Saturday, June 23, 2012

Biscotti, Coffee and Custer & the 7th Calvery

     The other day I had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the Way-it-Was.

The Custer House
I was out at Ft Lincoln and was given 'The Tour' by the fabulous actors Nora and Al. Both were dressed in full costume. She as the Laundress, and Al as a Sargeant  (I think). I had look at the house, the enlisted men's barracks and commissary. I have to say that I was impressed! I have been to a number of Living History Museums around the country and this is among the finest. A must see.
        I really got a sense of Who these people were and What they 
                              were doing there.
                                                   A Little History:
 In 1872 a military post was built on former site of a Mandan Indian village. This became home the Colonel Custer & his wife Libbie (Elizebeth) and the 7th Calvary.
   It was a very busy place! There was barracks for 9 (yes, nine) full Companies, 7 officers quarters, stables for all, an entire section for the camp laundresses, hospital, post office, bakery, storehouse, and much more.
Libbie & G. Custer
       Every day the soldiers would drink Gallons of Coffee. Legend says it was so stout you could stand your spoon up in it! Today at the Ft Lincoln Commissary, You can drink a coffee roasted especially for them! "Like It Was! " This is made by MoJo Roast, Inc in Westhope, ND. If you'd like some for your home, it is only available from Ft. Lincoln! Did I mention that today's coffee is fabulous??
      History tells us that the Battle of Little Bighorn, better known as Custer's Last Stand, took place on June 25th and 26th 1876.  I am certain they fought valiantly against the Indians. However the Indians were masters of guerrilla warfare.
  There is also much speculation as to why Custer was NOT scalped. Some say it was because he was not recognised. Some say it was out of respect. One interesting theory I heard a number years ago~ Custer was not scalped because he killed himself. The Cheyenne (they were there too) would not scalp a coward or a madman. I got this from a Cheyenne gentleman who had it handed down through his family lore. It was stated that his direct relative was a participant in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
     Libbie Custer was the 'First Lady' of Ft Lincoln. Beautiful, smart and vivacious, Libbie set the tone for the social events. I myself admire the fact the she followed her man everywhere he was stationed!
My Guide Nora
  An interesting fact is that a Laundress with Army had more 'clout' that any other woman on a frontier post. They were even paid a WAGE by the US Army. The laundresses were considered the unsung heroes. Can you believe that initially there were only 4 laundresses per 100 men? Later that would change to a 1:20 ratio.  These women were also allotted housing and rations.
This is AL
   Along with their Coffee, The soldiers regularly ate HARDTACK. It often meant the difference between life and death on the trail. Hardtack is a biscuit that will hold forever. It is rock solid. To soften it up, it would be soaked in Coffee or water. It would not go bad. It traveled well. Didn't take up any space and had enough nutrients to keep you alive.  AL, the other interpreter at Ft Lincoln, regularly makes Authentic hardtack as part of his demonstration. You can also try a soft tack  version at the Commissary. A real taste of history!
You can also make your own at home with this simple recipe:
                                    2 Cup flour
                                    1 Cup water
                                   =/- 6 pinches of salt
                      That's it! mix together until a stiff dough forms. Roll out to about 1/4" thick. Using a fork, poke holes in the pieces (like a cracker) front and back. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 about 30 minutes. Viola! Your very own piece of history.

    And by now I know you must be wondering What does Biscotti have to do with Ft Lincoln??? I make a number of the goodies for sale in the Commissary. Including the Soft Tack... and Biscotti.
                  Want to know more? Check out or or
 Come on down to Ft Lincoln! It's a great Stay-Cation! ...Fishing, camping, history....Memories.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Would you read a BOOK? Would read a Nook?

I can FEEL my mom looking to see if any of these are hers!
  Said Sam I am.
Ok, maybe Sam wouldn't have said that. But I did!

