All posts by turg7269

About turg7269

I am a Minnesota woman who grew up on a farm in Swede Grove Township and spent much time in the Arizona Desert during the winters. For many years I was a professional communications writer. I had my own recipe column with a weekly publication and was the press secretary/assistant communication director for Minnesota's Secretary of State. I am a two time cancer survivor and am currently in remission from Multiple Myeloma a blood cancer.

What Is On My Mind Today? A Very Thoughtful and Delicious Gift

rhubarb-jam

Last week a friend of mine sent me the most wonderful and thoughtful gift.  She knew that I am not a jam maker so she made jam from several family recipes posted on my blog and added a few of her own.  Then, had them shipped to me.

There was Rhubarb Orange, Rhubarb-Pineapple-Raspberry, Zucchini Freezer, Apple and just for good measure she included a jar of Blueberry pancake jam.

Last night my dad called and said that he and mom were coming for a visit today.  They would get here about a hour before noon. Like father, like daughter, my dad has always loved jam.  So, I told him that we would have a jam fest for lunch.

This morning I woke up early and made his Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns recipe.  When you are going down memory lane you might as well go all the way.  Besides, I cannot imagine having homemade jam on anything less than warm bread right out of the oven.

Then it was time to find my last stick of butter in the house and set the table.

Our lunch consisted of milk and warm bread topped with Mary Cummins’ jams.  It really does not get better than that.

Mary, thank you!  You made my day and my parents.

God bless you for your thoughtfulness, and for sharing the products of your expertise jam making skills!  Delicious!

 

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Just Saying: Obituary for Decency….Meanness Runs Amok!

casket in grave with spray

Decency died the week of June 17-23, 2018 from neglect and abandonment.

Sadly, its long decline and demise went unnoticed by those who profess to love it the most.  The cause of death is communicable and was determined to be from gross impoliteness.  This contagious epidemic is most often found in the not able to mind my own business, because I know what’s best for everyone divisive and nihilistic ideologies.

Decency is survived by hypocrisy, self-absorption, arrogance, grandstanding, rudeness, hate, meanness, mob violence and many bullies and ideologues.

It was preceded in death by respect, kindness, acceptance, tolerance, selflessness, manners, polite conversation, open exchange of ideas, and patriotism.

Decency will be missed by all who cherished its memory.

Behavioral change in lieu of excuses and escalation is requested.

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For those of you who do not read Grandma Pat’s Thor Stories, you will find that each creative action story is used as a teaching moment to encourage young people become good humans and not just another animal in the jungle.

The latest story,

Thor Stories: The Fence….Nothing Is Harder to Defeat Than Grandma and Minnesota Gophers

 

provided rules for acceptable behavior so simple children can understand them.

So, help bring decency back from the dead!  Learn about it and teach it to your children.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes at home, school, work and in public.

Grandma’s Rules of Acceptable Behavior:

1.  Treat everyone just like you, yourself would like to be treated.
2.  Be respectful of your elders and others.  Always say please and thank you.
3.  Kindness like cleanliness pays.
4.  Be responsible and take responsibility.
5.  Always be honest with your words and actions.
6.  Don’t use bad words, unless you like the taste of soap.
7.  If it isn’t yours, it is not yours.
8.  When you want something, work for it.
9.   Don’t pick your nose.
10. Be thankful to God and count your blessings.
11. Never, ever, pull Grandpa Walter’s finger in grandma’s presence.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Thor Stories: The Fence….Nothing Is Harder to Defeat Than Grandma and Minnesota Gophers

Thor was just finishing washing and wiping the breakfast dishes.  He didn’t mind doing this chore as he could look out of the kitchen window that was over the sink and survey his backyard….otherwise known as…the jungle.

Rex

As he looked out the kitchen window he saw Rex, his trusty dog sniffing along the bottom of the backyard fence.  This fence was all that kept the jungle in and troublemakers at bay.  Why without the fence Ned the fainting goat would wander off and pass out only heaven knows where; there’s just no telling what kind of trouble Morton the Spitting Squirrel would cause for neighbors; and protecting the jungle from dinosaurs, rooster pirate kings, farting trolls, cat ghosts and mischief makers of all varieties and sizes would present an even greater challenge.  Yes, his backyard fence was just as essential as its big door that lets folks go safely in and out.

