Monday, September 30, 2013

Up to My Elbows...

in Farmer's Market goodness.

Number One Son made a Farmer's Market run for me on Saturday.  He came back with a half bushel of green bell peppers, 5 HUGE heads of cabbage, a good sized bag of carrots and 50 lbs. of potatoes.  And 5 more cases of canning jars.  In anticipation, I had made a grocery store run on Friday for the ingredients I needed to go with the cabbage and peppers to make Amish coleslaw.  25 pints of that deliciousness now reside on my shelves, along with another 28 pints of carrots.  There are 2 pots of cabbage heating up on my stove with lots more waiting.  (Yep, my neighbors are going to be loving me by the time I finish cooking and canning cabbage!)  That will go into quart jars to be processed.  I'm hoping to score a sale on corned beef come spring to go with the cabbage.  I have never made sauerkraut before, so am giving that a go as well.  The potatoes will be sliced and diced and dehydrated.  They work well for scalloped potatoes and in soup and stew.  The leftover peppers were dehydrated as well.

So I had better stop playing here at the computer and get busy, because tomorrow my daughter and granddaughter are taking me to Sam's Club to stock up on meat, most of which will be canned as well.  Other people make hay while the sun shines.  For me, it is canning and dehydrating.

I am truly lucky to have kids and grandkids who are willing to fetch and carry and haul it all up the stairs to my apartment.  God bless them all!

Friday, September 20, 2013

People are Funny...

in a miserable kind of way.

So I was at the grocery store this morning.  Thought I would take advantage of the sale on beef roast.  I had bought four packages earlier in the week and canned them.  I wanted to can another six packages worth.

As I am putting the roasts into my cart, a woman comes up along side me.  As the third package went into my cart, she sort of starts to edge me out of her way.  When I didn't move, she reaches over me, grabbing packages like she thought there wouldn't be any more.  I just stood back and watched her.  A package of meat at a grocery store just isn't worth the hassle of dealing with an obnoxious woman.

When she had what she wanted, off she flounced, triumphant in her winning whatever game she thought she was playing with me.  Guess she didn't realize that she was playing alone.

I have to wonder what would happen if the poo really did hit the fan and there were fifty people just like that woman, all wanting to get their hands on the last loaf of bread in the store.  I think I am glad that I have thought far enough ahead so that I will be home, baking my own bread.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shopping Fool

As much as I dislike shopping, I am thinking that I will wind up a shopping fool this week.  My local grocery has sales on beef and pork loin.  I bought four packages of each this morning.  They are all cubed, jarred up and a pressure canner load is cooking away, with several more waiting.  Beef rarely is at an affordable price here, so I will be going back at least once more - maybe twice - to take advantage of the sale.  The home canned beef makes the best beef stew as well as lots of other tasty dishes.  This winter.  When it is cold outside.  And the ground is covered with ice and snow.  And I won't have to venture out in it.

I just wish I could get all of the shopping done at once, but there is only so much I can haul home on the bus in my handy dandy little old lady shopping cart that I use for groceries.  I'm not complaining, though.  Every day that I wake up in the morning is a bonus.  And every day that I still can get around well enough to do my own shopping is even better.  And every day that I still have the strength to haul my cart up the stairs to my apartment is awesome.

Life is still good.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

All I Wanted Was a Nightgown

So why are the clothes in the retail stores made for age 25 and under women.  Isn't my money as good as theirs?  Why can't they sell clothing that we grannies would be comfortable wearing!

Now that the weather has cooled somewhat and fall is just around the corner, summer clothing is on sale.  All I wanted were a couple of thin, cotton nightgowns.  I suffered through about two weeks of heat and no air conditioning recently.  I own winter sleepwear.  I own a t-shirt style nightshirt that was uncomfortably hot, even with a fan going in my bedroom.  I don't own any thin cotton sleepwear.  So I went to buy some.  I may not use them any more this year, but I surely will next summer, and I wanted to take advantage of the sales.

I don't want t-shirts with matching pants.  I don't want t-shirt style nightshirts in purple and orange stripes.  I don't want some slinky lacy evening gown looking thing to sleep in.  I am neither slinky nor am I the lacy type.  I could care less about looking fashionable when I retire for the night.  I have nobody to impress with my fashion sense at bedtime.  It is just me and sometimes the cat in my bed.  So why should I have to make a fashion statement to impress the cat!

In my frustration with the retail industry that caters to the tastes of the young, I dug around in my closet and found the bin where I keep my fabric stash and sewing supplies.  Found a pattern for sleepwear.  Dug out some fabric that I bought a long time ago for a purpose long since forgotten.  Cut out a couple of simple night gowns.  Spent a day at my sewing machine.  I now have what I couldn't find in the stores.  For less money, even if they had what I wanted.

I had forgotten about the benefits of home sewing.  You get a garment that fits, that is well made and doesn't fall apart the second time it is washed.  You don't have to waste time shopping. (I hate shopping.  I have never understood women who treat shopping as a form of recreation.)  You can get the colors and patterns you like in the fabric as opposed to whatever dreadful choices are on the racks at the stores.  And if you watch for fabric and pattern sales, home sewn clothing costs far less than buying ready made.

I learned to sew well over 50 years ago.  There was a time when I sewed most of my own clothing as well as much of my children's.  I think I stopped while I was still in the working world, for time was at a premium.  Now I have all the time in the world.  I could use some new shirts and slacks for winter.  And a fall jacket.  Think I will go now and peruse the fabric store sale ads.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Going Home

While reading some of my favorite blogs this morning, I ran across a post about going home again.  The writer talked of visiting various places where she had lived only to find them all changed.  Other people now live there, houses have been remodeled and yards and gardens done over.  Most bore little resemblance to her memories of them.

