Sunday, December 13, 2009


Last week I was conversatin' with my sister on the phone:
Tami~so what are you up to today?
Jody Blue~not much, well I am doing something that is going to make you down right jealous.
T~rEALly? Well it had better be pretty good because right now I'm eating a double.. chocolate.. cup cake...and its filled..with chocolate. Can you do better than that?
JB~by a mile, I am setting up THE Nativity set;)
T~(busting out in laughter) You HAVE to blog that!

The story of the B family Nativity
My Mom made it in 1972 in ceramics and when she brought it home, we were in awe, and I don't mean awe like in awful I mean real awe, it was so pretty and she had worked hard on it. She had talked about it for weeks. Once the Christmas tree was up my brother Rock and I would set the Nativity up under the Christmas tree. Some years we would find a cardboard box for a stable. We would poke a hole in the back and fish a Christmas tree light to shine upon the baby Jesus. Some years they went with out a cardboard stable. Mom had always wanted to have someone build a wooden stable, but that never came to pass. We always put the Babe in last(I'm sure there was more than one fight on who's turn it was to actually place the Babe in the manger). We always referred to it as "the Nativity set". One year when I had just a couple of kids and I knew she hadn't used it for awhile I asked if I could use it. Now to be fair I have offered it on more than one occasion to each one of my siblings to have it so their children could experience the joy...they have all declined. So my kids have taken turns setting it up year after year. They always remembered who did it the last year, but that's usually after a bit of a dust up had taken place. They always save the baby Jesus to be put in the manger last. They have also been known to move it around to their own personal interpretation of how the Blessed event actually took place, and that has caused REALLY big dust ups! This year with just two boys left at home I decided to take a turn, for old time sake.

I had a chuckle the when I first brought it to our home over 20 years ago and realized that it was not historically accurate. The shepherds dressed in lime green and orange just make me smile and Joseph would have never been able to afford a red robe, on and on. Us B kids had no clue and were so impressed that all of the wise men royal robes matched their own personal camel blankets. I was always a bit star struck over the golden angel, and it can still be a challenge to find the right place to hang her, as it was when we were kids. Notice no stable, and I have no plans to provide one, some year I may find them a nice cardboard box.

The cow has a crescent moon on it and the B family initial on its behind...or maybe Mom was just labeling its B-hind:)
That poor sheep has lost both ears and some of the camels are missing tails. The little donkey was not a part of the set Mom made. It was one of the very few things that had been recovered when our house burned in Jan 1970. Mom had repainted him and added him in. My kids have since named him Madrikh after a Little Golden Book story The Christmas Donkey. When he comes out of the box I remind them that he has been threw the fire twice(I know there's a spiritual lesson in there some where!) so they have to be oh so careful with him.
The kneeling boy has a blue goats hair tunic and coordinating baby blue under garment and head band. I have always loved the color and texture of that sheep, he's probably as close to accurate as he can be for ceramics made in America in 1972.
The baby Jesus is missing part of one hand. There is usually a discusion on which way He should be placed. Grace says facing His Mama, the boys say Mary shared him with the world so he should be facing so we all can see him. Him and the manger are moved often threw out the Christmas season.
Although the Bible does not actually name the wise men, in a myth dating back to the medieval days says their names were , Melchoir, Gaspar not Balthasar...
...BUG EYES!?!
No matter how my Mom tried and had others try they just couldn't get his eyes right. We have always very affectionately referred to him as Bug Eyes. We would say that of course his eyes are bugging he just saw the baby Jesus for the first time. Let me tell you its not just his eyes that has had issues. The poor guys head was broken off with in the first couple of years. And try as we might Rock and I could not get that thing to stay on. Elmers school glue just wouldn't hold, nor would super glue, so we stuffed a pencil down his broken throat and put his head back on. But his head wobbled so we wrapped a kleenex around the pencil and that held as well as could be expected, yet with a noticeable wobble. Things are looking up for 'ol Bug Eyes, when I started working at the local high school I took ol' Bug Eye's in to the art teacher and he glued his head back on and it has stuck for about 9 years now. He does still bear the scar and I don't know if the pencil and kleenex are still in his neck, I could look up the hole on the bottom but I'd hate to embarrass him, he has already been threw so much. He is loved though, and every year when I remind my two brothers and sister that I set up "THE Nativity set" they always ask how ol' Bug Eye's is doing;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One man Canned

The Sauerkraut process was a bit off this year. The cool fall weather caused it to stall in the fermentation process, so Jon had to drag the crock into the wood shop,
and turn on the furnace to warm it up so it would get done.
It finally was ready to can the second week in November (I know I'm behind but I have been having some computer problems, back problems, Grace moving out :( and just plain trying to keep my head above the current!!). We for got to do our annual drinking of the kraut juice, most of the kids were not at all bothered by this miss of tradition.
Jon single-handedly canned it all~all by him self. He did 14 quarts a night for 4 nights and then on the 5th night did some pints. That will last us, and some to share, if you happen to darken our back door he will pull down and jar and send it home with you.
He is impressive!!
The fruits of his labor!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


