SO EASY AND SO FUN – BREAD IN A JAR!

We subscribe to Countryside Magazine. It is one of the few we actually enjoy and use!  It has everything for small farming, hobby or backyard garden/farming, recipes tried-and-true methods; you name it, they have it (have had it or will have it).  Perfect for anyone wanting to grow their own food.

A few years back they ran a series on “oven canning” which included several recipes for Bread-in-a-jar.  My sister and I were intrigued, so we gave it a shot.  Besides being fun to make, they were the perfect sizes to eat.  They made a fantastic gift for just about any occasion.  We did banana, blueberry, chocolate chip, spice, pumpkin and plain sweet bread.  Then, because we are so crafty, we added a sticky label with ingredients (for allergies), then decorated with bows, ribbons, and a tag.  We received so many compliments on it that we were amazed!

Well, with the house fire all of our saved and categorized Countryside issues were lost.  Along with those the bread-in-a-jar and oven canning secrets – UNTIL NOW!

I subscribe online to thewhoot.com.au it is out of Australia, but a lot of what I get from them can be done anywhere in the world (mainly recipes and crafts).  The latest wonder that they delivered to my email inbox was about Banana Bread-in-a-jar!  WOOO HOOO – oh excited me!!

This is what the completed plan looks like:

banana-bread-in-a-jar-600x400

I was so happy to find it I just had to write this up and share it! Hope you all give it a shot. The bread’s we made up (about 30 jars) sat on our pantry shelf for at least a year (maybe a couple of months more) and were still just as fresh and yummy as day one!

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THE CORN ROAST or HOW TO THROW A PARTY – part 2.

As the sun started to go down, the party was still going.  Uncle Vern (my dad’s brother) was usually tending to the grill by now, finishing up whatever was left to cook.  The “old hats” at the party knew it was time to break out the coolers to pack up their share of the food.  The kids were still all over the farm.

corn-on-the-grill

As the sun disappeared, more fun began.  The adults moved into the garage (it was called the garage, but it was also a workshop and had enough room for tractors and farming equipment in the back – all moved out of course for this shindig.), and the kids came down from the hay loft to start chasing things in the dark.

We had a great huge yard light.  It lit up everything corner of the center of our driveway (Picture a huge gravel circle with a house, garage, huge machine shed, barn and pump/tack house all around it – this was the center of our driveway – about the size of 10 full-size trampolines).

The garage doors were wide open, so it was easy for the adults to watch us.  The little kids, by now, were settling into their parent’s laps or finding a soft spot on the lawn to curl up on.  (Funny – I say “little” kids like I was so big – NOT – I was always the short one.  During this time I could have only have been around  8 or 9 years old – LMAO.)  We, the older kids, were now chasing fireflies (lightening bugs to some of you) and ducking from bats and moths that were compelled to go to the light.

fireflies-at-night

IT NEVER FAILED – a moth would get stuck in my hair!  I inherited my father’s thick curly hair – oh lucky me!  Even though mom cut it short every spring, the darn critters would still get all tangled up in it.  To this day, I can’t stand MILLER MOTHS!! Grrr!!!  They would crunch as you tried to wrestle them out – yuck!

miller-moth

Slowly but surely, the crowd would start to dwindle down.  The closest friends and family were always the last to shuffle out.  Usually, there were a few stragglers that would spend the night. Why not?  Our place was enormous, and dad was always up for cooking to a passel of people.  Guests always meant an awesome breakfast the next morning!

Exhausted but extremely content, mom and dad would shuffle us girls off to bed.  All the fun and joy from all the play of the day was not strong enough to keep our eyelids from closing.  Sweet dreams all around! 

  •   No worries about tomorrow. 
    •   No fears about the night. 
      • Just great memories until the next family corn roast!

corn-roast-yum

THE CORN ROAST or HOW TO THROW A PARTY.

A kids’ life on a farm can be amazing!  We were lucky that we had such a fantastic family with such great family and friends.  When it came time to bale hay (yep all small bales only back then), plant crops, pick rock, fix fence – whatever – a load of people would show up to help.  In turn, we would help them with their tasks (chicken butchering was more fun that rabbits – but that is another story).  The amazing part was a large number of people that would show up to help.  

