Thursday, December 27, 2012

Feedback Needed!

Laura's "Sweet Memories" (the shop) needs your help!
Please take a minute and leave a comment here.  Thanks.

I simply need to know what you would be most likely to purchase if you were to visit my shop in 2013.

I have all sorts of handmade souvenirs, books, bookmarks, old-fashioned hard candies, chocolates and a number of flavors of fudge.  (These are just some of the items in the shop.)

If you come, visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum, what would you most likely want to take home with you to remember your visit?  (Please, be specific. Thanks.)

Since every business seems to be hurting financially these days, and mine in no exception - I'd also like to get an idea of how much your average purchase might be.

Each year I endeavor to bring items to my visitors which they would like - but I have limited space and finances.  So I must use both wisely.  Over the last 3 years, I have expanded the variety of items in the shop.  But due to decreased tourism, I must make decisions as to what I'll continue to stock.

Please help me.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Monday, December 24, 2012

National Eggnog Day!

According to what Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, in her book, "Farmer Boy", eggnog was not something reserved for Christmastime.  Almanzo's mother made eggnog for the little fellow, to cool him off during times he worked in the fields.  This was surely not the alcoholic laden drink that most think of at Christmastime!

I always liked the flavor of eggnog, but never really liked to drink it with rum in it.  I found this recipe years ago.  I eliminated the rum, substituted rum flavoring, and it became my version of eggnog.  But I've never tried it during the summer or fall, only at Christmastime!

This is a safe way to make eggnog, without being concerned about getting sick with raw eggs.
Farmer Boy Eggnog
  • 4 Cups of whole milk
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 Cups of sugar
  • 4 Cups of Half 'n Half
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of rum flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg & more for a sprinkling
Directions: In a saucepan, over the lowest possible heat setting, heat the milk, cloves, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Bring it slowly to a boil, (about 5 minutes) strain out the cloves, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the egg yolks and sugar, till it is fluffy.  Whisk in the milk mixture.
Put the mixture back into a large pan and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes. *Do not let it boil!  Cook and stir, till it thickens.  Remove it from the heat to cool completely.
Once it is cooled, stir in the 4 cups of half 'n half, along with 2 teaspoons of vanilla, rum flavoring, and the ground nutmeg.
Place this in the refrigerator for at least 6 to 8 hours.
*Pour it into cups, sprinkle a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg on top and enjoy!
This may not be exactly what Almanzo had as a boy, but it makes me think about him everytime I drink it!

*Note: For an extra frothy and thick eggnog: whip up the egg whites and place 1/4 cup of them in each cup before pouring in the eggnog.

Let's lift our cups in a toast to Laura and her husband, Almanzo, "Thanks for sharing your memories with us!"
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Festive Bread Loaf

If you are preparing a festive holiday meal or need something to bring to a pot luck meal, this might just fit the bill!  I almost forgot that I even had this recipe!
It is a bread that goes with just about any entree, and it brightens up any meal.
Farmer Boy Beet Bread
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 3/4 Cup of warm water (about 110 degrees F.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • 3/4 Cup of Beets, uncooked,  fresh & shredded (measure after being squeezed dry)
  • 1/2 Cup of warm milk (about 110 degrees F.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 Cups of bread flour (or, in a pinch, all-purpose flour)
  • 1 egg white
Directions: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.  Stir in the honey and let it sit at least 5 minutes.  Add the warm milk.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the yeast mixture.  Add the butter and beets. 
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, till it is smooth.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it to oil it. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise.  After it has doubled in size, (about 50 to 60 minutes) place it in an oiled loaf pan (9x5x3 inches).  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let it rise again, till almost doubled again, (about 40 minutes).
Brush the egg white on top.  Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes.  It should sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

This loaf doesn't have an overpowering beet flavor, just the hint of the beets.  But it is lovely to look at and is really good with butter or cream cheese spread onto it!

It is a good way to use up those beets you've harvested from your garden!  What, no beet harvest?  Did you plant one?  You know, you ought to plant beets - they are tasty and really good for you & they are easy to grow!  you could even grow a few in a container garden & that fresh air you'd get daily watering them would be good for you too!

