Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Old Recipes

Some memories from the recipe box......
I was invited to a wedding shower and the invitation said to bring a recipe to share.  To pick the perfect recipe is harder that it might seem.  I don't cook like I did when the kids were all home.  Richard and I just eat differently now.  I don't have a garden, which is where much of our food came from when our children were growing up.  I did can tomatoes, tomato sauces, green beans, apple sauce and even jellies.  I loved freezing my own corn and other veggies.  It was hard work, but when winter came, it was so worth it!!!

 I love that this generation of young brides want to cook.  They seem excited about organic vegetables and making things from scratch.  Our sweet young bride to-be seemed delighted at all the kitchen things she received for gifts.  

As for the recipes she received, I don't know if she will try them or not.  What I most loved about the idea,  she has a little piece of who we are on that recipe card.  Lovingly hand written.  One recipe was hand written, it belonged to her Grandmother, who passed long ago.  Just having her handwriting on a recipe card is a special gift.  I also have in my recipe box hand written cards that were shared at my bridal shower forty three years ago.  These recipe cards remind me of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners as a family long ago.  They remind me of people who are no longer with us.   They remind me of family times together, sitting around a big table, laughing and talking.   Little memory jogs are kept in my old recipe box.

Emily and Trisha baking
cookies, 80's
I shared two recipes, the first was our favorite baked cheesecake recipe when my kids were growing up.  The second was from when I was growing up.  It became a favorite in our family as well.   It was a cake I learned to bake when I was a young girl.  The cake recipe came from an old pamphlet cookbook that was printed during WWII.  It was called the Wartime Cake.  This cake was great because it was egg less, butter less and milk less.  Supplies for cooking were scarce and certain items took ration cards during the war.  (I found a few of these ration books in my Grandmothers things.)  The shortening of choice was lard during that time.  Do kids today even know what lard is?  In my day we used Crisco, I think my kids use butter to make this cake now.

The funny story about this cake and me learning to bake was shared on the back of the recipe card too.  When I was learning to cook, everything required salt and pepper.  Well, why would it be different for a cake?  Haha!  I invented what the family called the "Pepper Cake"!  Oh, I only made it once, but it didn't go to waste, I'm sure my brother Brian was the only one who finished the first ever Pepper Cake. 

WARTIME CAKE  - 300* oven    -  50 to 60 min.  (don't over bake)
     1 cup of raisins
     1 cup brown sugar (packed)
     1 cup water
     1/2 cup shortening
     1 tsp. cinnamon
     1 tsp. nutmeg
     1 tsp. cloves
Combine these ingredients in a saucepan, heat to boil, simmer 2 min.  Cool

Sift together
     2 cups of all purpose flour
     1 tsp. soda
     1 tsp. salt

Add dry ingredients to cool raisin mixture.  Pour into greased 9" cake pan and bake 300* for 50 to 60 minutes.  Test with tooth pick for doneness, do not over bake.

From kitchen of  -  Cynthia (DeRemer) McDonald

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heat Wave

We seem to be in the middle of a heat wave in Ohio.  Of course, it isn't just Ohio, all the mid-west and eastern states seem to be in the same oven.  Our temperatures have been hovering in the near 100's for more than a week now.

Storms have torn through towns across the country.  Taking down trees and electric lines.  Power has been lost and it give us cause to rethink the dependency we have on electricity.  No air conditioning, no lights, no water, food in the freezer thawing and no showers. 

Oh some of us may have generators, but they will only run if there is gas to feed them.  What happens when there is no gas?  What about farms with animals to feed and water. 

I don't want to cause alarm, but don't you wonder if you could survive without all the modern conveniences of electric and gas?  I haven't watched all the survivor shows on TV for nothing, I might be able to make fire or build a little dry structure if necessary.   I wonder if I could continue to survive without all the modern conveniences?  Scares me a little to think about. 

A favorite book.........
I haven't had a garden in awhile, only growing a tomato plant or two.  Certainly not enough to live on.  I used to can tomatoes and green beans and corn.  I could do it again if I had to.  The thing is, you never know when the crisis will come, I wouldn't be ready to start today!!!! 

I'd love to have my own chickens and even a cow or goat to milk.  Not that I drink milk, but it can be used in cooking and making butter.  I am angered to the point of no return when I see government telling us we can't have home gardens and medicinal herbs growing around our yards.  It isn't neat and tidy like yards with sprinkler systems that get mowed on a weekly basis, most lawns can survive drought conditions.  Heaven forbid a family would have chickens or a goat!!!  I know of some housing areas that won't even allow a clothes line for wet laundry. 

Back in the 70's we were more conscious about wasting.   Before that, the great depression taught our elders to use and reuse everything!   Today we live in a throw away society and I get angry when an appliance has a life expectancy of only 10 years.  My kitchen range was twenty-five years old when we got married, I can still get it fixed today, at 50 years old it's considered an antique now.  I love that stove, no smooth cooktop for me, no self cleaning oven and it still works beautifully! 

