Archive for the ‘Kitchen Life’ Category

Applesauce   Leave a comment

I am so happy to report that the canning season has winded down to a close….  I could jump for joy!  The only little job that I will do over the weekend is can some apple butter.  I have not made any of that for awhile and it does taste so good, so I will do one batch for our home and sharing.

The apples were huge this year and because I left them to soften and sweeten, the process did not take too long.

The girls were troopers and although I did not get a picture of them doing the work, they chopped and stirred and ran the mill.  They never complain, and I am so proud of them!  Rick is usually my right hand man and does most of the milling and of course the taste-testing to make sure an adequate amount of sweetener is added before canning.  He was too busy with boat work but he did do a little milling, although no taste-testing.  I did add sugar but I am sure I may hear that it is too healthy and not sweet enough at some point!  🙂

This photo does not do justice to the beautiful rosy pink that the applesauce turned too as we milled it.  It was beautiful.  I ended up with 46 quarts of sauce.  All together I have  over 200 quarts of fruit for my sweetheart’s lunch pails and for our lunches as well.  Rick was so pleased!

This paragraph will be under the “keeping it real” moments—

At the beginning of August, Melody and I watched a wonderful DVD about canning.  Even after 29 years of canning I realize that I can still learn something new, and I did!   See that green wand in the picture?  In the DVD they showed this wand being used to pick the lids out of the hot water as the sealing process is done.  I was amazed—  to think that I would not have to burn my fingers after 29 years of getting used to the pain!   The next time we were in the “really big city”, as in Green Bay, we went into Fleetfarm and I stocked up on rings and lids and low and behold, found one of those new fangled wands.   That was August, I canned many different foods  the next three months and not once could I find that wand.  I looked over and over again in the bottom of Fleet Farm bags after feeling the unbearable heat on my fingers as I grabbed hot lids.

After putting through about 30 jars of applesauce I was running out of lids and went to the last Fleet Farm bag in the closet, I had since given up on looking for that wand, and then, right there, in the bottom under a bunch of lid boxes was that wand!   I couldn’t believe it!  I had two rounds to go in the canner and I used that wand with absolute delight.  I marveled at the easiness with which I took the hot lid from the water to the jar and I wished that the wise woman who designed this had made a fortune!  I am assuming woman as I know very few men who can!   Then, I had to run out to a music practice, turned all burners down………..  except the one under the lids and though it was at just a simmer, it went dry, the wand handle fell in and melted in the pan.   If I did not believe in God I would call it fate or a warning that I should not change my ways of canning.  Because it is still useable, I will call it what-happens-when-a-busy-mother-tries-to-do-too-many-things-at-once!     The lumpy melted end will always bring back a memory and I will laugh.  It’s MY life and I can laugh at it!

Today I planned to get the canning put away in our furnace room but we are having an issue with mice, isn’t that nice!    Rick decided to set some old fashioned traps using my good stilton cheese all over the floor in there.  Since I can not imagine trying to balance a dozen canning jars as I dodge his traps I will just wait until Monday to put the jars away.

We have been trying to catch these mice, which wake the girls up in the early morning as they scurry across the attic floor, probably congratulating the victor who dared enter the laundry room and although landed on the sticky traps, escaped leaving only some grey hair to prove he had been there.    Every morning I have to have Rick check for dead mice, as we did catch one, too which Annie announced that she would not go anywhere near the “killing room.” I was sure that there was only one lonely mouse, but the girls assure us that the partying continues.   Yuck, and this also means it will probably be a cold winter as we have not had a mice problem before.  I will keep you posted!

Choosing joy among the canning mess, mice issues and melted handles,

Joyce

Days of Fall   Leave a comment

This is the highway in front of our home with all the beauty of Fall on either side.

