Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

A Southern Tradition: Black- Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens & Pork

Grandma-Maude-Great-Grandma-Gertrude-and-Great-Aunt-Madge_thumb.jpgEvery. Single. Year. Grandma was firm on one rule. Not that she didn’t have many, but this particular one was like angering fate itself. As if it tipped the scales of all bad luck and curses. It was that serious. As if somewhere within’ her Blackwell roots, all tangled up there, written in the blood of her ancestors upon the stone of all stones…

On New Years Day, you better cook and eat Black-eyed Peas, Cabbage and Pork. If you don’t, you won’t have good luck, wealth and health in  the coming year.

Grandma would even make phone calls a day or so ahead of time reminding us all not to forget. And if you pulled some nonsense like, “Grandma, I don’t have time to cook that.” Then she’d reach through that phone snatchin’ you up by the nape of your neck with a death grip of a tone, a forewarnin’, and say, “Then you better come by my house and get some before its too late!”

Grandma’s dead and I seriously doubt she is gonna make a phone call to my house on New Years Day. Although I really wish she could. I can promise you, though, on my stove, every year the menu is the same….

Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Pork and, oh yeah, Greens. I picked the Greens up from my time in North Carolina. I love em, so it’s easy to slip one more good luck charm in on the menu.

Even for a time, my own Mother would cook them on New Years Day. Maybe it was to avoid Grandma from kickin’ down the door and burnin’ her butt up with a switch if she didn’t. Maybe for one small period of time, my Mother actually had some sort of nostalgia for the past, Grandma’s traditions and all those who came before her.  Maybe.

Still, till this day, I have one Aunt who still cooks these things on New Years Day. She even gives me a yell, making sure I am doing it too just like Grandma once did. We catch snark from certain cousins, in-laws and family members for upholdin’ Grandma’s stern rule. Or, at least I do.

They scoff and say, “I make my own luck.I don’t need no make-believe tradition!” Or they say, “God takes care of me. That’s offensive to him.” They say other things but as we get older, we learn to tune people out.

For me and my Aunt, we don’t actually believe cooking these things will make or break us for the following year. We do it because its a tradition that my Grandma took literally. Grandma learned it from her Mother and Father. They learned it from theirs. Maybe none of them believed in it, maybe they did, but you can bet their bottom dollar that they did it regardless all because it was, as I said, a Tradition. It was passed down through their family and bloodline. It survived hard times, bad weather, no money, low supplies, sickness, death, and despair. It survived because they survived.

I cook these things on New Years Day because it meant something to my Grandma. All day, I end up thinking about her. Not the things that drove me nuts or put a wedge between us. I think about the good things, the few times I saw her smile, this meal being one of the few things that made her smile.

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My kids learn or re-learn about where they come from. We’re mountain people. We have Roots here. Our kin spread far and wide. Some made and ran Moonshine. Some were Farmers. Some were Preachers. Some actually carved out a place for themselves when these mountains were no more than a wilderness, a hope for a good life to come, filled with dangers and hardships. They lived off the plants and wildlife. They gave birth and buried their dead in the soils and rocks we see now as nothin’ more than dirt and toe-stubbers.

I show my kids pictures of the Blackwell Clan, with the Blueridge Mountains behind them. All mostly dark-haired, wavy and thick. I try to give them a sense of placement. A sense of pride. A sense of beginning. I want them to know that they come from somewhere. And while the women could be mean, that’s what gave them the strength to fight their way through this world when the world owed them no favors.

IMG_1578I show them pictures of the Clarks and tell them the history of that name. Then, thanks to the books and pictures my Aunt Wanda gave me, I show them the little truths of their journey throughout the Ages, their place in many unfortunate wars including the historic battles they survived, even though their minds were never quite the same again.

Through these pictures, you could see my Grandfather, healthy when he just signed up for Service. Not fat, but meaty enough to be called a man. Proudly smiling in his uniform. Someone who was about to make something of himself. Then I show them the picture of him after Pearl Harbor and all that came in its aftermath. A shadow of himself, thin was drinking. He’d spend the rest of his life tryin’ to chase away the demons that war put in his head. The last years I saw him, in a wheel chair, half paralyzed from a stroke, unable to speak words clearly….shaking one fist at the TV shouting something incomprehensible in anger. All because a movie of Pearl Harbor was on. And oh yeah, the time Jacob’s Ladder played and his blood pressure went through the roof.