"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.  In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worthwhile."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

My suggestion for growing beets applies to all you "City Dwellers" as well as the country folks - maybe even more so!  At least, try this recipe and see if you like it.  Then come back here and leave a comment, letting us all know of your experience.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sugar Free Cookies for Christmas!

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, or would like to make these for someone who has it, this is for you!  There is no reason not to enjoy cookies, with a recipe like this!
Farmer Boy Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 Cup & 2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar Twin sweetener
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 Cup of Peanut Butter, (creamy works best)
  • 1/4 Cup of cooking oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons of water
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Stir in the peanut butter, oil, egg and vanilla.  Add the water, as needed, to bring the dough together.
Roll into 1 inch balls.  Place on parchment paper lined sheet pan.  Flatten slightly with a fork, as you would with regular peanut butter cookies.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.
""Oh, Laura!" Carrie said, as Laura blew out the lamp in the bedroom. "Isn't this the nicest Christmas! Do Christmases get better all the time?"
"Yes," Laura said. "They do."  " (from "These Happy Golden Years")
I hope this is also your conclusion about Christmas today!

If you make these cookies, please find your way back here, leave a comment about your experience.  Thanks. 
May you have a very blessed Christmas!  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, December 21, 2012

Power Christmas Cookies

My cookie baking for this Christmas is winding down & I'm a bit weary.  So I figured it was time for a cookie that would give me a little "Pick-me-up".
While this is actually a chocolate cookie, I beefed it up with a little instant coffee - that ought to do the trick!
Farmer Boy Mocha Nut Drop Cookies
  • 1/2 Cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 Cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup of baking cocoa
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 Cup of Pecans, chopped
  • Powdered sugar
Directions: Cream the butter and sugar.  Add in the vanilla.  Mix in the flour, cocoa, and coffee.  Stir in the nuts.
Roll into 1 inch balls.  Place onto parchment paper lined sheet pan.  Bake at 325 degrees F. for 14 to 16 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  While still warm, dust with powdered sugar.  This recipe makes about 4 dozen.

These cookies are a bit fragile, but tasty!

"Oh for a little time to enjoy the beauties around me! Just a little while to be free of the tyranny of things that must be done!" Laura Ingalls Wilder

Well, the cookies have given me a little lift and maybe I'll be able to go on to make another Christmas treat - or I may just sit back in my recliner, munch on some of these cookies and watch a Christmas movie on TV!  We'll see!  :-)
I hope you'll try these cookies and then come back here to let us all know how it went, by leaving a comment here.  Thanks.   Merry Christmas, from the Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cookies - Sugar Free!

Here is a recipe that everyone can enjoy!  I'm making these for a friend who is type 2 diabetic, but if you don't tell folks that these are made without sugar; they wouldn't know!
Farmer Boy Sugar Free Pumpkin Squares
  • 1 3/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of orange peel, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 3/4 Cup of Sugar Twin
  • 1/2 Cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup of sugar free applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1/2 Cup of raisins
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 13 X 9 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. 
In another bowl, combine the sugar substitute, apple sauce, pumkin, egg and oil.  Whisk the egg white, stir it into this mixture.  Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stir well. Stir in the raisins.
*Note: this batter will be thick.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 25 - 30 minutes, till probe come out clean.  Remove pan to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes, then cut into squares.

You could make this recipe using fresh, processed pumpkin, but that is way too much trouble!

"There are pleasant things to think about and beauty to be found everywhere, and they grow by dwelling on them." Laura Ingalls Wilder

These cookies, like all the rest of my recipes, are good at anytime of the year; so I hope you'll try making these cookies.  Then, please, find your way back here and leave a comment about them.  And while you're at it, tell someone else about this blog site.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Cookies (next installment!)

This is one of those dozens of cookie recipes that I've made, traditionally, for Christmas for over 30 years!  I'm not sure where I got the recipe from originally, but it is one of my personal favorites.
Farmer Boy Lemon Squares
  • 1 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup of butter, softened
  • 1/4 Cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
Directions: In a bowl, mix the flour, butter and powdered sugar.  Press this into the bottom of an non-greased square pan.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
While it is baking, beat the rest of the ingredients together.  Take the pan out of the oven and pour this mixture over the crust.  Place it back in the oven to bake for another 25 minutes.
You may wish to dust it with powdered sugar as you let it cool in the pan.  When it has cooled completely, cut it into 16 squares.
This goes pretty quickly, and since it is one of my favorites, I usually make a second batch just for me!

