Friday, May 31, 2019

Fire in the Kitchen

"Tell a story from your childhood that involves fire."

As a young teen, you could often find me in the kitchen doing a little baking. I loved making cookies, cakes and other sweets for the family. And they loved gobbling them up. I remember that my brothers would come in for some cookies on their way out to the fields. They would say something like,

"Hmmm, that's about a ten cookie field." They measured the time it took to finish a task by how many cookies they would eat while doing it!

Well, that really has nothing to do with the memories I want to share today; other than you can usually find me in the kitchen. My friend and blog partner shared a story about catching her kitchen on fire and it reminded me of my own kitchen fire story.

Cinnamon flavored Apple Jelly

photo credit Webstarauntstore.com
My favorite jelly is Cinnamon flavored apple jelly. Schmucker's makes it but usually, you can only find it in those packets on the table at Cracker Barrell or Bob Evan's Restaurant. So we found a recipe for making this delicious condiment from apple juice. One particular Saturday I set my sights on making a batch. And maybe a few other flavors, too.

With jellies, the best way to preserve them is to just pour some paraffin wax on top of the jelly and it will seal the delicacy inside the jar. This would allow you to have jelly for months that never spoiled!

My jelly was made. The jars were all set at one end of the bar to wait for sealing. I began melting down some paraffin in a saucepan on the stove. For some unknown reason, I placed a lid on the saucepan.

Oh wait; It's lunchtime!

At this point, I realized that it was lunchtime. A good BLT sandwich for everyone sounded like the perfect meal on a warm day. I changed gears and began slicing tomatoes, preparing some lettuce, making bacon and toasting bread.

Ways to Cook Bacon

Now you can fry bacon in a skillet which I hate especially if you are frying more than 2 or 3 pieces. The grease splatters everywhere and it's just messy. With a family as large as ours, this was not the preferred way. I recently learned that you can easily bake bacon on a cookie sheet. For some reason, it doesn't splatter everywhere and you don't have to stand over a hot stove so long. I wish I had known this back then!

Bacon in the Microwave

I choose to bake the bacon in the microwave. This process includes layering the bacon between sheets of paper towels and placing it in the microwave.  In just a minute or so, you can have nice crispy bacon. Yum!

Down from the jelly jars, I had all the ingredients for BLTs I pulled out the bacon and bacon separating the paper towels from the stack of bacon. At this point, I remembered the paraffin melting on the stove, covered by a lid.

Side Note: Define Paraffin

a flammable, whitish, translucent, waxy solid consisting of a mixture of saturated hydrocarbons, obtained by distillation from petroleum or shale and used in candles, cosmetics, polishes, and sealing and waterproofing compounds.
Instant Combustion

I quickly grabbed the pan with the lid still on and carried it to the working bar. You know the one with bacon and greasy paper towels all over it. I lifted the lid allowing air to reach the now very hot paraffin. This created an instant fire which spread quickly across the bar. Now I had a large fire, flames stretching upward higher than my head.

Kitchen Fire Demonstration by the Fire Department
free photo image by Jorgelman at Pixabay


Mom Saves the Day

Thank heavens for level-headed mothers. She came quickly and knew just what to do to extinguish a grease fire. 

Cover the fire to stop it from spreading. When oxygen can no longer reach the flammable object, the fire will extinguish.

Thank heavens! We kept the fire from spreading beyond the bar. I had a good burn on my hand but we were all safe. At that point, my knees began to buckle from realizing what I had just done. It's a tough way to learn a lesson but I certainly do know how to deal with a grease fire now.

 A Few Tips About Cooking with Grease or Oil


  1. Remember Benjamin Franklin's Proverb. "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 
  2. Don't cook distracted and keep ways to stop a fire nearby.
  3. Keep grease at the recommended temperature.
  4. Keep a metal lid handy in case of fire.
  5. No children in the kitchen while cooking with grease.
  6. Don't extinguish with water. Water will carry the grease along with the fire to other areas.


