Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Catch Up Time, Yet Again, Second Week of May

I am woefully behind on posts.  I keep thinking I should do a bunch of little short ones instead of these long things but I don't seem to be organized enough to do so. 

Hubs and I have been plugging along while I try to recover from shoulder surgery.  I'm making good progress but the doctor authorized another month of therapy and said he wanted me to be "good as new".  I like that orthopedic shoulder guy a lot better than I liked the orthopedic knee guy.  He is so kind and seems like he really cares about his patients.  I don't know much about the knee guy.  I never saw anybody but his PA except for the day of surgery, and I was out cold by the time he showed up.  I wouldn't know him if we passed on the street, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't recognize me, either.

I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying something political.  Sorry.

Hubs and I watch "The View" and yes, it is heavily Democrat slanted.  But hey.  Watch FOX news and you will find that they are so heavily slanted the other way and they are pretty darned petty and offensive about it with all this, "Democrats are just mad because they lost" chant.  That, to my mind, is like a married man that says, "My wife doesn't understand me".  It's a wide generalization and not true anyway, because the real truth is all so much more complicated than that.  If they so want Democrats to "get over it", they need to quit bringing it up and throwing it in our faces all the time.  Sheesh.

Up until this year, I have always voted for the "man" and not for the "party".  I personally haven't given a rat's ass what party anybody is registered as and I think too many people have a history of voting for someone just because it's showing solidarity along party lines.  That is just such a stupid thing to do.  We have not had time to feel the full force of the lack of wisdom in doing this but I believe that we will.  So far, several things have happened that make me feel like turning to certain people who voted for Trump and saying, "How do you like him NOW?"  But that would be rude.  Not that quite a few Republicans haven't been rude to me when they have found out I'm a Democrat, mind you.  If we are reduced to voting for someone ONLY because of their party, we might as well all stay home and let the election board just count how many people are registered for each party.  Botta bing.  We need voter reform soooooooo bad.  Personally, I'm considering changing my party from Democrat to Republican just so I can go to the primaries and vote against the most incompetent candidates from the git-go.  It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.  Lots of somebodies, apparently. 

But anyway.

They had senator Kirsten Gillibrand on The View on 5/8.  She is a Democrat and I really liked some of the things she said, they were just so common sense.  Just so ya know, when they brought her on, I thought she was a Republican.  One of her ideas was that medical insurance should be a not for profit institution so people could have affordable protection.  We all know it's because of their huge profit margins that they don't want to insure anybody that might actually submit a claim.  I'd go one further and say pharmaceuticals should also be not for profit.  Here's her website if you'd like to look around. 

She seems to be a sharp young female attorney and you mark my words, we'll be asking her to run for president someday.   It both amazes me and annoys me that so many Americans are secretly (or not) afraid to have a woman president.   Mostly men, and same people that don't like to work for a female boss.  A woman was our FIRST boss -- our mother.  And that expression, "If you want a job done right, give it to a woman", is spot on.  Women get together, figure out what needs to be done, and do it.  Men get together, ideas are presented, then their egos get in the way and they all want their idea to be picked whether it's any good or not.  They start bullying each other, eventually it turns out to be the guy with the most political clout or the most money whose idea is picked and they're through early with no idea how to implement it because they want to stand around and stick their chests out and pat each other on the back in front of a TV camera. 

On this same program they also had information about a way that people can help teachers.  You know, this country's public school teachers are some of the lowest-paid people in our country.  And they pay for their supplies out of their own pockets.  Here's a website that helps teachers, and apparently it's up to all of us to help teachers because there isn't any part of government that's doing much of anything for them:

I know all this tax stuff is compartmentalized and complicated and I don't see how it needs to be, but I am just an old Redneck woman afterall.  Something feels terribly wrong in Oklahoma to me.  Our state governor is slapping new taxes on all sorts of things, cutting back on programs, laying people off, talking about shutting down state parks.  Meanwhile, the City of Tulsa is on the news really often because they are just spending money like it was Monopoly Money and they haven't got the sense not to brag about it.  I thought that play tower they imported from Germany for The Gathering Place was just outrageous considering all, they even used the same word but I guess they have a different dictionary than I do.  Here's a piece on it if you want to read it.

I guess that's enough ranting for now.  I can't have you getting used to me not ranting, you know.

There is a bird that is commonly seen out here where we live that is called a "Killdeer".  Cornell Labs says its name has something to do with the sound of it's call, but I don't know that I hear that.  It sounds very much like a seagull, it's in the same family, I think.  Plover?  Hubs encounters them often when he's mowing The North Fourth.  They lay their eggs on the ground, right out in the open.
Not a wise choice, if you ask me.  Lots of things can happen to eggs on the ground.  But aren't they beautiful?

Mama is always very protective.  Hubs had me walk out with him because I had told him the next time there were eggs, I wanted to get a picture.  She was on the eggs as we walked out.  (Between the two trees near the bottom of the top half of the picture, the fleck of white is her head)

But as soon as she saw us approaching, she went into high gear.

She chose a spot some distance away from her eggs, threw herself on the ground, and made churring noises, trying to get us to see her.  She flopped around trying to make us think she was hurt.  When Hubs mows, if there are eggs on the ground the mother actually runs around frantically in front of the mower.  Once he knows where the eggs are, he's always careful to avoid them.  And her.

All this to protect her eggs.  Cardinals do this sort of thing, too, but it's the male that pretends he is hurt.  I guess that's because he is the one that's red and easier to see.  I am always so touched with sadness as I see how they struggle to protect their eggs and their young, and I think what a hostile environment it is, yet they persevere.

We have coyotes, possums and skunks out here.  And the neighbors' dogs roam free on everyone's open land.  All consider eggs to be a nice treat.  Right after I took these pictures, it rained and rained for days and days.  After the rains were over I went out to see if the eggs were still there and they were not.  I hope mother Killdeer was able to hatch her eggs and get her young to safety till they can be off on their own.

I'm not sure where the wild geese have their eggs, but this is hatching time for them, too.  It's always a treat to see them walking their young around.  Father goose is part of the procession, honking, flapping his wings while he walks, ever watchful, ready to throw himself into the face of danger, literally.  All the little hatchlings following behind, Mother goose bringing up the rear, to watch for stragglers.  Such a great distance they walk those little ones, from one pond to another.  Little short gosling legs must get so tired.

The smaller birds are collecting stuff for nests and laying eggs.  It's kind of a nuisance, sometimes, as they like to nest in inconvenient places.  They've clogged up the rain gutters such that Hubs is out today to do what he can to clear them out.  Clogged rain gutters overflow to the point where there isn't much point in having rain gutters at all.

Sue has a good post over on The Iowa Housewife (link on my sidebar) about making fruit crisps, and that reminded me of how my sister used to make what she called "Dump Cake", she'd put some kind of fresh fruit with a little sugar and maybe just enough water to moisten, if needed, or if she didn't have fresh fruit she'd use a can of pie filling, on the bottom of a greased baking dish, cut about half a stick of butter into a dry cake mix and scatter it on top of the fruit and then bake.  It gets all bubbly as it browns on the top and it's done when the top starts to brown.  I made one, just to make sure I was telling you right.  I used blackberries I found in the freezer, saved from last June's harvest.  Blackberry cobbler is comfort food for Hubs, so he will eat almost all of it, a piece or two every day.  I offered to freeze half of it and he said no.  No is his favorite word, by the way....

Turns out kind of rich and calorific, but if you make it in a 9x14 cake pan and serve pieces same size as if they were a regular cake, you're not getting many more calories than if you ate it as cake, when you consider that you would put frosting on a cake.  But then, if you're going to top this with whipped cream, or a dollop of vanilla ice cream, that would change things. 

I may have posted this recipe before, it's one my mother used to use a lot and I've used it quite a bit over the years.  It's very economical because it calls for canned fruit, and I have modified it so that fresh fruit can be used instead, if that's what you have.

Easy Peach Cobbler
This recipe can be made quickly with no fuss, from things kept on hand. I prefer about half as much margarine in the recipe, however, and I prefer to stir it into the batter before pouring it into a greased pan. Otherwise I would try to incorporate the melted butter from the edges towards the center, as it tends to collect on the edges.  This makes for really buttery outside pieces but the persons that get the center pieces miss out. This doesn’t seem like much flour for a 9x13 pan, but trust me, one cup is the correct amount.

To make low fat, add 1/2 tsp. salt to the batter and omit the stick of margarine. Coat the pan with cooking spray. It's not as good this way, but that's the way of it.

May substitute 4 cups fresh berries or other fresh fruit for the peaches, but in that case, melt 1/4 C. sugar in 1 C. water and pour over the top of the fruit, before sprinkling on the sugar and spice mixture.

Mix Together:
1 C. flour
3/4 C. sugar
1 T. baking powder
3/4 C. milk

Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine or butter in warmed 9”x13” cake pan. Pour batter over melted margarine. Arrange sliced peaches and juice from a 29 oz can or a quart, if home-canned, on top of batter.  (I hold a spoon above the batter and pour the juice into the spoon, that way it doesn't disturb the batter as much.)  Mix together 1/2 C. sugar and 1 T. flour (may add 1/2 t. cinnamon or nutmeg if desired) and sprinkle evenly over all. Bake at 350ยบ about 35 minutes or till brown. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 or 9 servings and is best if served warm.

Sue also had a post with a casserole recipe on the blog, and included the link to a .pdf downloadable copy of an old Good Housekeeping Women's cookbook.  When I went there, I was delighted to find that this site has many other downloadable cookbooks.  My only problem is that I hate my current version of Acrobat Reader.  I was forced, some months ago, to upgrade the version that I had and the upgrade is just really crappy, if you ask me.  Or even if you don't.  I suppose they're thinking, "What do you expect for free", but it doesn't much make me want to buy any of their other products.  Anyway, here is that site:

Well, what with surgery and all I haven't been very good about being careful what I'm eating.  God blessed me with a lot of things that might be good in some other environment, but are not so wonderful in my current situation.  And one of those things is a good appetite and the ability to efficiently pack away part of everything I eat "for a rainy day", if you know what I mean.  Not that I'd need anything for a rainy day because being cooped up in the house all day makes me want to cook and then eat what I cooked.  Sheesh.

