Sunday, October 13, 2013

A New, Healthy, Idea for a Coffee and Chocolate Gift Basket

 We were asked to make up themed gift baskets for a church women's conference, and my assigned theme was "Coffee and Chocolate". Always in season, but who wants to keep doing the "Starbucks and Godiva" thing?  I really wanted to step out and make one that was a little unusual.

Personally, we drink Community Coffee because we think their Medium Roast is the best daily coffee there is - we switched from Folgers a couple of years ago. We can no longer buy the one pound bricks in our local stores, so we order 8 or 10 pounds at a time direct from this small, family-owned company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There are two different women who pack our orders, and they sign their names to the packing list. They always get it right and I appreciate them.  It is great - every once in a while the Community Coffee folks email us a 15% or 20% off sale, and orders over $60 get free shipping. So we have wonderful, perfect coffee on hand.

That is what got me started down the Creole coffee road for my gift basket, and it snowballed from there to include Mexican Chocolate and Cafe de Olla. Partly because these wonderful, traditional American coffee & chocolate drinks are so good they deserve a much wider audience. And partly, also, because all of these can make use of Molasses.

Molasses is "unrefined sugar" to the Nth degree: Sugar cane molasses is a natural sweetener that contains a whopping bunch of naturally occuring nutrition in its unmodified, un-additive, un-messed-with, good, natural form.


 Check this out from the World's Healthiest Foods: 
Percent of Daily Value of Nutrients in 2 teaspoons of Blackstrap Molasses (notice that "blackstrap" type has about double the nutrition of regular unsulphured molasses - which is also good if you can't buy blackstrap in your local store):
 manganese 18%
 copper 14%
 iron 13.2%
 calcium 11.7%
 potassium 9.7%
 magnesium 7.3%
 vitamin B6 5% (there are other B vitamins / Niacin too)
 selenium 3.4%
Calories per 2 tsp: only 32 (1% of Daily Value)

How cool is that? All these old Southern ways of cooking and eating are actually healthy for us after all. Cooking in iron skillets (to add natural iron to our diets), using molasses, flavoring our spinach and greens with bacon grease (Vitamin K is fat soluble!).... oh I am getting sidetracked here... back to the gift basket!

Here are the recipes I used:


Creole Coffee:

Brew a nice breakfast coffee. To each mug, add 2 teaspooons of molasses and, if desired, 1/4 cup hot milk or cream.


Cafe de Olla (Mexican Coffee):

6 cups of water
6 Tablespoons ground Coffee (regular roast, regular grind)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Molasses
1 Cinammon Stick
Evaporated Milk to taste

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add all the ingredients except milk, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain into mugs and add undiluted canned milk to taste.  If the leftover coffee gets cold in the pan it can be gently reheated, just don't boil it again.

Mexican Coffee is very similar to old fashioned cowboy coffee or "creekbank coffee", in that it is made the same way: boiled up in a pan and then strained.  The addition of spice and sweetener is a matter of personal preference and availability.


Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 can Evaporated Milk
1 cup of water
1 block Mexican Chocolate
1 Tablespoon Molasses

Stir and heat until the chocolate melts, then whisk until frothy. This is very rich, so this recipe makes 3 servings. The reason there isn't extra sugar is because Mexican Chocolate has unrefined sugar in it already, along with vanilla and a hint of cinammon. If you can't get any in your stores, use powdered cocoa, brown sugar, a half teaspoon of vanilla, and a dash of cinammon.


I just wrote the recipes out by hand and doodled in colored markers to decorate them, then layered them onto a piece of cardboard and wrapped in clear wrap so they would stand up nicely in the basket. 

It all came together with a pound of Community Coffee, a bottle of blackstrap molasses, a box of Nestle's Abuelita Mexican Chocolate, a package of Fiesta Brand Cinammon sticks, and the recipes, all fluffed up with some red and green tissue. It is very cute, if I do say so. We will find out what others think when they auction it! :-) If it proves to be popular, I may make some of these up for Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tomato Pie, How to Bake an Empty Pie Shell, Oh & How to Stop a Soggy Crust

 My daughter-in-love Sandy asked me to make Tomato Pie for a party they had this past weekend. This is her favorite of my recipes.  It is so rich that it can be a main course, and no one will ask where the meat is.

It took me a while to perfect this one, since people are a bit secretive about their tomato pie recipes. Sort of like Marie on "Everybody Loves Raymond", they tend to leave out a single important element or direction. Then one makes it, and it is "almost" perfect... except for that little flaw! Well, that little flaw in Tomato Pie is the soggy crust. I have two solutions that both work well.

Here's my recipe, with complete instructions :-)

Tina's Tomato Pie

1 Deep Dish Pie Crust, pre-baked (see instructions below at the end of the post)
2 pounds fresh tomatos, peeled (see instructions below at the end of the post) - In the winter, use canned whole tomatoes.
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced, or 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon Salt
Pinch of sugar
Couple of grinds of fresh ground black pepper
1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of Real Mayonnaise (do NOT use "lite" mayo or yogurt or any substitutes!!!)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar Cheese

Pre-bake your pie shell. For tomato pie, when you remove the pie weights, sprinkle the bottom of the crust with shredded cheese to cover, then return to the hot oven to finish baking.

Baking some shredded cheese onto the crust is an important step that will help keep the crust from getting soggy from the tomatoes. I tried several things when I first made this. Brushing the inside of the crust with egg white and then popping back into the overn for the last 5 minute of baking is a good technique too. But the thin layer of melted cheese seems to work best for this dish.

Peel your tomatoes, and chop them coarsely. Sprinkle with salt and put them into a colander to drain for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. I like to set my colander over a bowl to catch the juice. It is good to drink right then, or freeze and add to soup later.

 After the tomatoes have drained, stir in a pinch of sugar, then put the tomatoes into the baked pie shell. That "pinch of sugar" is what my grandmother added to every tomato dish - she said a pinch of sugar will "cut the tomatoes", and it does do something that really rounds out the flavor. I can tell the difference without it.

 Mince the basil and sprinkle it over the top of the tomatoes, along with a grind or two of black pepper.


 In a bowl, blend the mayonnaise and cheese, then spoon the mixture on top of the tomatoes. Use a knife of spatula to spread it out and completely cover the top of the pie.

 Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and bubbly. 