These Southern Traditions that most of you find pointless and funny are more than what they appear to be on the outside. We honour them because it brings to life our people who are not dead and gone. We remember them. And as long as we remember them, they live with us in our hearts, spirit and mind. What’s more depressing? Dying or realizing when you’re dead, it will be as if you never existed at all because no one remembers you. You passed nothing on. You left no mark upon this world. No imprint. Nothing of importance.

My Grandma’s tradition may not heal Cancer, but it is important. She bestowed unto me a sense of pride, worth, and the knowing that I come from a long line of women who suffered much but overcame even more. Women who were the heartbeats of their home. Women who knew how to survive even things like men and others, like, The Depression.

I think the problem with the world today is that we’ve been made to feel ashamed of who we are and where we come from,  or what collar we wear. Traditions are no longer taught or passed down. Our children are no longer taught the basics or skills. No one takes pride in where they come from and we no longer have a sense of placement, which means we no longer have a sense of worth. We have no more pride in ourselves than we do of anyone else because we no longer teach the next generation of what they gain to lose or what our ancesters faught to have.

We each have heritage and we are in danger of losing it. These traditions help me hold onto that. They help me hold onto Grandma, keep me grounded, and they help my children know a woman who is no longer here to drive them up a wall. As long as I uphold these things, as long as I instil these precious pieces into them, then they will always know they come from somewhere and those that came before them didn’t live and die as if they never lived or existed at all. And we become the stronger for it. And besides, I happen to love eating Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens and Pork. So that helps. winks

 

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Posted in Chicken Scratch, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

A Storm is Coming! Quick, Grab all of the Bread and Milk!

file9331287220935We had some snow here in the mountains last night. We were well warned, which meant we had plenty of time to prepare. The truth is, we weren’t expected to have much but it was enough to cancel schools, prepare the roads and so on. And it was just enough, just a whisper of enough, to plant the seed of panic, a triggering of natural instincts to prepare for the worst. To send people out into the stores to buy as much bread and milk as possible.

Meanwhile, Social Media lit up with funny, sarcastic gifs of people emptying shelves, screaming their heads off with titles like, “OMG!One inch of snow coming! Quick! Buy all of the bread and milk!!!!!”

That led to insulting comments and the making fun of, while people asked the question, why bread and milk?

Now, while it came of no surprise people who live and were maybe raised in bigger cities would ask this question, I was a little stumped at those from the same mountains I come from or those who live in rural areas elsewhere. And then I thought to myself, this maybe why we’re losing touch with the younger generation or that we shouldn’t erase history because we are starting to disconnect, starting to lack empathy or understanding with those who came before us and well, frankly, survived a world of crap we can no longer imagine.

If you are one of those people who can’t fathom the reason why people buy milk and bread, then let me take you back into history, especially since when I Googled to see if others had written about the why’s and was shocked to see absolutely nothing of usefulness.

Our answer, in my opinion, lies under two umbrellas…. History and Nature.

Historically, when people couldn’t just pop into a grocery store to grab food, they did what? Grew it, traded for it, but no matter what, made it from scratch. If we yanked open a window into the past during any meal, we would see one thing in common despite what else or what little else they had.

Bread.

My Grandma made bread damn near every day. Not yeast bread but biscuit bread. It wasn’t in little portions, either. She made it into a big slab. You broke off whatever piece you wanted. She ate it with every meal.  She even put it in her dang coffee and treated it as breakfast, lol!

Four things were common in her house and when I say common, I mean, if you had to take a guess at what Grandma was cookin’, your guesses came down to these…

  • Brown Beans
  • Green Beans & Taters
  • Mater Gravy
  • Bread

Rarely did I see Grandma cook meat. Now, she would throw meat in with the brown or green beans but she didn’t just break out a steak any day of the week and while she would fry chicken, the only time she ever really did was when company came over….special company. Special were those who didn’t live locally or a man who happened to be doin’ a man’s day’s work.

My crazy Aunt Joyce came to visit me one day and I remember her talkin’ bout her childhood. She clinched her cheeks by way of an awful scowl when said, “I used to be so sick of mater gravy. That’s all momma would ever feed us. And then here come company over and next thing I knew, she was fryin’ up chicken. Be derned if we got any either.” lol Aunt Joyce swore she’d never eat Mater gravy again but when I made it that day, I couldn’t keep her out of it.