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

As I grow older: I find that I don't bake any more ...  and no less either!

I hope you'll try this recipe and then come back here and leave a comment. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Christmas Cookies, 2012

Here is another cookie recipe.  This one is a relatively new recipe that I've worked up within the last 15 years or so.  (Some of my other recipes which I've used for some 30 + years are generational!) 

I always have an abundance of blackberries from my patch out back.  The Missouri Ozarks is known for its wild blackberries.  But I like to grow tame ones - they are the Jumbo variety.  And boy, each berry goes a long way!
Farmer Boy Ozarks Blackberry Squares
  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 Cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 Cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground mace
  • 2/3 Cup of apple juice
  • 2 Tablespoons of White vinegar
  • 1 1/4 Cups of blackberries
Directions: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then mix in the egg. 
In another bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, except the berries.  Add the creamed mixture to the dry ingredients.  Add in the vinegar and apple juice.  Mix this all together, but don't over mix it.  Fold in the berries.
Pour this into a greased pan 10 X 13 inches, and bake in pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F. for 35 to 40 minutes. 
Leave in pan to cool.  Cut into squares.

I think these are Larrupin' (that's an Ozarks colloquialism, used by some older Ozarks natives & the best I can figure, it means, "Exceedingly Delicious"!) 

"In the Ozark hills, neglected ground will grow up to wild blackberry briars, loaded with fruit in season.  As the shiftless old farmer said, 'Anyone can raise blackberries if he ain't too durned lazy.' "  Laura Ingalls Wilder

I hope you'll try this recipe and then come back here and leave a comment.  And while you're at it, please tell some others about this blog site.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cookies, 2012

Here is another one of my cookie recipes. These are not recipes reserved just for Christmas.  But this happens to be the time that I like to make cookies. It's nice to be able to have the oven going without heating the kitchen as much as you would in the summer!   A little extra heat during the winter, always feels a little better. And making cookies to give away, always warms your heart too!
Farmer Boy Blueberry Shortbread Squares
  • 1/2 Cup of cold butter (unsalted)
  • 1 1/2 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cold water
  • 3/4 Cup of blueberries
Directions: In a large bowl, cut in the butter with the flour, salt, powder, spice and sugar.  Mix in the egg yolk, using the cold water to help the cutting in process.  Pour about 3/4 of this mixture into an ungreased square pan.  Press it in the bottom of the pan.  *Spread the berries over the top and then add the rest of the mix on top of that.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove the pan to cool completely, before cutting into squares. 
*Note: If you are using frozen berries, make sure to drain the liquid from the berries, as you thaw them out before using them.
"Blue is without doubt a heavenly color, but it is better in the skies than in one's mind." Laura Ingalls Wilder
(It is okay in a berry too!)

I hope you'll try this recipe and then come back here and leave a comment about it. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Joy of Christmas

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come" - so the song says.  And, yes, this is the ultimate maker of the joy of Christmas.  But there is that tradition which can bring you extra joy - the joy you get in giving to others.  This is what sparks my hours of labor spent in preparing and sharing cookies and recipes during Christmastime.  I'm sure not making all these cookies for my own self-indulgence in them!  As a general rule - I'm not big on sweets.  So when you see a recipe on my blog, it is for you or whosever will.  I hope you'll try this one:
Farmer Boy Prairie Chip Cookies
  • 2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons each, of ground cinnamon and ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 stick + 1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup of brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 Cup of unsulfered molasses
  • 1/2 Cup of raisins
  • 1/3 Cup of nuts, chopped (I use walnuts of pecans)
  • 1/2 Cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Cup of Peanut Butter chips
  • (optional - 1/4 Cup of Cinnamon chips)
Directions: Mix flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a large bowl. 
In another bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and molasses and beat well.  Add the flour mixture in a little at a time and then the nuts and chips by hand.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. *
Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Drop onto parchment paper lined sheet pan.  Bake 20 - 22 minutes at 375 degees F.
Cool on wire rack.
You can store these in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or can they can be frozen.
*Note the dough can be frozen and thawed out for use later.