No sooner did he finish his sublime thoughts about the importance of the jungle’s fence, than heard Rex utter a loud yelp. Quick as a wink the whole dog disappeared under the fence in a “Pop”!

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Thor spun on his heels and ran to the calendar…sure enough it was strawberry picking season. That means that Gus the buck-toothed  gopher, along with his family and friends, had burrowed under the fence and let Rex loose as part of their plan to decimate the strawberry patch.

Thor knew that of all of the enemies that had caused mischief in the jungle none were harder to beat than Minnesota Gophers.  Saving his strawberries from the gophers would be a supreme challenge.  Especially, since Rex was now stuck on the other side of the fence, howling his heart out.

First things first, Thor opened up the front door of his house and hollered “Dog Treats.” Rex was there in a flash.  With his trusty canine friend by his side Thor quickly began to formulate a “Save The Strawberry” game plan.

Going one to one with a  Minnesota gopher is never good strategy.  Too exhausting and too easy to trip.  No, what was going to be required here was a very offensive team with an even more offensive gopher elimination plan.  Thor had no choice, he was going to have to call Grandpa Walter.

grandma on phone
Vicki Lawrence as Mama in Carol Burnett Show

Grandma answered Thor’s phone call.  Thor got out two words…gophers and strawberries.

The line went dead.

He was on his own.

caddy shack.png
Bill Murray in the movie Caddy Shack

Thor had watched gopher fighting training movies and had learned that to catch a wily rodent you have to think like a wily rodent.

Morton.  Yes, Morton the spitting squirrel, Thor’s arch enemy was an expert at the obnoxious.  He would be just the ticket.

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Thor grabbed his protective eyeglasses, rain hat and coat, rubber boots and umbrella, opened the mighty gate in his fence and entered the jungle.

The vision that greeted his eyes was disturbing.  Gophers gnawing away on fresh strawberry after strawberry. Their buck teeth emitting non-stop chatter like the clicker of the telegraph operator on the Titanic.  Strawberries as doomed as the ship.

He had to find Morton!

Thor braced himself to be assailed with spit wads and slimey loogies only to discover that Morton had gone over to the dark side.  He was taking a nap on top of the chicken coop.  At times, squirrels can be worse than useless.

Rex and Thor raced back into the house to formulate another plan.  First, Thor went down into the basement to get a plastic bucket.  Then, he went into the kitchen to get a fork, Styrofoam plate, a jar of maraschino cherries, a strong rubber band and a towel.  Thor grabbed his favorite cat and headed for the jungle.

chickens-web

By now the chickens were sounding the alarm, which made Rex began to howl again.  All of the noise distracted the gophers from their strawberry patch raid long enough for Thor to hook the wire handle of the pail into the fork, and fit the fork to the rubber band like an arrow against a bow string.  Thor pulled the rubber band as far as he could and let fly.

The bucket sailed through the air landing right in the middle of the patch. Since, everyone knows that a Minnesota gopher cannot resist getting a bucket, the gophers raced for the bucket excitingly dribbling all over the place.  Gus the biggest gopher was the center lead and got to the bucket first.   No sooner had he run into the  bucket and claimed it as his own than the cat pounced on top of the bucket trapping Gus.

With their leader rendered helpless, the other gophers forgot their game plan.  They  began running around completely disoriented as their dribbling increased two-fold. It was a foul scene. At that very moment the backyard gate crashed open with a bang as loud as a shot out of a cannon.

There stood Grandma!   Wrinkled stockings and knees sagging down to her ankles with a huge kettle in one hand and large metal spoon in the other.  She began to bang on the kettle with the spoon with all her might creating sound so loud it would make thunder blush.  Of course this woke up Morton the Squirrel who immediately began spitting at grandma.