I get restless sometimes.  I wish I could move out of the city.  I wish I could go back to the north country I love.  Or to the drafty old farmhouse that I mostly grew up in.  But if I take a long, realistic look at things, I know in my heart of hearts that this will not happen.  The dubious joys of my "golden years" make it nearly impossible.

I love the northern part of my state because my family roots are there.  I have such good memories of time spent as a child in the house my grandfather built for his large family.  I can see in my mind the kitchen with it's worn plank floor and wood burning stove and the ice box in the corner and the stool by the back door that held a bucket full of well water and a dipper for drinking.  I see the upright piano in the corner of the main room that my grandfather played, and although I never knew him or heard his music, I see him through the tales told me by my father.  I can visualize my grandmother sitting in the chair that was hers, reading or smiling at the shenanigans of her grown children and grandchildren.  I see her in the early morning, long black braid, only touched with gray even in her later years, down her back, stoking up the stove firebox to cook breakfast.

I sometimes think about the farmhouse where I spent the better part of my youth.  I remember the warmth of the kitchen where it seems, in my memory, there was always something good baking in the oven.  I remember bedroom walls that were papered, for underneath was lath and plaster that couldn't be painted.  I recall warm summer nights spent sleeping on the screened front porch, and the storm clouds Dad and I watched from that same porch, rolling over the fields.  I think of the hours spent roaming the woods and fields behind the house and the dog that was always at my heels and the orchard and the garden. And the long row of peony bushes that were a riot of white and pink while in bloom.

My grandparents house is no longer there.  A number of years ago it was donated to the local firefighters to burn as a practice drill.  The farmhouse is gone as well, torn down to make way for a new house built on the property.

And then the realization comes to me that it is not the buildings that are important.  It is the memories of life in those buildings.  It is the laughter of my aunts and uncles and cousins when we all got together in the north.  It is following my uncle to the barn when he went to do the milking and playing with the latest batch of barn kittens.  It is the soft lap of my grandma and the absolute knowledge that she loved me.  It is my Dad's silly jokes and Mom's homemade bread.  It is the time and patience my parents put in to teach me so many things that have helped me over the years.  It is taking care of my baby brother when Mom couldn't, and loving every minute of it.  It is memory of a two-room country schoolhouse and bike rides down gravel roads and nearly burning my eyebrows off trying to smoke corn silk with the neighbor girl.

I have heard it said that you can't go home again, and that is true.  But every now and then, when city life comes close to being unbearable to this country girl, I can go home.  For it is not the houses, but the people.  Most of them are gone now, but they still live in memory.  And I think that may be enough.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beans and Cornbread

I soaked a bag of beans overnight and got them to cooking this morning for a pot of old-fashioned baked beans, just because I was hungry for a bowl of them.  My kids will probably laugh at me when I tell them that the first time I tried to make from scratch baked beans, they turned out terrible.  Baked beans aren't supposed to be crunchy.  I was still very young and still cared about what other people thought, and I didn't want anyone to know what a dismal failure they were, so I took them out back into the woods, dug a hole and buried them.  They were so bad that the dog didn't even try to dig them up.

I dehydrated a bunch of sweet corn last year when I found a really good sale on frozen corn.  It turned out great and rehydrates really well.  But I found that when I run the dry corn through a little electric chopper, it turns into cornmeal that makes the best cornbread I have ever made.

Homemade beans and cornbread.  Simple comfort food.  And oh, so good.  Don't think I will have to give any of it a decent burial this time.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Flying Geese

The eastern sky was just beginning to turn pink this morning.  Sitting next to my open window to catch a bit of morning breeze, my first cup of coffee in hand, I heard the honking of geese.  Lots of geese.

The geese come back here each spring from wherever they go for winter months.  The nest on the shores of the many lakes and ponds and streams, raise their young, and then head back south.

I will hear them from time to time, going out in the mornings during the summer in search for food and returning to their nesting areas in the evening.  But this honking was louder and more prolonged than a normal food run.  As I looked out and up, I saw at least a dozen V-shaped formations heading south.  This was followed closely by another group just as large.  I usually don't see these large flocks until mid-October.

The Farmer's Almanac has predicted a cold, nasty winter for us here in the north.  I wonder if the geese know about it.  Looks like they just might.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Big Sister

Having your big sister in the same school you go to is cool.

Having your big sister walk with you to your first kindergarten class is priceless.

It's That Time Again

It is that time of year again.  My grandkids started school for another year.

Zach is in eighth grade this year.

Boston started sixth grade.

Maddie is in fourth grade.

And Jacob started kindergarten.

I have one more school-aged grandchild, Nicki who started her Junior year of High School.  I think she considers herself too grown up for first day of school pictures.  Nicki, you need to send your Grandma some new pictures.  This one is a couple of years old.

The kids all seem glad to get back to school, and this year will be an adventure, especially for Jacob, who is just starting down the path of learning.  I hope their enthusiasm continues.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

Woke up this morning to an outdoor temperature of 58 degrees.  The cat was pretty much Velcroed to my knees for warmth.  The dogs had to be persuaded to leave their warm beds for breakfast.  What a difference a day makes.

Find my warm, fuzzy robe - check.
Move the long sleeved shirts to the front of the closet - check.
Add the ingredients for the best malted hot chocolate mix in the world to my grocery shopping list - check
Start a pot of homemade chicken soup to simmer all day - check

Oh, I know that in a day or two we will be back to summer weather, but just for today, I will pretend that fall is here to stay.  And I will enjoy every minute of it.