Dr. Oz has been presenting a plethora of weight loss plans and I guess it's good for us to be informed but he presented one method via Tim Tebow a few months ago that totally got me off track.  I've been kind of stalled out since then.  It was just stupid of me, I know what works for me, this ain't my first rodeo.  I like Dr. Oz and I think his heart is in the right place and he does have a show to put on five days a week so I get where he's coming from.  It's just that I find myself watching his show with the attitude of a critic.  And we all have to do this with most advice that is given us about a lot of things besides losing weight.  Some things that work for somebody else work for us, some don't.  I am, however, getting awfully annoyed at all those women he keeps introducing to us, who say they've lost a great many pounds, and all I see is that they're so poured into their clothes, my guess being that they're wearing one of those "Spanx" girdle things all the movie stars seem to be so taken with, because they look like they're very compressed, and it makes me wonder if we'd be able to tell any difference between their "now" as compared to a "before" picture without the Spanx.  I'm happy for anyone when they're able to lose weight they need to lose in order to be more healthy.  But just don't try to make it look more impressive than it is.  It's not fair to us, not fair to them, and damages your credibility. 

Something I found interesting, though, was a piece he did about cottage cheese.  I was surprised to see that there were some people in his audience who had never eaten cottage cheese.  It has earned kudos in the past for it's high protein content, and then other times it's been sort of "blacklisted" because of its high fat content.  But Dr. Oz was in favor of it and in fact they are now marketing a smooth cottage cheese that can be eaten instead of sour cream, cream cheese, and/or greek yogurt. 

My mother made cottage cheese when we still lived on The Farm.  I was just little, but I remember her putting a big ball of it in the center of a muslin tea towel and then hanging it on the clothesline by securing all the corners of the towel onto the line with several clothespins.  It would drip for several hours and the ducks would gather under it to eat the whey that dripped on the grass.  When it was done dripping, she brought it in and stirred cream into it.  Oh, that was good!  After we moved to town, we'd have to settle for store cottage cheese but she bought it often.  And when I was raising my kids, I would buy it to serve with things that I didn't think had much protein, such as pot pies or the canned ravioli that my kids were crazy about.

I bought a 24 oz container of large curd cottage cheese at Homeland and it was almost $4.  OMG.  Today Hubs informed me that one of the stores has it advertised for $1.99, so I will buy several.  I actually have enjoyed eating cottage cheese on toast before but I never tried blending it smooth, so I decided to give that a whing. 

Well, I'm not exactly fond of it on toast that way, because it just tastes too salty.  I did enjoy it on a baked potato with some chopped green onion.  I just didn't add salt to my potato to allow for the salt in the cheese.  Not sure if I could find a low-salt version or not.  I find a lot of things taste so salty that they aren't even fun to eat anymore.  I much prefer popcorn, popped in coconut oil, and then with regular salt, instead of potato chips or corn chips.  At least I can control the amount of salt in that, and it has the crunch I want.  Less fat.  Cheaper.  I kind of suspect I might have a little bit of an addiction to salty, crunchy things almost as big as my addiction to sugary things.  My doctor's PA was telling me the other day that his father has heart disease and has to be on a diet, and that they found that the only cheese that doesn't contain a lot of salt is swiss cheese.  Hmmmm.  That's good to know. 

There are a lot of things we can switch out for some of the less nutritious stuff we've learned to love, and sometimes this is a smart thing to do, sometimes it's just more work than it's worth.  You have to be the judge of that for yourself.  I read on someone's blog that doing stuff like this is "like having sex with your pants on".  I had actually never heard it put quite that way and I'm not sure it's a good analogy but oh, well, whatever.  Their point was that you need to retrain your palate to enjoy things that are good for you rather than trying to fool it into thinking it's getting pie.  And we need to learn to "eat to live" and not to "live to eat".  I hear what they're saying but we all have our weak moments when we just want a piece of pie and if we can't have it we will literally eat everything else in the refrigerator trying to satisfy the craving, know what I mean?  Anything that is made with artificial flavors and sweeteners just actually makes you crave again the next day, or maybe even as little as a few hours later, and that's a bunch of unhealthy chemicals you're putting into your body, so it's probably a better idea to nip it in the bud when it first rears it's ugly head rather than to just kick the can down the road.  And there's something to be said for retraining yourself and breaking certain habits you have.  Such as having to have a little something sweet after a meal.  Or eating in front of the TV after you've already had a meal, like between dinner and bedtime.  It's best to go through the discomfort of breaking those habits but if it is just impossible, you can do things like keep a bowl of unshelled sunflower seeds around.  The sunflower seed is good for you and it's not like you can grab a handful of them and pop them in your mouth.  It's still better to break the habit, as there's going to come a day when you are out of sunflower seeds and then you'll walk the floor, anyway, trying to stay out of the refrigerator.  So diversionary tactics are in order.  Get up off the couch and take a short walk.  Or phone a friend and have a short visit.  Or pick up some needlework or some kind or a crossword puzzle.  Sometimes even a jigsaw puzzle on a card table in the room will make a good diversion and you can still know what's happening on the TV.  They say if you can do something for 30 days you can create a habit or break one.

I think we also need to actively train our stomachs not to expect so much volume of food.  This is often referred to as "shrinking the stomach", and it's not so much that as it is figuring out at what point your stomach is going to stop growling at you, and stopping there.  I think this is why they sometimes recommend you have six small meals a day rather than three larger ones.  If you do this consistently, one day you'll notice that when somebody gives you a plate that's piled full, you just won't be able, or won't want, to eat the whole thing.  The adult stomach is only meant to hold approximately a quart. 

Our garden, such as it is, is drying out after getting too much rain.  We expect rain, possibly tonight, and then for three days and two more nights.  So I will try to get some transplanting done today.  I have a Maypop coming up where I don't want it, and not coming up where I DO.  That's Maypop for you.  I found some Lamb's Ear that I transplanted to a spot under one of the fruit trees because it was being walked on, where it was.  And I have several things growing in bunches because they were wintersown and I just took the whole thing out of the jug and popped it into a hole I made, since I knew I'd be out of commission when it was really a better time to transplant.  Some things died, some made it.  I have a good stand of Calendula Resina that I think will divide well for its transplant as it all looks healthy, just too crowded. 

I have planted beet seed twice and I just haven't seen much happening at all.  I can't imagine why.  The seed I used for the first planting was packed for last year, but I've had good results from seed planted before that was a lot older than that.  And the seed I planted most recently was packed for this year.   I haven't seen that it's made much of a difference.  There are pea pods on the spring peas, and the fava beans have been in bloom for what seems like forever with no beans formed yet.  Spinach bolted to seed before it even got very big.  I do have some nice little clumps of Buttercrunch lettuce out there, but I just saw another dang rat run across the patio last night and so far it's been able to eat the bait without tripping the trap.  If it makes it out to the garden, goodbye, lettuce.  I read somewhere if they're getting plenty to eat elsewhere, your trap will work better if you put a ball of cotton in it, as they will be looking for nest materials.  So I did that with one of the traps.  I saw the rat again this morning, it was checking out the compost bucket I'd set out there.

And though it isn't June yet, we are starting to get June Bugs banging themselves against things in the early morning if the patio light is on.  I get up early so I've been having my coffee out there and I pick them up and drop them into an empty milk jug.  The birds have gotten used to my putting grubworms out for them and they are pretty prompt at taking them.  But they weren't interested in the June Bugs I left for them yesterday.  So this morning I burned trash and threw the ones from yesterday and today in the fire.  I could take them to Brent and Rebecca, around the corner, for their chickens, but you know, sometimes things like this are just a burden for people to let you think you're doing something FOR them.

The onions are looking good and coming along.  I have one row of open-pollinated "Sweet Candy", and then all those hybrid Candy onions Paula sent me for my birthday (thanks again, Paula).  The garlic are putting on scapes and should be ready for harvest in early June.  These are from garlic sent to me by a man who frequented the same gardening forum I did, back when we lived at The Ponca House, and I have kept them going every year. 

The Albion strawberries I was so proud of have winterkilled, except for about three small clumps.  I hope those three will spread this summer and maybe I can learn a better method for helping them through next winter. 

Potatoes are blooming.  I'm growing some blue ones this year.  Also some Yukon Golds and some red-skinned ones, in addition to some tan-skinned potatoes from last year's garden and some big brown baking potatoes that came from the grocery store and sprouted in the bowl in the kitchen. 

Maybe next post I will have some garden pictures.  OMG the clover in the pathways is really growing, and blooming, and the bees are loving it.  But so are the weeds and I'm having a helluva time with that.  I don't think planting annual rye grass as living mulch was all that good an idea.  It's all starting to make seed now so I'll probably be fighting that for the rest of my life.  I had Hubs go out with the weed-wacker, finally, because I just couldn't get on top of it. 

Well, this is probably not a very good post, but it's the best I can do for now.  At least y'all know I'm still amongst the living.  Must get out there and get some things done.  Till next time....

Rock on.....  Hugs xoxoxo  (Hubs just yelled at me from outside!  Just now caught that dang rat!!)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

On Black And White And Everything In Between

Dr Oz had an interesting story 4/20.  Oprah's made a movie called "The Legacy of Henrietta Lacks' , here's an article about it. 
I like how Oprah talks about how she doesn't have rage in her anymore, and I think she's just about as good a role model as there is.  And I'm not talking about for the black community, but for all of us, regardless of our race.  Really, what is race, anyway?  A great majority of what the culture calls "black people" really have sufficient "white" ancestors that they could go either way. 