You can serve it warm, but we serve it fresh baked and cooled to room temperature. And some of us like it leftover for breakfast too!  Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers, as this pie will spoil if left out too long. 


As promised above, here are the instructions for pre-baking your pie shell, and for peeling fresh tomatoes:

How To Pre-bake a pie shell:  Line the pie pans with crust and flute your edges. Make sure there is plenty of dough for overlap on the top edge as the crust will shrink a little. Fork the bottom and sides of the crust all over to make little holes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, then line the pie crust with aluminum foil (or waxed paper or parchment). 

Next, either push another, empty pie pan in on top of this one, or fill your foil-covered crust with dry beans or rice (use some old beans that you will never cook with and save them for this purpose). This will help keep the crust from shrinking and from bubbling.

Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove from oven and cool slightly but leave the oven on. Lift the foil & beans out of the crust or remove the other pan. Use your foil to make strips and cover the edges of the crust to keep them from overbrowning.

Then, return the crust to the hot oven for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the bottom is baked. Cool before filling.

How To Peel Fresh Tomatoes:  Bring a 2 quart pot of water to a rolling boil. Keep the heat on high and, using a slotted spoon, put each WHOLE tomato into the boiling water. Turn & poke down if necessary to be sure the tomatos all get time under the water.

Leave in for one minute only, then remove each tomato using the slotted spoon. Put these tomatoes into a bowl of cold tap water. Now the skins will just peel right off with your fingers.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Letterpress Poster Printing ... And A Little Wood Type Puzzle Solved

 I've been doing more printing lately. This is the first poster I've ever printed. I am pretty happy with it! It was a give-away for my demonstration at our Farmer's Market - we had a bit of a celebration on the first day of the new Cottage Food Law, and I figured, why not promote the really big event of the season: The Harvest Fair!  The demonstration was fun and I met a couple of printers - boy they must be right that once printer's ink gets into your veins it never goes away,  because nobody gets excited to see my type the way former printers do. It is worthwhile to hold a little exhibit just for the chance to make some erstwhile printers really really really happy! :-)

After I started looking at my little Line-o-Scribe proof press to figure out how to use it for a portable demonstrating press, I remembered a couple of cases of very small wood type that I bought when I was first outfitting my shop and haven't used before. They are small fonts and, lucky for me or I never would have gotten them, were not as desireable at the time for people looking for that large newspaper and poster faces they could print with their Vandercooks. Turns out these are perfect for flyer-sized posters on my press.


 Now, here is the wood-type puzzle I mentioned in the title:

A little oddity of note: see that "4" in the lower right (stage right) corner? When I first set it, it was backward! And another small face also had backward - aka not mirror image - fours! I kept turning it upside down to try to fix it, about drove me batty. Then after a couple of days, I looked at the pieces of type again.

Can you solve the puzzle? 

Answer is below,

under the photo...





When I looked at the type after clearing my mind, I was able to see that they didn't need to be flipped 180 degrees, but turned a quarter turn.

In both fonts, the number crossbars for the number fours are exactly the same length. Thus, when standing on their crossbars, they look like they are non-mirror-image cutouts.  It was just a fluke that they were all turned
wrong in their case, looking for all the world like they belonged that way!

Monday, September 23, 2013

How a Thank You Note Made My Day

Since the new Texas Cottage Food Law took effect September first, I have been baking bread to sell at our local Farmer's Market. It has been fun, because my bread always sells out and people are very happy to have it! Last week I took some to a small pioneer day event, and sold out there too.

The law requires that we put a label on our foods, and include our address on it. Today in my mailbox was the kindest Thank You note from a customer:

"Dear Friend,
My daughter and I visited Pioneer Day...on Saturday. She bought me a loaf of wheat bread. Oh my, it is wonderful. Had some on Sunday morning with ham and an egg. [here she drew a smiley face]  Made me happy all day. Love it. Thank you for sharing your time and talent with others.
Sincerely, [her name] "

This sweet lady and I do not know each other, so I was doubly enchanted by her note. Little kindnesses such as this add joy to life if we focus on "just for today".

This has given me much "food for thought" about this latest hobby, and the potential for good in the simplest things like real home-made food.

 I am going to miss these kinds of interaction when the Farmer's Market closes for the season in mid-October.

And I will look especially forward to having veggies to bring to it in the Spring!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Author Reviews My Review

There are some good books out there in the self publishing world today. One way to find some of the better ones is to read the authors' own blogs. That is how I came across a particularly memorable story about a thief and a castle and a wizard.....   Author Christopher Taylor (Word Around The Net, linked from my sidebar), approves of my review of his fun chivalrous fantasy novel "Old Habits":

 "I expect to get indifferent, happy, and even insulting reviews, but something I never expected was a review that so completely understood what I was trying to accomplish with my story and seems to have crawled inside my head when I was writing it, which is deeply humbling and gratifying all at once. I wanted to share it with everyone so they can learn more about the book."       

See? Can this guy write or what? Click over to his blog to read the review - and buy the book!

Maybe if he sells enough of this one he will feel inspired to write a sequel! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Come and See! The Project I Have Been Working On Since January!

In January, my future with my employer went away. In February, I started working on designing silver jewelry, and now am ready to launch.  I've had an Etsy shop for a while to test a few things, but my main marketing  method will be in person at shows and events. The show I will be exhibiting at is a 3-day event that draws about 25,000 people. It should be a good starting point. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. :-)

Here's a somewhat edited version of the press release I sent out to media yesterday:

Local Artist's Handmade Silver Jewelry Celebrates Texas Wildlowers and Our Christian Heritage             

Announcing Pecan Corner, featuring fine Artisan and Christian jewelry by Tina Howard. Original designs in Fine Silver, handmade by the artist, one at a time, in Texas, USA.    

Artisan Tina Howard introduces a new line of Fine Silver jewelry celebrating the beauty of Texas and our Christian heritage, all handmade in Texas, USA.  Howard is exhibiting in Booth #56 at the Brownwood Reunion this weekend, Sept. 20-22.

Created from her original designs and cast in .999 Fine Silver, pieces in the collection range from a large statement "Matthew 6:28 Cross" with Bluebonnets and Sunflowers, and a figural Oilfield Pump Jack, to a series of small charms with individual roadside flowers: Bluebonnet, Wild Geranium, Primrose, Thistle, and Shepherd's Purse. New designs are being added as Howard creates them.

