Saturday, February 27, 2016

Daily Doin's, Last Week Of February, 2016

I haven't done a Daily Doin's post for awhile, and I just have a jumble of things to write about, so go get your cup of whatever, heeeeeere we go.......

I start this on Sunday morning, February 21.







One of the cool things about living In The Country is that you get to see stuff like this on a daily basis.  When we lived in Lake Station, Indiana (which had just changed their name from "East Gary"), the sky was always gray, and the air smelled bad.  I missed those spectacular Oklahoma sunrises and sunsets.  And when I got in the car and drove, one town stretched into another.  It was always reassuring to come back here on vacation, just to see those hay fields and acres of ground with nothing on it but grazing livestock.  I didn't think I'd miss any part of living in northern Indiana, but after we moved back "home" I missed the U-Pick Farms.  Cool summers. (except that the price was Winter from Halloween through Mother's Day, and Lake Effect Snow OMG).  But Lord, please don't let me ever start taking this for granted.  Amen.  These Longhorn cattle belong to one of our neighbors.

Hubs and I went garagin' Saturday morning.  It's early in the spring and most people don't have garage sales till it's further into the summer.  So people who are addicted to going to garage sales flock to what few there are, this time of year.  Mostly they're estate sales and moving sales. 

We didn't find much.  My wallet is beginning to show it's age and Hubs drew my attention to a new one, for which I paid $2.  We had to buy a new wallet for him on Amazon, as his old one fell apart.  He sounded the alarm before it happened and we hoped to find a new one at a garage sale all during last summer, but didn't, and it was kind of painful to have to pay Amazon $15 for one.  This summer we'll probably see men's wallets at every sale we go to. 

Sometimes it's interesting to see what people sell at their garage sales.  Clearly we are a nation of impulse buyers, and, at gift-giving time, givers of unwanted stuff.  Our children get toys at Christmas and birthdays when they already have so many that, to make room for the new stuff, they have to get rid of some of the perfectly good stuff they already have.  I can't help but think how much better off, financially, we Americans would be, if we just used more restraint when we buy things.  Not that I'm really much better at that than anyone else.  But at least I buy most of my stuff at garage sales.   And when our kids were young, we DID things for their birthdays.  One year we went to Chicago and spent the whole day at The Museum Of Science And Industry.  Another time we went to The Enchanted Forest, an amusement park near Chesterton, a couple of hours' drive away.  Then there was Brookfield Zoo.  The kids would get balloons and hats, and we'd buy whatever food was sold wherever we were.  We liked to go to the beach at Lake Michigan during the late fall and early spring.  It would be deserted then and we'd have the whole beach to ourselves.  We'd bring a picnic lunch, play on the swings, hunt for driftwood and little shells at the edge of the water, and dig in the sand.  It was the same for the grandsons.  We went to Kiddie Park every Saturday night during the summer for years, while they were young.  At first, we'd walk around to all the rides with them, and some of the rides, I'd go on with them.  Later on, after they were older, Hubs and I would sit under the gazebo and keep the tickets so the boys would have to come to us between rides to get another ticket.  If too much time passed, one of us would go look around, and find them standing in a long line.  But this way we knew approximately where they were all the time.  We went to Safari Zoo, and the zoo in Tulsa, and to the big Go-Cart track in Tulsa.  They loved that.  Sometimes we'd let them celebrate their birthdays by inviting three or four friends over for a sleepover.  Their birthdays were pretty close together so we'd do for both on the same night.  JR and his friends didn't get along very well with JC and his friends, so we'd let one bunch have the living room and the other bunch have the family room, which were on opposite ends of the house.  Hubs would lay on the bed in our bedroom and watch TV.  And I'd be somewhere near the kitchen in the middle to hand out pizza and soft drinks and remind everybody to BE NICE.  Nobody would sleep much that night and Hubs and I would be plum tuckered the next morning.  There's something special about giving kids your TIME.  When you give your time, you are giving a piece of your LIFE and I don't care what anybody says, kids know the difference between being given someone's time and just having money thrown at them. 

