Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"National Soup Month" ends :(

It has been a good month of soups for me and I hate to see it end! But, for my sake and yours, I've saved the best for last!  (At least I think it is the best of the soups I make!)

I got this recipe years ago, from an old friend of the family, who had immigrated from Italy shortly after WWII.
Farmer Boy Minestrone Soup
  • 1 lb. of ground Chuck Steak
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of salt
  • 1 medium-sized Onion, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup of snipped Parsley
  • 1 1/2 Cups of diced Carrots
  • 1 Cup of diced Celery
  • 2 Cups of Cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 Cup of Zucchini, diced
  • 1 Cup of Yellow Squash, diced
  • 1 Cup of shelled Peas
  • 1 Cup fo dried Kidney Beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 quarts of water & 1 quart of Beef Stock
  • 1 large can (1lb. 12 oz.) of Tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Elbow or Ditalini Macaroni
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
Directions: Brown the meat in a stew pot with the oil, garlic, onion, celery, squash, carrots, salt and pepper.  Add the water and stock.  Cook, covered, over medium heat for about an hour.  Add the cabbage and kidney beans.  Simmer for another half hour.  Add the peas and tomatoes.  Simmer for another quarter hour.  Bring to a boil and add the macaroni.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve, topped with grated Paresan cheese.

I think you'll absolutely love this soup!  I know I do!  :)

"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

If you make this recipe, please come back here and let me know how you liked it. Thanks.  And please spread the word, if you like my blog site!  Thanks!   The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"National Cowboy Poetry Week"

Real cowboys are a vanishing breed.  I have known some.  They are, generally, thoughtful and polite.  They are to be admired for the job they do, working with cattle.  Their life is rough, their exterior is rough and rugged, but inside they are emotional and tender.  This combination should be something which any man should consider to emulate.

When I was a young boy, I played; pretending to be a cowboy.  What I knew of cowboys at that time came from TV and movies.  I guess it was a good thing that I thought more of Roy Rogers, than those "bad guys" that he fought against!   Sure, Matt Dillon carried a gun, but he was the Marshal!  And the Lone Ranger wore a mask, but he was a hero, who worked to right the wrongs.  Their depiction gave me a moral code to live by - that drives me, even today.

This is an example of a cowboy poem.  Their poems come from the heart, are usually not too sophisticated, reflecting their love for their constant companions - their horse and their Lord.  Their poems reflect a meter and rythym of their horse's hoof beats.

"The Cowboy Way"
by J. Czaspar
What is it about the break of day
That causes you to get up an' on your way,
Drivin' the cattle across the plain,
Prayin' that it ain't a gonna rain?
A couple hotcakes and a cup of Joe
It's saddle up and off we go.
Spurs dig deep
For the trail is steep.
Cut 'em out and head 'em in.
I'd be a cussin', if it weren't a sin.
The sun is high.
Ain't a cloud up in the sky.
The trail just seems to never end,
But I know there's rest just 'round the bend.
The sun goes down and day's end draws near.
Campfire brings a meal and a song.
Missin' home, that I ain't seen for so long.
But know the night will soon be morn
No time to be tired, lonesome or worn.
How do I get up and keep a goin'?
Just trust the good Lord, that's what I'm knowin'.
And he'll see me through another day
Knowin' that it's just the cowboy way.

Old cowboys never die - they just ride off into the sunset.

"I may not be a real cowboy, but I've played one off TV."  ;-)
I hope you'll look up more cowboy poems.  And if you ever get the chance to go to hear the cowboy poets read their poems, don't pass up that chance!

The Old Man in the Bib Overalls & this week - the cowboy hat too

Friday, January 25, 2013

Granny's Sweet Tater Soup

I can't say for sure which "Granny" this was from, but it is a favorite recipe with me! 
This is certainly a recipe you won't see everyday! This one, like so many of my heirloom recipes, comes from someone looking in their pantry, finding it limited.  As root vegetables are often stored for the winter in a root cellar, this looking in the cellar found "Sweet Potatoes"!

