Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stretching a Meal

When I was a kid, it was not unusual for friends or relatives to show up at our house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  TV was a rare commodity then.  My family didn't have one until I was 15 years old.  Personal computers and cell phones were somewhere in the future.  People went visiting.  They sat on front porches and talked about the weather and the condition of the crops and wasn't that daughter of Aunt Ruby's acting just disgraceful with that boyfriend of hers.  And when the sun was getting low in the western sky and the visitors showed no signs of leaving, they were invited to stay for supper.  And most times, they accepted.

My mother was one of those women who planned.  She knew that on Monday she would wash clothes and on Tuesday I would iron them.  She planned nothing for Saturday morning except setting her daughters to cleaning the house.  If you have ever experienced scrubbing out the corners of a set of stairs with a toothbrush, then you know the extent of my mother's planning.  And she knew exactly what each meal would be for a week.

Mother didn't take it well when her plans were disrupted.  So it was always a wonder to me how she coped with guests for the supper she had planned for four people.  She took it in stride and never batted an eye.  Thinking back, I realized how she did it.

If she had a roast beef or a chicken in the oven, she sent one of us kids down to the basement, which doubled as our cold storage area, to bring up more potatoes to be boiled and a handful of fresh carrots to be cleaned and cut into carrot sticks.  She had us get a quart jar of dill pickles and a pint jar of relish.  And added to that were a couple of jars of home canned peaches for dessert.  A plate of homemade baking powder biscuits rounded out the meal, now with enough food for company.

I remember once having supper guests when Mother had made a pot of chili that was enough to feed just our family.  Mother calmly cooked up a pot of rice and made a double batch of cornbread.  She added a plate of sliced cheese and another of raw carrots, radishes and sliced cucumbers from the garden.  She filled bowls half full of rice and topped that off with chili.  Dessert was sliced strawberries from the garden, with cream and sugar .

The point is.....Mother was prepared.  She was a girl growing up during the Great Depression.  After that came the WWII food rationing.  Her mother taught her how to stretch a meal.  Although my Grandfather was one of the fortunate ones to be employed during the Depression, he still had seven children to feed.  That was not always an easy task.  My grandparents grew a garden.  They canned as much food as they could.  My father grew up in a similar environment with the added benefit of living on a farm where they could have meat and milk animals to feed his family of nine children.  Both my parents carried on the tradition of preserving as much food as they could in the summer and fall.  They passed on that lifestyle to me.  One of the best things they taught me was how to stretch a meal.

I don't always have fresh food on hand.  I can't raise a garden.  But I can go to my shelves and pantry and get the fixings for any number of meals.  And like Mother, I keep on hand ingredients to be able to stretch a meal when needed.  Just makes sense.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Plants in My Windowsills

They are growing.  By some miracle I have managed to keep them alive - so far.

The cantaloupe, zucchini and cucumbers are flourishing.  They have beautiful green leaves and are beginning to spread out.

I have two pots of cherry tomatoes grown from saved seeds.  They are slow to grow, but are beginning to leaf out.  I thinned them down to about six plants per pot.

The bell peppers finally popped through the soil and have grown a couple of inches.

The green peas are maybe 6 - 8 inches tall and have fallen over, but they are still alive and growing.

And last but not least, the yellow snap beans are setting on blossoms.  Amazing!  If they form actual beans, there may be enough for a meal.

If the plants are still alive in a week or so, I will take some pictures to post.  I was kind of busy today, what with my grocery delivery and getting 12 lbs. of hamburger ready to can tomorrow.

The plants in my little windowsill garden must be tough.  They have to be to still live in spite of my abysmal track record with indoor plants.  Even if I get nothing off them, it is still fun watching them grow.  :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It is turning into...

a really nice week.  Temperatures here are in the mid to high 70's and the humidity isn't too bad.  It is nice to be able to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows.  We had some rain and some sunshine and a lovely breeze.

I canned up the rest of the chicken thighs and got five pints.  There was enough broth to fill five quart jars.  I have ordered 12 lbs. of hamburger to can.  That will be delivered tomorrow.  Hamburger is the only meat I am low on, although I probably could use some more bacon bits.  The price of bacon has gone through the  roof here, so I will have to see if Duane can find some bacon ends and pieces at a reasonable price.  I was thinking about canning some bacon slices but not at the current price of $6.99  a pound.

