Brine CuredPickles

When I was a little girl living in way out in the country outside Lawrence, Kansas, I always knew that I could reach into the giant crock jar on our back porch and pull out a big whole pickle at any time.  I do not remember my siblings and I so much as rinsing our hands before reaching in the crock for the pickles.  I don't remember us even thinking we should rinse our hands.  The hardest part of getting a pickle was lifting that heavy crock lid off.

Those were the best pickles I have ever eaten in my whole life to date.  My grandmothers, both of them, had crock pickles also but they kept theirs in their cellars, along with bushels of apples, sacks of potatoes, shelves of canned vegetables and fruits in Mason jars, jams, jellies and sacks of nuts.  I don't remember one time with either grandma when I saw her sitting in her rocker but that she wasn't shelling nuts, crocheting, or doing something productive with her hands.

Brine Pickles
Gently wash cucumbers -- don't bruise them.  Get an estimate on how much the cucumbers weigh. Put the cucumbers in your crock and cover with a 10% brine solution.  The best temperature for brining pickles is in the 80 F degree range. 

Brine Solution: 1 cup salt to 2 quarts water.  
To test if your brine is right put a fresh egg in the solution and if it floats, your brine is at 10%.

Now weight the cucumbers down with a plate or something else that works for you.  That's all you can do now.  The following morning, however, add 1 cup of salt for each 5 pounds of cucumbers.  This is important because it maintains the brine solution at 10%.  Also note that it is best to add that salt on top of the plate weighing down the cucumbers and let it dissolve there; otherwise, it will sink to the bottom of the crock and will form too strong a brine down there.

You'll need to remove the scum when it forms on top of the brine.  This is another important step:  if the brine is not removed it will destroy the acidity of the brine and your pickles will be spoiled.

At the end of a week and for the next 5 weeks, add 1/4 cup salt for each 5 pounds of cucumbers.  Remember, add salt on top of the plate weighing them down so it doesn't sink too fast. Let the fermentation (bubbles forming) continue for about 4 weeks.

If you like real crisp pickles, add some grape leaves or cherry tree leaves.  Some women back then also used alum or lime.  Not any of those are necessary for crisp pickles if you follow the procedure properly.

How to Plant an Apple Orchard

Larry and I are preparing a sunny location out behind the barn for planting an apple orchard.  It is a triangular shaped piece of land perfect for an orchard.
I'll take a picture of it tomorrow and post it as is.  As we dig holes and fertilize and do other work out there, I'll post those pics also. 

Step One is getting the dream of having an apple orchard.  That is the step we discussed just now. 

Ozark kitchen photo from 1936

This Lake of the Ozarks kitchen photo was taken in March 1936 by Carl Mydans for the Farm Security Administration - Office of War.

I could not determine if the photo was purchased or if the whole Ozark cabin was purchased (I believe it was the latter). Back in 1936 the nation was in the Great Depression so not just Ozark cabin homes looked this stark.

The woman of the house was impressively creative as she made her home homey with newspaper wallpaper.  She even cut scallops along the newspaper over the window to give it a curtain look.  The child looks quite happy and proud of the home.  The laundry tub and washboard on the front right of the picture was a common way to wash clothes in those days. 

Old Mother Hubbard Went to Her Cupboard

drawing  by Stan Simpson
In grocery stores and food markets, 2010 will bring a new consumer reality—or, rather, a continuance of the new reality that began with the economic downturn of late 2008.
More people will continue to cut down on meals at restaurants and opt to cook at home, where more homemakers will evolve from "food assemblers" to actual cooks.
Consumers will display less brand loyalty and be more willing to switch back and forth based on sale prices.
And more of us will discover and patronize the burgeoning "big box" grocery store formats like Save-A-Lot, Grocery Outlet, and ALDI   source

Free-for-the-Picking Green Salad 9

See the bundle of collard greens freshly washed and in a strainer: well, the person who eats these greens, raw or cooked, will receive a walloping clear-off-the-chart charge of nutrients Vitamin-K, Vitamin-A, Vitamin-C, and manganese.

Those are only the nutrients that are so readily available in collard greens that the nutrients will actually feel like they 'kick in' and you are good to go. Look at some of the other nutrients in the chart.