  • 6 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Ham Stock or water
  • 1/2 Cup of sugar
  • 2 1/2 Cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 Cup of heavy cream
  • 1 Cup of cooked ham, finely diced
  • pinch of nutmeg
Directions: Place the chopped potatoes in a saucepan, cover them with the stock or water. Cover the pan and cook over medium high heat, till the liquid is just about gone, stirring occasionally so that they don't burn. Stir in the sugar, ham and milk. Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with a dollop of butter and a slight pinch of nutmeg on each serving.  You may wish to dress each serving with croutons or soda crackers.

Thanks, Granny - this is great!  I'd say it's good as finding gold in that cellar!

"However fleeting and changeable life may appear to be on the surface, we know that the great underlying values of life are always the same; no different today than they were a thousand years ago."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

If you try this, please come back here and let is all know, by leaving a comment. And please remember to share this blog site with someone else, so they can become a follower as well! Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

National Blonde Brownie Day

*Note: This has nothing to do with Girl Scouts!  :)
Here is another excuse for me to make something that I don't make every day!  I usually make "Chocolate Fudge" brownies, (when I make any!) and those "Blonde Brownie" recipes get lost in my files.  So when this day of celebration came along, I searched the files and pulled out this recipe.  I have more recipes for what you'd call "Blonde" brownies, but they'll have to wait for some other time I guess.  Here is the one I chose for today:
Farmer Boy Blonde Brownies
  • 1 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 Cup of unsalted butter
  • 3 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1 Cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup of Walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup of shredded coconut
  • 1/2 Cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil a square pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, egg, and cream cheese.  Mix in the vanilla.
Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then cut into squares.

This is a nice break from those chocolate fudge brownies.  And to think, I would have missed it, if I had decided to skip "National Blonde Brownie Day"!    I'll be making them again, soon!  ;-)

"No one can become great who is not ready to take the opportunity when it comes." Laura Ingalls Wilder

If you don't lose this recipe in your files, but make it instead, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Farmer Boy & "National Popcorn Day"

As I thought about this special day, I couldn't help but think about what Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her husband, Almanzo, as a boy, (Farmer Boy) and his obsession with eating popcorn.  She wrote about how he pondered the thought of popcorn in milk, saying, "You can fill a glass full to the brim with milk, and fill another glass of the same size brim full of popcorn, and then you can put all the popcorn kernel into the milk, and milk will not run over. You cannot do this with bread. Popcorn and milk are the only two things that will go into the same place."

I always wondered if this was true or just his mind rambling. So I took up the challenge! (But I didn't use full glasses - this makes it easier to see the results.)  The results are shown here, in this picture:
Farmer Boy got it right!  I think it is because the popcorn is so full of air, that it just doesn't have enough weight and once it is saturated with the milk, it takes up the same space. (But I'm not a popcorn genius, like he was, I just like popcorn!)

As it turns out, popcorn and milk was a common breakfast cereal of his day. (At least in was in the farming communities, where corn was grown.)  So I suppose he had already discovered this trick, by eating it!  Lord knows, if it wasn't nailed down, he was eating it!  I guess all his eating was balanced out by the work he did on the farm - or all the mischief he got into!

If  you've never had popcorn and milk for breakfast, you should try it - I like it, but these days you can get so many different sorts of breakfast cereal, it is easier to just open a box!

If you attempt this same experiment, please leave a comment here. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Celebrating today!

If you follow my postings on a regular basis, you know that I usually post something about special days to celebrate.  Some of those days are designated as "National Days" of celebration, and some are quite unusual!  Well, today is no exception! 
Today you have a choice to celebrate: "National Nothing Day" (I guess you just celebrate the fact that the Lord brought you into a new day.) or "National Polka Music Day"!  I choose to celebrate both, but offer you "National Polka Music Day".   Having grown up in an area that had a large Polish and German population, I was (as they say) raised on Polka Music!  So, if you like Polka Music or never heard it, here is a link to some on youtube.  I hope you like it (and I hope the link works!).
Just in case it doesn't go to the right place on youtube, you can go to youtube and ask for polka music or Frankie Yankovic ("The Polka King").

