iron skillets to rise and to bake. When the bread is half done and a bit brown, just check it and put butter on the top of the crust and Parmesan cheese and bake abut 15 minutes more.

I guess I would just say, to end this, that you have to take your time when making bread. You can’t hurry it. And when learning to make bread, I ended up throwing a lot of it out in the back yard. But the birds will eat it if it is too hard and they have to eat, too. Or a stray dog or squirrel, whatever. But making good bread will take a large family through a lot of meals.

Bread and Salad

And you know I have told you all that when I homeschooled, I would buy the leftover veggies from the grocery store that they could not sell, for like a buck a box. Sometimes I would get a whole box of lettuce. Or a box of carrots and onions or whatever. So, anyway, our John who was a teen at the time would eat a whole head of lettuce on a dinner plate. And if we had other veggies, he would top it all with these. That and some big slices of crusty bread and some potato soup was a hearty supper.

I had 50 bucks a week to spend on groceries. Jim gave me 100 bucks every 2 weeks. So the first week we would eat pretty good and the second week mainly vegetables, fruit and soups and lots of bread. Often I made homemade popcorn with our soups. If I didn’t get potatoes in the boxes of veggies, I would buy huge bags of them. We went through 20 pounds of potatoes in 2 weeks. I made lots of mashed potatoes with a meat gravy. Sometimes I would get odds and ends of citrus fruits from my boxes behind the store. Fruits like grapefruit, lemons, and limes and oranges. So I would get out my old fashioned glass juicer and juice these fruits and make a good juice. Papa usually did this as he made the best juice you could imagine. You have to add water and sugar. But, oh, is this juice good.

As a mom, it took a lot of wheelin’ and dealin’ to keep my children in good food. The world would have called the boxes I bought for a buck or 2 just garbage. But I would take my produce home and throw out on my garden what wasn’t good, on my compost pile. Then I would peel and carve and save what was good of the produce. My children were all healthy and we never had to go to a doctor for colds, etc. But talk about a working mother — I worked like a dog keeping my family in clothes and food.

I didn’t complain if Papa didn’t have enough money to give me for much food. I knew he was doin’ his best and supporting all of us the best he could. It was my job to keep a home. The Bible says that there is profit in all labor. And I felt I had an important job to do to keep food on the table and the wolves away from the door. I didn’t have much money to work with but I learned as I stayed in obedience to my husband that God certainly does provide as I walk as Keeper at Home.

If Mother will remain content and happy and trusting in the Lord, her family will stay happy and quiet, too. And the heck with what anyone thinks about it. I was so busy when I was raising my 6 children, I didn’t hardly notice what others outside my home were doing. I didn’t watch TV except for Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons and some other family specials. I was almost continually in the kitchen or wheelin’ and dealin’ ways to get food. Mainly prayin’ for food. And I saw miracles of answered prayer. The Lord knew I had 6 children and I had them all by faith. Wouldn’t He make a way for me to raise them? Yes, He did. He was faithful. Oh, yes, he was faithful to me.

I didn’t complain to Papa. I made sure I always spent some of my grocery money on coffee for Jim’s breakfast and after work. I kept a lot from Jim. I didn’t want to worry him. He was working as hard as any man and I didn’t want to discourage him. As Mothers we can’t set a fire of fear into our homes with crying over the obvious. Jim gave me what he had to give and any decent wife should be happy with that and I was. It was my job to make a home with 50 bucks a week and by God’s help and grace, I did.

I remember my Mom bringing over a bunch of paper towels. We ran out of toilet paper and so I took my bread knife and cut the paper towel roll in half and put the rolls on my toilet paper roller. Christian Joy laughed so hard about that, but it kept us in toilet paper for a few more days.

In my last book, I wrote about the Fancy Water I gave my children as a treat. Just ice water in a beautiful old crystal glass pitcher. They thought it was a treat!

Soup’s On!

One soup I used to make the kids they called “Chicken of the Sea Soup.” I made it like a chicken soup but without the chicken. I used drained tuna fish. But the children for the longest time thought the tuna was chicken. Well, they loved it, anyway, but named it “Chicken of the Sea Soup.” It was not really a homemade soup. I would take a few cans of cream of chicken soup and add veggies and milk or water. I could get a lot of mileage out of a can of soup. You could also add a can of chicken noodle soup to this. But I would put in my herbs and pepper, and the soup looked good and the kids thought that was chicken in there and thought we were rich.