My raspberry patch was HUGE this year! I think it was the cool weather we had, the summer heat just wasn't around to stunt their growth. Some of the canes were over 6 foot tall. It made for really nice picking with no stooping, which I took as a personal gift from the Lord!
I'm sure I've mentioned how much I love picking berries, here I am in my berry pickin' attire in the middle of the patch. By the end of summer the 5 foot path between the rows was not passable in spots because of the bent canes.
The harvest was just as HUGE with berries that were also HUGE! We also had tons of Siamese berries, I wonder what causes that. But there were a couple of things that bugged me...
Now these bugged me a bit, they are the pesky Asian beetle, they do do some damage but nothing that causes me much concern. Now we have never used pesticides on our raspberries. Bugs don't really bug me much. Some bugs are good. I love creation and figure its good to share the bounty with Gods creatures great and small....EXCEPT for this HUGE problem.................
Popillia japonica a.k.a. Japanese beetle.
Although they are a pretty bug, I'm sure they have relatives in Hades. A lady I work with told me they are common on roses and we NEED to deal with them. We already planned on it, but research tells us we need to up the "ante" with these bugs. They stripped the leaves and ate the berries, but did they just finish a berry and move on... NO! They sampled from many berries all over the berry patch. They were so many and to say they were prolific is an understatement! They were stacked 3 high and lined up 5 deep, it was scandalous to say the least! Next year we will cut them off at the pass, chem bomb them, what ever it takes, this is war, let the battle begin!
This was our first line of defence for this fall. Last week Jon cut ALL the canes, Willy stacked them and we burned them. No spring berries for us :( but there will be chemical warfare in our back yard!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Chocolate Cherry Cake was my birthday cake! It is on my list of top 10 cakes, I don't have a #1 favorite, I don't like to limit myself to just one. I was just a kid the first time I had this cake. My Grma Brown had a neighbor, Vel Sullivan, who was infamous for her cooking and baking skills. She would bring this cake to get togethers, and I nearly stood guard to be assured a piece. When Vel, her husband and son first moved down the road from my grandparents they built a garage and lived in that until they could build a house. Vel cooked, baked, and canned on a wood cook stove, and that was in 1973 or 74. We were awed by her talent. When they finally built a new house, Jerry bought her a nice new stove, she did not like it and they moved her wood cook stove into the new house.
Pictured here are Jerry, my brother Rock, Vel(standing), and my Mom. Vel and Jerry came to my Dads birthday party in August. It was so fun to see them again. One of the first things Vel said to me was "WHERE'S Flapper?!?" who is my sister Tami, Flapper was Vel's pet name for Tami, who when she was little couldn't make it 5 minuets without talking...not even for a dollar!!! Willy baked my cake, FYI the picture does not do it justice. Without further delay I give you MY CAKE!!!
Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 chocolate cake mix (devils food-dark is best)
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 can cherry pie filling

mix first three ingredients until well moistened
gently fold in cherry pie filling
grease only bottom of 9 x 13 cake pan
pour into pan
bake 350* (325* if using glass) 35-45 minutes
it is done when toothpick comes out clean, but not too clean, it easy to over bake
I cover with a cookie sheet right out of the oven to hold in moister(learned that bakers trick Jon's sister Kaye)
Frost (we cheat here and use a boughten tub of frosting, it is a habit I am intending to break...soon)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Its all

I was more than willing to let this birthday pass without much pomp and circumstance, I did know that Jon would treat me like the queen that I am(hey he said it, so I'm running with it!). I was pleasantly surprised when my sister gave me a sweet birthday blog post, thanks Tami. After spending the day just being with my family it was time for my birthday meal.
Jon cooked, Grace and Willy helped.Avery put himself in charge of taste testing. He can't help him self when there is shrimp scampi on the menu!
Willy set the table, with a bit of direction from Grace, she told him to flip the knives over. We go back and forth with the knife thing, the blade edges are to face the plate, but the writing on the blade faces up and we don't want to be trying to read sideways. What would you do?
Willy gave a lesson in proper silverware usage "work your way in."
The sparkling cider was chilled and the salad tossed.
Willy dished up the shrimp scampi (Ave is already at the table by now).Grace dished up the tenderloin tips and mushrooms.
My feast is ready, and I will tell you, I felt like Astro when George Jetson was shrunk and Astro kept saying "rook at the rimp-rook at the rimp" over and over again. But just LOOK AT THE SHRIMP!!! I love shrimp, and Jon made 2 kinds. And the mashed skin on baby red potatoes, mmm~mm. Amazing!!!
How sweet it is! Now you will understand where the queen status comes from.
Thats right, I'll be cooking with Wolfgang(he even signed the box they came in)! Then it was onto dessert, I will share that later. It was a very special day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friends Fur-ever!

