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Light and Life

Apple Bread Recipe

Mary D. MartinThis recipe was given to me by a friend. Isn’t it wonderful how a recipe brings back wonderful memories of endearing friendships, dates in our personal history or places that we can only go back to as we reminisce? I hope this fall harvest recipe will begin a new chapter in your book of life.

Apple Bread

1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups diced apples
1 cup nuts, optional

Mix all ingredients well. Put in 2 greased loaf pans. Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Bake at 325 F for 45-55 minutes.

This bread stores well in the freezer if you can keep it from being eaten right away.

Apple bread

Canning Syrup

Mary D. MartinFunny what we assume. I grew up making a syrup for canning peaches and pears. Then about 30 years ago I learned an easier and more economical way. The way sugar prices keep going up, every drop counts. I thought everyone knew how to make syrup per jar until last week I was visiting with a young friend who was still making syrup. By the batch.

That ended my assumption. I have found that making syrup per jar saves money and is still very effective and efficient. For pears or peaches: put half cup sugar in the bottom of a quart jar. Add about 1 inch of boiling water to the jar (more is too much). Swirl the jar around a few times to sort of dissolve the sugar, then add the fruit. Top the jar off with hot water to proper height.

Seeing full jars on the shelves is as rewarding as it was to watch the first seedlings germinate as the warmth of the yellow sun coaxed them from the ground last spring.

canning syrup


The Good Ole Days

Mary D. MartinFrom time to time we hear of people longing for the good old days. This morning as I opened a jar of my canned peaches, I was grateful for the good new days!

My grandma had a wood-burning cook stove. To do canning meant keeping that stove burning all day, even though the outside weather might be a balmy 80 degrees. Water needed to be heated on the stove to wash and scald the jars, because there was no hot water heater or dishwasher. The stove continued to burn as vegetables were scalded or fruit simmered for jam. More wood to keep it hot for the processing of the jars. And of course the men in the fields needed to be fed full course meals at noon and in the evening, which included freshly cooked food, because refrigeration either didn’t exist or was a small ice box. No air conditioning or even a ceiling fan to cool ones’ self, because there was no electricity.

I am as happy to live in the good new days as a stray puppy is to have a boy to love him. I popped a bowl of water in the microwave for 1 minute. Then I turned the jar of fruit with the stuck lid, upside down in the hot water for a couple of minutes and, voilà, the lid came right off.

easy way to open a jar with a stuck lid


Water Pure, Water Clear … Water …

Mary D. MartinDoesn’t the very sound of the words – pure, clean water – give you a good feeling? What a blessing water is. We hear of areas struggling with drought, other places where people walk miles to carry drinkable water home, some locations dealing with the damage of dirty flood waters. But the bottom line is; water that is pure and clean is a blessing and the desire of all.

Growing up on the ranch, springtime helped me appreciate running water. The rolling, rush of dark, muddy water in the creek could not be pumped to the house. If muddy silt was sucked into the pump and water pipes, they would become clogged. Every spring we would haul every available container a mile up the valley to a spring to fill with clean liquid. Then back home we used the outhouse to conserve water, along with any other conservation method we could think of until the spring runoff was passed.

Today people carry around water bottles ranging in every imaginable size, color and material. In the 1960s, Daddy and I would saddle up and head up the mountain to check on the cattle. It was a long day on horseback. We each had an orange tucked in a pocket and Daddy usually had a few hard mint candies in his pocket. That was it for the day. At lunch we stopped by a small mountain stream. There hanging on a tree branch was a small metal cup. We took turns dipping it in the cool, clear water and drinking our fill. That was all we had to drink until reaching home that night. I learned to tolerate being thirsty, which is not a healthy thing to learn.

The brain is 85 percent water and needs to stay hydrated to function properly. Many people think that soda, juice, milk or coffee are a substitute for water. This is not true. A brain with sufficient water throughout the day functions better and quicker. It is fascinating to read about the importance of water to the brain. I am slowly learning, what I wish I had learned as a child. that drinking lots of water is very important to physical and mental health. It is so marvelous to think that health can be improved so easily and inexpensively! Just Drink Water.

water pure, water clear


Pie Cherries

Mary D. MartinI grew up with an old Montmorency cherry tree in the yard. Every year was a race to see whether my family or the birds would get the most cherries. The best part of cherries was Mom’s Cherry Cobbler with fresh cream poured over it. I still remember the song, ‘Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?’ Yes, my mom could, also, she could make a cherry pie quick as cat could wink its eye. (She is now 90 years young.)

I looked and looked for a Montmorency, to no avail. Finally, a few years ago I found a Carmine Jewel. It is hardy, Zone 3, fast growing, quick to produce and has the same great flavor. This year it out did itself. I picked bowls full. I am going to keep it pruned at 5 feet so I can cover it with netting to keep most of the birds out.

Tart cherries are high in antioxidants known for fighting cancer and heart disease. Tart cherries are also prized for their ability to reduce arthritis and gout pain. People suffering from such conditions usually drink cherry juice or eat dried cherries. I like cherries in both forms, as well as pie, cobbler and jam. Today I will share with you my favorite cherry cobbler recipe.

Mom's Cherry Cobbler 

Mom’s Cherry Cobbler

1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup milk
2 cups pitted tart cherries

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In 9-by-9-inch pan, melt butter. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, 1 cup sugar and milk; pour over melted butter.

Mix remaining sugar into cherries; do not drain. Pour cherries and any juice over batter. Do not mix into batter.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until brown.

Growing Container Vegetables

Mary D. MartinLife is ever changing. Change brings opportunities for new experiences and knowledge. Because of life’s circumstances, I didn’t plant a garden this year. I really enjoy fresh vegetables, so when I planted my flower pots I decided to experiment. I was probably overzealous when I planted. This year will be survival of the fittest.

The pot on the way to the chicken yard is growing a cherry tomato plant, so that I can pick easily and eat on the way to do chores. The open ground below seemed a good place for cucumber vines to wander. Plus flowers.

cherry tomato plant

Closer to the house, I planted a container of flowers, chard and a celebrity tomato plant. I know that an indeterminate tomato is not meant for a container because it will grow and grow and grow. Determinate plants were not available when I started this project, so I will simply stake it as it climbs. Between the main stem and the leaf (as shown in the photo) are where the suckers start. I plan to keep them removed so the plant doesn’t have so much to support in such a small place. Already I have learned that large containers do not dry out as quickly as I thought they would. Tomatoes do not like to be over watered, this invites disease.

container of flowers, chard and a celebrity tomato plant

My third pot hosts beans, carrots and beets! A bit much, I agree. Perhaps some I will harvest early for microgreens. My dog, Jazz, helped the other day with thinning, by eating all but one of the bean plants.

My third pot hosts beans, carrots and beets.

Fourth, but not least, is a pot at the end of the driveway. Already full of a variety of flowers, I tucked acorn squash seeds into three spots. The large leaves are so pretty coming over the sides. There is plenty of room for the vines, vigorously producing bright orange-yellow blossoms, to grow on ground.

Already full of a variety of flowers, I tucked acorn squash seeds into three spots.

I am as excited about this summer’s learning experience as a first grader eagerly awaiting the first day of school. With enthusiastic anticipation I look forward to harvesting from my mini gardens.

The Vigorous Vole

Mary D. MartinIn Eastern Idaho this year, we have been inundated with an overabundance of voles in the fields, pastures and yards. Their population was so numerous that I was actually seeing them in broad daylight. Because of their excessive numbers this year, I thought they should inspire me to something, so this little jiggle is what transpired. A word to the wise for others with vole problems, keep grass killed from the base of young trees this summer; in return the voles will be less likely to eat the tender bark off your trees next winter. A girdled tree will die.


The Vigorous Vole

It’s a little gray vole.

Nope, not a mole.

Busy digging a hole,

When the night’s black as coal.

By morning he’s taken a toll,

On my lawn at each knoll;

Dirt raised into a roll,

Enough grass to fill a bowl.

His habits are less than droll.

To be rid of him is my goal.

Well, bless my soul,

I just saw another vole!

damage by voles | courtesy Living, Learning, Sharing,

damage by voles | photo courtesy Living, Learning, Sharing...