Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Lied...

Well, not on purpose.  I just wasn't paying attention yesterday when the packages of bacon arrived in my kitchen.  They were 3 lb. packages - not 5 lb.  They yielded 13 half-pint jars of diced bacon.  The 18 lbs. of hamburger gave me another 21 pints for the shelves.  The last of it is in the pressure canner as I write.  And I wonder why it is that I can't get my fingers to type a single sentence on this laptop without creating errors.  Sigh.

Tomorrow morning I will get going with the Great Northern beans.  I didn't write down how many quarts of canned beans I can get from one pound of dry beans last year, so your guess is as good as mine.

And now I'm off to clean up my messy kitchen.  I really wish I were one of those tidy people who can wash a dish as soon as it is dirtied, dry it and put it back into the cupboard.  Alas, I am not.  I have two dishwashers, but both are located on the ends of my arms, so there is no hiding away the dirty dishes.  Pray for me.  And if I don't resurface in a day or two, send in a rescue party.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Canning Experiment Results

So my 12 lbs. of hamburger yielded 10 pints of taco meat and 4 pints of Sloppy Joe meat.  That's about right.  I always figure about one pint per pound of meat.  Yesterday we tried the Sloppy Joe meat.  I will not be canning any more.  It isn't bad, but it isn't very good either, at least not for it's original intended use.  It won't go to waste.  I can use it in spaghetti sauce or something else that will hide the flavor.

I know that sometimes when ingredients are added to meat for canning, the flavor doesn't always turn out as one would like.  So I was kind of afraid to try the taco meat.  But we put on our brave faces and had tacos for supper.  They were really good.  And even though I liked the results, I probably will stick with my original plan to can plain meat as ingredients rather than risking a failure.  Groceries are just too expensive these days to mess with what I know works.

The grocery delivery guy brought me 18 more pounds of hamburger.  I had 6 pounds left from the previous batch and I froze that for burgers, meatloaf, etc.  This afternoon I browned the 18 pounds and tomorrow morning I will pack it into pint jars and run it through the pressure canner.

Son started his new job today.  He came home smiling.  He says the people there seem like they will be good to work with and he gets to drive a big, ol' diesel forklift, moving pallets of potting soil and mulch.  And he gets weekends off, although he can get overtime if he wants it.  His previous Minnesota job worked him two weeks at a time with only two days off.  He worked holidays as well and because he worked nights, a good share of his days off were spent sleeping.  Looks like this new job is a good fit for him.  And he says that he is always happier when working a opposed to being unemployed.

Anyway, on his way home from work today, Son stopped at the grocery store.  He brought me home 10 lbs. of the good bacon ends and pieces as well as 10 lbs. of Great Northern beans.  I will dice, brown and can the bacon as soon as I'm done with the hamburger and then can up at least half the beans.  I like having beans in jars on the shelf.  There are so many uses for them and it is nice because I can use them without having to soak them overnight or spend a long time cooking them.  Kind of a prepper's convenience food.

Looks like I will be spending lots of time in my kitchen the next couple of days.  Not complaining, mind you.  I am so glad to be able to add to my food storage.  A person doesn't have to prepare for anything in particular.  I'm really not expecting  street full of zombies outside my building.  Although there are some days when I think maybe they have already arrived.  Lots of strangeness running around loose these days.  But if I am ready for just the normal stuff that happens, then it is good.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Buying Meat.....

before the prices go completely through the roof.

I couldn't find any chicken in the sale ads that came out over the weekend.  But hamburger was on sale.  If you call the already outrageous prices a sale.  But still, I'm saving around $1.25 per 3# chub of meat, so I guess that's better than full price.

Son went to the store and brought me back 18 pounds of hamburger, along with some taco seasoning.  I'm doing an experiment.  I like to have a variety of home canned food on my shelves, so I browned up 9 lbs. of burger, drained it and seasoned it with the taco seasoning.   It will stay in the fridge overnight and in the morning I'll can it in pint jars.

Then I took another 3# of meat, browned it, drained it and added the ingredients for Sloppy Joes.  We will give both a taste test in the next week or so and decide than if I want to do more.