Our local Habitat For Humanity had a sale and we went to that.  In many places, "the Re-Store", as they call it, is open every week day.  But ours is only open on occasional weekends and I feel like their prices are too high.  Seems like their stuff doesn't "move", either, as a lot of what I saw today was the same old stuff they have always had and I just didn't see anything that got my imagination going.  Lots of times I watch for things I can repurpose.  While we were there, we ran into Don, who was our grandsons' Boy Scout leader, and he had his son, Branden, with him.  Branden does appliance repair and buys used appliances.  A good fellow to have a connection to.  Don has several sons.  The youngest, Quentin, went to Florida right out of high school and learned how to repair motorcycles.  You know, some of these white-collar jobs may come and go, but if you know how to fix things, you will have work, even (and especially) when the economy is bad. 

I did finally get around to gluing a couple of garage sale finds together that I've had laying around the house for a long time.

This is just a tall candle stand and an old nicked-up teacup.  Of course the wind would have this blown down and broken in no time at all, and I was trying to think how I'd stabilize it.  Voila, just bury the bottom of the stand. 

Hubs and I watched a movie last night called, "Let's Be Cops".   There were a couple of instances of nudity that I felt added nothing to the plot, but you know how movie makers think their movies will bomb without it.  It's sad that movie makers have so little confidence in their craft.  It was a good movie otherwise and we enjoyed it.  I even managed to stay awake through the whole thing.

I've made some headway with the problem I have been having with sometimes not being able to see the pictures that I insert into the blog.  I had already tried going out of the browser and back in.  That didn't help.  Then I did a restart, and the problem went away.  Maybe something is not always loading right at boot-up.  And now since I've typed the word "Chrome" with my keyboard, Google has started putting a banner on my e-mail screen offering me a shortcut to use to "Get Chrome".  I'd be upset about Google reading my mail except that I never say anything that's any big secret, anyway, and if they can put up with the boredom of reading what I write, they can do it all day long for all I care.  I used to be really good at this computer stuff but it has gotten away from me and most of it now is just a struggle.  I was just thinking, though, about how technology has changed us.  I was at the doctor's office one time when there was a storm warning and everybody's phone weather alarms went off.  It was kind of spooky.  Our pastor says the schoolbus ride to extracurricular activities has changed.  What used to be a raucous ride, with chanting and singing, and so on, has been replaced with deathly quiet.  All the kids are sitting there peering into their cellphone.  It won't be long before entertainment is not all that necessary in nursing homes.  All the old folks will just be lined up along the wall in the Common Room, quietly staring into THEIR cellphone screens.  I also find it interesting that Apple will not provide our government with "a back door" into the cellphones of terrorists.  Seems to me this is a non-issue.  Just hand the phone to a high school kid. 

And then there's that Zika virus.  I wonder a lot about that.  For sure, it's a danger to pregnant women.  But otherwise, I just wonder if it's all that big a deal.  Or is there some long-term damage that'll come to light later?  If you've had Zika once, then are you immune, or not?  Can you ever be a blood or organ donor if you've had Zika?  Does the birth defect happen if you've had Zika BEFORE you got pregnant?  And what about these babies that are born with small heads.... is it permanent, or can it be treated?  I've had a lot of eye problems and I'm concerned about the conjunctivitis that seems to be a part of Zika.  Everybody knows that our news media "hypes up" everything, so as to increase viewers.  It's not just an American issue, I've seen people from other countries saying that their news sources do that too.  It's just that no one tells us the plain, unvarnished truth anymore.  I get so sick and tired of how they just drone on with THE SAME news items, over and over, all day long, day after day.  It's not "Breaking News" if we heard it yesterday, folks!!  So, are we not to worry about West Nile anymore?  Or Ebola?  I haven't heard anything about Bird Flu in a long time.  I remember hearing, back in my youth, about how lots of our national officials kept certain facts from the general public because they didn't want to panic anyone.  NOW, it seems like panic is what they're going for.