Anyway, Grandma had a garden every year and in that garden, she fretted over four things. Cucumbers…because they were delicious and a summer treat…but more importantly, the taters (potatoes), maters (tomatoes), and beans (green). Her cupboard was stocked with all of them. The maters and beans were Canned and the taters went in the root cellar or somewhere cool and dark to live.

Grandma called these things Depression Food. The nessesities of life. You may not have liked them but you could easily survive on it.

And by “Depression“, I don’t mean it made you sad. This is something people are losing sight of. The Depression. The actual Depression when stock markets crashed and people struggled to survive. Jobs were like unicorns. Food was hard to buy. It was an awful period of time that my Grandmother lived through. And while she swore she never wanted to live through another one, she refused to forget just how they did it and said one way, was bread. With the maters, they would make mater gravy because if you lived in the country, you always had canned maters. If you were lucky enough to have a cow, you had milk. Milk, like bread, is very filling. But you could use the milk in other ways too. Kids drank it and you could make butter, or more importantly, more GRAVY. If you didn’t have milk, you could still make Gravy, using water. Regardless if you had meat or not, and most didn’t have meat and those that did, rarely did, gravy and bread would stick to your ribs and during a time when a day’s work was actually a day of hard laboured work, folks needed something that stuck to their ribs.

Now, I’m sure you’re wonderin’ why people are hoarding bread and milk now when there is no threat of a Depression on the horizon, and in truth, most can’t even imagine what one even felt like….

Learned behaviour.

My Grandma left an imprint on me. Despite how much she and I butted heads, certain things she said and did sunk in. For one, her ways of Canning and such. I stay stocked up. And while I don’t run to the stores to buy bread like many folks do, I have the means to make it if need be.With a woodstove, I have a heat source. If it’s summer, I have a firepit and grate I can cook on. Heck, I have grills.

Again, if you’re ever in a situation where food is scarce, bread fills you up. Doesn’t take much. In cases of Storms or Disasters on the horizon, we are triggered by a need to survive out anything even the unseen.

What if the power goes out? What if we can’t get out of our homes? Again, bread. Bread saves the day. It’s a learned behavior passed down from every previous ancester out there. It takes a bit for it to mold and it doesn’t have to be cooked. Doesn’t have to be refridgerated.

As far as Milk, that stretches from children and the need for milk. Again, it’s a filler. In the old world, it had more fat. Fat fills. Yes, if you become stranded in the summer, it can go bad, in the winter, it won’t. Drink milk with bread, and it helps with choking. (Another thing that is embedded into us from our ancestors). Children and even some adults drank milk at supper and all meals. Together, the fat from the milk along with the filling effects of the bread, well its more of a meal or feels like one.

Bottom line, you can criticize people for stocking up on bread and milk and say they should be more prepared, more stocked up anyway, but if you live in places where storage is limited, that can be hard to do. Plus, if you don’t have roots to a place more rural, the idea of that may seem absurd.

Still, when danger lurks around the corner, our mindset draws also from Nature, perhaps a more primitive part of ourselves.  When a storm is on the horizon, what do the animals do? They get out there and feed especially if their instincts tell them that they will be hunkered down for a few days all because of the weather. Certain animals hoard food. They go on the hunt and stock up. Our need to do the same kicks in. So most go and grab what instinctively they know will fill them up….bread and milk.

Posted in Back in the Day, Hen Pecked, The Scoop from the Coop, Uncategorized

Homesteading v/s Off Grid :And Those of us Living Somewhere In-Between

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These two lifestyle choices go by many names but the ones mentioned in my title seems to be the most recognizable or, possibly, the less confusing. Each one serves as an umbrella, though, with a good many people standing under them. Each person, however, has customized each one. And they can since there are no rules or regulations written into any one stone. I’ll get to more of that as we go.

Homesteading

I won’t go into the historical bits of Homesteading which live somewhere around the 1800’s and the Homesteading Act of 1862, but I will say that the past has found a way into the present. In fact, it’s down-right trending.

Homesteading is something I am more familiar with. What people are trying to do, seems like something our people have done from the very beginning. Except, if you called my Grandma or Aunt Madge a Homesteader, they would have thought you had marbles in your mouth. Their way of life was the way life was…and should be. Oh, I’m sure it had its upgrades from how their childhoods went. Like, electricity. Cooking on something other than a wood stove. And in many cases, like that of my Grandma, women worked outside of the home as well as on the land and at home.