The artist makes each jewel herself, one at a time. She begins by sculpting a prototype by hand, from which a single basic mold is created as the starting point for each successive piece. The nuances of individually molding, firing, and finishing each piece with a significant amount of handwork assures that no piece will ever be identical to any other.

Howard points out that "My pieces look handmade because they are handmade", and notes that you might find her fingerprint permanently cast into a piece once in a while. Even earrings, because each half of the pair is made separately, will vary ever so slightly from its mate. Howard explains that these artistic details are marks of human craftsmanship which machines cannot produce, and anticipates that you, too, will find beauty in the variety.

Howard is proud to offer jewelry that is completely made by hand right here in Texas. In addition, she purchases all of her raw materials from domestic companies and looks for "Made in USA" on her supplies whenever available.

 Howard's designs can be purchased on in her shop named "pecancorner".

Tina Howard is a native of Oklahoma, who has lived in Texas her entire adult life, raising her family in the Big Spring/Midland area, and spending a few years in Port Lavaca before she and her husband Paul moved to their current town  in 2007, where they live in a tiny cottage shaded by pecan trees.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Plowing For a Winter Garden, and Getting Ready Now for Spring Planting

 We are going to raise a garden again. The deer and grasshoppers ate everything I planted this year, but we are going to fence out the deer and the Farmer's Almanac says it is going to be a cold, wet winter - so goodbye grasshoppers (please Lord?)!

Daddy came this past weekend and plowed the garden spot for us. I was impressed with his tractor skill - he can line that tractor up on a dime. He met right up with the stakes I had put out to define the space.  He said "after it rains, whenever that is, I'll come back and plow it again and that will kill a lot of the grass and weeds". And look, we had lovely rain the same weekend - just like washing the car except a GOOD rain-bringer. So I said "Thank you for the rain" to both my heavenly and earthly fathers! You can see in the pictures the difference in the color of the dirt while he was plowing, and after the rain!

 We have decided to use plastic mesh as fencing. Our primary goal is to keep the deer out and this product has really good reviews for such an inexpensive solution. It provides a visible barrier to animals and directs them to find another way to go. Eventually, the deer should forget there is food here. We can use steel u-channel posts that will stay permanently in the ground, and simply replace the plastic every few years.

This space was kept in production for many years by the folks who owned it during the 70s, 80s and 90s. The soil, we hear, is fertile. It has a good loamy feel to it. The big rocks in it are nodules of flint, which the Comanche and other tribes used to make their arrowheads out of. I need to do some research, because there is a great lot of this that I think would surely have been removed over time, unless new nodules keep working themselves to the surface. You can see several of them in the photo below

In Texas, we can grow things all year round. I will plant turnips, beets, chard, onions, garlic, and collards for winter growing. The freezes won't hurt them and the extra moisture will be a boon. Swiss Chard, Collards, Onions and Garlic will keep growing year round - they behave as either perennials or biennials.  Turnips are wonderful - use them like potatoes in stews or serve mashed and creamed. Turnip seed is cheap, and these root crops are easy to grow. They are good practice for amateurs.

Then, come February, I can start planting for early spring: peas, greens & lettuce, onion plants.  We must use "short day" onions here because whether onions make bulbs depends on the number of daylight hours they are exposed to. That is why those record sized veggies come from Alaska, the 24 hour days keep plants growing without stopping to "sleep" at night. In the South, our days are shorter. The longer growing season gives us a longer harvest and perhaps more production but does not give us larger individual produce.

Miss Fuzzy Slippers, of the blog Fuzzy Logic (linked from my sidebar), has a great article about the importance of learning to garden before we need to feed ourselves. For most of us, this is indeed a learned skill, not an innate talent, and we need to begin practicing now to accumulate the wisdom necessary for good harvests in our particular space.  Be sure to read the comments too, there are lots of practical tips in them.

Are you gardening this year? If you don't have a space in your yard, see if your town has a Community Garden. The nearest large town to us has very reasonable fees ($35 for the year) that include water and compost. It is a great deal, especially when you consider that using a community garden plot, like the British "allotments", also gives you direct contact with experienced gardeners who can help and advise you as you learn.  Contact them now just in case they have a waiting list.

Gardening is good for the body and the soul. There is just nothing quite like knowing you are working with God and His creation to make your own food, just like human beings have done since the very beginning.

Happy harvesting and good eating await!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Letterpress Printing Projects: A Tiny Almanac

 AAPA Member Dave Tribby tackles a fine project each year: a bound volume that he titles "Ink Cahoots", made up of diverse submissions by any club member who wants to take part. All he asks is that it be properly weighted - he will even handle the trimming.

He's been doing this since 1973 - this is the 40th year for it!  I've been planning to send something for the 6 years that I have been a member, but never did until this year.

As my submission for Ink Cahoots, I set an Almanac for 2014, with a calendar, and a list of meteor showers and other celestial events. It is something I have wanted to try for a while. After all, Almanacs were a staple for printers all through history. When Gutenberg invented moveable type, he printed an almanac first, in 1457. The Holy Bible was Gutenberg's first lasting publication, but he had to make a living whilst working on setting and printing the Bible. Thus he set an example for printers everywhere from then on - one quick, non-political way to make a profit was to publish an almanac!

 It was surprising how challenging it was to set. I have tiny calendar blocks for the months, so that section was easy enough. But I used 12 point type for the remainder, and the typeface I chose didn't have enough numbers to handle all those dates of full moons and such. This meant I had to borrow from similar sized "neighbors" (ie other typefaces).  I should have just used my Kennerly 10 point (Kennerly is also a Goudy face), because there is lots of it. But I didn't think that far ahead.  Lesson learned.

So now I have a goofy batch of numerals in my otherwise lovely and pristine Goudy "Californian" from M&H Typefoundry. Someday I am sure I will get around to moving the Kennerly threes and Caslon ones back into their proper places. 

I am happy with the way the finished page turned out. I'm glad not to have to set an entire almanac by hand but this kind of dense work is good for my typesetting skills. Most of the time I just set cards or labels or mottos - minimal ephemera with larger type. Using these small point sizes is like learning touch typing - it forces me to remember the lay of the case instead of noticing each letter.