I have grandsons whose father is "black".  Clay was a handsome young man, with coffee-with-cream skin and green eyes.  (He had a white grandfather, and who knows how many 'white folks' came into his genealogy prior to that.)  I have to admit I never liked him much, but it wasn't because he was "black".  His mother, Dorothy, was a fine, hard-working woman who loved her children and she accepted my daughter, who, according to Clay, was "the whitest white woman he'd ever known", into their family and loved the children that her son produced with my daughter.  Clay was Dorothy's youngest, and her only son.  I can attest to the fact that a male child being raised with lots of sisters is used to being doted on.  I had three sisters and only one brother.  Hubs has eight sisters.  'Nuff said?  Dorothy already had quite a few grandchildren, So JR and JC were just faces in the crowd.  But they were and are my only grandchildren, and to me, they were and are special.  They were often with Hubs and me for extended periods of time, due to their parents' rocky relationship, and when they were in the 5th grade, we adopted them legally so they could have health insurance through me and so that I could be their advocate when that was needed.  I was candid with these boys because I knew they deserved nothing less.  The oldest, JC, looked like his daddy, he was a beautiful baby and little boy who grew into a handsome young "blackish" man.  He took on the mannerisms of young black men, and I wasn't very happy about that.  JC could've easily passed for white, and I told him that I thought he could decide to be whichever race he wanted to be, and that it would probably be easier if he chose to be white.  JC was offended by this and went around saying that I asked him not to tell people he was black, and this is not what I said nor what I meant.  I was just giving him the facts as I saw them.  So JC wore his blackness like a badge of honor.  He was bullied in the middle-class, almost totally non-black school, and the few times he threatened retaliation, the police were called to the school.  When he got old enough to drive, he was pulled over for one nonsensical and/or fictitious reason or another.  Usually they told him that they wouldn't give him a ticket (which they probably didn't have grounds for, anyway) if he'd allow them to let the drug dogs do a "sweep" of his pick-up.  And he would sit there on the curb and wait for the van containing the dogs to get there, while people drove by and gaped at him.  Then he waited for them to "sweep" his pick-up and find nothing.  To make it seem worthwhile, sometimes the officer that pulled him over would tell him they detected "a faint scent" and said maybe he had had someone in his truck at some point that had some on their person.  They even pulled him over on the night of his high school graduation when he was on his way home to change out of his cap and gown before the class party was to start.  I told JC back then, to call the officer "sir", to act friendly, and by all means, not to try to run away because someone might decide to shoot.  Many years later, when things went bad for Trayvon Martin, Aaron Campbell, Victor Steen, Steven Eugene Washington, Oscar Grant, and others, I felt keenly the anguish of their parents, and I saw the wisdom in giving JC the advice I had given.  Even after he was out of school, and we had moved from Dewey to Bartlesville, which has more experience in interacting with races other than white, a highway patrolman pulled him over because he was "swerving", made him park his truck and told him that, though he detected no alcohol or drugs, JC should "sleep it off", and said he would arrest him if he saw his truck back out on the road.  So JC, not wanting to awaken us, decided to walk home, about a mile along a busy, unlit highway.  Someone saw him in their headlights, pulled over, and offered him a ride.  JC, not knowing the man, accepted the ride, and was brought home safely.  There were so many frightening scenarios for the way that night could've turned out, but God had His hand on JC.  Hubs drove him to where his truck was parked and they were able to bring it home before a tow-truck could be sent to get it, eliminating the risk of towing and impounding charges. 

JR's race never really came up, because he just naturally looked, talked, and acted like a little white boy.  The only clue that he had any genealogy in the black race was that his hair was thick and curly.  Now that he's an adult, I look at him sometimes and think he looks like Hubs.  Other times, I think how much he looks like my dad and/or my dad's brother, uncle Chuck. 

And here's the thing I don't understand.  Why is it so wrong to choose to be white if more than 50% of your heritage IS white?  Here I got this withering look from my neighbor when he told me JC had told him I wanted him to tell people he was white as if he's denying his heritage or trying to be something he isn't.  What the hell difference does it make?  Wasn't JC, in fact, denying his white heritage?  All those French, German, English and maybe a few American Indians that came to him through me and the Welsh and Scottish and English and American Indians that came through Hubs? 

I tell you all this because I want you to know that I know that racism is not dead.  In fact, it is not even wounded.  The racists have just become quieter about it, that's all.  In my generation, we were privately instilled with the racial opinions that our parents had, though many of us were rebellious enough to know that our elders could be, and often were, wrong.  We grew up and tried to raise our own children such that race was not "a thing".  But because we were caught in the middle, when our children started being friends with all races, we silently hoped that they wouldn't choose anyone outside their race to have children with.  We knew our parents and siblings wouldn't willingly accept mixed-race children into the family, and it would complicate things for those children.  I wouldn't be at all surprised to know that it's the same on the other side.  But if you truly raise color-blind children, they don't understand that, and so they write you off as being a racist, too.  I was the only member of my immediate family to end up being the grandmother of bi-racial children, and in my family, that was a scandal they whispered about behind my back.  My parents referred to them using the "N Word", openly, as if it was "funny" or "cute", without even a clue how wrong that was.  Or, in fact, without even caring whether that offended me.  So they drove a wedge between themselves and me, right there.  I loved my grandsons and I was and am proud of them.  Any embarrassment I felt was more about the opinions that my birth family had than it was about the heritage of my grandsons.  The reasons why I was not a fan of their father had to do with the way he treated my daughter, how he wouldn't hold down a steady job, how he was smart-mouthed, spoiled, opportunistic, selfish and entitled, how he already had created several other children that he didn't support, and how he clearly felt that no matter where he was or who he was with, he should get the lions' share of attention.  In short, he rather proudly and defiantly reinforced the stereotypical beliefs about black people that many white people have.  One night he beat our daughter and tried to push her over the railing of their upstairs apartment.  JC was a baby and she was already pregnant with JR.  She sought shelter with a neighbor, called the police and then called me, and Hubs and I took out in the wee hours of the morning, frantic to get to her and JC before he did.  Clay would float in and out of their lives after that, never living up to any of his responsibilities towards his sons, and not even that interested in them until JC was of legal age.  Then he contacted him through FaceBook and they met up a few times.  I think JR got involved through JC.  They were reintroduced to two of Clay's sons by the woman he took up with towards the end of his relationship with JR and JC's mother.  Dorothy had died.  Clay was then in a wheelchair due to the loss of his legs as a result of having diabetes, and then he told JR and JC that he had end-stage cancer.  He died in 2012 at the age of 46.  He never made any apologies for the things that he had done (or not done), just expected to be forgiven and JC and JR pretty much did that.  I felt like it was good for them, not to have anger towards their father, because they did when they were children, JC a lot more than JR, to the point where I felt the need to get counseling for both of them.  So I didn't try to interfere in any way, though I did worry that he would take advantage of them.  He brought a certain measure of sadness into their lives, to get acquainted with their father only to watch him die, but maybe they needed the closure, I don't know.  I hope he told them that he loved them and whether he said it in so many words or not, I think they understood that he did love them, as much as he was able to love anyone, so there was at least that, and I saw it bring a lot of peace to JC that he hadn't had before.  So even though I was alarmed, aggravated and annoyed when he first contacted JC, I came to see that it was a blessing for JC and JR and I was grateful for it.

An old picture of JC and JR.  They were about 15 and 14 here.

This is the thing about anger, hatred, rage:  It eats up the person who harbors it.  And another thing: most of the time, what looks like a bad thing, can turn into a good thing.  Being angry and bitter can get in the way of that. 

Yeah, Oprah has it all figured out.  It's What She Knows For Sure.  It's What I Know For Sure, too.  Heh.

May all your bad things turn into good things.  Hugs   xoxoxo

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Random Thoughts, Varied Topics

I am having trouble bringing up my email server using Explorer unless I choose the html version.  I can't get pictures to load on my blog if I use Firefox, but with it, I can get into the email server just fine.  Sheesh.  I've emailed my ISP.  They replied that they made out a ticket.  That's all I know about that.  My stats report that I am once again getting lots of page views on this blog from Russia.  Sometimes also from France.  I mean in the hundreds when normally I don't get more than 50 views a day, total.  I cannot begin to understand what I might have to say that would receive so much attention from any one country, including my own, so I think it might be bot activity but can't think why it would be worth doing since I'm just an old Redneck woman without any power or influence.  You who regularly come here to read are a special bunch, putting up with rants, banalities, Redneck grammar and punctuation and run-on sentences.  An occasional Redneck sermon.  I don't expect there to be many of you with that kind of patience.  Most people are not interested in knowing my opinion about much of anything.  I don't have anything against Russians, and wow, I was certainly impressed by the French when they dispatched the culprits after the Je Suis Charlie incident.  I have French ancestors and maybe there's some Russian in my German line, not sure.  But I don't personally know anyone who lives in France or Russia.  I do tend to think people are just people, you know?  We get told lots of things about Russians that possibly aren't true, the average citizen just doesn't have any way to know for sure.  And they're in the same boat when they hear stuff about us.  It's sad, really, that whether we're a democracy or not, we're told what to think.  There are lots of ways of making yourself look like someone that you're not in the internet world and so I just don't know what is going on.  Maybe this is happening to lots of bloggers and not just me, which might indicate that the intention is to bring the whole blogging community down, and maybe it's not really coming from the countries that my stats report it does, maybe they're just routing themselves through there.  But it is strange.  My access problems just started in the last couple of days, so I'm not sure the two are connected at all.  I kind of think not.  One day I may have to find some outlet other than blogging.  Everything runs it's course.  Just ask Sears, Wards, and Penney's.

Things are not looking good for the state of Oklahoma, I blame our current governor, I think we had other, more capable people we could've chosen but "we" made poor choices when "we" voted.  Well, I didn't vote for her, but I'm a Democrat in a Republican-majority state. so my vote doesn't count.  More's the pity.  So we're in a "mell of a hess", as my Grammy used to say.  I've heard it said that no one should be allowed to run for public office unless they can pass a mental competency test.  In our governor's case, I think an intelligence test would've been in order.  I'd say voters should have to pass some kind of test, too, so they wouldn't be so taken in by people like this.  This business of voting for anyone, no matter how incompetent, just because they're from a particular party, is just stupid.  We can't fund our schools now, but there's a lot of money being spent in other areas so I just don't understand it.

All these gambling casinos that we have allowed to spring up in our midst were supposed to be a big boon for our schools but that doesn't seem to be happening.  Gambling is a cancer that grows in our community now.  Casinos wouldn't be able to stay in business if people won as often as they want us to think.  I know of several people who brag about how much they've won, and I really want to pull a "Ghost Of Christmas Past" on those people and show them the people who've gone to jail because they cheated vulnerable people out of their money in order to fund their gambling habit.  And/Or messed up their relationships with their gambling addiction.  It ain't pretty.

Not only that, we seem to be hemorrhaging jobs here in our town.  Our long-time major employer, Phillips Petroleum, has had its ups and downs over the last 50 years.  There were rumors about merging with Conoco out of Ponca City for many years before it happened and there were a few stock buy-out scares in the 1980's that I remember.  So now it's doing business as Conoco-Phillips, and most recently has sold its Canadian oil assets which the local newspaper said will require the elimination of 170 jobs here.  As soon as the major employers start cutting back, that has ripple effects throughout the community.  Garfield's restaurant, located in our only shopping mall, has been found to be closed by employees with no explanation given.  In fact, this mall has had many stores leave over the last several years, including the Sears store.  I don't know how many jobs have been lost at the mall.  Sitel, a telephone help desk service that opened up for business here about ten years ago, will be moving out soon.  According to the Bartlesville Development Authority, Sitel provides 325 jobs here.  The loss of more than 500 jobs from just Phillips and Sitel in a town the size of Bartlesville will likely start the ball rolling, there will be less money for people to spend, so this will ripple, not only through retailers and restaurants, but on through non-profits, including churches where, even during good times, it seems there is a constant request for more and more donations to the point where it has become less and less about God and more and more about building and/or buying stuff, or paying for missionary trips when they could probably find people to bless right in their back yards, practically.  I don't understand it.

I have not talked to anyone lately who has lost their job since the election but I suspect they might be somewhat baffled depending on their political views.  The economy was supposed to get better, right?  During my growing-up years, this city was home to Cities Service, which competed with Phillips Petroleum, and also there was Reda Pump that morphed into TRW before the boom was over.  We had Superior Welding, Metal Goods Manufacturing, Applied Automation, H. C. Price Company, and several other employers of more than 50 people.  But they have all gone or been absorbed by other companies.  The city has, in recent years, made deals with businesses to bring jobs into our midst, but it seems like they only stay long enough to fulfill their contract obligations and then they move on to the next city that's willing to make them a deal.  Seems to me to be a kind of a parasitic relationship, and usually these businesses treat their local employees with such disdain and/or have such poor working conditions that after awhile the only people they can employ are those who can't find work anywhere else.  Sitel may be one of those, not sure. 

I have been laid off from jobs twice in my career.  The first was at a stock-brokerage company where I was being sexually harassed by a senior broker who represented a large number of 'old money' clients.  After I told my supervisor, I found out that it was so much easier to get rid of a lowly wire operator than it was to lose their biggest producer, never mind that he was obnoxious and had a habit of fart-bombing people, among other things.  So disgusting.  The second time, it was at a mental health agency where I was last hired and so first to go.  It didn't help that I was intensely disliked by an employee who was the MIL of our office manager.  She was offended when I told her that there were a lot of people on her newsletter distribution list that had been dead for a long time.  She was horrified when I laughed about her opinion about how Harry Potter was introducing devil-worship to children.  She was not my supervisor, or anyone's, for that matter, but she over-supervised me and the receptionist.  She had the office across the hall from me and every time I would get a call from my grandsons' school, she would come to my door and stand there till I would interrupt the call to ask her what she needed.  There was great understanding when her SIL would have to leave work because of some issue with the toddler he and her daughter had adopted from Uganda, however.  And she would go to him with baseless complaints about my work or her fears about what evil things I might do with opportunities that presented themselves to me, and get me 'counseled', which would've been funny except that they weren't laughing.  Sheesh.  Both layoffs came at bad times in my life when I really needed the paycheck and the insurance, but I was nevertheless happy to leave, and eventually better off for it.  And I had a nice giggle when I found out my nemesis got laid off when the Director did, during a shake-up that happened, later on.  And another, well, not quite a giggle, when the Director's admin assistant asked me if there were any openings where I worked (as the admin assistant to the Director there).  I liked her, she was nice to me, but toward the end I began to sense she was "workin' both sides", if you know what I mean.  Karma's a bitch, is all I'm sayin', but sometimes you have to wait for it....  I had good skills and was a hard worker who learned fast and could multi-task.  I never had any trouble finding a job because I liked to learn and try new things.  Generally I was nice to everyone even when they weren't nice to me.  I even designed billboards for awhile till I grew weary of the owner's violent temper tantrums and all the F-words thrown about, though not ever directed at me.  The owner's grandchildren digging around in my desk during the weekend, a young receptionist who was dating one of the men, so insecure that when they hired a single and attractive young women as a sales rep, Pam got her number off her resume, called her and warned her away from taking the job.  I began to suspect that some of the things Pam did that weren't quite kosher got blamed on me, stuff like that is common in small businesses.  She loved to be rude to telephone solicitors and we suddenly lost a big account with a large car dealership, and I wondered if Pam might've mistaken their contact people for someone else when they called.  At least my leaving should've made Pam behave herself, being left with no one to point the finger at except herself.  For a short time I worked at a call center for Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs.  It handled everything from customer complaints to employee medical claims, and was the most stressful job I ever had, some of it because of the prison-like environment, but mostly because the general public, when things are not going to their liking, will be intensely rude to the person trying to help them.  I had no power to do anything but write up their complaint and transmit it to Arkansas and this was a source of much frustration for most people. 

But what I'm saying here is that sometimes loss of a job is the catalyst to better things, if we are willing to reinvent ourselves.  And we must accept that, in life, the only thing that stays the same is that things change.  You just can't stop change.  Sometimes you have to work low-paying or otherwise less desirable jobs, just to be able to keep the wolf away from the door.  It's difficult to search for a better job while you are working where you are being over-supervised but it can be done, and there are things to be learned while you were there that will make you a better person if you process it in the right way.

So much concern about medical insurance now, but we're attacking it from the wrong direction.  We've allowed Big Chem and other industries to poison our food, water and air and Big Pharma to suck away our wealth and then finish us off with the side-effects, and the sheer numbers of sick and dying Americans has crippled the economy.  Their profits are huge, especially when one considers how their levels of predation upon the people so heavily outweigh the benefit level of whatever they produce.   Insurance companies are in the business for profit and no altruistic reasons whatsoever.  So the sicker our population gets, the more their insurance company must pay out.  So now, in order to make a profit so that their executives can live like kings and queens, they must have young and/or robustly healthy people buying insurance so they can pay for the medical needs of the rest.  People should not be forced to have medical insurance.  At least there are some wellness services for which insurance will pay and I would recommend anyone who is forced to carry health insurance to get fully educated on what wellness benefits they have available to them.  The answer to our problem is not to get sick in the first place.  Medical costs are insanely huge in the USA, one trip to the ER by a person who has no insurance impacts the hospital because many of these people don't have the money to pay that huge bill.  Too little attention is paid to prevention, and when it is, it's in the form of invasive tests that actually can cause problems within the body.  When someone is sick, the symptoms are all that are being treated and not the underlying cause, because no one knows what to do about that and sometimes not even what that is.  The facts are that we have failed as a nation to safeguard the health of our people, and our doctors are being trained to be drug prescribers.  I don't know about you, but I feel betrayed.  Allowing carcinogens into the food chain, the water supply, and the very air we breathe should be a crime against humanity.  The problem is, we don't just fall over dead right after we get a dose of this stuff.  It circulates around in our internals until our cells are damaged and sometimes even our DNA.   *sigh*.

So sorry to bombard you with all this gloom and doom.  Maybe it would be best if I went on to less serious stuff.

Do you ever watch Cook's Corner?  We sometimes do, it airs on Saturday.  We noticed Christopher Kimball is gone from the show.  Turns out there's been some kind of disagreement and he and his wife have split off and he's started a new venture called Milkstreet Magazine.  I've been to the website and, like Cook's Illustrated, there's an annoying pop-up that forces you to create an account before you can view what's on the site.  That just hacks me off, big-time.  Recipes are pervasive things that you can usually find somewhere else without having to jump through so many hoops.  Here's one for Vodka Pie Crust on AllRecipes, for instance:   http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223524/easy-vodka-pie-crust/

People bring their magazines to the Wellness Center so every now and then I borrow a few and return them after I've read them.  Here are a few interesting websites I've been to from links shared from some of the magazine articles:


The rat patrol continues.  I lost count at 30.  They are eating my spinach and I've had two plastic knives I was using to bait the traps with peanut butter to disappear.  They run across our patio, and damned near everywhere else.  There's mice in the shed that I'm baiting with D-Con because they are too small to trip the traps.  We went to a benefit breakfast for a local fire department and I had a nice visit with one of the firemen about the conditions we suffer through when local ranchers burn off their fields and pastures.  Apparently the area fire departments have had to start charging ranchers extra to come out and fight the fires they set.  He told me it costs them $500 just to come out prepared to fight a fire.  It's a politically-charged topic since big ranchers have some other profession, such that they may be doctors, attorneys, etc.  Apparently it's going to take direct-result loss of life and homes before this practice can be stopped, and maybe not even then, since it's something they feel is required management of their grazing lands.  *Sigh*.  Something to think about when you buy Oklahoma beef.

The beet seed I have planted is not coming up.  I sowed several rows and I have, like, six plants on the end of one row.  Nothing in any of the other rows.  I went yesterday to the new Atwood's store to buy more seed.  Atwood's no longer carry several different brands of seed.  Now it's all Burpee.  I have not had good experiences ordering things from Burpee and I don't like their seed very much.

The plum tree I bought at Tractor Supply died and there's something coming up from the rootstalk.  I wonder what it will be.  Probably another Santa Rosa (gnashing of teeth).  The Victoria rhubarb I planted (last year?) has gone to seed.  I have read that this will greatly reduce the harvest and might cause the plants to die completely.  I went out to cut off all the seed heads and found that this will involve practically every shoot on the plant, so I just left them alone.  *Sigh*. 

Maybe I will get good seed to start over again but I may not even bother to try.  I should probably just buy rhubarb at the store when it comes available in the spring.  All I use it for is to combine with strawberries to make jam.  Half rhubarb and half berries, follow your favorite strawberry jam recipe.  Delicious.  Mostly on vanilla ice-cream or in a cup of unflavored yogurt.  It looks like I will have gooseberries this year if I net them so the birds cannot strip them off right before they ripen.  Maybe I could use them instead of rhubarb in my recipe.

