Friday, June 28, 2013

Angry Words & Freda

Thanks for reading Freda's thoughts for this day.  If you would, please leave a comment here to encourage her and I'll pass it on to her.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Celebrating, "Log Cabin Day"!

Old-fashioned you say!  Well, have you ever heard the saying, "If it was good enough for my grandparents, it's good enough for me." ?  When European immigrants first found their way to these shores, they found a land pretty much untouched.  It was full of unclaimed trees.  Those trees became the perfect source for building houses.  And what quicker way to build a house than with logs?

The first time I was inside a log cabin, I was struck by the insulation factor of the logs.  It was a very hot day, with temperatures in the 90's.  But inside the log cabin, it was cool; probably about 70 degrees.  I haven't been in one during cold weather, but I'd think the logs would retain the heat if the interior was heated and the logs were chinked well.

And now, in this present day, the log cabin holds a nostalgic value as well.  When we think about log cabins, many prominent figures of American history come to mind.  President Lincoln was born and lived in a log cabin, as did many of our pioneering heroes, like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.  But, to me, the log cabin took on a new nostalgic value, when I started to learn about pioneer life from reading the "Little House" books.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her first memories of living in the "Big Woods" of Wisconsin, " a little gray house made of logs."  As she went on to describe her life on the prairie in other volumes, she told of her family building log homes.  And as she came to live, here in Mansfield, Missouri, she and her husband and little girl, first lived in a log cabin.

These days, the log cabin has become the exquisite, "Log Home"; made of finely milled logs, kiln dried, cut to precession and pieced together at a factory.  They are then shipped to the site and reassembled.   While the intensive labor is taken away from the home owner, this has become a very popular home these days.  I wonder what Laura and her family would think if they could see this today!

I believe that growing up in a log cabin and facing hardships in her life fashioned her skills of observation and ultimately her writing abilities.  She left us with a keen view of Pioneer life.

"Youth ever gazes forward while age is inclined to look back. And so older persons think things were better when they were young."  "Those who stop dreaming never accomplish anything."  "We can work our dreams into realities if we try, but we must be willing to make the effort."  "I wish folks now had to live for a while like we did when I was young so they would know what work is and learn to appreciate what they have." Laura Ingalls Wilder

This miniature, which I made as a souvenir in my shop, will have to suffice as my attempt at building a log cabin.  And even that was time comsuming and pushed my skills as a craftsman! My days of being physically fit enough to build an actual log cabin are long gone!  But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to live in one still!  :)

I welcome your comments here on this subject. Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Freda Axiom

If you enjoy these posts from Freda, please leave her a comment here to encourage her. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Monday, June 17, 2013

A "Veggie Tale" Recipe

Following Father's Day is, "Eat Your Vegetables Day".  Sounds like something your father would say, doesn't it?  Unless things have changed since I was a youngster, this is still the motto of the family table!  And, again, if things haven't changed, it is still a challenge for parents to get those kids to eat their veggies!

Well, this may work for you parents out there.  This is a casserole recipe.  Casseroles are good for their ability to hide all sorts of things in them.  And it might work to help disguise some of those vegetables that some of the more finicky kids refuse to eat.

When I was growing up, you would learn to eat everything on your plate.   There was no choice!  There was no such thing as saying, "I won't eat such and such a vegetable!"  We respected our parents.  We knew that they worked hard to get the food they put on our plate.  We respected them, their authority, and their guidance.  If they told us that vegetables were good for us, we'd eat them; and never questioned it!  Oh, I did know of some kids who would be rebellious.  Those kids would tell the stories of how they got punished for their disobedience!   It made us grow and mature into good citizens and I wouldn't change that for the world!  I wish and pray that these values come back in our country.  They will be the country's salvation - well, they'll be the values that will help the whole world to get along!  (Not likely, but I still pray for it!)
Okay, here's my recipe:
Farmer Boy Best Casserole Ever!
(So named to hide the veggies even more!)
Ingredients: (made in 8x8 baking dish - if you need more for a larger family, just double or triple this and use a larger baking dish.)
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • small bunch of Kale
  • 1/3 Cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup of grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup of sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
  • about a dozen crushed Ritz Crackers
Directions: Spray non-stick into the baking dish.  Slice off coins of the squash and zucchini.  Layer them into the dish. Add slices of onion and tomato on top.  Drizzle the lemon juice on this.  Add dollops of sour cream.  Add the diced bell pepper.  Chop the Kale and add it.  Sprinkle half of the Parmesan on top.  Distribute the crackers.  Finish with more Parmesan and the Cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 40 to 45 minutes.
* To make this into a one-dish meal, I added some cooked crumbled pork sausage on top and then added the crackerss and cheeses.  I served it over a bed of noodles - you could us rice instead.