This is especially helpful when I go to "distribute" the type after the work is done. To "distribute" is to take the forme apart and put the type all away, each letter in its proper little cubby again. That is one of those jobs, like cleaning the kitchen, that is best done immediately.

Because type in a forme, just like dirty dishes, will outwait you every time.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Outside The Box and Working: A Full Service Independent Gas Station

 This is an older, independent filling station. They have a convenience store ("Cheap Smokes, Pop & Snacks"), but that's not the principle draw for their business. It is located on a busy but out-of-the-way road through an older, declining neighborhood in a small town in Oklahoma. Their gas is priced about the same as the other self-serve stations in town. It is 100% gasoline, no ethanol.

The owners, a man and his wife, pump your gas for you when you drive up.  They took my out-of-state check without question.


Because they pump the gas, they are VERY fast and my car is filled up & I am on my way "sooner" than if I were doing the work myself.  At 105 degrees, I was able to sit in my cool car while they put the gas in. Last winter, I stayed in the warm vehicle and didn't have to hold that freezing metal nozzle!

An outdated building, an outdated location, an outdated concept.  I am betting they don't have a Facebook page or business Twitter account.

And there is a double line of cars three deep every time I go there. These pictures were taken at different times on different days.

People, THAT is customer service. THAT is figuring out a way to make a living with what you have.

American Free Enterprise is stubbornly alive and well and working hard, despite the best efforts of marketing sophisticates and government bureaucrats.

God bless America, and Americans like these! :-)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Linocuts and Letterpress: Printing Seed Packets and Cottage Food Labels

I've been having fun this year in the print shop, turning out seed packets for saving seeds in.  The Pecan Corner Press is a hobby, and this kind of ephemera is what I usually produce. I use handset type and some fun old cuts.  I've been taking these to the local Farmer's Market since the grasshoppers and deer have eaten all my gardening efforts this year.  The empty ones are great for saving seed and tucking into a get well card or garden club seed exchanges. Some people even said they were going to use them in their little miniature display cabinets.

My Swiss Chard went to seed this year (it is a biennial, and can be harvested as long as it lives - it is never tough or bitter), so I made the linoleum cut and filled these to see how the seed would sell. This is the old variety, Fordhook, and they can be planted in Texas all the way though the fall.

I didn't take a press but I have taken a locked-up chase and it has drawn a lot of interest.  I have a ways to go before I sell enough to pay for my market fees, but this is a good way to support our little market and help it grow.
 When September rolls around, I'll be able to offer more items - we all will. Texas passed a Cottage Food Law a couple of years ago that made it possible to open one's home to sell baked goods and jams. It is a common-sense approach that recognizes that if we know the person doing the cooking, we can decide for ourselves whether we want to eat what they have cooked.  The newest version, which takes effect Sept 1st 2013, is pretty exciting, because it expands common sense to foods that are pretty much going to be safe to eat and allows us to take our products to Farmers' Markets and locally sponsored Fairs, as well as sell from home.

 Here's another place where we - Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Tea Party, Occupy... pretty much everybody but the Socialists and Communists - can come together, I think. We all want personal sovereignty over our food!!!!

 So, in anticipation of HB 970 (still awaiting the final rules to define exactly what items we can sell), I have been carving linoleum blocks to use on labels for my homemade jams, jellies, relishes, sauerkraut, syrups and baked goods. The linocuts, combined with Art Deco era typefaces, give the labels a fun old fashioned look. These are the first proofs of a few of them, printed on dry-gummed paper. I will tweek the colors and ink coverage a bit for the final labels.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kitchen Sink Band Plays Cigar Box Blues At Common Grounds Coffee House

Every once in a wonderful while, the local blues band "Kitchen Sink" plays at a Brownwood Texas coffee shop (Common Grounds Coffee House and Deli) and we always try to go. We are early-to-bed people so these 5-8 shows are a real treat: live music that actually happens while we are awake and alert to enjoy it!

Kitchen Sink adds musicians from time to time (they are looking for a drummer and bass player), but the heart and soul are a Father Daughter Friend trio: Aaron McNeely, Moriah (aka Rye) McNeely, and Noah Pieprzyza.  They cover an upbeat mix of standards ranging from Noah's gravelly-voiced version of Muddy Waters' "Blow Wind Blow" to Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's "Blue on Black" in a memorable Aaron/Rye duet, along with postmodern gospel like "Even When The Rain Falls" (NeedToBreathe).

This time we also got to hear an original song: in true old bluesman tradition, Noah took us along on one strange fishing trip with the humorous and toe-tapping "Nuclear Chicken". I look forward to more as they increase their exploration of original music and lyrics. 

Band leader Aaron McNeely sets the tone with his good, strong voice ("Ain't Much Left of Me") and solid guitar. He switches instruments even more frequently than Noah changes harmonicas, and plays them all with abandon. Loved the great covers of "Big Yellow Moon" (especially good timing too), "Layla", and interesting "Tulsa Time/I Walk The Line" medley. 

His song choices show off the band's versatility and he gives each artist continual opportunities to shine at their best.

A gifted vocalist with a truly good voice and a strong range, Rye McNeely can belt out a song like nobody's business. When she sings the Elvis-inspired "Black Velvet", she hits notes that give me chills. I love to hear her sing. Her harmonies with dad Aaron are lovely and melodious, and their voices balance each other well.

Plus the camera loves her - her face lights up any picture she is in. You've heard the saying about taking all the air out of a room? Well, Rye draws all the light in the photograph. Look through the band's Facebook page and you will see what I mean. Agents (and modeling agencies) take note.

Noah Pieprzyza (that is pronounced "Pieprzyza") usually hides - expertly - behind a hand-held harmonica or two. Or three.  As they set up to play "Bell Bottom Blues", he commented "There's a reason nobody plays harmonica on Eric Clapton songs..." and he proceeded to juggle two French harps through the key changes as though it's not unusual to play like that every day.

In true washtub tradition, you never know what kinds of instruments these guys are going to drag out of the "magic Mary Poppins Guitar Case" (as Aaron referred to it during set up).  This time, both the ridiculous and the sublime sounded... sublime.

While the new star might have been Noah's beautiful & haunting steel dobro slide guitar (gotta hear that porch swing on "Summertime"), the "novelty act" proved, in capable hands, to hold its own with the best: an eBay seller's homemade electric guitar made out of a wooden cigar box. Aaron about played the strings off of it and it sounded good!

