Category Archives: Uncategorized

Complete Sourdough Starter with Fantastic Recipes!

My longtime friend Kim recently made my family VERY happy when she passed along a quart jar of bubbly sourdough starter! Now I know why the forty-niners guarded their sourdough with their lives. For more about that be sure to check out the link.

Read no more if you are trying to avoid such scrumptious treats as the BEST caramel topped long johns you’ve ever had, deliciously fluffy pancakes and soft sweet homemade breads…

But if you want to wow the hubby and kids, and do it via these EASY recipes…keep reading!

Sourdough Starter

To make your initial batch of  starter, combine the following ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring only occasionally. I use a glass quart jar with a piece of cheesecloth on the top, held on by the jar ring.

  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (I use warm potato water)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 TB instant potato flakes (I substitute about 4 TB cooked potatoes, mashed with a fork)

Store the starter in the refrigerator until ready to use, and yes, it does smell sour!

About 24 hours before you want to bake bread, take the starter from the refrigerator and “feed” it the following:

  • 3 TB instant potato flakes (or 3 TB cooked mashed potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (again, I use warm potato water)

I usually feed my starter in the morning and let it sit out on the counter all day, covered with the cheesecloth. Stir occasionally throughout the day. That evening mix up the bread dough as follows:

With a wooden spoon and a large bowl and lots of muscle, stir together these ingredients:

  • 1 cup starter
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 1/2-7 cups flour

Allow the bread dough to set out on the counter overnight–covered. Put the jar of starter back in the refrigerator until you need it again.

The following morning the dough should be ready to shape into bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls–whatever. It is also very good rolled flat, cut into rectangles and deep fried for long johns and frosted with caramel frosting:

(This could NOT be easier)

Caramel Frosting

~tip–do not make this till all your long johns are fried, otherwise it will harden in the saucepan. Wait till they are fried, make the frosting and immediately spread it on the warm long johns…it spreads easily and hardens to the perfect consistency. I’m telling you, these are too good. I usually make half the dough into a loaf of bread and the rest into long johns, otherwise, it makes WAY too many long johns.

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 3/4-2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter or marg. and add brown sugar. Boil over low heat, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add milk and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Slowly add powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. Spread on long johns and enjoy!

Allow bread or rolls to rise in warm place about 2 hours. This is after you’ve let the dough sit out for an equivalent of overnight, or 8 hours. Shape it into rolls or bread loaves and let rise 2 hours then bake rolls at 350*F for thirty minutes, bread at 400*F for 35-40 minutes. Make sure your loaves are done in the middles. :O)

This starter also makes wonderful pancakes!!

Sourdough Pancakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 TB sugar
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups starter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 TB oil

Mix dry ingredients together, then mix liquids together and add to flour mixture. Cook on hot griddle.

This starter can also be substituted for buttermilk in recipes.

As a rule of thumb, try to use your starter at least once every 10 days. It needs fed that often to maintain a healthy, yeasty action. If you have extra, take out a cup of starter and give it to a friend with these instructions!

Have fun!

P.S. Most starter recipes call for a cup of white flour and a cup of warm water to be added as the weekly “feed”…I like this particular version because you use real potatoes instead of white flour. However, I’m still experimenting on using whole wheat flours. If any of you more experienced cooks out there have successfully substituted honey or some other sweetener for the starter, please tell us about it in comments! TIA!

Okay, so it’s Poison Sumac

Hello, me here! My mil came and got the girls and I’m going stir crazy walking around with every appendage swollen and oozing. Decided to share the joy with you all and document this lovely process with pictures!

What a mercy though, that this poisonous process held off pretty much long enough for me to enjoy my visit with friends on Monday, because by Monday evening all bets for an easy recovery were OFF! Tuesday morning I was dying (yes, I know it could be a lot worse!) and called the pharmacist to ask him about a couple of products I’d heard could help me out. Zanfel and Technu. Apparently, Zanfel is a great product to quickly get you over poison ivy, etc, but according to the pharmacist, you have to start it right away, as soon as you break out with the rash. So much for that, then. (**EDITED TO ADD: I found out in the comments section below, from someone at the Zanfel laboratories, that Zanfel is proven to be effective at ANY time after outbreak!) Technu is a soap that removes the oils, again, you have to use it pretty much right after exposure. One of my friends recommended Burt’s Bees poison ivy wash…something I think I’m going to have to keep on hand after this…

So the pharmacist told me my only hope this far in the game would be to get a steroid shot. Normally I would tough this out, but my eyes were swollen shut Tuesday morning…everything affected was hot and in pain. With school about to start, I just could not imagine walking around holding my eyelids up with my fingers to see things! Add to that the fact that the pharmacist predicted this could last anywhere from 7 days to a month, and I was about to bawl! So I wasted no time dialing up our medical clinic to see if I could get lined up fast for the shot.