As one of my older Clients told me one day, “Women didn’t burn any bridges back then and get equality. Men just made them think they did. He said, “Fine! Go get a job and a paycheck! And when you get home, tend to those kids, that laundry, my supper and this house!”

“How many years,” my Client asked, “Do you think it took women to realize the only thing they won was the right to do more work?”About that time she scoffed at me with absolute sarcasm. “Guess you could say, they still ain’t caught on.”


But no matter what, women in Grandma’s day lived frugally and they raised everything that they could. They made most of what they had. I never walked into my Aunt Madges house and saw store-bought butter. Every gunk of butter she used, was made with her own two hands. That also went for soap, which was brown and not as high-end and fancy as to what people sell now. It didn’t smell all that awesome either and it was made with the fat off her Hogs. Taking a bath in her iron water mixed with that soap– was something I thought nightmares were made of, lol.

Regardless, Aunt Madge’s pantry was stacked from floor to ceiling with jars filled with what she grew or concocted. Her front yard was filled with fruit trees. The Garden was bigger than what the land seemed and she was always slammin’ that porch door screaming for whoever happened to be standin’ there to get them dern chickens off them eggs. “Don’t let them dern birds sit on em!”

Homesteading reminds me of this. A glimpse into the past. So when people start doing it, it isn’t so odd to me.

Where I live, most already do it but I have noticed that many have or are choosing to lose touch with the old ways. Electronics and newly aged conveniences are replacing the more old-fashioned stuff. And most folks around here will act like you have marbles in your mouth, too, if you throw that word Homesteading around. But it’s out there, taking root in a world where most thought it was long forgotten.

Today’s Homesteaders are downsizing and I suppose you could say, uncluttering their lives. Instead of popping into the local grocery store to buy chicken, they are learning how to raise and butcher their own birds. They are figuring things out– thank the stars for the internet–one present-day wonder that seems to be helping us all out.

So that being said, what is Homesteading, exactly? What was I saying about umbrellas? It’s living more sufficiently. People who are Homesteaders try to use less electricity, eliminate waste, trading the fast food for home-cooked, and cooking from scratch what you have raised or grown yourself– or what you know someone else to have raised or grown.

Living off Grid, takes it one step further depending on how far a person wants to go. There are some out there who go completely pioneer, ditching electricity and damn near everything that makes life more P9030473comfortable. Some have electricity but use solar panels and such. Basically, those who live off-grid find a way to do it for themselves and if they can’t, then they aren’t doing it at all.

How do they manage to do that in a world one step away from being something Sci-fi or ruled by Robots?

By building Businesses and at least using the internet to work those skills and trades.

Keywords: Skills or Trades. We are seeing a rise in those, as well. Men and women picking up old worldly skills such as Blacksmithing. Others learning how to build things with their hands and more.The opportunities are there but finding a way to work them — what you were born to work– is another. Either lifestyle– extreme or not– is hard work. Weather, Disease, Nature, the World around us– can make it even harder. But don’t feel discouraged because nothing will ever feel more satisfying.

There is an extreme path to both terms and under each umbrella, you have many layers of people choosing how extreme they are going to go. I know of people who still work in the city, but live in the County on land, raising animals, growing food, and such. Others have disconnected from the world completely– except for that internet– and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are those out there that have ditched the internet, too. Women have traded diapers for cloth, make their own Aunt-Flow items and many are Homeschooling kids. Healing comes from home and Doctors are the last straw kind of deal while many see physicians regularly.

All these things are optional. It depends on you and how far you want to go.Remember that because if you do keep the internet, if you do seek out others online, you will run into the same arrogance we find in all areas of life. Someone cutting you down because you aren’t extreme enough maybe too simple things like Canning. That’s not including people you see every day or often like friends and family who will think you’re off your rocker for living this way.

As for me? I raise or hunt as much meat as I can. I grow as much food and Can as much as I am able. I live in the Country with some land but my dream is to have more. My kids are not homeschooled. They are very active in Sports and have a natural talent when it comes to them. While I want them to know the old ways in case the world goes belly up or just to preserve the knowledge that I have, I want them to also enjoy the things they are drawn too.

I own a Salon in my home and my husband owns a small Masonry Company. We still interact with the outside world and clearly, I am using the internet. I live as much like my Grandma and her people as much as possible because we are more comfortable this way. I dream of moving deeper into the mountains where all is still and quiet but in order to work for myself, I have to be closer to the rest of the world.

