Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kitchen Adventures from Jeannie and Rick's Travels

Not being a very adventurous cook. I had never cooked wild rice before.  Jeannie, our middle daughter, is a long-distance bicyclist.  A year ago last summer, she rode many miles in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Her husband Rick plays coach and always accompanies her with the truck to keep her as safe as possible.  When they don’t opt for a motel, they sleep on beds in the truck. 
Last Christmas Jeannie gave all the family members lovely gift baskets with discoveries from their summer bike journey.   One item, which did not last long, was a large yummy iced cinnamon roll in the shape of a mound and called Sin-A-Mound. .  It had come from the Sinsinawa Bakery at the home of the Dominican Sisters at the Sinsinawa Mound in Southwest Wisconsin. Their website explains:
’“Mound Bread’ became famous for its homemade flavor among a growing crowd of admirers in the 1960s and ’70s. People who visited Sinsinawa Mound experienced the wonderful homemade baked goods and wanted more. Although the Sisters never intended to sell it, the bread was so tasty that word spread and the demand continued to grow as the product advertised itself. Today, close to 70,000 baked goods are sold to friends and guests every year. Your purchase helps support the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters as they continue their mission of preaching and teaching the Gospel.”
Jeannie’s basket also had jar of strawberry-rhubarb jelly.  I saved it for guests since Gerald and I try to use the sugarless kind of jelly; but we did, of course, indulge a bit when this jelly was on the breakfast table for others. That too has been long gone; and consequently, I can’t remember what interesting road side place it came from or whether it was from Wisconsin or Minnesota...
But the pound plastic bag of wild rice was still in my kitchen cabinet until the other day. The directions saying I needed to cook the rice for 45-60 minutes always discouraged me since I am  usually in a hurry and don’t want to be in the kitchen that long making sure something does  not burn.  (The truth is I am a habitual burner, but that long cooking time seemed like a promise to burn if I did not stay and supervise the pot.)
This rice was grown and harvested by the Red Lake Indian Nation in Red Lake, Minnesota.  Until I started studying the Cherokee, I had no idea that there existed sovereign nations within the borders of the United States, but they do.  And evidently this Red Lake Nation, which represents a band of Chippewa Indians, is one of those nations.  If I understood their website, these people separated themselves somewhat from other Chippewa bands because they wanted to continue to hold in common rather than individuals owning land.  Their population is given as 11,422 citizens.  The two joined areas of the Red Lake are featured in their logo in appreciation of the lake providing fresh water and food-- walleye. Here’s a tidbit from their fascinating website:
“The Red Lake Band of Chippewa, through treaties and agreements in 1863 (amended 1864), 1889, 1892, 1904 and 1905, gave up land but never ceded the main reservation surrounding Lower Red Lake and a portion of Upper Red Lake. The unceded land is regarded as the "diminished" reservation and "aboriginal" land. It is comprised of 407,730 acres. In addition, there are 229,300 acres of surface water area.”

The tribal government has full sovereignty over the reservation, subject only to federal legislation specifically intended for Red Lake, which makes it a "closed" reservation. The Tribe has the right to limit who can visit or live on the reservation.” 

The reservation completely surrounds Lower Red Lake, the largest inland lake within the borders of Minnesota, and includes a major portion of Upper Red Lake.  The land is slightly rolling and heavily wooded, with 337,000 acres of woodlands under management. There are numerous lakes, swamps, peat bogs and prairies.”
I cheated and cooked the rice in a slow cooker, so I did not have to be in the kitchen.  It turned out chewy and very good.  The skins separated from the kernels, so I am not sure it looked as it would have if I had followed directions, which I intend to do with the wild rice still remaining.
Now I am looking forward to honey for Thanksgiving from this Freeport family.  When Rick was a high school youth, he had a hobby/business of bee hives and the equipment to strain the honey.  Throughout Jeannie and Rick’s marriage, this large two-or- three foot stainless steel container has moved with them.  I thought it was a lovely thing and tried to figure out how they might use it somehow as a piece of furniture, but it always remained in garage or attic storage.   Now Rick has restarted his hobby and placed bee hives on a friend’s land, and he harvested his first honey. Since my daddy was a beekeeper like some of his Craig relatives,  I am extremely pleased that Rick has taken up his hobby again and we have a beekeeper in the family.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Busy Times with Harvest and Grandkids