My father was a cook-a-holic.  He loved being in the kitchen, at a grill, where ever as long as he was the cook.  The highlight of every year was our annual fall corn roast.  It started out simple enough, a small thank-you-type afternoon with family to show our appreciation for everyone’s help.  Soon, family extended to friends, then extended to friends of a friend.  The roast went from a small charcoal cooker, closest family (Aunts uncles, cousins, etc.), drinks and a quiet evening; into a full blown whole day event!

 It starts at the crack of dawn.  My sisters and I get dragged out of bed just as the sun is trying to rise.  We get thrown onto the back of the flat-bed wagon, which is still damp from the morning dew, and hauled out to the corn field. Thank goodness we never put away our winter mittens!

The machine corn pickers have already been through the fields.  They pick up most of it, but not all, for the canning company (hee hee – I know where your canned corn comes from!).  They flatten everything as they go.  Now it’s our turn.

corn-picker

Dad drives the tractor this time (we all know now that baby sister CAN NOT drive a straight line – or is that would not?), and all of we girls jump off and start picking up the leftover cobs and throwing them onto the wagon.  This goes on for about an hour or so; then it’s time to head back up to the house.

Dad pulls the tractor up next to a shiny horse tank.  We help him to unload a portion of the corn.  Dad has the garden hose running in the tank at the same time, then tops it all off with a ton of ice cubes (I have no clue where they all came from because our freezers could never hold that much – the mysterious Ice Fairy?).

Dad and a couple of my Uncles took an old metal drum, cut it in half (length-wise – I know you have seen these because they are on almost every farm now), and turned it into one huge grill.  The coals get to the right temp and the corn, husks and all, goes on.

outdoor-cooker

(This is sort of what it looked like, but no wheels or wagon.  It had welded legs on the bottom to stand on)

People start to swarm in.  Some have brought their own food to cook or share – several salads, hamburgers, hotdogs for the kids, sodas, beer, chips, you name it, it all starts pouring in.  By now it is only about 10 a.m.

The day finally starts to kick into full gear. 

·         The grill is in high heat and cooking away.

·         The ladies (moms mostly) are running stuff back and forth from the house to the grill.

·         The kids are running amok everywhere.

·         Our main job for part of the day was giving the no-horse kids rides.  This was done by plopping them up in the saddle, then leading the horse around (boring, but our job – plus the kids LOVED it!!)

·         The volleyball net goes up; the lawn chairs come out, and all the games begin.

Everyone eats and people are scattered everywhere.  It is mostly a lawn type of activity (at least that’s where all the kids get to sit, our choice.) after all.  Once Dad is sure most everyone had been fed, he checks the wagon.  The last of the corn is off the wagon and in the ice tank, so it’s time to move the wagon.  Now was a great time for young and old alike.  Everyone piles onto the wagon in groups (can’t hold more than about 20-25, and there are over 100 bodies here now).  It’s hay/wagon ride time.  Dad’s favorite part!

Everyone on the wagon is having a ball, but I loved to watch dad.  His face would light up when he would pop the clutch to make the wagon jump.  Everybody would fall back and bust out laughing – especially dad.  Our farm was very hilly.  He would drive up and down the hills on purpose just to watch the riders flopping all over laughing.  Then it was back up to the yard to get another group and repeat.

  wagon-ride

(We looked very much like this except for one HUGE difference – DAD ALWAYS WORE A BLACK FELT COWBOY HAT – no lame weed woven thing for him! LMAO)

(To Be Continued Next Wednesday 10-12-16.)

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OH NO – NOT ANOTHER COOL DAD STORY?

To properly explain this one, I am going to have to write you a picture:

  • Two sisters, one about four the other about six.
  • It is early1960’s in Wisconsin.
  • Our farm is several miles from the nearest major highway, so a trip is required for everything.
  • The main road: County Trunk W.
  • The type of road: 2-lane, HUGE hills (cannot see the other side until you are on top of them type hills).
  • And so our story begins:

It is a beautiful fall day.  The leaves are either turning or falling, and this part of Wisconsin has such an amazing variety of trees that you are awestruck by colors.  The air is crisp, even in the mid-afternoon.  Dad decides we have to go to the grocery store in Adell (not the closest city, but a larger selection) to pick up some stuff.  We are taking the farm truck (I have no clue year, make or model – have to ask my older sister since she totaled it – but that’s another story).  No seatbelts (neither in it or required to have it- go figure?).

Dad grabs the girls and throws them into the front seat of the truck, then slides in on the driver’s side and starts her up.  Varoom, rumble, rumble, rumble (yes, this is how an old farm pickup truck sounds) and off we go.

