Sunday, August 28, 2011

Love and Loyalty

Over the last month or so I've had to endure and face some personal trials.  My longtime friend and companion was bitten by a tick.  She started loosing weight, became feverish and dehydrated.  I did all I knew to help her.  She has been with me for about fourteen years and life without her would be a great adjustment for me.  I've prayed for the Lord to heal her, yet let His perfect will to be done.

At first I didn't know what was ailing her, and she couldn't tell me, for she doesn't speak my language and I don't speak hers.  For, you see, she is my dog, Csilla.

Csilla is an Australian Shepherd.  She is going on 15 years of age, which is something like being over 100 years in a human. She has cataracts and is almost blind.  She depends on me for quite a bit these days; afterall, God gave her to me to care for!

After I was able to get her to the Vet to diagnose her condition, she was put on antibiotics to help her fight off the infection.  It is difficult to see those we love suffer.  But, if we trust in the Lord completely, we are comforted.  My close friend, a dear 89 year old saint, came up with these words of wisdom to comfort me as well.  "Security and peace are not found in the absence of troubles; they are found in the presence of the Lord."  Anytime we need Him, He is just a prayer away!

Whether your concern is over a human friend or family member, or over a cherished pet, the Lord knows our situation and He has a plan.  As my friend put it, "The Lord is never out of touch with my reality."

My Csilla, if she is to survive, has a long road of recovery ahead of her.  I see improvements on a daily basis, but I want her back the way she was, and I want it now!  But I still know best to respect the Lord's will in all this.  As she has been a loyal, loving companion to me, so shall I be to her.  We will take it day by day; which is all we are allowed anyway.  "The past is history.  The future is a mystery.  But the present is but a gift."  We need to make the best of what the Lord gives us today!

If you could, pray for us. Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

"The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25,1885

Q. What important event in Laura's life took place on this date?

Place your answer in the comment box.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My blog content & intent

When I began my blog I didn't have any idea of what I would put on it, but I knew that I wanted to make a connection with folks.  Through circumstances of entering and winning a local pie contest I was encouraged to get back into my kitchen and do some cooking and baking.  Once I did that, I just had the urge to share some recipes.  Soon it became obvious that my blog would take on a distinctive appearance, have many recipes.  I called these, "Farmer Boy Recipes", because of the influence in my life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband, Almanzo (Farmer Boy).  The other driving force behind my recipes was the fact that most of them are family recipes, handed down for over a century.

So far, I have not had enough feedback in comments left on my blog site to know whether or not this direction has had much of an impact.  I don't want to selfishly force my recipes on my blog audience.  And I don't want to appear as a "Foodiot"; one who is fixated on writing every little detail about my meals.  But I wouldn't mind being known as a "Recipenatic"; one who fanatically shares his recipes.  As with my shop, I want to share my experiences with others - whether it is the "Little House" things or my recipes, or my faith.  My sharing of these things is not intended to just build my ego; but rather to increase awareness and enjoyment of them to anyone who would listen.

If you enjoy reading my blog postings, or my recipes, I'd like to know.  And the only way is for you to leave a comment.  It was never my intent to blog as a lecturer.  I appreciate two-way communication and need your comments in order to improve my blog.  So, if you have somthing to say about a recipe or anything else, please leave a comment.  And please pass on my blog site address to somebody else.  Thanks.   The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

"If we would not be satisfied until we had passed a share of our happiness on to other people, what a world we could make!"                                                                                                                 Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farmer Boy Recipe - Green Pepper Jelly

I follow the same type of philosophies that pioneers, like Caroline Ingalls, used to make their way through life.  Here is another one of those recipes that falls in line with my adopted philosophy of "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".  This time it's "When the garden gives you an abundant crop of green peppers, make Green Pepper Jelly".

