Sunday, March 29, 2015

Down The Long Hills' Book Review

Down the Long Hills was written by Louis L'Amour and published in 1968.

*Warning - there is some ripe language at points in this book.*

Louis L'Amour was a prolific and extremely famous Western author who died in 1988.

This book deals with the harshness of the West as pioneers were crossing - or attempting to - the the "far-seeing lands".
I noticed on this read how differently the kids were trained back then. Parents did not shy from showing their kids how hard life was going to be. Pioneer children, particularly the boys, were taught almost before they could walk to be wary. Indians, accidents, unforgiving climate. Any number of things could happen - and usually did.

The hero of DTLH is such a boy. His mother is dead. His father has gone west to search out land for them. Now at 7, he's in the care of fellow pioneers who are taking him out to his surviving parent. Even at his young age he understands and comprehends responsibility. Which, though he doesn't know it at first, will help save his life and another.

A girl of 3 tags after him and kindly he takes care of her through all that follows. Their adult figures are killed by Indians, and it's only them and the horse that the young boy has been with from a colt.

Long, frightening and danger-filled are the days that follow for the little wanderers. Our hero knows that he must, "go west young man," to find his father and safety. Indians, storms, outlaws, weather and wild animals stand between them and safety.

Do they find shelter and the boy's father? Read for yourselves in this slim volume packed full of adventure.

Cheers for the books we read.

shared with:
 Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Catch Up/New Things

Wow! Looked at the date of my last post and this month has simply flown by.

Long story short, I had to look for work that was more than just a few hours a week for Dad. So I started applying different places at the end of February.

I also emailed a plant warehouse that literally sits within a quarter mile of my house. When I'm down on the street by my car I can read the business sign. Upon initially contacting them, they weren't hiring. The lady said that she would keep my name in mind though.

So, I went back to work at my original job at the fast food restaurant (first week of March). Part time at that point. Didn't have the intestinal fortitude to go back full time.

Started on a Monday. That Wednesday I got an email from the warehouse. "We're hiring, please call." Called that morning, set up an interview for Friday afternoon and of course let my bosses at the restaurant know of the possibility of a second job.

Friday was an extremely busy day. Mom and myself had a Bible study to go to in the morning and I was babysitting some wonderful kiddos from church starting at 5. (They live about 45-55 minutes away.)

Between all the madness I went over and talked with one of the owners and her husband and son-in-law. And praise God, they hired me to start the following Monday. 7 to 3  2 days a week book-ending my work week at the restaurant.

This set of pictures are of a great uncle's set of old utensils. I used my not very good cell phone camera to capture these images. From my peering at them, they appear to be handmade. The spatula's in particular have this appearance.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Method of Stock Making

The method whereby I make stock has changed pretty considerably from when I first dipped my toes into the waters.

I read many blogs, books and combined a few things along the way. And the journey continues evolving.

 Long Way On A Little - by Shannon Hayes opened my eyes to making stock with multiple kinds of meat bones, instead of just beef or chicken. She also recommends splashing vinegar into the water and letting it sit for a time before starting the cooking process. (This kinda blew my mind at first.)
Nourishing Traditions  - by Sally Fallon was another book that revolutionized my way of looking at stock.
Veggie Scrap Stock from the Alaskan blogger HeyWhatsForDinnerMom? talks about how to make vegetable stock from your veg trimmings. Light bulb moment for sure for me! Literally everything I could save went in - even to a few bell pepper hearts along with all the things described in the above post.

I saved 2 gallon bags of veggie scraps, 2 chicken frames, the ham bone from our split pea soup plus a few other assorted bones in the freezer, then started the stock Saturday morning.

First I got the beef soup bones oiled, salted and peppered. Then I popped them into the oven to roast a while. (2 hours by the clock.)
The whole lot got tossed into one of our big stockpots (I'm pretty sure it holds at least 4 gallons). 1 1/2 gallons of water was all that it could hold what with everything else in the pot. On top of all went a generous pour of vinegar.
The pot next to our little tea kettle

According to directions from both of the books, I let everything sit for a while after adding the vinegar. (20 minutes was all my impatient self could endure.) They recommend up to an hour's sitting time. Next time I will do that with the beef bones especially. A lot more gelatin could've been extracted if I'd been patient.

In a spice bag went 3 or so bay leaves with 10+ peppercorns and approx. 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary needles.
good and brown

This concoction was simmered from about noon to 11:30 that night. Put into the fridge until Monday and simmered for at least another 7 hours. Monday, before starting the cooking once more, I did skim off the considerable fat coagulated on top. That evening was spent in getting as many of the solids out of the pot as possible using a strainer that is normally used for getting something out of a fryer.

Straining this was difficult when it was partially cooled. The fat and half gelled stock clotted my cheesecloth horribly. (This was after scooping out most of the fat beforehand!)

But best of all - this time the cold stock gelled!!!! 7 quarts was my yield. Plus about 5-6 oz of beef that was from the soup bones. Saved and ate that.

We've since made soup with that stock and diluted it with 2 quarts water. WOW - still intensely flavored and delicious.

Tho' this is just me trying to record how things work for us, I hope this gives you some ideas!

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Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Bad Habits

Sometimes I just shoot myself in the foot. I've struggled with being a procrastinator all my life. In some ways it's gotten better, especially regarding punctuality. But when it comes to important stuff like bills, or being an office manager, all too often that procrastination creeps back in.

Fuss, complain, drag my feet - days. Doing the paperwork I needed to do so Dad can spread everything took me.... 3 hours or less. *Face hits palm*

Keeps you from getting too confident that 'I'm doin' good'.