Do you have an experience with fire you would share? Maybe you have another helpful tip. Please leave it in the comments below.

farm recipes
https://mandysheritage.blogspot.com/p/the-farmers-wifes-cookbook.html









Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Few Hairy, Scary Stories From the Farm


So what is it about hair that gets people all stirred up? 




On a bad hair day, my hair went straight into a ponytail. Yes, the scriptures say that a "woman's hair is her crown and glory". I'm not even sure I know what that means.

I do know that men seem to love women with long flowing hair. And I know women spend 1,000s of dollars a year making their hair "just right".




My Own Hair Trials


Mandy baby
Me 1961
 I was born with 2 inches of dark hair. Unlike most babies, mine never fell out and by the time I was 6, I had long dark curls that draped down past my waist.
I never wanted to bleach my hair. I was sure to cover it well so that it wouldn't bleach out while I worked in the fields. I also recall that my biggest fear in life back then was getting a head injury and the doctors cutting off all my hair. Kind of funny, when you think about it because hair grows back. And I didn't seem to be worried about the actual head injury and what that might involve.


Long hair is a lot of trouble too. 


Mandy at 6 years
Saturday nights were dreaded at the farm, at least by the girls. Three girls with long hair prepping for Sunday. What a tangled mess my hair could get into and what a pain combing it all out, not to mention those pink foam curlers with hard plastic clips that I had to sleep on every Saturday night. I swore I would never curl my hair again as an adult. And I'm pretty sure I haven't.  :)

And then there was the annual permanent. I never could figure why someone with curly hair needed a permanent but we got one anyway. My hair took to curls like a mouse to cheese. Talk about frizz. Every time I was a nervous wreck, especially after the time the well pumped blew up just about the time mom finished putting all the gunk in my hair. We had to run to the neighbors to rinse out my hair. (Actually, I think this was my only great perm because we got the rinse out earlier than usual.)

But women aren't the only ones obsessed with their hair. 

Men can get worried about their hair too. My brothers were quite worried about becoming bald-headed. Dad, my uncles, and my grandfather all were bald from before the day I met them. They seemed to think it was just fine. It was definitely easy to care for. And in my mind, baldness stood for wisdom.

back row - Gene (my dad), George, Myron
front row - Eileen, Grandma Grandpa


But my brothers looked at it differently. 


We were growing up in the 70's and it was quite important for guys to wear their hair longer than my dad and grandfather thought it needed to be.

I recall one summer my cousins were up from Georgia. And all the boys were there in the kitchen with Dad and Grandpa. Grandpa said something about getting the clippers and giving them all a haircut. One of the teens, I think it was Mark high tailed it out the front door.

Now, our front door was a screen door with glass louvered slats about a dozen of them. When the door slammed shut, all those glass slats jumped out of their nest and came crashing to the floor! This problem was easily remedied, but..

Long Hair Can Mean Danger, too

We always had young teens around helping with the summer work. I've spoken
Ours looked something like this
Photo credit The Hickdady from OR
before about Pedro. His story was a bit scarier. We had a hay elevator which was used to load hay bales and carry them up to the barn loft. It had a motor at the bottom which turn an axel to moved the hay up the elevator. On one particular occasion, Pedro was loading hay onto the elevator. I'm not sure why he leaned down so closer but that axel grabbed ahold of his hair a began winding it onto the axel, pulling his head closer and closer. By the grace of God, my brother was nearby and pulled the plug to stop the elevator. Just in the nick of time. I believe it wasn't long after that when Pedro decided to cut his hair shorter!

Oh, One More Story


I mentioned earlier that men love that long flowing hair. Well, one day my mother went to town and decided to buy a wig. Now Mom had that long thick hair like mine. She spent quite some time choosing the wig and having it styled and she wore it home. Now mind you, she had not told anyone she was going to purchase a wig. 

When she arrived home she was met with some of the girls and we talked about how it looked. It was definitely a shock but we were getting used to it. About that time my younger brother, Alex (about 5 or 6 at the time) came from is playing because he heard his mother's voice.

"Momma!" he cried as he ran toward her.

