28 June 2010

Family recipe Monday: appetizers

Roses in the Johnson garden

I think it's summer. Maybe. Most of the time. Except when it isn't. We seem to be having a fair number of hot humid mornings, then late afternoon/early evening thunderstorms with drastic temperature drops. On Saturday we were moving lab equipment into the new building, and the day came to an abrupt halt when a major storm thundered in out of nowhere. The hailstones were golfball-sized and jagged like ice flowers, and the noise in the 2-story atrium was phenomenal. As was the cleanup when we discovered that workmen had left a roof access door open. It was a lot like being in a WWII submarine movie, swarming up the ladder to close the hatch as the waters came pouring in.....
After a day like that, it's not the time to think about complex cooking, so I paged over to the appetizer section of Simple Gifts for cooler suggestions. What I found were some true nostalgia trips instead. I may not make these any time soon, but I have the road maps to do so once I'm ready.

Here's another recipe on scratchpad paper from a small West Texas business associate of my grandfather's.   
Vada’s pizza snacks
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Dash black pepper
1 small can chopped chillies
½ cup cooking oil
Dash hot sauce
3 T vinegar
1 small can chopped ripe olives
Minced onion
1 small can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients. Spread on rye bread or cocktail bread. Bake for 20 minutes at 350*. [Mixture] will keep in refrigerator.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Popcorn balls are not seen all that often any more and are definitely not made at home often these days. They were everywhere when we were growing up, it seems. This recipe was apparently found verbatim on every package of 3 Minute Brand Popcorn and dates back to at least the 1950s. Everyone seems to have a copy in recipe files of that vintage. 3 Minute Brand seems to have gone the way of most other non-microwave popcorns, eheu fugaces. If at all possible, don't use microwave popcorn for this recipe: you want it fresh, dry and unsalted. You will definitely want to butter your hands, the spoon, and everything else in the vicinity. It's all worth it.

Popcorn balls
2 ½ quarts popcorn balls
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ light corn syrup
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Measure popped popcorn into buttered bowl (4-quart or larger). Combine together in 1-quart heavy saucepan the sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and vinegar. Stir over heat until sugar is dissolved. Cover, bring to boil and let boil briskly for 3 minutes. Uncover, insert candy thermometer, and cook mixture to hard boil stage (260*). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour slowly over popped corn, stirring with a large buttered spoon to coat each kernel. Immediately form into balls. Handle gently to avoid packing. Use butter on hands if necessary. Yields 12 balls, 2 ½ “ diameter.

Here's something from Gene's Pennsylvania Dutch family recipe files to sip on summer evenings. "Shrub" is a term for sweet, slightly acid fruit drinks that goes a long, long way back. There are many versions of this, most made up as sweet fruit vinegars. All versions agree that this is a perfect hot weather drink and that it can be mixed with a variety of alcoholic beverages as desired. Rum seems to be the top choice, which works for us. Dolly's version uses lemon juice instead of vinegar. The mix will keep in the refrigerator for a few days and is best served the day after it is prepared, so that the flavors have time to deepen.

Raspberry shrub
10 servings or 2 1/2 quarts

Mix, cool in saucepan 10 minutes:
3 pints raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Strain and cool. Add 1 cup lemon juice and 2 quarts water. Serve with crushed ice
--Dolly Hess

Bon appetit, y'all, and Happy Monday. Stay cool and sweet.

24 June 2010

Lines for a summer reunion

Sunrise on the Caprock

This weekend is a grand reunion for my high school classmates. Alas, it's not possible for me to attend this time around. We haven't done badly, judging from the notes many of us are posting--we fanned out across the country and the world, found our places, found our partners, became learners and teachers, parents and professionals, searched for and found meaning in life, and now are reuniting to renew the bonds of the heady years of high school. Sometimes it does not seem that this passage of time is even possible, especially when a dear friend picks up the conversation exactly where it left off thirty-plus years ago. Weren't we just talking a few days ago? How can it be years instead?

