Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day - May 28, 2012

Only in America: do you find such a confusion over how to celebrate a day so designated.  It used to be very clear as to what the day was all about - a day set aside, to leave the daily routine to remember those lost in battle - a day to decorate graves - a day to pray for peace - a day to mourn - a day to forgive - a day to celebrate freedom and liberty. 

But through the progression of time and the affluence of American society, much of that is gone.  Now, young people ask, "What is Memorial Day?"  The answers vary.  Some will tell them that it is about the beginning of Summer or the kick-off day of the BBQ season.  Some sit and watch the Indianapolis 500 auto race on TV.  Others, may come close to remembering the real meaning by watching the National Memorial Day Concert on the Public TV station - there, at least, they will get a pretty good idea of it.  But, are they participants or just observers?

Very few will go to the grave sites, lay a wreath, set a flag, or pray.  Very few will spend most of the day in remembrance of those who gave the sacrifice for the freedoms we now share.  No, only in America will the day come and go without the pomp that was once associated with it.  Perhaps we have lost sight of the significance, only to embrace the trivial.  (I hope it hasn't come to that!)

"A nation can be no greater than the sum of the greatness of its people." Laura Ingalls Wilder

God bless America and may America bless God! This is our only hope for a future. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy birthday, Grace Ingalls!

Grace Pearl Ingalls was born May 23, 1877.  She was conceived on the heels of the untimely death of her only brother, Charles Frederick. (Charles Frederick lived less than a year.)

The Ingalls family had moved to Burr Oak, Iowa with the hope of improving on their hard times in Walnut Grove.  They wanted to put it all behind them and move on with life.  But their plans didn't pan out.  So, within about eight months of her birth, they moved back to Walnut Grove. But they went back with a special gift from God, little Grace.  "Her hair was golden like Mary's and her eyes were blue and bright like Pa's" remarked Laura.  Beyond a few words of mention about their time in Burr Oak, Laura seemed to want to forget their time in the "dark and dirty" old town.  The birth of Grace brightened things up for the family until in February, 1879, Mary went blind.  Laura wrote, "The last thing that Mary ever saw was the bright blue of Grace's eyes."

Grace was a good student and became a teacher, like her other sisters, Carrie and Laura; a trait passed on to them by their mother.  She taught school in Manchester, South Dakota; met and married Nathan Dow.  They lived on a farm till his health prevented it.  They moved into town, where they cared for Grace's elderly mother and blind sister, Mary.

Grace died at age 64, preceding her husband by three year, and is buried in the De Smet Cemetery.

The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Farmer Boy Recipe - Chicken/Cornbread Waffles

Here's one you could make with left-over chicken or right from scratch.  This is a recipe that comes from my ancestor's "Down Home" collection.  It wasn't something that I was familiar with, until I got into those old recpes and said, "Hmm, I think I'd like to try this one."

  • 2 - 3 chicken breasts (de-boned)
  • Any seasoning you would normally use on the chicken
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons of Lard, and/or butter
  • 2 Tablepoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups of Cream or milk
Ingredients for Waffles:
  • 1 Cup of yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 3/4 Cups of Buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 Cup of melted butter
Directions: Cook up the chicken any way you like. (roast, pan-fry, grill, etc.)  Cut it into pieces, 1 X 2 inches.  Add lard or butter to a pan and melt over medium high heat.   Stir in the flour.  This will quickly turn brown (be careful that it doesn't burn!) and add in the cream.  Stir till it thickens.

To make the waffles: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the buttermilk, egg and butter and stir.  Follow the directions for your waffle maker.

To serve: Simply top the waffle with the chicken and the gravy.  A side of your favorite veggies and away you go!

Sure, you could make this with those ordinary, flour waffles, but this recipe is hard to beat - talk about "Comfort Food"!  Slap my mouth and call me, "Mammy"!  Better make a double recipe!
I hope you'll try this recipe and then let us all know, by leaving a comment here.  Thanks. 
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Monday, May 14, 2012

Farmer Boy Recipe - Chocolate Chip Scones

Today is "National Chocolate Chip Day"!  Another excuse to make some scrumptious dessert! (Who needs an excuse!)
Farmer Boy Chocolate Chip Scones
  • 2 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 - 3 Tablespoons of Dutch Chocolate powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of regular granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of shortening
  • 1/2 Cup of whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
  • 1/2 Cup of quality chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, combine the sugar with sifted flour, powder, spices and salt.  Using a pastry knife, cut in the shortening, till it resembles coarse oatmeal.  
In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg and vanilla.  Add this to the flour mixture and blend until the mixture forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, gently 5 or 6 times.  Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about an inch thickness. (Or use your hands to flatten it and cut out scones with a biscuit cutter or simply drop them by mixing spoonful onto the sheet for baking.)  Divide the dough up and form about 2 1/2 inch balls.  Place each ball onto the sheet and flatten slightly. (You may wish to brush each with melted butter at this point.)  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes.
This recipe makes about a dozen to a dozen and a half, depending on the size balls you make of them.

