Beverages

July 1980

One factor in the high grocery bills that lots of people complain about at every opportunity is the strange attachment Americans have to any liquid as long as it isn’t water. They go to great lengths to avoid drinking water: collecting and storing numerous awkward bottles, accumulating perculaters and dripulators, assembling packets of powder in many colors, shelling out immense amounts of money. All this, in order to pour a fluid down their throat that tickles the taste buds and stimulates the body.
Like Admiral David G. Faragut who shouted, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” as he sailed his squadron into Mobile Bay in 1864, people slurp a massive combination of chemicals and drugs in pursuit of gustatory pleasure and to overcome fatigue with no regard to the long term effect on their health.
What are the dangers in our popular water substitutes? One of the most prevalent, coffee, is expensive, stains the teeth, and is loaded with caffeine. Many nutritionists say caffeine is harmful to personal health. One cup of coffee can quickly destroy a good night’s sleep for some people.
Tea is cheaper in price than coffee, but it, too contains caffeine, though in lesser amounts. Since people usually drink a lot of iced tea in the summer, the result is about the same as for coffee. Neither coffee nor tea have any calories and are accordingly popular with weight watchers.
The sky- rocketing price of chocolate and cocoa has made drinks from either product costly. They contain a smaller amount of caffeine, but are usually loaded with sugar and are high in calories. Their one redeeming quality is the milk used in their preparation, since it is a good source of calcium, protein and vitamins.
Another widely used alternative to water is the cola drinks available in even the poorest and most decrepit neighborhoods here and abroad. They combine the worst features of all the other drinks and are high in sugar content, empty calories, and caffeine. The cost of soft drinks is excessive, too. Their advertisement is directed toward young people and encourages them to drink colas so they can be glamorous and seductive. “Regular” use of these drinks among young people helps to establish the caffeine habit for life. It also helps the cola companies pay big salaries and big dividends.
Other kinds of pop are not much better for a healthy life than the colas. They, too, are full of caffeine and chemicals. The only way to tell what is in the bottle is to read the microscopic words printed on the top of the lid with a magnifying glass in a strong light. Even then the rank and file consumer won’t have the least idea what the effect on him will be in the long run.
The popularity of diet colas and pop is growing. Their use is an example of spending money for nothing. Good money goes for a bottle of diet drink, each swallow of which may be injurious; those in important positions in government regulatory agencies can’t agree on what will be the final result of drinking endless cans and bottles of diet pop.
Beverages, such as Kool Aid, made from artificially colored and flavored powdered mixes are high in sugar, color additive, and calories. Their advertising is appalling. It gives the misleading information that a truly devoted mother must see to it that her darling children lap up several quarts of the concoction daily to grow up strong and fearless.
While people continue to guzzle these health- eroding and high- priced fluids, coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, pop, and Kool Aids, there is a drink that is extremely cheap, naturally delicious, relatively pure, devoid of calories, and readily available as close as the nearest faucet – water. With the addition of a little ice, it is the best thirst quencher that can be found.
There are health enthusiasts that swear by a cup of hot water every morning for a smooth functioning body. Adding two or three tablespoons of frozen lemon concentrate to a cup of hot water makes an apertif that can be further enhanced by a dash of cinnamon, allspice or cloves to become a comfortable companion along with a good book on a quiet winter evening.
Taking a good look at the amount of money spent for harmful beverages and cutting down or better yet, eliminating them would, in many instances, free sufficient grocery money to purchase a balanced diet of meat, eggs, milk, cereals, fruit, and vegetables. As farm women vitally concerned with the cost of food to our customer, the consumer, perhaps we might tactfully and pleasantly spread the word when the subject of stretching the food dollar is discussed at club meetings, on the job, or in a grocery aisle.

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Harvesting Wheat

June 1989

Though wheat is harvested some place in the world each month of the year, June us the time for the Kansas harvest. Every farm family is organized and ready for the big rush to get the wheat in before rain or hail ruins the crop. This year the harvest excitement is mixed with apprehension since the wheat crop looks so bad. But good or bad, the combines will soon be rolling up and down the golden fields.