We were idealists; much of that idealism has largely been lost to the realities and joys and sorrows of life. Not all dreams came true. Not everyone is still here with us. Somehow, though, somehow that bright thread of idealism winds through our talking and writing. We are still those starry-eyed youngsters at heart, even with laugh (or life) lines around those eyes. And the best of us will always be in the reflection we see in our friends' eyes.

So here's to the Westerners. I could not be prouder to belong to this class.

The years that pass could never make us strangers—
Our youth shows clearly in each other’s faces.
We’ve come so far, such pleasures and such dangers,
We’ve forged new bonds of strengths and loves and graces
We did not know that joys would come so purely
Or that sorrows could reshape our souls and hearts.
We did not know that time would pass on, surely,
And that we’d lead the way, with stops and starts.
We did not know that friendship comes too rarely,
That friendship counts no hours and has no clock.
We did not know that life may not run fairly,
Or that we had the strength that none could lock.
We did not know then just what we would be,
But we sensed that, what we knew, the world would see.
--Sally Shelton, 24 June 2010

22 June 2010

Heroes: Clarence Wolf Guts

I helped win the war, I helped, me and my buddies.”
--Clarence Wolf Guts, 1924-2010

Clarence Wolf Guts sits on the steps of his son's home in the town of Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. (Steve McEnroe/Rapid City Journal)

I have been awed by the saga of the Navajo code talkers for as long as I can remember knowing about them. The brilliance of encrypting messages and references in an ancient language, a code that simply could not be broken, is incredible. Heroism is so often overlooked in the quiet corners, where it happens just as often as it does in the large arenas.

What many people do not realize is that the Navajo were not the only Native American tribal group recruited as code talkers in the Pacific campaign of World War II. There were at least 18 groups, including soldiers from South Dakota. The last of these men, Clarence Wolf Guts of the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation, died last week. He was one of 11 Lakota, Nakota and Dakota speakers recruited for this effort, and he was just 18 years old when that happened. He came home to no recognition and had a very difficult time dealing with post-war stress, but had become a speaker on the subject of the code talkers for the last decade. Thanks to the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008, the service of these warriors has finally been honored.

Today the flags in South Dakota will fly at half-mast in his memory. As Governor Rounds is quoted as saying in the Rapid City Journal, "Clarence Wolf Guts and other code talkers were true heroes...They turned their Native American languages into codes that our enemies never were able to crack, and that helped win the war against Japan and Germany."

The Lakota code talkers relied on a phonetic alphabet based on Lakota that they used to create a unique Lakota code. Clarence Wolf Guts and his cousin Iver Crow Eagle Sr. traveled from one Pacific island to another in the thick of battle, transmitting messages constantly from the generals to the chiefs of staff.

Unlike the Navajo, they did not create a written dictionary, and it is possible that the Lakota code has been lost to time. As the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community site somberly notes, "It would be difficult to form a Lakota code-talker unit today because most of the estimated 8,000 speakers are elderly people and few young Lakotas can speak the language fluently."

Here is the deeply moving opening line from the Rapid City Journal's story by Holly Meyer:
"When the towers of the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, 2001, Clarence Wolf Guts asked his son to call the U.S. Department of Defense to see if the country needed his code talking abilities to find Osama Bin Laden."

And here is the best line of all, from South Dakota Magazine:
"He learned Lakota from his grandfather, Hawk Ghost, and his grandmother, Hazel Medicine Owl. 'My grandfather taught me the facts of life and the Lakota language,' he said. 'He told me "you'll go to school and stay in school.' But he also said to speak Indian because 'you'll need it later in life.'"

We owe these warriors a greater debt than we will ever know. Their radio exchange of information is credited for many battle wins and the saving of many Allied lives in the Pacific theatre. Thank you for your courage, Clarence Wolf Guts. Pilamaya ye.