Wednesday this week is grocery delivery day.  I have another 18 pounds of hamburger ordered, giving me a total of 24 more pounds of hamburger to can just plain.  

I hate paying the high prices for meat at the store, but I know that prices are not coming down any time soon.  Even if I have to pay full price for chicken breast to can next week, should there be none on sale, I think it will still be worth it.  Minnesota, as well as some of the surrounding states, is dealing with the bird flu outbreak.  Our governor has called out a National Guard unit to help in hauling truckloads of water to the poultry farms where the birds were killed, to mix with the chemicals used to get rid of the disease.  I fully expect that the lower prices we have enjoyed for chicken and turkey will soon be a thing of the past.  Anything that I can have on my shelves at today's prices is a good thing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Adventures in Groceries With Dad

In my last post I made as silly remark about fixing myself a fried Spam sandwich which garnered me a couple of comments about that kind of food.  That got me to thinking about some of the foods I grew up with.  Mother was very conventional in her notions of what food should consist of, but Dad was another story altogether.

Dad dearly loved pickled pig's feet.  Every once in a while he would buy a jar as a treat for himself.  Mom turned up her nose.  She didn't like how they looked or smelled, so Dad and I would go out on the back steps and eat pickled pig's feet straight from the jar, tossing the bones to the dog, who then wasn't allowed in the house until the effects of the pickled bones had passed through his digestive system.

Dad loved the pies and cakes that Mom made.  And he could bake an apple pie to rival all others himself.  But often times when no dessert was on the table, he would tear up a slice or two of bread into his coffee cup, pour a little hot coffee over the bread and top it off with a spoonful of sugar.  He called this Poor Man's Pie.  He told me once that desserts were rare when he was growing up.  His family was rather poor, eking out a living on a small farm in northern Minnesota.  With nine children in the family, basic meals were more important than dessert.  He said his mother came up with this concoction as a means to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Mother didn't go into town alone very often.  Riddled with arthritis, she was physically incapable of grocery shopping and carrying heavy bags of food from the car into the house.  Dad worked in town, so he mostly bought the family groceries on his way home after work.  Which is why an odd assortment of food in cans or jars wound up in our cupboards.  Dad liked to try new things.

One of the first of these experiments that I remember was Potted Meat.  Comes in a little can - smaller than a can of tuna.  Looks kind of like bologna that has been whirled in a blender for a while.  It tastes sort of spicy.  Whether it is really meat is open for debate.  Dad loved the stuff.  He made sandwiches with it.  What he liked best was that it was cheap.  As a kid I had to try most everything he brought home that was new and different.  I found that I actually like the stuff.  It is on my food storage list as something to have on the shelf for a quick, easy sandwich.  Along with Spam.

I wish I knew what brand of canned ham Dad used to buy.  It was delicious.  We went on a lot of picnics at the lake in the summertime.  Mostly with my aunt, uncle and cousins.  Our family nearly always furnished a canned ham that we sliced up to go on homemade buns, and potato salad.  Sometimes the ham was sliced and fried for breakfast and sometimes it was roasted in the oven until nicely browned, usually with a raisin sauce on top.  It was all good.  But the last canned ham I bought that I could afford was so bad the dog wouldn't even touch it.  We're talking about a dog who, given a 10 second window of opportunity, would be buried up to her tail in a sack of evil, foul smelling garbage that was sitting by the door, waiting to go out to the dumpster.    That's bad.

About the only thing that Dad brought home to try that I couldn't eat was sardines.  I think sardines are one of those foods that a person either loves or hates.  Dad loved them.  I hated them.  Just couldn't stomach those oily little fish crammed into that can.  Dad said that was alright.  He would eat my share for me.

Gee, but I miss Dad.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Change Isn't Always Good

I love my old computer.  I have had it for nearly 7 years.  It has had a workout, for I use it for many tasks as well as entertainment.  It is a desktop model with a large monitor screen, so often in the evenings I would find something interesting to watch, get comfy in my recliner and sew or crochet and watch a video.  Or listen to music.  Or listen to an audio book.  Or listen to the police scanner.