Of course we're deep into preparations for a new presidential election, here in the US.  I don't mind telling you, I've voted for "The Lesser Of Two Evils" for sooooo long, I wouldn't know how to handle it if I had two fantastic candidates to choose from.  It's sad when you have to vote for someone simply because the other candidate scares your pants right off.  That's going to be the case, this time for sure, except now I need to figure out WHO scares me MORE, and that's no way to pick a person that's going to run your country.  But of course we know the president doesn't, really, run our country.  It's all those Senators and Representatives that weren't thought about long and hard enough when they were elected / installed.  Their problem is, they don't want to work.  They want to go home.  And I think they should.  PERMANENTLY.  Let someone who has the best interests of the country at heart have their job.  America.  Land Of Political Gridlock.  Land Of Opportunity For The Rich And Powerful.  I love my country but I hate how it's being run right into the ground.  When candidates for important offices are picked, why can't we choose from truly qualified people?  I know they exist in America.  Instead they just load up The Clown Car.  ...Is it just that truly qualified people are too smart to WANT the job?  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Hubs was watching Innovation Nation Saturday on PBS when I walked through to fill my coffee cup.  I stopped because I like this show, at least till they get to the part where the young woman stands there and tells us the meaning of all the "big words" they used during the show.  I learned those words in high school, so it's boring, and kind of depressing to think that it actually might be necessary to explain the meanings of words to adults.  What's next?  Will they have someone to explain the words we hear on the news?  Oh, but don't get me started on the poor grammar those newscasters use.  THEY should know better.  But, anyway, I always find something of interest during the rest of the show.  For instance, do you know how Kellogg's Corn Flakes came about?  John Harvey Kellogg and his brother, Will, ran a sanitarium / health retreat in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Will had boiled a blend of ground corn and oats and then mistakenly left it "setting out" too long.  So, being frugal, they rolled it out flat and it turned into flakes, which they then toasted.  Everyone loved this new "cereal".  Will created the Kellogg's cereal company to mass produce corn flakes in 1897, but John Harvey did not associate himself with it because Will added sugar to the cereal.  So there you have it.  And yes, there is so much sugar in cereal that you might as well just eat cookies for breakfast.  How they can get away with pricing cereal at $3 and $4 a box is beyond me.  I always cooked breakfast for my kids, and as they grew older, they learned to make it for themselves.  Anyone can cook an egg and make toast.  Or make real oatmeal in the microwave.  Kids love to cook.  You just have to watch them at first when they're using the stove, because they try to cook everything with the highest heat possible, and they're not careful about turning things off.  So if you're not going to be right there when they cook, teach them how to make scrambled eggs with the microwave.  My grandkids also had one of those "sandwich makers" and they'd make all kinds of hot sandwiches.  You have to be there for that, though, or make sure the appliance has an automatic shut-off. 

They also had a piece on The Green Pizza Box.  Some guy perforated the top so it would tear easily into square sections to become "plates", and the bottom so it'd fold in half to store what's left of the pizza.  Of course, you can use scissors and do this yourself if you have a regular pizza box.  And we gardeners have been putting cardboard in our gardens for years.  Does it seem, to you, like most people don't THINK anymore?  Just put down the cell phone for awhile and try to figure something out for yourself.  It's good brain exercise.  I sincerely hope we don't find out, some years down the road, that all this letting the Internet do our thinking for us is going to weaken our brains so badly that we can't function without it.  What's that we said in the 60's?  If You Don't Use It, You Lose It?  Sad to say, the person who coined that phrase wasn't talking about the MIND, if you know what I mean, but over the years we've all come to understand that is a real law that applies to a lot of other things besides sex: Muscles.  Good Habits.  Singing and Instrument Playing.  Math Skills.  Brain Functions.  And so on.  Have you ever thought about what a miracle your brain and physical body is??  It does so much more than just carry your soul around.  But we don't appreciate it.  We abuse and neglect it. 