21 June 2010

Family recipe Monday: iced tea and other summer drinks

Happy summer solstice! To celebrate this day in style (it's the birthday of one of us at Threads and Traces, and therefore practically a national holiday, right?), take one of these tall cool drinks out to the veranda. It's hard to find good verandas any more, but please do your best. Don't forget to chill the pitcher first. We will be out on the deck once the thunderstorms let up, ourselves.

Mint iced tea
If mint grows for you the way it grows for Shirley, you’ll be giving this to all your guests whether they ask for it or not. And don’t forget that there are all kinds of mint varieties to make this even more interesting (pineapple mint would be terrific). Just stay out of the catnip if the cat got there first.

3 cups boiling water
12 sprigs fresh mint
4 regular tea bags
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
6 cups cold water

Combine boiling water, mint and tea, and steep for 8 minutes. Remove tea bags and mint and let tea cool. Combine juices with sugar and water, stirring to dissolve sugar. Strain tea mixture and add to juices. Serve over ice garnished with a sprig of mint.

Vino tè
1 quart boiling water
12 teabags
½ cup sugar
3 cups dry red wine
2/3 cup strained lemon juice
Lemon wedges
Mint sprig 

Pour boiling water over tea bags. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Remove teabags; and sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool. Add wine and lemon juice. Pour into a tall pitcher; add ice cubes. Garnish with lemon wedges and mint sprig. Makes 10 servings.

Finally, here's a classic for a hot summer evening with guests.

Wine welcomer
1 6-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 6-oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 fifth dry white wine (750 ml)
1 cup orange liqueur
1 28-oz bottle carbonated water
Orange slices (optional)

Place frozen concentrates in large pitcher or punchbowl. Gradually stir in 2 cups cold water, mixing till smooth. Stir in wine and orange liqueur. Add carbonated water and ice. Stir gently. Top with orange slices if desired. Serve at once. Yield 22 4-oz servings.

Happy Monday, y'all.

20 June 2010

Father's Day

Mass ascension, Albuquerque. Hot-air balloons are Ralph's totem.

Here's the dilemma: we all want to post a tribute to our father, Ralph, today. Normally one would do that by posting pictures of the honoree throughout the years, and we have a number of those. Posting them, however, especially the tiny-child ones, would get us disinherited retroactively to the dawn of time. And that seems a little bit at odds with the spirit of Father's Day.

Ralph is not the person for whom gifts of ties and mass-produced tchotchkes are or ever have been appropriate. He has made it clear that what matters most is what we can creatively and personally produce ourselves.

So this is an encomium to Ralph, focusing on the things he has taught us to do, and cherish, and be. If a few pictures of him sneak in, it's not our fault.

Pilgrimage at Jefferson, Texas, ca. 1956
Life lesson from East Texas:
"A gentleman never gives offense...unintentionally." R. Shelton
Newspaper editorial offices at Texas Tech, early 1950s. Oh, look, we got a picture of him in after all.
Life lessons from a career in journalism:
  • Do what it takes to get the entire story before you make judgement calls.
  • Photograph everything when you get the chance. Edit later. You may not ever get a second chance.
  • Meet your deadlines. No excuses.
  • There is no excuse for bad or unclear writing. Communicate well.
  • Keep it as objective as possible, but don't be afraid of a little sentiment if it is appropriate.
  • Don't be intimidated by big names. Treat everyone fairly and with respect.
  • If things go wrong in your broadcast, expect a terse call from Ralph to the control room.
  • The fact that Ralph's kids can't ever watch a newscast without picking it to pieces on the technical details is definitely his fault.
  • If you take the photos, you don't ever have to be in the photos. The best pictures are the ones you take, not the ones you are in.