Sorry this has nothing to do directly with my shop or Laura Ingalls Wilder!
Enjoy your day! The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Another recipe for "National Soup Month"

The cold winter rages without, but within the homefires burn.  The kitchen brings a warmth to the soul and the body.  I remember well, sitting at the kitchen table as a small boy, waiting for this soup to be served.  I can still remember it's wonderful fragrance, as it cooked.  Now, as I prepare it myself as an adult, it brings back warm memories of those who prepared for me as a child.  
Here's your opportunity to use that soup stock I mentioned in my post at the beginning of the month!  What a great time to prepare this recipe:
Farmer Boy Beef Barley Soup
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 Plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 10 Cups of beef stock
  • 1/2 lb. or more of lean beef, diced
  • 1/2 Cup of barley
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions: Place the onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and beef stock in a large pot.  Bring to boil over medium heat, then simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
Add the beef and barley to the pot.  Cook, till the barley is tender (about 40 minutes). Season with salt & pepper.
Serve hot with your choice of soda crackers or croutons, etc.  Get warm, from the inside - out!  :)

"Men and women may keep their life's blood warm by heathy exercise as long as they keep journeying on instead of sitting by the way trying to warm themselves over the ashes of remembering."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have never read anywhere of this being a soup that Laura ate, either as a child or as an adult.  But the recipe of Beef Barley Soup has been around long enough, that she could have enjoyed it!  This recipe comes from the vast arsenal handed down to me by my family.  I hope you'll enjoy it, as much as I do!  Let me know, by leaving a comment on here.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy birthday, Pa and Mary!

Both born on the same calendar day, but Pa was born in 1836 and daughter Mary, in 1865.
Anyone who has read Laura's books knows that the family members enjoyed their family bonds. And we can get the impression that Mary was her Ma's favorite child, while Laura was Pa's favorite.  But Laura had the advantage and privelege of having a special bond with both Mary and her Pa.

Laura probably spent more time with her mother, but there was a special bond between her and Pa.  Much of her thinking about life came from him.  But she didn't always agree with him on everything.  I wonder if her opinions changed on some of those disagreements as she got older.

Laura owed much of her writing skills to Mary, because she had to learn how to describe things to Mary, who went blind at age 14 years.

Aren't you glad that Laura wrote about her sister and her father?

I wonder how the family celebrated birthdays.  Laura didn't have much to say about the subject.  Do you think they all had birthday parties?
I think Laura had Pa and Mary in mind when she said, "The way to success and a broad, beautiful outlook on life more often than not leads over obstacles and up a stiff climb before we reach the hilltop."
So today we celebrate the memory of these two, who Laura immortalized.
Happy birthday, Charles Ingalls and Mary Ingalls!  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Elvis Birthday Recipe!

To celebrate the commemorative birthday of Elvis Presley, I have put together this recipe, based on Elvis' love of peanut butter, bacon and bananas. (Actually a great flavor combination!)
Farmer Boy Elvis Cookies
  • 1/2 Cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup of Peanut Butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup of sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 1/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 Cup of Banana Chips, crushed
  • 1/4 Cup of cooked Bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Cup of Chocolate Chips
Directions: In a large bowl, mix together the baking powder, baking soda, and flour.
In another bowl, cream the butter with the peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla, till smooth.  Stir in the chips and bacon.
Add the peanut butter mixture to the dry mixture, combining it completely.
Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. (or larger, if you want "A Big, a Big Hunk of Love!")  Place onto parchment paper lined sheet pan. Flatten each slightly.
Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 375 degrees F.  for 10 to 12 minutes. (Makes about 2 to 2 1/2 dozen)  Cool on wire rack.
Once, during a concert, some girls held up a banner that called Elvis, "The King".  When he saw it, he stopped everything and told them, "No, Jesus is the King!"
If you haven't ever heard Elvis' recordings of Gospel music, they are well worth your attention.

If you make these cookies, please leave a comment here. Thanks.   The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, January 5, 2013

National Bean Day!