But more often than not, my trusty old computer has been showing me the blue screen of death.  Lucky for me, while recovering from health problems this past winter,  Youngest Son agreed to go buy me a new laptop.  It's not his fault.  He bought exactly what I told him to buy.

The latest version of Windows is, in my opinion, the worst operating system ever.  In the vernacular of my Father, "You have to go all the way around the barn to get to where you want to be."  I've sort of got it figured out now, after much trial and error and the use of many new swear words muttered under my breath.

But it's not just the inconvenience of the operating system.  I had Google Chrome installed on the old computer.  I didn't have it installed on the new one. I was using Explorer.  This version of Explorer doesn't like Google's Blogger or YouTube.  While working on a post for my new genealogy blog, I needed to upload photos.  Sometimes I could, and other times not.  I get all sorts of error messages popping up when trying to post.  And worst of all, while trying to watch a YouTube video, I get sound but no picture.

So I installed Chrome, which fixed some of the problems.  But I still can't watch videos, which irritated me no end as I wanted to watch my granddaughters dance via streaming video over this weekend.

Guess I'll have to swallow my pride and get a computer savvy grandkid over here to sort it all out for me.

On the up side, I hope to be knee deep in poultry next week.  According to the news reports, the price of chicken and turkey will be going up due to the outbreak of bird flu here in Minnesota and some of the surrounding states.  The sale ads for the local grocery stores come out over the weekend, and #1 Son says he will do a grocery run to buy up any chicken that is on sale.  And even if I have to buy it at regular price, and even if the bird flu weren't a factor, the meat will still cost more by next year.  Whatever I am able to can or freeze now will save money in the long run.

I have been sorely lacking in blog posts lately.  My only excuse is that I have been spending time working on my granddaughter's scrapbook for her graduation in June.  I don't know why it is, but when working on anything that takes just a bit of artistic creativity, the mojo is either there, or it isn't.  Sometimes the digital scrapbook pages go together like a dream and other times I fight to get the look I want.  It has been a good time for indoor activity, for the last few days have been cool and wet.  No storms but just lots of drizzle.  This morning the temperature has warmed to 48 degrees and the sun is shining.  Sunshine is good.  Makes for a whole new outlook on life.

And now I am off to make a fried Spam sandwich for lunch.  My Dad dearly loved a fried Spam sandwich and he passed that love along to me.  It is one of my comfort foods.  I'm sorry.  :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April in Minnesota

This morning Son had a job interview in a suburb north of here.  He said that it was snowing when he got there.  I looked out the window about a half hour ago at 6:30 PM and saw a few flakes in the air.  Enough, already.  In a normal year folks around here are wearing shorts and flip flops by now.  I'm seeing heavy jackets and hoodies in abundance. But I have faith that within a month or two I will probably be complaining just as loud and long about the heat and humidity.   We are never satisfied unless the temperature is in the mid-70's and the sun is shining.  I wonder which day that will happen.

Oh, by the way...Son's job interview went really well.  As soon as the drug test results come back and the company checks out his references, it looks good for him to be employed at just the kind of job he has been looking for.  He is happy about it and greatly relieved.  His instincts were correct when he decided to come back home.  Always believe in your gut feeling, I think.

So what with cold temperatures, snow flakes in the air and being a generally gloomy day, it seemed a good idea to bake some bread.  The fact that I had about half a loaf left in the house influenced that decision.  Three loaves, two dozen buns and a pan of cinnamon rolls are cooling on the kitchen table.  Of course some of it had to be taste tested right away.  If it isn't the law, it is at the very least the rule of this household that at least some bread must be consumed right out of the oven.  So we did.  :) 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Just Playing

I went through the scrapbooking supplies I have on hand and discovered that I am sorely lacking what I need to make a conventional decorative scrapbook album for my granddaughter's graduation.  Supplies are spendy.  I'm not so sure I care to put out a bunch of cash right now for a hobby, even if it is a gift.

