Archive for Family

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.


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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This one is by a special request from my cousin Megan Challender. She has fond memories of making peppernuts with our grandmother, and gave them as favors at her recent wedding in September. She was hoping I could find the recipe. It took me a little while but I finally found an article just about peppernuts with multiple recipes. Though traditionally a Christmas cookie they can be made and enjoyed any time of year, as long as you have the time.

December 1981

Back in the olden days when I was a young teacher, new to teaching and new to Sedgwick, I was sometimes lonely, especially on weekends. Quaint as it may seem to the younger generations at that time teachers were required to spend three weekends a month in town.

Without a car, the time could get very long so when Daisy Congdon called one dreary day in early December and asked if I wanted to come help make pfeffernus I accepted with alacrity, even though I had no idea of what a pfeffernus was.

When I got to her house I found Daisy happily involved with a huge batch of brownish- colored dough and together we companionably spent the rest of the day rolling out the dough into sheets 1/4 inch thick and cutting out tiny pfeffernuses with a thimble and baking them.

After sampling the little cookie I became a lifelong devotee of the German cookie, pfeffernus or peppernuts as they are called in English. The Christmas season hasn’t really arrived here on Emma Creek until the peppernuts are baked. But I don’t cut them out with a thimble anymore.


3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup shortening

3 eggs

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup dark syrup 1 cup sour cream (not the kind used for dip)

1/2 teaspoon anise oil


1 teaspoon ground star anise

1 1/2 teaspoons soda

9 to 10 cups flours

Beat eggs, sugar and shortening. Add cream and syrup.

Sift dry ingredients. Combine with first mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

Make dough into long rolls. Cut. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to over bake.

This recipe makes 1 gallon. Store in a closed container. Can be kept a year if you forget where you stored them.

Black Walnut Peppernuts

2 1/2 cups sugar

3 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon white syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter

1 cup chopped black walnuts

1 teaspoon soda

5 cups flour

Cream sugar, butter, and syrup. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Stir in nuts. Roll into ropes and freeze.

Cut into thin slices. Put on buttered cookie sheet and bake 350 degrees until pale brown.

Grandmother Hiebert’s Peppernuts (Halstead)

3 cups white sugar

3 cups brown sugar

1 cup walnuts, chopped fine

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup butter or lard

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon anise

1 teaspoon baking powder

9 to 10 cups flour

Combine sugars, butter, and eggs. Sift dry ingredients. Add nuts. Chill.

Make into ropes. Cut and bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees until pale tan. Cool and store.

German Peppernuts

1 1/2 cups honey

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

4 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon finely crushed anise seed

Honey Glaze

Heat honey in 4-quart pan. Stir in butter. Cool. Beat the egg into honey mixture.

Sift dry ingredients. Add anise seed. Stir into honey mixture. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Shape dough into 3/4 inch diameter balls. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. The cookies should be only faintly browned at edges. Cool.

Glaze cookies by pouring 2 tablespoons of glaze over 15 to 20 cookies in a bowl and mixing. Place on waxed paper. When cool store in covered container. These are chewy. 8 dozen.

Honey Glaze

2 eggs whites

1 tablespoon honey

2 cups powdered sugar

Combine unbeaten egg whites and honey. Add sugar and blend.

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Christmas is over and the New Year is coming

It’s time to get ready for the new year.


December 1982


The Christmas company has come and gone. The grownups are quietly aware that another Christmas season of their alloted number on earth is over.

The grandchildren have gone home, hugging the Christmas toys in their arms – so tired from fun and excitement they were asleep before the car got out of the driveway.

The Christmas tree, a sprangly cedar from the pasture on Emma Creek, has been stripped of its glimmering cascade of silver icicles, out by the horseshoe court awaiting death in a blazing bonfire.

The Kodak pictures that will lock this specific Christmas holiday in the panorama of the years are not back from the developer.

The refrigerator sits quietly in the kitchen, stuffed to the brim with leftovers. By the time they are gone New Years will be here.

It will be time to make unkeepable resolutions for the coming year. Time to watch, with friends and family, the old year out. Time to bid it farewell with a tear and a smile and turn our energy toward making the next year the best year ever.




Black Walnut Cookies


3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons water

1 pound brown sugar

3 cups sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/2 cup chopped black walnuts


Beat eggs until thick. Gradually add sugar. Beat for 15 minutes. Sift dry ingredients. Add walnuts. Carefully add to egg mixture. Blend until well combined. Form into balls. Place an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. These puff during baking and crackle on top when done. 12 dozen cookies.


Chocolate Chip Meringues


2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks forms. Gradually beat in sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Continue beating until very stiff.

Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonful on greased baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on racks.


Quick Gingersnaps


3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon cloves


Cream first four ingredients. Sift dry ingredients. Stir into first mixture. Form into small balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake on greased sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.