Here is a hearty soup that will be just right for celebrating "National Bean Day"!
Farmer Boy 15 Bean Soup
  • Beans: Pinto, Kidney, Butter, Lima, Great Northern, Cranberry Beans, Pink Beans, Small Red Beans, Black, Garbanzo, Green Split Peas, Yellow Split Peas, Black eyed Peas, Lentils, and whole dried Peas - totaling 2 - 4 Cups
  • water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Cups of Tomatoes, diced (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 Sweet Green Pepper, diced
  • 1 clove of Garlic, minced
  • 2 ribs of Celery, diced
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons of chili powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of Lemon Juice
  • splash of hot sauce
  • Ham Hocks or Fat Back or Baked Ham, diced
Directions: Throw the beans into a large pot, cover with water & rinse.  After the beans are clean, cover wtih clean water. Bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and let them soak, off the heat, for a least 1 hour.  Then bring them back to a boil and simmer for another hour. 

Prepare the veggies.  After the simmer is completed, add the veggies, the rest of the ingredients, and choice of ham. (You many want to add a ham-based stock along with the meat.)  Cover and simmer for another hour.
Serve hot, with your choice of corn bread, croutons or soda crackers, or other.  Then you can say along with me, "Bean there, done that!"  :)

"It takes judgment to plant seeds at the right time, in the right place, and hard digging to make them grow, whether in the vegetable garden or in the garden of our lives." Laura Ingalls Wilder

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

Thursday, January 3, 2013

National Soup Month!

I make my soup from scratch - to me, there is no other way to do it!  I work from generational recipes for soup stock.  To make the stock, you heat your oven to a high temperature, (maybe 400 degrees F.) throw some cut up meat (with bones even) into a roasting pan.  Douse it with oil.  Add some carrots, onions and celery.  Let everything cook for about 1/2 hour, turning it, so that it does just burn.  Skim off any fat.  Next, you put it all into a large pot on top of the stove.  Add a bay leaf, herbs, tomato, and cover with water.  Cooking this over a medium heat for some 6 to 8 hours.  Skim off the fat.  Strain everything, keeping the liquid.  This is your basic stock.  It can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, or you can freeze it for use at another time.

When you use a stock and make your soup from scratch, you are keeping all the natural nutrition.  And you don't need to add all the salt that you find in all those canned soups!  This is the way your ancstors ate.  Don't fall into the trap of eating out of a can just for convenience sake!  If you make your stock and keep it on hand, you'll have what you need to make soup any time. 

This is a good time, if you are one who is looking to make a New Year's Resolution to eat healthy - make some soup stock, you won't regret it!

"As far back as I can remember, the old times were good times.  They have been good all down through the years, full of love and service, of ideals and achievement - the future is ours to make it what we will."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

If you'll take the time to do this, you'll only be doing it a few times each year (unless you eat a lot of soup!)  If you if try it, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here.  Thanks. 

Happy "National Soup Month"!  I'll be posting some soup recipes on here this month, Lord willing.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Dawning of a New Year!

"I never have been in favor of making good resolutions on New Year's Day just because it was the first day of the year.  Any day may begin a new year for us in that way." Laura Ingalls Wilder
And so we begin to make our way into another year.  What is ahead for us in this new year?  Only the Lord knows!  But I am thankful to Him for His blessings throughout the last year and know that as long as I put Him in the new year, I will receive more blessings.  Will I see things line up the way I'd like them to be?  Probably not.  But trusting the Lord for all things gives me the hope that I need to see me through another year, a day at a time!  I hope you have the same outlook and will have the same outcome.  Let's work for His Will to be done here on earth!

Laura's "Sweet Memories" is still here and will be as long as the Lord provides for its existence.  Of course that doesn't mean that plans can't be made to improve things in the shop.  If you would, please help me out, by leaving comments on the previous posting about "Needed Feedback".  Then my efforts might bring everyone a greater reward in this new year.

I hope you and yours will have a very prosperous new year!

Here, the cats who have adopted me and my home, celebrate on January 2nd - "Happy Mew Year For Cats Day". 
"A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other thing."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Be blessed by the Lord in this new year!  (Proverbs 3: 5,6 & 3rd John, verse 2) The Old Man in the Bib Overalls