The situation was quickly getting out of control.  Thor took out his rubber band and loaded it with a maraschino cherry.  He aimed carefully and just as Morton took another deep breath before he lobbed another spit loogie at grandma, Thor let the cherry fly.  Into Morton’s mouth it sailed and he swallowed it with a gulp.  The high levels of artificial red dye and sweetener from the Maraschino cherry put Morton into an immediate sugar coma and he fell fast asleep.

Thor threw grandma the clean towel so that she could rid herself of squirrel spit.

Then, he did the most cruel thing he had ever done to an animal in his life, because Thor knew that you cannot show any mercy to Minnesota gophers or they will beat you every time. He pulled out the Styrofoam plate and flashed the gophers with a non-recycleable item.  The horror! With the environment of the jungle supremely compromised, the dazed shrieking gophers cried foul for being so severely penalized for merely being off-sides and double dribbling. They quickly bolted for the fence to get out of bounds.

By now grandma had cleaned off all of the squirrel residue along with most of her makeup, and was walking towards the bucket being guarded by the cat.  Grandma tipped the bucket up and grabbed Gus.  She then benched him by the picnic table.

grandma rules
Vicki Lawrence

She eyed him over as she said, “Well, what have we here? Looks to me like we have ourselves a strawberry thief. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Gus thought about it and then blurted out, “I did not take any strawberries.”  “You cannot prove that I did.”

Grandma’s eyes narrowed to a squint as she glared down at him over the rims of her bifocal glasses.  “Do I look like I was born yesterday?”  You have strawberry juice stains  around your mouth, your big buck teeth are as pink as a sunburned pig’s butt and your feet look like you’ve been line-dancing barefoot at a bloody vampire festival! Gus, you make bad choices. Do you know what we do to strawberry thieves in these parts?”

pig butt

Gus negatively shook his head as his pondered what his gruesome fate would be.

Grandma reached into the pocket of her apron.  At that moment, Thor’s heart sank as he realized the fate in store for the gopher.  “By golly, young fella, it’s time someone teaches you how to follow the rules.”  Then, out they came, a razor sharp pencil, a small notebook of paper, and a sheet of paper with writing on it.

It was a copy of Grandma’s rules for acceptable behavior.

Grandma believed that most things in life improve with practice. That includes rule following and writing.  Thor knew all of grandma’s rules by heart.  Whenever he was caught in a violation, you can be sure he would be found copying them 100 times.

“Gus in my opinion you could use some work on all of these rules, but numbers five and seven are the ones you really, really need to focus on. Oh, don’t think that you are going to take any short cuts or escape…I plan to sit right here to point out any omissions you  make.  As for escaping, well, I might be slow, Gus, but the dog, cat and chickens are not.”

Grandma’s Rules of Acceptable Behavior:

1.  Treat everyone just like you, yourself would like to be treated.
2.  Be respectful of your elders and others.  Always say please and thank you.
3.  Kindness like cleanliness pays.
4.  Be responsible and take responsibility.
5.  Always be honest with your words and actions.
6.  Don’t use bad words, unless you like the taste of soap.
7.  If it isn’t yours, it is not yours.
8.  When you want something, work for it.
9.   Don’t pick your nose.
10. Be thankful to God and count your blessings.
11. Never, ever, pull Grandpa Walter’s finger in grandma’s presence.

As Gus began his journey of human moral assimilation, Thor picked up the bucket.  While, grandma supervised the gopher’s character development, Thor filled the bucket with strawberries, then dumped bucket after bucket of the berries into grandma’s big kettle.

As Thor picked, grandma cleaned the berries.  By the time Gus was done learning right from wrong, the strawberry patch was empty.

Grandma carried Gus to the fence and tossed him over the side.  Everyone knows that Minnesota gophers know how to bounce.  No harm no foul.

No sooner had the rodent disappeared than Thor’s dad came home from work and walked into the jungle alongside Grandpa Walter.

Thor’s dad wondered why on such a bright sunny day and with the garden hose off that  his son was wearing rain gear and eye protection.  He then noticed that there was a squirrel sleeping on top of the chicken coop, a jar of Maraschino cherries had been left outside, a towel was hanging on the line covered with mascara stains and goo, his mother was there without makeup on, and there were sheets and sheets of paper with her rules for acceptable behavior copied on them floating around the yard like dry leaves in the fall.