New Mexico adobe with turquoise door
Other life lessons:

  • Navajo weaving is not as easy as it looks. That's no reason not to do it.
  • Nothing is as lovely as New Mexico and West Texas architecture and landscapes.
  • It is better to paint sunsets and landscapes than to try to photograph them.
  • In fact, it is better to paint, or write, or play music, or cook, or to do anything you possibly can do yourself.  



  • The world is a wonderful place. Get out in it. Don't let opportunities go by.
  • The flatlands and canyonlands are the best places, and go well with Bach on the tape player.
  • It's more fun to break your own geodes than to buy cut ones.


  • The best trips are not necessarily the longest or most lavish ones.
  • The best trips are the ones that everyone takes together to nearby hidden wonders.
  • There are hidden wonders everywhere. You have to take the time to find them.
  • It's amazing how a Volkswagen bus can be rearranged to fit a family.

Got him again, sometime in the 1970s.


  • Dogs and other animals make the rest of life so much better. And more complicated. But still better.
  • Of course an adult standard poodle can be a lap dog.
  • Take care of pets at least as well as you take care of yourself.
  • A kid who wants a dog has to go through obedience classes with that dog. They both learn.
  • Your pets and kids will always need you.  


Chair of the Lubbock Library Board

  • Give back to your neighborhood and community. Be involved.
  • Put your family and friends first.
  • Don't ever hesitate to try something new.

Some dads are amazingly hard acts to follow. Happy Father's Day to the best there is.

16 June 2010

More bad weather

View from the deck

For those of us who grew up in Tornado Alley, West Texas, there is no possibility of ignoring weather. We are hypersensitive to the temperature, the sudden pressure shifts that other people may not notice, and that weird green light in the calm humid sky that means a cyclonic wind is about to rake across the flatlands. Thundersnow? Sandstorm? Ball lightning? We've seen just about everything on the prairies except a hurricane. We know the power and the danger of bad weather--some of us have lost dear ones to it--but we are also fascinated beyond words by the awesome sight, even fierce beauty, of it.

Tonight we had a spectacular show, thanks to a rapidly mushrooming storm system that barely grazed our area as it headed out toward the Badlands. This one is packing some violence. We had some lightning, a few minutes of high winds and a bit of rain, but the main system passed by us and gave us a rare sunset as it moved away. As a true West Texas kid, I was outside snapping away with the camera instead of sheltering safely inside. We never claimed to be the brightest bulbs on the string.

The system moving over

Clouds and light

Closeup of icy mammillary clouds, full of hail

Sunset colors, magnified

Overhead sunset streaks, looking airbrushed

End of sunset light

15 June 2010

1938: hobby-noodled damphool bone diggers

Some things never change. Thanks to Greg Brown for sending this gem along. We will keep you posted on the hobby-noodled front....

14 June 2010

Family recipe Monday: jellies and preserves

Mary Marcella Walker Brooks and children

All the signs point to another productive year up here for both cultivated and wild fruit and other produce. This is the third year of good rains after a seven-year drought. Look for the ongoing summer canning saga on these pages as the wild apples and plums ripen and the farmers' market expands. Right now the late spring harvest is just starting, and we're not seeing local fruit yet.

The cooks in our families were all farm girls or just one short drive away from the family farm, and they all saved every possible scrap of food for the winter months. Pickling and canning began in early summer and ramped up throught the first hard frost. That meant many days of boiling away in the hot months, but many more days of fruit in the cold months.

I have a little cookbook from 1934, The Art of Modern Cooking and Better Meals: Recipes for Every Occasion, by Meta Given, which I read every time I need to be reminded that I am a slacker. According to Meta, I should have 970 quarts of canned food put up to feed a family of 5 for a year, including canned meats. I'll get right on that, once I recover from testing her suggestion on how to find out how much pectin is in fruit juice, using equal amounts of the fruit juice in question and grain alcohol. You rock, Meta. We've been running this experiment every evening and will have scientifically significant results as soon as we can remember what it is that we are looking for.

Here are a few suggestions from the Simple Gifts files.