A Book. A precious commodity. In any language.
Reading a book is like talking to an old friend. Sometimes it makes you laugh. Sometimes it makes you cry. Sometimes it takes you on a journey to far away places.  Sometimes it can teach you something.
           Somebody once said "IF you can learn to read, you can teach yourself anything"
   My mom taught me to read very, very young. Thankfully I have always enjoyed it. I know I made her mad a time or two when I would be 'involved' with my book when she was trying to 'talk' to me.~ I would just look up blank and go "were talking to me?" ...I never quite got WHY that annoyed her until my oldest son did it to me.
    It was also difficult in school right from the get go. The other kids would be sounding out words and I would be done or very far ahead when my turn came.
   For some of us reading is as natural as breathing. We read anything...Literally. Everything from Cookbooks to Charmin labels. If it's the printed word, we are just naturally drawn to it.
    When we first moved back to ND, hubby charmingly suggested that I get a LIBRARY CARD! (snicker, snort, giggle). He just didn't get the whole owning the book thing. Still doesn't. But I humored him and went down to the little town near us to get one. I came home without one. Hubby asked me Why?...Because I already OWN most of what they have! (and what I don't my mama does, and it will someday be mine....big smile) Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against going to the library. I have spent many, many hours in them.
  I recently tried to move into the new century (finally). First I downloaded a book on my laptop. Don't get me wrong. It was a good book and I enjoyed it. But I had a very hard time actually reading it....Anyone who knows me, knows that I can sit down with a book, tune out the world, and just READ. 
  (  *this book is "Letters of a Woman Homesteader"  here is the link:
   I had a hard time with not being able to just mark, use the flap, or dog ear (Yes, Mom...I said DOG EAR) where I was. Just as hard was not being able to just take the laptop to the kitchen to read while I cooked dinner. Couldn't just leave the laptop outside on the swing, because the dog, garden, cows etc want attention while I am out there.And it might rain, get licked, walked on by a cat or any manner of outdoor things, while my attention is turned for a few moments. 
             NO, Mom...I do NOT take my best books outside for abuse!
 I also borrowed one of those NOOK things. That I can see the merits of. Very nice for plane rides. Fits in carry on nicely. Once again though, I found the negatives outweighed the positives for me. Still couldn't use it in the kitchen to read while kneading bread or frying chicken., ...would still be worried sick I laid it on a bench somewhere and forgot my pricey toy.
   Mostly though, I think for me it's the inability to just have a couple of three, four books going at any given time. ~Without having to bounce around electronically~ And also not being able to just loan my books. I was under the impression, that you can't just 'transfer' your book electronically to your friends device. Maybe that is not true. Don't know. Probably will never know, unless someone tells me otherwise.
   I think I will stay happily ensconced in the past as far as my reading material goes. I like looking at the covers and reading  the flaps (and maybe a chapter or two) before I buy it. I like have a bunch of well loved paperbacks to read while needing a distraction in the kitchen. I like the smoothness of the cover & the texture of the pages as I turn them. I like that at a glance I can pick a book out of my line-up on sight. I like the comfort of having a book tucked in my luggage for later. I like that when my boyz ASK me a question I can say "GO LOOK IT UP!" ....Yes...this person STILL has a full set of encyclopedias!  (They hated that.. They'd ask and we'd say "5 minutes...Go look it up and come back and tell me")
   I find it amusing that now my son circles my books like a little vulture the same way I circle my moms!
    Old books, New books, Funny books, History books, Not so much Sci Fi books, Trashy books, Any books...I love them all.
  Pick one up and enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Down on the Farm

That would be THE FARM (with emphisis) as opposed to the Other Farm. We live on THE FARM, and the rest of our land is at the Other Farm.

        I have cows. They are trained. They all have names.
There's Barbie & Q, Rusty, Bubba, Wheezy, Teriyaki, You're next, ....

    We have a horse...Pricess Di. There were others over the years... Bambii the Amazing Albino Elk, Ebony (Black Irish-hahaha), Mini-Me...
Assorted other animals...Cats 'Faahhhsssaaaah' ( like Mufasa from the Lion King), Smokey, Wild Kitty and more.
The lone dog- Missy.  She is the only animal hubby named.