I got to thinking that I had, at one time, a blog that consisted of family pictures featured in scrapbook pages that I made using graphics and my computer - digital scrapbooking.  I found that I still had those graphics saved on my external hard drive.  I wondered why I couldn't make the decorative pages using the graphics program I have and then either print them out myself or take them somewhere for printing.  Easy enough to do using an 8 x 8 background and printing to fit into a nice 8 x 8 album, sliding each page into protective sleeves I can get at the craft store.  And there is the advantage of being able to put the album pages on a DVD and make copies for anyone else who might like to have it.  Her mother, for instance.

So I spent last evening downloading some new graphics to add to my collection.  There are some digital scrapbook designers that offer a selection of freebies for the digital scrapbook enthusiast.  They are free to use as long as they are not used commercially.  I am doing this just for family, so no problem with copyright issues.

If you would care to see what these scrapbook pages look like, here is a link to my old blog.  I am amazed that it can still be accessed, as it hasn't been added to for several years.  I used it just for family pictures.

My methods and choices in graphics have, I hope, improved since then.  At any rate, today I am messing about with it all to see what I can come up with for the album.  It is a good day for it - cool and damp outside.  A good day to stay indoors and just play.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lots of Chicken

Grocery delivery guy arrived yesterday.  Usually he doesn't get to my apartment until the middle of the afternoon, but yesterday he was here before noon.  My order this week included 18 lbs. of chicken breast that was on sale.  The early delivery gave me time to can it up the same day.

Sometimes I pack cut up chicken breast into the jars raw.  When I can turkey I cook it first to make it easy to get off the bones.  I decided to cook the chicken mostly to thaw it all quickly so I would have time to can it before evening.

Son helped.  He put the chicken on cookie sheets and baked them in the oven until they were done through.  He passed the pieces on to me and I cut them up into bite-sized pieces and filled the jars.  Most of the time when cooked meat is canned, a liquid is needed, so I filled the jars with hot water, wiped off the rims, added the lids and ran them through my pressure canner for 75 minutes.  21 pint jars of canned chicken are waiting to be wiped off, labeled and put on the shelf.

I wondered if there was any difference in price between canning on-sale chicken breast at home or buying the cans of chicken breast at Sam's Club.  I did the math this morning,  It would have cost me nearly $20 more to buy the cans than to buy the 18 lbs. of frozen chicken breast and can it myself.  I didn't figure in the cost of jars or the Tattler lids as I already had them and they had all been used at least once before this.  And they can be used again as opposed to opening a can and tossing it when empty.  I think it was worth the cost.

Cub Foods also had smoked sausage on sale - the kind that is like ring bologna.  I bought 5 of the rings, cut one of them into about 1-inch pieces, packed the pieces into jars and canned them with the chicken.  They look good in the jars and I will taste test later this week to see if I like the result.  I hope so, for that could be another variety to add to my meat shelf.

So until I have more to add to my food storage, it is on to another project.  My oldest granddaughter graduates from high school in June.  Each graduating grandchild gets an afghan crocheted by her grandma and a photo album full of pictures of her taken over the past 18 years.  The afghan was completed over the winter, but I haven't started on the album.  The photos will be placed on decorative scrapbook pages and put into a nice album for that purpose.  Son is off running errands and will bring me the supplies that I have run out of and need to do this.

I love scrapbooking.  This is gonna be fun!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It is Lovely...

when the son who is staying with you for a while was a restaurant cook in a former life.

Menu for supper:  crispy chicken fried to a golden brown, hash brown potatoes and the vegetable of the day.  Followed by pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.

I think I may have died and gone to heaven.  Or at the very least, I am being spoiled completely rotten.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Blog

For my children, grandchildren and cousins who are interested:  Cousin Linda asked me about our Morehouse ancestors.  I have accumulated too much information to make it practical to print out or email, so instead I started a new blog for the purpose of sharing genealogy information and photos.  So far there are only three posts, but there are more to come.  The title of the blog is "Matheny - Olmstead - Paul - Morehouse Family Tree," and the url is  Feel free to comment or email with questions, corrections or information.  My email can be found in the profile section of both blogs.  I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beef Stew and Biscuits

So yesterday morning Son says to me, "I'll make you a deal.  I'll make beef stew for supper if you will make the biscuits."  Being a reasonably intelligent person as well as a lover of stew and biscuits, I jumped all over that deal.