Of course I have a hundred other uses for my green peppers. I'm glad I planted them and that the Lord saw fit to bless me with an abundant harvest.  You'll find them used in other recipes that I share along the way.  This recipe may be something new for you. :)

Farmer Boy Green Pepper Jelly
  • 7 medium to large green peppers (seeded and striped of the vein walls)
  • 1 small hot pepper (any variety & treated the same way)
  • 1/2 Cup - white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups - apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon - salt
  • 5 Cups - sugar
  • 1 package of pectin  
Directions: Cut the peppers into 1/2 inch strips.  Puree in a blender.  Place in a large bowl.  Combine with the apple juice and vinegar.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Then strain through a jelly bag into a large pan. (You should have about 4 cups of liquid.) * Don't squeeze the bag or the jelly will be cloudy.  Stir in the pectin and salt.  Over medium high heat, bring to a rolling boil.  Stir in the sugar and bring back to a rolling boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and ladle into sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process, half pints for a good 5 minutes.  Cool in a dark, cool spot till set.

When you are looking for a special treat on biscuits, toast or a nice accompaniment to a meat roast, this is the one to pull out of the pantry!

If you make this jelly, let us all know by leaving a comment here on the blog site.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

If Caroline Ingalls would have made this, I'm sure Laura would have wrote something like, " "You're a wonder, Caroline!", said Pa" (adapted from "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Farmer Boy Recipe - Pigs in a Blanket

Here is another one of the recipes I salvaged out of my mother's collection.  This one was probably my grandmother's, from the early 20th century.  But, it could very well have been something handed down to her from another generation.  Grandmother, (my father's mother) was from the "Old Country".  (This one we know to be Germany.) She lived just past 100 years of age.  She had very little formal education and until her dying day spoke in "Broken English".  But, she did have some really good recipes!

This recipe, like so many of the collection, needed my translation and interpretation.  So many times directions or ingredients were left out of these original recipes.  But I've made all of these from the originals to be sure they work before passing them on to you.  I hope you enjoy this one; I do!  Who knew cows and pigs could get along so well!

Ingredients: (The original recipe didn't tell me how much meat was needed, so I had to guess on that.  You may wish to change this amount to fit your needs or taste.)
*This recipe makes 8 servings
  • 2 lbs. - thinly sliced Round Steak or Flank Steak * (see note at bottom)
  • Salt & Pepper and Paprika to taste
  • 1 small Onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 of a large Green Pepper (chopped)
  • 4 slices of Bacon (each cut in half)
  • 3 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup - water
  • Vegetable Oil & Kitchen Bouquet (enough to brush on each serving)
  • Kitchen String
Directions: Cut each of the steaks into equal pieces.  They may be any size you wish, but I like to make them about 5 inches square. Next, with a kitchen mallet, pound the steak pieces till they thin down to about 1/4 inch and measure about 6 inches square.  Dredge them in the flour mixed with salt, pepper and paprika.  Place a strip of bacon (2 half slices) on each of the steak pieces.  Mix the chopped green pepper and onion together.  Place equal amounts of this mixture on top of each of the bacon-covered steak pieces.  Roll up each steak piece and tie with the strings.  Mix the oil and Kitchen Bouquet together and brush it on each roll.  Place each roll in a pan with about 1 Tablespoon of oil, and sear on all sides.  Add water.  Cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours.

Before serving, cut the strings and dispose of them.  I enjoy these with mashed potatoes or noodles and any accompanying vegetable side dish.  If you reserve the drippings in the pan and add a Tablespoon of butter and flour and a little seasoning salt and milk or cream, you can have some really nice gravy to pour over the rolls and for your potatoes or noodles.

* Note: You can also use Minute Steaks - and then you probably don't have to pound them out.

If you make this, please let us all know by leaving a comment here.  Thanks.  I hope you are telling others about this blog site and how they should become followers.
I wonder if the Ingalls family ever made anything like this recipe!  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, August 12, 2011

Living in "The Land of the Big Red Apple"

Living in the oldest house in Mansfield, I have occasion to become quite sentimental about the history of the town and the connection with Laura, Almanzo and Rose.  I think of how things were at the time the Wilder family arrived and lived here.  I'm sure I'll often speak to those feelings throughout my future postings here.  This is just one of those times that I yield to such nostalgic thoughts.

Laura, Almanzo and little seven year old Rose began their journey to their new home in Mansfield on July 17, 1894.  They left DeSmet, South Dakota; having said their tearful goodbyes to all the Ingalls family, and set out on a journey which took them through three states before arriving in Missouri.  It wasn't an easy trip, having to travel by horse-drawn vehicle.  They had traveling companions of the Cooley family most of the way.  They traveled through bad and good weather, but were glad to leave behind a draught-stricken country.  They met interesting folks along the way.  And they kept their faith that they would find a good place to settle, after the poor starts and hard times they had before.