Suspicious that his mother had his son spend the afternoon practicing writing skills Thor’s dad asked, “Son, what have you been doing today?” “Nothing much.” Thor responded.

Thor’s dad saw all of the picked cleaned strawberries and said, “Your mom has ice cream in the house for those.”

On the way into the house they all walked past Grandpa Walter. Grandpa Walter stuck out his finger and Thor’s dad pulled it.  As Grandpa Walter ripped a leg lifter fart that fluttered the fabric of the seat of his pants and sent Thor running, Grandma handed Thor’s dad her notebook, pencil and her list of “Rules for Acceptable Behavior.”

grandma angry
Vicki Lawrence

“Get copying son, and focus your attention specifically on Rule Number 11. It is just luck that a strong breeze prevented Grandpa’s wind from spoiling all of the strawberries and rendering us all blind and unconscious! For Pete’s sake, most of your garden is wilted and uprooted, and the ferocity of the release of all that hot anal air blew half of your fence over!  A methane emission of that magnitude could advance climate change by decades! There are reasons for rules!”

In grandma’s world, with the single exception of Grandpa Walter, no matter how old you are acceptable behavior is acceptable behavior whether human or beast.

Thor immensely enjoyed eating fresh strawberries and ice cream while watching his dad improve his penmanship.

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Recipe: A Great Summer Cake….Boiled Chocolate Cake

I am going to make this cake this afternoon and remembered why it is such a great summer chocolate cake…it takes much less time to bake than other recipes. This cake has been my go to chocolate cake since I was teenager. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

This cake is always a favorite and is the basic recipe I use for many varieties of chocolate cakes. It can be baked as a sheet cake or a layer cake. It is very moist and rich. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Boiled Chocolate Cake

1 cup water
2 sticks of margarine or butter
Four heaping tablespoons of cocoa
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk (Buttermilk alternative: if you don’t have buttermilk you can sour regular milk by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar to ½ cup of milk.)
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In a large sauce pan on top of the stove bring the water, margarine and cocoa to a boil. In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, mix together sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to sauce pan. Stirring constantly bring back to a…

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What Is On My Mind? Top Secret Information: I know why Jim Comey was in Minnesota Yesterday

I have been asked to leak this top secret information.

The reason Jim Comey was in Minnesota yesterday was so that I could paint his portrait which has been designated to permanently hang over the front door entrance of the White House.

Unfortunately, while his six foot, eight inch body could fit through the front door of my home, his ego was just too big enter any mere mortal’s home or capture on canvas.

 

 

 

Recipes: Uncle Ing, Aunt Doris, Orioles and the Treasure Box ….Grandma’s Salad, Zucchini Freezer Jam and Kathryn Hepburn’s Brownies

bird oriole

My husband and I have lived in this home for over thirty years and for the first time I have Orioles at my bird feeder.  This morning I had both a male and female Oriole singing to me from my grape jelly feeder. Actually, I can still hear them singing.

Each time I see an Oriole, I always think of my Great Uncle Ing who was the first person to ever show me one of these gorgeous orange and black song birds.

Uncle Ing Kronbeck lived his whole life on the farm where he had grown up north west of Litchfield, MN.  He was the youngest in a family of six children. Esther the oldest was my grandmother, then there were Hilda, Anna, Ida, Victor and Ingvald.

Their childhood was one of hard work, poverty and a very sick mother.  My grandmother once told me that she was more of a mother to her brother Ing than her own mother.

This family worked together on their farm and survived World Wars, economic depression and contagion. Several of their family members contracted the flu during the deadly epidemic of 1918.   Aunt Ida told me she once spent an entire year lying in bed with an ice pack on her chest, due to an enlarged heart from an illness.  I do not remember anymore if it was the flu or Rheumatic fever.