Middle of the afternoon he raided my canning shelves.  A couple jars of beef chunks, a jar of potatoes, carrots and peas, another of green beans and a small jar of corn and a quart of tomatoes went into the pot.  He mixed in seasonings and let it simmer.  While the biscuits baked, he thickened it for gravy.  It was wonderful!  And the leftovers will be good tomorrow, too.

The kid can cook.

Canning Fail...

In the interest of honesty and not wanting anyone else to experience the same failure, I have a bacon update.

My method for canning bacon bits is to cut up the meat into about half inch pieces.  Then I lightly brown the meat in a pan, drain off the grease, pack the meat into jars and pressure can for 75 minutes.  And the result has been lovely bacon bits, fully cooked.  Even the fatty pieces are crispy.  Just like when you fry up bacon in a pan for breakfast.

It didn't work out that way this time.  Last evening I opened the jar that hadn't sealed.  Wanted to see how it tasted.  The first piece I pulled from the jar was one of the fatty bits.  It is bacon.  There will be fatty bits, but this one was slimy.  Even with the frying before packing into the jars and even with an hour and 15 minutes in the pressure canner, the fatty bits did not crisp up.  I have 23 jars of slimy fatty bacon bits that are browned on the outside and disgustingly greasy in the middle.  It is something I would have a hard time eating without gagging.

It is my own fault.  The boxes the bacon was packed in said that the product was smoked but not cured.  This was different from all the other bacon I have previously canned successfully.  I should have paid better attention and canned up a couple of test jars to see how it turned out before canning the whole works at once.

Who knew.  I thought bacon was bacon, either smoked or cured.

Live and learn.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


is one of life's little pleasures.

Son made a run to our local grocery store today and came home with two 5 lb. boxes of bacon ends and pieces.  The store must have changed suppliers, for this bacon was different from what I had always bought there before.  This was smoked but not cured.  A taste test showed it to be tasty - sort of smoky with a touch of maple flavor.

This bacon had been chopped before packaging so there wasn't the variety of sized pieces I was used to.  The pieces were a bit large for the jars, so I cut them a little smaller, browned them slightly and packed them into half pint jars.  Wound up with 23 jars.  And a quart jar full of lovely bacon grease for frying and baking.

It looks like one jar didn't seal, so we will use that in scrambled eggs for breakfast one day this week.  If we like it, I will buy more.  The price is less than the previous brand, so that is a plus.

I'm confident that this bacon will taste good after canning.  I mean, it's bacon.  I have yet to find bacon that didn't taste good!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mother Nature Hates Us

So I'm sitting at my kitchen table this morning, happily filling cookie sheets with peanut butter cookie dough, when I happen to glance out my kitchen window...

And see SNOW!

Not just a few flakes, but big, huge, fluffy flakes.  Lots of them.

The only saving grace is that it is too warm for the snow to stick to the ground.

Give it up, Mother Nature!  We are so done with you!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Rain and Refrigerators

Sometime during the night I heard the sound of raindrops bouncing off the ledge outside my windows.  We are in a mild drought area - nothing like the west and southwest, but the lack of snowfall and spring rains have contributed to the general dryness.  There is no significant wind or lightning - just a gentle, soaking rain and it is welcome.  Although it is still a chilly 38 degrees this morning, the warm sunshine is promised for the weekend and into next week.

Early yesterday afternoon my new stove and refrigerator were delivered.  I have to admire the cheerfulness of the two delivery guys, who, in spite of huffing appliances up and down the steep stairs to my apartment, were smiling and pleasant.  I remarked to one, a tall, muscular young black man, that I marveled at how he and his partner could spend their days carrying heavy refrigerators, especially on stairs like mine.  He laughed and replied that it was a job and he was glad to have it.  He said that many who don't have jobs wind up behind bars and he would much rather be working.  Besides, with all the lifting and carrying, he didn't have to go to the gym to get a work-out.

