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Archive for the ‘Trying Traditional’ Category

roses

In the summer, you will often find this on my kitchen table:

Growing roses is a family tradition on my side that my husband picked up as a hobby.  It makes me smile to see and smell them every day.  It makes him happy to be able to bring in beautiful bouquet for me.   The small pink roses in that bouquet are from a couple bushes called “Simplicity.”   They are transplants from my grandparent’s garden.

My dad’s parents were very good at raising roses.  Their last home had over 200 rose bushes.  In the summer, you could spend a couple hours browsing through them, noticing all the scents and colors.  It was a lovely place that I miss.  Why didn’t I take photos before Grandma moved?  Grandma moved in with my parents soon after Liz was born nearly 8 years ago.  They kept maybe a dozen roses at that location.  Their new house, though, doesn’t have any.   

“Touch of Class”  was one of my grandfather’s favorites.  We do not have the bush from their yard, but purchased one of our own after we put the addition onto our home.  It is a bit easier to care for and rewards you with beautiful, fragrant blooms like this:

My husband proposed to me, under grandma and grandpa’s climing rose arbor in the moonlight nearly 12 years ago.  Perhaps that is why he works so hard to keep the traditional alive.  It is a fair bit of work to keep roses disease and bug free.  I’m sure he questions if it is worth it or not.  Thank you dear for all the beautiful flowers you put in our home!

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It has been awhile since I have talked cultures.   Aside from raw milk yogurt, I have also cultured milk kefir, sourdough,  and kombucha in the past.  My milk kefir grains were sent down the drain when someone thought they were nasty old milk.  I was sad.  Their are some odd natural things in the air here.  I could get a sourdough starter going, but then it would literally explode and die.   The kombucha kind of freaked Forest out a bit, but is still living happily in the back of the fridge with occasional feedings. 

I missed cultured products, rather, my gut misses cultured products.   In blog reading and what-not, I kept coming across Cultures for Health and finally figured I would give them a try.  I am so glad I did!

I ordered on a Wednesday and had my starters on Saturday.  They were packaged nicely and came Priority Mail.  Each starter was sealed and then in it’s own individual bag with directions.  Since one of my cultures was a fresh sourdough starter, it was also shipped with a cool-pack to keep everything safe and happy.  Here is what I ordered:

  • Water Kefir, dehydrated
  • New England Sourdough Starter, fresh
  • Buttermilk, dehydrated
  • Viili Yogurt starter, dehydrated

The sourdough starter was alive and well.  By Sunday afternoon, I had an oatmeal sourdough bread (perfecting recipe, then I will share.)   The yogurt and buttermilk both cultured up quickly and have a great taste and texture.  I re-hydrated the kefir grains and they are now happily eating the sugar water, culturing a nice drink for us to experiment with.

The yogurt and buttermilk both can be used with raw milk and no heat.  That was the selling point for me.   To be able to make yogurt and just leave it out on the counter sounded too good to be true.  I tried it, though, and it worked splendidly.   To maintain the starter’s strength though, once a week a need to culture a base starter from last weeks starter.  The natural antibodies and such in raw milk will eventually weaken your starter if you do not maintain the pure or base starter.  I can do that once a week, no problem.

Now our smoothies have raw yogurt, our pancakes are soaked in raw cultured buttermilk, and the bread is yeast free.  Why didn’t I do this earlier?

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I know I’ve mentioned before that my parent’s  own a restaurant.  In my Easter photos, the last picture was taken out front at the entry.  It is an old historic building at the center of our little town.  Before it was their restaurant it was a drug store, a department store before that with apartments above, and into it’s beginnings it housed doctor offices, a dry goods store, and various other odds and ends. 

 It has an office (where I spent many hours every week as a child, a banquet room, dining room, kitchen, store room, candy store, two rentals, a wild basement, and an even crazier upper levels.  Recently my mom and I have done most of our sewing in the office of the candy store. 