Often I would buy a big turkey after the holidays for 59 cents a pound and I would always pass it off as chicken. Dan always loved chicken! But he barely got any. One meal I fixed went like this. You make the tuna patties mixing drained tuna with eggs and crackers. You fry the patties in a hot oiled skillet. When brown put them in a baking dish. Then over the top you put diluted cream of chicken soup and bake it in the oven. I would use one can of tuna for the whole family so that meant a lot of crackers. I called this “Chicken Sasserole.” Dan loved it as he thought it had chicken in it but, with so many crackers, no one could tell. But the cream of chicken soup over the top was enough to give it all the smell of chicken and so that was enough for Dan.

Another meal I made smelled just like a beef roast. I put a frozen pound of hamburger in the middle of my roaster and added potatoes, onions and carrots. It smelled like a roast and I sliced the meat like it was one. The kids didn’t care until they got wiser and older. Then they noticed I was just slicing a pound of hamburger and calling it a roast. I hid it under a brown gravy mix and called it a day. Of course, the Swiss steak was hamburger hidden beneath tomato soup and onions. And Salisbury Steak was hamburger patties under mushroom soup with onions. Jim and I would sit at the table and say how tender the steak was and how good of a piece of meat it must have been. Well, it was very tender!

Well, I am laughing too much to write so I must go for now. I am sending this to Christian Joy and I hope she will tell some more of the things we used to have for supper.

Love,
Connie

NYC Biscuits and Gravy

Dear Mothers,

Ya know when Dan worked in NYC before moving to Oregon last week, he worked in a neighborhood restaurant close to Christian Joy’s apartment. Their specialty food was comfort foods. Stuff like biscuits and gravy and cornbread and greens. Down home hillbilly food like bean soups and potato soups. And the New Yorkers love this restaurant. It’s a very popular place to go. Dan told everyone there, “This is food I grew up on.”

Last night I made ham gravy and biscuits for supper and a baked potato. I just got out my big cast iron skillet and poured a bit of oil in the pan. Then I fried up some ham and then I put in about a fourth cup of flour and smashed it in with a big enamel spoon. Then ya just pour in a scant 2 cups of milk and go to stirrin’. Let it bubble and thicken. Put in salt and pepper. And that’s the gravy. That’s how I made it for Wild Man. For biscuits, you just put 2 cups of self rising flour in a bowl and then throw some shortening in — about a fourth cup. And work the fat into the flour with your fingers until the flour looks like cornmeal. Then throw in a scant cup of milk and make a dough and then pat it out on a floured table. Then cut the biscuits out with the top of a tin can. Or use a biscuit cutter, or a glass or something round at the top. Be sure to have your oven preheated to 450 degrees. Quick breads need a hot oven. Put the biscuits in a greased pan and bake about 15 or so minutes until they are brown.

But they say the Mothers during the Depression era saved their families from starvation because they knew how to make biscuits and gravy. Just always make sure you have flour in the house and some shortening and your family will never go without. You can make gravy and biscuits with no milk or meat. You can just use water instead of milk. You could flavor the gravy with onions if you have no meat. Or use some cheese if ya have that. I know Wild Man loved creamed peas. That’s just the gravy with a can of drained peas in it to go over the biscuits. And cornmeal is easy to come by, too, and cheap. You can feed a lot of family with a pan of odds and ends vegetables and a pan of fried potatoes and a big pan of cornbread. Even if you only have two slices of bacon, you could fry that up and add it to the fried taters.

The old time Mothers usually canned up a lot of stewed tomatoes in Fall, and they added these tomatoes to the gravy or to any vegetable dish. Some old timers love just plain macaroni with stewed tomatoes over the top. You could fry up onions and green peppers and put this in, too. Add a bit of butter if ya have it.

All of these ideas are comfort foods. Just cheap foods that have gotten many people through Hard Times. Kept them off the street?

Wild Man Food

Between taking care of Baby and running about, I was gonna write down some food ideas that Wild Man ate. He would take a big bowl and crumble up leftover homemade bread. And over this, he would put milk and sugar and ate it like cold cereal. Sometimes he put fresh fruit in it, too. This would taste awful with store bought bread. But with dried out homemade bread, it is good. Well, he and I both did this with leftover cake. In the old days, I would put milk on Jello and stir it up real good.