Organizing Small Kitchens

Last summer we moved from a large house to a very small house and I had to get beyond creative to create spaces for things.  I felt so pleased with myself when I hung a white two-shelf rack on the front of my cabinet door.  How original I thought.

But today when I went to write about organizing a small kitchen I googled 'spice rack' and this photo came up.  It looks like I took a photo of my spice rack, but I didn't.  Someone else had already done this idea.

Nevertheless, in a small kitchen space is always at a premium and organization is not optional; convenience is also important.  So I hung a white rack like the one in the photo on the outside of a cabinet door close to my stove.  This placement has already saved me hours of work and frustration that I would have had to go through if I'd squeezed my spices and herbs inside the cabinet.

For My Valentine, i.e. you

This little valentine card is an antique found in an abandoned house about to be torn down years ago. I scanned this valentine and dozens more and date them around 1914.

Glitter Old-Time Valentine Stickers I chose 1914 a the valentine year because of the style of the bloomer outfits for boys and girls looks like it is from that period;  and because some of the other valentine cards depict children dressed in World War I uniforms.

Checking Amazon to see if they sold old fashioned valentine cards, I found several but the one on the left most closely matching all the cards I have.

Twitter Pie Recipe for Your Tweetys

Why do you need to know how to make Twitter Pie?  My reason is simple.  This recipe is quick and easy and allows me more time to twitter around, lots of tweets of interest come through at supper time.  So here's your recipe for more time to tweet tonight.

Twitter Pie Recipe
  • Fry a couple pounds of ground chuck with an onion diced up in it.
  • Put the fried ground chuck and onion mix in a casserole dish (big)
  • Add a layer of carrots, a layer of frozen peas, a layer of quartered potatoes
  • Wisk or mix together a can of chicken, mushroom, or celery soup and a can of water
  • Pour the uncooked soup over the mixture in the casserole dish
  • Option: top with Velveeta cheese
  • Bake at 325 degrees until potatoes are soft

You can prepare this great supper at any time during the day and when supper time comes, bake it in the oven while you continue to tweet your heart out.

Early Colonial Kitchen Charm

The woman who cooks in this kitchen wouldn't even notice if a storm took out the power to her home.  This woman is independent of everything except her own power.

I look at this kitchen and after being without power many times back here in the Ozarks (i.e., ice storms, high winds, tornadoes), I would feel safe if this was my kitchen.

If high winds were blowing and snow and ice covered the world outside, the family that lives in a place like this would be warm and cozy. That is beginning to mean a lot to families these days.

Pioneer Cookbook

Pioneer Cookbook was my first (and only) published cookbook.  The lady on the cover is my grandma (Nellie Pugh Holcom of Lawrence Kansas).  This cookbook sells out each time I do a new printing. 

But I no longer have the space available nor the printing equipment and supplies I used to have and stopped printing it completely.  Now, however, now that I understand the potential for online e-books, I am going to make this cookbook into an e-book. 

I have the entire book set up on Adobe Publisher but in a format to print front and back.  How difficult will it be to turn that material into an e-book? Have no idea.  But if I don't have it online on this blog before the end of February, then it is apparently difficult.

Ice Box Cookies

Ice box cookies were almost a staple in many families.  The recipe is easy and doesn't require any ingredients out of the ordinary but the big benefit was, and still is, that the cookies dough could be rolled into a dough log, wrapped in wax paper and then placed in the ice box or freezer (kept longer) until needed.

If company showed up unexpectedly, the lady of the house could pull out a cookie log, slice it into cookies, and within minutes, she could serve warm delicious cookies. 

I am a dough eater and when I was a little girl and found these cookie logs in the ice box, I'd slice off a couple raw cookies and run outside, climb up in my tree house (couple of pieces of lumber I'd placed over a couple tree limbs), and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.  Here is our old family recipe which I still use today:

Ice Box Cookies

1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 c crisco
1 t vanilla

Mix all the above ingredients together well

4 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t soda

Sift dry ingredients into the beaten mixture. Note: the more flour you use the crunchier the cookie; use less flour if you like soft cookies.

Place a section of the dough on a large piece of wax paper and roll into a log.  Flatten the dough log so that cookies are rectangle shaped when cut or leave it round to make round cookies, although tradition has ice box cookies as rectangle.  Bake in moderate over until done.