If you'd like to read Laura's diary of the trip, it is in the book, "On the Way Home".  I used that book and other accounts to bring you this description.  By mid-August they had made it more than half the way to their destination.  Their route took them through Lincoln, Nebraska, and on through Topeka, Kansas.  When they reached Fort Scott, Kansas, near the border of Missouri, it was August 21st.  On August 27th they camped near Ash Grove, (Just outside of Springfield, Missouri).  They went through Springfield, whose inhabitants numbered 21,850. (Springfield now boasts of over 150,000!) Upon reaching the outskirts of Mansfield, (Called, "The Gem City of the Ozarks") they found it to be a town of 300 to 400. (It is now around 1300 or so) On August 29th they camped just west of town.  And on Thursday, August 30, 1894 they got their first glimpse of what was to become the final home for Laura and Almanzo.  (Almanzo died here in 1949 and Laura lived on till 1957 - 63 years and wrote all her books here.)

It took Almanzo a few days to find a proper farm for them to buy.  They had high expectations of the area, since they were told about it and saw pictures and posters of, "The Land of the Big Red Apple".  Here, 117 years ago, Laura and Almanzo had found, "Just what they wanted... (and) so much, much more than they'd hoped for."

As the story goes: Laura had hidden a one hundred dollar bill inside her portable writing desk for safe keeping along the way.  That bill represented long, hard hours of work and a hope for their future.  But when she went to retrieve it from the desk, it was missing!  Were all their hopes to be lost?  No, Laura bravely figured that they could go on and work some more, here, to earn enough money to make a payment on something.  But then the bill turned up, as it fell out through a crack where it had fallen during the journey on all those rough roads.

Laura, Almanzo and little Rose made their way into town and bought the farm, which Laura dubbed, "Rocky Ridge", because of all the rocks in the soil.  Along with the farm were a number of sapling apple trees, which would give them a start towards a promising future.  As they made their way into town for the first time, Rose recorded that they saw, "Hoover's Livery Stable".  By the time the Wilder's had arrived in Mansfield, the Hoover family had become the owner of my house.  So, I'm sure they also saw my house at that time. (The house was built, in 1881, by Noah N. Nichols, a former County Commissioner, for his family before the town was incorporated.  And it was later recorded in the local newspaper, "The Mansfield Mirror", that it was the very first house built here.)

The Wilder's friends, the Cooley family, went on to make their home in town, running the hotel near the railroad tracks.   And Rocky Ridge Farm became a very prosperous venture for the Wilder family.  Laura had many occasion to visit inside of my house, during the times she attended meetings of a women's club.  And I wouldn't be surprised to find that she, Almanzo and Rose had visited the house at other times, seeing as they attended the Methodist Church which was directly across the street.

So, when August 30th comes around each year, I get this really close feeling to "The Historical Laura of Mansfield".

I hope you'll come by and visit me sometime and see if you get that same feeling when you step inside my house.

Of Missouri, Almanzo said, "This is beautiful country." I agree!  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Farmer Boy Recipe - Pocketbooks

I just had to include this recipe here, because it sounds like it comes right out of "Farmer Boy", the book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  If you wonder why I say that, you need to read the book, especially Chapter 18.

This is a hand-me-down recipe.  My family's genealogical lines are broken and I don't really know exactly who first made up this recipe.  But I do know that this version is my Granny's granny's recipe.  I guess that would make her my great, great granny.  And I guess that means it would have first appeared in the family about 1850 or so.  Anyway, it comes from the "old country", (but nobody's real sure which old country that would be at this point!).  This recipe is as long as the Bible, from cover to maps!  So, pull up an easy chair; here goes...

Pocketbooks, in case you don't know, are little leather purses, used to carry just enough money to make a grocery purchase in the olden days, (when you could buy a 20 lb. sack of flour for about half a buck!).  This small purse was also made to fit with an apron pocket, (which is apparel no homemaker would be without!).
Now that you have a handle on that, your probably thinking, "What does a little purse have to do with a recipe?" Well, just this - the finished product of this recipe looks like a pocketbook; hence the name.  So, if you complete this recipe and it doesn't look like a pocketbook, then you've goofed, or I have in telling you how to make these!