Thankfully I came to my senses. I mean, steroids are serious, have serious side effects…but–whine–I really didn’t care, so I set up an appt for that afternoon. Then I remembered our nutritionist and decided to call and see if she had any magic cures for poison ivy. But she’s on maternity leave, the receptionist reminds me. Within minutes of hanging up the phone, it rings. It’s Dr. T, the nutritionist, calling me from home–her receptionist had passed along my minor emergency. And Dr. T told me she’d meet me at the office at 2 pm and do a poison ivy/sumac treatment on me. And it would only cost $20! Cool! I called and canceled my appointment with the steroids and hoped for the best.

Hubby got home early to drive me to the appointment–trust me, I didn’t even bother to take my glasses along, can’t see anything anyway, right? Walked into Dr. T’s exam room and she first had to determine whether I had poison ivy or poison sumac. I’d told her I wasn’t sure, as I hadn’t seen any poison ivy, and I *do* know what it looks like after having been plagued by it for years and years!!!

Let me remind you that Dr. T is an applied kinesiologist. She determines, through muscle testing, what internal ailments her patients have. We’ve had great success with her before this…so back to the story…

She tested me with the poison ivy that she keeps in the office, and I resisted it with no problem, but when she had me hold a glass canning jar with poison sumac during the muscle testing…I had no strength to resist the muscle pressure… Bingo, guess I have poison sumac. This info was clinched when she asked if I’d pulled any reddish leaves on a vine up during my weeding. Um, yep, sure did. Boy, I wondered what that stuff was. What an unforgettable lesson!

So the desensitization process began. I held the jar of poison sumac to my forehead while she worked on my spine, then I rolled over and she worked on my hands and shoulders…hard to describe what she did, but it all felt great. I admit, I wondered how on earth this could do any good, but I guess we’ll see, huh. I’m supposed to start healing up w/in 24-48 hours of this treatment. By last night my eyes were less swollen, I could open both of them and actually attempt to read emails, my book, etc. (I’m not one that can stand to sleep the day away, and sitting around with my eyes closed was driving me crazy!)

In some ways, I’m worse. It seems like the sores in between all my fingers have gotten worse and are oozing more–and the backs of my thighs look like someone thrashed me with the leaves of this torturous weed. Nighttime is the worst…laying there, only able to sleep on your back b/c of all the sores on your face and arms. A cold wet washcloth is my best friend…I sleep with one draped on my neck and across my eyes, and everything else is slathered with Aveeno’s anti-itch lotion.

So I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully I make a turn for the better sometime today. The good thing is, my attitude has remained hopeful. I know that’s because of all your prayers. When I start to get down, a praise song comes to my mind, or I think about how much worse it could be, and how THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

I tried to get pictures of myself this morning…I think I look worse in real life, but I’ll let you be the judge! I should have taken pics yesterday when I could barely open my eyes, but you can probably get the idea from these…yes, it’s on my lips, feels like a thick callus of dried on food…just contrast that picture to the one in my header…you can see how distorted and swollen my eyes/nose/jawline, etc are. All these pics were taken after a lukewarm oatmeal bath followed by a cold shower…so nothing was actually oozing, which makes it a more palatable picture journey…believe me! Well, enough “poor me”…lol, I’m already planning on coming back to this post in the future when I’m tempted to groan that things are bad…reviewing these pics should put me in a great mood, don’t ya think? Enjoy your smooth skin, folks!

A Wonderful Week

I apologize for the dead air here on the blog last week…my only excuse? Too many other things vying for my attention–all good things, of course, excepting my daughter’s ear infection! (Please ignore the weird spacing of the pics in this post…I’ve been having such a hard time working with images on WordPress lately! They will not go where I want them to go!!!)

Monday

Monday morning began laid-back and kind of melancholy…we’d had big plans for homeschooling friends to come over for lunch and swimming, only to have the plans fall through Sunday b/c of my friend experiencing some dizzy spells…she’s 8 months pregnant, so we were really concerned. However, she called at 8:30 am and said she was good-to-go! So we ended up having a very joyful, exciting day with her and her three great kids. Pizza and fruit for lunch and ice cream sundaes for dessert, plenty of swimming, toad catching and playtime for all, and a great visit between us two moms! I’d been looking forward to that for a long while!

Alas, she had to leave…and the girls and I had to get to our small town library and turn in our reading time logs by the deadline. The Summer Reading Program–over already…

Tuesday

Woke 10 yo up at 5 a.m. so she could go gather cattle with her daddy–have I mentioned that late July and early August equal many pre-dawn wake-up calls for my cowboy husband as he and the rest of the ranchers round up all the cattle that have been enjoying summer grass and load them on cattle trucks or bring them back to the feedyards? Well, this is pure bliss for my older girls–a chance to ride horseback all day and spend quality time with daddy…

My oldest sister came over around 10:30 am, bringing my niece and nephew for some water-fun and lunch. We enjoyed chicken salad and zucchini quiche, etc, and a leisurely chat together which was long overdue!

That evening, we ran my husband over to the hay field so he could drop off his truck and trailer to his uncle…to be loaded with big bales of prairie hay…and then we ran on into the “city” to the farm store and to drop off our reading program booklets at the “city” library by the deadline!

We got home, fixed a (very) late supper, and oldest threw together a batch of sugar cookie dough to get a jump on chilling it for a cookie-baking marathon the next morning!

Wednesday

Wednesday began at 3:30 am for my 7 yo, being her turn to don jeans, boots and spurs and tag along to work with daddy…I don’t mind admitting that I wasted no time jumping back in bed after seeing them off!

Three or four hours later, I baked two pans of cherry dump cake for the cowboys’ dessert while my oldest painstakingly rolled out the cookie dough from the night before, shaping each treat with our butterfly cookie-cutter. The library’s summer reading program theme was “Bugs” this year, so she wanted to bring a plate of frosted butterflies to the children’s librarian. Aw…yes, very sweet! They turned out so pretty!

At 10 a.m. my husband’s boss called to let me know that the cowboys were finishing up and would be ready for lunch by 10:30! So we flew out the door with our desserts and made it to the pasture barely on time! They’d spent the morning gathering 1,400 head of cattle…about 15 cowboys/girls…and we enjoyed lunching under the shade trees out on the prairie! Brisket sandwiches, potato salad, pickles, trail mix, and cherry dump cake!

Then it was a rush back to town to make it to the library’s Summer Reading Program party at 1 p.m. A bug expert came to talk bugs with us, bringing many live critters and even baked larvae for the children to enjoy! Woo-hoo! (My daughter said it tasted like they were barbequed!) The exciting part is that my youngest won the grand prize drawing of an electronic toy called a Leapster!

After the party we stopped by Dairy Queen for a little ice cream and then we hustled over to the county fair to watch my niece participate in a dog agility course. She won!

Out to my folks’ house to water their flowers and tomatoes…as they’re gone on vacation!

Home in the 103 degree heat for the girls to swim and me and hubby to finish spray-painting the house! YES!

After this, we hopped in the car and headed to the “city” (hope I’m not confusing you all…we did two library programs this summer, the one in our “small town” and the one in the “city”) for their library’s end of summer reading party! It was a mini-carnival, and we really enjoyed seeing several of our homeschooling buddies there…after that was over, we dropped hubby off at the hay field to retrieve his hay-filled trailer and headed home. Another late supper and into bed!

Thursday

My 33rd birthday and 15th anniversary! (Thank you all so much! I got several lovely cards in the mail, as well as a slew of online greetings, you guys are the best!) My oldest got up early and crept into my room to give me a 35 minute back massage! I could start EVERY day off that good!

My 4 year old made me a banner…with 33 written backwards on the back of the Happy Birthday sign…TOO cute! And of course, I received several awesome home-made cards from the best girls in the world!

My oldest prepared breakfast and lunch and made me a two-layer white cake with frosting from scratch…

And my dh took us all out for supper to my favorite Mexican food restaurant and then to Hastings where we found great deals on two of our favorite movies–used–to watch with our birthday cake and ice cream!

My favorite gift? A gorgeous leather Bible cover from my oldest daughter…

Bedtime on this illustrious occasion? After midnight!

Friday

Well, Friday was spent keeping things quiet so my 7 yo could rest and recover from her ear infection. Thankfully I had an exceptional read handy, From a Distance, a new one by Tamera Alexander. Highly recommend this author, and especially this book, the first in her Timber Ridge Reflection series, it’s SO good!