Recipe Box Beauty

Even folks who seldom cook often have a recipe box.  I found this photo of an old recipe box online.  I choose it because it is identical to the one my mother used.  Mom put the recipe she was going to use in the lid, the way it looks here.  She would set the recipe box with her chosen recipe out on the counter early in the day.  Then she built her day around her choice. 
My grandma, on the other hand, never had a recipe for anything and although she had measuring cups and spoons, I seldom saw her use them.

For a long time I thought Grandma was almost magical the way she could go in her big white country kitchen, cabinet doors would open and dishes would clatter gently, then I'd smell something real good baking, and as if by magic a beautiful three-layer chocolate cake would be cooling near her west kitchen window.

Pioneer Spirit Equals Survival Mode

I remember when I first saw one of these statues of a pioneer woman with her children; both my children were by my side and they were very young then; the statue was in northern Missouri but I forget the town; I saw this statue and it struck me with awe; so huge and magnificent the statue looked. The sight of it gave me strength and at that time, I needed more strength.  My own children were only a few years older than her children.  Yes, I thought, I can make it because I too have a pioneer spirit.  And I was right.  So this entry is a tribute to whoever created this magnificent symbol of the strength of the American pioneer woman.

Spiced Peaches

What better time than during the dead of winter to think about the juicy peaches we'll have this summer.  If you are fortunate enough to have a peach tree in your yard, then the next time you pick a small basket of fresh peaches, try this old time recipe loved by pioneer families.

Peaches were especially delicious back then because if you didn't grow peach trees you didn't usually get to eat peaches.

Spiced Peaches
Peel and pit a pan full of peaches.  Cut extra large peaches in half.  Set aside for a moment.  

Mix together in a large saucepan: 1 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups sugar, add cloves, couple sticks of cinnamon, and any other spices you enjoy.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Now add your raw peaches and simmer until they are the firmness you like.

Place in a sterile canning jar, adding the whole spices and the sauce as well.  Put the jar in the icebox for a week or so before using.  Heavenly peachy and very special treat.

Butterscotch Pudding Homemade

My grandma could whip up butterscotch pudding complete with lumps (which I always asked for) and to me, as a child, the pudding just appeared and it was the best most-flavorful pudding in the world. 

Only much later in life after she turned 70 years or so, did she even consider buying Jello Pudding packages and it embarrassed her to have the packages in her kitchen. 

Here is her recipe which she varied at will depending on what she had in the kitchen:

Homemade Butterscotch Pudding
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1/3 c butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 c water or fresh milk
1 2/3 c fresh milk
1 1/2 t vanilla

Cook sugar and water together (note: for fluffy pudding, don't use water -- use all milk).  Stir in cornstarch, milk and egg yolks.  After it gets thick, add vanilla and butter.  Yum!

The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest BakeryI also found these old-fashioned cookbooks you might find interesting:
Betty Crocker's Old-Fashioned Cookbook
The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest Bakery
The Old-fashioned cookbook
The Pioneer Lady's Hearty Winter Cookbook: A Treasury of Old-Fashioned Foods and Fond Memories

Kitchen Garden Tips

This is the way my kitchen garden will look when I am able to give it some more time.  I have dozens of hosta plants which I have collected for at least twenty years.

I also have the wood ferns which grow wild here in the Missouri Ozarks.  Granted those are not herbs but they are great for filling in greenery in an herb garden.

I have three birdbaths which I will string out along this path and I'll plant these herbs because we use these herbs daily:
  • lemon mint for my tea
  • basil 
  • parsley which we use on everything
  • thyme
  • lavender for my tea
  • and others if I can find some.

I had to leave my herb garden when we moved six months ago and will need to start over but at least this time I know what to do to make it perfect:
  • start the garden close to the kitchen door for convenience
  • make it easy to walk through
  • make it very easy to water
  • make sure it gets at least 6 hours of golden sunlight
  • use lots of garden containers for convenience and movement

Herman 10-day Cake

The day you get the Herman starter, give it a feeding of: 1/3 c sugar, 1 c flour, 1 c milk.  Stir each day by hand.  Feed Herman again on the 5th day.  When ready to bake on the tenth day, measure out 2 c. batter.  Keep one cup of Herman starter batter for yourself and give the other cup of starter to a friend.