My daughter Jill and grandson Zach stopped over yesterday evening.  Zach was all excited.  He will be spending a week at Airplane Camp.  I asked if the camp was just for instruction or if there would be actual flying involved.  He said, with a grin, that they would be flying.  Zach has taken flying lessons since he was maybe 12 years old.  He needed to sit on a pillow to be able to see out the window of the plane.  That's no longer a problem for that over 6 ft. tall 17 year old grandson of mine.  I told him that when he gets his pilot's license, he needed to remember that his Grandma loves to fly.  I'm not overjoyed with commercial flights, but I dearly love a ride in a small plane.  He said he would keep it in mind.

David stopped in a couple of days ago.  Both of his daughters have birthdays in June and he said he would pick up the cards I had for them so I wouldn't need to mail them.  I think he was actually checking up on me.  He knew I hadn't been feeling well and he knows I hate going to the  doctor, so he sometimes checks to make sure I don't need make an appointment.  I just can't get away with anything!  He left yesterday for a conference in Canada, having to do with his job at a landscaping company.  He said he was torn...he was looking forward to the conference but he knew he would miss his family while he had to be gone.

Nothing earth shattering or exciting going on here in my little corner of the world.  I'm just puttering about with the necessary Susie Homemaker stuff.  And in between times the sewing machine is being put to good use.  That's pretty much the story of my life and I like it that way.  :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quilts and Chicken

I watched Boston dance at the National competition via live stream.  She did very well as did her whole studio group.  Even though the picture quality on the live stream isn't the best, I can still pick her out of a crowd and follow her dance steps.  Loved every second of it.

I did some sewing in between Boston' dances.  I finished sewing the pieces together to make these blocks.

Now I just need to sew the blocks together and then add the batting and backing before quilting.  So many now use quilting machines or even use their sewing machines to do the final quilting, but I am old fashioned, I guess.  I like the look of hand quilting, even though it takes longer to finish.

I don't do fancy art quilts like so many who enter their quilts in quilt shows.  Mine are strictly utility quilts that are made for warmth on beds - not to be hung on a wall and admired.  I love to look at all those fancy quilts, but I make mine from leftover fabric or from fabric that is on sale at my local fabric store.

This is the quilt I will finish only if I live another 10 years.  It is called "Grandmother's Flower Garden."  Each hexagon is sewn by hand - no sewing machine work here.

Please excuse the untidy look of it.  It gets wrinkled while working on it.  All of the flower blocks are done and I am in the process of sewing them together.  I work on it sometimes in the evening while watching something I like on my computer.  Maybe a movie or some other program like Antiques Roadshow.  It takes lots of tiny stitches to sew the pieces together and is time consuming.  But I really like this old fashioned pattern, so I keep plugging away at it.

Lori was going shopping on Saturday and asked if I needed anything.  Our local big box grocery had chicken legs and thighs in the family-sized packs on sale at a good price, so I asked her to get me three packages of each.  In between Boston's dance numbers I filled 13 quart jars with whole legs and thighs.  I use the wide mouth jars  for ease in removing the meat when I go to use it.  That took care of all the wide mouth quart jars I had.  That left me with two package of thighs.  Those are simmering on the stove and when they are done I will take the meat from the bones and can it in pint jars.  There should be some nice chicken broth to can as well.

I hadn't planned to do any canning over the weekend, but when the opportunity presents itself, it seems like a person should take advantage of it.  After all, that gives me another couple of weeks worth of suppers and the way things are going in the world around us, I think I will be glad to have it.  Things are just getting way too crazy to ignore.  We need to be prepared for anything.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


don't always work out.  That irritating flu-like bug that visited me has moved on to greener pastures.  But it did put a bit of a crimp in my plans for a couple of sewing days.

However, optimist that I am, a new plan is in the works.  My granddaughter, Boston, is dancing with her studio at Nationals in Wisconsin Dells.  She has four routines with her group today.  I'm not sure yet about tomorrow.  But the competition is being live streamed.   So Grandma will be setting up the laptop where I can see it while sewing.  

Regular scheduled programing will commence on Monday.  The coffee is brewed.  The snacks are at hand.  Supper is in the crockpot.  I am all set for some serious sewing machine time and more importantly, some time well spent watching the girl do what she does so well.  Hope you all have a weekend as happy as mine.  :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I am beginning to believe...

there is something nasty in the air or in the water.  This is the third or fourth time this year that I have come down with flu-like symptoms.  Never had that happen before.

Back to bed for me.  I will return when this round of icky has run its course.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Spending time...

sewing for a couple of days.  Just because I can.  I have neglected the piles of quilt pieces on my sewing table for far too long.  Sometimes we have to let the world do what it will without us, let the day to day stuff pass by and just do what makes us happy.

I will be back in a day or two - possibly with some show and tell.