Friday, August 28, 2015

Another Bogus Protest

The Black Lives Matter contingent is at it again.  This time they are planning a protest outside the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.  Their beef?  They claim that minority vendors are being discriminated against and not enough of them are being awarded space to sell their wares during the fair.

The Minnesota State Fair Board is responsible for taking applications and awarding vendor space.  Being able to sell at the State Fair is a highly prized outlet for vendors.  There are a limited number of spaces available each year and it can take years of applying every year to finally win that space.  Some have applied for 10 years or longer before being accepted.

I found the downloadable application at the State Fair website.  It is a standard form.  Photos of the products and booth set-up are required.  So is proof of having previously sold at other fair venues, such as county fairs.  In other words, vendors need credentials to qualify.

Nowhere on the form is the question of race addressed.  This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the quality of the product being sold and the appropriateness and curb appeal of the booth design and the previous experience of each vendor.

Our governor weighed in saying that tomorrows protest was inappropriate.  If this group had complaints, they should have taken them to the Fair Board months ago.

In my opinion these protests are not about racial inequality, but are all about causing trouble.  I don't know about anywhere else, but here the citizens are getting a little tired of it all.  I think that about 11 AM tomorrow when this protest is due to begin, I will turn on the scanner and set it for Ramsey County.  Should be interesting to see what happens when these fools try to shut down the State Fair, which has a long tradition in Minnesota of being a place to spend an enjoyable day with family and friends.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lets Be Fair

This morning I spent a little time with Youngest Son.  When we are together, part of our conversation is always about his three children - my beautiful grandchildren.  This morning we talked mostly about the youngest, Jacob.

Jacob played football this summer.  At the end of their season there was a tournament involving several teams.  Jacob's team lost their first game and won their second.

When the last game had been played a table was set up.  On the table were the awards of trophies and ribbons.  Jacob asked his coach which of the awards were his.  His coach kindly told him that those
awards were for the team that won the tournament.

I am impressed that my grandson didn't stomp or cry or make a fuss because he didn't get a trophy.  The credit for this belongs in two places.

First, he had a coach that doesn't believe in rewards for just showing up.  If the kids want a trophy they have to work for it.  They have to pay attention and learn the game and learn teamwork and practice.  They are kids, so it should be fun as well.  But the winner of the tournament gets the trophy.

Second, and most important, he has two parents who both have excellent work ethics.  They have taught all of their kids that if you want something, you need to work for it.  Jacob has learned that lesson in the sports he loves.  His sisters have learned that their dance and gymnastics earn rewards through hours of hard work and practice.

Oh, there are the occasional treats - an ice cream on the way home - a night out to a ball game with Mom and Dad - time spent with family.

All three children earn every penny of their allowances.  There is no payment for just being there.  As my son put it this morning, "There aren't going to be any trophies for just showing up at a job.  They will be expected to earn their salaries when they grow up."  I heartily agree with him.  As adults there will be nobody who will pat them on the head and tell them how wonderful they are for just showing up and participating.  These people who hand out rewards for just participating are creating a false atmosphere of fairness.  They think that it is not fair that some kids don't get the trophies or ribbons.  But as Son put it, "Nobody ever said that life was fair.  If the kids who do what is expected of them get the same rewards as those who don't, then why should they bother.  Then there is no incentive to work hard and do better."

And that gives me hope for the future.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Farmers Market Finds

Early Sunday morning, Number One Son headed to the St. Paul Farmers Market.  He came home loaded down with goodies.

Cucumbers were in the first bag I opened.  They were the small ones, just right for dill pickles.  I washed them, trimmed off the blossom ends, packed them in pint jars with a bit of dill and added boiling brine.  I cheated on the brine and used Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix.  I have a long history of making really lousy homemade dill pickles.  Youngest Son uses the Mrs. Wages mix and his dills are excellent, so I went that route.  The pickles went into my water bath canner for 10 minutes.  I got 25 pints.  We figured out later that even with using the mix and buying cukes, it was still less expensive than buying pickles at the store on sale.  With any kind of luck Son will be able to find some larger cucumbers next weekend that I can use for sliced Bread and Butter Pickles.  I make awesome Bread and Butters.  :)

He brought home four cantaloupe that are probably some of the best tasting I have ever had.  There is such a huge difference between the locally grown and the ones that are shipped into the stores.  I peeled them and cut them into chunks.  We have been eating off them for the past two days and still have at least two quart bags full left in the fridge.