My mother-in-law stopped by with one of my nieces bringing birthday/anniversary fun, we visited for an hour or so, and then I ran to town and out to mom and dad’s to water plants again, solo this time!

We ended the day with our weekly Family Movie Night, watching Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue (which I won recently over at Veggie Tales Review!!). Great family movie!

Yes, the week was busy…but I could have eeked out some online time if the one time I tried our computer hadn’t frozen and refused to shut down and reboot. Didn’t have time to waste messing with it, so I just shrugged my shoulders and decided it could wait till this weekend!

Glad to be back, and I really enjoyed catching up on my blog-reading Saturday!

Fifteen Yards and What Do You Get?

A whole lot of mowing…

Actually, I’m referring to fabric in my title. One of these days, when I finish painting the house and refinishing old furniture (will I ever? hm…) I’ll finally get to sew curtains for the bedrooms in our house! Oldest daughter and I were able to go fabric shopping and sales afforded us enough fabric (15 yards!) to cover all our floor-length needs! I will post pics when we’re done…

I’ve been overcome lately by the good things in my life. Pure richness to be able to spend all day doing what I want to do. Reading to my daughters. Baking sweet rolls. Working in the yard. Plotting birthday parties. Finding sheer enjoyment in a new fifty foot garden hose that makes my watering chores a hundred percent easier. Basking in the fact that I’m only 33 and have a lifetime of summers ahead of me not to mention an eternity of dazzling proportions…

God is so good! What are you thankful for today?

************

Happy Fourth of July fellow Americans!!! If you get a chance to listen to Focus on the Family today, do so! It’s the second part of a really great broadcast about our nation’s Godly heritage. Eye-opening!

Those Little Things

One night after supper the dryer buzzed as if on cue. Have you ever had one of those days? When every time you think relief is in sight, something necessary reminds you that the day is not yet done? Have you ever wondered if anyone cares or notices all the little things you’ve been doing to make their lives so cushy?

I’m sure you have. We’re moms, after all. Like a washing machine on the spin cycle, we dizzily do what we do best!

So imagine me, that night, after supper so very much looking forward to folding a huge load of whites that I grouched out loud (good-naturedly?) about it immediately following supper. Fifteen minutes sped by as I supervised a bit of the after-supper clean-up. On my way to the laundry room, I noticed that my bedroom light was on. Investigating, I craned my neck around the doorway and saw my ten year old, serenely folding clothes, piles of them, all around her on the bed.

Aw. Pass me the Kleenex. Twas a moment I wound around my heart to treasure always, especially on those now and then days when I feel taken for granted.

As if that wasn’t good enough, guess what? She stood up with a stack of her things, and smiled–my kind-hearted, thoughtful, almost teen girl–and said, “I’m always meaning to thank you for organizing my folded clothes into stacks that I can put away quickly. It makes it SO much faster, and I really miss it when I’m the one folding and forget to do it!” (Wow! I’d been doing that for so long, *I* didn’t even notice it anymore! What–ten years now?)

Besides recording this here for my future “rainy days”, I do have a point…

Have you been meaning to thank someone in your life for something, however little, that they do on a regular basis for you?

Take it from me, they will be ever so tickled that you did, and remember it every time they perform that task in the future.

It doesn’t take much of a spin to make big waves.

What are some of the “little things” your loved ones do for you that you don’t take for granted?

Tempting Me

Is anyone else longing for Spring?

I’m so fickle! I love the cozy, house bound days of winter. Snow outside, me and mine inside. Good times. But yesterday as the temperature inched into the 60’s, a part of me flung itself open wide and got drunk on fresh air!

I actually lugged our TV/VCR out onto the deck and did aerobics with an old tape of the Fitness Beach ladies while the girls frolicked in the mud yard, resurrecting last fall’s sandpile toys and leaping for joy on the lonely trampoline.

Two days before, our most recent snow fall had just melted into oblivion. Last night we had the grand mafia of thunderstorms. Today the snow is supposed to fly again. I look around me and see a house in need of Spring airing. Children in need of vigorous, rousing outdoor fun. A husband getting too old to work outside in single digit temps for weeks at a time. And then there’s me, craving an outdoor living room.

Winter, my friend, have mercy on me. Till next December.

Pray for Aviana

Hey Everyone! Please pray for Jessica’s family, of the Farm Fresh blog. Her 3 year old daughter, Aviana, recently had an appendectomy and has been in the hospital since Monday recovering. She’s on morphine for the terrible pain.