It has been host to many family events.  Baby showers, wedding showers, graduation parties, after-proms….my wedding reception.  We got married in the morning for a couple reasons; less formal, avoiding the July heat in an un-airconditioned old church, and the restaurant could open at four instead of three that day of the reception.  I threw a surprise (still not sure how I pulled it off) 30th Anniversary party for my parents there (it was lovely, I even hung my mom’s wedding dress on a dress-form at the entrance…very fun.)   Nearly every birthday is celebrated in the banquet room.  

After over 30 years in the business, my parents are selling their restaurant.  I am so glad, but a tad bit sad.  Glad because I know they are having a hard time keeping up with it all.  The cost of running a small business keeps going up with their age.  Sad because it was very much a part of my childhood and upbringing (and now my children’s as well.) 

Running your own business is hard work.  The physical labor involved in a restaurant is bigger than you might think.  My parents just can not do it anymore. 

They have been at their current location since 1985 and before that they were across the street from where they are now.  I really hope that whoever buys it realizes the heart and soul that has been poured into the place.  The art on the wall is family pieces, quilts made by my aunt, and pictures of my kids.  The recipes have been handed down through generations of both my parent’s families. 

Many have asked why Forest and I aren’t taking it over.  How do I tell them that I grew up in it, I know what kind of family life it allows and want better for my kids.?  It isn’t that we didn’t have a family life, it just was different than what we do here.  My parents worked hard at something they had a passion for and did what they could with what time they had.   My sisters and I all grew up knowing the value of hard work and have excellent people-skills as well as work ethic.  However,  I know that the problem with taking over a small business is time…something we do not have.  In order to turn a decent profit, you can not manage from the sidelines.  You have to be a part of the labor every day.  Your busiest hours are during family meals.  Holidays are the biggest days to be open sales-wise.  your days off are slated for ordering, repairs, housework/laundry, and so on.  Your days working might start at 8AM and go until 9PM.  I fear that if I were to take over the restaurant, it would take over me.  I am just not willing to give that much of me to another source besides my family and home. 

Though the income would be nice, here are the four main reasons I just can not do that:

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CHAPTER 8:  DADDY vs. TRYING TRADITIONAL

I love my wife.  With all my heart.  And I want to help her and try to the best I can.  I accomplish this with “Yes, dear” and by doing whatever I’m told.  My first employer once told me “Happy wife, happy life.”  I’ve tried to heed his warning advice.  So, when my wife began talking to me about diet changes, I listened.  And I asked questions when needed.  Some of it made sense, like not eating packaged and processed foods from the grocery because of the chemicals and preservatives.  Some of it was a little harder to swallow (semi-pun intended), like raw milk.  Yeah, she had to do some serious convincing for me to be okay with that.  But she can break me down much the same way my children can (who are also girls):  Repetitive Petitioning.  Yes, that’s right, Chapter 7’s phrase of the week. 

 

Anybody remember the term “Psy-Op’s” from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?  It’s short for “psychological operations” and had to do with dropping flyers and playing taped messages from speakers on vehicles as they drove through the neighborhoods, etc.  Messing with the enemies mind to help in defeating them.  Here’s an example my elder sibling picked up while over there.

 

 

I don’t have a clue what they say, but I can get a good guess from the pictures.  The reason I bring this up is that I feel like “Domestic Psy-Op’s” is being used on me at home.  A lot.  And because I’m pretty simple, it usually works.  I guess Repetitive Petitioning is just one method of Domestic Pys-Op’s.  As soon as I figure out the others, I’ll let you know.  At least, I think I will?  Hmmm.

 

-So it’s a “starter” for sour-dough bread?  And it’s a “living” organism?  What?

Raw milk?  Alright dear, I can tell you feel strongly about this.  (I won’t drink it, anyway.)

Make our own bread?  Sure, I like fresh, homemade bread.

-Grind our own grain for the bread?  By hand?!!?  Okay, sure, I’d love to turn the crank.

-Make our own yogurt?  Really?  Sure, have fun with that.

-No, I don’t think it’s cool how the sour dough starter “breathes”!

-Frozen, whole chickens?  Uh, okay, let’s get some.

-Join a CSA?  What’s that?

-The electric grain mill costs how much?!  Fine, just as long as we get rid of the hand crank.