By the time I finished the pickles I was, as some of our friends across the pond would say, knackered.  So I left the cabbage until this morning.

We buy cabbage from the same vendor every year.  I don't know what kind they are, but they are huge.  They aren't round like the ones you typically see in the store, but are a more flattened shape.  They average about 12 inches across and maybe six to eight inches tall and they are solid.  The vendor charges only $2 each.  Son brought home five of them.  This morning I started making sauerkraut.  As I don't have a good place for a crock or bucket, I use this recipe instead.  I have made sauerkraut this way in the past and it has turned out really good.

Easy Sauerkraut

Cabbage (the amount depends upon how much kraut you want to make)
Canning Salt,

1.  Shred cabbage and pack tightly into quart jars up to 1/2 inch from the top.
2.  Add 1 teaspoon canning salt and 1 teaspoon sugar to the top of each quart.
3.  Pour boiling water into each jar up to the top of the kraut.
4.  Use a knife gently inserted into the jar to remove any bubbles.
5.  Put on canning lids and screw on cap loosely, not tight.
6.  Put the jars in a sink or pan so that any bubbling water won't make a mess.
7.  Let ferment for 24 hours.
8.  Remove the caps, remove any scum if necessary and refill with boiling water as needed.
9.  Seal as tightly as you can with your hand.
10.  Let ferment for 3 days. It does smell a bit, so you might want to do it in a basement, garage or spare room where it isn't too cold.
11.  Now it's ready to process!
12.  Process the quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store for a minimum of three weeks before eating.

I put the filled jars into the boxes they came in that are lined with plastic so if there is any bubble-over it won't soak through the cardboard.  I have never had a problem with the smell.  I have 14 quarts and 16 pints of sauerkraut happily fermenting away.  The pint jars are an experiment.  Right now there are two of us here, but later there will be just me.  A quart of kraut is just too much for one person.  I just put half the salt and sugar into each jar and proceeded from there.

I still had a head and a half of cabbage left, so I cut it up into about one-inch pieces and filled my dehydrator trays.  Both dehydrators are running, each with 8 trays and I still have enough cabbage to probably fill all 16 trays again.

My dill pickle jars are sitting in boxes on my kitchen floor.  The reason my dill pickle jars are sitting in boxes on my kitchen floor is because I have no more room on my shelves.  I am going to have to take part of a day and do some serious rearranging in order to have a spot for everything.  I am not complaining, mind you.  It has taken me several months to build my home canned food back up after using so much of it over the winter.  With the world around us in such a turmoil, it is comforting to know that no matter what happens, my family will not go hungry.

What Do You Say...

to someone who has decided they are about to die?

Yesterday afternoon my neighbor knocked at my door.  When she sat down at my kitchen table she told me that she wanted to see me before she died.

Alberta has had a rough go of it.  She is about my age but looks 20 years older.  She has already gone through treatment for cancer and she won that round.  She has been experiencing pain and has had all sorts of tests run.  The results will be in on Tuesday and she will find out what is wrong.

Alberta's life has been one of hard work and struggles.  She spent many years doing farm work with her husband up to the time of his death.  She lost a daughter who passed on several years ago.  Her grandson is in jail for attempted burglary.  She has a couple of other useless adult children, the worst being her son.  I have seen him sitting behind the wheel of his car, watching his mother who walks with a cane, struggle up the walk with half a dozen bags of groceries.  The only thing preventing him from helping her was a case of lazy.

And now she has made up her mind that she is about to die.

As I was trying to figure out what I could say to her to help, I remembered that she is a very plain spoken woman.  You never have to wonder what Alberta thinks.  She will tell you straight out.

So I said, "Alberta, you know that you are just plain too mean to die."

And she looked at me and started to laugh.  I reminded her that she hadn't seen the test results yet.  Maybe things weren't as bad as she thought.  I said that she should just wait and see what happened before deciding to die.  And she agreed that would be the best course of action.

She left my apartment with a smile on her face and a promise to let me know what happened at her Tuesday appointment.

Maybe Alberta's condition isn't all that bad.  Maybe it is worse.  Maybe she will die soon.  Only God knows.  What I do know is sometimes we are required to come up with just the right thing to say or do in a particular situation.  I don't know if I am up to that task.

And if you are of a mind to, please remember Alberta in your prayers.  She needs all the help she can get.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Time To Say "No More"

At a time when nearly all news is bad, it was refreshing and hopeful to read the following.  I am posting the article in its entirety because I think it is important.  You can also read it here.

