Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'll Take A Zombie With That Prepper

If our ancestors could ...
My grandfather's family and farm early 1900's
see the world today .. I think they'd roll over in their graves and go back to sleep.  They would be amused at all of the people that think it's cool to knit or make soap (for fun or to practice).  Baking bread .. well, that was done blindfolded.  Sweeping floors without an electric vacuum .. been there done that too.  How about going off into the woods to find herbs for healing?  That too!  Up before sunrise, milk the cows, feed the animals, cook, weave, garden, take care of children, clean, heat water for a once a week bath taken oldest to youngest using the same water in a portable tub.  Many folks were so dirt poor they had dirt floors.  Don't even get 'them' started about living off grid.  There was no grid to 'get off of'.  And, yet, myself included, we prance around 'discovering' that lost skills can be rekindled.  I think there is a reason some of these skills were 'lost.'  I'm not saying there is anything inherently wrong with rekindling the old ways, cutting down on our consumption of fuel, lessening our footprint.   And for sure our 'modern' food system is bankrupt ... but I think there is a hyper-activism in our society today fueled by fear of a meltdown and lots of people are lining up like lemmings waiting to rush with the crowd over the edge of a cliff.  There is a list a mile long of supplies ranging from bomb shelters to bug out huts ... gas masks to ammo and guns stashed between wall studs.    People going to and fro obtaining the latest-greatest gadgets.  Some folks are getting rich.  Others are becoming poorer.  TV shows are popping up feeding the frenzy.  Freeze dried this and freeze dried that.  They want INSTANT survival skills and spend TONs of money insuring their safety should any one of 100 disaster scenarios play out.  Whew!  Am I the only one that thinks this movement is a few tacos short of a fiesta platter?  It's almost akin to GOLD FEVER ..[greed and the contagious excitement] a type of RUSH.  Come let us reason together.  Be sensible.  Save some money for a rainy day.  Pay off debt.  Have a disaster plan for your family that doesn't include a thousand different ways to check out of society.  Really .. are the zombies that close to an invasion?  Life is too short .. get out and smell the roses.  Our ancestors did NOT think that survival skills and supplies could be obtained from watching a TV show for ideas.  They 'practiced' life every day and lived surviving the elements by their wits ... not from supplies someone has put on a list that you NEED to buy to survive.  I'm telling you .. I'd rather become zombie food than live in such panic driven fear.  Food for thought.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Moving Beyond The Basics ...

new shelves for storage
A few years ago, writing about gardening, baking bread, sprouting-drying-grinding wheat, saving money, making homemade cleaning supplies, etc. filled my blog with almost daily posts.  I suppose one can grow beyond the 'basics' and need to move on to something new.  On the horizon:  Fine tune canning skills; winter gardening; sourdough made in my sleep (oh I wish:); Dutch oven cookery; weekly hikes; kayaking on a river??; check out 4-H and therapeutic horseback riding for Nathan; birding ... and identifying and finding wild edibles.

I recently purchased a 'Grandpa Jake's Campfire Cooker for Dutch oven/outdoor cooking .. and can't wait for our fire pit to dry out to try my hand at outdoor cooking.

sprouted wheat drying

The 'old' skills are still being practiced and have now become routine; that's what happens when you practice, practice .. and practice.  

Hubby retires next year so we are getting 'ready' to live on his pension.  Paying off all debt has been our major goal as we enter this new phase of life.  With all of the uncertainty in the world, we don't want to have the added stress of a mortgage hanging over our heads after retirement.  Earlier this month we said goodby to Wells Fargo Bank and house payments.  In a few days it will 'hit' me when I don't have to write THAT check any longer.  Oh, don't worry .. we got hit with a tax bill to take its place after losing some tax deductions last year (daughter moving out .. no more school tuition payments .. little mortgage interest) .. it's going to take a bit of 'mental' adjustment to equate more tax with outgoing payments that could be written off.  I think we will still be ahead of the 'game' once I wrap my mind around the idea :)
canning supplies

Our storage room is coming along with the addition of new heavy duty shelving.  Each individual (new) shelf holds about 1500 pounds of weight .. so it is perfect for heavy canned goods.  Our extra kitchen gadgets now have a place that can be easily accessed.  And all of my canning jars are neatly stacked in their original boxes by size.  Most of the year our storage room is in the 50's F .. summer  in the low 60's F, which is perfect for storing garden seeds and canned goods.  It's also windowless .. so nice and dark keeping potatoes from sprouting.