Dr. Oz has "discovered" cottage cheese.  The "experts" have gone back and forth about cottage cheese for as long as I remember.  During the 1950's and 60's, if you ordered "the diet plate" at a restaurant, you'd get a leaf of lettuce with a scoop of cottage cheese on it and a twisted canned pineapple ring and a sprig of parsley on top of that.  Then they started saying it was too high in fat to be included in anyone's diet, and if you MUST consume it, buy the low-fat or nonfat.  Well, I found the nonfat to be nasty and the low-fat nearly so.  Both had a grainy texture.  That's when I started eating yogurt, even though I can happily eat REAL cottage cheese plain and I can't stand unflavored yogurt unless I've stirred in a spoon of jam.  There for awhile people were saying, "Don't Eat Anything WHITE".  So now, guess what?  Dr. Oz says cottage cheese is every bit as good for you as greek yogurt and they're even selling it blended smooth for eating like you do yogurt.  I was amazed that there were actually people in his audience that had never tasted cottage cheese.  He even says to buy the full fat version because you get a more pure product.  "If that don't beat all, I don't know what does", as Aunt Viv would say.  Sometimes I just wonder if there's not some expert over a warehouse somewhere that keeps track of things people aren't buying.  I can imagine that he/she gets on the phone and tells some advertiser, "You'd better start finding a way to get people to start buying this as it's spoiling on the shelves!!"

I bet Aunt Viv would have enjoyed the sign they had up on the board at the Wellness Center this week:
"How's the diet going?"
"OK, I guess.  I had eggs this morning."
"No.  Cadbury."
But seriously.  You'll have all kinds of people giving you advice as soon as they find out you're trying to lose weight.  Some of it might work for you.  Some of it might get you off-track.  So if what you're doing is working for you, keep doing that.  You'll also have people sticking things you shouldn't eat in your face, telling you it won't hurt to "just have one".  Any alcoholic knows that's not true.

I'm not sure that I'm very happy with my experiment with using annual ryegrass as a green mulch.  I sowed the seed last fall, and it germinated quickly.  Now it has pretty thoroughly taken over the garden and maybe that's a good thing, maybe not. 

I suspect I am creating a wonderful habitat for all those rats.  The roots go quite deep, such that the plants are hard to pull up, and at this point I'm not able to get out there and do that much with the shovel.  Maybe I'll see less bindweed and bermuda grass as a result, and that would be nice.  As I understand it, it's supposed to be left in place till summer, at which time it dies and then can be tilled into the soil when the garden plants that were planted amongst the grass will be finished.  The White Dutch clover that I sowed in the walkways is beginning to bloom now.  The bees love the flowers and I'm thinking this will bring more of them into the garden.  It's impossible to go barefoot out here, anyway, so there is not much danger of getting stung in that way but I've heard that bee venom is wonderful for arthritis.  No, I won't tempt fate.  I'll be careful and respectful of those bees.

That's a good view of Randy and Sherry's new house from the garden.  The geese seem to be awfully confused this spring because they typically hang out in the area where that house is now.  This courting couple is walking down the road between our driveway and Joe's house.  I used my zoom lense because I didn't want to disturb them, and so the background looks a lot closer than it is.  Ah, technology.  Just cool enough to make up for the drawbacks. 

I had planned to try out the experiment of growing petunias amongst squash but I had no luck with seeds.  So I bought a few plants at Atwood's, on "sale" for $1 a pot.  Also bought a hibiscus in a color I don't have and a Lantana.  I have tried to start Lantana with seeds and the seeds just rot.  And it's not a perennial.  Might turn out to me more of a pain to try to have each year than it's worth.  I have heard they tolerate heat and dry conditions. 

We are getting lots of rain these days.  Spring is typically our "monsoon season".  For the past two or three years it has rained until my grapevines and peach tree have come down with Black Spot, and then, Mother Nature being pleased with the whammy that she dealt, it starts drying out and we are in full-blown drought by July.   At least most of the extra tomato plants have been put into the ground.  Hubs has been helping by doing the digging and it has been more like burial than transplanting, but it's the best that can be done this time.  I have not planted beans yet. 

I'm about midway through my first month of physical therapy now.  They have a sign on the wall that says, "Oh, did that hurt?  Good."  There's a whole lot of truth there.  After yesterday's session, I literally needed to crawl out of there except that THAT would have hurt, too.

That's about all I know for the time-being.  Stay well, safe, happy, and be grateful for life's little blessings, and big ones, too, when and if they happen.  Hugs xoxoxo 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Checking In

I start this on Monday, April 10.

It's been awhile since I posted, mostly because of shoulder surgery. The range-of-motion machine, or as I call it, “The Wing Flapper” has taken six hours out of my day, every day, for two weeks since the day after surgery, during which I've had to sit in an uncomfortable chair that tends to cut off the circulation to my legs and has caused my knees to swell to the point where my new knee started screaming at me. So I went to the workout center with Hubs, which I don't normally do during gardening season, just so I can walk around the track and try to get my fluids moving around the way they're supposed to, and that takes another hour out of my day, three times a week.

I've tried various things to make it easier, some have helped, some have not, but the time for the machine has now passed and today I start conventional Physical Rehab three times a week. That will last for a month, perhaps longer if I need it. They can get the doctor to extend the time and if he orders it, my insurance will pay for it. But I want to be done with this and able to get on with my life so I will be making the most of my rehab time. 

When I went for my follow-up appointment I was seen by the doctor's Physician's Assistant, otherwise known as a “P.A.”. I guess this is OK but I'd rather be seen by the doctor, if you know what I mean. She's about the age of my grandsons and she really chewed on me for not wearing my sling all the time and I was kind of offended by that. For one thing, those people that design and make those slings should have to wear them 24/7 for a few days. Velcro tears up my skin. The strap that goes around my neck makes my neck hurt. And there are only two positions in which it's possible to sleep, neither of which is comfortable for very long. Wear the sling two more weeks, she said, then start removing it for short periods to “taper off”. She said too much weight hanging on my shoulder will pull on the repaired areas and might do damage, and that if I should fall, I will instinctively try to catch myself and, without the sling, will undo everything that was done in surgery. But I fail to see the benefit of that, since I have been out in the garden with my sling on, doing limited things with Hubs helping, and every time I bend over, the strap that goes around my waist un-velcroes itself and hangs down to the ground like a loose wrapping on a walking mummy. So how would I be protected in the event of a fall, I wonder? I have been unable to take the drugs they prescribed for me for pain, so I had been taking Ibuprofen, and I was chewed out about that, too, and told to take Tylenol instead. Something about how Ibuprofen has a component that fights swelling and they want me to swell. Go figure. I don't like Ibuprofen. It coats my tongue and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I brush my tongue when I brush my teeth and that helps, but Tylenol feels less effective than the Ibuprofen was. *Sigh*. And yes, I am, in indeed, swelling, in lots of places that would be better off without it. So as you can see, the last two weeks have been a kind of a love-hate situation. I'm grateful for the machine and for pain-killers and for the sling as far as they go. If you know what I mean. 

On other matters: 

I was very grateful that we didn't get a late freeze, and the tomato plants Hubs and I set out a few days before I was to have surgery are still alive. I had decided “if they die, they die”, and had been thinking about just direct-seeding tomatoes if that happened, and maybe I could have tomatoes by fall if the plants didn't die from the heat and dry during July and August. I don't want a year without home-canned tomato juice, as I like mine thin. I add 1/4 tsp of citric acid and 1/2 tsp of salt to each quart jar and that really makes for a flavorful drink. Tomato juice from the store is as thick as tomato sauce, almost, and contains about twice the salt. I had a couple of cans I'd bought on sale one year, so I mixed some half and half with homemade tomato juice. I was really disappointed to find that, after a night in the refrigerator, this mixture thickened up again. There must be something going on there. I didn't start any peppers this year and I'm kind of beginning to wish I had at least started some Jalapeno peppers, as I have been really enjoying my home-canned nacho-style peppers. Hubs doesn't like spicy food so these are perfect to add to my serving, everything from beans to scrambled eggs, to salad, to toned-down mexican-style dishes that I make so Hubs will eat them. So I may start a few seeds soaking and then plant them somewhere in the garden. My pepper plants don't normally start producing till fall, even when I start them early, so I might be wasting my time starting them early. This will be an interesting experiment to that effect. I used to know some “little old ladies” that lived just out on the edge of the town where I grew up, and their father always grew a big garden. He never started anything inside. And so they always made their tomato sauce and ketchup in the fall. 

Last Friday, the phone rang and it was JC on the other end. “Are you OK?” he asked. It turned out a local rancher was burning off his pastures and JC had driven along Bison Road and seen the fire. Well, of course it was a windy day (!~@#%^&*****()++!!) and the fire got as far as behind Bob and Sharry, Joe and Cathy, and Jay and Claire. Sheesh. At least there were people out there managing the fire, which is not something I usually see. But it was sufficient to drive the rats out of their burrows on the prairie and we started seeing the tell-tale signs the following day. I have since trapped, drowned, and had Hubs bury ten rats. There's something in the shed that eats the bait but doesn't trip the trap, so I've put some D-Con pellets in there in a lid, and they're always gone in the morning. I don't like to use the stuff, and I won't put it anywhere out in the open or let a rat get a full belly-load because that's more than is needed to kill it, and is enough to injure or kill a dog or a cat and drop a hawk right out of the sky. It would sure be better if the poison would drop the rat dead right after eating it, rather than wandering around for 3 to 5 days spreading nasty bloody pee everywhere they go. And if they wander out into the open, something can come along, kill it and eat it. Hardly anything will eat a rat that's already dead. Who knows where the end of this will be. The acreage burned wasn't as big as it was the year I took out 178. I hope we'll see the end to this soon. 