I also hope, returning to the subject of cardboard, that we don't find out after so many years of exposure to it, that there's some chemical used in the creation of cardboard that is going to turn us into zombies. 

This is now Monday. 

We went to church Sunday and then to a baked potato dinner which was a fund-raiser for their mission trip to New Mexico this summer.  We sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness and it is one of my favorite old hymns.  Apparently it's that for others as well, as it's all over YouTube.  HERE is one.  That'll open the way for others to follow if you want.  How Great Thou Art is next in line and that's one I love as well.  I sang this song a lot after my daughter went off to Tulsa and took my little grandsons with her.  It was all that kept me sane, I worried about the boys so, and with good reason.  I was in tears most of the time.  After God made it possible for us to adopt those little boys, we sang this in the car on the way to school every morning.  As teenagers they knew the song so well they were able to sing it without looking at the hymnal.  And they would look over at me and we'd smile a secret smile at each other. 

This is now Wednesday, Feb. 23.

We have caught two rats so far.  None for the last 48 hours.  I see the hawks hunting in Charlie's field in back of us, so there are probably some running around out there.  Or maybe they are getting rabbits (Evil Cackle....).  I don't like reducing the food that's available for the Birds Of Prey but I don't want the rats reducing the food that's available for US, either.  If it wasn't for the fact that we get over-run, I'd just relocate them somewhere, miles away from anybody's home, but somehow I don't think there will ever be a rat shortage, anywhere.  Maybe in the event of a Rat Flu or something.  But even if there is, I don't think my trapping them is going to make a difference one way or the other. 

It looks like temperatures are going to start cooling off and getting back to what is normal, if there IS such a thing in Oklahoma, for February.  Not soon enough, however.  The Nanking cherry bushes have already started to bloom, meaning no cherries this year because the flowers will be nipped by the freezing nights to come within the next 48 hours.  The bigger fruit trees have started to leaf out but are not yet in bloom, leaving hope that, two years out of three, is dashed come late March, early April.  It's one of God's true miracles that our pioneer ancestors lived through all kinds of stuff like this.  How they managed to survive and populate the country is more than I can wrap my brain around.

Yesterday morning I researched the making of Sprouted Wheat Bread.  I've been buying my wheat berries from Holman Seed in Collinsville for the last couple of years, but last fall what I got was full of chaff and I'm not sure whether it's safe to grind the chaff with the wheat berry.  It would add fiber, to be sure.  But I wonder if there's dirt and other stuff in the wheat that I wouldn't want in my bread.  I've tried winnowing, and we've certainly had the wind-power for that.  But I'm not very good at it.  So I'd been thinking about covering the grains with water so that I could wash them, and so that the chaff would float to the top and all that could be poured off, but then I'm left with wet grains and I sure don't want to risk gumming up my expensive electric grain mill.  So I'd have to make sure I got them perfectly dry before using.  Then I found a tutorial HERE which told me that sprouted wheat is so much more nutritional, and a phytochemical is destroyed in the sprouting process, therefore making the bread easier to digest.  The wheat we got from Holman's in 2014 was wonderful stuff.  Wayne Herriman, the owner, has assured me that they sell a lot of it to people who use it for bread-making.  It has more rising power than the organic wheat I'd been buying from the Oklahoma Food Co-Op and is less expensive by quite a bit.  Next year, I'm going to talk to Wayne about the quality of the 2015 wheat, and I'll need him to show me what the wheat inside the bag looks like before I buy his 2016 wheat.  It's just really amazing, how hard it is to find a source for wheat berries here, considering that Oklahoma is a wheat-producing state, and so is Kansas. 

If you've ever heard of Ezekiel Bread and wondered how it's made, HERE is a site that contains that information.  I don't have access to several of the grains called for, but I could probably get them from Holman's in the fall.  If you grind beans in your flour mill, make sure they have dried completely and do only small quantities at a time and then grind hard grains in between batches.  Adding bean flour to your bread recipe is a good way to increase the protein.  I don't know why you couldn't cook the beans till soft, mash, and add them to any bread or cookie recipe with the liquids. I think I'd rather do that than risk damage to my mill.