From the end of our driveway, you turn onto County Trunk W and go east toward Adell.  We sit at the top of a hill, so the start is fun picking up speed on the way down.  Now remember, it is early 1960’s so cops really didn’t look for speeders on all the county roads (most of them were still gravel anyway – now ours.)

Down the hill, up a smaller one, and over – picking up some more speed.  Down again, up again, down again; this continues for about five or six miles, and THERE IT IS – SKUNK HILL.  The reason for the name is because of all the dead skunks on it.  You cannot see over to the other side, so there is no time to slow down.

  • Once over,
    • you see it,
      • it’s dead – and
        • your car/truck will stink for a month

It was the tallest hill around.  Dad was beatin feet to get up that puppy.  Hit the top and it happened, up we went off the seat into the air!  Squeals of joy and laughter rung out!  Dad was laughing even harder at us and our excitement just over a jump on a hill.  Great joy in the little things.  The laughter did not stop for another 3 or so miles until we got to the store.

NOW, some of you will be seeing the danger here.

Some of you will be seeing bad parenting here.

But some of you, just some of you will see this:

calvin-n-hobbes-laughing

  silly-minion-1

silly-minions-2

farm-dad-1

     great-dad2

Our parents were great!  Loving, funny, caring, sharing, encouraging, outstanding.  So please do not judge too harshly the decade we grew up in because it was all good. 

They were not rich, but our lives were.  If I could, I would wish that all children would have at least a couple of summers, and maybe a few falls, on a farm.

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How Cool is Your Dad?

Our dad was AWESOME (yes, you must sing the last word here!)!  Our parents were outstanding but in completely different ways.  It took the two of them to create we three monster sisters, but this story is about Dad.

Fall brings back more memories of Dad than Mom.  He kept the farm rolling.  He worked a full-time job in Milwaukee, at the same time carried a full-time job working our 80-acre farm.  That’s a lot of working and a lot of stress.  The amazing part is he always found time for us.  He included us in all parts of the farm.

In Wisconsin, we had to do a chore every spring called “picking rock” – yes, we hand picked up large rocks in the fields.  This had to be done before the plows could come through or they would cause major damage to the equipment.  My little sister was about 4-years old when she was initiated.

pushing-boulder-up-hill

We had this great little gray Massey Ferguson tractor.  It was the littlest one on our farm and a perfect fit for little girls.  Dad hooked up one of the flatbed trailers to the tractor, lifted us three girls up on the flatbed, and out to the fields we went.

Once in the field, Dad put the youngest (only four remember) into the driver’s seat, tied a wooden block to her gas pedal foot, put the tractor in the lowest gear and off she started.  My older sister, I, and my dad then would walk the field alongside the trailer finding, picking up, and loading all the rocks about softball size and up onto the wagon.  Easy right?  WRONG!

The best thing our parents gave us is our sense of humor; it is also the worst.  The baby sister and I were always at each other; it was our “thing.”  She now had a perfect advantage.  It all started out innocent enough, scooting along in the tractor.  Nice and smooth, slow and steady.  If we had a fairly big rock her job was to stop until we had it loaded (Yep – here it comes).

She did her job perfectly with Dad.  Just as well with our eldest sister.  Then there was me.  First, it started out as it should, moving along, picking up and loading rocks.  Then she saw me pick up a rock that was obviously very heavy and awkward for me.

She stopped the wagon.

Waited for me to get right up to it to set down the rock.

Then purposely bolted ahead so I could not set down the rock (little jerk)!

What made matters worse for me, was Dad laughing.  Our older sister joined in, and I was once again the brunt of the joke.  The more they laughed, the more she did it, the angrier I became – which made them all laugh harder.

dont-throw-rocks-sign  (or little sisters)

Dad would eventually compose himself and reprimand baby sister – sort of.  She would be good for a while, then start back up again.  This became the family ritual every rock picking season.  Funny how a person can get used to good-hearting ribbing, but others will call it a form of abuse.  To me, it was just normal family fun farm stuff.

3-sister-stones

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SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH A YOUNG ADDICTION?

Don’t you just love a good addiction?  My first one started when I was only seven years old, and my parents put me into 4-H.  We had cattle, horses and lots of other farming things that I could have worked on and taken to the fair – but nooo – I chose to take a shot at knitting.  YES, with yarn – now how scary is that?

