Sunday, December 17, 2017


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.


Winter Pantries

One year I was writing about a Winter Pantry and I put down in the subject line “Winter Panties” — oh, how funny! Anyway, it’s harvest time and time to pack some things away for winter. I have to be gone this morning to help my Mom with some things. Tomorrow I will start babysitting. So wanted to go help Mom vacuum this morning.

Nan, you wrote in about “How do you make creamed tomatoes?” I have never had them before. We used to eat breaded tomatoes. Just stew the tomatoes and then add bread and sugar and salt. But if anyone has a recipe for creamed tomatoes, please send it in. Ally may have one.

If you are like me, you have a lot of tomatoes to deal with. Homemade tomato soup is good. I freeze a lot of tomatoes to put in winter soups and stews. I am looking forward to getting out my crock pot and making soup very soon here. The weather is cooling off a bit and the summer is coming to an end.

I got my bread and butter pickles made and the kids love those things. I set them out whenever they come over. John and his family came over to mow a few days ago and we had tuna sandwiches and coffee and iced tea. Such simple meals with potato chips, pickles, and sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden.

My apple trees are full of apples. Some I will store in the fridge for the winter months. The plums are about ready to turn pink. Oh, I love those plums. I will just wash them and freeze them.

Also it is time to gather up our flour and sugar for winter baking. It’s time to look in the cupboards and make lists of baking supplies. I will put all of my old spices in a separate place to use as a potpourri on the stove. Just put a pan of water on the stove and use some of your old spices to put a fragrance of home in the air. I use my old, very big 2 gallon coffee pot for this. I put the burner on low and this fragrant brew lasts most of the day. In the dead of the winter, when the house is so dry, this water on the stove makes my windows steam up.

Well, ladies I need to get goin’. Please send in your ideas on your winter pantries and how you plan to stock up for the winter.

A Winter Pantry

I am wanting to write down some ideas for a winter pantry.

I am making my cooking oils this evening. The basil cooking oil and the red pepper oil. Again, all I do to make the herb cooking oils is to bring to a boil the oil and put the herbs in and cap it … it should set for about a week before you use it.

Another thing I plan to make, either tonight or tomorrow, is the Bisquick baking mix. Just take 5 pounds of all purpose flour and put it in a big pan. You could use half wheat flour for this if you wanted to. Like a big dishpan to mix this in? And then add to this flour 2 and half cups of instant milk. Then 3 fourths cup of baking powder … then 2 thirds cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of salt. After you get all this stirred up, just add 2 pounds of shortening. This would be like 4 cups of shortening. I use the butter flavored Crisco or whatever is on sale. So now, just smash the shortening into the dry ingredients. You could use one of those pastry cutters to do this. I just use my hands and smash it all together. This will take some time, like at least 15 minutes. The quick way is to do it with the electric mixer. I just made my mix and used a tall silver spaghetti pan? That worked good.

This mix is for quick breads. Quick breads are breads that you don’t use yeast in, like muffins or cornbread, biscuits, dumplings, and coffee cakes and muffins. The leavening would be baking powder or soda or buttermilk. To get your biscuits and muffins to rise and bake high, make sure your oven is really well preheated and HOT before you put the muffins in.

Now, yeast breads are different and rise with yeast. To make homemade yeast, just ferment whatever you have. If you have some fresh plums, just put them in boiling water and sugar and let them ferment. When they bubble after about 3 weeks, take 2 cups of the liquid and make bread with it. Grapes are good for this and any fresh fruits or vegetables. Just ferment the fruit until it smells like wine. This should take about 3 weeks. Put a cloth over it to keep the flies out. Don’t use fruit from the store — it is sprayed to kill the natural yeast. The yeast is on the fresh fruits from the garden.

You could even ferment dandelions or clover to make a yeast. Just pile clover blossoms in a big jar to half full. Then pour boiling water over this and put in about 2 cups of sugar for a gallon jar. Fill the water to the top and let it sit. When it ferments, then you can use this wine like a yeast. This is like a sour dough. Or just make the sour dough starter. But this is how you can make homemade yeast if you are out in the woods in the warm months, when you can use dandelions or clover or whatever grows in you garden to ferment to make yeast.

In the cold, you can use snow to make a quick bread rise if you don’t have any baking powder. To make pancakes, you can just make them up as usual and then, while the fryin’ pan is hot, run out and get a few cups of snow … stir it quickly into the batter and pour the batter quickly into the pan. The snow creates little tunnels in th batter and makes the pancakes light and fluffy. You could do this with any of the quick breads.

The sour dough starter is nice to have on hand in the winter, too. To make a sour dough starter, just take a glass jar and fill it with potato water, some sugar and some flour and let it sit. Put a loose lid on the top. Let it sit in a warm place in the kitchen. Use about a cup of this to make bread. Then add more water, sugar, and flour after each use. This will go on forever if you don’t let the starter spoil. When it smells like dirty socks, I wouldn’t use it … it should have a fresh yeasty smell. When you first make it, you could add a tablespoon of yeast to get it goin’.