Gran Brooks’s directions for making jelly
For grape, raspberry, blackberry, or plum jelly:

Cook fruit until done in very little water; remove from fire and squeeze through a flour sack. Put juice on fire and boil hard 10 minutes, add as much sugar as juice and when beginning to boil, boil hard 2 minutes and pour in glasses. The time is counted from the time it boils real hard.
--Mary Marcella Walker Brooks

Bear in mind that sugar is a preservative as much as it is a sweetener in these pre-refrigeration and wood-fire recipes. The high heat and sugar release and set as much natural pectin from these particular fruits as possible. Wild plums may need a little help in the pectin department if you want a firm-set jelly, something I don't think my great-grandmother's generation worried about too much as long as there was a good-enough set. They did, however, place a high premium on the clarity (translucency, if you will) of the jelly;  hence the straining directions.

Here's a more recent recipe that produces a lovely preserve.

Marmalade gold
1 orange
1 lemon
1 cup water
2 T lemon juice
~1 lb. fully ripe fresh apricots
~1 lb. fully ripe fresh nectarines
7 cups (3 lb.) sugar
½ bottle Certo

Cut the orange and lemon in half and remove seeds. Do not peel. Chop fine. Simmer the chopped fruit with the water and lemon juice, covered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile peel apricots and nectarines by dipping into boiling water to loosen the skins; pit and slice; chop very fine. Add enough of the apricots and nectarines to the simmered mixture to make 4 1/2 cups. Put in large pan. Stir in the sugar. Over high heat bring to a full rolling boil; boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in Certo. With a large metal spoon, skim off foam. Stir and skim for 5 minutes to cool slightly and avoid floating fruit. Ladle at once into sterilized jelly glasses. Cover with hot paraffin wax. Makes about 8 cups (9 half-pints).
--Shirley Johnson Shelton

If you are canning these in a hot-water bath, the paraffin is not necessary, and vice versa. Certo is concentrated fruit pectin, either liquid or powder.

Here's one for later in the summer. Note that this preserves the entire peach, and you will have to deal with the pits when you are serving them later. Trust me, you won't mind doing that. These are awesome. I'd let them stand for at least a week or two before opening them, to let the flavors deepen.

Sweet pickled peaches
6 lb. peaches
3 lb. sugar
1 pint water
1 pint vinegar
4 oz stick cinnamon
2 oz whole cloves
1 oz ginger

Select firm clingstone peaches. It is better to have them too green than too ripe. Peel and drop at once into a syrup which is made by boiling together the sugar and water and boil for 15 minutes. Cool quickly and allow to stand for from two to three hours. Drain off syrup, put vinegar and spices into it, boil for fifteen minutes, then add the peaches and cook together for half an hour. Let stand overnight. Next morning, drain off the syrup, boil for twenty minutes, add the peaches, and continue cooking for fifteen minutes longer. Cool again and let stand for two hours or overnight, then boil all together until the peaches are clear and tender. Pack peaches into cold jars, garnish with snips of stick cinnamon, cover with strained syrup, seal, and process quart jars for 20 minutes at 180* F (simmering).

Happy Monday.

13 June 2010

I continue to search: Heart of Lubbock Neighborhood Association

Mack and Vada Johnson during the Depression, date uncertain

Today's post is a shameless plug for Shirley's project at the Heart of Lubbock Neighborhood Association site. The Johnson family moved to Lubbock in 1937, when Shirley was 4, and she has never left the neighborhood. She is now photographing and documenting the architecture and other history of the area. You can see a number of her photographs, credited to "Mrs. Shelton," on the site gallery.

Here is the current posting under Curbside History.

"In 1935 Lubbock received a large Works Progress Administration grant for work in the city. Much of the workforce was involved in attempting to clear out and renovate the Lubbock Lake, which had gone dry (Carlson, Centennial History of Lubbock). Some of the workers, however, were involved in paving and curbing projects within the city.