 Kitchen Sink is a local band and that gives lots of heart to their music. Here's a little taste, a cell phone recording from last year.

The tip jar is out there, and they all have genuine talent, but their big edge at this moment in time is that they are alive and real when not much else is. They are singing live, for fun, in venues you can take the kids to.

They are people who have work-a-day jobs and local lives and families that fill up their venues with cousins and babies and old ladies...everyone goes to Kitchen Sink shows.

That's worth a Hallelujah.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paula Deen, Rush Limbaugh, Shirley Sherrod: Honest Victims of Infantile Management

Paula Deen testified truthfully when under oath. She was asked "have you ever [in your whole life] said [that word]?"

Unlike the US Attorney General, she answered honestly while under oath.

Unlike the head of the IRS, she answered honestly while under oath.

Unlike the woman our President wants to make "National Security Advisor", she answered honestly when asked a direct question.

Unlike the current or recent Secretaries of State, she answered honestly when asked a direct question.

Maybe that is why she is being villified: the left is outraged that a member of their party tells the truth.

A culture that has renounced Christianity is not capable of forgiveness. A culture that has renounced reason in incapable of rational thought

I have written before about this disturbing habit of firing people for short term PR news bursts. It is a symptom of an infantile corporate management that allows immature Public Relations groups to run amok.

Instead of building their own legitimate company reputation on old-fashioned principles like giving customers what they pay for, honoring guanrantees, honestly representing the product, working to produce a unique product that can stand on its own, remaining loyal to existing employees and customers and suppliers, treating everyone fairly and equitably no matter who they know..... instead of building a great company themselves, companies like Food Network  are trading on other people's reputations, rubbing elbows and bragging about Who They Party With, but it is all a shell game, and no one can trust them.

The Supreme Court may have ruled that in law, corporations are people, but they are not human.

And they have no souls.

Meaningful work and the chance to use our talents are among the great blessings God has given us in this life.  They are blessings regardless of whether we get famous or rich in doing them. To make a living is a lovely thing. And good, honest, ethical people who put people and honesty and truthfullness above expediency and PR crap.... well those good people will always come out in the end with happy personal lives because no one can control them. They understand that their joy does not come from any corporation.

Never jeopardize your own soul for any "thing" on this earth.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Homemade Sweet Cherry Ice Cream: First Freeze of Summer Fresh Fruit

 I know it isn't quite Summer yet, but it is here since I have made the first batch of homemade ice cream. It is cherry season, at least in those places where they grow cherries. Central Texas doesn't get cold enough and gets too hot for the quaint stone fruit, so this is something we must import from places like.... New Mexico*, which I think of as close enough to be almost local.  Anyway, whereever they come from, fresh cherries are abundant and relatively inexpensive right now.

I found a bargain on some that were past their prime, and had been drastically discounted. For ice cream, we want them cut into quarters rather than halves, plus they need to be fully ripe, so this is a good use for imperfect fruit that has reached full flavor. The necessity of tiny pieces of fully ripe fruit I discovered last year when I made the mistake of using commercially frozen peaches in large chunks. They froze so hard that they were not pleasant to eat.

My recipe is a custard-type. It uses egg yolks and is cooked. This makes a luscious, rich ice cream with just the right amount of body. Mema used flour to thicken hers, but I never liked that, I prefer the smoothness of the eggs. The fact that we can buy yard eggs with golden yolks from our neighbor's happy hens is a bonus.

It takes a little practice to learn how to make a custard. There isn't really any secret, just have to be whisking the eggs really fast while pouring a stream of the hot milk into the eggs to "temper" them, then whisk the hot milk really fast while you pour the tempered egg yolk back into the pot and finish cooking. Until you get the hang of it, pour the whole cooked batch through a strainer when it is cooked. That will remove any "scrambled eggs". Eventually you won't need that step any longer.

*(*THINK FOR YOURSELF TIP O' THE DAY: I won't go into the politics of the northwestern state fruit growers and the unreported twists in a lot of the mess our domestic food and immigration policies are in but it is something worth researching sometime. Hint: you will learn a lot if you read news from about 1995 through 2005 on sites sympathetic to Migrant Labor, Fruit Growers, etc. )

Now without further ado, on with the recipe!

Fresh Cherry Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 Quarts

1 1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Whole Milk or Half and Half
5 Egg Yolks (freeze the whites to use for meringue)
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Heavy Cream (Whipping Cream)
2 Cups Cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Pit and chop the cherries, stir in 1/4 cup of sugar and set aside until the end.

Scald the milk in a 2 quart saucepan ("scald" means heat to steaming but do not boil).

Whisk the egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar in a mixing bowl.  Temper the yolks by pouring about half the hot milk in a thin stream while whisking the egg yolks very fast. I like to use a pyrex measuring cup for this, just dip it out (careful not to burn yourself) and pour. Makes it easier to keep whisking if you don't have someone to help you.  A stand mixer is also a good helper for this task - it can be beating the eggs whilst you pour.

Then pour the tempered egg yolks back into the rest of the milk while whisking the milk. Cook and stir, to prevent boiling, for 3 or 4 minutes until the mixture has thickened some. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp. It is at this stage that you can strain it if you wish. 

After the custard has cooled, add the heavy cream and the vanilla extract.

Freeze in your ice cream freezer, following manufacturer's directions. Pay special attention to the need for salt in the freezing process - it is the salt that lowers the temperature below that of ice alone to enable freezing.

When the custard is frozen, remove the dasher and fold in the cherries. At this stage, I transfer my ice cream to freezer containers and put them in the chest freezer. If you want to finish the freezing in your ice cream maker, leave the canister set in the ice, remove the lid and the dasher, stir in the cherries then replace the lid securely, fill the whole bucket with more ice and salt, cover with a towel and let it sit for an hour or two until you are ready to serve, adding more ice as necessary.