These are pretty much a glorified, soft chocolate chip cookie - more plump and luscious!  And, just like cookies, they go great with a glass of milk!  I prefer them warm with a cup of hot tea.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Caroline Ingalls' "Mother's Day" meal

In "These Happy Golden Years", Laura wrote about the meal that they ate when Mary was home from college.  This is what they had:
Hash Browns, Poached Eggs, Biscuits with Butter, the girls had fresh milk and Ma & Pa had tea.

It wasn't a lavish meal, but it was one that they enjoyed - the company made the meal special!
The American "Mother's Day" holiday wasn't in practice at that time.  But I'm sure Ma Ingalls felt that was a very special day for her!

If you are considering what you might do for your mother this Mother's Day, maybe you could make this simple meal for her.

"Reading a message from my mother, I am a child again and a longing unutterable fills my heart for Mother's counsel, for the safe haven of her protection and the relief from responsibility which trusting in her judgment always gave me." Laura Ingalls Wilder

I pray my mother is resting in the arms of Jesus on this Mother's Day. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls
Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Farmer Boy Recipe - "Grits, via SW"

I'm not sure if you'd classify this as "Tex-Mex", New Mexico, or Old Mexico - but this is just something I had a taste for this morning.
Farmer Boy Southwestern Grits
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of quick grits
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of chopped green chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup of commercially produced salsa (the heat level you enjoy)
Directions: In a pan, combine the water, butter and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Whisk in the grits, stirring for about a minute.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer.  Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer another 5 minutes. 
Serve hot, topped with more shredded cheese - chopped cilantro & a dollop of sour cream are optional. 
This gets me thinking - maybe you could go one step further and add some cooked breakfast sausage; it might even taste like a tamale!

Have fun in the kitchen!  If you make this, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here. Thanks.
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, May 4, 2012

Farmer Boy Recipe - Huevos Rancheros

Here we are, celebrating Mexican Independence Day - Cinco de Mayo! (That's May 5th for all us Gringos!)   But, since May is "National Egg Month" in the U.S.A., I decided to share this Mexican recipe, made with eggs.
Farmer Boy Huevos Rancheros
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 1 Cup chunky salsa
  • 4 corn tortillas (taco size)
  • Water, with a couple teaspoons of vinegar
  • Oil
Directions: Preheat your oven to a hot temperature (the highest setting).  Brush each one of the tortillas with the oil, on both sides.  Place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Fill a large pan with 3 inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer.  Add one teaspoon of vinegar per each pint of water. 
Break each egg separately into a small bowl of its own. (Don't let the yolk break.) With a spoon, stir the simmering water to create a whirlpool effect.  Lower the egg into the center of the water.  Poach the egg for 3 minutes. *(You may add the other eggs at the same time, if you have room.) While the eggs are poaching, place the tortillas in the oven.  (They will cook for no more than 5 minutes.)  When each egg has finished poaching, fish it out with a slotted spoon and place it back into its small bowl, lined with a paper towel, to drain.
Place the tortillas into a skillet and top each with one of the eggs.  Cook over a medium heat, covered, to further cook the yolks.  Heat the salsa.  Top each with the hot salsa.
You may wish to serve with Guacamole and sour cream on the side, along with tortilla chips.

This is pretty much an authentic Mexican recipe.  Be sure you use fresh eggs, or the whites will run too much when they hit the water.  You should also, spoon the whites over the yolks while they cook.  The eggs should cook at about 160 - 180 degrees F.  You could check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer to be sure.

You don't have to be of Mexican descent to enjoy this meal!  Join in the fun of the celebration!
If you make this recipe, please leave a comment about it here.  Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Christmas in May

In "The Long Winter", Laura tells us about the time when she and her family had to wait till after May 8th to celebrate Christmas.  The train was held up during the winter because of snow, with all their gifts, food and other provisions!

This is a fascinating, first-hand account of that "7th Winter" experience!  It so influenced me to consider the celebration of Christmas, that I wait to celebrate in May; as the Ingalls family did that year. (Well, in my shop, at least!)

So, at Laura's "Sweet Memories" keeping the memory of that winter and the grand celebration of Christmas in May, I decorate the shop for Christmas in May.  The celebration includes some special items, like samples of Gingerbread, from Laura's famous recipe!  The celebration usually brings up stories of Christmas's past and a grand time is had by all!

If you are in the neighborhood this May, please stop in for a visit & celebrate a Merry Christmas with us!

Hope to see you there!
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls