Late Bloomer


People Who Love People

Jauneta StoutWhen does a stone sculpture become just a pile of rocks? The answer is when the weeder woman makes the dahlia bed into a rock garden. Sigh, there is a lesson to be learned here.

In case you are stuck in the recipe mode, blackberries are at their peak. My long-ago planted, thorn-less berries are still producing. Here is my favorite, easy, berry cobbler recipe. It is also wonderful made with peaches.

Blackberry Cobbler

For the filling:

• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup water or fruit juice
• 2 tablespoon butter
• 3 to 4 cups of blackberries
• 1 tablespoons cornstarch
• Nutmeg or cinnamon

For the topping:

• 1 cup flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 3 tablespoons Crisco
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup milk

1. Cook all filling ingredients in a heavy skillet until thick (my blackberries are very juicy and so don’t need extra juice.)

2. Pour in a casserole dish.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients, and spoon onto top of berries.

4. Sprinkle with sugar.

5. Bake at 400 degrees F until lightly brown.


Never mind solarization, recipes, and gardens. It is the people in life that make it worthwhile. (Well, solarization has its place. By the way, my solarization blog missed an important step. After smoothing the soil, you need to water to a depth of 12 inches before you cover with plastic.)

Recently I attended a baby shower, and I was captivated by the people. Especially the little people. The little tyke with bobbed haircut, straight from the 30’s. The darling little boy who helped unwrap the packages: diapers, plush elephants, and rabbits. The eight-week-old baby with her hair band in place. The hungry child crying for her bottle. The child who lived at the home, sharing her playroom.

Three mommas-to-be, stomachs bulging. The young mothers with children in tow. Lots of them.

The great grandmother, attractive with short, stylish, grey hair. I’ll bet she had stories to tell.

The honoree, beautiful and full of life, ah-hum.

Life is good.

Until next time.

kids on jungle gym
Photo by Fotolia/Shmel

Some Like It Hot

Jauneta StoutExtra high temperatures this summer have made watering the potted flowers a chore. However, the sun is necessary for our well being, the growth of all our plants, and all life. Then I read about one more asset: solarization.

A garden without weeds, disease or insects? No way.

This is what they claim for solarization. Here are the necessary steps:

1. Get rid of all growth in the spot you choose, large or small.
2. Work the ground.
3. Smooth and level surface of the soil.
4. Cover with black plastic sheeting or clear, not a blue tarp.
5. Fasten down edges of plastic so it is taunt against soil
6. Must have at least 6 hours of hot sun daily for 6-8 weeks.

Theoretically you should have sterilized soil ready for planting. What a boon that would be for raised beds.

Now if I can get out there and clear a spot while the sun is hot ...

Sunlit soil
Photo by Fotolia/lily

The Agony and Ecstasy of Cooking and Baking

Jauneta StoutWhat you do with what you’ve got applies to more than time, talent and money. It applies to recipes. Most cooks know the agony and the ecstasy of changing the recipe just a little bit. The trick, of course, is knowing when you must adhere faithfully and when you can improvise.

So, we come to potato salad. I envy you folks who have new potatoes and tomatoes just a few yards away in your well tended gardens. But, not all is lost. The local road side stand had both, just what I needed for a new recipe.

New Potato Salad

The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon pesto sauce. I have made pesto when basil was plentiful, but now it is limited to a space in the herb pot. So, eliminate that. Here is the recipe I found possible with what I had on hand. I found it to be in the ecstasy class.

8 medium new red potatoes
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt
1/2 cup (more or less) mayonnaise
1/4 cup onion
1 rib celery, minced
1/2 cup (or more) rough chopped mixed herbs
1/2 cup chopped tomato

Cut unpeeled red potatoes in 1-inch pieces. Cook briefly in salted water. The trick is not to overcook them. They need to have some bite. Drain, add vinegar and salt, toss. Chill. While they are chilling prepare dressing by chopping celery, onions and herbs to a medium chop (food processor works good here) and add to mayo. When all is chilled, combine, add chopped tomatoes and enjoy! I used a combination of parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary. Be sure to remove the hard stems of herbs.

For Elizabeth, who wanted my sour dough bread recipe. This recipe is known as Akiko’s Sourdough Bread.

First you must have some sourdough starter. I do have recipes for making your own, but getting some from a friend is easier. To feed the sourdough use 1 cup warm water (microwave 1 minute), add 3/4 cup sugar, and 3 heaping tablespoons instant mashed potatoes . Stir until dissolved, then add to existing starter. Use all glass containers. Let sourdough mixture sit at room temperature least 8 hours. It should get nice and bubbly, then refrigerate. In a day or two, or up to a week, you can make the bread.

Measure 1-1/4 cups starter, set aside. Put remaining starter back in fridge.

In a very large non-metal bowl mix 1-1/2 cups warm water (microwave 1 minute), 1 tablespoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until dissolved, then add 1/2 cup canola oil. Add the starter and stir. Add 6 cups bread flour. Have an extra 1 cup flour ready for the board and as needed. Knead on floured board, turning and pressing with heel of hand until nice and elastic, about 5 minutes. Return to large, well oiled bowl, cover and let rise for from 8 to 10 hours. May leave overnight.

The next day, knead again, briefly. Divide dough into 3 loves and place in bread pans coated with shortening or coconut oil. Oil tops of loaves. With sharp knife make diagonal cuts in loaves. Let rise for 8 to 10 hours. (I have left it overnight.) Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. Butter tops of loaves and cool on wire rack.

Tip: One batch will act differently from the next. May rise more, need longer to rise. But all is delicious.

Starter can remain in fridge for a week or longer between feedings. There will be a difference in the taste of the bread the longer it is between feedings. This basic recipe is rather sweet.

Bread

Photo by Fotolia/arianhabich

Good Ole Days

Jauneta Stout1946 was a good year for Cora. World War II was over, the farm was paid for; she, her husband and grown daughter were in good health. They were highly thought of in the community because they were hard workers and good producers. They cared for an orchard, bees, a vegetable garden, all kinds of poultry, hogs and cattle.

Cora also kept good records. Here are excerpts from her ledger:

Mar. Sold wheat $641.00
April 14, Sold 72 dozen eggs at 27 cents a dozen $19.44
July 1, Sold cream 14.45
6 gallons cherries 4.50
4 quarts strawberries 2.00

A sample of her canning record: 17 quarts apples, 20 quarts blackberries, 4 gallon apple butter, 23 gallon meat fried down.

Next to the canning record was this note: "Went to the fair in Indianapolis on Wednesday. "

She recorded this information: "For moths in honey use carbon disulfide. Heat honey to 163 degrees for 3 minutes and it will not turn dark."

For a moment in time, life was good.

Honey

Photo by Fotolia/sola_sola

The Guys Came Visiting

Jauneta StoutThe Guys came to visit. All five of them. I was ill-prepared, but they didn’t seem to notice. The beds upstairs weren’t made; the pies weren’t baked and I had on ragged shorts. But we had a good time.

Big Spender was on his way north to buy an antique, Farmall tractor. They all enjoyed the stop-over at the Amish Store in Fountain City, In. where they stocked up on bulk candy, meats and cheeses to take home.

Historian and I continued our efforts to restore the gravestone marker of our great grandfather, a Civil War veteran. We visited the county historical society, the courthouse, the health department, the veteran’s services office but we didn’t get anywhere. We needed the death certificate of a man who died in 1901 and it wasn’t available. Even though we had all kinds of records, we didn’t have a death certificate. Another trip and another search.

Helper and Techie demonstrated what a smart phone is all about. A difficult question — he could get the answer. He had an alarm clock and a flashlight at the ready. His greatest asset was his willingness to do tasks I hadn’t even given a thought to. Edging the sidewalk; sweeping the chicken-house (storage shed) and bringing me chocolate candy. You can’t beat that.

Coffeemaker was the first one up and the first one to bed. When you smelled the Maxwell House it was time to get up. He was also good at clearing up the supper dishes. He knew where the dishwasher was and he found the compost pile.

Younger brought levity to the group. He had a handle-bar moustache and was a good help with the mechanics of the trip.

I finally got around to the pie baking. They gave praises to my Sugar Cream Pie. There are many recipes for milk, or sugar cream pie. It is the Indiana State Pie; also a favorite at the Golden Lamb Restaurant at Lebanon, Ohio. My recipe from the Indiana Agrinews is quick and easy.

Sugar Cream Pie

1 pre-baked pie crust
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkle of nutmeg

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add sugar and cornstarch, stirring until blended. Slowly add cream and cook until thickened. Remove rom heat, add vanilla. Pour into crust, sprinkle with nutmeg and cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Another favorite with the Guys was the rhubarb jam.

Rhubarb Jam

5 cups rhubarb, diced very fine
3 cups sugar
1 3-oz. box strawberry jello

Stir rhubarb and sugar together in large bowl and let stand over night. Mix thoroughly and cook in heavy pan, boiling on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in jello. Pour in jars and seal. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Rhubarb

Photo by Fotolia/fotogal

It's What You Do With What You've Got

Jauneta StoutSome people have more money, talent and time, but — you guessed it.

The left-over mashed potatoes might be mush for the compost pile, but I chose potato cakes, added some fried mushrooms, an egg, some chopped basil, coated them with flour, fried the cakes in a little butter and the potato cakes made a delicious meal. The crisper drawer of the fridge always has some vegetables almost past their prime. So vegetable soup it is. Just add some soup base and a fresh herb from the herb pot at the back door. It makes enough for several meals. I am aware of wasted food all over the country; what better place to start than at home.

But don’t look in my deep freeze, that’s another story.

Money is a tough one; maybe I’ll need it down the road. I don’t need, but I want a new style sweater from the catalog. I also want to subscribe to a magazine for the neighbor children. Difficult decision.

Talent? What talent, we wonder. Is baking bread a talent? I could share a loaf with a new neighbor I haven’t as yet met. They moved in last winter. There is something blooming in the garden all the time. I could take a bouquet to church. My friend in the nursing home might enjoy some snapdragons.

Then there is time. It not only passes but through the years my daily routine has changed. I take more time for napping, or reading. And I know that’s not all bad. Nobody schedules my day, I’m pretty free to do as I please. What exactly should I be doing with my time? Bible study, listening to a friend or picking berries? Berries I could make into jam and share?

A little work, a little fun, a little time for others. Balance will do it.

I’m thankful for what I’ve got.

Pancakes

Photo by Fotolia/Vladislav Nosik

Win Some, Lose Some

Jauneta StoutWin some, lose some. Ask the college basketball coaches. It’s the same for all of us. Take the seeds I started in the basement. It took weeks before I figured out the failure was due to a mouse having breakfast, dinner and supper on seedlings. I started over, the seedlings are doing nicely, a month late. Not to mention the costly seeds lost.

Then I look at my freshly baked sourdough bread. Definitely a Win, thanks to a friend who shared her sourdough starter. Sourdough bread takes time and patience, but it is worth it. If you need a recipe, just ask.

Freshly baked sourdough bread

There are the plants damaged by the untimely weather. Tulips, peonies; not one lilac bouquet. I have never seen such brown leaves on peonies. Hopefully there will still be blooms. The hydrangea tree — damaged.

I jumped to the conclusion that I had had spray damage. Perhaps the cornfield across the road, or our freshly planted cornfield a long field away.

Then my son showed me his weather compilations. Extra warm March, (I had enjoyed, blissfully); then the first week of April night time temperatures below 30 or just above. For a week.

It wasn’t chemical burn, but the weather. Farming is our livelihood; spraying before planting is part of the process. Operators are careful to spray when the air is calm and to keep their equipment working properly. But I continue to be suspicious.

The herb pot is doing nicely since I inserted the plastic bottle with side holes and rocks for better water retention.

The bright pot of violas at the back door tells me that not all is lost. A definite Win.

My southern sister is coming for a visit. Flowers are blooming at the back door, and fresh bread; a definite Win.

Violas at the back door







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