Another Wild Man food is this. He liked plain gravy with chopped up boiled eggs in it. He always told me, “I could eat this stuff at least once a week.” He called this Creamed Eggs. I would fix him potatoes with this, too, and a vegetable. Papa loved mashed potatoes with any kind of gravy on it.

In the summer, he would eat radish sandwiches with fresh radishes from the garden. He put salad dressing on it, like mayonnaise, but never Mayo — he hated it. A popular sandwich from the Depression era was baked bean sandwiches with a slice of fresh tomato and an onion with mayonnaise. This is my favorite sandwich on homemade bread in the summertime. In the Depression era, if you didn’t have meat, you ate a lot of beans for protein. Also I love chicken sandwiches with Granny Smith apples with mayo.

And I always had a pot of coffee on for Jim when he got home from work. He enjoyed just plain coffee — none of that fancy Hickory Nut or whatever coffee. Jim wanted just plain comfort foods. If he was eating something the boys didn’t like, he would say, “Aww, you boys are a bunch of sissies.” But our boys do love the comfort foods, too, but not as many kinds as Jim did.

As I write this (with a hundred interruptions), I think of the words in Proverbs about how Wisdom cries in the streets and calls to the foolish to learn wisdom. And to me, this place where Dan worked was a call of wisdom to the NYC folks. To come back to the simple things of life. Ya know the comfort foods mainly take flour, eggs, and milk and some kind of fat like lard or oil. Not much meat but some, and a lot of vegetables. The Old time Mothers were experts at making many happy meals with just a few ingredients. They were expert bread makers and their biscuits were light enough to fly away. Their pie crusts were delicious and just made from flour, lard, and water, salt, and back yard rhubarb and berries, or apples, etc. Homemade noodles are just flour and eggs and a bit of butter and salt. All of these foods are cheap to make and so comforting. Potatoes of all kinds are cheap to come by and such a comfort to eat. I know Wisdom calls us sisters of the kitchen to get busy and learn to make plain foods.

Best close as Baby will be cryin’ in a minute. She is just takin’ a cat nap! MEOW.

Love,
Connie

How To Encourage An Egg To Do Greater Things

Dear Mothers,

Good Morning! Ya know when my children were little, sometimes if I was low on eggs, I would fix eggs in a frame for their breakfast. It takes a lot less eggs than scrambled.

I would just put a dab of margarine in my cast iron skillet and a bit of oil, then you lay a slice of bread in it. Before you lay the bread down, just take a glass and cut a hole in the middle of the bread. Then as your skillet is on, just break an egg in the middle of the hole in the bread. Fry this on a medium heat and then turn it over to get the egg done on the top. Have patience with it, as the egg has to cook good in the middle or it will be raw and sloppy. Another way to stretch scrambled eggs goes like this. Just break your eggs in the skillet and then cook them up with a couple crumbled up slices of bread. You could add a few Tbs of milk, too.

Sometimes I would fry up a pan of fried potatoes for breakfast. Potatoes are so cheap to buy around here, especially in the Fall. Anyway, if I had a lot of eggs and not so many potatoes, I would fry the potatoes up and then when they were soft, I would add eggs and cook them in with the potatoes. Then at the end, when the spuds and eggs were cooked up, I would sometimes put cheese on the top and put a lid over it to melt the cheese. I mean if had cheese and I usually did. I tried to always have on hand the Velveeta cheese off brand. You can do so much with cheese to make a meal more hardy.

Also to fry potatoes and to get them crisp and good, try this. Oil your skillet with a bit of oil just to make it shine. Then add some margarine to the skillet. The margarine will float on the top of the oil and make the potatoes taste more buttery.

Love,
Connie

Julie’s Visit

Dear Mothers,

My friend Julie came over Thursday for a short visit. Julie is on our letters group and has four children under the age of 7. (Correct me on all of this, Julie, if ya have time.) Anyway, this dear Mom and her children were on their way to Bible study and just stopped for about a half hour. She brought me a bucket of wonderful grapes and some grape jelly and it looks delicious. Thanks again, Julie. I plan to have it on toast this morning.