-A dehydrator?  For how much?!  For a dehydrator?!?! I don’t think we can…homemade beef jerky?  Oh, okay. 

-Yes, I’d love to build you a Square-Foot Garden.  I’ll go get the wood for that today.

-I hate to tell you this, but I think your “living organism” is dead.

-Dear, what’s in this jar?  I don’t know, it’s white and gooey.  Yogurt or kefir what-ir?  No thanks, you smell them!

Why are we doing all this again?

 

But, I did reach my limit.  Chickens.  You keep your own chickens for the eggs in your back yard.  You build a movable pen, they eat the grass, lay some eggs, and you move the pen.  But I’m pretty sure chicken manure is the worst smelling manure in existence (excluding a number of fresh diapers I’ve had the honor changing within the last few years).  And we don’t much time left to mess with it.

So, we’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve gotten used to it, to some degree.  I know we’re all healthier in the long run.  The salsa is awesome, too.  Looking back over the list (which doesn’t include everythings that’s been thrown at me), I have to wonder what the next few years will bring.  Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be an Adventure!

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I was cleaning up supper, when the twins started shouting at each other.  The older two were already in their room playing.  So, I turned and saw what you’ll see in the videos below. 

Allow me to translate.  Twin on the left is crying like a baby.  Twin on right is yelling, “No, no, no baby!”  Of course, as soon as I shut the camera off, they switch roles.  So I turned it back on. 

In case you’re wondering, Cee-Cee is the one on the right.  She has to be the most giggliest 2 year old girl in the WORLD!  Ahhhhhhh, adorable. 

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I get quite a few hits daily on my site from people searching for tips and instructions on making butter at home.   I was thinking about this the other day as I was spreading yummy, cultured butter on our breakfast toast.  I reply to people about any questions they have and am thinking it is time to write about some of the most common concerns about making butter.  

A few tips on butter making, for the original how-to, click HERE.

  • Good quality cream makes all the difference in your end product.  I skim my cream after the jar of raw milk has sat in the fridge for a day or two.  The cream is pretty thick at the top and easily scoops out (consistency puts me in mind of an almost set pudding.)  Also, we get Jersey milk and I hear their cream churns easier, though I have no experience with any other.
  • Allowing your cream to culture some should increase your amount of butter in the end as well as decrease the amount of time it takes to churn.  Not sure how scientific this is, but it works for me.  Some will buy actual cultures, I just let it set out over night (lid covering it, but not screwed on.)
  • Cold cream tends to work faster.  I would guess about 55 degrees give or take.  Not necessarily fridge temp, but colder than room temp.
  • Trial and error is often the way to go.  Don’t give up after one try.  Ask questions, research, and try it again.  Trust me on this one, that fresh spring butter is worth it in the dead of winter! 
  • The picture above is the resulting butter from 1 quart of cream.  I wish now that I had weighed it, and when we have abundant cream like that again (usually in the spring) I will weigh the resulting butter from a quart of cream.  My guess would be that each packet above is about half a conventional stick in size (1/4 cup.)  Assuming that is accurate (again, sorry I did not weigh or measure this), the quart of cultured cream I used yielded 1  1/2 cups of butter.

All this butter talk has me wanting some toast with butter.  Such a simple food, but oh so tasty and nutritious when you have raw, cultured butter on sprouted whole grain bread.

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CHAPTER 4:  DADDY VERSUS THE DISNEY PRINCES

 

Insanity.  My kids have it.  From where did it come? 

 

Editors Note: Notice how the preposition “from” began the sentence and did not end the sentence.  A preposition should never end a sentence.  No matter how much I see it in our local paper, or in my kids school textbooks.  Please make a grammatical note!

 

It all started with Seinfeld.  You may have hated the sitcom made famous for being about nothing.  Or, you may have loved it.  But the fact remains that some aspects and characters from the show have permeated our culture.   The foundational fabric of our free, flourishing, fellowship, if you will.  One such lovable creature is the Soup Nazi.  Eh?  What’s that?  Never heard him?  Hmmm.  Well, here’s a small sample.

