Monday, September 26, 2016

It has been one of those weeks...

when little or nothing has been accomplished.  I have been a little bit under the weather.  Not sick, really.  Just kind of tired.  I have been napping more than usual but I finally am feeling more awake.  I managed to cook and wash dishes and do some laundry, but that has been the extent of my ambition the last few days.  On the Up Side, my legs are healing nicely.  I didn't have to bandage the right leg this week and the left one is nearly healed as well.  I would do a happy dance, but chances are pretty good that I would do myself a mischief if I tried.

It is fun having one of my kids living next door.  Oldest Son popped in to see how I was doing.  And to plunder my shelves of home canned food.  He said he was making beef stew for their supper this evening and wanted to know if I would like some.  Answering like a true Minnesotan I said, "Yeah, sure.  You betcha!"  Said I would trade a bowl of stew for a mess of baking powder biscuits.  I think I am getting the better of that deal.  

I finally had to turn the heat on here in my little apartment, just to take the chill off.  The forecast this week is for temps in the 60's during the days and in the 40's at night.  Won't be long before the trees down by the river will be a blaze of color.  The Farmer's Almanac is predicting an average fall through October, but after that we can expect a colder than normal winter with lots of snow.  I think I will ask Son to get me another 100 lbs. of flour and maybe 50 lbs. of sugar from Sam's.  Now that I am back to baking bread, I don't want to be running out of flour.  There are only a couple more items I need to stock and I will be ready for winter.  When the temps are below zero and the snow is blowing, nobody needs to be going out to the store.  That's what deep pantries are for.

So I am off to catch up on everything I let slide this past week.  Ah, well.  At least I will be too busy to find any mischief.  I may be old, but I'm not dead - yet.  Mischief is still occasionally a distinct possibility.  :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A True Minnesotan...

will heat up the leftover Tater Tot Hotdish at 8 AM and call it breakfast.  Don't ask me how I know this.

Elsewhere people will bake a casserole for supper.  Here in Minnesota a casserole is the dish used for baking and hotdish is what goes into the casserole.

Hotdish appears in church basements after a funeral or at church suppers and family reunions.  Every farm wife worth her salt has a favorite hotdish recipe.  They usually consist of a meat, a vegetable, a starch and a can or two of cream of whatever soup.

Here's mine.

Tater Tot Hotdish

1 pint jar (or 1 lb. browned) hamburger
1 pint jar (or 1 can) mixed vegetables
2 cans cream soup (chicken or mushroom or celery or a combination)
Tater Tots to cover the top

Layer the above ingredients in a casserole dish.  Like onions?  Toss some in with the vegetables.  Same with mushrooms.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Leftovers can be heated up for breakfast the next day.  :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Oh, Say Can You See...

I thought about doing a rant about the football players who are dishonoring our country by refusing to show any respect for the playing of our National Anthem before the games.

I thought about pointing out the disrespect being shown to those who fought, were wounded and died defending this land we love.

I thought about remarking on how I found it difficult to rationalize a protest for justice from those making millions to play a game.

I thought about reminding these over paid athletes that they are in the position of being role models to the high school and college kids who are now staging similar protests.

I thought about pointing out that at one time the music and words of that song and the sight of our flag were enough to make hearts swell with pride, knowing that they represented our great nation.

But then I thought about the freedoms those two symbols of America represent.  They represent our right of free speech.  They represent our right to peaceful protest.  They represent all of our God given rights that we still enjoy today.

Including the right of a multi-millionaire football player to make a complete ass of himself.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


I remember going on short trips with my Dad.  He liked to take shortcuts.  He usually got lost.

Same thing sort of applies to canning tomato juice.

The method I have used in the past is to dunk the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins crack.  Then transfer them to a sink full of cold water to cool them down.  Next I would peel, core and run them through a food mill to get rid of the seeds.  What was left was thick tomato juice that I would simmer for 15 minutes, ladle into jars and water bath can for 35 - 40 minutes.

But today I decided to take a shortcut.  I cored the tomatoes, cut them into large chunks and ran them through my blender.  Now, it might have helped if I had the good sense to taste some of the resulting pureed tomatoes, but I didn't.  Not until I had blended the whole 50 lbs worth, minus those we ate.

Turns out it is not as bad as it sounds.  The result of my efforts was that I have 25 pints and 12 quarts of a cross between crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  I can use this in any number of recipes calling for tomatoes.  And if I am not fussy about having tiny lumps in my tomato juice, I can drink it as well.

But I should have remembered Dad and his shortcuts.  They rarely turn out as planned.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fifty pounds of tomatoes...

have found their way into my kitchen.  Oldest Son and his friend made a Farmer's Market run earlier today.  The tomatoes are gorgeous - not a bad one in the bunch and at just the right ripeness.  I sent some home with Son and I'm saving out half a dozen to eat.  I thought $15 per 25 lb. box was a pretty good price. Tomatoes are being turned into juice as we speak.  I'll be back tomorrow when I have them all canned up.

I just love these locally grown tomatoes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

For My Records...

Three slightly heaping cups of chopped onions will fill one dehydrator tray.  10 lbs. of onions will fill 10 trays.  The trays have the plastic mesh liners to keep the onions from falling through as they dry and shrink.  The onions are not blanched and are dried at 135 degrees.  Drying time depends on several things - the kind of onion - the outdoor temperature and humidity - whether I am running the air conditioning or the heat in the apartment.  And if I use one dehydrator or divide the trays between two.  I keep a window open in the room where the dehydrators are in order to try to let the odors escape and that makes a difference as well.  The onions in this batch were huge - 11 onions made up the 10 lbs., so the dices are a bit thicker than if the onions had been smaller.  I use my Vidalia Food Chopper to dice the onions.  One of the best investments in kitchen gadgets ever.

My grocery order was phoned in today.  The store had frozen vegetables on sale.  I am pretty well set with most, but am needing broccoli, so I ordered a dozen 1 lb. bags.  I will keep one or two bags in the freezer for eating and dehydrate the rest.

Oldest Son's friend got a membership for Sam's Club.  They went there yesterday to look around and picked up a couple of items for me in the process.  When they got home, they brought over my items and we sat and talked for a while.  We had talked earlier about ordering half a beef this fall.  Son was telling me about what was available at Sam's.  As much as I like the idea of ordering beef, I am not enamoured with writing a large check.  Were I independently wealthy it would not bother me.  I'm not.  Plus the fact that included in an order would be several cuts of beef that I normally do not buy.  I can most of the meat I buy, saving out a little to eat fresh.  I checked out Sam's website and found Sam's carries everything I would normally buy.  And the prices are reasonable.  The more we discussed the pros and cons, the more it made sense to buy the beef we want , a little at a time, at Sam's.  That way I can get just what I want in the amounts I want.  And I can stay on budget.

So I spent part of today going through Sam's website and making out a list of what I need to get my food storage where I want it to be.  The list includes items other than meat, like sugar and flour and oatmeal and rice as well as things like aluminum foil and freezer bags and toilet paper.  And possibly a box or two of Little Debbie Nutty Bars.   Or maybe a big bag of M & M's.

Life is always better if there is chocolate involved.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Nearly everyone remembers...

where they were when the first plane hit the tower.  We remember watching our TV's as the horror unfolded.  We felt the gut wrenching pain of realizing there were so many who didn't make it out before the buildings collapsed.  And it became worse when it dawned on us that the police and firefighters and emergency medical people who had rushed in to save lives had now lost theirs.  And on top of the tragedy of the towers came the news of another plane plowing into the Pentagon.  And still another crash in Pennsylvania.

America was battered.  America was bruised.  But America was by no means defeated.  Three firemen raised our flag at Ground Zero.  And we as a people came together.  Race didn't matter.  Religion didn't matter.  Social standing didn't matter.  We were Americans, one and all.

Today we remember.  We remember the mind numbing pictures of destruction.  We remember those whose lives were taken.  We remember the heroes of that day.  And we remember who caused this tragedy.

But most of all, we need to remember that we can come together as a nation.  As a people who love our country and who love our flag and all it stands for.  And we need to do so again.

Friday, September 9, 2016

I was sure...

that I would be writing this post from the hospital.  But the gods smiled down on me and I am writing from the comfort of my cozy little apartment.

Cellulitis is an insidious disease.  I think everything is fine and then Blam--- I discover the signs of it just above my ankles.  Within a couple of days I have large, open, weeping sores on both legs.  The trick is to keep these patches from becoming badly infected.  I can not manage that alone, so Oldest Son shows up twice a week to help me change the bandages.  This is in addition to helping me with the compression socks I have to wear all the time.  They are difficult to pull on in the best of circumstances and I don't bend all that well any more.  Lucky for me, he lives next door and is willing to help.  It is not a pleasant task.

I had an appointment to see my family Dr. yesterday morning.  Youngest Son took me there.  Because my feet are very swollen and shoes don't fit just now, a wheelchair was needed to keep my socks from shredding on the concrete and to navigate hallways and office rooms.  I rode.  Son drove.  He only whacked a doorway once.  I fully expected him to try a wheelie, but he refrained.  :)

The Dr. looked at my legs, told me to continue what I had been doing as far as treating them, gave me instructions on how to reduce the swelling, added yet another pill to my already full prescription list and sent me home.  I am not happy about adding more medication, but I will go along with it for now.  I am thrilled to be home and not in the hospital where I was the last time I had an outbreak.  Thing is, I really do not play well with others.  I love being with family but other than that, I am not one who needs to be surrounded by people all the time.  And a hospital setting is a particular kind of hell for me.

So...I am off to the kitchen.  I have a large stock pot in the fridge full of crab apple pulp waiting to be turned into jam.  And 10 lbs. of onions need to go into the dehydrators.

By the way, my bread machine works like a charm.  I have made three loaves so for me and one for each of my boys.  The bread is delicious.  Oldest Son says it makes really, really good French toast.  Sometime today I will make another loaf for myself and maybe a couple of batches of cinnamon rolls.  I haven't used the baking feature, but am using the dough feature, putting the dough into pans and baking it in my oven.  Bread making has never been easier.  I just layer the ingredients, liquids first and then the dry ingredients with the flour on top and the yeast last.  Wish I had thought to invest in one of these machines years ago.  I didn't, but I am thoroughly enjoying it now!

Note to Chickenmom who wanted recipes:  I just used the basic white bread recipe that came with the machine, but I am sure any yeast bread or roll recipe will work just fine.  The instructions call for bread flour and bread yeast, but I just use all-purpose flour and regular dry yeast because that is what I have on hand.  Didn't seem to make any difference because the loaves raised nicely, baked just fine and were tasty.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Another Grand Heard From

Phone rings yesterday.  Granddaughter Maddie Mae is calling.  There is no particular reason for the call.  She tells me about her gymnastic classes and about her first day in the 7th grade.  She asks what I have been doing so I tell her about making bread and crab apple jam.  She thinks that's cool.  She laughs at me when I tell her I stole the first day of school pictures her Dad posted on Facebook.

Boston - 9th Grade

Maddie - 7th Grade

Jacob - 3rd Grade

I love it when one of my Grands calls to share some exciting news.  But I also love it when they call just to chat a bit with Grandma.  They live on the other side of the city and are so busy with school, sports and all the things that keep families busy these days that I don't see them all that often.  But being able to talk with them now and then via phone calls keeps me connected and that is a good thing.

After chatting with Maddie I talked with her Dad for a little while.  He asked how I was liking my new kitchen toy and I told him that so far I liked it fine.  He is taking me to an appointment tomorrow.  He mentioned how much his kids liked the homemade buns I occasionally supplied for family get-togethers.  He was of the opinion that perhaps his family should test the bread I made using the machine.  Wanted to make sure it was as good as I said it was!  So this evening I will make another loaf and send it home with him tomorrow.

My life is not jam packed with excitement or drama.  But it is full of these little snippets in time that make it well worth living.  I will take a call from a Grand over excitement or drama any day of the week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Woke this morning...

to the sounds of rolling thunder and raindrops.  A look at the radar tells me there will be more of the same today.  There doesn't seem to be any wind involved so there is no real threat of storms.  Just a nice, soaking fall rain.

Oldest Son and his friend brought my bread machine over yesterday.  I was busy with other things so I haven't tried it out yet.  But if it works as well as advertised, I can see lots of loaves of homemade bread in my future.

They brought me an added bonus of two very full plastic grocery bags of crab apples they had picked for me while they were up north.  We took a vote and the results were that crab apple jelly would be the best way to use the apples.

So after one more cup of coffee, just to get my heart kick started, I am off to the kitchen to do a test run with the bread machine and to get going on turning crab apples into juice for jelly.  Looks like a busy day ahead of me.  :)