Anyway, she always tells me about the lady who had lived in their 140 year old house just before they moved in. This woman was a widow and lived to be 90 years old. Anyway, the widow had a root cellar and she gardened and canned most all of her own food. In September of last year, she went to the doctor because her legs hurt a bit. Her older kids wanted her to go to a doctor. Anyway, she did and found out she had cancer and she died in a few weeks. But she canned pickles just 2 weeks before she died. Julie told me this widow had large vats in the root cellar and that she made homemade wine from the grapes she grew.

So in her honor, I started some wine. Julie brought me the grapes in a big bucket. So I washed the grapes by throwing them all in my sink and filling the sink with cold water. Then I put half of the grapes back in the bucket and added boiling water to the top and 3 cups of sugar. Stir it up good and put a dinner plate over the top and let ‘er brew in a warm place. Then I did the same with the other half of the grapes. So I have about 3 or 4 gallons of medicine for the winter. I have barely ever worked outside my home so I don’t think I will even get Medicare when I am old. So this will have to be my medicine. Anyway, after the wine has brewed a few weeks, then strain the grapes off of the brew and put wine in a jar and keep in the fridge. Otherwise it will get tooo strong. The cold fridge will stop the yeast action and it will quit fermenting.

But anyway, when I am 90 and just before I die in a few weeks, I hope the younger mothers will find me in my root cellar doin’ women’s work. I can think of no grander way to die than in your own home doin’ what you did all of your life. Every time I see Julie, she tells me of this old widow who lived in her house. I get so ministered to. Thanks, Julie.

And ya know Julie has a wonderful husband. But his work is less in the winter. So anyway, she has all of her dear family to feed through the winter. When she was here, I ran back to my apple trees and picked some apples for her. She plans to make applesauce. But ya know I think of all of the memories still left in Julie’s house from this dear widow who was faithful. Julie said that she knows the widow’s children and they tell her all about Mother. They praise Mom as the virtuous woman. But I told Julie not to worry, that I would help her to make it through the winter. Her emails can’t get through but I plan to keep in touch with her by phone. And, Julie, all of us on here will pray for you and encourage you.

I know what it is like to go through the winter with a houseful of children. It’s harder because food isn’t as readily available. I think potatoes are a bit high right now but will get lower as we get deeper into fall. Pumpkins are so cheap in the fall and are wonderful cut up like potatoes and put in vegetable soup. Or make a nice veggie soup and pour it in a half pumpkin shell and bake it like that in a very big pan. When the pumpkin is done and soft, then you serve the soup and scrape the pumpkin and put chunks of it in the soup bowls. The pumpkin is like zucchini and it takes on the flavor of the soup. It’s really delicious. But you can buy several pumpkins and they will keep very well out on a cold closed in back porch or in a cool root cellar. Or maybe just a cool place in a basement. I have kept fresh peanut squash for almost a year. On Little House, Mother saved it all winter.

Food for the Winter

When I was a young Mom with a houseful of children, a family invited me and Jim to pick green beans from their garden. I was very thankful as it was hard for me to grow enough food for the family in the summer. One time Miss Charlotte went with me to an orchard and we picked sacks and sacks of apples. A dear friend let us pick them for free. (It was Brenda Kelly, Julie.) Apples will keep for a long time but you have to pick through them every day and throw out any rotten ones. Anyway, the home that Jim and I picked beans at invited us in for coffee. The Mother there had two very large containers that she showed me that she had out for flour and sugar. I imagine the containers easily held 50 pounds of sugar and 50 pounds of flour. She had the containers in cool places. But she said this lasted her and her husband for the winter. She had her big family in for the holidays, too, and did a lot of baking.

Sometimes hog lard is cheaper then shortening and you can buy that to store in the freezer for baking. I pray the Lord will give you a big 5 pound bucket of lard, Julie. In the fall a lot of times farmers butcher their pigs. And I think they get the lard free. So I pray someone will give you some, Julie.

Anyway, dear Mothers, try to store up canned items. I know the frozen veggies, etc. are better for ya. But in a pinch the canned stuff is good. Like sit down and write out how many things you would can if you had a garden of your own and knew how to can. You have about 10 months until the next time you have fresh stuff in the garden. So would you can tomatoes? Well, then you have about 40 weeks until your next garden. Would you use a can of tomatoes a week? Then you will need like 40 cans of tomatoes to last you until the next growing season. And how many cans of beans and corn, etc. So I know you can’t afford all of that but I am just showing you how the old time Mothers stored food. Canned vegetables and fruit are wonderful to have if the electricity goes down for some reason.

