Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A treasure for one dollar

Here in smalltownland we have a wonderful antique mall, in a very antique building. When you live in a small town people get to know you pretty well. So well in fact that when you enter this antique store you get pointed in the direction of the best new stuff. It's some great customer service. A couple of weeks ago I was digging around in one of the upper level booths. I found a collection of cookbooks that I had never seen before. I love cookbooks and already have far too many, but who can pass up cookbooks for one dollar apiece? I found this book of Norwegian recipes. I am sure you are thinking this is really an odd choice, but when I was growing up I lived in North Dakota for several years. The Norwegian culture was very prominent and the food was awesome. I have even seen Lawrence Welk in concert. How many people can make that claim? This book was published in 1946 and was geared toward the proper housewife of the day.

Each set of recipes is set in a scenario depicting the housewife facing different occasions. One housewife is going to make dinner for her husband's boss, one housewife is going to make a special meal for her son's graduation, etc.... One interesting cookie recipe instructs the baker to place the cookies in a "rather hot oven", hmmmmm.... The book is filled with pen and ink illustrations, some of which would not be politically correct in today's society.

And while I won't actually be using the recipes for making my own caviar or pickling herring, I am enjoying the book just the same.

Since this is New Year's Eve I will leave you with a Rum Punch recipe from the cookbook. And yes, this recipe is verbatim from the book. Enjoy and have a safe New Year's Eve.

PUNCH - One bottle Myers dark rum, 2 pint cans of sweet grapefruit juice, 1 bottle of sherry wine, 6 lemons sliced very thin. Just before serving, add 1 large bottle of pale dry Ginger Ale, 1 medium-sized bottle of maraschino cherries, 1 large lump of ice. Let chill for a few minutes. After two helpings do not worry about the success of your party no matter what you serve them to eat.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How about a little dip?

This year at Christmas, The Babs, (my mom) received an empty can of snuff as a gift. And it is such a valued piece of family history, that it was presented to her in a keepsake case. This snuff was always with my grandma, Bird. Bird started dipping snuff as a child. Although, it might be strange to some of you, this was a common way for women to enjoy tobacco back in her day. Bird would always open the container and shake some snuff onto the lid. Then, she would use the lid to insert the snuff into her lower lip. "Spit cups" were empty coffee cans lined with paper towels. They were located in various places in her home. Later on in her life, someone gifted her with a brass spittoon. She always had good aim.

The Bruton Scotch Snuff that is pictured above, is actually a nasal snuff. It is a very fine, dry powder intended to be sniffed through the nose. The Bruton brand is noted to be quite potent. Some women in the Appalachian region enjoyed snuff by dipping a stick, (with the end chewed up like a brush), into the snuff and then rubbing it onto their gums. I always saw Bird enjoy her snuff by dipping. Although tobacco is noted to be a product with all types of health risks, she is still living life well into her 90's.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A very tropical Christmas

Secret Agent Man, the chiclets, and myself, set upon a journey to the Sunshine State this past week. When we left our farm the temperature was a chilly 8 degrees. By the time we arrived at the coast, it was in the 70's. I believe I heard angels singing in the palm trees. Our journey took us to the home of The Babs and Mr. B.

And it also took us out to do a little shopping amongst all the wonderful sunshine and palm trees.

And, I must confess I had to take a spin through one of my favorite (if overly priced) kitchen stores.

The deerslayer got aquainted with his uncle's new dog, named Charlie. The Babs got aquainted with Charlie as well. It seems Charlie left a few "holiday sprinkles" on the carpet on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve found two grandparent dutifully on garbage patrol while all of their grandkids piled into their family room to open gifts.

We had a wonderful visit, even if it was a little too short. We miss all of the mean family already.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas memories...

We always celebrated Christmas, ever since I've been big enough t'remember. When night come, we always went t' the chimney corner, pulled our stockin's off, an' hung' em up. An' Santa Claus come while we was in bed alseep. Put up a dirty sock. It's just as good in a dirty sock as it was in a clean sock. We' stick a stick in the chimney and hang them stockin's up on the stick, an' when we woke up next mornin', it'd be full of apples an' oranges and two or three sticks ' candy.