Now, bear with me.  This recipe comes in two parts - pastry and filling.  This is the way the pastry portion has been handed down. (with the addition of my interjected, running commentary in parenthesis, that is)

"You'll need 3 cups of sifted all-purpose flour.  If you don't have all-purpose flour on hand, you can use whole wheat or even buckwheat flour, but (as her story goes) it just won't taste the same." (duh!  Forgive me, but that's the way Granny's granny said it.  Of course she didn't even know anything about bleached or unbleached flour either!  On to the next in her narrative recipe) -  "1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of lard, carelful now, (here we go again!) make sure you don't let the lard catch fire as you render it."  (Just imagine if you still had to do that!  You'd spend a lifetime in the kitchen!  How'd they ever manage to have time to make a family?   And now for the finale -) "About 5 Tablespoons of cold water, use clear ice, fresh from the ice man and scrape off enough to melt into 5 Tablespoons full."  (Ice man?  Maybe this recipe is from the Ice Age!  Okay, now we have the directions on how to make this pastry.  Ready?)

"Into a large chilled bowl - put it under the house for a couple hours in the summertime, or just outside the kitchen door in the winter.  Sift the flour and the salt together." (When's the last time you did that?)  "Then, cut in the lard - use lard which you hardened off in the ice box or out in the snow, with two knives, until the pieces are the size of small peas."  (By the time my granny got this recipe she had a pastry knife to use instead of those 2 knives.)

"Gradually sprinkle the cold water over the mixture, mixing it lightly with a fork after each addition of cold water.  You'll want to only add enough water to hold the pastry together.  If it gets too sticky, you'll need to add more sifted flour and salt, but not too much!" (Now, that's what I like, precession!)  "Once you have a ball formed, roll it out on a floured bread board.  Make sure you roll it out so that it's bigger than the pan." (Now, I have to interrupt old granny here, to tell you to not pay any attention to that last direction, because we aren't going to put this pastry into any special pan made just for this recipe - or, for that matter, we won't be putting it into a pie pan, which might be that which she was referring to here.  Okay, Granny, finish up now.) "What ever you do, don't stretch the rolled out pastry as you fit it into the pan. This would cause it to shrink up when it's baked."  (Okay, Okay! - A real stickler, ain't she?)

(Now, having said all this, the directions for using this pastry in making the Pocketbooks says:)
"Use only two thirds of the pastry recipe."  (So that means you'll divide it into 3 balls before rolling it out and only use 2 of them.  Don't ask me, I just follow! - By the way, I've found you could use that third dough ball for all kinds of other recipes, so don't just throw it out!)

"Next, you roll each dough ball into about 9 inches and about 1/8 inch thick."

(And at this point we get to the actual Pocketbook recipe - or at least, we move to the "filling" portion and how to put the two recipe parts together.  I told you this was a long ordeal!)

(Here are the ingredients to finish this: Pastry, as described,) "2 small red potatoes or new potatoes.  Pare the potatoes and slice into real thin slices." (More precession!  I'd say, about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch ought to do it.)

"1/2 pound finely diced meat" (More precession!  Any beef - ground chuch works real good here, but I've tried pork and even lamb works good too.  And, in a pinch, chicken or beef liver works, believe it or not!)
"2 Tablespoons of chopped onions - dried yellow onions or whatever kind you have on hand.  2 small carrots, thinly sliced", (Need I mention that precession again? My family always, and I mean always, pared those carrots, but I've broken from tradition, so long as they are clean it is good enough and I've found that you'll need about a 1/2 cup of them.) "2 small turnips, thinly sliced." (Ibid.)  "Pinch of salt and pepper." (My great uncle, not from the old country, used to pinch my cheeks, but I'm sure these pinches should be smaller and less painful!)

(And here comes the last ingredient, simply said -) "Butter"  (Sorry about that, no mention of how much!)