 

 

Anyways, as this story goes (and it goes this way because I’m telling it), over a dozen odd years ago, in high school (or shortly thereafter), I was at a friends house.  Being dorky kids, he went off on a tangent, impersonating, from the sounds it, an arabian sheik, who was trying to get a woman to dance for him.  Good grief, I feel brain cells dying just typing out that last sentence.  The impersonation went something like this:  “You dance for me?  You no dance for me?!?!  No soup for you!!!”  That’s all.  Mainly those 3 sentences repeated for about 5 minutes.  Yeah, I know, but it did seem funny at the time.  I guess in this situation, the quote fits: “You had to be there!”

 

Skip ahead several years.  Almost to the present time, but not quite.  For a gift, for some occasion, one of my oldest, or maybe both, received the Disney Prince’s Playset Figurines.  Oh sure, they’ve gotten nearly every princess there is, pre- and post-Walt.  But what, I ask you my brethren, is princess without a prince?  Now the imaginative scenarios are exponentially multiplied.  And that is where I found myself, wanting to spend time with my daughters, and they, wanting to play with the Disney princesses and princes.  I was forced to be a prince.  Go figure. 

 

disney-princes

 

I tried to be a good dad/playmate, really I did.  I mean, at least it wasn’t Barbies, right?  I don’t know if there is anything more difficult, more ridiculous feeling, then a father trying to play along as the side-kick male in a female dominated franchise and a female dominated playtime (2 girls versus 1 Daddy.  They win.).  Like I said, I tried to play along, but between the two of them, they kept changing the story situations faster than Bugs did to Daffy in “Duck Amuck”!

 

 

So finally, out of boredom laced with humiliation, I took my prince (I think it was Prince Charming, or maybe Alladin…I have too much respect for Prince Philip), trotted him up to the nearest princess, and declared, “Will you dance for me?  No…then no soup for you!  Would you like to see ME dance!?!?!”  Then I began to swivel the upper torso of my prince (they swivel at the waist, for reasons unknown), and shouted gleefully, “A-do-ti-do-ti-do-ti-do-ti!”  All this, of course, to the loud laughter of my delighted children.  I should have known then that they’d be asking for an encore.  So, I did it again.  But since then, I have never picked up another prince.

 

A few months ago, the older two say they have a dance they want me to see.  I’d love to see it, I tell them.  Then I get the video camera out, because these are the moments to save for future embarrassment of teenagers.  And this is what I get.

 

 

Notice, if you will the scared look on Brie’s face the ENTIRE TIME!  Yeah, I was nervous, too.  Also notice Cee-Cee starting to shake her head, too, toward the end.  The insanity before me was both humorous and breathtaking.  They’ve repeated their performance on different occasions since then, so I think its a favorite. 

 

Now, where was I…oh, yes.  Insanity.  Yep, there can be no doubt: They got it straight from me. 

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Chapter 3: Daddy versus the Earache
Okay, it’s been a long a week. I am soooooooo glad it’s Friday. What are doing for supper? Grabbing some pizza and heading out to my mom’s and have dinner with her. Sounds good.
3:45 PM- Halfway home from work when I get a call. Jane is complaining of her ear hurting her. Seems to have a low-grade fever. Okay, give her some med’s and we’ll see how she’s doing when I get home.

4:15 PM- I’m home. Jane is acting OK. Ear kind of sore. Still has a low-grade fever. Hospital or not? Hmmm. Let’s try an experiment. I’ve noticed during doctor’s visits that they now ask you to rate pain on a 1 to 10 scale. Let’s see if this works with an 8 year old. “On a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 being the most ouchiest, icky-bad-bad pain you’ve ever had and 1 being not really hurting at all, what number is your pain?” Blank stare……….followed by a blank stare. Okay, experiment FAILED. Let’s just keep an eye on her and go from there.