The new refrigerator is larger than the old one.  The guys took my apartment door off the hinges.  They removed the doors from the refrigerator.  They took a part that was protruding off the back.  And even with all of that, they only cleared the doorway by maybe a quarter of an inch.  But the old, troublesome appliances are gone and the pretty new ones are in place.  Landlord came by about suppertime and hooked up the gas to the new stove.  I think it is a good day to test the oven with a batch of homemade bread.

Son went to the store this morning and brought me back two packages of bacon ends and pieces, for a total of 6 lbs.  This afternoon I will chop the bacon into about half-inch pieces, lightly brown them and can them in half-pint jars.  The homemade bacon bits are so good on salads or in scrambled eggs or omelets.

So now I'd better get busy.  After weeks of relative inactivity, it really feels good to have stuff to do!

Monday, April 6, 2015

So This Afternoon...

I called Number One Son to find out where he was.  He had spent the night in Grand Island, Nebraska, on his way home.  When he answered his phone, the reception was terrible, so I just told him to call me later and hung up.

Right about supper time my phone rang.  The reception was perfect.  He said, "It is 1855 miles from the door of my apartment in Las Vegas to the door to your apartment."

I'm so glad he is home.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Off On A Ramble

My family is not getting together for Easter this year.  As sometimes happens, especially with larger families, some had commitments elsewhere.  That is fine with me, for I kind of wanted to be home in case Oldest Son calls.  And I am probably the only human being on the planet (or at least in the USA) who still has a house phone and doesn't have a cell phone.

Oldest Son left Las Vegas yesterday morning.  Around lunch time he called from St. George, Utah.  He wanted me to look up St. George on my computer so I could see how beautiful the country was there.  I did.  It is.  Last evening he called from Grand Junction, Colorado.  He said that he had driven about 500 miles, was tired and thought he would sleep and set out again in the morning.  I thought that was a good plan.  If I remember right, the road between Grand Junction and Denver has a lot of up and a lot of down and a lot of curvy, which means that daylight driving is a good thing.  It will be a couple more days before he is home.

The oven in my kitchen stove died.  It was a slow death.  First it would light (it is a gas stove) but would not heat.  A few days later it would not light at all.  Yesterday my landlord found the problem.  The burner for the oven was fried - as in a hole burned into it.  When he left my apartment, I thought he was going to order the parts and fix the oven.  A couple of hours later he called, wanting to know if I had to have white appliances or would a stove and refrigerator with a stainless finish be OK.  He said that he decided to just replace both, as I had been having problems with them and the way things are made now, they likely wouldn't last much longer anyway.  So my new stove and refrigerator will be delivered Wednesday.  And I can bake bread again.  I have been missing baking bread.
I don't ever again want to hear anybody complain about not having enough storage space.  Within my three rooms I have been moving things around to make room for Duane and his stuff.  There isn't any furniture to deal with, but there is all of his household goods, clothes, etc.  I have two closets in my bedroom.  The largest of the two I had converted into a pantry, using some cheap stand alone shelves (6 of them), stacked and holding assorted extra food like baking supplies, commercially canned soups, other canned goods I had bought on sale and lots of pasta.  The shelves are about a foot wide and deep and about table-top high.  One went into my bathroom for extra towels and Duane's toiletries.  The rest were distributed into nooks and crannies and corners of my living room.  Next week I will pick up some fabric to make tablecloth-type pieces to drape over them to hide the contents.  Worked out just fine.  Where there is a will, there seems to always be a way.

Today will be a day of just puttering.  I hear the beautiful sound of church bells coming from the Catholic Church a couple of blocks away.  I believe that a person doesn't have to go to church in order to worship.  But we do need to find our faith and stay strong within that faith.

My wish for you is to have a blessed Easter Day.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My Children...

lost their Grandmother today.  She was 98 years old.

I met her nearly 60 years ago when my Dad purchased a 20 acre parcel of land with an old farmhouse, from a family member.  It was located literally next door to the family farm.  In 1964 I married her oldest son.  And when we could no longer make the marriage work, she said she loved me anyway.