And I know of some who live in tents (or have) and campers, while they build their homes or carve out their land. The only time I go off-grid is when we go camping and because of our animals, we don’t get to do that so much anymore. But I make as much as I can– soaps and such when I am able– and I enjoy a simpler way of life. But like Grandma, I am thankful for the luxuries I do have– electricity, air conditioning, indoor plumbing– though I know how to survive without them.

So, if you are looking to live in a cabin built by your own hands or a tiny house or off the land, you can go to whatever extreme you want. And don’t get confused by the terms. They are just what’s trending. To most of us with roots here in the Appalachian Mountains, we are familiar with what is trending as this has always been our way of life. But, like all of you, we grew up and decided how much of it we would keep, how much of it we want back and to what extreme is right for us.

Posted in Beef, Canning & Preserving, Carnivore, Chicken, From Scratch, Other, Pork, Rabbit Recipes, Soups & Stews, Uncategorized, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

How to Make Bone Broth/Stock

broth3Allot of flavor to this one, so beware. In fact, once you do taste how good this is, and how easy, you may never touch store-bought brands again. That being said, this is easily customize-able according to your personal tastes. So, I’m going to give you the basic 411 on how to make it, explain how you can adjust it, and then let you go from there. One thing is for certain, though– you won’t ever throw out bones again. Not until you’ve made this!

 


This can be made with ANY and EVERY kind of meat/bone out there. Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Beef, Rabbit, Deer (Venison), etc.


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Different scenarios….

Now, say, you haven’t cooked any meat yet. Say, you are wanting to make something like Chicken Soup or a Cream of Chicken Soup. (I have a great Cream of Chicken, Mushroom and Kale Soup Recipe made with Bone Stock I’m about to post!). Put a whole chicken in a pot of water– I usually put enough water in to cover the bird– and cook until meat is tender enough to pull off of the bone. Pull the chicken out, let it cool enough to work with– pull meat off. Put the meat to the side. Put the bones (and DON’T worry if there is still some meat left on them) on a pan and stick in the oven under the Broiler. Brown. Flip and Brown.


Why are we browning them? Flavor. To Brown is to Flavor. Memorize that.


Once the Bones are brown, add them back to the pot, add more water if need be, bring to a boil and then Simmer about 4-6 hours. Some add it to a Crockpot and let it go all day. You do what’s easiest for you.


Once done, STRAIN the Bones from the Liquid– and what you have is, Liquid Gold.


 

Another scenario is what to do with Bones you’ve already cooked or cut the meat off of. Like, left over Turkey bones, Deer bones, etc.


 

Again, brown under a Broiler and then simmer, simmer, simmer.

 


If the Bones are from an Uncooked Carcass, no worries. Brown them and simmer, simmer, simmer.


Now, some are against browning and that part is ALL up to you. If you don’t like to Brown, then just cook.


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Options: Broth v/s Stock

 

You can add Veggies and herbs to the water– carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, onions, whatever you like. You don’t have to chop them perfectly. Some people don’t even peel. They just toss em in. You can roast them under a broiler or just toss. They will all be strained in the end.

Now, the strength of your Bone Broth will depend on Cooking Time. I cooked my Liquid down once– by a lucky accident. By doing so, I realized I created something of a Condensed Stock. So, I added it to smaller Jars and then Froze it. This will be used by adding more Water, or for my Cream based Soups, etc. It’s REALLY Potent.


That brings us to the last bit…preserving. Depending on how much I have, depends on how I preserve it. Some, I add to Jars (leaving 2 inches of head space for expansion) and Freeze. Some, I add to Jars and then Pressure Can 11Lbs of Pressure for 70 minutes. (Times depend on rules YOU follow.)


Any questions, YELL!

 

Posted in Canning & Preserving, Soups & Stews, Uncategorized

Canning Tater (Potato) Soup

It’s that time of the year again. Summer takes a final bow and slinks away into the dying deep. A familiar chill creeps through the air. Leaves begin to turn and collectively fall. Golden, Burgundy and Russet hues vibrantly burst in midair until they blanket the ground we stand on. That being said, as a brisk wind blows and we tighten the grip of our sweaters, I begin to crave comfort food. Today, I began to play around with Tater Soup. It’s an inexpensive Classic. We are Canning it, though, so the cream portion of the recipe, we won’t add until we heat the Soup up for serving.