(And now on to the preparation of this.) "Using on half of the meat and vegetables for each Pocketbook, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, as you begin to layer each half-moon of pastry." (Poetic, isn't it?) "Layer, starting with potato slices, then meat, onion, carrot, turnip and end up with meat." (I have no idea why it has to be done in that order!)  "Then, dot with butter, or drizzle a small amount of cream on top." (Where'd the cream come from?) (No, I know it comes from a cow! I meant, why wasn't that option listed with the other ingredients before?)

"Then, fold the pastry over the filling to form a pocketbook," (Now it looks like a half-moon.)  "and seal the edges well, using a wet fork or pastry wheel." (Got one of them?) "Slit the top to allow steam to escape while baking.  Place each pastry in its pan." (We'll just put them out on a non-stick sheet pan.) "Don't you dare grease it!" (Okay, Granny - getting kind of bossy, aren't you?)

(Now, get this:) "Place in a hot oven for about 15 minutes."  (Now, for all of you who weren't edgimagated, as I was: a hot oven is about 425 degrees F.  They didn't have gauges or thermometers on those old wood stoves when Granny wrote all this down, so they'd put their hand in for a couple seconds to feel how hot it was in the oven. Then adjustment was made by stoking the wood chamber or opening or closing the flu.  Pretty spoiled these days, aren't we?  Okay, Granny, finish up.)  "Then, reduce the heat, to a medium heat." (That's 350 degrees in modern-day lingo!)  "And bake another 40 minutes or till golden brown."

Now you know the story of the Pockebooks.  I hope you've enjoyed it, but I'll tell you; it's even better to eat 'em!  I can almost eat both of them, which this recipe makes.  I'd suggest you make a bunch of them and freeze them.  You can pop them into the oven, at "medium heat", frozen and in about 15 - 20 minutes you've got a great meal!  It's a recipe that's good even after over a century; and you'll still have money left in you Pocketbook:)

If you make these, please let us all know by leaving a comment here.  Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Farmer Boy Recipe - Sourdough Starter & Biscuits

These are similar to that which Laura wrote about her Ma using.  These recipes come from the vast collection I salvaged from my mother's estate after her death.  They are hand-written and dated as, 1879.  I have no idea if they were my great-great grandmother's or something that was passed on to her.  They were not easy to read, since the writer wrote in "Broken English" (a mix of English and German).  I had to translate and interpret the directions.  I have used these recipes, along with a 35 year old starter that I had already.  But if you need to begin from scratch, you should be able to do it with this recipe.

Before you begin, I suggest you read this through and make a copy to have on hand.  Sourdough can be used to make all sorts of baked goods.  A starter (or sponge, as it is sometimes referred to) is a wild yeast living in a batter of flour and liquid.  There are a bunch of these yeast micro-organisms living around  us everywhere.  Wild yeasts are rugged indidviduals, much like the pioneers of our old west.  They have to survive all kinds of environments and extreme circumstances.  Some make delicious loaves of bread; others create yogurt and cheese out of milk.  Still others help produce the fermentation necessary to make beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages.  Active yeast can be bought in the grocery store today.  This is the kind we will use for this recipe. But, my ancestor didn't have that privilege.  She had to make her sponge from existing forms of yeast in her environment.  But, most likely, she was given a starter from someone else.  And all she had to do was let it continue to grow, as I did with mine.  The micro-organisms live and breed off the sugars in grain, or flour.  They need moisture and they breathe, like we do, giving off carbon dioxide.  Because of these actions of growth, you'll need to take certain precautions in storing your starter.
  1. Use a glass or plastic container that can hold 3 times the amount of the ingredients. Starter expands as it ferments. (Grows)
  2. Never use silver or silver-plated spoons to stir the starter - they can ruin the taste and might stop the growth.
  3. Cover the container loosely, to allow some air in and some breathing room.
  4. Store at about 80 degrees F. for 3 to 5 days, until the mixture begins to bubble.  Stir it 3 to 4 times each day.
  5. Once the bubbles begin, you should refrigerate or keep it in a very cool environment.  And it is ready to use!
  6. Your starter should be replenished ,(or fed) with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of starter that you use.
  7. If you don't use your starter within 10 days, you should feed it 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and stir it well.  If a clear liquid rises on the top - it is OK; just stir it back into the mix.  If it turns a dark orange or pink color, and gives off a rotton eggs smell, you'd better start over!
I am not about to give you my ancstor's recipe for sourdough starter that she used to make it from scratch, for fear someone would actually attempt it and end up in the hospital or worse!  But I will tell you that it involves a festering potato, water, sugar and flour.  This would be a great science experiment in my mind; and nothing to try at home!  It is a wonder they lived through it! :)