My weight loss plan has gone to hell in a handbasket. I'm up about ten pounds. So now that I'm going to be able to be a little more active I've decided to get back into it. Yes, I saw Mama June and how she lost somewhere around 300 pounds and she doesn't look all that tall. So --praise God-- I'm so glad that 210 is ALL I weigh, if you know what I mean. But that is still too heavy for me and now that I'm An Old Chick it's too much for me to be carrying around. I know what has to be done. I'm grateful that I don't have to resort to surgery for this. I'm grateful that all my past years of bad eating habits and unbridled consumption of sugar has not resulted in a metabolic disease that makes weight loss almost impossible. And I feel the need to not push my luck. 

This is now the 12th and I will try to post today. 

I have started Physical Therapy now and it is clear I have a long way to go for full recovery. I had my walk at the workout center first and that felt good. But while I was there I became aware of what terrible physical condition most of the people around me were in. They do physician-ordered cardiac rehab on the east end and I guess what heightened my awareness was that, as I walked by that area, there was a very large man who was giving the staff that were guiding his therapy a very hard time, supposedly in jest, but I, just observing, found myself annoyed by his behavior. And then I got behind a very large woman who was doing a slow, painful walk around the track. It got so every person I looked at, I thought, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” And I just began to feel like I wanted to cry, for the inhumanity of it all. I mean, here I am, weighing in at 210, and I'm feeling blessed. Is that wacked, or not? From there we went on to the rehab center, and it was the same thing there, only worse. We are the victims of The American Lifestyle. Kitchens full of processed and/or sugar- or fat-laden foods. Restaurants that carry on the recreation and/or celebration aspects of high-calorie foods even beyond the lengths that some of our mothers did when we were kids. Food as a reward. Food to make you feel better. Food to show love. Desserts withheld or “going to bed without supper” as punishment. I have heard that American Millenials are in worse health than Americans from any generation before them were at their ages, but look at what they've been fed all their lives. Is it any wonder? At least, when people in my age group were babies, most mothers breast fed. And if we had formula, it was made at home, from water, canned milk and karo syrup, before they were contaminated with fluoride and chlorine, GMO soy and before corn syrup was high fructose. We weren't exposed to vending machine food until we were teenagers and during most of our formative years, our food was not as contaminated as it is now. I've said before, no country has to attack us. Save your money and time, folks. Just stand back and watch us shovel the poisons into our mouths till we overwhelm our livers, then sicken and die in misery and pain. Big Chem and Big Pharma are the terrorists here.  

Well, that's enough. I hope you all have a lovely Easter and please remember The Reason For The Season has nothing to do with a bunny that ? lays colored eggs. Peace, Love, Prosperity, Joy and Safety to each and every one of you. Hugs xoxoxoxo

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Garden Post And Update

I promised you a garden post and so here goes:

I start this on March 19 and I will just add to it till I get to where I can publish. 

What they SAY was winter's last hoorah was over a couple days ago and I have been trying to get things moved into the garden and other places.  I do not have very much time as I go in for outpatient shoulder surgery very soon.  After that I may not be able to do much for awhile.  If I have to I can take Hubs out, and he will do the things I cannot, if I show him what and where and tell him how.  He doesn't get too involved with the garden except to till when and where I ask him to, and to mow where the grass grows, and to talk about it at the workout center.  The doctor has told me he won't want me lifting for awhile.  The MRI has revealed that I have some small torn places on my rotator cuff.  Of course it is on the right-hand side.  No, I don't know how it happened, I was fine till I knitted all those dang dishcloths around Thanksgiving time.  I might've fallen, somewhere in there, I don't remember.  I know I have fallen once in the last month, and considering all, it did no further damage beyond scaring the bejeezers out of me.  

Today was a morning with not much breeze blowing, which is an oddity for us in the spring.  Hubs has accumulated several piles of brush and I have been cutting it up into pieces that will fit in the burn barrel.  The limbs, once shorn of the smaller branches, might make decent firewood if they were the right wood.  One is the old peach tree, which didn't wake up this spring, and judging from the deep gouges the woodpecker has made into it, is probably full of termites.  So not a good choice for the woodpile.  The other piles are thorny lower branches of the Hedge Apple trees (Osage Apple, Bois d'Arc) that Hubs had been cussin' because they tend to reach out at him when he passes on the riding mower.  So he took out every-other tree and trimmed off the lower branches of the ones that were left.  These trees have a strong history in America's heartland.  They were planted as wind-breaks and their wood was harvested for fence posts.  Here's an article about them if you want to know more:
There are 57 comments on this particular page that are interesting and informative to read.

I know some people consider these to be "trash trees", and will be horrified to know that I actually planted them.  But I like them, I like the "apples" that they make, and yes, I have a Mulberry "trash tree", too.  Mulberry trees are habitat for the birds and they love the fruit.  Just don't hang out wash while the mulberries are ripe, that's all I'm sayin'.   These trees will grow where others will not, and unlike our pine trees, oak trees and pecan trees, have not been bothered by the roaming deer. 

There are some people who say the Bois d'Arc wood makes good firewood, but I've also heard that it burns very hot and is dangerous to put in your fireplace.  I found this website that provides more information on that topic:  http://www.firewood-for-life.com/osage-orange-firewood.html .  After having burned a lot of the small branches, I can tell you that the fire audibly snaps, crackles and pops and does throw out a lot of sparks.  Which is really pretty and Fourth Of July-ish, as long as you pick a dewy morning to burn and don't have anything laying on the ground nearby that would ignite easily. 

An early morning walk around the place reveals that the Fava beans are up and they germinated quite well.  People have told me they hold each other up if they're planted closely together and considering the gale-force winds we get out here, I'm not taking any chances.  I can tie them to the chain-link fence if I have to.

Peas are up in some places, more spotty in others, I'm not sure if they will fill in with a little more time or not.  I still have not seen any emergence of the beet seed I've planted, but it's probably a little too early yet.  Potatoes have been planted and I thought I was seeing emergence, but I think it's bindweed instead.  It has gotten into the garden because it's all over the prairie.  Eradicating it in my garden, if that's even possible, would only be temporary. 

Every summer and fall I cut off the zinnia flowers after they've begun to lose their petals and started to turn brown.  I keep them in a brown paper grocery bag and they seem to finish up drying just fine that way.  At some point during the winter I go through the bag and strip the flower heads down to the internal "cone" and throw that away.  It's too labor intensive to try to filter out the seeds from all the resulting "chaff", so I just keep it all and in the spring I cast it all out onto the ground where I want zinnias to grow.  It has not failed me in the years I've been doing it, the chaff seems to help cover the seeds.  And then after a couple of rains, there are seedlings.  Earth to earth.  So I cast zinnias this morning during my "walk-about". 

Some of the Wintersown seeds have grown plants big enough to transplant now.  I get varied results with Wintersowing.  Sometimes nothing comes up.  Maybe it got too hot in the milk jug.  Maybe it was too wet, too dry.  Maybe I had seedlings ready to emerge right before a freeze that were killed.  You win some, you lose some. 

About this time in the spring I cut the top off the jug, so any plants can begin the hardening off process.  Where nothing has emerged, I just dump the growing medium onto the ground and mark it, in case there may be some seeds that will eventually germinate. 

Where germination has happened sparsely, I tip the tray over into my hand and then back upright, gently, in a similar-sized depression I've made in the soil, somewhere.  I mark this too, so that Hubs won't weedwack it down, or I won't dig into it, forgetting that it's been planted there, and thinking it's some kind of weed.  Been there, done that.  It's the plants that tightly fill the container that are the problem.  they're in a tangle and many times hard to separate.  Many people just tear the soilpad into pieces and whatever plants come with it get planted, where hopefully there will be at least one that has enough intact root to go ahead and make the transition to its new spot. 

These are little bundles of Blue Vates kale that was done in just that way.  They'll duke it out and the strongest will live.  It's nature's way.

While I was out in the garden, I kept noticing a very sweet, somewhat spicy, scent on the air.  It turned out to be the thornless current bushes that Paula gave to me last time I was there.

The birds just LOOOOOVE these.  I'll have to cover them with netting soon.  The Mockingbirds and Robins will eat the currents before they are even ripe.

I love all our birds, even though they tend to raid the trees.  They do a lot of insect control.  Every time I dig out a grubworm, I put it in a tray that has a raised edge, so they aren't able to crawl out, and next time I go to deposit one (or more), the one(s) I put in before are gone.  I almost never see what gets them but Hubs says it's the Robins and sometimes a Bluebird.  They are all looking over possible nesting places and searching for building materials. 

Birds must have insects and worms to feed to their young, and there is a huge supply for them here. 

This is now Thursday, March 23.  We've had a little cold snap but nothing down into freezing.  Gotta love Oklahoma.  One day it's 92 for the high and we're about to need the air-conditioner on.  The next day it only gets into the 40's. 

Surgery is tomorrow, I'm trying to get finished up.  I'm not going to get it all done, but I promised Hubs I wouldn't obsess over it.  If the garden dies, it dies.  I'm only doing what I can, coming in to take a break, going back out, and so on.  We haven't had a decent rain in a long time, and there are wildfires burning at what, at this point, is a safe distance away from us.  We just never know what the next day will bring.  Storms are due tomorrow, and I'm concerned about getting caught in a hailstorm or worse while we are out on the highway between here and Tulsa.  I can reschedule and I will if I think I have to, but dealing with the pain in my shoulder is really wearing me down and, considering that the weather people don't really know from one day to another what's going to happen, which is obvious every time I check the forecast, it's really hard to know what to do. 

It is still windy as the bejeezers.  Not good for our volunteer firemen fighting those fires.  Not good for my baby plants being tucked into the garden probably a little too soon.  Not good for plants coming up out there from seed in soil that dries out faster than I can keep it watered. 

This is now Monday, 3/27.  I had my surgery and am hitting these keys one at a time.  Dr. did not talk to me but what I got from the information he gave Hubs is that I had a bone spur, which tore a place in my rotator cuff.  He removed the spur and repaired the tear and said I should heal well.  I am spending six hours on what I call "the wing-flapper", two hours at a time, each day, and am otherwise required to keep my arm in a sling.  I'm not without pain but most of the time it's less than the pain I had before surgery.  Except that I'm not allowed to use my arm and so the pain will probably come in at that point, which I assume is two weeks post-surgery because that's when the Wing-Flapper goes away.  So I.m watching A LOT of TV and you KNOW how easily I am prodded into rants.  It's just that now I can't make my typing keep up with my thinking.