This is how it started...... it happens... a day!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cowboy Cookies

I have a confession to make...I have a thing for cowboys. I think it comes from growing up around... well some cowboys. My Grmpa Ed was a serious cowboy/horse trader/mule team driver and most of my Moms 6 brothers are cowboys in some form or another.
My Dad is a retired rail road man, but as long as I can remember he has worn a cowboy hat, boots, and usually a western shirt. This is my Dad and I at his surprise 70th birthday party in August.
This is my nephew Derrick...yea a really serious cowboy, he is chasing his dreams...he just started a job in Iowa training horses. Grace took this picture of Derrick when he took her for an early morning ride before my Dads party, where we served...

2 sticks butter (or 1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco & 1 stick butter)
2 2/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tbls. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla, then add eggs. Mix oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then add to creamed ingredients. When mixed fairly well then add pecans and chocolate chips. (I have a big mixer so it does all the work for me/us. If you don't have a heavy duty mixer you may need to finish with your hands). Shape into balls the size of a walnut (I/we cheat/work smarter here also and use a small ice cream scoop) Place on sprayed cookie sheet about 2" apart. Bake in 350* preheated oven for 11-13 min. Cool on baking sheet for 5 min then finish cooling on cooling racks. makes about 4-5 dozen. This is a double recipe, cuz cowboys don't mess around and they freeze really well. They are a dry cookie...great for dipping in strong coffee after one of those long trail rides, or long car ride north.

Now Jon...not so much the cowboy, more like a farm boy. We haven't yet found a cowboy hat that I like on him. He does wear cowboy boots...
...but this is the kind of Mustang he likes to ride!
He is waiting for the paper work(old cars+lost titles=hassle) he will then haul it home and start chasing his dreams, and one day I can say "hey cowboy, take me for a ride!".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Making Sauerkraut...and Memories

Making sauerkraut is a tradition that we started when Jon inherited his family kraut cutter. It is really old, but works great, Jon keeps it well maintained. We make it most every year. Once in a while we skip a year, like when Jon thinks its a good idea to fill the 20 gallon crock to the top, and we have more than enough to last. The first year we made it we cut the cabbage in the dining room, I'm here to tell you that was not~nor will it ever be repeated, what a mess! We make it Labor Day weekend.
We bought cabbage from a local family owned garden. Ours did not do well in our garden. We used 110 lbs of cabbage.
Jon and Willy tear off the outer leaves, wash, quarter and core the cabbage. Then the cutting starts, everyone takes a turn~except for me. Jon and the kids that are home or come home for the event took turns doing the different stages at different times. For the sake of orderliness I put the pictures in the order of operation not how they actually happened so you can get a good idea of how the system works.
Avery did the lions share of the cutting this year.Grace at the cutter.J.J. vocalizing as he cuts. I was a bit creeped out having him be shirtless, then Jon reminded me that back in the old days they stomped it with their feet and the fermentation would kill anything anyway so take a chill pill:)My next concern was how low Willy put his arm when he was at the cutter, this one Jonny sided with me. Jon was really the last to cut, he's good at using up the last of the cabbage and not shaving off pieces of the oak presser. When one of the kids do shave off some oak presser board into the cabbage they just use the "it adds flavor" line.This honestly was about all I did. I just wanted to have my hands in it a little, so Willy let me give him a weighing lesson. We weigh out 5 lbs of cabbage.And then I direct the sprinkling in of 3 tablespoons of canning salt. That really was all I did, well almost, I went and laid on the couch for awhile and some kid with the camera came in and took a picture of me, and reminded me "this is a memory too"!Grace was the mixer in charge, she does a good job of getting the salt and cabbage all incorporated well. She also does a good job of keeping the boys in check when they take over for her while she was off dabbling in other jobs. J.J. stomping...with his shirt on:) We let it get about 4 inches of cabbage on the bottom before the stomping starts, you could break or crack the crock if your not careful. We don't stomp to hard, just enough to bruise the cabbage and create a nice amount of juice.Once it is all stomped, with a nice amount of juice coming up, we tuck in 2 Curity cotton diapers, not the pre-folded kind. We learned the best way to keep it covered is to fill and industrial garbage bag with about 3 gallons of water and then tie strap it shut. Its done when its done, it all depends on the weather. We keep the crock in the garage where it is cool and it cures a bit slower, we think that helps keep it crisp. I'll let you know when its done. Then comes the job of canning all of it...and making more memories.