In a few brief days all the wheat in the county will be cut and the ground worked for the next crop. Harvest has not always been so quick and efficient.
The development of civilization can be linked to this history of wheat. When man discovered how to grow wheat and other grains he was able to quit his nomadic life spent searching for food and settle down in one place. Scientists believe that wheat was first cultivated in Asia in a land then called Mesopatamia, and is now Iraq. In 1948 an American archaeologist found kernels of wheat there that dated from about 6,700 BC.

The harvesting of wheat has changed through the ages. First wheat was cut with a sickle, then a scythe and then a cradle which not only cut it, but lay it down in a row this making it easier to glean.

For centuries wheat was threshed by driving livestock over it to trample out the grain. Then a tool called a flail was used. Harvesting became mechanized when Cyrus McCormick invented the reaper in the 1830s. The threshing machine was invented at about the same time. Then came the binder, the header and finally the combine which consolidated the cutting and threshing of the grain in one machine.

In the years I have lived, harvest time has changed radically. In the 1920’s and ‘30’s, just cutting the wheat took over a month. About the first week in June men from Missouri and Arkansas began to drift into Kansas, usually riding freight trains. They lined the streets of any good-sized town waiting for farmers to come and hire them. Picking up their gunny sacks or beat-up suitcases holding extra pairs of overalls and shirts, they went with the first farmers who offered them a dollar a day and keep.

Each farmer hired five or six men to help. My earliest memory is of the wheat being cut with a binder and shocked. But Dad soon bought a header that was pulled by 12 horses. It cut off the wheat stalks and elevated them into hay racks where two or three men with pitch forks distributed the load. When the rack was full the horses pulled it to a designated spot and the men pitched off the wheat into stacks.

When the men were in the fields, Mamma and the hired girl, who made three dollars a week, were busy in the kitchen making three meals a day. With the family, that made 12 or more people squeezed like sardines around the dining table. After the noon meal the men went outside and sat or lay under the trees for a half an hour and traded tall stories and rested. Then back to the field until dark.

After the evening meal, eaten by lamplight, the men took baths in the horse tank before climbing the ladder to the hay mow in the barn and bedding down with a few quilts for covers. Morning came early, but Mamma had pancakes bubbling and bacon sizzling on the range when they got to the house.

After the last acre was cut, the men took their pay and went home to the Ozarks feeling rich as kings.

In a few days the threshing crew came. One man owned the machine and brought along a few men to run it, but the whole neighborhood would trade work with each other to keep the grain going into the monstrous machine. A young boy or girl was the water monkey and made the rounds offering the sweating men a cool drink of well water.

Every self-respecting woman fed the threshers like they were royalty. Each dinner was topped off with pie – two or three kinds – juicy fruit pies and cream pies piled high with meringue. Each woman competed for the honor of being the best pie-maker on the run.

When we married in 1940 there was still a threshing crew of neighbors who pooled their labor each year. Glenn Manning owned the machine that threshed wheat for the Diamond Community. Fry and Dunklebeger each owned threshing machines that had extensive runs.

But times changed and the combines took over and sped up the harvest. High school boys were hired for extra help. Today’s harvest whizzes by like a fast-moving locomotive. But even with the rush the same old magic hovers in the Kansas air when the harvest is in full swing and the moon hangs low and golden in the sky.

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Fun in CT

May 1980

When my farmer and I were in Connecticut we visited Mystic Seaport. It is a restoration of the famous whaling and ship building community as it was at the height of its prominence during the great clipper ship day of the 1850’s. Located on the Mystic River, whaling ships were built in the harbor, and businesses supplying the ships flourished in the town.

Going aboard the old fishing schooners and whaling ships revealed great wooden pens in the holds storing the catch. The sailor’s quarters were extremely primitive and absolutely no one had any privacy.

The galley (kitchen to us landlubbers) was small and had no counter space. To cook in it would be frustrating. There was a continual scarcity of fresh water. Flour, sugar, salt pork, molasses, beans, rice and vinegar were the only supplies. The guide didn’t mention if the sailors ate fish and I forgot to ask. Probably, they were too sick of the smell to eat them.