I’m going to break this down into 4 Quart Jars. I will give you the bulk of the Recipe, first and then I will tell you what I put into each Jar.


The Bulk…

  • 4 Jars
  • 7-8 Potatoes (Use what you have or what you like. I had Russet, so that’s what I used.) Peel and cube.
  • 3/4 cup of Shredded and Chopped Carrots
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion, Diced
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, chopped fine
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped fine.
  • Pickled Jalapeno (optional)
  • Seasonings: Salt, Lemon Juice, Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Powdered Chicken Broth, Pepper (Optional)

NOTE: Add your potatoes to a bowl full of salt water while you cut up the rest of the veggies. This will bleed out most of the Starch.


Per Jar, Layered….img_0718.jpg

  • 2 to 2 & 3/4 cups Taters
  • 1/4 cup  Red Pepper
  • 1/2 to 1/4 cup Celery
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Onion
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Carrots
  • 1-2 pickled Jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cupful of Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 TBSP powdered Chicken Broth
  • Optional : Pepper

 



Directions

Layer all ingredients and seasonings. Then, add hot water. I only add enough Hot Water to cover the Vegetables. This is because I add cream when I heat and serve it. Less broth, the more cream you can add. Wipe your rims and then Pressure Can 11 lbs of Pressure for 20 Minutes. When you go to eat, add a cup of cream. If you want a thick, chowder like broth, mix a tablespoon or two of cornstarch into the cream before adding it.


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Other Herbs and Seasonings you can add: A dash of Nutmeg, Rosemary, Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes, Basil, Thyme or Sage. When adding herbs, remember, when Canning, it can amplify the taste. So don’t go crazy unless you’ve done it before.

Before serving, you can also add a hand mixer to blend till smooth. That will give it an Irish soup feel but I prefer it chunky.

Update: For Adults, this isn’t so bad. An Adult can add cream, cornstarch (or flour)…whatever an Adult wants. Against all Canning- Police rules and regulations, though, I am about to experiment and make some with cream and cornstarch within because for teens or people in a rush, adding things when heating isn’t the most convenient. So be on the lookout for that recipe.

I will say this, though, by adding veggies straight to the jar, it gives flavor a big ol’ punch! For example, usually when cooking a big pot of something, certain veggies become lost in the mix. But adding them to a jar, raw– pow! This happened with the red pepper I added to this soup. You can REALLY taste it. So when creating my recipe for the “creamed”, I’m going to adapt for that. Stay tuned….

 

Posted in Canning & Preserving, From Scratch, The Hungry Hen, Uncategorized

Corncob Jelly & Molasses

P9030473.JPGWhat in the world do we do with all those Corncobs? I was giving them to the hogs but after catching glimpse of two Amish Recipes, I’m now thinkin’ twice.

Corncob Jelly

  • 12 Freshly Shelled Corn Cobs
  • 3 Pints of Water
  • 1 pkg. Of Sure-Jell
  • 3 cups of Sugar
  • Red Food Coloring

Heat 3 pints of water. Break Cobs into small pieces and add to hot water. Boil for 35 minutes. Strain 3 cups of Juice. Add Water to make 3 cups if need be. Add Sure-Jell and sugar. Bring to another boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add a few drops of red coloring. Pour into Jars and Seal in a Hot Water Bath for 5 Minutes.

Corn Cob Molasses

  • 15 Clean, Fresh Corn Cobs Broken up
  • 1 gal water
  • Sugar
  • Red Food Coloring
  • ½ gal light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp. Baking Soda to keep it from sugaring

Bring Cobs to a boil. Boil 2 minutes or until water is pink or amber colored. Strain and measure water. Add as much sugar as measured water. Bring to a boil until thickened. Add corn syrup, vanilla, red food coloring and baking soda. Check occasionally by taking out ½ cup and cooling to see the thickened consistency.

Posted in Chicken Scratch, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Bathrooms, Flags, Statues, Rights & Other Nonsense

26972e14efffffd1c7caa4282c2d6f14.jpgI’ve tried to keep my opinions to myself. Scratch that. I’ve been rather vocal with them in real life. Maybe I should say, I’ve tried to keep them off my blog, but then I wondered, why in the hell am I doing that? If I’m crowin’ bout it out here, then I should crow about it on, The Crowin’ Hen. Right?