"School band told to stop performing 'How Great Thou Art'
By Todd Starnes  Published August 21, 2015

There was no halftime show under the Friday night lights at Mississippi’s Brandon High School — the marching band had been benched.

The band was ordered off the field because the Christian hymn “How Great Thou Art” was a part of their halftime show — in violation of a federal court order.

“The Rankin County School Board and District Office are very saddened students will not be able to perform their halftime show they have worked so hard on this summer,” the district wrote in a statement to the Clarion Ledger newspaper.

In 2013 a student sued the district over a series of Christian meetings that had been held on school property, the newspaper reported. The district later settled the lawsuit and acknowledged they had violated the student’s First Amendment rights.

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the district had violated the agreement after a Christian minister delivered a prayer at an awards ceremony.

Judge Reeves, who was appointed to the bench by President Obama, came down hard on the school district — ordering them to pay thousands of dollars in fines. He also warned the district that future violations would cost them $10,000.

“Defendants are permanently enjoined from including prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event including but not limited to assemblies, graduations, award ceremonies, athletic events and any other school event,” the order reads.

Word about the band getting benched spread across the town quicker than kudzu. I must have received emails and Facebook messages from nearly the entire state - from Desoto County to Yazoo City.

Something must be done to right this wrong, people said. A message had to be sent to the likes of Judge Reeves. Locals  gathered in coffee shops and garages to devise their plan.

And what they did — would become known as the musical shot heard around the world.

During halftime of Friday night’s game - a lone voice began to sing the forbidden song.

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,” the singer sang.

Brittany Mann was there and she witnessed the entire moment of defiance.

“We were just sitting there and then one by one people started to stand,” she told me. “At first, it started out as a hum but the sound got louder and louder.”

She said it was a “truly incredible” moment to watch hundreds of people singing together in the stadium.

“At that moment I was so proud of my town - coming together and taking a stand for something we believe in,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see where our country is going — getting farther and farther away from the Christian beliefs that our country was founded on.”

I suspect Miss Brittany wasn’t the only one who felt a sense of pride in the Magnolia State on that warm summer night.

“We may be pictured as toothless, barefoot, uneducated people around the country, but we are far from it,” nearby resident Mandy Miller told me. “I’m from Mississippi and I’m not ashamed to take a stand.”

Oh what a sight it must have been — as hundreds and hundreds of people stood together and with one voice — sent a message to Judge Reeves.

“This is the kind of thing that makes me proud to be from the South,” Miss Mandy told me. “We are getting tired of being told to sit down and shut up. People are ready to fight back.”

Miss Mandy is absolutely right. The time has come to stand up to the secularists.

The time has come to put an end to their cultural jihad.

I hope the Rankin County School Board will reconsider its decision and allow the marching band to resume performing “How Great Thou Art.”  

And should Judge Reeves make good on his threat to financially punish the school district, I will personally pay the $10,000 fine. "

It may be just a small thing.  David of the Bible and his slingshot were small things compared to the size of the giant.  So was the pebble that felled the giant.

Every day there are those who would seek to ruin America.  They delight in forbidding us through laws or executive orders or judges to freely express our opinions and our faith.  Yet they expect us to honor their beliefs without question.

The time is now to say "No More."  I am just a chubby, gray haired granny.  I can not change our Godless government.  But what I can do is to refuse to comply.  I can refuse to give up my faith to the whims of the Godless.  I can keep on speaking my truth.  I can keep on writing my truth.

And if need be, I can stand alone in a stadium and sing "How Great Thou Art."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A New Kitchen Gadget

The other day while waiting for my surgery to begin, I was chatting with my daughter about this and that.  I mentioned that I had been looking for a juicer to use for making fruit juices and maybe vegetable juices.  I love my coffee, but like a glass of juice now and then.  Sometimes the store bought juices are overly sweet and I thought maybe making my own would be a good way to control the sugar content.

I had forgotten that my kids are constantly in touch with one another.  Tuesday morning I got a phone call from Youngest Son.  "I hear you are looking for a juicer," he said.  I replied that he was right.  He told me he had a friend who had one to sell.  Like many specialty appliances, the machine had been purchased and the novelty had worn off after about a half a dozen uses.  I can understand that if you are making only a couple of glasses of juice at a time it might be more bother than it was worth to drag out the machine, make the juice and then do the cleanup, but for me who likes to can up all sorts of food products, it would be a great time saver plus making the whole process easier.  He told me the brand name and said that his friend had paid $200 a year or so ago and that he would sell it for $75.