When the whaling ships left port the barrels for holding the oil from the captured whales were not assembled in order to save space. Each stove’s position in the barrel was indicated by a Roman numeral carved in the wood. They were then put together at sea, secured by iron rings and bottoms put in. After being filled with whale oil the top circular lid was adjusted and the oil safely stored for the rest of the voyage.

Sometimes the ships left port with old oil barrels filled with water, but the sailors didn’t like the taste the remains of the whale oil gave the water.

In the chandler’s shop, a general store for all shipping supplies, navigation instruments, ship’s lanterns, sextants, chronometers, compasses, and seagoing charts were on display. Here I met Charlie Zuccardy, an age compacted man dressed in sagging tan pants, blue plaid shirt, and a scruffy beige colored sweater. He was working as a guide and told us his story.

“I was born on April 23, 1885 in Italy. That is the birthday of William Shakespeare and Shirley Temple, too. I came to America at the age of seven and my father died soon after wards. We were so poor my brother and I had to help Mom keep our bodies and souls together. We kids scrounged firewood and coal from along the railroad tracks to keep our house warm.”

“We lived in New London, Connecticut,” Charlie said. “Eugene O’Neil, the playwright and I were playmates. When I was about fourteen I met and talked with Mark Twain. I married at the age of eighteen and went to work in the Palmer & Son Shipyard in Noak, Connecticut to support my family. I became a ship’s joiner and did a lot of cabinet work until I retired at the age of 71 in 1956.”

“Not working was hard on me and after seven years of retirement I came here to work seventeen years ago.” Charlie looked with pride at the ship and continued, “Then my wife died. We’d been married 62 years and I almost went out of my mind grieving. All purpose in my life was gone. I walked the streets. I couldn’t stay home. All was dark and life held nothing for me. Finally, after two years of deep despair, I sorted out my thoughts. What I found helped me back to life.

Now I want to tell as any people as I can so they can rescue themselves if they, too, are discouraged.”

As Charlie talked he had looked shriveled and an aged 94 years. Now he straightened his shoulders and with eyes glowing he came straight to the core of his truth.
“Everyone has troubles. You can’t expect to go through life without trouble. To me the troubles of life are like being out on a river rowing a boat against the tide. If you give up and quit rowing you drift out to sea. But if you gather all your strength and keep on rowing the tide will finally change and you will make it ashore. So don’t ever give up. Don’t be discouraged.”

And my farmer and I took his advice with us back to the plains of Kansas.

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Perspectives

It is important to sometimes take a step back and look at things from another perspective. Especially when reflecting on things past to keep from imagining it to be better than it really was.

May 1989

Perspectives shape our views of life

“Gee, you sure live away out in the sticks, don’t you?” said a new acquaintance as I answered the doorbell on a recent evening.

“I never think of it that way,” I replied and we went on with our business. But the more I thought about her remark the more I realized that most things in life are just a matter of perspective.

To her, I lived in the sticks. To me, I live in the best of all possible worlds. I live in a township with good roads and can be in Sedgwick, my home base, in eight minutes. I’m 10 minutes from Halstead and 12 minutes from Newton. The libraries in Sedgwick and Newton keep me supplied with books. If they don’t have a book I want, they send for it from the Central Library in Hutchinson.

The Sedgwick ambulance crew got here in 12 minutes when we needed them. The Sedgwick Fire Department made it in 13 minutes when a hay stack caught on fire.

The Wichita airport is 30 minutes away to connect me with the east coast, where two of my adult children and their families live. If I don’t want to fly, Amtrak gets me to the east coast in about 36 hours and stops in Newton.
I have all this, but also the peace and quiet of the country and good neighbors who are a blessing. I have Emma Creek to walk along. I have peaceful twilight hours. I have the birds, the soft green fields and the wide Kansas skies. I am only lonely if I let myself be.

In thinking of the overpowering importance of perspective, I remember my high school days at Abbyville as happy. Everyone in school was poor. I’m sure we would have been eligible for relief programs if there had been any to apply for. The girls had two cotton dresses for school and a better dress for Sunday. The boys wore overalls that had patches sewed on top of patches.

The high school library was inadequate, but our teachers were dedicated to helping us learn. Honora Becker, who later was a professor of English at Bethel College, introduced all of us country kids to Shakespeare with her detailed teaching of Julius Caesar.