What new/old basic skill have you recently mastered or are working on?

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to 'Convert' a Picky-Eater

My  5 year old grandson has a limited taste palette and he often won't eat the meals I prepare.  So .. I have been telling him about nutrition one bite at a time.  We have chats about my garden and the farm where we get some of our food.  He is now my kitchen helper washing and peeling carrots, chopping lettuce, and adding ingredients to the cooking pots.  Observing, soaking in, and hands on assistance is converting him to a boy that now enjoys carrots, milk, and even butter.  This morning I had him help churn butter in a crock.  Prior to today, he would always tell me, 'I don't like butter' .. not even hidden under jelly on toast.  After his try at making butter, I made him toast .. and he insisted Grandma not cover up 'his' butter with jelly.  We have little chats about where his food comes from each time he comes over.  That boy will one day be a discerning eater ... by golly!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Historic Continental Hotel Waffles

Our family enjoys waffles for breakfast so I often make a large batch and freeze the extra for midweek.  My go-to recipe has the additional step of whipping egg whites .. which on frenzied weekday mornings, makes me rethink making them.  I recently found a recipe that omitted this step .. and produces a great tasting waffle, from the 1887 White House Cookbook, it's called ~ Continental Hotel Waffles.  Doing a little research about this hotel, I have come to the conclusion that it's the same place now called, The Willard Intercontinental.

Here's the recipe ~

Put into one quart of sifted flour three teaspoonfuls of baking-powder, one teaspoonful of salt, one of sugar, all thoroughly stirred and sifted together; add a tablespoonful of melted butter, six well-beaten eggs, and a pint of sweet milk (fresh milk); cook in waffle-irons, heated and well-greased.  Serve hot.
My adaptation included a mix of freshly ground white winter wheat and soft wheat.  I needed a little more milk (about 1/4 cup) to give the consistency of pancake batter.  This recipe can be made in a bowl without a mixer and makes about 8-10 waffles.  My waffle iron is a Belgian maker .. and it takes about three minutes per waffle.  To prepare the extra waffles for freezing, place them single layer on a cold oven rack with the door open a bit so they don't get soggy .. (or a wire rack on the counter) .. when cooled place in zip lock bags and freeze.  To reheat, simple set out for a few minutes and toast or warm in a 350 oven.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Household Hints From the 1800's

To preserve brooms:  Dip them for a minute or two in a kettle of boiling suds once a week and they will last much longer, making them tough and pliable.  A carpet wears much longer swept with a broom cared for in this manner. (I'm sure this is meant for natural brooms)

To Ventilate a Room:  Place a pitcher of cold water on a table in your room and it will absorb all the gases with which the room is filled from the respiration of those eating or sleeping in the apartment.  Very few realize how important such purification is for the health of the family, or, indeed, understand or realize that there can be any impurity in the rooms; yet in a few hours a pitcher or a pail of cold water - the colder the more effective - will make the air of a room pure, but the water will be entirely unfit for use.
Home of my great grandparents, Osmond, Nebraska

To prevent lamp wicks from smoking:  Soak them in vinegar, and then dry them thoroughly.

Selected from:  The Original White House Cookbook, 1887 Edition

Fresh air is a must in our homes .. especially during the winter.  Prior to electricity, when wood or coal  was used to heat, and oil lamps gave light, indoor air quality was very poor.  Homes were not built as air tight as modern homes, so there was some exchange of outside air.  Our modern homes are very air tight making it important to have good ventilation.  Keeping a window cracked at night when the furnace is not cranked up .. will sometimes suffice.  At every opportunity, you should air out your home for the health of your family.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Today we're keeping up with routine maintenance at the Thrifty Garden/Home.  Hubby and I feel it is imperative to not let repair work stack up and have a small job turn into a big job.  Routine maintenance can be checking caulking around the window trim or around the bath tubs.  Keeping the carpets and wood floors vacuumed so they wear better and last longer.  De-greasing the stove hood and cleaning the stove top .. just small stuff that if neglected makes for drudgery later on.

Two days this week I was away from home all day long.  Eating out .. even being careful .. has led to food allergies (hives) .. so it's nice to be back in the kitchen making our own food.  I've even noticed inflammation in my hands from not so stellar food ingredients.  Our food system in the U.S.A. is pretty doomed unless you go above and beyond the fare offered in the general market/restaurant.

Spring is right around the corner .. although not free from the possibility of snow and frost, it's promising to see sunny blue skies and hear the birds chirping ... and thinning snow.

Have a blessed day!