I used to use a hand-cranked freezer, but last year I bought an electric one - mainly because my little manual one was not large enough. The electric one seems to take longer to freeze, but since I am not powering it that doesn't hurt! :-)


About the photo:  Fresh Cherry Ice Cream gets pride of place for its picture in my great grandmother's Pink Cherry Blossom Depression Glass. Big Granddaddy gave this set to Big Grandmother for one of their anniversaries, and I inherited it from her.   Isn't that vintage spoon adorable? It says "Betty Lou" on the handle, and is Carlton Silverplate. I have a funny little collection of figural spoons. I'll take pictures and show them here sometime.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Little Help That Makes Me Happy Every Time I Load The Dishwasher

Here's a little organization tip. A while back, we found a bargain on a huge box of Cascade. I don't remember what size it was, but I think it must have weighed ten pounds. It took both hands to lift it out from under the sink! And I almost needed a counter-weight to pour it!  With that much volume, it would be a long time before the box weighed much less.

Solution? An empty liquid coffee creamer carton. We used a funnel to pour it full and our problem was solved. The one we use is from Coffee Mate Brand, but probably any of them would work.

What is crazy is, we both liked this solution so much that we continue to transfer the dishwasher detergent powder into this bottle regardless of what size box we buy. It is amazing - I can pour the exact amount of powder into the little well. I never waste by pouring too much, and I never spill it.

I never knew that putting soap in the dishwasher was a chore until we found an easier way to do it. Now every time I load the dishwasher, I smile when the last dish is loaded and it is time to pour the soap!

As my little bio over there in the sidebar notes "I am easily amused."  Especially when things are nicely organized. :-)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut from Scratch

Sauerkraut, drained, rinsed and ready to eat!

 My family made pickles, but never sauerkraut. We ate it though: a regular weeknight supper at my grandparents' house was "weenies and sauerkraut". Paul's mother, Thelma, made her own kraut when he was a baby. She said when he was toddling around, he would reach into her crocks and get handfuls of kraut to eat! Cabbage in any form is still one of his favorite vegetables. We have sauerkraut fairly often, cooked in lots of different ways or on hot dogs (Hebrew National, thank you!).
 The health benefits of fermented cabbage or cucumbers are huge. But we don't get the same benefits when the pickles are made with vinegar or the kraut has been processed to death and treated with all kinds of "preservatives". The Lactic Acid that turns cabbage into kraut, makes it sour, and prevents it from spoiling once it is fermented, comes from the action of lactobacilli. These little friendly bacteria keep our digestion working properly, help remove toxins from the blood (sauerkraut was an old staple in hospitals that treated alcoholism), and now it looks like sauerkraut can even help prevent cancers. AND fermenting the cabbage bumps up the Vitamin C content tremendously (is there nothing Vitamin C can't do? ;-))!


Usually by the time I think of doing things that require time to ferment, it is already the height of summer and too hot for things to "bubble" properly. But one day in April, I took advantage of the very cool Spring we had this year and tried my hand at it.

For this batch, I used a gallon glass jar. Next time, I am going to use one of Big Grandmother's crocks - I am sterilizing it in the dishwasher right now. You could easily use one of the old style "crock pots" without plugging it in. You would still need to use the plate or bag method to weight down the cabbage to keep it under the brine. Be sure to read up on how to use various containers and weights BEFORE you get started. The National Center For Home Food Preservation is a reliable reference for safe canning and preserving methods.

[July 5, 2013 UPDATE: Second batch completed, as easy to make as the first, and we enjoyed some of it yesterday. But I learned I cannot use antique crocks. They have crazing that absorbs the liquid and that would also prevent them from being sterilized. Stick to glass or modern options such as the crock pots mentioned above, or brand new crocks. Thanks to everyone who has stopped in to read this! I hope it has been useful to you :-) ]

I got my recipe from here,  and they also detail the method: it is originally an Extension Service recipe from the University of Georgia. It is the same recipe that is given in many cookbooks and other websites, but I chose this one because it is very simple and the instructions are complete and matter-of-fact. I've added my notes within it, and given the lower portions for making a small batch.

I loved that there is also a recipe for making sauerkraut out of Collard Greens! It is too warm here in Texas for cabbage to do well, but we can grow some collards. Collards are one of those biennial vegetables that you can keep alive all through the year, making it possible to have fresh home-grown veg even in the dark of winter.  The Collard Sauerkraut Recipe is just below the one for cabbage. I haven't tried it yet.

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

1 head of cabbage or about 5 pounds
3 tablespoons of canning or pickling salt (you could use kosher salt but not sea salt or iodized salt, the iodine will interfere)

Discard outer leaves. Rinse the whole head under cold running water and drain. Do not use disinfectants or vinegar rinses on it, just a simple wash with plain tap water.

Cut the cabbage in quarters and remove cores. Shred or slice to a thickness of a quarter (about 1/8"). You can use a knife if you don't have a mandolin but don't chop it into little bits. Long shreds are what we want. I used one head of cabbage, and shredded it fine with a mandolin (be REALLY careful with those and always use the safety guards, make sure someone else is in charge of the kids while you are using it, etc. Most important: THINK and pay attention - don't get distracted by anything.).

Add 3 tablespoons of salt. If the weather is very warm, you may need to use a little more salt. Toss well and mix thoroughly with your hands, then pack it all into your fermenting jar or crock. Leave space at the top, maybe 4 or 5 inches, for the brine to cover the cabbage completely.

 Here is the hard work part: beat it down firmly to bruise it and start drawing the juice out.  I used a wooden meat pounder, or you could use a jelly mortar. I hammered on it a while until I was tired. Then I made a brine of one quart filtered water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, brought it to a boil, and let it cool to room temperature.  After it had cooled, I poured it over the cabbage.

I added a round piece of plastic that was the diameter of the jar and sealed weights inside a freezer bag and put them down in the brine to hold the cabbage down under the brine.  This time I used brine in a gallon freezer bag (actually two of them in case one leaked) and put it inside the jar to seal
the whole thing. You use brine in the bag in case it leaks because plain water would dilute the sauerkraut causing it to spoil. If you use a crock, you can put a plate inside it instead.

"Add plate and weights; cover container with a clean bath towel. Store at 70 to 75 °F while fermenting. At temperatures between 70 and 75 °F, kraut will be fully fermented in about 3 to 4 weeks; at 60 to 65 °F, fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At temperatures lower than 60 °F, kraut may not ferment. Above 75 °F, kraut may become soft. If you weigh the cabbage down with a brine-filled bag, do not disturb the crock until normal fermentation is completed (when bubbling ceases). If you use jars as weight, check the kraut two to three times each week and remove scum if it forms."