We had just moved back to my mother’s birthplace so, as a freshman, I was the new kid in school. When, at the end of the first week I was elected president of the freshman class, I was elated. From most perspectives this was no big deal, since there were only 10 freshmen. But from my perspective, it was the equivalent of being elected governor of Kansas.

The school was so small everyone who wanted to could be on the first team. I’ll never forget the thrill of winning the Reno County championship in volleyball my senior year. Glen Moore, who still lives in Wichita, was our coach.
As we grow older, there is a temptation to talk of the good old days when everyone was honest, marriages lasted a lifetime and hard work was the key to success.

But from another perspective, how good were the good old days for pioneer families who worked from morning to night? How good were the good old days when women often died in childbirth and babies died of whooping cough, measles and diptheria? When little children were doomed to a life time in a wheelchair from the ravages of polio? When cataracts condemned a person to spend his years in darkness? How good were they for the children who lived out their short lives laboring long hours in the sweatshops? How good were they for the slaves living in fear of lynchings and beatings for no reason at all?

Perhaps the good old days were good if you were a man, white and very rich. But even they died of cholera, pneumonia and tuberculosis just like the women, children and slaves.

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Omelettes

Here are some good quick recipes for this busy time so you can spend more time outside enjoying the nice weather.

May 24, 1984

It is difficult to keep on top of the housework, the job, the garden and school activities this month, let alone get food on the table three times a day. Life gets to be a perpetual hurrying from one task to the next with no chance to relax and smell the flowers.

The grind of preparing family meals can be lightened by using frozen dinners and entrees, but these are hard on the budget especially noticeable in May with all the expenses of graduation and Memorial Day trips taking a big chunk out of the paycheck.

By using leftover potatoes the preparation time can be cut way down. Fortunately, eggs are not as expensive as they were last winter.

CREAMY OMELETTE

4 medium sized potatoes
2 tablespoons margarine
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped chives or parsley Salt and Pepper

Boil potatoes. Peel and dice. Melt margarine. Add onion. Cook lightly. Add potatoes. Cook until lightly browned. Season. Add eggs, beaten with sour cream. Pour into potatoes. Stir gently and cook until eggs are set.

PUFFY OMELETTE

1 medium potato, cooked
2 tablespoons margarine
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped chives or parsley Salt and Pepper

Mash potato (should be ¾ cup). Beat in egg yolks and milk. Add chives or parsley if desired. Season to taste. Beat egg whites stiff. Gently fold into first mixture.

Melt margarine in 10-inch skillet. Pour in mixture. Bake at 400° until lightly browned about 10 or 15 minutes.

SCRAMBLED EGGS

4 eggs
¼ cup milk or cream
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons margarine
Salt and Pepper

Beat eggs, milk and potatoes. Season. Melt margarine in small skillet. Add egg mixture. Cook, stirring gently, until creamy and soft.

SUPPER EGGS

6 potatoes, cooked
6 slices bacon
1 onion, diced
4 eggs
¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Pour off fat. Return 3 tablespoons of fat to skillet. Add onion and potatoes. Cook over low heat until lightly brown.
Beat eggs, milk and seasoning. Pour into pan and cook slowly, stirring gently until eggs are just set. Garnish with bacon.

HAMBURGERS

2 large potatoes
1 medium onion
2 eggs
1 ½ pounds hamburger
Garlic Salt
Pepper

Grate raw potatoes and onion. Blend with rest of ingredients. Shape into patties and cook on griddle or broiler rack until cooked through. Serve on buns with the usual hamburger accompaniments.

POTATO BAKE

4 medium potatoes
1 cup milk
1 onion
2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped
4 ounces Cheddar cheese
3 eggs
Salt and Pepper

Grate raw potatoes into milk in 8-inch casserole. Grate onion and add along with green pepper, cheese and seasonings. Beat eggs and combine. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until done. Cut into squares to serve.

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Mother’s Day

I love this article so much I decided to post it again. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day

Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday I thought I would share these thoughts my Grandma had about the day from May 10, 1984.

Mother’s Day is almost here and all the little and not so little children are trying to find just the right gift to give Mother.