I have no clue what attracted me to it.  My mother would crochet once in a while (in a very long while), but it was not one of her passions.  I still remember the very first pair of needles I picked up.  I swear there was some type of chemical on them that the moment I touched them I became obsessed!  It was (and still very much is) an addiction.  The very first thing I ever created was called “The Pixie Slipper” – I won first prize – blue ribbon.  It was the ugliest thing anyone ever suggested for a pattern.  Real easy to do for a first-timer, but still ugly.  What brought all this up?  The pattern is back – EEEKKK!

You can find tons of all types of handmade slippers (and just about everything else) on eBay or Etsy.  I have searched and used both, but this one just made me giggle:

pixie-slippers

(you can click on the pic to take you to the site for more info)

Other than the major curling in the toes, it is pretty much the same old pattern.  Funny, the whole thing is just one big square?!?  If you go here: https://www.etsy.com/market/pixie_slippers  you can find a ton of variations to this project – who would have thought?

I remember putting such effort into that project.  There was just something about the feel of the needles that hooked me (yes, pun intended).  It then became the different feel of the yarns and fibers.  When I went to the fair after judging, I spotted so many other beautiful projects that kids just like me had done, and I was instantly drugged!  I would never be the same innocent me again – yarn – the culprit!

Now that I am older (notice I did not say wiser!?), I have come to realize it was not the yarn’s fault…it was the needles!  Well, it’s not really their fault either…it’s my tiny hands and fingers and MY PIANO TEACHER!!  Dun, dun, daaaa – the plot thickens!

hands-on-piano

Her method of teaching us (yep, little sis and I both had to take piano lessons – mom insisted!) was to wack the back of our hands if we didn’t reach an octave.  (Those that are lucky and have never had to, check out a piano some time – try to reach eight keys with your thumb on one and pinky on the other – that’s an octave.)  I couldn’t because of my short little fingers.  But, if I lowered my hand I could just reach the corners and make it – NOT ALLOWED – WACK! 

“You must pretend you have a golf ball stuck under your palm – this is how you must play!”  Wack – again…never did get that setup – BUT – I still tried.  Then on I was always sticking something in my hands, between my fingers (ok, sometimes up the nose – hee hee), working and trying to make them longer.  Didn’t work.  So, instead, I learned how to be more creative.  My favorite reading is “how-to’s” and love learning new things and techniques.  I love to write, draw, paint and all the other fun things you do with fingers…but the best, and most favorite, is still the original – KNITTING!

 

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THE FIRST TIME I TRIED TO DIE (no, not on purpose!).

To this day I cannot keep my hands off baby animals.  Don’t care what kind of animal it is, just as long as it is in baby form.  Adults, not so much.

On a farm, there is always some type of babies being born.  If it wasn’t my 4-H rabbits, it was the cousin’s pig.  Well, one fine year we had a Welsh Pony, her name was Dolly.  She was a booger!  The meanest pony I ever met.  Once you got the bridle and saddle on her, she was fun to ride.  Trying to get them on without her stepping on your foot or trying to nip you was another story.  I don’t know where or when it happened, but she got pregnant and had a colt.  A beautiful black and white spotted thing just like her.

dolley and baby

I can’t tell you how many times dad warned us NOT to go near Dolly.  She was very protective of her baby, as a mother should be.  Did I listen?  Nope!  I would go out there for hours and try to get close enough to touch the baby.

There was a small shed out in their pen with the door and window blown out.  Dolly would hide in there with her baby, and I knew it.  I would crawl up to the side of the building and try to reach in to get to touch the baby.  Never worked.

One day I decided I was just going to do it!  Just who did this pony think was the boss anyway?  So, I put on my little cowboy boots, grabbed my coat and off I went.  I marched right into that pen, right up to the pony and that was the last thing I remember of that encounter.

Apparently, she knew she was the boss and the moment I got too close, she decided to show me.  Swung her butt around and planted a hoof square on my head – knocked me out cold.  I was lucky for two reasons:

  1.  Dolly did not want to come after me for more damage once I was down.
  2. Dad saw the whole thing.

He managed to get me to the house (back then you didn’t just rush off to the hospital or doctor, you tried to handle it at home first.) where mom took over and eventually I came around.

Now, I’m not going to say I was okay.  As far as “ok” – that is still left to be determined (sure hope not)!  However, I was an idiot back then, and I will continue to prove this to you in my future family stories. (FYI – Dad’s nickname for me was “Dumb Shit” for a reason.)

headache dog

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