And I realize a lot of what I am about to say may make a lot of people mad. Some of you are really sensitive about all this. So much so, you are willing to riot, physically fight, and destroy anyone or anything that doesn’t agree with you. And then on the other side, you have a lot of violent, no good people as well. Lost in the abyss of that void are people like me. Just regular, boring people like me trying to live a good and harmless life. Meaning, I’m not tryin’ to pee in your pastures, honey. I’m just tryin’ to get people to stop trashin’ mine.

First off, I’m not a stereotype. I appear to be white, but now days, who the hell knows what all is muckin’ about in my family tree. Ancestors are long gone and dead. They cant really pop back in to explain that one. And no, I wasn’t raised up bein’ told how proud we are for those ancestors ownin’ slaves. In fact, I don’t know of any that did. Not sayin’ they didn’t. Just sayin’ no one in my family wanted to be owned, much less taught us how to own another. No one sat around the dinner table wishin’ back the good old days where we were all livin’ in high cotton. We were too poor or on a budget to have cotton, folks. The only “Back in the Day” stories my Grandma told me were ones of dread and they had to do with the Great Depression. We weren’t taught to hate another because of their Color. We were taught how to grow things, not to waste– especially food, not to lie, never to cheat, and never stick our big fat noses in our neighbors business– although at times, even Grandma failed at that one.

A few of my Aunts tried to teach me about God while my Mother– broken by her own reasons– taught me how to raise my damn self and to be weary her men, who drank and swung a heavy fist. My goal as a kid– survive being a kid. I was poor, and not the good and honest kind. I was poor because my Momma didn’t wanna work and she didn’t care for her kid. I was poor like most folks around me, who were even though they worked, and those folks were of all colors. genders and sizes. If you were on welfare, you were ashamed to be on welfare. It wasn’t a badge of honor. Most like us, no matter how badly they could have used it, would have let their kids starve before going on it. Looking back now, Im not real damn sure how I didn’t starve. And I know I’m not saying starve your kids before getting it. I’m just explaining how things were then verses now. We lived frugally, modestly, and tried to do right by our churches and neighbors. If we had any sort of White Privilege, I never knew it. For the most part, the Police were fine as long as you listened. A jerk was a jerk whether they wore a badge or worked behind a register. And a jerk was gonna be a jerk no matter what Color or gender you were.

No one flew a Confederate Flag in my family when I was growing up. Some cousins had them hanging on their walls, and on T-shirts. We never thought that flag stood for slavery, though, or the South’s racist stand to keep slavery alive. We never looked at General Lee and thought, what a monster. And when someone said, “The South would rise again.”, it didn’t mean we would have slaves back. It meant we would one day be able to live a better life for a better wage. It meant that our people wouldn’t be beaten down in unsafe factories or jobs with little pay while their health and better years flew out the window as if they never existed in the first place. It meant freedom. That flag of ours meant freedom. ALL of us. No matter what Gender, Race or Religion. We’d be free and not beaten down like dogs by life, the economy, the government or anything. And it was a wake up call. A horrific, wake up call. That our ancestors stood against an unstoppable force – the Government– in an attempt to stop it. That meant life was turned upside down. Families were separated, died, starved, were murdered, raped or God knows what else. It meant brother stood against brother all because some politicians said so. And the lives lost never justified what little was gained. Do you know what we believed when it came to the Civil War? Why we think it was a ruse? From the blue collar position, the truth was loud and clear. If it was all about setting the black man free, then why did he struggle for so long after? And his life wasn’t rosey up North either. That’s the damnedest thing. No. the war was about politicians and what they wanted. Slavery was just the false reason to start the fight.

You see, when hard times set fire to a community, its a wildfire that doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t give a damn who your ancestors were or what color your skin is. Doesn’t give two shakes where you come from or how bad you had it. Doesn’t care how hard you’re tryin’ or how close you are to giving up or making it. It will burn through a Black Man’s home just as ruthlessly as it does a white man. When black babies go hungry, their bellies growl just as awful as a white child. But we don’t define kids as black and white in my community – where real mountain and country people roam. Hunger is hunger, and we do our best to prevent it regardless of one’s last name or color. I judge people by their deeds. How they treat me, my children and each other. If your a crap-head, then I don’t care if you are white, black or purple. You don’t get to come around me and my life and be a crap=head. Take your nonsense elsewhere.