"Markers commemorating the work were set into the concrete curbs at various locations. The brass markers note 'Works Progress Administration 1935–1937.' If you spot one, you’ve witnessed a rare artifact of our city’s heritage!

"For a long time I thought there was only one marker surviving within the Heart of Lubbock neighborhood, at the southwestern corner of Avenue V and 26th Street, on the street side. Then, in a single day, I discovered four others. The markers are not placed uniformly, but seemingly at random: one is on the avenue side of an intersection; one is on the southeastern side of an intersection, on the street side; others in the same southwestern corners. Some are in good shape, while some show obvious deterioration over the years since they went embedded in concrete.

"I continue to search."

Shirley Shelton
Shirley at Texas Tech, majoring in journalism

You can probably tell that the Plains architecture series posted here is inspired by Shirley's Heart of Lubbock project and philosophy. We lose first what we document least, and sometimes that which is most familiar and immediate to us is what we are most likely to forget to save. Take a moment to celebrate the ordinary and the everyday--they disappear from view when we least expect it, and they are what shape us most.

07 June 2010

Family recipe Monday: chicken and pasta

Left to right: Vada Brooks Johnson, unknown child, Coy McLean Brooks, Mary Marcella Walker Brooks, Lubbock, 1940s. Daughter, daughter-in-law and mother.

We hit the Farmers' Market in Founders Park on Saturday, the first one of the summer. It's still a bit early in the produce year up here, but not too much so. Results: rhubarb, asparagus, radishes, a nice Hutterite chicken, and two triple-berry cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The rolls were on sale at a place that primarily sells fresh produce, therefore they were automatically health food by association. Honest. The tamales on sale will also be pure health food, for the same reason. Now we're trying to figure out if we make the resultant rhubarb pie with peaches and/or blackberries included, or if we leave the rhubarb in splendid isolation. That'll be health food, too, as it contains fresh fruit. We are practically exploding with health around here.

This particular chicken will be roasted to save all that free-range goodness, but the Simple Gifts files are full of other suggestions. Pairing chicken and pastry or pasta is especially frequent. Here is the classic family recipe that no one ever wrote down until Shirley and I sat down and pieced it together.

Chicken and dumplings
Boil 1 chicken (pieces) in 3 gallons water. Remove chicken and shred meat from bone. Reserve meat and discard bone and skin.

Make the dumplings by cutting Crisco into flour with pastry cutter until it looks like coarse meal. Add just enough ice water to make dough stick together and roll into ball. Roll out thin and cut into strips with knife. Cut strips into squares (about 2”) and add to boiling broth. When done, add 1/2 gal. milk to broth. Serve hot.
--Mary Marcella Walker Brooks, Vada Brooks Johnson

Another classic of country cooking and a comfort food without equal. This recipe was never really written down; it was one of those things that was just passed down. You're supposed to know this stuff genetically, I think.

Note: we usually leave the chicken meat on the side so that people can add as much as they like (or don’t). It can just as easily be added back to the broth before serving. The only other spices added to the broth might be salt and pepper to taste, and that is often left out of the cooking and placed on the side instead. I don't add milk to the broth, personally. You may, if you are not a strict traditionalist, prefer fresh or dried herbs in the dumplings; I can recommend lemon thyme highly.

This recipe makes Gene and me nostalgic for the Delaware diner we frequented. Sunday mornings featured all-you-can-eat chicken and dumplings starting at 10, a special not listed on the menu.You just had to know about it. Gene makes careful note of whether dumplings are floaters or sinkers, as good Pennsylvania Dutch cooks prefer the former. I can't say I ever noticed that there was a difference, possibly because this recipe makes sinkers and that's all we knew. There are slippery dumplings, too. Who knew? Shirley notes that, in her latter years, Vada substituted strips of flour tortillas for rolled-out dough dumplings as a work- and time-saver.