I really can say that I love this time of year.  This is my favorite and I want to suck every ounce of it in, I want no regrets this year as I have had in past years.  I am lighting the candles and enjoying every moment that I get to be outside.  I am noticing the colors of the leaves changing, the trees which are tri-colored in all their glory.  I am taking in the beautiful colors of the sugar maples against the dark blue – sometimes cloudy- fall sky.  Last night I walk Jazmin aka “flea bag”  (something I am not writing about because it is not funny to me yet! ) and as I walked her on our back property I saw that the sunset was a blazing hot pink against the evergreens and reflecting off of the white birch trunks making them glow in a soft pink hue.  Unfortunately I had hamburgers cooking on the stove and could not make a mad dash down to the water to take it all in.  Some might think that if you have seen one hot pink sunset you have seen them all but they are wrong.  I missed out on what God designed for last night because  with all my heart I believe He does a different painting of the sunset every night.  And I, a junkie for praising the Lord for His creation, missed this one.

There is that dark sky I mentioned, deep grays and ominous blues, telling me that things are a changing and in a month or so those same skies may be bringing snow flurries.

Although school has been going well I decided to go back to our old-school method of using a daily list of what must be accomplished every day, this includes all school subjects as well as art and creativity lists and chores.  It is starting to catch on and will be used as a basis for gaining extra activities of the social kind!   We had a rough couple of days, trying to fit it all in and yesterday had to submit to defeat due to lack of hours to accomplish all that needed to be done.  This means some school will need to be done today in-between work.  That is OK, that is REAL life.  We do not shove our learning into a box just because it did not fit into the five allotted “school days”.  The job is done when the job is done has been one of my mottos for years.

I had thought I would have the applesauce done this past week but that did not get done so it will be placed on high-priority for the next week.  It could wait, but I am so anxious to get the canning equipment put away and the canning pantry area organized and finished for the year.  I am going to go at it a little differently than in the past, using smaller pots which I will not have to hawk-eye so that the bottom does not burn, remember last year?   It was God’s grace that I found a box of pink sauce from 2008 which we used for eating the last year.   🙂

I baked bread for the first time since August and as always, my first loaves after a break area always a little heavy, although Rick prefers a very dense loaf.  It still tasted so good and we enjoyed having rolls for supper that were highly nutritious for us.   Tonight we will  have fresh bread with fried whitefish which was Kristi’s desire for her birthday meal.  Even though it will be our family with Matthew coming home to join us I am going to make it very special.  She love angel food cake and I am going to make a box cake but a home-made one as well.   I have wanted to do a taste test and tonight will be a chance to do that.  I also need to buy chocolate ice-cream which is her favorite.  At breakfast she will tell me her other choices for the sides for her meal tonight.

I studied Psalm 18 this past week and one part of the passage really blessed me.  It was the verses 29-34.  I am using Matthew Henry’s commentary and he really went into how this passage showed the sovereignty of God in preparing David for his future as a king, leader of an army etc..  David was a shepherd boy who could wing a slingshot but was also a poet and as a shepherd, used to being alone and spending lots of time in solitary, thinking and pondering life as he watched the sheep.  The passage I mention refers to David acknowledging how God had prepared him for the tasks that he would accomplish in his lifetime.  We serve a God who prepares us beforehand and sets us up ready to handle and have success in our circumstance.  M. Henry says, “What God designs men for, He will be sure to fit them for it.”

My life —   Sometimes through the years I have wondered why I have a personality that is very black and white, why I love teens and yet are not afraid of them.  Why I can love but see the big picture and am not often sucked into the emotion of things.  There are many reasons God made me this way, but one of them really came to light this week.  We are involved in a custody battle over a precious baby, one we love very much.  The judge put us in charge of supervised visits for the father and now we are supervising the visits as a drop off-pick-up site where the father comes and where I check out the baby for signs of neglect/abuse.  After more than a  month of working with this father and the lawyers involved I have a more than bad taste in my mouth for the way some legal folks work, but, I love this young man in that I know, with God, he could become a great man.   That would be my loving soft side.  But, this week I had to use my very strong – tough side in dealing with his flagrant disobeying of the judges orders by which I allow his  visits with the baby.  There were two confrontations within an hour and a half and my husband was not here to assist in either one.  After things were done I walked away amazed at my ability to think clearly and say very hard but truthful things to this man.  A tall, intimidating, arrogant, deceitful man, who wanted to intimidate me to do what he wanted.   When I called the lawyer to report his activity she said that I handled everything correctly and again stated that she is so glad that we are on this case and that she can count on me to handle things appropriately.   I had a flashback to working with teen boys a few years ago that were of the same bent and how I would handle things without fear and yet loving them as well.  God  designed me a long time ago for exactly what He has me doing now.  What a wonderful Savior.

There are other things going on right now that are very hard, especially on this mother’s heart but again I have to defer to my God Who knows better and has me ready and has equipped me also for this time, this day, this hour.  And, the best news is —  He will not leave me in it alone!

I mentioned the list, and one of the daily tasks that the girls and I work on is our knitting.  THerefore our loving room has yarn, needles and patterns scattered around.  I think we are enjoying it, one daughter has gone from knitting to crocheting and back to knitting so she may be the one having the least amount of fun at this time.  I have finished two pieces and are happy with the result but especially the acquired skill of reading a pattern and learning the new stitches well.

This is Mia chasing bubbles, although you cannot see them for some reason.  She would reach for them to catch them between her thumb and forefinger.  What fine motor skills she shows at such a young age.

After being gone the last two Saturdays, it has been good to be home this morning and I have finished a list of what we need to do today.

Here is what I am hoping to get done:

hang bird feeders up again,  clean up yard from workers who did roof,  start a bonfire and burn scraps of wood left from workers  clean out the garden, halu wood, wash our pergo floor,  makes Kristi’s cakes and presents, clean up office.

We will see how much I get done  🙂

Blessed by Fall beauty created just for we His children to enjoy and give Him the glory!

Joyce

Creativity in our home!   Leave a comment

I am a constant promoter of creativity, learning new things and being productive within our home.  I know that when we create we are tapping into part of being made in the image of God, Who was The Creator.  Although we are limited as He is not limited, we can enjoy the ability to make things with our hands and minds, minute greatness compared to His but satisfying all the same!

Here are some pictures of  recent creativity in our home.

Canning peaches……  Colorado Mountain Lion peaches,  the best!

Some folks like to think that canning is old-fashioned and kind of backwards.  I guess since we use an Ipod to time the dipping we are squelching that rumor!

Annie made this delicious key-lime pie for her boss Mike, also her Sunday School teacher, and also her friend!   It was soooooo  good.  That girl can bake!

Kristi made this poster reminding us of the TRUTH which ALWAYS prevails over the lies of the enemy.  We can choose to believe the lies or run to the truth and fill our minds with God’s Word.  Having a poster or seeing God’s Word painted on our walls and in artwork is one way to help us keep a focus on TRUTH!

This was my creation at supper the other night.  Fresh salad greens, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and fresh carrot grated on top, ALL from our garden!

Summer is the best time for going to the garden to pick what we will eat within the hour for meals.  Steamed green beans, peppers, tomatoes for making Matteo’s sauce for pasta…. every day it is different and delicious.  We have basil like we have never had before and carrots which actually grew for the first time in five years, yum!

How about creating a new hair color for a sister?  Here is Annie and Kristi doing Jeni’s hair!

Karee and Annie spent a few nights working on a shirt for Gretel’s 16th birthday.  THey created a very special gift with lots of pretty colors and designs but more than that they wrote beautiful words of edification for Gretel.  They created a one-of-a-kind birthday gift made for a precious and one-of-a-kind friend.

I am determined to learn to make sauerkraut.  Last year I made my first attempt and upon taking my first bite I prayed that I would not die from eating spoiled canning, it was that bad!   This year I went to my friend Kari’s house and got her recipe and also watched a video about sauerkraut making.

I am German and my children are mostly German (although my husband is not German at all and can hardly admit that he’s married to a German.  He assumed with my blonde hair and blue eyes that I was Scandinavian and he never thought to ask…………Oh well!) so we need to be eating this food of our heritage!

The result of my creativity was one large jar in the background, Kari’s recipe and these smaller jars done according to the video we watched.  Both are fermenting lovely —  this must be my year for fermentation as I wrote about a few posts back!   This means there is a brine being created that spills out of the jars keeping the canning sterile, and my counter wet!   I now have all the sauerkraut sitting in plastic tubs to catch the run off.  The smell is wonderful but you have to get close to the jars to smell it, otherwise my non-practicing Germans would be having a fit if the odor was permeating the kitchen.  Of course, if it does start to I may not have to feed them so often as they avoid the kitchen!  Oh the wonders of sauerkraut!

Here is Melody canning spaghetti sauce.  She used tomatoes, basil and  onions from our garden.  She did not put the yellow zucchini in it because I am not that brave and i have a man who can sniff out my cooking zucchini  from the sheds, which is around the block.  I am not kidding!

The sauce was delicious, nice and spicy like we like it.

Last night we started knitting some Christmas gifts and Melody and I both learned THREE new stitches in knitting.  The best part is that in the process I lost all fear of knitting, the mystery of it all dissipated before my eyes and I will no longer be afraid to attempt harder patterns.  Ok, so I am doing the easiest pattern in the book right now, but I am just saying that in the future…….    🙂

Attempting new things, accomplishing new skills, laughing and enjoying the process……… life is good

And I am blessed

Joyce

Time Flies   Leave a comment

Blackberries………

My friend Kari and her husband Dave have wonderful blackberries and this year has been a bonus year for them.  THey have shared their beautiful bounty with us and we have been blessed.  I have used them for breakfast with a little yogurt and granola but for the most part have frozen them to enjoy this winter.

This is Rick at the Green Bay Wedding Chapel.  The door was stuck and so they asked Rick to take a look at it.  This is his lot in life, to trustee no matter where he goes……….  🙂

Rick and his girls for the night.  I am sure that he was probably making some wise-crack at the moment the picture was snapped.

Rick and I outside the wedding chapel.  We had a wonderful night and I got to meet many of the racing buddies who are friends of Rick’s.  A few of the women were from the pits at the race track.  They bring lots of food to feed the guys and are known for knowing all the latex gossip at the track,  it was nice to not know anyone they were talking about although most of it was related to who was souping up their engines are acquiring new frames for their cars.   I waited for the talk to turn to the Packers and then I joined in……………..  you know how I love to talk sports!   HA HA HA

This is Rick and hi good friend and pit crew chief Slim.  I wanted a picture of them together and they would not cooperate as you can tell by this fine demonstration of splitting off from walking together when I turned to take the picture…….  THey think they are sooooo funny!

THe day of the wedding it was family day with a practice scrimmage for the team.  There is not another football team that can pull tens of thousands in to watch a scrimmage and tailgate.  The Packers can and for miles around the stadium the lawns and parking lots were covered by families tailgating and having a great time celebrating the Packers.

Theses are some organized fans with their tents and game areas set up……..  what fun.  Can’t wait to watch the first real game.  We will not mention that the packers lost to the Browns Saturday night in a pre-season game.   If they have to lose to someone it may as well by my sweet Daddy’s team!

Pickles……

Melody and I picked the patch again and  made a second batch of garlic/dill pickles.  My family said that the first batch was really good so I hope they meant it!   The people that I live with love sour dill and I mean sour.  I have canned for years and have hardly found a recipe that they like but I may have scored big this year if their response to the first batch is any indication.   I think I am done with pickles although a batch of sweet freezer pickles may need to be made, and i do have a hankering for Rubies Virginia pickles which I have not made for years.  maybe I am not done after all!   THankfully I had relish left from last year so we are good for relish for this year.

Blackberry Tart   Recipe to follow

Last night we were invited to our friends, the Olsons, family dinner.  It was up at a beautiful old farm house on a hill that has a view that is stunning.

I was asked to bring my refrigerator pickles and desserts.  I made lemon/lime pie and a  blackberry tart.

We had such a good time visiting and working together to put on this meal for 13 of us.  The farmhouse of Joan and Max’s is up on a hill with huge trees and a meadow and we ate out back on their back patio.  THe front porch faces the west and down into Gills Rock over rolling hills.  We took our desserts out front and watched a beautiful sunset as some played crochet and others visited on the front porch.   Here are a few pictures from the wonderful evening.

Starting to play crochet

Maximilian showing Annie how to play and how to knock the opponents out of the playing area.  We never played with that rule and boy does that make the game more interesting!!   Annie sent Mr Hushan’s ball outside the playing area and into the weeds, and sometimes they sent each other’s balls into the bushes and down the driveway.  Lots of fun!

I bring you an interlude from crochet to notice this handsome man,  looking good and relaxed on the front porch.

Beautiful sunset over Gills Rock.  I told you that this place has an awesome view from the front porch.

Having dessert on the from porch with friends, this is indeed what summer is about.

Tiki lights on the driveway, lighting up the playing field for the crochet players

Even the darkness did not stop the playing…. these were a bunch of competitive players!  A bunch of Germans with a little Scandinavian thrown in, thus the competition!

These girls are rock-stars!

Kristi being a good friend to Maximilian and holding a lawn light to give him a light to play by, they also brought out a flashlight to play by and keep the game going!

The crowd dwindled to Rick, Susan, Joan and John (Susan’s husband and Joan’s brother) were the only ones left on the porch.  The sun set, Maximilian won the crochet, Kristi came in third and Max (Mr. Hushan) came in third…….  the night ended and we headed home.  It was so beautiful and such fun.

As we sat on the porch last night the winds started to pick up giving notice of a change in the weather.  Indeed!  It is much cooler today with no humidity, Door County is back!  I will not complain……..  The night was long as the wind howled and roared bring branches down on the roof and kept both Rick I wondering if the boats would need to be checked.  That and the sheers on the windows blowing straight out over one’s face which is enough to scare anyone, kept us awake and tossing and turning most of the night.   It will be a long day today.

I have laundry on the line and the kitchen cleaned up.  More laundry to put out and canning to put away.  I will break bread later but for the morning I will get all the visitors settled in and have fun with them.  Kristi is also working on important registration for Liberty on-line and so I need to help with that.  Hopefull I will also get some more school preparation done and organized.  That may be all I can accomplish today with extra children and also  visit from a sweet wonderful young woman who I have mentored and who is marrying on Saturday!  Full, fun day.

Blessed,

Joyce

Good News/Bad News   Leave a comment

It has been a week of ups and downs…….. more than the usual amount of happenings for our home!

GN will refer to Good News  BN will refer to Bad News

GN my lost camera was found in the car, on the floor in plain site on the passenger’s side ….  BN my family thinks I might be losing it because I could not see it lying there!  I hope to take a break later this afternoon and put the pictures up.

GN It is Door County Blue Grass week and we attended a wonderful concert last night of the students……….. BN is that the Barn dance is tonight and so are having to miss Rick racing at the fair to attend…  choices can be SO hard.  GN for Rick is that he is relieved as he won’t have to attend the barn dance and fend off all the ladies who want to dance with him.  It is rough being a handsome Scandinavian countryman among city women  🙂

GN the humidity is finally dropping….. BN I have lost a number of flowering plants even though I watered.

GN my roses are blooming beautifully this week……… BN is that they are really hard to week without wearing chain mail.

GN is that we own lots of coolers in our home, LARGE coolers and we own an ice machine with unlimited amounts of ice……… BN is we are needing ALL of the coolers and ALL of the ice because my refrigerator quit due to a compressor dying.

GN is that the fridge is worth fixing as it is only 6 years old,   BN is that it can’t be fixed for a week and it will cost some $

GN is that I like camping…….. BN is that I do not like camping in my own kitchen,  But with God’s grace I will be cheerful and not whine!

GN is that I get to see more of the guys in the shed as I daily haul my ice for the coolers…….. BN is that they still like to throw water and ice at me even after 29 years, I guess it doesn’t get old!!!!   GN is that I can make them laugh as I genuinely love each and every one of those fishermen.

GN is we have more friends visiting than we have had for quite a few years ( NOT family, BOO HOO) ………….  BN is that it is VERY hard to entertain from coolers…..

GN is the school starts in a few weeks and that means Fall and less chaos and beautiful weather……… BN is that I do not have anything ready or ordered

GN is that canning is in full swing and our garden is producing beautifully

GN is that the girls are doing well with work and we have heard from all their bosses that they are good workers and FUN!

GN is that the renters who checked in our cottage and within an hour said they could not stay there for various reasons (and they had booked two weeks!)  calmed down and decided to stay.  Heat and humidity were a major factor!

GN is that I have a fridge, we have an air-conditioner in our living room, we are healthy, we have a home, the list goes on and on and on…..

GN is life is good despite “stuff” , God is Sovereign and He is good.

Blessed this morning.

Joyce

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Delicious raspberries from Roger and Gloria’s.  Rick and the girls pick and then Melody and I can them,  YUM!

Melody has mastered the jam making so well that she can close her eyes and be giggling and it still turns out perfectly!

Raspberry cake and glaze, one of Rick’s favorite treats.

And here are the cherries……………….   Leave a comment

Washing the cherries on the front porch, in a fish box, with a garden hose.  Yeah,  we are hygienic like that!   🙂

Melody sorting and filling jars……..

The infamous yellow funnel which we bought the first summer of our marriage and have used every summer since!   I am in awe of my emotional attachment to a piece of plastic!

Aren’t they beautiful?

This is my steam bath canner which gave me a fit last summer, but this summer  discovered the secret to using a steamer on a glass top cookstove………….

It is all in the ROCKS!   I realized that there was not enough contact made between the stove and the bottom of the pan.  Soooooooo  being Gills ROCK, I went about four feet from my back door and found these two flat babies.  I washed them and scrubbed them, because…..  we’re hygienic like that  🙂   And low and behold that steamer kept a steady boil for 3 straight hours!!!

55 quarts of canned cherries not sit on my counter looking beautiful.  Rick has already made comments about NOT sharing any of them!   He is the most giving person until it comes to the food I can for him and the homemade bread I bake for him!

The next morning we went to Kari’s to help her pit her 80 pounds of cherries.  I did not make it in the door because I had to take a picture of her beautiful clematis…….  STUNNING!  she said it is about eight years old.  It is sitting in her herb garden which I always enjoy meandering through when I go to visit her.

Here we are pitting cherries and talking and laughing together.  We got it done so quickly with our daughters Hannah and Melody working with us.  How sweet for our daughters to see two sisters in the Lord sharing the work load as part of our love for each other…..

Then Kari and I rewarded our good work with a few moments out in her tent gazebo.  It was lovely, as always

Remember how I said that I was going to ask Melody to make the cherry jam for her father as mine never turns out?  Here she is working hard.  I watched and coached her through the first batch as it is a little scary to make jam especially when it starts to boil and you have to let it boil, but not boil over for one minute..   I went back to pitting cherries when she made the second batch and the only thing I helped her with was tightening the rings when the jars were done.  She made twelve jars, all sealed and all set up perfectly!   She is our cherry jam maker for the rest of our lives.  We may not let her marry and leave!   JUST KIDDING!