Now, I know as sure as you, that there are some people out there that are filled with Hate. They may scream about Black people, but rest assured, they are screaming about me too. They just hate. Period. They hate Color, Religion, and they hate by Gender. They hate names, social standing, anything really. You know what we do with people like that where I am from?

We don’t give them our attention. We don’t give them our time. We don’t give them anything. Do you know what happens to someone who stands out there all by themselves screaming hate? Eventually they shut the hell up and go home because no one is there to scream to or about. No one is there to fight and argue. No. One. Is. There.

And here is something else I know. Hateful people come in all colors, shapes and sizes. You don’t get a pass because of your color. You don’t get a pass because your ancestors might be slaves. You don’t get a pass because you are white complaining against other white people. Hate is Hate no matter how you or anyone else tries to justify it. Its wrong. And sure enough, everyone hates something or someone. But that’s okay….we don’t need anyone’s approval to be who we need to be. To be who we are.

And let me tell you something else, when you scream about General Lee and call him names and that he is racist, you are showing your lack of education. Lee inherited slaves that he set free. He didn’t believe in slavery and he was one of few that would train a black man on an equal level as a white man. He also was quoted in saying how they were equal. Lee fought because he was a Virginian and Virginia has a deep sense of pride in it’s land and people. Back then, at least. To kill a neighbor or turn your back on your birth- state was like raising a hand to strike down God. And we won’t even go into how the South wasn’t even fighting to keep Slaves. I don’t care what your opinions are about the Civil War. I just care that many of you are so heartless, that you could care less if there was another one.

I believe in less Government. Live and let live. You do as you must and I’ll do, here on my land, what I must. As long as we harm no one and obey Laws. As long as we respect everyone’s right to live as they so desire to live. I don’t care what people do in their personal life. They can love a woman, a man, or themselves, for all I care, as long as everyone is consenting and backs off those who are under-aged and not consenting.

I don’t care if you hate our flag, just respect what it means to me and others. If it means hate to someone, you will know it sure enough. They’ll be out there screaming about it but as I said before, don’t give them an audience or any attention. They’ll go home sure enough. We choose what power their words have. We choose whether we react, whether they harm us, or whether we even give a damn. They can spew crap all day long, but it is our choice on whether we take it to heart.

And while I don’t care if someone is Gay or not, this whole Bathroom thing is insane as well. Why cant we just put one stall, Family restrooms everywhere? Then no one needs to feel invaded or denied their Rights. See, that’s the thing as well, you can’t push something on someone else if they are not comfortable with it. So create a situation where everyone can be happy. Im not sure why no one can agree to that? Instead, we seem focused on making everyone okay with what we want– and that’s never gonna happen. And why do we need other people to be okay with…US? Be You and Ill be ME. Happiness is not found in other peoples approval.

Last, but not least, who the hell cares anymore what Melania Trump’s shoes are? I’m sick and tired of our headlines always tearing down a woman– what she can wear, what she shouldn’t, she looks fat, ugly, old. Stop tryin’ to dictate what we look like and stop tearing my Sisters down because we dont fit into the “Stepford” box you;re trying to bury us in. I don’t care what shoes that woman was wearing. I care about the fact that North Korea just fired a weapon over Japan. I care about lifting each other up and taking care of those in my community who are in need. Im concerned with the cost and condition of our food. Im concerned about wages– about families where both adults work but still cant get by. I care about being segregated not by race but by how rich or poor we are. There’s the real threat. I care about people segregating themselves because you think you are the victim but really you’ve become the monster you’ve been screaming about. I care about whether or not I will have a retirement or if they will take my home because of the endless piles of doctor bills and taxes holding me under water. I care about our crooked government, of all crooked governments and the people stuffing Politicians pockets and paying off Media in order to distract and divide us. I care that they are not held accountable for false News or distorting facts to suit their own agenda and message. And the thousands of self-serving, selfish, lazy, no good con-artists in between that are taking advantage of an already horrible situation.

If all those people rioting took on the corruption of Washington, homelessness, human trafficking (Your present day form of slavery that doesn’t discriminate against color, lifestyle or gender), education, the economy and health, can you just imagine what we could accomplish? But in stead we argue over dead men, flags, bathrooms and shoes. And guess what happens after that? After all the statues are knocked down, after all of the schools are renamed, after bathrooms are open to one and all, after Melania Trump puts on sneakers, there will still be corruption, homelessness, education, economy and health problems, and human trafficking.   And I bet not one fist or curse word would be raised over any of that. Sad. Just sad.