But suddenly the brakes were applied. That wasn't Momma.. but maybe it was. 

Tears began to fall as he said, "Momma, you aren't beautiful anymore!
Laughter ensued, but Mom never wore that wig again.

Well, there you have it. Some hairy, scary stories from the farm. 

Do you have a hairy story? Please share it!















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Monday, January 21, 2019

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I awoke this morning here in the deep south and my husband said, "It's 32 degrees outside." My mind went immediately to, "We've got to get up and check all the water lines to be sure nothing has frozen up." :)

I've been away from the farm since 1980 and living in the south just as long. So I have no idea why this came to mind today other than to write a memoir.
I don't recall much of cold weather when we lived in Ohio but then, I was fairly young. But Wisconsin, that is a different story.

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/wisconsin-wi-united-states-usa.html

Welcome to Wisconsin


The first time I arrived at the farm in Wisconsin was November 1974. I road with my dad to take some equipment up to the new farm we had recently purchased. You can read that story here. What I remember is that the ground was already to frozen to plant any flower bulbs that Mom had sent along in hopes to have some pretty flowers in the spring when we arrived. Those bulbs remained in a bag in a cabinet until the next April. But they had sprouted we found them.

One memory of those cold winter days was trying to keep the water lines from freezing up. The body warmth from the cows usually keep the water flowing but occasionally a pipe would bust and send water everywhere.

Another thing I remember about Wisconsin cold was there always seemed to be an ice storm in March. Even if the weather had warmed up you could guarantee one more bad storm before spring came in full bloom. Since we moved to Wisconsin in the spring of '75, we didn't really "get" to experience winter until the next year.

In 1976, Wisconsin had the worst storm in recorded history. 


Photo Credit: Wisconsin Sentinel
Ice was recorded to have collected on trees and poles as thick as 5 inches. Utility poles came down like dominoes for many miles( I think someone said 100 miles. Don't quote me on that). And several counties were declared to be in a state of emergency, including our own, Columbia County. Schools were closed for about two weeks since there was no electricity.

Now, the ice is quite pretty on the trees but that is about as far as it goes. Ice is heavy and it tends to beak tree limbs or whatever it has frozen onto. Somehow, (I think the Lord's care because we didn't even have a generator at the time) we were one of the few farms that still had electricity. Farms all around us had no electricity. You could hear the cows bawling. They were hungry and thirsty since the wells need electricity to pump water and silos of grain need electricity to unload the grain. It was quite an experience.

We invited the neighbors to bring milk cans and get water for the animals.

Can you guess how much water a cow needs in a day?  


According to Dairy Herd Management,
A milking dairy cow drinks about 30 to 50 gallons of water each day...Water weighs 8.35 lbs/gal, so a milking dairy cow may consume as much as 420 (or more) pounds of water daily.
Our farm had 100 milking cows, plus young and dry stock. So you do the math. Then multiply that by every farm in the county. Yikes!

Now, I haven't even mentioned that you need electricity to milk the cows. So most farmers were back to milking cows by hand. And allowing it to go straight down the drain in most cases. That's a lot of loss.

We were blessed.

We were very thankful that the Lord took care of us. And we used that blessing to open our doors not only to the cows on the neighboring farms but also to friends who came to our home for a shower or a hot meal.

We endured many blizzards over the next few years. Neighbors were always saying, "It isn't usually this bad." But year after year, we could depend on getting a "good" blizzard or two.

Schools in the Winter Cold

No, we didn't have to walk 6 miles uphill both ways to get to school. One thing I do know is that the schools seemed to usually find a way to stay open. Many times school opened two hours late. Other times the buses didn't run but the town kids still had to show up for school. ha, ha!

The most memorable time was when the storm came on the day of the conference basketball championship. Every school around was closed. But not ours. We weren't going to miss playing that conference championship. The local radio announced that they would air the game so that other schools wouldn't be tempted to try to drive out in the weather to see the game. What a day! I'm pretty sure we won the game because in those days we were rated number one and many times played in the state finals.

Well, that's some of my memories of growing up in the cold winters of Wisconsin.