I set my jar back in the floor in the guest room. That part of the house, on the south side, is always shaded so it stays pretty cool back there, especially down at the floor level because that room, one of the originals from about 1895, is on pier and beam foundation so cool air can circulate below.

It took right at 4 weeks for mine to be done, and I could tell it was done because I started smelling it! Mine did form some scum (scary looking stuff) but I just scooped and wiped it out before moving down to the good kraut.  


 I transferred the kraut and its juice directly into sterile pint jars, and stored them in the refrigerator. My head of cabbage made 3 full pints of sauerkraut.  To can for pantry storage, you would need to process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, just like any acidic food - there are specific instructions at the original link.
As promised above, here is the recipe for fermenting collard greens!

Collard Kraut Recipe

A big bunch of fresh collard greens, about a gallon when cleaned.
2 or 3 Tablespoons of canning or pickling salt for each one gallon of collards.

Procedure: Wash the greens well, and shred. Use the same process as given for Cabbage Sauerkraut above. Store at 70 ºF for fermenting. At this temperature it will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks to ferment. If any scum forms above the plate or weight, remove it about 2 to 3 times a week. Taste in about two weeks. Allow collards to ferment until desired flavor is reached. 

Store in refrigerator or process in boiling water bath, as directed at original link or at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.


If you try making the collard kraut before I do, or the regular cabbage kraut, please post and let me know how it turns out!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Great New Billboard in Our Town!

 We were grocery shopping the other day in Brownwood (where we go to shop since our town is very tiny) and saw this new billboard. It reads "War Veterans of Iraq & Afghanistan: THANK YOU!" and is signed "Citizens of Brown County, TX". I don't know who put it up but we certainly concur!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Old Easter: The Ever-New Story of Jesus' Resurrection from the Dead

Today is Easter for the Orthodox Church, which still uses the old Julian calendar to calculate the date for the church year.  The denomination I grew up in celebrated every Sunday as a little Easter, and in truth, every day is the "Now" of the Resurrection.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Christ, is risen from the grave. He lives!

Here is a portion of the true story that was recorded by some of the people who enountered Jesus after He returned to life. This is the 20th Chapter of John, from the wonderful "The Message" translation, that is faithful to the original and yet in our own American English language. May the Holy Spirit give you a new comprehension of the Truth as you read in Jesus' name!

20 1-2 Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”
3-10 Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.
11-13 But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”
13-14 “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.
15 Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”
16 Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”
17 Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.

To Believe

19-20 Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.
20-21 The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
22-23 Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
24-25 But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”
But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”
27 Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
28 Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”
29 Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
30-31 Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

*The painting is by Pre-Raphaelite painter Arthur Hughes, titled "He is Risen: the First Easter", painted in 1893-1896.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Goodbye HFCS! How To Make A Small Batch of Homemade Tomato Ketchup in a Crockpot

 We are not unduly careful about what we eat: we prefer fresh, real foods but do not insist on organic; we trust our bodies to balance our diets, rather than following elaborate prescriptive eating plans; we don't buy food processed in China, but are ok with Mexican tomatoes during the winter months (from a locavore perspective, Mexico is closer to us than California LOL!)...

Still, my husband Paul has had a growing concern about the pervasiveness of High Fructose Corn Syrup in processed foods. We've started avoiding those things that have this ingredient.  Ketchup is a bit of a problem, since most brands contain HFCS and we like our ketchup!

I'd never made it myself since most recipes are for huge batches, calling for bushels of fresh tomatoes. Not only the investment, but what if we didn't like that particular recipe? DIY is foolish if it is wasteful!  So I was pretty excited to find this simple, small batch version on

The original recipe is from Instructables member Scoochmaroo. Her basic recipe is very good as it stands. I made a few adjustments - mostly, to allow it to be cooked in a crockpot, so that I wouldn't need to stand over the stove and watch it.  My recipe is below.


Easy Small Batch Crockpot Tomato Ketchup

2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste (total of 12 ounces tomato paste)
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 teaspoons molasses
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in a small crockpot* and cook on low for 4 hours. To cook on top of the stove, add one cup of water to the recipe, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, on very low heat for an hour or two, stirring every 15 minutes, until thickened. Cool, pour into a clean, sterile container, and refrigerate.

*I have a small "Crockette" that I used for this. If using a larger crockpot, I would probably double the recipe, just to give it enough bulk to cook properly.

 This recipe makes about 3 cups of ketchup (depending on how much water you add). It can be used immediately. The vinegar will preserve it, refrigerated, for a couple of weeks. I will just keep the ingredients on hand, and once a month or so will pop a batch into the slow cooker while we go about our business for the day.

We had this with our burgers tonight, and Paul said "That is some good ketchup!"  YAY! I won't even have to fiddle with the spice mix. 

It doesn't taste like "homemade ketchup", it tastes like plain old ordinary ketchup - which is, after all, what we really want on our salty french fries!


Friday, April 12, 2013

The Empty Seats in the Courtroom

I had wanted my first blog post from my new computer to be a Thank You to my sweet son Nicolas and my sweet daughter-in-love Lani for presenting me with a new Dell Laptop and having my photos recovered from the old crashed hard drive. I don't think they agree with my politics but they like my recipes and the good normal life things I write about. Nick and Lani, I love you both. I promise to write some fun stuff soon.

But my first blog post on this new computer is not just gratefulness for these grown children whose lives are now bearing the fruit that was only a promise when they were born as tiny, tiny infants. So small their little hands could curl around their mothers' little fingers. So beautiful. And so much beauty and wonder and joy we have known from having them in our lives all these years as they have grown and matured and loved and become people who've exceeded their parents' happiest dreams. 

It is also a post of grief for the abortion-murdered children whose mothers will never know the joy of an adult son or daughter.  Who have been seduced into submitting to the murder of their futures by the murder of their babies.

The empty seats in the photo above are real. They are places reserved for news reporters who no longer care what is happening outside their own doors.
As I write, people who call themselves journalists and reporters and editors have decided they prefer to allow the Holocaust of the Unborn to continue than to mention the name of Kermit Gosnell.  They are sitting at their desks with their fingers in their ears singing "la la la la la la la" to drown out the sound of the evidence being presented in this trial.
People who make decisions about what stories to cover and how to report them for nearly every major news outlet in the United States have almost uniformly rejected the Trial of Two Centuries as "local news". They have chosen to continue to take the role of sycophants in a modern sacrifice of the first born.  USA Today's Kirsten Powers is one of the lone voices raised against the travesty of failure by newspaper, television and internet general media to cover this story. Mollie Hemingway, of "(The Press Doesn't ) Get Religion", has been a bulldog in confronting people at news desks with this.