So, here is my updated recipe for the starter made from scratch:
Farmer Boy Sourdough Starter

Take 1 package of Active Dry Yeast and mix it in a medium-sized bowl with 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of warm (80 degrees F.), Chlorine-free water.  Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar and stir.  Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place in your kitchen for at least 3 days.  Stir it whenever the spirit moves you.  When it smells sour, ti's done!  It should be bubbly and have a consistency close to pudding.  The consistency will vary with the season.  Place it in a glass container with a cover.  I use an old (clean & sterilized) half gallon ice cream bucket.  Follow those other directions for feeding it.  Once you have finished all these steps, it should be ready to go and you should be on your way to enjoyment!

If it doesn't work the first time - you know the old saying, "Try, try again!"  Don't give up - you are smarter than yeast!  :)

Now, that was the easy recipe!  Here is the other recipe:
                                               Farmer Boy Sourdough Biscuits

  • 1/2 Cup - sourdough starter *(see note at bottom)
  • 1  Cup - milk
  • 2 Tablespoons - sugar
  • 1 teaspoon - salt
  • 1 teaspoon - baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon - baking soda
Directions:  In a large bowl, mix the starter and milk, with 1 cup of all-purpose unbleached flour.  Cover the bowl and keep it at room temperature to rise till about doubled.  (Could take 1 to 2 hours)  Turn this dough out onto 1 cup of flour on a bread board.  Add the sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, and sift another 1/2 cup of flour over the top.  Mix with you hands adn knead lightly.  (Don't over do it or it will get tough!)  Roll out to about an inch thick.  (You can use a rolling pin or just flatten it with your hands.) Cut the bicuits with a cutter.

Place the cut out biscuits into an oiled iron skillet, right next to each other.  Press each one lightly with your thumb in the center of each. (This will help them to expand as they bake.)  If you wish, you could brush them with melted butter at this time.   Cover the skillet with a towel.  Place it in a warm place to rise again.  (At least 1/2 hour)  Bake in a pre-heated oven, 375 degrees F. for about 30 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and out of the skillet.  You should have about a dozen biscuits.

*Note: My starter has more than just all-purpose flour in it.  Over time, I have developed it into a unique flavor that I like.  You can do the same with yours, after you have it developed and fed the first time.  I've included rye flour, buckwheat (which isn't really flour), whole wheat, wheat germ and a few secret ingredients.  But you'll have to decide what you'd like.  You may decide that the basic recipe is good enough!

  • If your starter goes flat on you, with no bubbles or sour taste - you can add a pinch of yeast to help it along.  If it gets too sour - add a pinch of sugar.  And remember to keep it cooled.  It can even be frozen without any problems. (But then you'll have to defrost it before using it!) And heat will kill it!  Always bring it to room temperature to use it in baking.  Keep in mind - recipes that call for regular yeast can be adapted to use with sourdough, but don't be surprised if they don't rise as much! (It's not your fault - it's the nature of the wild yeasts.)  Have fun with sourdough and experiment!  And be sure to take out a cup of it to share with others!
With a little experimentation and good recipes, you'll have a fun time in the kitchen.  Be sure to check by here for more old-timey recipes.  If you try any of these, please be sure to leave a comment here, on the blog site, to let us all know how it went.  Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Take a look at "By the Shores of Silver Lake" to see what Laura wrote about Mrs. Boast's encounter with Sourdough Starter.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Musical Pageant - "Laura's Memories", 2011

I had the distinct pleasure of performing as Rev. Brown in the Ozarks Mountain Players' production of "Little House Memories" a few years back.  That was a production that had a very long run, (over 20 years, if memory serves me) and it led into this production.  Many of the scenes from the first pageant are included in this one.  I also had the pleasure, as a member of the Ozarks Mountain Players, to be the one who suggested the title for this pageant.  (You might have noticed the similarity in the name, along with the name of my shop!)

