Sunday, October 26, 2008

Simple Things...



For Sunday Dinner....
Roasted potatoes, onion, garlic and German sausages (bratwurst). The sizzle and the aroma make our mouths water in anticipation. I'm planning to make this an Apple Day and so into the oven I'll slide in a pan of some locally-picked apples, sprinkled with some brown sugar, dotted with butter, and splashed with a bit of brandy to bake. Of course, either ice cream or whipped cream goes over the top with some fresh-grated nutmeg for dessert!

While we were eating our dinner, my youngest (now 16) asked, "Mom, what kind of food is this?" I said, "Well, it's homestyle food, probably German." He replied that it was just "Good Food." Yup. Simple and good. Cooking it is simple to do. I just chopped my potatoes approximately the same size, chopped the onions in chunks and left the garlic cloves mostly whole or bruised. I figured on one bratwurst per person or so, chopped. I drizzled about 2-3 T. olive oil over it, added my Montreal Steak seasoning, some fresh thyme, rosemary and tossed. I baked this on a cookie sheet, nicely spread out so the veggies and sausages roasted and crisped up at 350 degrees for about an hour. At the very end, I turned on my broiler to add just a little more crispiness to it. I served this simple meal with a tossed salad and apple sauce on the side.



Pumpkin Seeds....
Another thing we like to eat roasted this time of year is pumpkin seeds. The kids had a pumpkin carving at A J & H's house the other night and they shared the innards with us. I suppose there is a right way way to roast pumpkin seeds, but this is how we do it.

Pull off as much of the pumpkin strings and goop as possible from the seeds. Pour onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the seeds and toss. Spread seeds evenly and sprinkle over top with course kosher salt. Bake for about 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until seeds are lightly golden. Allow seeds to completely dry out and cool on the baking sheet. I also like to pour them onto a paper towel to absorb the extra olive oil. Then eat whole.

Depression Cooking....
While I'm thinking about foods, Kathie at Island Sparrow directed me to an interesting video called Depression Cooking With Clara. I'm adding one of the episodes below for you watch, but there are several more over at YouTube. I just love how 92-year-old Clara shows us that just a few ingredients can make for a simple, filling, and even nutritious meal, and during these economic times, we can surely take a few hints from her. What I noticed about Clara's cooking is that even though she uses very ordinary ingredients, she gets a little extra flavor by sauteing her veggies in a little olive oil or she add a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan or a bit of tomato sauce to her recipes. I suppose that comes from her Italian culture because the German and Norwegian ccooking I know of would not have added those steps or ingredients.

Do you have some frugal, one-pot meals that are inherent in your family culture?



Cutting Firewood....
We had such a calm, warm day a few days ago and took advantage of it by going out to the shelter belt to cut a little firewood. With the past years of drought, we lost a lot of elm trees and so we've decided to start working through the tree rows and cutting down the dead ones for firewood. The wonderful thing about elm wood is that it is a very hard wood and burns long and slow. So when the cold days of deep fall and winter are upon us, it will be so nice to stick a big log in the wood burning stove and know that it'll generate heat for a long while.

We also like to cut up old fence posts and pitch posts which are fast burning woods. The pitch posts have a sticky resin within that is quite flammable. Pitch posts are made from conifers like pine or cedar. It makes terrific starting wood in the stove. The boys take a hatchet to cut sawed posts and sliver off thin sticks that we use over crumpled newspaper to start the fires. It immediately lights and burns hot and fast. I often imagine pioneer women who rekindled their morning fires with thinly cut wood or dried sticks that might have a little pitch in them so that they could start the fire roaring and get the water boiling for coffee and breakfast. Then perhaps later on, they'd add the hardwoods for a steady, even temperature for baking or roasting. However, out here on the prairie, it is more likely that they used buffalo chips to start their fires. Too few trees to rely upon for firewood and no fence posts either. Lucky me to live in the Here and Now with both a furnace and firewood.

I'm thinking it will be a good thing to have a large stack of firewood this winter. With the promise of higher prices for heating fuels, I'll be glad to maintain a fire in the stove and only click on the furnace when we need a little extra heat. I'd never want to be without our furnace, but I'm glad to have the option of supplement our heating with free wood from our land.

Today, I have a nice steady fire going in the stove -- elm wood. The wind is fierce and paired with 35 degrees, it's chilly-to-the-bone outside. The clear skies and sunshine don't fool me. I'm figuring by my handy-dandy Wind Chill Chart, it would feel like 19 or 20 degrees outside today. Brrr. I'm staying by the fire this afternoon.

Reading....
I've really not been doing a whole lot of reading lately, but every now and then I sit down with Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow Daybook and read from the October chapter. There's just something about an author who can write about simple things like hanging out the blankets for an airing for the last time on a fall day, that makes me want to read more. Perhaps it's because I can identify with her. I don't lead a glamorous life whatsoever. It's quite ordinary. I really do take joy in simple things like hanging out the clothes, taking walks, cutting firewood and cooking simple, satisfying foods that my family thinks are The Best. If you enjoy country living or if you long for a taste of country living, check out a Gladys Taber book from your library, sit down with a cuppa, and enjoy it a month at a time.

My Utmost....
I love reading a page a day from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. His entry on October 25th really struck a cord with me. A few quotes to share here....

"All God's men are ordinary men made extraordinary by the matter He has given them."

"'I have chosen you.' Keep that note of greatness in your creed. It is not that you have got God but that He has got you."

6 comments:

  1. Yummy home cookin ~ simply delicious! What fun to read about your happy Autumn days, so warm and cozy.

    We visited the pumpkin patch yesterday and had fun carving and painting today. I've got seeds drying on the counter for roasting too! ThanX for the recipe.

    Love this Oswald Chambers quote: "All God's men are ordinary men made extraordinary by the matter He has given them."

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  2. Isn't Clara a hoot? Entertaining and practical. I'm glad you enjoyed her.

    I asked my husband if we have elm wood in our pile and he mentioned that most of the Island elms died with Dutch Elm disease. Our woodpile is lovely - 8 cord - that should do us for the winter and then some.

    I enjoy Gladys Taber as well - I'll have to buy one of her books rather than borrowing it from the library. It is just the kind of book to pick up, read a bit and then put down. Especially the seasonal writing.

    My life is very like hers and yours - and I love it!

    Enjoyed your post Jody - thanks!

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  3. Looks like a prefect apple meal. We are dipping into out 6 cords. I will check to check out Clara, thank you. Clarice

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  4. Dixymiss, a visit to the pumpkin patch sounds like fun. Enjoy roasting those seeds.

    Island Sparrow, many of the elm trees around these parts of the country did not survive Dutch elm disease either, but we have a Siberian Elm that seems to do fairly well. I agree about *buying* a Gladys Taber book. If mine were borrowed from the library, I'd have a perpetual fine. They are definitely books to read a little at a time.

    Clarice, is there anything like warming up to a fire? Wood heat, to me, is best.

    Jody

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  5. I agree, Gladys Taber is the best. I'm always on the lookout for more of her books at the Friends of the Library sales. Have you read any of Beverly Nye? I like her books a lot, too . . .

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  6. I loved the video with Clara. How very special to live to be that great age and still cooking and sharing! Made my night....=). I know what you mean about Gladys Tabor...I have one of her Stillmeadow Seasons on my nightstand. She knew how to enjoy life didn't she.

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