(PART 2 – AUGUST 24, 2005)

Well I know last night when I wrote about homemade yeast, Annie thought I was kidding. But seriously, I wasn’t. Ya know, the reason you don’t hear about homemade yeast is because it is made from a wine or a fermented beverage. Well, back in the old days, it was illegal to make your own brew. Also, the Ladies Temperance Union would have had a fit. The church would have kicked you out. But making a yeast bread is making fermented bread, anyway ya look at it. How all this was so well hidden for many years, I dunno. But through experimenting here at home with making wine and bread, I found out that yeast is yeast? And you can make wine with a bakers yeast but a wine yeast is better. But I like the natural yeast a lot better than any of it.

When ya make sauerkraut, you are fermenting your cabbage. And you could take the juice from that and make bread, if you had to. Not from store bought, but the homemade from your own garden.

Old timers used to make apple cider in barrels in the fall. And, as the cider got older, it turned to hard cider and was alcoholic. And after this brew is done being alcoholic, it will turn to vinegar — or is it the other way around and it is vinegar first? I forget.

And I would bet ya good money that, back in the old days, when Mama’s sour dough died, that she started it again from the still out back. But she would have died before she would have confessed that, even on her death bed. Christian ladies didn’t drink back then and thought it would send ’em to hell if they did. And I quit makin’ wine, too. But I will conclude this writing with “There is more than one way to skin a cat or make a loaf of bread.” And ya know, if you happen to be in the woods and without yeast to make your bread, then it won’t be my fault if you don’t know how to make homemade yeast.

In the fall and winter, my children would eat about twice as much as in the summer. So I liked to have some meat packages made up ahead. I would buy some cheap hamburger in bulk and fry it all at once. To the meat, I would add onions, peppers, garlic, and maybe carrots and bits of tomatoes. I would cook all of this up and package this in plastic bags for the freezer. For quick meals, I would use these packages for chili, spaghetti, vegetable soup, and casseroles of all kinds. Also, to top fried potatoes and melt the cheese on the top. Ya know, the cheap hamburger don’t taste that bad and, with a lot of spices in it, it tastes good. For hamburger sandwiches, I usually get a better ground beef. But the El Cheapo stuff works just fine for Sloppy Joes.

Another thing I would do is to buy a big ham, the pressed ham without the bone. I would have the butcher slice it at the store, half of it very thin for sandwiches and then half of it thick sliced. And with the thick, slices I would take my knife and cube each thick slice up … ya know in squares? Then I would package this up in serving sizes and put it in the freezer. These packages of ham come in very handy. You could add these to fried potatoes and, again, melt the cheese on the top. Also for macaroni and cheese. And you could put the little ham cubes in a frying pan, brown them, and then add eggs and scramble it all up for a family breakfast. Also the ham is good in soup beans or potato soup … or you could brown the ham in your skillet and make a ham gravy to go over homemade biscuits. Also I would repackage the sandwich slices and freeze these in packages, too. Ham will freeze well and stay good for a year, anyway. I used to package this meat in the small sandwich bags then put the little bags in a big plastic bag.

Then I would also buy chicken. The leg quarters are so cheap if you buy them in bulk at the store. I would cut the thigh off the leg and freeze them separately. The thighs are good to cook the meat off the bone for soups and stews and gravy. I used to take the chicken pieces and mix them with a cream soup and some vegetables. Bake in a casserole dish and, when it bubbles, lay the biscuits on the top and put it back in the oven to bake until biscuits are done. Then there is chicken and rice, and many other meal ideas to use with chicken. Our kids always loved to just eat the chicken legs whole with a meal, with mashed potatoes and a veggie. I always made gravy, too, with most of my big family meals.

A Homestead Pantry

Good Morning.

Yesterday I was writing about homesteading and going back to the land. One thing I was trying to caution my readers about is not biting off more than they can chew.

I know one time, I read an article in Crowned with Silver about a dear Mother who nearly died from overwork. She had these dreams of moving to a farm with her large homeschooling family. Cooking from scratch and having goats and chickens. Well, she wasn’t prepared for any of this and way overdid it. She and her children got the flu and, because of being so stressed, it took a long time for them to all get well again. Her garden was way too large and she couldn’t care for it. So, of course, the city women mocked her and told her that she could never make a go of it on the land.

Well, ya know, slow and steady wins the race. If you have a small garden in town and can’t keep up with it, then don’t try to go to the country and plow up a big garden and add animals to care for to the work. Judge yourselves by what you have done with your small garden in the city. If you have outgrown your city garden, then you are ready to get a bigger garden.

