Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kissing Cousins and Threshing Bees

We went up to Milbank / Big Stone area two weekends ago for the Twin Brooks Threshing Bee and stayed with cousins Ruth and Jerry again. They are great hosts and make us feel very welcome.

We arrived on Friday afternoon; Norm and Jerry took our things to the site and set them up. Ruth and I sat and visited while they were gone. Peanut did very well there - we had her cushy bed with us and I just moved it around to where I was so that she could sleep comfortably - she doesn’t seem comfortable on plain floor, even if it is carpeted

Saturday morning we headed out to the Threshing Bee and I finished setting up. The weather was cool and comfortable so we enjoyed that part of the event. We had a lot of people come in to see me (there is an old cabin that they put me in and put Norm on the back covered porch) and then out to see Norm.

Ruth and I were trying to figure out just exactly what depth of cousindry we are and gave up. Ruth said “I always wanted a kissing cousin - guess that’s you!” We dug in some of her articles about the family and I learned a lot about my mother’s family that I didn’t know.

Ruth let me use our grandmother’s wheel again ("Anna"), but I didn’t bring her home this year (sigh).However 2 days on her was enough to make me content - for now.

Great Aunt Millie on "Anna"
I also read an article that was written in my grandmother’s hometown paper on her 100th birthday. I found out that Nana DID do some spinning (at least I’m pretty sure she did)! She talked about her foster mother and she raising sheep, processing it, spinning and knitting socks to sell for their groceries. Now, if she didn’t spin, wouldn’t she have said “She spun and I knit” or something like that? That makes sense, doesn’t it? I wish I had been smart enough to ask Nana if she had ever spun! Nope, not dumb me!

 Article and picture from the newspaper.  I think Dad has a better picture of Nana but I'm not sure.

I took some Bread and Butter pickles up to Ruth and Jerry. Ruth said “Jerry doesn’t eat pickles,” but opened them that night for supper. Jerry asked her to make some and said “I’ll eat THESE pickles!”

So, Ruth (and Jerry), here is the recipe I promised!

Bread and Butter Pickles

Start with the freshest pickling cucumbers you can find; your pickles are only going to be as good as the produce you start with. The fresher the cucumbers are, the crispier your pickles will be.

* 2 1/2 lbs pickling cucumbers (fresh from the market)
* 1 pound white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup pickling salt (can use Kosher salt as a substitute, regular table salt has additives in it that will turn the pickles dark and muddy - the color of the pickle juice)
* 1 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
* 1 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
* 1 inch cinnamon stick
* 6 allspice berries plus a pinch of ground allspice
* 6 whole cloves plus a pinch of ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon turmeric


1. Carefully rinse the cucumbers, scrubbing away any dirt that may have stuck to the ribs. Slice off 1/8-inch from the ends and discard. Slice the cucumbers in 1/4-inch thick slices, place in a large bowl. Add the sliced onions and pickling salt. Stir in so that the salt is well distributed among the cucumber slices. Cover with a clean tea towel (thin towel, not terry cloth). Cover with a couple of inches of ice. Put in the refrigerator and let chill for 4 hours. Discard ice. Rinse the cucumber and onion slices thoroughly, drain. Rinse and drain again.

2. If you are planning to store your pickles outside of the refrigerator for any length of time, you will need to sterilize your jars before canning, and heat the filled jars in a hot water bath after canning. If you are planning to eat the pickles right away and store them the whole time in the refrigerator, you can skip the water bath step. It's still a good idea to sterilize the jars first, you can do that by running them through the dishwasher, or placing them in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes. To sterilize the jars for canning, place empty jars on a metal rack in a large, 16-qt canning pot pot. (Jars must rest on a rack in the pot, not on the bottom of the pot). Fill with warm water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to warm to keep the jars hot and ready for canning. Remove with tongs or jar lifters one by one as you can the cucumbers. Sterilize the lids by bringing a pot of water to a boil and pouring water over a bowl containing the lids.

3. In a 4 qt or 6 qt pot, place the vinegar, sugar, and all of the spices. Bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the sliced cucumbers and onions. Bring to a boil again. As soon as the sugar vinegar solution begins boiling again, use a slotted spoon to start packing the hot jars with the cucumbers. First pack a jar to an inch from the rim with the vegetables. Then pour hot vinegar sugar syrup over the vegetables to a half inch from the rim. Wipe the rim clean with a paper towel. Place a sterilized lid on the jar. Secure with a metal screw band.

4. If you are planning to store pickles outside of refrigerator, process the filled jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Return filled jars to the same canning pot with its already hot water. Water level needs to be at least one inch above the top of the cans. Bring to a boil and let boil hard for 10 minutes. Remove jars from pot. Let cool down to room temperature. Jars should make a popping sound as their lids seal. If a lid doesn't properly seal, do not store the jar outside of the refrigerator. Makes about 5 pint jars.

This past weekend Candy and I went to the Butterfield Threshing Bee. We had been invited there last year and were asked to come again. We don’t wear period costumes but were in modern clothes.

It was hotter than Hades on Saturday. I wasn’t sure if we would make it the whole day. There were several things that kept us alive and sitting there. Pickles: dill pickles are essential on days like this; they give you salt and tartness which picks you up when you are melting to the floor. Lemonade: the gals that ran the building (Fine Arts building) had coffee, cookies, brownies and iced lemonade. Breeze: we had a slight breeze every once in a while to keep us going. The heat index was about 98ยบ which is pretty hot, to my way of thinking!

Sunday felt better - it was breezy most of the day and the humidity dropped. Also the length of time was shorter. On Saturday we were there from 8:00 until 4:30. On Sunday the building didn’t open until 10:00 and we left at 4:00. However the heat and humidity was there - we just were either used to it or didn’t feel it because of the breeze.

This was volunteer time, just like the Twin Brooks one the last weekend. But this one is to spread our “Stitches in Time” meetings and our “Sisters’ Thing” business.

Now I have a break until the 2nd weekend in September (not that far away) when we go to Pepin Wisconsin for the Laura Ingalls Wilder weekend there.

Peanut is recovering well. She staggers and stumbles in long grass or uneven ground or when she rushes on slippery floors but otherwise is almost back to normal. She does not jump up anymore ... just kind of bounces on all fours if she is excited. She also will not go up stairs - except the one going into the house - and asks to be carried. She will go down the one stair going out but the 4 going down from the bedroom / studio area are to be avoided and be carried. We are so relieved that she has recovered to the extent that she has. If she never does stairs again, that will be fine but I’m thinking she might, eventually.

It’s a beautiful day today - going to be in the lower 70s and breezy. You have a beautiful day.

1 comment:

Candy T said...

That's a neat article about Nana, but I also like knowing that "Anna" was brought over with our Great, Greats in the 1880s.

Let's hope Butterfield is not that hot next year.