"Let us make memories carefully of all good things, rejoicing in the wonderful truth that while we are laying up for ourselves the very sweetest and best of happy memories, we are at the same time giving them to others."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have some other cookie recipes lined up to post before Christmas, just not the usual dozens this year!  Maybe you'll find something in these postings to make and give to someone else too!  If you do, I hope you'll come back here and leave a comment about it. Thanks.
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy birthday, Rose!

Born on this day, in 1886 - Rose Wilder (Lane):
Rose was named after the little wild roses that grew on the prairie, where Laura and Manly had courted.
Rose moved, with her parents, to Mansfield, Missouri at age seven.  Being "As smart as a whip", she soon needed more stimulation to develop her mind and went on to live with her aunt, Eliza Jane, in Louisiana. (At least that was her excuse for leaving Mansfield behind!) She graduated at age 17 and went out to conquer the world!
In 1908 she found herself as the first woman to sell real estate in the state of California.  It was there that she met and married Gillette Lane.  During their nine year marriage, Rose lost her baby and never had any children.  She and Lane divorced.
Rose went on to develop her writing skills.  She wrote articles for magazines and newspapers. Eventually she became a field reporter. She wrote biographies, novels and political essays. She was a much sought after and successful writer.  She even helped her mother hone her writing skills, as Laura wrote her "Little House" books.
Rose chose to move to Danbury, Connecticut, to a house which reminded her of her parent's farmhouse in Mansfield.  Rose died there, at age 81, after having traveled to far reaching parts of the world throughout her life. At the time of her death, she was still writing and giving speeches.  The day before she died, she was even planning a trip around the world.
Rose is buried in the Mansfield Cemetery, next to her parents.

The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

National Cookie Day!

My Christmas Cookie Baking Excuse!

What, it's December already?  Where did the year go?  I was planning on baking a bunch of cookies that I normally bake for Christmas, but time got away from me!  I've been doing this for something like 35 years and this is the first time I wasn't able to get to that baking!  My apologies - if I had baked all those cookies, I would have posted them here.  So, this means I'll have to share those with you next year instead (Lord willing!).  In the meantime, I'll share a few cookie recipes here before Christmas.  Maybe they will be something new to you, that you'd like to make for Christmas.  This is one of my family heirloom recipes:

Farmer Boy Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup of quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 Cup of butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Cup of nuts, chopped (I use Pecans or Walnuts)
  • 1/2 Cup of carrot, shredded
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add the butter, vanilla and egg.  Using an electric mixer at low speed, mix well.  Stir in the nuts and shredded carrot.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake in pre-heated oven, at 350 degree F. about 12 - 15 minutes, or till the edges are a light golden brown. Transfer on the parchment paper to cool on the counter.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
I like these cookies because they are not ultra sweet! They should be low in calories, but I'm not counting those, are you?
"Everyone is complaining of being tired, of not having time for what they wish to do... It would be a wonderful relief if, by eliminating both wisely and well, life might be simplified." Laura Ingalls Wilder

I hope you'll try this recipe for Christmas and then get back here and leave a comment about it. Thanks.  Look for more recipes soon!  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Sunday, December 2, 2012

National Fritter Day!

I developed this recipe while living on the farm a few years ago.  At that time, I was growing organic apples in a small (12 acre) orchard.  I gave away bushels of apples and brought some to sell at the farmers market.  But I still had more apples than I knew waht to do with! 
I ate apples at just about every meal.  I made applesauce and apple butter and all sorts of dishes.  Now that I've moved from the farm and don't have access to all those apples, I really miss them - even though it was a lot of work!
Farmer Boy Apple Fritters
  • 1 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of milk
  • 2 - 3 apples
  • oil for frying
Directions: Dice up the apples (to 1/4 to 1/2 inches). (You can leave the peels on them.)  Pre-heat the oil in a skillet or deep fryer.  Mix all the dry ingredients together.  In a seperate bowl, beat the eggs, stir in the milk and the diced apples.  Combine with the dry ingredients.  When the oil is 375 degrees F. ease the batter into the oil, by a Tablespoon at a time.  Fry until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels or on a rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  (makes 12 to 15 fritters)
"Honest, well-directed labor need never descend into drudgery."  Laura Ingalls Wilder
I hope you'll enjoy making these, as well as eating them!  Please come back here and leave a comment to let us know.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls