Friday, November 27, 2015

Wise Advice From a Farmer's Wife

From the Facebook page of a modern homesteader:

Whenever you return a borrowed pie pan, make sure it's got a warm pie in it.
Invite lots of folks to supper. You can always add more water to the soup.
There's no such thing as woman's work on a farm. There's just work.
Make home a happy place for the children. Everybody returns to their happy place.
Always keep a small light on in the kitchen window at night.
If your man gets his truck stuck in the field, don't go in after him. Throw him a rope and pull him out with the tractor.
Keep the kerosene lamp away from the the milk cow's leg.
It's a whole lot easier to get breakfast from a chicken than a pig.
Always pat the chickens when you take their eggs.
It's easy to clean an empty house, but hard to live in one.
All children spill milk. Learn to smile and wipe it up.
Homemade's always better'n store bought.
A tongue's like a knife. The sharper it is the deeper it cuts.
A good neighbor always knows when to visit and when to leave.
A city dog wants to run out the door, but a country dog stays on the porch 'cause he's not fenced-in.
Always light birthday candles from the middle outward.
Nothin' gets the frustrations out better'n splittn' wood.
The longer dress hem, the more trusting the husband.
Enjoy doing your children's laundry. Some day they'll be gone.
You'll never catch a runnin' chicken but if you throw seed around the back door you'll have a skillet full by supper.
Biscuits brown better with a little butter brushed on 'em.
Check your shoelaces before runnin' to help somebody.
Visit old people who can't get out. Some day you'll be one.
The softer you talk, the closer folks'll listen.
The colder the outhouse, the warmer the bed.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Practice Makes . . .

Perfect? Yes, but Larry Gelwix, coach of the winning Rugby team portrayed in the film Forever Strong says "Practice make permanent." I agree with that too. But today I'm thinking about how practice make tasks easy.

I mentioned to my husband that I can count on one hand the number of thanksgiving dinners we've eaten away from home, and they were all in the first years of our marriage. I've made a full thanksgiving dinner so many times that it is easy for me. I can see why some women, especially those who work outside the home feel overwhelmed by it.

Wednesday is baking and make ahead day. I bake pies and rolls, and make the cranberry jello salad. Yesterday I make two apple pies, using Pink Lady apples; tasting the pie today I can say that those apples are wonderful, sweet with just the right amount of tart, perfect texture, not too crunchy or too mushy, they are just right. I also made two pumpkin pies which turned out very nice. The recipe for the rolls is an old family favorite found in a cookbook put together by the ladies of my mom's ward (congregation) in the 1960's.  The cranberry jello salad recipe came from The Friend magazine when our children were very young. I thought it would be a good way to introduce cranberries to them and they loved it and have requested it ever after.

With all of that made ahead Thursday is a matter of putting the turkey in the oven in a roasting bag; peel and cut the potatoes, cover them with salted water and sit them on the stove until time to turn them one to cook. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes, microwave until just tender, then prepare them with butter and brown sugar, set aside until time to put them in the oven. Finely chop onion and celery and saute them until tender, set aside for the dressing. Then go and rest for a while.

Next is make the Waldorf salad and put it in the fridge to chill. Prepare the stove top dressing, add the premade onion and celery, put into casserole dish.

About an hour before the turkey is done, start cooking the potatoes until tender. When they're done, drain, add butter and milk (however much you want) and whip into mashed potatoes. When the turkey comes out of the oven the sweet potatoes and dressing go in to heat thoroughly. While Dad slices the turkey, Mom makes the gravy.

The table was set earlier, the juice was made by a child (frozen concentrate) and the rolls, butter and jam are all set out.

I've done this so many times it is fairly easy for me. Practice makes it so. And for that I'm grateful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NaNoWriMo - Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen
Dinner or Supper, Whatever You Call It, Watch Out For the Dangers

Dinner used to a large meal in the middle of the day. Supper was a light meal after evening chores were completed. I think. At least that is what I have read in my books about domestic history. Dinner for my family growing up was the evening meal; and the largest meal on Sundays between church meetings. Now I use the two words interchangeably. Whichever name you use, let’s talk about the largest meal of the day, which for most people these days is in the evening.

My father had stomach problems and liked to eat at 5:00 in the evening. I grew accustomed to that time and have raised my family with approximately the same schedule, sometimes eating as late as 6:00 in the summertime, but not any later than that, unless we are out.

We eat breakfast at 6:30 together so we can eat and read scriptures together before Dad leaves for work. Lunch is any time between 11:30 and 12:30, so that by 5:00 we are generally hungry and ready for a meal. Eating earlier in the evening has two advantages, one, of ensuring that we will be hungry for breakfast in the morning, and two, that we will have time to digest the food and use the calories before going to bed.

I grew up eating simple suppers. We had a hamburger patty, mashed potatoes, green peas, and a gelatin salad, usually orange with grated carrots and crushed pineapple. Or Mom would serve a tuna noodle casserole, homemade pizza, soup, or her specialty, homemade tacos and enchiladas. We would have pot roast with potatoes and gravy on Sunday. My mom had a small repertoire of casseroles or one dish meals. I do not remember eating a lot of chicken, but we ate fish fairly regularly. My frugal parents would buy half a beef and stock our freezer for a year. We ate lots of hamburger dishes, roasts and steaks were for special occasions or holidays. We also ate a lot of rice, which my mom would buy in twenty-five pound bags. Except for the pizza and Mexican food, our meals were mild, almost bland, and simple to suit my Dad’s tastes and tender tummy needs at the time.

While there were usually cookies or cinnamon rolls in the house at all times, dessert was not an every night affair. Dessert was for Sunday and holidays. At least that is what I remember; perhaps my siblings’ memories would differ.

I have ventured a little further away from plain and simple with my own family, but when I read on blogs what others eat, perhaps it is only in my imagination that I have been more adventurous.

My Midwestern husband is a meat and potato kind of guy. I am a casserole, soup, and stew kind of gal. This makes for interesting supper times.

Whatever kind of food you like to eat, the most important thing to remember is that portion size matters. When we are out to eat and I see a sixteen ounce steak on the menu my immediate reaction is, “Goodness, that would feed my whole family! Who can eat that much alone?” Long distance runners I guess, and obese Midwesterners.

A good friend of mine who writes a blog called Heart to Heart wrote a post about meal planning which I think is great advice.

5 PM and What’s for Dinner?

What’s for dinner? I wish I knew. I wish someone would tell me! I don’t mind doing the work, but the brain power needed to think it up can be the very hardest part.

A chart to the rescue! Just glancing at it spurs the menu ideas, and can also help kids learn how to balance a dinner meal and include all those nutritious vegetables that might get left out otherwise.

[She includes a picture of a round plate labeled A Balanced Meal with various food items on the plate. Protein: meat, egg, nuts, dairy; Carbohydrates: potato, rice, bread, noodles; Vegetables: 1 cooked, 1 or more raw.]

Here’s how to do easy dinner planning:

1. Pick a carbohydrate: potato, whole grain bread or noodles, brown rice, wild rice, tortillas, barley, oats, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), etc.
2. Pick a protein: meat, fish, poultry, beans, eggs, nuts, cheese, yogurt, etc.
3. Pick a cooked vegetable: broccoli, green beans, onions, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, peas, yellow squash, zucchini, beets, winter squash, mushrooms, yams, artichoke hearts, etc.
4. Pick 2 or more raw veggies for a salad or raw veggie tray (also called Crudités, pronounced crew-di-tay): avocado, carrots, green onions, radishes, jicama, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, sprouts, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, snap peas, etc.

If you are making a soup or casserole, foods #1-3 (carbs, protein, cooked veggies) are included making things simple! All you have to add is the raw veggies and you are done! We eat lots of fresh fruit too in its raw form—at breakfast, lunch, snacks or as a dessert. For an extra-hungry teenage boy, you can set bread and butter at the table for extra carbs to fill him up.

Don’t forget to look at color combinations. What would your plate look like if you planned this dinner: mashed potatoes, white fish, cauliflower and celery sticks. Very white looking, and maybe not so appetizing. [Remember to eat a rainbow!]

Thank you Diane Hopkins! I hope this helps you, dear reader, get out of a little (or big) dinner making rut.

Diane further advises to play around with this idea. Put your favorite proteins, carbs and veggies on strips of paper and then put them together exploring new combinations. Brainstorm a little or a lot. Try something new each week. I have heard of homemakers trying something new every day, but that is too much for me. Besides, it is wise to leave room for eating leftovers or cleaning out the fridge somewhere in the week. Let’s not waste good food.

You know those cooking shows where the aspiring chefs are given an ingredient and an assignment to come up with a meal? I have an idea for a format that I would absolutely love to see. You know, those TV chefs have a pantry full of every imaginable ingredient and a kitchen with all the tools a person could desire. Most of us do not have anything like that in our homes. So my idea is for a crew to go to a neighborhood, any neighborhood, big city, small town, does not matter; knock on doors until someone lets you in to cook them dinner with what they have in their kitchen. Wow, now that would be a challenge for the chef. Cooking with limited ingredients and tools takes a whole lot more imagination and creativity than with an unlimited pantry and a fabulous professional kitchen even if there is a time limit.

Pretend you are a chef and there is camera crew filming you making your wonderful dinner. See if that doesn’t spur you on to greater heights of creativity and effort to put a delicious, nutritious meal on the table. Make the food look good. Set a pretty table. You and your family are special, use your good dishes; get out those cloth napkins. Make it an occasion.

Now, I know we are working on losing weight and gaining health so the same things we talked about with breakfast, lunch and snacks apply to dinner. Look for ways to decrease calories (mostly fats and sugars) and increase servings of vegetables. And always, until you can accurately eyeball it, measure portion sizes.

If you go out to eat, ask your “date” if the two of you can share a meal. Unless you are eating in a fancy, expensive restaurant where the portions are naturally small, there is usually plenty for two on one platter of food. Your waist will thank you and so will your wallet. An alternative to sharing a meal, if your date does not want to, is to order a smaller appetizer.

And that, dear readers, is as far as I got before my chest pains  got to me and I knew it was time to quit NaNoWriMo for this year. I'll get back to writing the rest of the story after Christmas.