We've had a couple storms and a good rain.  The lilacs and redbuds are in bloom.

God bless you and God bless me.  Hugs xoxoxo

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Freezer Management (Or Lack Thereof)

I don't know about any of YOU, but since I've started trying to abandon the "Live To Eat" philosophy and adopt "Eat To Live", otherwise known as "Food Is Medicine", at least at the far end of the pendulum, I have gotten so I don't like to cook. 

And maybe I can't quite lay all the blame at that doorstep.

Part of it is being married to one of those Old-Fashioned Country Boys.  It's not all that fun to cook for them, gotta tell ya.  They don't think they've had a meal unless there's meat and potatoes.  And generally, they don't like to try new things.  Vegetables offered can only be corn, peas and green beans.  Carrots if they're mixed with peas.  Celery and onions if they're hidden in a sauce or broth.  Peppers, not the spicy kind, if they are chopped and cooked with onions and maybe some kind of sauce, or with mushrooms and tucked into an omelet and covered with cheese, or spread on a pizza and covered with cheese.  Salad is expected to be composed of head lettuce and tomatoes.  Little bits of shredded carrot and cabbage is tolerated because that's how it's served in restaurants around here.  But nothing else.  They love their desserts.  They hardly ever compliment their cook because they don't believe in complimenting anyone for doing something they're supposed to do.  Plus they have some kind of emotional attachment to their words so they don't use them unless they just have to.  However, if they're eating some other woman's cooking, then all hell breaks loose and you're sitting there with your mouth hanging open because you've been cooking for him for -- how long? -- and you have never heard that many words fall out of his mouth, all at the same time.  So, you know he knows how to be complimentary. 

Hubs isn't one to complain about the food, even when there's a good reason to, simply because he has tried it, and it has awakened the ugly troll that lives under the bridge during our younger years.  I mean, if I'm not going to get a compliment once in awhile, I'm not giving any truck to criticism, whether it's "constructive" or not.  He just takes his plate to the kitchen, and then after a decent waiting period, makes toast and peanut butter.  If asked, he says he "just wasn't very hungry", at mealtime.  But I know the drill.  I just don't pursue it because there's no point in it.  There are lots of things I know better than to prepare, unless I want to have to eat it all.  He has a whole long list of foods he "just doesn't care for".  Sheesh!  Now, my son, Spike, is a different story.  He often says things to me like, "This is the bomb, Mom...."  Heh.

Fortunately, Hubs makes his own breakfast, since it's just oatmeal prepared in the microwave, and his own lunch, since every day it's a sandwich made with store-bought coldcuts, store mayonnaise, anemic-looking store head lettuce and sometimes a hot-house tomato, but at least he's finally not insisting on buying that awful stuff that they call "bread" at the store anymore.  I have no clue why he isn't sick of sandwiches by now, as he gets tired of other things if he has to eat them too often, and how he can eat those awful gassed tomatoes is just beyond me.  He isn't that fond of leftovers and I think, to him, a tiresome sandwich is the better option over eating the same thing he ate the night before for supper, even though for sure it'd be better for him.

I would be a lot happier if we could just skip the evening meal entirely.  I'm tired by then.  The last thing I want to do is spend time in the kitchen.  I tried making our biggest meal at noon, but that meant I had to come in from the garden before I'm ready to.  And then, after making a meal, my momentum has drained away and I don't get anything else done. 

So I have lately been thinking about investing some time into preparing freezer meals in advance.  One Prep, Many Meals.  Seriously, if you think about it, this is just a matter of semantics, because what you're doing is cooking a big batch that no one eats right away, unless, of course, you hold out some for the evening meal on cooking day.  Hence, leftovers.  But we won't say this to Hubs, OK?

One of the first things I thought about was some Swiss Steak (also called Pepper Steak), because I had some steak in the freezer that was bought on sale and the reason why was because it was really tough and probably not the right part of the cow to BE steak, if you know what I mean.  It quickly became obvious that, in order to use the remaining steaks from that particular purchase, I'd have to cook with tomato, or marinate, the next time. 

Swiss Steak is an easy dish for less expensive cuts of beef that are not very tender.  Just trim off the extra fat, put the steak in a hot iron skillet and let it "sear" on both sides, then pour off any fat that has cooked out.  Cover the meat with chopped tomatoes, add chopped sweet peppers and chopped onion.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, put a lid on and let it bubble gently till the meat is tender.  Maybe about an hour.  Salt and pepper when serving.  Serve over rice.

Home-canned whole tomatoes (including the liquid from the jar) are the best to use.  The tomatoes are rather fragile and they fall apart in pieces during cooking.  But if you don't have that, use chopped commercially canned tomatoes and add about half a can of water and a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar for each 12-oz. can of tomatoes used.  The reason for using chopped is that commercially canned whole tomatoes are tough and do not break down very well during cooking.  The reason for the extra water and lemon or vinegar is that commercially canned chopped tomatoes are in a thick tomato puree that is not as thin or "acid-y" as the juice that comes out of the whole tomato when they are being home canned.

I'm digging in the freezer, trying to find all the wrapped pieces of the aforementioned steak and then something becomes abundantly clear:

My freezer(s) have gotten away from me. 

So, just to make things simpler, I plan to use the freezer in the refrigerator that's in the garage for pre-made meals.  Somewhere, in the big chest freezer, are bags of cooked rice, blobs of mashed potatoes, at least a couple of individual-sized meatloaves, and maybe some containers of Sweet And Sour Pork. 

I've needed to defrost the chest freezer for awhile.  By this time I seriously have no clue what all is stored away in there or if I even WANT some of it by now.  Case in point, what I found yesterday: a gallon ice-cream tub marked "Gluten", which was actually baking soda, something that doesn't even need refrigeration, much less being stored in the freezer!  Then I found a bag that actually WAS gluten, along with the other ingredients for "Dough Enhancer": Ascorbic Acid and Lecithin (it calls for Pectin, too, but that's stored in the pantry). 

I have this bad habit of buying in quantity.  That's OK if it's something I'll use within a reasonable amount of time.  But it bites me if it's something I end up not using because a) I get lazy.  And/or b) I don't notice a difference between using it and not using it.  Where the Dough Enhancer is concerned, for the past couple of years I've been lucky enough to be able to buy wheat that's had enough gluten on it's own that I didn't need to add anything to get a good rise.  The wheat I bought last summer does not rise quite as well, I have to coax it a little.  But I like the idea of making bread with only five ingredients: flour, yeast, honey, olive oil, and salt, as long as it is still "light" enough that Hubs will eat it. 

Since "inquiring minds want to know", I found information about Lecithin here:

and about gluten here:

Maybe I will do similar to what King Arthur Flour's website suggests and just add a tablespoon of each per 1.5 pound loaf until they are used up.  I can then use the pectin and ascorbic acid for canning and jelly-making.  I have a strawberry freezer jam recipe and also an old banana jam recipe that calls for added pectin.  And of course the ascorbic acid is necessary when canning certain fruits, so a use will be found for that in late spring, if the peach and pear trees bear. 

Pineapple-Banana Jam
This recipe is from a 1960's Grit Magazine. Always a big hit when given as a gift. Actually makes such a delicious ice-cream topper no one wants to “waste it” by putting it on bread.

1 #2 can crushed pineapple
5 ripe bananas, mashed (fruit will measure about 6 C)
7 1/2 C sugar
1 bottle liquid pectin (or 1 box powder, mixed into the sugar)

Add sugar to fruit in large saucepan and mix well. (stir in a pat of margarine to eliminate need to skim foam.) Bring to full rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and at once stir in pectin. Then cool 5 minutes to prevent floating fruit. Ladle into hot jars and seal.

Easy Strawberry Freezer Jam
This recipe came from a neighbor during the 1980's. It has such a “fresh-picked” taste. My batch was always a little “runny”, but it has always ended up on ice cream, so no one cared.  Next time I make this I might try mixing the pectin with the sugar and omitting the water.

1 Qt. fully ripe strawberries (about 2 C when stemmed & crushed)
4C sugar
3/4 C water
1 box powdered pectin

Stem and thoroughly crush berries. Stir sugar into fruit. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix water and pectin in small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 2 minute. Stir hot pectin mixture into fruit, stir constantly till sugar is dissolved, about 3 mins. Fill sterilized freezer containers quickly to within 1/2” from top, cover with lids and let stand at room temp. for 24 hours. Then ready to use or store in freezer up to one year. Will keep in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

I am also in the process of "using up" some other stuff I bought quite a lot of just because some member of a forum I was on was going on and on about how nutritious it was at the time.  Chia seed, for instance.  I've started adding a tablespoon of it to my salad.  I can't say it adds much as far as taste or mouth feel, but it's supposed to be a complete protein, and since I've already got them, I might as well use them up.  Here's information about chia:

Of course the seed can be planted, as well.  Here's information about that:
Looks like Chia has a growth habit much like Amaranth, which is another seed that I have plenty of and just haven't been using.  Amaranth, in particular the Hopi Red Dye variety. from seed I got in a seed trade probably ten years ago, comes up volunteer in my garden every year.  This is a picture from last year.  They are fuller and make more seed plumes if they get more water.