If this doesn't get those kids to eat their veggies, it's probably too late - they're spoiled!  :( 
I'm not saying that your kids should become Vegetarians, but God made these things, and He said they were good for us!   And Father knows best!
(By the way, adults like this recipe too! ;)

"Children should be made to obey or shown that to disobey brings punishment.  Thus, they will learn the lesson every good citizen and every good man and woman learns sooner or later - that breaking a law brings suffering."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a comment.  Thanks.
*By the way, I see that many have viewed my blog over time, but very few leave comments!  I don't know why this is the case, but I'd sure like to see more response from what I put on here!  And, for that matter, I'd like to see more people sign up as followers!  How about it, step into the flow!  Thanks.
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, June 14, 2013

Freda's Blessed Friday

Thanks for reading Freda's Thoughts for the day!    At age 91, she is doing pretty good to be able to keep her thoughts in order.  If you like these postings by Freda,  please leave a comment here to encourage her. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Ice Tea Day"

What could be more refreshing in the heat of the day than a big glass of Ice Tea?  (No, don't give us your answer if it differs!)  :)  This being "Ice Tea Day", I'm offering this recipe:
Farmer Boy Sweet Tea
  • Tea bags or loose tea
  • water, preferably clean, filtered (not bottled or distilled!)
  • Sugar syrup
Directions: Brew up some tea, * by boiling water and adding it to the tea.  (I like to use tea bags - less of a mess!) You are going to want to brew it to be very strong - so use more tea than you normally would.  Let it steep up to 5 minutes, but don't over steep or it will get bitter.   Then cool it to room temperature.
While it is cooling, you can make your sugar syrup.  Take one cup of sugar and dissolve it in one cup of water, over medium heat.  Bring it to a boil and simmer 2 minutes.  Cool this to room temperature or refrigerate. (This can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed bottle.
To make the ice tea, simply fill a glass with ice cubes.  Pour the cooled tea into the glass, followed by the sugar syrup (to taste).  You may wish to add a sprig of fresh mint or a slice of lemon also.
*Note: you could also use Sun Tea, (tea that is brewed by leaving the tea ball or bags in a jar of water, out in the hot sun for a few hours. This makes a really nice, smooth and mellow tasting tea!) And, for goodness sake, don't use instant tea!  :)

If you are a "Yankee", from the north, you may not be familiar with "Sweet Tea" or how to order it in a southern restaurant.  Here is the process: Simply say, "I'd like a Sweet Tea, please."  Or you don't have to be so formal, just say, "I'd like a Tea, please."  They'll know what you mean, because it is a "Southern" thing!  In fact, I don't think you could order it any other way!  :)

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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

National Doughnut Day

Every time I read "Farmer Boy", by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I get hungry for some old-fashioned home cooking recipes!  Why do you suppose that is the case"  :)

This time, as I read about how Almanzo's mother made those doughnuts, and I noticed that "National Doughnut Day" was on the horizon, I did something about it!  I went through my heirloom recipes and found the one that I remembered my Great Aunt making when I was but a young boy myself!  This is the recipe I'm sharing with you today.
Farmer Boy Cinnamon Donuts
Ingredients: (should make about 1 1/2 dozen, depending on thickness)
  • 2 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Cup of sweet milk (although my Aunt probably used Goat Milk)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Lard for frying (or vegetable oil - I used Peanut Oil)
  • sugar and cinnamon for coating
Directions: Place about 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon mixture into a paper lunch bag and set aside.
Place the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.  In another bowl, cream the egg and sugar.  Add the milk, and vanilla to the egg mixture.  Add all the wet mixture to the flour and stir.  Add more flour as needed, to make a thick batter.
Dump the batter onto a floured surface to roll out.  Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 1/2 by 8 inch strips.  Using your floured hands, roll each into ropes.  Finding the center of each rope, twist or braid them, sealing the ends.
In a kettle, heat the lard or oil to 375 degrees F.  Gently lower each twisted rope into the kettle to fry them. (Don't crowd them!) Fry each till they are golden brown.
Remove them to paper toweling.  Then, one at a time, shake gently in the paper bag of sugar/cinnamon to coat them.

I don't know if this is anything like the recipe that Mrs. Wilder used, but it is certainly what gave me my happy childhood memories of doughnuts!

I once saw this sign in the window of a bakery, "Seven days without doughnuts, makes one weak! (week)" :)

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

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"So many recipes, so little time!"

When you have literally hundreds of heirloom recipes, and there are only a few minutes in a day in which to look through the pile, you might miss something!  Well, this is the case here, with this recipe.  At some point I'd like to be able to organized all these recipes.  I don't see that happening any time soon, but it is one of those things you put on a "To Do" list.

As a result of not having them organized or categorized, I'm not always sure what the recipe makes! So many times I've come across something that was written a century or more ago, and it has a list of ingredients but no directions.  Others, like this one, have no name!  So where do I go from there? Well, in most cases, with recipes like that, they get put aside for further investigation at some time in the future.  If I'm on a quest to find a certain recipe or type of dish, I end up sorting through half of them each time!

I've been looking for a recipe which was mentioned in Laura's book, "Farmer Boy".  In the book it is called, "Rye 'n' Injun Bread".  Well, I figured it should be in my heirloom recipes somewhere.  But I haven't come across it yet.  Then, the other day, I happened to look at one of those, which was probably written down by my great grandmother, over a century ago.  It didn't have a recipe name, but as I looked at the list of ingredients, most of them are those associated with "Rye 'n' Injun Bread".  I say, "most" because there are some extra ingredients, like all-purpose flour, raisins, currents and chopped nuts.  So, I scratched my head in wonder.  But then it dawned on me - this was probably an altered "Rye 'n' Injun Bread" recipe.  Barbara M. Walker, in her "Little House Cookbook" talks about how the recipe changed over the years. And it probably changed from one locale to another as well.  My great grandmother had her roots in the Germanic settlements of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The only way I'd know for sure what I had in my hand was to make it.  Then, as I looked more at this old, handwritten recipe, I noticed that some of the directions didn't quite make sense. (Some of these recipes are written in "Broken English" - a cross between German and English.) So I had to spend some time, using my culinary knowledge, to figure out how I could make this recipe.
This is what I came up with:
Farmer Boy Rye 'n' Injun Brown Bread
  • 1 Cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup of Rye flour
  • 1 Cup of yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Cup of buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup of molasses
  • 3/4 Cup of raisins
  • 1/2 Cup of currents (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup of Pecans, roughly chopped
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flours, salt and baking soda.  Stir into this, the buttermilk, eggs and molasses.  When this is thoroughly mixed, stir in the raisins and pecans.  Pour this mixture into a greased loaf pan.  Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 300 degrees F. for about 1 1/2 hours. (Test with a probe.)  My recipe called for the use of a water bath in the oven, but I think you'd do best to avoid too much moisture when baking it.   I took the bath out after an hour, and it seemed just right!  It won't rise like most sweet breads, and might seem dry to you if you aren't familiar with "Brown Breads".

This is not the "definitive" Brown Bread recipe, but it is one that my family passed down for over a century.  I can only vaguely remember having it as a child; but I do remember having a store-bought "Brown Bread" that came in a can.  If my memory is working good, this recipe tastes better than the canned one!  My recipe called for "a slow oven", which might have been about 200 degrees and baking time was hours long!  But I don't think it would be completely safe to do it that long at such a low temperature, because of the eggs. (But maybe I'm wrong!)  I hope you'll try this recipe, if for no other reason, to have something like Almanzo ate as a boy!  If you make it, please come back here and leave a comment.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Sunday, June 2, 2013