Cherry Cookies


1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries


Cream first four ingredients. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Fold in vanilla, nuts and cherries. Form into rolls. Wrap in waxed paper.

Refrigerate overnight. Slice and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

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Enjoy the Holidays

Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy Christmas.


December 1982


Have a happy holiday. Relax and enjoy yourself. If all the handcrafted Christmas gifts you were making aren’t completed toss them in a closet and bring them out to finish next year. This takes a strong will, but it is better than going without sleep in order to get done and then being grouchy on the best day of the whole year.

I wish I’d followed this advice when our children were little. Joy says she always remembers me being cross on important days. Even though I remember staying up half the night to finish a doll’s wardrobe, from swimming suit to pajamas to coat, my daughter’s memory is of a cross momma instead of the gift I worked so hard over.

So if you need more Christmas cookies try some of these easy recipes. The peanut butter ones can made in 30 minutes. The others take less than an hour.


Peanut Butter Cookies (Flourless)


1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon soda


Mix all the ingredients. Roll the mixture into small balls. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


Cookie Pralines


1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, separated

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups chopped pecans


Cream butter, sugar, and egg yolk. In larger bowl beat egg whites stiff. Add first mixture. Sift in flour and salt. Add pecans. Gently fold in all these additions.

Drop by a teaspoon into high mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown.

A cookie praline is a cross between a cookie and a candy. Store in airtight container.


Easy Frosted Cookies


1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/4 teaspoon salt



1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream


Cream first four ingredients. Sift dry ingredients. Mix together. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on greased baking sheet. Make a depressions in center of each cookie.

Mix topping. Put a teaspoonful in the depression. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until a golden brown.


Date Bars


1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 8-ounce package dates

1/4 cup sour cream – This sour cream is not cultured sour cream. Take plain whipping cream and add a 1/2 a teaspoon vinegar to sour it to produce the sour cream for this recipe.

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

3 egg whites, well beaten

Powdered sugar


Mix ingredients in order given. Add egg whites last. Bake at 350 degrees in an 8 x 8 inch pan for 30 minutes. Cut while warm and roll in powdered sugar.


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Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming and it’s important to try and keep it simple. Though I’ve never attempted to make this many cookies or candies.


December 1978


Just over three weeks to get ready for Christmas is what the calendar says. Unbelievable, you say. The coming days promise to be as hectic and hurried as wheat cutting, milo harvesting or hay baling time, but at least they will be more fun.

Creating the atmosphere for the family holiday festivities rests squarely on the shoulders of the mother. Quite a load, isn’t it? To try to do too much and end up being cross and worn out when the big day arrives is a temptation difficult to resist. It takes will power to decide not to spread oneself too thin. Myriad activities in the home and in the community entice us to spend long hours on them. And that’s good as long as the hours are available, but if not, try to simplify.

Cookie baking is traditional and a lovely part of the whole holiday scene but do we need peppernuts, lebkuchen, tea balls, date pinwheels, snicker doodles, almond crescents, scotch shortbread, and decorated sugar cookies to exclaim over before eating them? Choose a few to make and let the rest go.

The same philosophy goes for candy making. Instead of bogging down in divinity, fondant, fudge, and peanut brittle stir up 1 or 2 batches and call it quits. Then go visit a neglected friend or read somebody’s kid (preferably your own) a Christmas story, or just take a brisk walk with your farmer if you can locate him.

For me, I’ve selected the 3 p’s for our Christmas food tradition peppernuts, peanut brittle, and popcorn balls. After I finish making these standbys, I try something different each year from what we usually have. Last time it was chocolate fudge with home grown black walnuts. That is ruled out this December – the candy was so sweet and creamy I overindulged, and the bulge I acquired is still bulging away on my waistline a year later.

Here is a simple recipe you might enjoy this Christmas.


Apricot Coconut Balls


1 ½ cups dried apricots, ground

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 cups shredded coconut


Combine apricots and milk. Let rest 30 minutes. Add coconut. Shape into balls. Keep refrigerated in covered container.


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Thanksgiving Turkey

It’s turkey time.

November 1980

Thanksgiving is coming up this month and that usually means roasting a turkey for the holiday dinner. Elaine Broadhurst of Broadhurst Turkey Farm has cooked a lot of big birds in her time and they always turn out moist and succulent.


Roast Turkey

Choose either a hen or tom turkey since both have equally good meat. Rub the exterior of the turkey with fat. I prefer rendered bacon fat, but butter can be used instead. Use generously. Then rub salt inside the big cavity, the neck cavity and the outside of the bird. A 20 to 22 pound turkey takes 2/3 cup salt while a 10 to 14 pound one requires 1/3 cup of salt.

Place turkey on a rack in the bottom on a large roaster. Put on lid, but leave the vent open. Bake at 325°F oven 6 ½ hours for a 20 to 22 pound turkey and 4 ½ hours for a 10 to 14 pound turkey.