The photo above is a picture of the courtroom in which the Kermit Gosnell Trial is being held. The Press are damned by their own absence. May God have mercy on their souls, because their sin of omission will not disappear just because they pretend it isn't there.

Just like little babies do not disappear just because some people pretend they don't exist.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Chex Mix Recipe

She shows up after weeks of silence, only to post a Chex Party Mix recipe... during Lent?!?!?! 

Blogging is light right now for reasons previously given (I am still sharing a computer and focusing on creative ventures). This post goes back to why I started this blog originally. It was a good way to share my recipes when the kids called to ask "how do you make your.....?". When I posted them on Facebook, they rapidly disappeared.... but here on the blog, it is easy to find the recipe again in a jiffy.

When Ethan called tonight to ask how I make my party mix, which is only a little different from the "official" version (and still different from the real Original Version), I remembered I have never posted this recipe on here..... soooo here you go, Ethan! :-)


3    cups Corn Chex® cereal
3    cups Rice Chex® cereal
3    cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1    cup peanuts or mixed nuts (sometimes I add pecans when I have them - toast them first)
1    cup bite-size pretzels or pretzel sticks
1 1/4 stick (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter or margarine
5    tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2     teaspoons salt
1    teaspoon garlic powder
1    teaspoon onion powder

You need a big pan to bake this in. If you don't have one, one of those disposable foil turkey roasters from the grocery store is good. Just rinse it out and save it to use over and over again.  If I am making a double batch, I make two separate batches instead of trying to mix it all together. It just works better that way.

Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels. Set aside.

Put butter in ungreased large roasting pan, and melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings.

Pour cereal and pretzels into the pan and stir it, bringing the bottom pieces to the top over and over, for about 3 minutes until all the pieces are evenly coated.

Place in the oven and Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring a couple of times every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and taste a (cooled) piece. If it needs a little more salt, sprinkle the salt shaker over it while it is still warm & stir it once or twice to distribute.

Let it sit out until completely cool before covering it or putting it away.  Store in airtight container.


A blessed Lent, and a Joyous Easter to all and sundry! God bless you and yours this year!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Joining the NRA. Because We Don't Have A Marine Sentry Post of Our Own.

This is a picture of the Marine Corps Sentry Post behind the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, where President Franklin Roosevelt spent much of his time. Aside from the "Servants Quarters" and this Marine Sentry post, it is very much a typical example of a modest American home of the era.

What does this have to do with the National Rifle Association? Well, it is like this: we love our Marines (and we are SO PROUD of the two in our family), but unlike the President, Congress and assorted very wealthy actors, we don't have one stationed full time on the property to protect us. And our modest little American home is no one's "servant's quarters".

 I like knowing that if I ever needed or wanted to, I could choose to learn to shoot and purchase the weapon of my own free choice, and have the capacity to protect my ownself and those around me. And I have always felt very safe knowing that any or all of my neighbors may make that choice for themselves as well.

Without having to get permission from anyone. Especially not from people who are supposed to be servants of my freedom, but who seem to have forgotten that I am not their serf (and God bless you, Joshua Boston, for telling the truth so eloquently. Ooorah!) .(PS Dear Veterans, please see this post about how much we need you here now that you are home again)

So, thanks Mark Levin for the link and the nudge to join the NRA. Right now is as good a time as any. No organization is perfect, but the NRA is a more reliable protector of the US Constitution & the liberties it spells out for us as individuals, than most of the people in Washington are.

Talk to your congresspeople (there are links in my sidebar to sites that will help you id who they are and how to contact them).  We are so grateful to have Governor Rick Perry and our State Representative Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, who are faithful to the best purposes of government in promoting genuine liberty for individuals to make our OWN decisions.

But one of the most powerful ways to make our voices heard right now is to join the NRA. Because the news media doesn't report on how many people are writing our Senators. But the media - and Congress - always notice how many new members the NRA has.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stand With Hobby Lobby Against Forced Abortion Funding

Yes, Virginia, there are still courageous American companies out there. People who are willing to risk their money for their faith. In a profoundly patriotic move, Hobby Lobby is standing up against President Obama's demand that this company pay for abortions & abortifacent drugs for its employees despite Hobby Lobby's stated mission of "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles."

Hobby Lobby CEO David Green issued a letter that is printed on the site, outlining the situation, and announcing his intent to stand up against oppression at the risk of millions of dollars in daily fines for refusing to comply with this unGodly and illegal administrative rule. That's right - it isn't even a part of the actual law, but a lousy bureaucratic directive that President Obama is happily supporting and specifically targeting religious people to try to force us all to bend to his will instead of God's. As Mr Green states in his letter "The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief."

People of faith and those who understand abortion is murder are showing our support. Today has been Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day, and there are still a few hours left. I shopped at because we do not have a local store.  I bought a nice set of Bombay calligraphy inks that I have been wanting. There's a $2 shipping special, and I found a coupon on the Online Shopping Home Page for 40% off the highest priced eligible item.

For whom will they come next?

Maybe next will be mandated birth control pills for teen girls - pills which increase the incidence of cancer and stroke, and can interfere with fertility in later life.  I have never taken the pill - effective, safe, cheap and easy birth control is available at every grocery store and in every convenience store on every corner in the country.  And condoms protect against venereal diseases (sexually transmitted diseases aka STDs) such as HPV (genital warts), Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and gonorrhea.

Birth Control Pills and Abortion won't protect you against  these diseases or the permanent sterility they often cause, but condoms can help keep you from catching them (abstinence and monogamy are the two best methods of prevention).

Condoms CAN and DO prevent pregnancy, prevent VD, don't have side effects, are inexpensive and available to every woman and man in America - no prescription or insurance needed. Condoms are forbidden by some religions, including the Catholic Church, but they are so cheap that it would not be a hardship on anyone to buy their own.

Why don't President Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius and Planned Parenthood tell you these truths about "birth control"?

For whom will they come next?



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