I looked the juicer up online and found that the price paid for it new was about right.  Then I watched several videos on how to use the machine.  Looked to me like it would work well for what I had in mind.  I found there was the possibility for a bonus.  The machine discards the fruit or vegetable pulp into a container after extracting the juice.  I think the pulp can be spread on dehydrator trays lined with fruit roll-up sheets and dried.  Carrot or celery or tomato pulp could be used as flavoring for soups.  Fruit pulp could be used in muffins or fruit breads or other baked goods.

Anyway, Youngest Son delivered my new-to-me juicer this morning.

Over the weekend I will get a variety of fruit and vegetables at the grocery and give it a test run.

I love kitchen gadgets!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Two Good Eyes

Had the second cataract surgery this morning.  It went well.  I am told that I will have nearly perfect distance vision when the left eye heals.  So all that remains are two check-ups and the purchase of reading glasses for close work.  I am grateful that I could have a lifelong vision problem corrected as well as getting rid of the cataracts.  I honestly had no idea just how bad they were until they were removed.  The difference is amazing.

So now I am off to fix a sandwich, pour a much needed cup of coffee and then a nap.  And with any kind of luck at all, I will be able to get back to my regularly scheduled program very soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

One Good Eye - One Bad Eye

Just got home from having cataracts removed from my right eye.  The surgery went well - no problems at all.  Vision is a bit wonky until I have my left eye fixed in two weeks.  I didn't realize just how bad my vision had become.  Everything looks dull when using the left eye.  Everything is bright using the right.  I had forgotten what a blue sky is supposed to look like.  And green leaves.  Wow!

Daughter Jill was with me.  Afterwards when I looked at her with left eye, she was pale.  Looking through the new lens in right eye, she looked almost sunburned.  She just laughed at me!

Going to have a bite to eat and a cup of coffee.  Then it is nap time.  Thank you all who left such encouraging comments.  I was really apprehensive about having the surgery and you made it  so much easier.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Canning Bacon Details by Request

My friend Mary over at "Adventures Of My Life!" asked if I would give details on how I can bacon bits, so I decided to answer her in a post just in case anyone else might be interested.

The end product is bacon bits - not the canned bacon strips.  I haven't yet tried canning bacon strips, but there are lots of videos out there giving basically the same instructions.  I may give that a go at a later date but right now, I can the bits.

I buy the packages of bacon ends and pieces.  I'm going to chop it all up so I don't need pretty slices.  They usually come in three pound packages and cost less per pound than regular packages of bacon.  Most times I can nine pounds at a time.

Note:  The only time I have had disastrous results was when I used bacon that was only smoked and not cured.  It turned into a greasy, slimy mess that I wound up tossing.  The bacon should be cured the same as the bacon that comes in the regular packages at the grocery.

I just grab a handful of bacon, flop it onto my cutting board and slice into about half-inch pieces.  When the bacon is all cut up, I put about three handfuls into a dutch oven and fry it over a medium-low heat until it is lightly browned.  (Sorry about the exact measurements here, but that's how I do things!)  I want the bacon to be light brown in color rather than crisp because it will cook more in the pressure canner.  As each batch is done, I just drain it in a colander that sits over a bowl to catch the bacon grease.  I save the grease for other uses.

When all of the bacon is cooked and drained, I pack it into half pint jars, tamping it down with a wooden spoon, to within one inch of the top of the jar.  DO NOT add any liquid or bacon grease to the jars.  The rim of the jar is carefully wiped with a paper towel dipped in vinegar.  The vinegar will cut any grease from the jar rim.  This step is important because any grease left on the jar rim can cause the jar to fail to seal.  Add lids and rings.

Process the jars of bacon in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at whatever the correct weight is for your area.  Mine is 10 lbs. pressure.  Higher elevations would be more.  Follow the instructions for your particular canner.  Mine doesn't have a gauge, so the instructions are slightly different from those that do have a gauge.  Pints and half pints are canned the same amount of time.

The last batch of bacon bits I canned using nine pounds of bacon yielded 17 half pints.  Probably would have had one more jar, but Son and I kept snitching bacon while it was cooling!

Bacon bits can be canned in pint jars as well, but I find for my use, the half pints are just right.  I mix the bits in with scrambled eggs or use in omelets.  They can be sprinkled on a green salad.  They can be used in any number of egg or potato casseroles.  I even add them to scalloped potatoes.  The uses for these tasty little nuggets are limited only by your imagination.

So there you go, Mary.  Hope this helps.  :)