Set giblets to boil in 2 or 3 cups water and cook until tender. Cut into small pieces. One hour before the roasting time is completed pour off the broth that has collected in the bottom of the roaster. Remove roaster lid and bake the remaining hour uncovered so the bird will brown.

Make dressing with part of the broth and make gravy with the rest. To make the gravy use 3 cups of hot broth or broth and milk mixed. Combine ½ cup of flour with an additional cup of cold milk. Add this flour paste to the hot broth and stir and cook until thick. If it gets lumpy, beat with an electric mixer. Add the giblets. Season to taste. Keep hot until serving time.

Take turkey out of oven at correct time and let it stand 20 minutes at room temperature before slicing and serving. (Lift turkey from the roaster with the rack supporting it.)


If you want a different pumpkin dessert to finish off the big dinner, try this cake roll. It requires no last minute work. It also makes a nice dessert for a club meeting or a party, I got the recipe from Eleanor Schirer after she brought one to work. Her father, Calarence Schirer, farms north of Sedgwick

Pumpkin Cake Roll


3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup pumpkin

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely chopped walnuts



1 cup powdered sugar

6 ozs. Cream cheese

4 tablespoons margarine

½ teaspoon vanilla

To prepare cake beat 3 eggs for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in one cup of sugar. Stir in the pumpkin and lemon juice. Sift dry ingredients.

Fold dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Spread on greased and floured 15” x 10” x 1” inch jelly roll pan. Top with the nuts.

Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Turn out on towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll towel and sake from narrow end. Cool. Unroll. Spread with filling. Roll and chill. Slice and serve.


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Brotherly Love

I feel so lucky to have my brother’s reaction to my birth written down to be read and laughed about years later.

October 17, 1984

The October sun filtered down on the streets of Putnam, Connecticut. In the white two story house set high above the busy street the phone rang.

“Hello,” followed by expectant silence.

“Hello. The baby was born just five minutes ago. A girl and everyone is fine. Will you tell Chris?”

“Oh that’s wonderful,” I responded. “I’m so happy and I’ll tell Chris right away. Goodbye.”


Christopher, playing with Castle Grayscull in his bedroom, looked up when I sat down on the bed.

“Chris, Daddy just called and you have a baby sister.”

Christopher’s brown eyes looked right through me and he didn’t bother to answer. Secure in his four- year tenure as top kid in Mom and Dad’s heart his attitude reflected his thought.

“Well, what did you expect? I’ve heard too much about that baby already. Now she’s here. No big deal!” and he went back to his play. That evening when Daddy came home from the hospital Chris didn’t ask about the baby or show any interest in her at all.

The next day, dressed in brown corduroy overalls and matching striped shirt, Christopher went with his Daddy and me to the hospital in Massachusetts. Feeling very independent he scrambled in the car, climbed into his car seat, snapped his seat belt with a brisk click, and rode away, king of all he surveyed. The Interstate stretched through the wooded hills rioting with deep yellow, rusty oranges and brilliant scarlets.

After Daddy parked the car Chris hopped out and holding Daddy’s hand firmly, he trudged up the long steps heading to the tall red brick hospital. He maintained his best man of the world attitude in the elevator and down the hall to Momma’s room.

She, dark curly hair tousled, lay among the pillows in a pink satin negligee.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, Honey. How’s my boy?” Momma reached out and smoothed Chris’ hair.


“Climb up on the bed so I can hug you,” Momma said as she reached to help him up.

“What’s that?” Chris asked pointing toward the bedside table.

“A thermometer, dear. Daddy has gone to get the baby now so you can see her. Won’t you like that? We’ve named her Carolyn.” And Momma gave him a big hug.

“Daddy bought me a new Gobot. It turns into a submarine. Want to see it?” Chris dug down into his pants pocket to produce the treasured toy.

Just then Daddy and Carolyn came in. “Oh, look, Chris, here’s your baby sister.”

Tenderly his parents showed Carolyn to him and waited expectantly for Chris to melt at her winsome charm and become a proud and protective big brother.

Chris did not melt. He glanced casually at her and began to organize his resources for a complete exploration of the hospital room. He climbed down to the floor, smelled the roses and chrysanthemums on the window ledge, drank out of the water pitcher, turned on the call light and peeked under the curtain at the patient in the next bed.

Room investigation completed, Chris scaled the bed for a two minute cuddle with Momma, slid down to the floor and made ready to move on to bigger challenges. At this point Daddy interceded.

“Chris, would you like to hold Carolyn?”

“No, I’m going to the bathroom,” he said as he turned the knob on the door.

When he came out Daddy tried again. “Carolyn would like for her big brother to kiss her.”

“I want to go home now and watch ‘Masters of the Universe.’” He reached for his coat.

So the visit ended with a brief kiss for Momma and none for Carolyn.


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