Speaking of beans, HERE is an Allrecipes recipe for Power Cookies, which uses cooked Cannellini beans.  I can't find that kind of bean for sale anywhere here but I'm told Great Northern is an acceptable substitute, and they can be found in any grocery store in this area. 

I don't care much for cold weather but at least I can wear my sweats again.  I've been watching the garage sales for pants in my size that are loose in the knee area (so it won't irritate my knee scar) but haven't found any so this will give me a little more time. 

Today I rinsed my wheat berries that I am sprouting.  Already there are little "toes". 

I'm not supposed to let them get very far into the germination process so maybe even as early as later today, I will be whirring the berries around in my food processor.  Some people dehydrate their sprouted wheat berries and then grind them in their flour mills, but I'd rather skip that step, if it works well enough to make a dough out of them while they're still damp.  My kitchen is kind of cold unless I'm baking or pressure-cooking something, so I decided to just stick the bowl of damp wheat berries into the oven and leave the light on.  I can even turn that bowl upside-down about halfway through if it seems like it's drying out on the top.  So far it seems to be working just fine.  The oven stays wonderfully warm with just that light on. 

Thursday.  The rat count is up to three now. 

I decided to cut the cord on my sprouted wheat today.  OMG, WHAT A JOB!!!!  WHAT A MESS!!!!  And here's what I either did or WOULD do differently, if there's a next time.

First off, the tutorial I linked in a previous paragraph of this post is for two loaves of bread.  I like the bread recipe I normally use.  I let my bread machines do the kneading and into that I normally put 3.5 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of white flour, 1 TBSP of yeast, 3 TBSP each of honey and oil and 1 tsp. salt.  The amount of water is normally about 1 and 3/4 cups.  Those amounts are for EACH bread machine.  Each machine will process enough dough to make a 1.5 pound loaf.  I divided the sprouted wheat in half, as the instructions said, and ground each half in the workbowl of the food processor.  I have the Cuisinart with the larger workbowl and half the sprouted, rinsed, drained wheat was almost more than it could handle.  For my recipe, I'd only need to sprout four cups of wheat, not six.  And that would make it easier for me to deal with.  In all fairness, the woman who wrote the tutorial was making 100% whole wheat bread, so I guess three cups of wheat berries per loaf would be ok if you're doing that.  I just wanted my recipes the same so I could compare results.  My level of confidence was not such that I wanted to risk making a couple of huge bricks.

And truthfully, the washed wheat wanted to dry out so quickly in the warmth of the closed oven with the light on inside, even with a tight lid on the bowl, that I don't think I'd have had any problem getting it dry enough to grind in my flour mill.  I will try that, but not today.  Not this week.  Maybe not for a lonnnnnng while.

The damp, barely sprouted wheat WAS a little gummy.  It formed itself into a sticky ball with some of the dough sticking to the inside of the workbowl and on every nook and cranny of the blade.  I dumped this into the dough pan of one of the bread machines and then processed the other half, and put it in the dough pan of the second bread machine.  Added my yeast, white flour, honey, oil and salt and started the machines.  Each machine made a huge ball of dough that was still somewhat sticky when the kneading cycle was done, so I took them out, dusted with more white flour, and kneaded them by hand.  When I was done with that, I put both dough balls in a Tupperware bowl, snapped on the lid and burped it, and stuck it in the refrigerator.  By the end of the day it had risen to the point where it popped The Tupperware Seal.  So I went ahead and shaped the dough and set it to rise.  It rose quickly but then stuck to the towels I'd put on them.  They looked to be ok but the round rolls fell somewhat in the oven.  These little mini-breads hadn't stuck to the towel, and are better barometers of how things would've gone, had the dough not been so sticky. 