Jessica’s other daughter, Brielle, is 1 year old and really not handling this time away from mom. Plus, Jessica is trying to keep her milk supply up so she won’t have to wean Brielle just yet.

I know they’d appreciate your prayers!

Thanks!

Mary

The Television Psalm

I came across this eyebrow raising “Psalm” the other day, and thought it might provoke an interesting conversation!

My Shepherd

The TV is my Shepherd, I shall not want anything else.

It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. It leadeth me away from the Scripture.

It destroyeth my soul. It leadeth me in the paths of sex and violence for the sponsor’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will enjoy the evil, for the blood and sex, they excite me.

It prepares a filthy commercial before me in the presence of my children.

It anoints my head with humanism.

My coveting runneth over.

Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow my family all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house watching TV forever.

Ouch! I certainly don’t think of myself as enjoying the evil, sex and blood of TV, but if one can read this objectively, it still bites.

By the way, we’re on day 5 of no TV/movies and toddler has been doing a ton of coloring…

What is Happiness?

Each Wednesday a mom’s group meets at my church for fellowship and encouragement in marriage, parenting, and Christianity in general. Years ago, before homeschooling, you’d find me there each Wednesday.

A week ago, while helping cook ahead for camp, I sat in on their first meeting of the schoolyear. Michael Pearl’s dvd on “Teaching Responsibility” was chosen as first up for our viewing enjoyment, and it looked so good that I decided I would try to make all the September meetings and get this little gem watched with them! Am I glad I did.

He’s a quite funny character, Michael Pearl, and I’m not referring to his bushy white beard. His sense of humor slips in when you least expect it, and he’s gifted with a directness that makes your head spin.

Here’s what I took away this first session, his words paraphrased by my faulty memory…get the dvd if you want precise!

He said he wants kids to be happy, and most parents think that a happy kid is one that gets their way all the time. To this thought, he shook his head and began telling us what made him and his wife happy. Think about yourself, what makes you happy? Being productive and having something to show for it. What do you do when friends come over? Mr. Pearl takes visiting children out and gives them a knife throwing lesson, or down to his greenhouse to see the biggest broccoli. His wife Debi, author of the wonderful book Created to Be His Helpmeet, shows them her full canning jars or the armoire she recently refinished with her husband.

It makes us happy to share what enthuses us with the ones that come into our lives. When my parents come each week, I have fun showing them what I’ve been up to that week. I like to make something special for us to eat, and my girls take them to look at their latest crafting project, or to read the latest song 9 yo wrote…

So our intro into the “Teaching Responsibility” dvd was a simple lesson on happiness.

What makes you happy? What about your children?

The Past Day and a Half

Three days ago I decided to quit coffee (really, for me, cappuccino). Quit it cold turkey, except for the tiny amounts contained in the green tea I’m using as its replacemencupotea.jpgt. Perhaps one of these days it will taste good to me. I can hope. So far I’ve been dealing without it fairly well, though today I’ve had a lingering headachey weight on my head.

I’m quitting because I’ve noticed in the last six months that when I miss my morning cup and have a particularly long day, I most always get a migraine that evening. Not worth it.

Yesterday some of you noticed that my blog was Poof! Gone. I’d uploaded a database backup plug-in and activated it without realizing I already had one similar already activated. (I never claimed to be techno-savvy). Thankfully MInTheGap fixed my blog and told me what to do the next time this happens. (Sigh. He has little faith in me. Oh well. I’m just glad he wasn’t on vacation and could “save the blog”!)

Yesterday was our last day of homeschool. We celebrated with ice cream cones and hurrahs all around. Today the girls were crafting and playing like crazy…a pretty good indicator of how the rest of summer will play out!

I smoked 5 briskets today, half of what I’m preparing for the lunch we’ll feed the out of town guests coming for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary in June. I’ll keep it in the freezer till the day or two before. Our menu that day will include brisket, turkey, ham, buns to put the meat on, potato salad, veggies/chips/dips, and a really big bowl of grapes. We plan on having cookies set out all day along with coffee, since this is kind of a semi-reunion as well as an anniversary celebration! The reception will be at 2 P.M. with the usual cake, punch, nuts, mints, etc.

I’m really excited to get to see my big brother and his family of 8 who will be coming over from the West Coast. He’s a famous radio talk show host, and the best big brother ever!

Lastly, today was my day to post at Writer…Interrupted. If you want to read it, it’s titled: Weaving Through the Setbacks .

How are all of you?