Annie Perry, Winter 1973

Well, one special gift I got was a toothbrush made out of a birch or black gum twigs. It was about eight inches long, and one end was chewed to make it like a brush. We'd dip it in a snuffbox and brush our teeth with that. It was so special 'cause it's the first one I'd ever gotten.

Lara Coggins, A Foxfire Christmas

Memories taken from, The Foxfire 40th Anniversary Book - Faith, Family, and the Land

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet as sugar...

Let's examine this little gem of an antique...for just a moment. This chest is known around the Kentucky and Tennessee area as a Sugar Chest. Back in the 1800's sugar was quite expensive and prized. This piece of furniture was quite functional in the household. Sugar would have been kept in this type of chest, under lock and key. It has been said that the lady of the house knew, down to the teaspoon, just how much sugar was in the chest at any given time.

In those days sugar came molded in hard, cone shapes. Sometimes molded into loaf shapes. The sugar chest opened at the top and the sugar cones/loaves were kept inside. Some sugar chests also had a small space for the knife to be kept next to the sugar. A small ledger drawer was also a traditional part of the sugar chest.

Typically these chests were made of walnut, but I will say that in our area the few I have come across at auctions, were made of cherry. Usually they were made of four boards. This makes it special because it would have been constructed of virgin timber. In our modern times, wood furniture is made from several boards being glued together to make the top, front, sides, and back. A piece of virgin timber would have been large enough so that the entire top (or sides/bottom) would have been made from one log.

So....hey Santa Baby....I know you are all magical and stuff. You know, I was thinking that you could just drop one of these little gems down my chimney. I have an antique house, so I think it would match pretty well with an antique chest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice, ice, everywhere

This morning we woke up to some fairly icy conditions here in smalltownland. In a bigger city that might not have made a huge difference. But, here in smalltownland, it can be quite tricky. Many people, much like myself, live far out in the county on small, twisty, country roads. So, the chiclets get a day off from school and I get a day to blog, loaf, bake, cook, and enjoy.

A thin coating of ice was everywhere. An elderly man, in a salt truck, came down our road. I was glad to see him, until he decided to get out of the truck to check the machine on the back. He held on to the side of the truck for dear life. I just knew he was going to fall, but he made it safely.

This type of time off means a gourmet lunch of tomato soup with grilled cheese. The chiclets will be thrilled...not!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

If you can't find a Pearl, a Ruby will do....

Several months ago I posted an entry about missing the winning bid on a nice, little Cadillac CTS. She was all pearly white with leather and power everything. Ahhhh....I was a little sad. I mean, she was going to be my mid-life crisis car. I was going to zoom around smalltownland with my hair flying out the sunroof. Alas....she was not meant to be.

So, with a certain milestone birthday ahead of me in a few days, (yes, the big 40) and Christmas looming around the corner, it was time for some action. Secret Agent Man took the day off Friday and picked up a little Ruby for me. She is quite the gem, literally. The chiclets are a little dismayed that they will not be eating chicken nuggets in the new car, but I think they will adapt.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blogging in the boonies

See this funky little satellite dish? It has become the bain of my existence. Well, my internet existence, anyway. Most people in smalltownland know that I live in the boonies. Even Southern Fried Momma, thinks I live pretty far out in the country. Actually, I live at the dead end of a little country road. As peaceful as this sounds, it really stinks when it comes to internet service. For the longest time I had dial up service. And, was awful. When you have to wait thirty minutes to load one photograph, you know something has to change.

So, when our phone company offered internet service via satellite I jumped at the chance. I live too far out to even have DSL/Broadband service, so this would be my only chance at high speed internet service. Thus far, it has been pretty good. Except this past week when we had some dense, funky cloud cover. This meant no internet service/reception for me for three days. I could not obtain a signal and that meant no blogging, no internet surfing, and no fun while the chiclets hogged the television.

It's good to finally be back among the blogging.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quietly contemplating

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
By: Emily Dickinson

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Girls rock

I would like to announce that my girls have not let me down. Even now, in the bitter cold, one mystery chicken has laid an egg. One sassy chicken has let me know that she has got "the stuff" to do the job, even when it's chilly. Now I actually have some hope, that in the spring, eggs will be filling the hen house. The chiclets were really impressed and excited by this egg. See, they are thinking baby chicks. I am thinking omelets. They both had a true look of horror on their faces when I told them the eggs would be for eating.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I heard it with my own ears

This Saturday morning, while listening to the "Swap Shop", I heard a most remarkable thing. Something that I am sure I have never heard before. A lady called in to the Swap Shop and said she really needed to sell her male, Yorkshire Terrier. She gave a few details about the dog and then gave her phone number. Then, it happened....
She said she would consider
trading the dog
for a.....
wanna take a guess????
She said she would trade that dog for a flat bottomed river boat. If I had not heard this with my own ears, I might not believe it. I heard is true....and that must be one dastardly dog to be traded for a boat.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The long and winding road

Yesterday Secret Agent Man, and myself, went for a drive around some of the smaller roads in the county. It was actually kind of a cloudy, gloomy day. At this point in the year, crops are out of the fields and the trees have all lost their leaves. It kind of seems that the landscape is in despair, but in reality it is just resting, waiting for spring.

Many barns still had tobacco hanging in the rafters. Just waiting until the right time to be taken to market.

One of my favorite scenes, out in the countryside, is the sight of an old farmhouse. Back in the day, this house would have been the center of the farm. It would have housed a large family that raised crops to sustain themselves.

Even though the house below is deserted, it still retains a lot of beauty. Decorative treatments along the roofline, tall windows, and a front porch are not typical of what you see today in houses.

Looking at a hipped roof and a lopsided mailbox, makes you wonder who the last person was to live there.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Don't tell the Bird

See this lovely lady here? She is my grandmother, currently in her 90's and residing in the nursing home. Although I caught her in a little catnap in this photo, she is still very much "with it" and can relate many stories from her life. She grew up on a farm with a father who worked as a blacksmith. She raised 5 children, in a small cabin that my grandfather built. They lived in a remote area of our county and she raised/canned all of their food. One of the neatest things about her is that her middle name really is, Bird.

Living in the nursing home really does have its downfalls. One is the food. But, my Aunt Mater keeps Bird supplied with one of her favorite cakes. The little gem pictured below, the revered, Harvey Wallbanger Cake. Now, the Bird does not know a thing about this cake's top secret ingredient....Vodka. It makes the cake exceptionally moist and, you know, gives it that certain "something".

I am going to go ahead and give out this recipe, but people....IT'S A SECRET!
Harvery Wallbanger Cake
1 package orange supreme cake mix
1 (3.5 ounce) instant orange (or lemon) pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 fluid ounces orange liqueur
2 fluid ounces vodka
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one bundt pan.
2. Combine cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl. Blend in eggs, vegetable oil, 4 ounces orange liqueur, 1 ounce vodka, and 4 ounces orange juice. Mix batter until smooth and thick, then pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and place on cooling rack. Spoon glaze over cake while it is still warm.
4. To make glaze: Combine the remaining 1 ounce orange liqueur, 1 ounce vodka, and 1 ounce orange juice with the powdered sugar. Blend until smooth. Spoon glaze over warm cake.
Enjoy and don't tell the Bird.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughtful Thanksgiving Thursday

Let's take a big moment today to really be thankful for all that we have. It is easy to complain about all of our problems and to despair about all that we don't have. However, if you have a loving family, food on your table, health, friends, and a job, then you have much more than many people today.

Take some time today to tell all the people you love, just how much you appreciate them in your life.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crisis averted

Here in smalltownland we have all been in the grips of deer season. I mean, I don't refer to my eleven year old son as the, "deerslayer", for nothing. He likes to keep his hunting schedule pretty tight. And, Secret Agent Man is an understanding dad who takes him out in the boondocks, at all hours, and sits in the deer stand with him.

Here, just recently, I was doing some laundry that involved some clothes from the deerslayer himself. I had dutifully checked pockets and picked up the bunch of clothes to put into the washer, when a funny, orange bottle dropped to the floor. Imagine my surprise when I read the writing on the bottle. It said: Tink's Scent Bomb. Hmmm....

The deerslayer comes into the house later and I ask him about it. His eyes get wide and a slight grin develops on his face.

He says: Did you open that?
Me: No, what is it?
Him: Go ahead Mom....I DARE YA!
Me: does it smell like.
Him:'s doe pee.
Me: I found this in the laundry pile.
Him: You almost washed that? *small chuckles that then turned into raucous laughter*

I told Secret Agent Man that I almost washed the scent bomb and a slight look of horror came upon his face. I can only imagine the repugnant smell that would have saturated our laundry room. As soon as this post is over, the small orange bottle is finding a new the garage.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Middle of the week pizza

I am going to post a recipe that I tried for the first time a few days ago. It was easy, it turned out great, and everyone in my house ate it! And, better yet, it was easy to make in the middle of the work/school week.

Here we go:

1 pound ground beef
1 15 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
small can of mushrooms
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 8-count can crescent rolls
grate parmesan cheese

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2. Brown ground beef in skillet, stirring until crumbly
3. Add green peppers, mushrooms, and onions to skillet to cook until tender
4. Stir in spaghetti sauce
5. Simmer for about 5 minutes
6. Spread mixture in 11x13 inch baking pan
7. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese
8. Place crescent rolls dough over the top, sealing perforations
9. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
10. Bake for 8-10 minutes

** I left out the green pepper. It might have made the chiclets pass out. Also, I used a little bit more than one can of crescent roll dough.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let's play TAG!

I was recently tagged by Karen Deborah to select 7 random/weird things about myself. And, since I know my reading public is dying to know this stuff, let's get started.

1. This evening I took my life into my own hands and ate the peel & eat shrimp off of the Chinese buffet. Needless to say, this was quite risky. I was feeling dangerous.

2. Lately I have been fantasizing about buying a couple of topiaries for my front porch. This thought has been taking up a lot of my mental space, thus I am feeling compelled to buy some this weekend. I know it will relieve my mind.

3. I am addicted to Orbit gum and keep several varieties in my purse.

4. I rarely turn my cell phone on. Secret Agent Man gets really annoyed about this.

5. I love a messy desk/workspace.

6. Cashews are my favorite nuts.

7. My dog sleeps under the covers with me and I like it.

My instructions were to also include the 4th picture in my 4th file so, there it is above, in all of its non - photoshopped glory.

Maybe I can get AZn8tive and Southern Fried Momma to play some tag with me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A little poultry romance you believe in love at first sight? Or, do I have to walk by again?

Monday, November 17, 2008

All in the family

This 40th anniversary compilation book is one of my recent favorite readings. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Foxfire series. It really started in 1966 as a magazine program allowing English students to interview local old-timers and showcase some student work. It truly honors a mountain way of life that many refer to as "hillbilly" or "mountainfolk". Prior to this most current edition, are twelve books that give information from building a log cabin to killing a hog. So, Santa if you are listening....I would like the other twelve books :)

One of my favorite parts of this book starts on page 82 with the conjuring of warts. Before I read this book, I thought that warts were merely "cured". But, that is not so. In fact, they are conjured. Many different ways of conjuring warts are discussed in this section. One person placed flint rocks on the warts, some say a Bible verse, and one person made the mark of a cross, with a knife, on top of the wart. The thing that the people had in common in this book, is that they had this ability passed to them from a blood relative. The specifics of how to conjure are not spoken about openly, the "secret" is kept in the family.

I found this part of the book most interesting because Mr. B told me his Aunt has this ability. He said when he was young she conjured a wart from his hand. He said she did not say a Bible verse, nor did she actually do anything really out of the ordinary. He did say that she held his hand and repeatedly asked him if he believed.

Mr. B told her that he really did believe. He said his wart did actually disappear. As far as Mr. B knows, his Aunt never did pass on her ability. I tried to persuade him to call her and ask about this situation. However, he was pretty reluctant. You know....I might be feeling "the calling".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Doin' more good in the neighborhood

Secret Agent Man and myself, with our wonderful, dear friends, Southern Fried Momma and her spouse, Rico... bought a building on the old town square. We all bought it in hopes of bringing in business and assisting with the revitalization of smalltownland. After many hours spent cleaning and shoveling, I think we are all wondering if the clean up is ever going to end. Here is a picture of a small portion of the store. Originally it was the "Five and Dime" in smalltownland. My grandmother told me they used to carry Buster Brown shoes and clothes. Also, a lunch counter was in the store. Countless amounts of old shelving units have been hauled out of the store. In this photo the original wood flooring is showing! Woohoo, what a find. Also, old 1970's paneling is being taken off of the walls.