Okay, meandering again, just saying, I think we all need to be more self sufficient.  It is a matter of survival.   Back in the 70's there was a softbound book I bought, Carla Emery's "An Encyclopedia of Country Living, Old Fashioned Recipe Book".  It talks about everything you could possibly want to know about surviving as a homesteader.  I will still look for something in this book now and then.   There is a book similar, if not the same, maybe an updated version on book shelves today.  Years ago, when my children were moving into their own places, they got a copy of this book, I wonder if they still have that book ...........  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July

Grandpa, Ralph DeRemer
Today is July 4th, 2012.  As a kid it was just another day, my parents never made it much of a big deal.  I do remember my Grandmother Rankin coming down and she always brought some sparklers and some firecrackers and a few cherry bombs.  Otherwise it wasn't much of a flag raising day.

I didn't know then that my paternal grandfather was a soldier in World War I.  I didn't know my birth father made a career with the Air Force.  I still know little about his life and his service to our country.  I found that two of my brothers served.  I am so proud to know this, I honor them and thank them for their sacrifices.

My youngest brother, Mitch just retired, he did three tours in Afghanistan.  He flew the Blackhawk helicopter and was awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross.   I think that kind of service changes a man.  I pray now for him to be able to go on and live a life that gives him peace and happiness. 

Red, White and Blue
Since discovering my fathers family, I have discovered two other young men, second cousins who are in the service, I ponder how brave they must be and honor their dedication to keep us free and protect our country.

Today I have my flags raised in the front yard.  I, at last, feel connected to those who have helped protect our rights and freedoms.  

One of the coolest things that happened this summer was when I took my brother Mike and his wife Jeanne to their first pow wow.  I have always been moved by the thanks and honor that go to the Veterans at pow wows and this year was no different.  They carry flags for each branch of the military and honored ALL who have served, the Veterans walk the sacred circle as we stood and saluted them, there were men and women, old and young.  This year they honored anyone who served in the military and had taken their final sacred journey in the past year.  Mike gave them our fathers name and it was read aloud with all the other names.  I felt proud to hear our fathers name, Stephen Guy DeRemer, read among the others.  Tears fall now as I write this blog, for our Dad and all others who have given so much.

Independence day for these
fledged barn swallows too.
It is a sad thing to be 63 years old and finally learn and feel the importance of this day.  I guess it is never too late to learn lessons in this life, I am glad to know my family is a part of the reason for this celebration.  My Blessings to you all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Road Farming

Summer evening in June.......
Long time ago, before children and other oblgations in life, such as being adults and endless things that needed to be done,  Richard and I used to go for rides around the countryside.  We would just enjoy time together in our little pickup truck.  My wonderful husband would take me on roads I'd never traveled, we were on his home ground, where he grew up.  He would point out homes of classmates and families we might know in common.  We had no air conditioning in our little yellow '67 Chevy truck, the windows were rolled down and the wind cooled us on hot summer evenings.

We named this aimless way of traveling, road farming.  Since my wonderful husband and I were from farm backgrounds it was fun to see fields being plowed and disc.  Rowing (watching it sprout in fields) corn and beans in late May was a sign crops were well on their way and planted on time.  Corn that was knee high by the fourth of July were sure to make ears and have time to dry on the stalk by late September.

This year, 2012, Richard and I are road farming again, this time from the top of a Harley Trike.  We are traveling roads that are unfamiliar to me, he names owners of houses we both know, identifies classmates homes from the class of 1965 and he now tells me where his past students live.  Names are familiar and stories are remembered. 

Tasseling corn June 30, 2012
We have watched the corn and beans grow this spring.   We have smelled the sweet aroma of hay that had be cut and was being baled.  We saw the wheat ripen and be combined and then baled for straw.  The sweet smell of wheat being harvested took me back to our dairy barn with straw bedding and the Greene County Fair when clean newly baled straw was used to bed the animals.  Today animals are bedded down with cedar shavings, a different smell and one our grandchildren will recall someday when they visit their own memories of the Greene County Fair.

On the last day of June 2012 we went for a cool ride on our Iron Horse, Blue.  We rode back country roads and saw corn that was starting to tassle, the smell of those tassles and the silks of newly form ears of corn was intoxicating.  What happened to "knee high by the fourth of July?", I ask Richard.  He said that all the crops were planted unusually early this year, no till planting began in April.  (Farmers no longer plow the earth and disc it smooth, it hopefully will save the fields from wind erosion.)

Wild flowers on the hillside...
Everything seems to be month early this year.  Already the two cuttings of hay have been taken from most fields and the July wheat was harvested in June.  Pastures are eaten down, cattle and horses are resting in the shade of lone trees in their pastures, it looks like late July.  The earth is thirsty for rain and summer storms come with high humidity and hot temperatures.  Summer seems to have come early in every respect. 

I have enjoyed Road Farming again, a time when things stop, you are living "in the moment" "taking time to smell the roses" and remember the way things were.  As much as things change, they remain the same.  We still enjoy the cool air on a hot summer evening.  Life is good............