Here is a great crypto-classic. This makes a casserole, in case you're curious what the outcome is.

Chicken tettrazini
1 large chicken, cook and remove from bone
1 large package spaghetti or macaroni
1 lb. cheese
1 can pimiento
1 can mushrooms
1 can mushroom soup
½ can ripe olives
1 large onion, celery and 1 bell pepper, cooked in bacon drippings

Cook spaghetti in chicken broth.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

That's it. Those are the directions. What are you waiting for? This one practically needs a full concordance, doesn't it? You are going to cook the chicken in water until it is done and leaves you with a lovely stock/broth. After removing the chicken to cool and debone, you are going to use the stock to cook the pasta. Strain the pasta from the stock and save the stock for another day. Its job is done for now. Layer the ingredients with pasta first, then everything else in order, repeating as needed, with a layer of cheese on top. Bake the casserole at 350* for 30 minutes or so, until the top is nicely golden. This is enough for two casseroles, in accordance with the casserole rules.

The cheese is your call; I'd use a nice white cheese like a Gruyere or buffalo Mozzarella, but I'm sure that this recipe originally used a Cheddar more on the mild side than the sharp side, affectionately known as rat trap cheese. Obviously, you can use something other than bacon drippings to saute those vegetables. The can of mushroom soup puts this recipe firmly in the 1950s, as does the "pimmento," as does the pasta itself, which arrived relatively late in West Texas. This is a good solid Sunday night supper. Remember, dinner is at noon; supper is at night.

The third and final recipe today is another winner from our wonderful Aunt Coy. You can tell by the various cards' condition just how popular it has been. It has those 1950s ingredients, too.

Aunt Coy’s chicken spaghetti
1 fat hen
1 green pepper, chopped
3 stems celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 boxes spaghetti
1 can pimientos
1 can mushrooms
½ lb. cheese, grated
1 can mushroom soup

Cook chicken until tender in chicken broth salt and pepper to taste. Cool chicken, then remove from bone and cut into small pieces. Remove 1/4 cup fat from chicken broth and fry pepper, celery and onion in it until it is tender. Cook spaghetti until tender in chicken broth (add more water if needed) add chopped chicken and pre-cooked pepper, celery and onion. Place in casserole, cover with grated cheese, heat in slow oven until cheese is melted. (Good made day before and warmed on serving day.)
--Coy McLean Brooks

Happy Monday. Remember to keep one and share one.

05 June 2010

Barn quilts: two favorite things merged

Barn quilt beauty posted at the Barn Quilts of Sac County site

Is it Saturday already? I'm not at all sure how that happened. We have started the move into the new building, and things are beyond hectic. Hecticity? Hecticness? There has to be a word for it. Let's just say that you can have the irresistible force (a 3-ton hoist) meet the immovable object (a fossil block the size of a Harley, still in its plaster field jacket). Winner: neither. Draw. The hoist could lift the block, but could not move it forward. We moved over 60 field jackets into the new building in the past two days and seem to be on track to finish the project on Monday, with one notable exception: a fossil block the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, slightly flattened. Look for details from the survivors sometime next week, when we are out of traction.

It will be a long summer of moving, and I'll post highlights on the weekends.

In the meantime, how come no one ever told me about the Midwest gems known as barn quilts? Quilts painted on wood and attached to barns and other such structures! Now I have a new reason (as if I needed one) to stop without warning in the middle of rural roads, tick off farm equipment operators and scare the cattle. The Kansas City Star Quilts team has posted a tribute here. This sent me to an Internet search, in which I found out that many places, including the relatively close-by rivals Sac County, Washington County and Humboldt County, Iowa, have a major presence in this field. Architecture of the open places, meet painted quilts.

I think I'm in love. Now I have to find out if these cross the Missouri and make it to West River, South Dakota.

Barn quilt posted by Mary Howell of Lebanon, Tennessee, at the KC Star Pickledish site