Secret Agent Man and the Deerslayer have been having fun using this mini-truck (with a dump bed) to haul items out of the store.

Several interesting items have been found in the store. Old soda bottles, a huge plastic Santa head, large wire bins, old adding machines, and countless other items. This advertisement for an infant health product was found in the basement on an old display cabinet.

And last, but not least, a plastic apostrophe found in a pile of rubble. A little weird, but interesting for sure.

A big shout out to Rico and Secret Agent Man for doing a lot of the "dirty work". I will post more on this continuing saga, as we all hope to have all of the work finished in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A blast from the past

I know what all of you have been thinking. *Just what does this crazy, cow chasing, farmchick look like?* Well, here I am in all of my mugshot glory. And, I know that right at this very minute you are also thinking....*I wonder what she would have looked like in the year 1964?*

Well, hey y'all! Here I am in 1964. I bet Mr. B is looking at this right now and falling off his chair laughing. I'm kind of digging the hairdo. Although, it looks a bit stiff and hard to sleep in.

So, right at this minute go to the year book yourself web page and have some fun! I have put the link at the bottom of this post. So, click it!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How about some history?

I have learned that one of the best things about living in a small town is a little wacky, interesting, intriguing, quirky, and full of history. It is a wonderful mix of a lot of little things that make it what it is. The most notable structure in my small town is the historic courthouse that sits in the middle of our town square. Originally, our town had a log courthouse that was built in 1792. This courthouse was completed in 1803.

Local limestone was quarried to build this structure. Limestone blocks make up the fence area and form a courtyard appearance around the courthouse. This courtyard area was not part of the original design. However, the chains that surround the courthouse have been a social gathering spot throughout the years. When I was a child, I can remember gentlemen sitting on the chain areas socializing. Many people used to refer to that group of people as, "The Chain Gang". On occasion people still do sit around the courthouse, but as time has passed our town square is not the bustling business area it used to be.

The basic floorplan remains the same. The judges bench is front and center, a fireplace is off to the left and a staircase is on the right. The second level contains two jury rooms.

The original plan called for a limestone floor. But, for whatever reason, the floor was covered with square bricks, that remain in fairly good condition today.

Today the courthouse remains open for people to come and explore. There have been plays put on here as well as weddings. At our annual Cow Days Festival it is a gathering place for many.

This building was last used as a courthouse in 1933. It was documented the following year by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Next time your in smalltownland, make sure you stop in for a tour.

Friday, November 7, 2008

All together now!!

Okay your best Heidi Klum voice, on the count of three.....1...2...3...
Auf Wiedersehen! *Mwah* *Mwah*

Yes, our small herd of cows have left our humble abode. It seems like yesterday when they arrived. They had just been taken away from their mothers. They cried and cried. And, then they heard a mother cow on a neighboring farm. Thus ensued a broken fencepost and much calf wrangling. Calf wrangling meaning it took three adults and four kids to get that calf back on our farm. It really wasn't a great first impression.

They have gone to live the high life on a new farm, where they will continue to participate in a university study. So, don't worry. They won't be arriving at your local supermarket anytime soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thoughtless Thursday

Toy soldiers that have been dipped in Makers Mark signature red wax. Shot taken at the distillery in Loretto, Kentucky.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baking with beer

Today I would like to share a tried and true recipe with all of you. Okay, it does involve a bottle of beer and I know that Babs would not approve, but sometimes you just gotta do it!

You will need: 2 cups of self-rising flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 - 12 ounce bottle/can of beer, and 1/2 stick of butter - melted

Mix the flour, sugar, and beer together. The batter will be rather thin. The type of beer you choose will affect the flavor. I have chosen a Sam Adams Summer Ale, which imparts a lighter flavor. If you favor darker, heavier beers, they will give the bread that type of flavor.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan. *Special shout out to the Babs here for the gift of the super funky/blue silicon loaf pan.*

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and pour the melted butter over the loaf. Then return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The resulting loaf is rather dense and depending upon the type of beer you use, may have a myriad of different flavors.