She worked harder than most women.  She kept a big, old farm home spotless.  She raised a family of five children.  She kept a huge garden to help feed that family.  And when her husband and sons were out working in the fields, she hauled countless lunches to them so they didn't have to take the time to come to the house to eat.  She was involved with the local 4-H club and never missed a Sunday of church services.

After a time she and her husband, along with those children remaining at home, moved into town.  She lived in the same house for many years after her husband's death.  And when she began taking Senior bus tours all over the country, I was glad that she was doing something for herself.

She cared for her own home well into her 90's.  My youngest son once called me.  He had stopped by her home to see her, only to find she was out someplace having coffee with her friends.  "She's gone all the time," he complained.  "She is 90 years old," he said.  "Good for her," I replied.

She lived about 100 miles from me.  I saw her occasionally at family get-togethers with my children and grandchildren.  She was always interested in what I was doing and always had a hug for me.  She always told me she loved me.

I will always be grateful to have had such a wonderful mother-in-law.  She was a remarkable woman, dearly loved by family and friends alike.  I will miss her.

Weather Spotters

The first thunder storm of the season rolled through here last evening.  I had been listening to the police scanner when the storm reached my county.  When the Weather Bureau issued a severe storm warning, the weather spotters were called out.

If you are at all interested in following storm tracks, the spotters make it kind of interesting.  Here in my county there is one central dispatcher for the weather spotters.  Each spotter has an area of the county that they cover.  They radio in to the dispatcher, sort of like a roll call, to report conditions in their area.  They tell if the lightning is in the clouds or hitting the ground.  They report on wind, rain, hail and anything else they see.  It is one thing to follow a storm on radar, but by listening to the weather spotters, it is easy to tell if anything bad is headed this way.

It wasn't much of a storm this time.  Just a little wind and rain and spotty small hail.  Some, but not much, lightning hit the ground.  I didn't even have to close my windows.

I have always liked to watch a storm.  As a kid, my Dad and I would stand in our front porch and watch the storm clouds roll in.  Unless the weather turned really nasty, we would stay there and watch as long as we could.  Sometimes the lightning displays were spectacular.  And the cloud formations were fascinating.  And it was even more fun to be brave and stand with Dad on the porch, as opposed to cowering in the basement with Mom and sister!

I still like to watch a storm, and if one is headed my way from the west, I can probably be found out on the deck, watching the clouds.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Popcorn and the Smoke Alarm

For quite some time now I have had issues with the smoke alarms in my apartment.  The locations of the two smoke alarms make sense only to someone who actually understands the fire codes for this city.  One alarm is located on the kitchen ceiling about a foot away from my bedroom door.  The other is located on the bedroom ceiling about a foot away from that same door.  Which puts the alarms about two feet apart.

My kitchen stove is across the room from the kitchen smoke alarm.  That alarm works fine.  The identical alarm in my bedroom will go off if I leave the door between kitchen and bedroom open and use any burner on my stove or open the door on the hot oven.  That alarm not only beeps loudly, but screams "Fire, Fire!"  Doesn't matter what the landlord does to fix this problem.  This is just the way it is.  And it is not easy to shut off.  Takes a little time to get it to stop beeping and screaming.

I like popcorn.  I like popcorn for an evening snack.  I particularly like popcorn dribbled with a little bit of butter, sprinkled with Lawry's coarse ground garlic salt with parsley and then with Parmesan cheese.

I haven't owned a popcorn popper for a while.  The last one I had was one of those hard plastic bowls used in the microwave.  Cat knocked it onto the floor and it broke right in the middle.

Then I made my own microwave popcorn by putting about a half a cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag, taping the bag closed with Scotch tape and microwaving it.  Worked like a charm.  Until I ran out of lunch bags.  Do you suppose I can remember to buy more bags?  Not likely.

So I have been making my popcorn in my cast iron frying pan.  Works well.  Except when I get careless about watching it and I burn the heck out of the popcorn.  Which sets off the smoke alarm because I also forgot to shut the door between kitchen and bedroom.  At 11:00 at night.  I don't think my neighbors were very happy with me.

I'm thinking there will be no more popcorn in my future until I get to the store and buy a popcorn popper that is smoke alarm friendly.