The Old Days

Well, back in the old days I had to be on food stamps. Wild Man had taken to the road and I was alone with the children. Anyway, the lady from the extension office would grace my home every few weeks. She was a lot of fun and always came with an armload of recipes to use with the free Gov-ment cheese, etc. I always made sure I had my vats of firewater hidden as I know she didn’t have any recipes to use with that. No, I am kidding ya! Well, bootleggin’ was frowned upon, especially for those of us on welfare. No, I am pullin’ your leg. “Quit it. Quit it.”

But anyway, Miss Baker gave me this one recipe. I will tell it to ya. It was one can of creamed soup and 2 cups of pasta and 2 cups of veggies and a can or a pound of cooked meat. So you could make whatever with this. Like cook up a few cups of noodles and add a can of peas and a can of cream of chicken soup and a can of drained tuna. Then heat it all up. But say you have a pound of hamburger — just cook it and then what soup? Maybe a can of tomato soup and a can of green beans and a couple cups of cooked macaroni. Little kids like this stuff usually. And like if you don’t have pasta but have a box of mac and cheese, use that for the meal. Or use rice or any pasta. I used to fix a lot of these casseroles for the kids’ lunch when I was homeschooling. Beef stroganoff would be like a pound of cooked hamburger and the cooked noodles and canned green beans and mushroom soup. You could put cheese on the top if you have it. Or make up biscuits to bake on the top. But these were just recipe ideas in order to use what you had usually in your cupboard. These are quick meals and you can make them with the canned food.

Also I used to get such a kick out of some of these women I was shoved in with while on welfare. JillR and I had to go to these cooking classes because so many women didn’t know how to cook. Jill and I knew how but we were always trying to humor Miss Baker who called Jill “Jill the pickle.” Jill was always makin’ pickles and trying to hide from Miss Baker. But, anyway, those mothers we took the class with ate bullets for breakfast. Jill and I tried to go in and visit with the ladies in a friendly way. But I said something like, “I have three children. How many do you have?” And the lady says, “What’s it to ya?” or “Why do you have to know?” One lady told me that she didn’t have time to cook as it was too hot and she laid naked in front of the fan all day. It was all hilarious and Jill and I would laugh like crazy all the way back home. It was like taking a cooking class on a chain gang. I went to one meeting and you could smell fresh animal hide on this one woman. Man, those women made it one way or the other. They were a tough band of women. I mean Jill and I tried not to laugh as they would take us wrong and try to kill us. Just kidding.

Miss Baker would go on with her class no matter even if the building had been on fire. Nothing stopped her! She was good at humoring the really rough ladies.

But see this is back when welfare was for the stay at home mother who had been abandoned. Most of the deserted Mothers were very serious about making it. If there was children in the home under 6, then you could stay home and get a welfare check and food stamps. But ya know now days, a lot of these women would milk the system and be on drugs and all. But I am glad I didn’t go out to work but stayed home with my children, even if it meant being looked down on by society. At least I could be with my children and keep them somewhat steady. But then when Jim got saved, we went off welfare and never returned again. But if you have to get food stamps, then don’t be ashamed of it. I would be more ashamed of going out to work and deserting a houseful of children. You don’t have to tell the children you are using food stamps. All the children know is that they have food and they are happy.

But back when I was raising my children, Mother protected her children. You didn’t tell them about your marriage if it was hard. Or about the food supply or that you hardly had any money. You held this all in your heart and prayed about it. As a mother, you carried your burdens alone unto God. You wanted your children to have a happy childhood. Children have a right to have decent meals and a warm, safe, quiet bed to sleep in.

Ya know last evening, Miss Charlotte came to visit. She was saying, “Connie, maybe God will use you as a missionary to another country.” And ya know I said that my heart is very burdened for our own country. Char said that when Mother Theresa got the Nobel Peace Prize, she stood on stage with the Clintons. She said at the end of her speech that the USA was the most impoverished nation in the word spiritually because of abortion. Boy, I bet the Clintons hated that.

But, yes, I am very burdened for our country. I want to stay here at my home forever and do as much damage to the devil that I can before I die. I hope to write many books and take care of the children God sends me. I don’t desire to ever leave here or remarry. I just want to live with Papa’s memory.

Love,
Connie

 
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