Rusty and crew
      Hubby says we have Catholic Cowz. I have a bunch of them trained to line up and stick their tounges out for Cheese It's. All in a row. He says it looks" COW-munion".
   My Girlz also know when Mama is in the garden and come running.. They are accustomed to hand outs over the fence when I weed.
   Bambii The Amazing Albino Elk was the favorite horse. We grew older together. When we moved back to ND, I brought her with. And what an ordeal that turned out to be! Up until that point Bambii and I had NEVER been anywhere that I couldn't ride her to.
Bambii the Amazing Albino Elk
  So, hubby bought a very used trailer AND hooked it to HIS pick-up. Now mind you, I had NEVER towed anything. Ever. (except for time we tried to tow the silver-bullet with duct tape and panyhose)
Bambii gets in. The lone goose gets in. The last chicken followed the goose. The dog tried to get in.
       A little bit like Noah's Ark
And we're off. Hubby got a CB radio for the truck. So he could yell at me every couple miles, I presume. In Nebraska it was WINDY & RAINY. And everytime a semi would pass the trailer would move. So I would slow down to a crawl. I was parinoid to say the least. Worried I would wreck and hurt my Bambii. And (a little less) worried I would do something to HIS truck. I was literally in tears on that ride. And when he tried to call me on the CB I was maybe blubbering a bit about my girl. In SD we stopped at a little Chinese joint for lunch. We parked towards the back of the parking lot. I let Bambii out and tied her up. In we go to eat. There was only one other customer the whole time we were there. In retrospect- I'm sure it must have looked pretty funny to have a horse tied up outside the backdoor!
   Eventually we made it here, to THE FARM. I could have kissed the ground. Bambii could have cared less.

That's it from here!

Friday, June 1, 2012

I could be a very happy girl!



                                          Would make me a very happy girl!
      I need a commercial kitchen here at the farm. We have some ideas. Of course there is the tug of war of  Mine vs His. Hubby needs Vision. To be able to think outside the box. ~ Or barn, as the case may be.
    In my wildest dreams, my space would have a full Atomic Kitchen from the 50's. It would be bright, cheery, wildly colorful and comfy at the same time.
     Many years ago I visited an old man who was remodeling his kitchen in Flagler, Colorado. It was a complete Pale Pink Atomic Kitchen. Rounded counters, under the counter refrigeration, pull outs, over-under matching double ovens....Ohhhhhh myyyyyy. I was in heaven!
    I also about cried when he just 'junked' it to the pile. Poor Kit couldn't even begin to understand why I was so distraught!
      When we needed a new stove and fridge for the house, I headed to my favorite Antique store in Sacramento. (I was on vacation) There I found THE kitchen for me! I tried to reason with hubby. I could buy this 'whole' kitchen...working even...for the price of a new fridge. He wouldn't budge an inch. I'm still kicking myself in the shorts over that!
       I spent many hours next to Grammy's massive old stove in the kitchen in San Francisco. I recall it had a warming drawer and a place where you could hook up tubing for hot water. Grammy used to make my favorite round grilled cheese on it. She also heated her metal curling iron on it. (for the rare occasions I would sit still long enough...)
    Around 2003 hip magazines started touting the "Joys of Housework"  calling it 'theraputic', 'self-esteem building',  yes....even 'thrilling'.  Fiesta Ware and metal tumblers started making a comeback. And Martha rocketed to stardom!
       Funny, ain't it?
Where is this NOW?
Fun fact***** In the '50's Ladies Home Journal Art of Homemaking suggested that a ladies (house)dress should be "Wide enough for action, but not so wide that it will get in your way or make you trip on stairs or a ladder...."
                             Can you just see me now? Stop laughing already!
   But I digress...
In a nut shell, I want to bring some nostalgia to my little space. To be comfy and cozy. And have you want to come by, have a cup of coffee and a chat. I want to share my recipes with you and gardening tips.
    And speaking of...How about this recipe for Cheese Straws... A friends mom used to make these.
                (the paper it's on says it came from a Kraft Cheese box)
                             1/3 cup grated American Cheese
                             1 Tbs Butter
                             1 1/2 Tbs milk
                             4 Tbs Flour
                             1/2 c Bread Crumbs (seasoned to taste)
               Cream together cheese and butter. Add milk. In a small bowl combine flour and seasonings. Add to mixture. Knead lightly until smooth. Roll to pastry thickness. (about 1/4 inch) Cut into strips 6" x 3/4". Bake on greased cookie sheets in oven until browned.
           * these are good with soups and salads*
 I have the Vision. I WILL make it happen! (soon)