I say all of this to say again, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Prepare yourselves now for the coming harder times ahead. Do what you can to learn survival skills. At different times in my marriage over the past 40 years, I have had to do many things to survive and to keep my family from going under. I was prepared with knowledge and I was glad I was.

Ok, now let’s say I have my Homestead and I am preparing to move in about a month. Again, it is the spring, like now. I would want to stock my pantry so that I would only have to go to town once a month. I will be busy with gardening and children and won’t have time to leave the Homestead more than once a month. So this is basically what I would buy.

I would buy a lot of canned vegetables, fruits, and meats. I am shooting for total self sufficiency but I am not there yet. I will be canning tomatoes out of my garden in the fall. Until then, I will need some canned items. So I will buy as many canned items as I can until I learn, gradually, to replace them all with homemade. So I will buy the canned items that I think I could grow in my garden. Such as canned green beans, peas, and corn, etc.

Ok, Papa’s coffee … a big can! I am imagining that I have big shelves in my Homestead Pantry. I would use large glass jars to store macaroni, rice, dried beans, oatmeal, cornmeal, and bread flour. This way, you always know at a glance if you need more beans or whatever. You just can’t beat the big tight lidded glass jars for storage.

Then, of course, you need other baking supplies like shortening, yeast, baking powder and soda for biscuits. And if ya can’t make biscuits, learn now as they come in mighty handy for a big family supper of gravy and biscuits. Now, for me, I use the gravy mixes from Aldies. We don’t eat a lot of meat and so I need these mixes to put in soups, etc. for flavor. I can make my own soup stock and can it, too. And eventually, if I needed to, I could again.

I will bring a bottle of ketchup to my homestead but will make many jars of it the coming fall with my homegrown tomatoes. Then, of course, you will need big bins in your pantry to store potatoes. I would also buy a lot of canned milk and instant milk. I would buy maybe 6 gallons of fresh milk for the month and can some of this to last the month. I have canned milk before and I know how.

So this is basically it. Jim is up and I need to go fix breakfast.

I would have a freezer and extra fridge my first year of homesteading if I could swing it. As ya need eggs and meat before you get your flock of chickens established. But eventually, I would want to can the meat and have a dugout for cold things.

A Winter Pantry

In the old days, the mothers would garden all summer and then, in the fall, they canned and put things away for the winter. And, also in the fall, they would go to the General Store and buy supplies that they couldn’t grow at home. Things like coffee and flour sugar and salt, baking powder and baking soda and yeast. All in amounts that would last the winter. They took their corn and had it ground up at the Grist Mill for corn meal, to make cornbread. The mothers stored their food away for the winter, as they only went to the store every 6 months or so. Once it began to snow, they couldn’t even get to the store.

Now days with so many viruses going around I wouldn’t want to take my children out to the store, especially in the winter, and especailly if they were little babies. So it’s nice now if you can get some staples to bake with and to make some simple meals with, while it isn’t that cold yet.

I know it’s hard to get a lot of money together to buy ahead. But here are some ideas for your winter baking cabinet. I have an old hoosier cupboard in my dear little kitchen that is only big enough to hold “some” baking supplies, but not bags of sugar and flour. In this little cupboard, I have baking powder and baking soda and salt. Then I have a spice cabinet by the stove and it holds all of my spices. Mainly, I use cinnamon for baking and nutmeg and ginger. Then I have vanilla extract. These would be good to start out with. I have a lot of spices in there, but I have bought them as I have gone along. If you dont have any spices, just start out buying a few at a time.

I keep my flour in the freezer. The flours I have on hand are the corn meal for cornbread, then the whole wheat flour and white. It’s nice if you can afford the self riseing flour, too. It’s nice to have on hand for biscuits and pancakes. But you don’t really need it as you can add your own baking powder to plain flour. It’s nice if you can keep a jar of plain flour next to your stove to use for gravy and home made puddings, as you just need a tablespoon here and there. Also a jar of sugar to sprinkle on stewed fruit … it’s handy like that. But if you could maybe buy some flour and sugar ahead, this way you can always have supplies to bake with.

I try to have raisins and oatmeal for my winter pantry, dry cocoa and a few cans of shortening, like Crisco. Then corn oil and brown sugar. Some of these bulk items, I store on top of my refrigerator.

Then, of course, the old time mothers canned their fruits and vegetables. Maybe you could find some sales and buy up cans of corn and peas and green beans and tomatoes, some canned peaches and pears. Canned items are so great to have and to make meals with.

Potatoes are such a staple for us, too, and apples, onions, and carrots. The old time mothers stored these vegetables in the root cellar.

Then, maybe you could find a buy on ground beef and chicken and store that away.

Maybe while things are pretty cheap in the store, before winter, just buy up these staples with the money you have. Just think of staples to make things with. Try to get along without the mixes and see how much you can pack away for the winter.

Well, Papa will be home in a minute, so I had better say Good-night for now.

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