Herman Cake
Add and blend in the following ingredients to the remaining 2 cups of batter:
2 c flour
2t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 c sugar
3/4 c milk
2/3 c oil
2 eggs beaten

Beat this together thoroughly

Place this batter in greased and floured cake pans.  Now make the topping and put it on the batter before you bake it all.

1 T flour
1 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c butter

Mix until crumbly and sprinkle on top of the cake batter.  Now you can bake it at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  Check with a toothpick at 30 minutes.

1/2 stick butter
1/2 c milk
1 c brown sugar
Boil this for 5 minutes.  Pour it over the cake as soon as you take it from the oven.

Herman Starter

2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
2c warm water
1 envelope yeast

Mix ingredients together and let stand overnight in a loosely covered bowl. Next day, refrigerate and stir daily.  Feed on the fifth day.  If you don't use it the tenth day, add 1 t. sugar every ten days.

Cottage Pudding with Clear Red Sauce

3 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
4 t baking powder
1/2 c lard
2 eggs
2 t vanilla

1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c milk

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. In a different bowl, cream lard, eggs, vanilla, sugar and milk. Mix dry and creamed ingredients. Add a couple cups of seasonal fruit (cherries, strawberries, peaches). Bake in moderate (350 degree) oven for half hour or so. Top with clear red sauce if you want. (recipe below)

Clear Red Sauce
1/2 c sugar, 2 T cornstarch, about 1 cup of desired fruit (usually cherries or raspberries) and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and boil one minute or so. If you have red food coloring, add a few drops to make it dark red.

Waffle Irons and Old Waffle Recipes

Waffle irons make a variety of waffle shapes and designs.  Waffle irons that make a thin waffle are sometimes used to hold homemade ice cream, thus the beginning of the ice cream cone came from a waffle iron.

Waffle irons that make thick big-pocketed waffles are known as Belgian waffle makers. The origin of waffles is often thought to be Belgium and the Netherlands region.

Below is an old waffle recipe:

One quart of flour, and a teaspoonful of salt. One quart of milk, with a tablespoonful of melted butter in it, and mixed with the flour gradually, so as not to have lumps. Three tablespoonfuls of distillery yeast. When raised, two well-beaten eggs.

Bake in waffle-irons well oiled with lard each time they are used. Lay one side on coals, and in about two minutes turyn the other side to the

I have made waffles in my younger days, back when I grew my own vegetables, canned everything, made jelly, homemade bread, and all my daughter's clothes.  But my experience with making waffles boils down to this: what is the purpose of the design?  why go through all that hassle when pancakes are so easy and easy to clean up after.  Waffle irons not seasoned properly are a nightmare to clean.

The following waffle recipe is more like the one I made.  I loved doing everything the way pioneer women would have done something.  I still do. This recipe came from Miss Leslie of Philadelphia (1849).  I kept her wording as it lends to the experience as you will see:

Put two pints of rich milk into separate pans. Cut up and melt in one of them a quarter of a pound of butter, warming it slightly; then, when it is melted, stir it about, and set it away to cool. 

Beat eight eggs till very light, and mix them gradually into the other pan of milk, alternately with half a pound of flour.  Mix it by degrees the milk that has the butter in it. Lastly, stir in a large tablespoonful of strong fresh yeast. 

Cover the pan and set it near the fire to rise. When the batter is quite light, heat your waffle-iron, by putting it among the coals of a clear bright fire; grease the inside with butter tied in a rag, and then put in some batter. 

Shut the iron closely, and when the waffle is done on one side, turn the iron on the other. Take the cake out by slipping a knife underneath; and then heat and grease the iron for another waffle. Send them to table quite hot, four or six on a plate; having buttered them and strewed over each a mixture of powdered cinnamon, and white sugar. Or you may send the sugar and cinnamon in a little glass bowl. (if you want to skip all the homemade work for good waffle, found a link to a good waffle mix -- left top)

Rocks -- Favorite Deep South Cookie Recipe

1 1/2 c sugar
3 c flour
1 c butter
1-3 c water
1 c raisins
1 c nuts
3 eggs
1/2 t cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 t soda

Cream the butter and sugar, add eggs, then add the flour, cinnamon and soda after sifting together with the water (or milk) alternately.

Add chapped nuts and raisin.  Drop from teaspoon on greased tin and bake in moderate oven.  Should make about sixty rocks.