The seed is plentiful and is fairly easy to winnow on a windy day but generally is best to pour into a large bowl while inside and then go out into the wind and just "swirl" the seeds around in the bowl.  Or you can blow into the bowl while you are swirling it, if there's not enough wind.  Better to stand in the garden while you do this so if any seeds blow out, at least they will come up in the following spring.  The seeds are not heavy enough to fall straight down into the bowl while the wind blows away the chaff, if you try to winnow like wheat.  I haven't planted this variety of Amaranth for years, as enough seed drops on the ground before or during harvesting of the plumes to ensure some plants coming up somewhere the next year.  Love Lies Bleeding and Joseph's Coat are two other varieties I've tried to get established without success for years.  Joseph's Coat because the leaves are so beautiful.  Love Lies Bleeding because the red "flower" is interesting and beautiful.  There's also one called Golden Giant I've planted before and didn't ever see any emergence.  I've just about tried everything, including mimicking how Hopi Red Dye self-seeds.  Both Amaranth and Chia leaves are nutritious and can be eaten as cooked greens or chopped into salads.  And this grain is also a complete protein.  Here's additional information about Amaranth:

They are, in fact, related to what some people call "Pig Weed". Mom always allowed a plant to grow in her garden that she called "Lambs Quarter", and I thought the two plants were the same thing.  But I recently discovered that they are not.  Both produce leaves and seeds that are edible.  But Lambs Quarter is Chenopodium album and Pig Weed is Amaranthus retroflexus.  Here's what Edible Wild Foods have to say about Pig Weed:
and here's what they say about Lamb's Quarter:

I'm still trying to "use up" a big bag of Ocean Spray "craisins" that I bought before I found out how they are made.  All they are is what's left over after the juice has been extracted.  A by-product that's sprayed down with corn syrup and then dehydrated.  I suppose there might be some nutrition left in them but it rankles on me how this is marketed to us.  Mostly all it is, is the skins.  A "craisin" should be made like raisins or not at all.  I can't tolerate a lot of sugar but I've been throwing a handful in my salad.  They're a nice substitute for tomato when there are no REAL tomatoes available.  When they are gone, (one quart jar left, now) I'll not buy this product again.  Instead, I bought quite a few bags of cranberries around Thanksgiving when they were available in stores and they were, of course, in the freezer too.  I got those out, cut them in half so they would dehydrate easier, and it took them just a little more than 24 hours to dry.  They take up half as much space and can even be vacuum packed in jars and kept in the pantry. 

This is how much I got from twenty-one 12-oz. bags.  And no, the fruit that you dehydrate yourself is nothing like the dried fruit you buy, because it's not only the cranberries that get sprayed with corn syrup or at least sugar of some kind.  That's what makes them crunchy (and so cloyingly sweet).  Without it, the dried fruit is "chewy", usually, and some fruits, like strawberries, have a kind of a "papery" mouth feel that I don't particularly like.  These cranberries are a lot like that, but I'll be using them in baking, mostly, so they will reconstitute somewhat in the baking process.  I make dried blueberries, too, when I can buy some in season, and they are great for using in muffins because they keep their shape and don't turn the muffin blue, yet being in the moist muffin reconstitutes them enough so you can get a little moist burst of flavor in your bite.  Of course it needs to be remembered that if the recipe calls for a cup of fresh fruit and you have dried, you'll need only half as much.

I usually prefer to keep dried fruit in the freezer because they hold their color better.  Also if there are a few that didn't get dry enough, they can end up spoiling the whole container.  I will never forget the time I bought quite a few bananas, on sale, and made dried banana chips.  It was before I had a way to vacuum-seal jars, so I double bagged them in ziplock bags and stored them in the pantry.  Many days later, I noticed some strange little insects flying around, and finally traced them back to those bags of dried banana chips.  They had chewed holes right through the bag.  There was no saving them.  They went to the compost pile and that was a serious bummer.

Do you have as much trouble managing frozen cuts of beef, chicken and pork in your freezer as I do?  Seems like I can't prepare a meal without digging all through the freezer.  For awhile, I tried to keep meats organized in large wire freezer bins that I saved out of an old freezer many years ago.  But they were large and pretty heavy when fully loaded, so they had to be on the bottom, and if they were stacked they were too heavy to lift.  Didn't help much.  So then I tried cardboard boxes and that didn't help much, either.  But lately I've been thinking about using cloth bags.  Hmmmmm.  I have a lot of old pillowcases from when we were raising kids.  Not very pretty, but clean.  They could hold a lot, or a little, without wasting space.  I could put new purchases in a separate bag and put it under the bag containing older purchases.  Also might be another layer that would help prevent freezer burn.  Annnnnnd, the bag would conform to whatever shape would be necessary for it to fit the space available. 

I tried really hard to maintain my focus and not start thinking about how the pantry needs to be cleaned out and reorganized, too.  BUT, they kind of go hand-in-hand.   

And Hubs was no help when he made a remark that he hasn't had any cake for a long time, so he brought up a mix from the pantry.  OMG, we've had them so long they have expired.  The one I baked did not rise at all in the oven.  So I checked the dates of all of them, and then checked for smell, critters, and taste.  The one I opened passed, so I mixed it up according to package directions, adding a tablespoon of baking powder.  That resulted in a normal cake.  I seemed to have several white cake mixes, and while they are nice in combination with fruit, Hubs usually wants chocolate.  So that I can use them up, I tried adding 1/3 cup cocoa along with the extra baking powder when I mixed one up.  And a couple of whole eggs instead of just the eggwhites.  Because chocolate cake mix does not expire here.

I think it'll do.  Normally I might be concerned with whether there are any vitamins and minerals left in the dry ingredients in the box, but it's a cake mix and therefore empty-calorie junk food, anyway.  As long as the box is still in good shape, there are no weevils present, and there is no rancid taste or smell, there's not going to be much difference in the taste.  But yes, if you're going to be using an expired cake mix, do examine carefully first.  And add more baking powder.  It's the first to die.  Maybe it's time for me to do like Glenda does, and mix up my cakes from scratch.

There are some jars of dehydrated apple stored in the pantry.  They are from when I had all those apples from Leroy's tree.  It was an experiment, really.  We have been buying apples at the grocery store.  Of course Hubs will not eat dehydrated apple slices, but I should be eating them instead of having an apple a day.  Originally I thought I would chop them and add them to muffins, but when I make muffins, I prefer to use craisins, dried blueberries, dried aronia berries or raisins as the dried fruit component.

I found a can of salmon that I bought a couple of months ago, and yes I would be more careful about using foods like this if they were expired.  But this was a more recent purchase and so it was within the "best by" date.  It became the basis for salmon patties one night, with enough mixed up and ready to fry to slip into the freezer for another meal.  My recipe for Salmon Patties is simple: one 12-oz can salmon, removing bones and any visible skin, flake the meat using two forks like you would do for pulled pork.  Do not drain off the broth.  Add 1/2 cup Bisquik and an egg and stir well.  Form into patties.  Fry in a skillet in a little oil till brown on both sides.  If they're too moist for patties, add a little more Bisquik, or drop them onto the hot skillet and tease into patties while they cook. 

I thought I had some homemade Bisquik in the freezer, somewhere.  But I searched and didn't find it.  Maybe I used it all.  Or maybe I'll find it when I'm looking for something else.  So I had to make some more and now THAT's stored in the freezer.  This time I just made half a batch, and I used my whole-wheat flour instead of "Enriched" all-purpose flour.  Enriched.  What a spin.  But anyway.  In the hunting process, I found another container of Lecithin.  *Sigh*.  Smaller than the other one, though, at least.

Biscuit Mix
Makes about 13 cups or 3 quarts. This mix can be used as is for pancakes by adding egg and water or milk.  Makes wonderful, fluffy dumplings, just by adding water.  The secret to dumplings is to drop the dough by spoonfuls into boiling soup or broth, quickly put the lid back on and don't take it off till the dumplings are done.  They should be a little slick on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.  I never use this to make biscuits, but if I did, to 2 cups of mix I'd add 1/4 tsp baking soda, cut in 2 tbsp. butter, and mix in buttermilk to make a soft dough.  Handle biscuit dough gently or the biscuits will be tough.  Drop biscuits are good if you like crunchy outsides.  Sometimes I gently pat them to flat 1" thick rounds right before they go in the oven.  Mostly I use Biscuit Mix for making "Impossible Pies", of which there are many, all pretty darn good.  There are tons of recipes on the Internet.

I keep my mix in the freezer.  Storage won't be as long in the refrigerator.  Shortening and dry milk can go rancid and baking powder can lose it's fizz.

9 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. salt
1/3 cup baking powder
3 tbsp. sugar
1 3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in shortening until evenly distributed. Mixture will resemble cornmeal in texture. Pour into large airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Will keep 12 weeks. If frozen, will last indefinitely.

While I still knew where the Bisquik could be found, I used some to mix up three individual-sized Impossible Garden Pies, as I had a few spears of asparagus coming up in the garden, plus a pint container of asparagus from last year, found in the freezer.  Even if I've used all my frozen chopped onions, there are always some Walking Onions that are greening up.  Hubs does not like asparagus, so these are allllllll mine.

Impossible Garden Pie

3 and 1/2 c. mixed garden veggies, chopped
1/2 c. chopped onion
Parmesan cheese or grated white cheddar or Swiss cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 and 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. biscuit mix
3 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 7"x11" dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and pepper evenly over vegetables. Combine milk, biscuit mix and eggs. Beat until smooth and pour over vegetables. Bake about 30 minutes. Let set 5 minutes before cutting.

Just so you know, I've been writing on this post for several days.  I didn't get all this stuff done in just one day.  My take-away from this effort, which won't be over for awhile yet, is that I just shouldn't buy so much ahead of time.  The beauty of having a well-stocked pantry and freezers is that when you decide to cook or bake something, you don't have to run to the store.  And you can stock up on things when they go on sale. Of course, if you have a garden, you must have a place to store jars of things you have canned.  Then there are those things that are better frozen than canned.  But there are lots of things that I will not buy again.  There is a happy balance in there somewhere. 

So I soldier on.  There are days when it's two steps forward, one back.  Like the day that Hubs went to Kentucky Fried Chicken with a coupon and came home with TWO BUCKETS of chicken.  *Sigh*.  Hmmmm.  I don't really feel like cooking tonight.  I think we'll just thaw out some of that.  Bake a potato in the microwave.  And there's some salad in the refrigerator......  Left-over green beans for Hubs (because the salad has peas and broccoli and mushrooms in it).

I know this post is about as disorganized as the freezers and pantry, and I apologize for that.  I hope all of you have made it through the winter weather and that spring is around the corner for you as it is for us.  We MAY have had our last night of freezing temps.  But we never know.  Mesonet changes its forecast at the last minute sometimes.  We've had freezing weather as late as mid-April before, so I won't be planting those tomato plants JUST YET.  I'll try to do a garden post next time.

Rock on....  Hugs xoxoxo