5:15 PM- Out at my mom’s. I eat 1, repeat, 1 bite of pizza. “Daddy, my ear REALLY HURTS!” Okay, well, that decides it. To the emergency room we go! Load up everyone (“IT HURTS, DADDY, IT HURTS!”) and head in town. From this point until about 8 PM, I was serenaded with “Owwww, owwww, owwww, it hurts, it hurts!” Which did, must admit, interject a thought into my swiss-cheesed mind, “Why, God, out of all of us, did it have to be the one pre-disposed to whininess!?!?!?!”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The funny thing with Jane, is that she has only had Amoxicillin once before in her life and that was when she was about 3 or 4, and it was her first earache. Since then, she has complained about 3-5 times about her ear feeling funny or sore, but then it goes away and she never mentions it again. This, I consider, a HUGE blessing. CONTINUE THE STORY.

5:30 PM- At local hospital, parking lot is not full. Hopefully there won’t be too long of a wait. I can just imagine Jane sharing her distress with the whole Emergency Room for an hour! But hey, squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?

5:45 PM- Miracle of miracles, Providence has seen fit to have an empty waiting room. We were ushered to a bed in the back, given paper work, and the doctor just left. I haven’t even finished writing my address down on the paper. I’m in shock, but pleased. Jane, for some reason, has become edgy and is jumpy at every movement and noise. She is scared to death that they’ll do something painful to her. The nurse went to put a pulse reader on her finger, and Jane shook as it went on. Then they put the thermometer in her mouth, and she looked both confused and offended. (EXPLAINATION: We use an ear thermometer at home, and have for as long as she remembers.) She had no idea what the nurse was explaining about “under the tongue”. So, the nurse wisely ditched that for a forehead thermometer, which made her jump, but got the job done.

The doctor looked in one ear, then the achy one, and said, “Yep, it’s infected.“ He’d go and write us the prescriptions and we’d be on our way. I finished the paperwork and went to the desk to give it to the nurses. Jane opted to go with me (didn’t want to be alone, even for 30 seconds) and hid behind me as I handed over the papers.

6:15 PM- At Wal-Mart, getting the prescriptions filled. Hopefully there’s enough different stuff here to keep Jane distracted (the serenade continues). It’ll be about 20 minutes, no problem.

6:40 PM- Prescription not done yet, Jane whiny and tired. Wants to go to the car with Mommy and lay down. Fine, I’ll wait here. Oh, and we shopped, so I have to wait, while holding the groceries and a pink yoga mat (for the misses).

6:50 PM- Still waiting, still holding the pink yoga mat, for which I got 2 compliments for from old school friends who just happened to pass by. What timing.

7:00 PM- The pharmacy couldn’t find Jane or me listed on the prescription insurance website and so they called the doctor and got his okay to switch to generics. Don’t know why I’m not in there, but by now, I’m past ready to go, so I’ll pay the $12 (thank God for generics).

7:15 PM- Had a fiasco trying to get some stamps and ended not getting them, but getting my money refunded. Go figure. More compliments on my pink yoga mat. FINALLY out the door. Get to car. Get in. My wife says, “Jane, tell Daddy what happened after we came out here.” “Daddy, I laid down and some water came out of my ear and it feels all better!”

THE MORALE OF TODAY’S STORY:   Heck if I know.  I feel like spinning the “Wheel of Morality” from the Animaniacs! 

 

 

 

 

Torn, torn I was, between being glad she’s feeling better and frustrated I just wasted 2 hours of my life. Since then, no complaints from Jane about her ear. Somebody out there want to explain that to me? What was that all about? Water stuck in your ear can cause extreme pain? Doctor diagnosing it as an ear infection? I just can’t figure it. I can’t figure out why there’s an adventure every weekend, either. At least the pink yoga mat is out of my hands.

 

Side Note:  On totally different topic, we went to Red Lobster today.  I never thought of myself as a “food snob”, and I’m not honestly sure what one is, but Trying Traditional has affected my taste buds.  Everything tasted salty.  The cheddar biscuits, which used to be an all-time-favorite, were so salty, I could barely eat one.  Everything but the salmon, which tasted bland!  I’d take my wife’s any day!

As a bonus to today’s episode, I’d like to include a little video I took about a year ago entitled “The Silly and The Stinky”.  (I was trying for that whole “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” thing from Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.)  Notice, if you will, Ci-Ci’s, on the right, growing look of consternation/constipation.  Enjoy.

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