Tonight we had fish and goodies from yesterday’s annual fish fry at our village church even though we did not make it there.  It was nice to be the recipient of the give-aways often sent to non-attendees.  I was at Katherine’s yesterday to give meds before and again after lunch, but away at the  noon hour to attend Brianna’s twentieth birthday dinner at Brian and Mary Ellen’s farm. 
Brianna’s birthday cake made by her mother was a work of art.  The chocolate cake with chocolate icing was surrounded  with upright Kit Kats and the top coated with M&M’s. A filmy orange ribbon and bow encircled the border  made from the globally popular confection of crispy wafers covered with chocolate that we inherited from Britain. That ribbed border madethe whole thing look like a decorated rustic candy bowl. On Saturday  Mary Ellen had shown me a photo of the cake on her phone when she took a very very quick break from a field near  Woodsong before rushing on to help with the harvest by driving a header to their fields near Harrisburg.  She said the idea came from Pinterest.  I did not even catch on it was a cake until I read that later on Facebook. 
With all the other colorful decorations, the table and room were quite festive to welcome Bri into her second decade tomorrow.  The huge platter of pork chops were tender and tasty and everything else quite delicious as both Katherine and Sam agreed as they enjoyed the meals Mary Ellen sent to their house. Today Bri is back at Murray before her birthday tomorrow.
One reason Brianna was home was to attend Sam’s Marion High School Homecoming coronation as that had become a tradition for her and Trent and their mom.  Her cousin Sam and girl friend Anna were MC’ing again this year. It had been an exceptionally busy weekend with the parade and senior night game on Friday.  Mary Ellen and I made the parade, which I missed last year.  I knew it was my last and only chance  to see Sam as a drum major since I am really not able to do the long hurried walk from over-crowded parking lot  to the stadium to attend a game anymore.
Katherine made the senior night game with David because a very dear and long-time friend and a friend of the friend had driven up from Nashville, TN, to help her get ready. Deborah and Ira had lived in the apartment below Katherine when she first moved to Nashville. During this fall season, Ira was too busy with their landscaping business to come up with Deborah, so her friend Laura came along to help.  Mary Ellen had brought in a complete meal for the kitchen table, and it was much appreciated with the time-crunch of getting to the game early enough  to see Sam and the band in the pre-game show. 
I remember Katherine’s first New Year’s Eve at that apartment when she and I went back after her Christmas vacation at home.  We could hear the much loved somber tones of Martin Luther King’s famous speech as it drifted up from a recording in their apartment below. Later they became close friends, and even when they all moved to other living quarters, Katherine drove to Deborah’s beauty shop as her token white customer.  So Friday night Deborah lovingly slipped back into her former cosmetology role and did Katherine’s hair and make up for Sam’s senior night.   After the game before they drove back home to Nashville, they and a local friend Wendy helped put Katherine to bed, and Wendy was back to help on Saturday while I was out of town most of the day for a presentation at the Genealogical Society of Southern Illinois..
This afternoon I had just finished finally having time to read last Sunday’s newspaper (October 12) when I went downstairs and saw an email note  from Mary Ellen asking me to save yesterday’s paper since there were photos in there of Trent in John A. Logan College’s first cyber security team. I quickly located that paper beside Gerald’s recliner  and searched for the story and photos.  I could not have been prouder seeing Trent’s picture with the team and knowing he will be among those who will work to defeat the cyber criminals who wreck havoc on our communication and economic systems. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Autumn Moon Over Woodsong

The moon is growing.  Weather is chilling.  Combines are droning. Fall is here. I love this season.  I guess I better get into the tornado shelter that exists under our front porch and find a few autumn accessories although I am not much into decorating these days. The door in my office opens into the shelter.  Unfortunately when we moved in almost 13 years ago, the house was not quite done yet, and so we used the shelter to store stuff.  It has been a storage spot ever since, but hopefully if we ever needed it in case of a tornado, there would be room for anyone in the house.
We probably have a tornado shelter because of Gerald’s close friend Bobby Sanders. Bobby had been in a tornado or two.  Those winds can topple the big semis that Bobby drove back in those days, so he was quite conscious of tornado danger. When he and Kathryn moved to Crab Orchard, they built a tornado shelter in their back yard and tolerated some laughter from locals.  But when the  tornado destroyed a large part of Marion in 1982 and headed straight towards Crab Orchard, Bobby and Kathryn had a lot of visitors crowding into that shelter with them.
I can still see Mary Ellen coming down the stairs from her bedroom at Pondside Farm in 1982 telling us what the radio had just announced.  My first thought was to call Gerry and Vickie to get them and baby Tara out of their mobile home lying in the tornado’s potential path. When they joined us at Pondside Farm, a road or two away, we all stood in the side yard and watched the tornado from a distance.  It was a sad and scary time with many deaths, and the tornado’s path looking like a war zone.  I could not get over how shredded the left-behind debris was.  So when we built this house and Bobby reminded Gerald to be sure to put in a tornado shelter, we were not hard to persuade. 
Even though  the more recent tornado came through just a very few  miles south of us, we have never had to use the space for refuge.  But I am glad it is there and grateful for the storage area.  At first, water began to drip  from the cold concrete porch floor that was  the ceiling, so Gerald quickly covered it with insulation and solved that problem.  I try to remember to frequently run the dehydrator a couple of hours and empty out the water container when it fills up, so mold is never a problem. 
Where else would I put the old trunk from my childhood that holds the mane of my horse Ginger when it was trimmed once?  Or my first grown-up pair of hose for eight grade graduation?  And letters from old boyfriends?  And lots of letters tied with ribbon  from Gerald during our engagement?  I would like to re-read those someday, but the old trunk is topped with boxes, so I may never get around to that. Elsewhere in the midst of empty boxes and saved stuff are plastic Easter eggs bought on sale for a potential egg hunt, sweet little  pumpkins made of brown metal wire, and a  little straw man that Kimberly brought once that her dad George Wright sent to me, and scads of stuff I need to go through and throw away.  

Now I best resist the temptation to go in there and start reminiscing and get something seasonal to put on the front door and welcome fall to Woodsong.