Hubs declined to eat any.  It isn't that he doesn't like to "live life on the edge", because if he didn't he wouldn't say certain things in front of me that he knows I think are rude and thoughtless .  And how he can be so partial to processed food when he grew up a poor boy, eating fried squirrel, or frog's legs, or whatever his family could get into a skillet, is beyond me. 

But oh, well.  I ate one of the round rolls.  Definitely would've been better had they not fallen, but not a hockey puck, not tough or chewy.  I was raised on home-made bread and some of IT was coarse and chewy, because Mom did not know that homemade bread does not store well in the refrigerator.  Either freeze it, or keep it in an airtight bag on the counter.  Nothing in between.  I just can't stand that grocery store bread that dissolves into nothing but foam when you put it in a bowl of soup. 

WHY did I go to all this trouble, you ask??  As I have seen others say when the same question has been posed to them, "Because I can".  Heh.  It was an experience.  Actually, a pretty good option for someone who wants to make bread from wheat berries but doesn't have a flour mill. 

This is now Saturday. 

My buddy Carole, who lives in Joplin, had hip surgery on Wednesday morning.  I told her not to try to call or e-mail me till it was convenient.  I know she's in good hands, and I want her to concentrate on healing and getting lots of rest.  I expect she'll be transferred from the hospital to the care center about Monday and she'll come home after being there about a week.  I sent her an e-mail, saying I wanted it to be there for when she was able to look at her mail, and last night I got an email back from her saying, "All is well".

Hubs and I have been to a couple of sales this morning, an estate sale and a high-dollar moving sale.  I didn't find anything I wanted, and if I had, I wouldn't have paid the prices they were asking at either sale.  Holy Cow....  I could buy NEW stuff for those prices.  The estate sale had a nice big rose bush right at the front door, and I found a branch that needed pruning off.  If anybody asks, The Rabbits Did It.  Then we stopped by Lowe's to see if they had their big bags of Vermiculite in.  Nope.  Just small bags and said they "didn't carry the big bags".  Well, that's news to me, Lowe's is where I've always bought my big bags of Vermiculite.  They suggested I go to a nursery and they might as well have said, "Go to Tulsa".  We'll be making a trip to Tulsa soon, because the new Costco is set to open in April.  I want to go to Home Depot, too, because I want to buy some concrete reinforcement wire in SHEETS, not those Gawdawful rolls.  And nobody here sells 6" thick foam overstuffed chair replacement cushions, either, but I can probably find them at JoAnn's in Tulsa.  All that made me a little Grumpy but I'm OK now.

It is a beautiful day and not windy.  And several days in a row without freezing temperatures expected now.  I enjoy the nice weather but it's bitter-sweet because it usually means there's a hard freeze coming that'll probably be after all the fruit trees have gone into bloom.  I hate when that happens.  I have lots of garden stuff to do, so I will sign off for this time and I'll have a garden post for you in a day or two.  Oh, by the way, I wanted to tell those of you who've been commenting that yes, I've read all your comments and enjoyed them, sorry I didn't answer any of them.  Been kind busy and all.  But you know I luvya, don'tcha?  Y'all rock on.... Hugs xoxoxo

2 comments:

  1. The bread looks good. I doubt I would have tried that technique. I still haven't bought a grain mill but do stick to King Arthur Flour only. It's higher priced but the bread is so much lighter. I can't believe Hubs doesn't love homemade bread! We tossed the last loaf that I bought in a pinch. Max hated it. He really likes the oatmeal bread that I toss everything in the mixer bowl and mix and knead it and then leave it to raise. One bowl, very little mess.

    Sounds like you may be getting the rats under control....I hope.

    Happy gardening.

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  2. Enjoyed hearing your news and would comment more, but rushing! As gld says - your bread looks great. When I'm leaving my bread to rise, I pat a little oil on the surface then cover it with cling film loosely "concertinad" up to allow for expansion, before keeping warm under a towel. Saves a lot of sticking and laundry! I mix in my Kenwood and only do one rise and it seems to work just fine - easy peasy ;-)

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