I remember the years when a plaster hand print or a crayoned picture or a crumpled bunch of violets were my gifts. I remember the year the whole bunch of kids pooled their money and bought a rose- colored, footed dish of Fenton glass. After buying the dish there was a bit of money left so they bought one bunch of purple grapes and draped it rakishly down the side.

The grapes are gone, but the rose colored dish reflects the afternoon sun from the shelf where it sits; reminding me of the thoughtfulness of little children, long grown but still dear as ever.

From a 6 or 7 year old kid’s point of view the best of all gifts is to serve Mom breakfast in bed.

For a Mom to stay in bed during the preparation of this Mother’s Day breakfast is the supreme test of motherhood.

The house may be disintegrating around you, the odor of burning bacon rising up the stairway, and the sound of pottery crashing to the floor, but you must stay in bed, steel yourself to the voices of children squabbling.

“Careful, Jimmy, you’re stepping in the egg I dropped on the floor.”

“Gee, this coffee looks funny.”

“I get to carry the tray.”

“Oh, no, you don’t, you got to carry it last year.”

Mothers, clutch the headboard and hang on. You must not, I repeat, must not rush to the kitchen threatening mayhem. It is essential to stay in bed- to pass the test that entitles you to be called a Mother’s Day Veteran.

Stay right there among your bitten- off fingernails and smile lovingly when the burnt offering appears at your bedside.

The kids will stand with beaming smiles as you look at the tray with its dandelion centerpiece.

“Mommie, try some of the scrambled eggs. I broke the eggs myself and only let a few pieces of shell get in.”

“How do you like the orange juice? I made it all by myself?”

“Did you have a good sleep while we fixed your breakfast? Oh, Mommy, we love you so much.”

Forget about the pains in your fingers from gripping the headboard to keep from leaping out of the bed in panic at the commotion in the kitchen.

Forget about the two hours you’ll have to spend cleaning up the horrible mess the kids made on the stove and floor. Savor the moment.

You have just been given the greatest gift in the world. Pure, unadulterated, shining love masquerading in the guise of burned bacon and scrambled eggs.

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Spring Time

May 14, 1987

With spring settling in and the lawn growing like mad, a garden to plant, the asparagus to pick and freeze, and the social life of a small community to keep up with, May is a month full of activity for most of us.

But I’m going to find time to go quietly outdoors and enjoy the sunshine and the balmy southern breezes. People who aren’t in awe with Kansas call those same breezes hot winds, but I prefer to give them a nice name and enjoy the fresh air they bring in as they blow by.

Here are some recipes that can be made up fairly quick and then reheated in the microwave as you linger outside past the time to start supper.

Rye Bread

1 cup rye flour

1 cup unbleached flour

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon caraway seed

6 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry blender. Stir in milk and raisins. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing.

You can also add a half cup of sunflower seeds to this recipe.

I made up a double recipe and had a little trouble adjusting the taste. I’m pretty sure I’ll leave out the raisins next time. It is good served with cheese and also good as toast. After eating it for three days I’m growing more fond of it. Nutritionally, this bread is a good deal.

Several of asked for the recipe for the Spanish Rice thaw was at the Sedgwick-Halstead UMW luncheon meeting. Here it is, but it is one of those recipes that can be varied for individuals taste preferences.

Spanish Rice

1 cup raw rice

1 pound hamburger

1 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons Worcestshire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups tomato sauce

1 cup cooked cracked wheat

6 cheese slices

Cook rice according to package directions. Cook peppers and onions in the hot oil until translucent. Remove from skillet. Lightly brown hamburger. Drain well. Add rest of ingredients, but just add 2 cups of the tomato sauce. Simmer for 2 hours adding the rest of sauce as needed. After 1 1/2 hours add the cooked cracked wheat.

When sauce is thick add the rice and simmer until blended. Top with cheese and serve.

Bitki

3 slices bread

1 pound hamburger

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups small cooked potatoes

1 cup commercial sour cream

Soak bread in water for five minutes. Drain and mix with hamburger, onion, salt and black pepper. Shape into patties and saute in hot butter. Remove patties to a small casserole and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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