"Laura's Memories" is an outdoor, musical pageant presented by the Ozark Mountain Players every summer in Mansfield.  The sole purpose of the group is to acknowledge and honor Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The pageant is performed by local actors and musicians.  If you enjoy family entertainment featuring music and acting focused on pioneer days, you will enjoy this pageant.

This year's performances are scheduled (usually rain or shine), in the large, "Gem of the Ozarks" outdoor theater.  It is located adjacent to the Mansfield School Complex, in the city park.  Tickets are available at the gate, one hour prior to each performance.  The evenings begin with a pre-show, followed by the pageant at 7:30 PM. Here is the schedule:

  1. August 26, 27
  2. September 2, 3 (there is also a matinee on the 3rd at 10 AM)
  3. September 9,10
  4. September 16,17 (This is during the Laura Ingalls Wilder Festival) & (There is a matinee on the 17th also, at 10 AM)
  5. September 23,24
  6. September 30, October 1st  
Admission: (Tickets go on sale at the gate only, 1 hour prior to each performance)
Adults (12 yrs. & over) : $7.00
Children (5 yrs. - 11 yrs.) : $3.00
Under 5 yrs. : Free
There is a concession stand available

If you come for the pageant during the Laura Ingalls Wilder Festival, please visit me at Laura's "Sweet Memories" - I'll be open with special hours on those dates and on the special matinee date of September 3rd.
To see a special brochure online go to 
For more information on the pageant, phone: 417-924-3383 or 417-924-3525 and mention that you saw this on my blog site.  Thanks.  Have a great time at the pageant!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Farmer Boy Recipe - Old-Fashioned Dandelion Jelly

I didn't find any mention of this jelly in any of Laura's writing, but I have made it since I lived on my farm - before moving to Mansfield.  Pioneers, like Laura's family and early settlers, like Almanzo's family, were resourceful and frugal.  They would not waste anything.  And I'm sure that they would not have wasted dandelions, if they had them on or near their property.

Today, we have all sorts of weeds to contend with.  In those early days of pioneer farming they didn't have all what we call weeds.  I read an interview that Rose (Wilder Lane) conducted with her father, Almanzo, asking him about how things were in his day.  When asked about weeds, he replied by saying that he didn't remember there being any!  I figure that they had some, but they weren't the nuisance that they are today.  But, I also figure that he probably didn't consider some of them as weeds, because the people of that era had found a use for them.

If you have a yard full of these lovely little yellow flowers and have treated them as undesirable weeds, this should make you change your mind about them.  If you plan on making this jelly you need to be sure that the dandelions have not been chemically treated or contaminated by any animal waste.

I have known of the use of dandelion greens as a substitute for other greens in a salad, or cooked as spinach and even made into wine.  But this is made from the yellow blossoms.  You'll need to gather as many as possible!  First thing to do with them is separate the blossom from the stem and dispose of the stem.  Wash the blossoms and throw them into boiling water.  Here's the recipe:

Old-Fashioned Dandelion Jelly
  • 4 Cups - Dandelion blossoms
  • 3 Cups - boiling water
  • 4 1/2 Cups - sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons - lemon juice
  • 1 package of Pectin
  • 6 - half pint canning jars, rings & lids
Simmer the blossoms in the water for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and strain out the blossoms through a jelly bag, retaining the liquid. (It is the liquid which you will use to make this jelly) * Don't squeeze the bag! If you do, the jelly will be cloudy.   You want to end up with 3 cups of liquid.  Add the lemon juice and stir in the pectin and bring to a rolling boil.  Add the sugar and stir, bringing it back to a rolling boiling for 1 minute.  Ladle into 6 half pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Place the lids and rings on the jars and process for a good 5 minutes, according to the directions on your canner. Place the jars in a cool, dark spot.  Once it is cooled and set, you can enjoy!

The result of your efforts should be a honey-flavored, golden jelly.  I like it on toast or biscuits; especially sourdough biscuits!

If you make this jelly, let us know by leaving a comment here.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

"Now it isn't enough in any garden to cut down the weeds.  The cutting out of weeds is important, but cultivating the garden plants is just as necessary.  If we want vegetables, we must make them grow, not leave the ground barren where we have destroyed the weeds."
Laura Inalls Wilder