Against all odds, all of the children survived to adulthood.  Not only that, but these strong people, while suffering through bouts of depression and sadness thrust upon them by the circumstances of life, always were steadfast in their faith in Jesus Christ and kept their sense of humor and wonderment of simple things.

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Uncle Ing holding his daughter Marion

Uncle Ing married Aunt Doris and they had two daughters Marion and Kathy.  What probably was more important to me at the time was that they had two amazing dogs Penny and Skippy.  Penny was the softest tri-color collie in the world and Skippy was a magnificent fetcher of a Springer Spaniel.

Penny                                                                Skippy

Not only were these dogs friendly….they were generous.  They had no problem with me climbing on on top of their dog house and pretending it was my pony.  At that age anything and everything became a pony.

Skippy’s favorite toy…a cow teat holder

In those days, Sunday’s were for church and visiting relatives.  For those of you that do not know what visiting is, it is actually taking time to be with the people you love.  You share stories, laughs and very good food.

Sometimes at Uncle Ing’s home, he’d play guitar and sing us songs in English and Swedish.

guitar Ing twelve string
      Uncle Ing played a twelve string guitar 

He would also let me sit at his “Seed Corn” sales desk and draw with his remarkable little pencils.  They came in a case that had bright colored advertisements on them.

pencils

To use the pencil and you had to pull the pencil out and insert its metal capped end into the back of the case.  They were dainty and delightful, and a perfect gift for a little girl who needed a pencil to fit into her tiny Sunday School penny offering purse.

purse

Visiting Uncle Ing and Aunt Doris was one of my favorite childhood stops.  It sure beat visiting the Aunties in town as every child in our family knew that their house was dark, scary and haunted.  However, had I known then that both of my great grandparent had died in Uncle Ing’s house, I probably would have been a bit more jumpy when the back door would open and close on its own.

Cow Ing

Everyone else had black and white milking cows, not Uncle Ing, he had the only weird brown cow in the whole community. 

What I remember most was that Uncle Ing and Aunt Doris’ home was filled with happiness and peace.

On one Sunday’s visit Uncle Ing walked us kids to a big tree in his front yard and showed us the nest of an Oriole.  It was a funny looking bird’s nest. It hung off of the branch of the tree just like a beard hanging off the chin of a Mennonite.  There, too, in the tree sat a male Oriole. It was the very first time I had ever seen an Oriole.  He was beautiful! We stood silently and listened to its beautiful song.

bird nest

Beautiful memories like beautiful days and people are the real treasures of this life.  That is why I have a treasure box.  I do not think even my daughter knows about my treasure box. It is a very stained and tattered little cardboard box where I keep all of the handwritten recipes given to me by the greatly loved women in my life who have found their eternal rest in heaven.  One of those was my Great Aunt Doris.

My first year in college, I lived with my Aunt Doris during the winter months.  I had a great time.  One day we sat down at the kitchen table and she had me go through her recipes and choose which ones I wanted.  Then, in her own hand, she copied them for me.  They are in my treasure box along with Grandmother Helen Vacinek, Grandmother Esther and Great Aunt Ida’s handwritten recipes.

I get a kick out of the great interest in DNA ancestry tests.  A DNA test can only tell you what you are. It is family tradition, lore and heirlooms that tell you who you are.

When I think about it, I have come to the conclusion that it really is a shame that email and text messaging were ever invented.  It saddens me to think that future generations will not be able to take out a treasure box filled with handwritten notes, letters and recipes from the people that loved them.  The expressions of love and wisdom from past familial generations that provide comfort and strength will surely elude children of the electronic age for their communications will be no more.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. I have shared them as written by my Great Aunt Doris.

grandma's salad

Grandma’s Salad

1/2 cup salad dressing (mayonnaise)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice – blend these and add
1 cup crushed pineapple well drained, so it’ll be a firm salad

Add
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup small marshmallows
1 cup grated carrots
Stir only to distribute evenly

zucchini-zucchini-jam

Zucchini Freezer Jam

6 cups grated zucchini, peel, add water to cook for six minutes. Drain well.

Add
6 cups of sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon or orange juice
6 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice

Boil six minutes, take off stove and add
2 3-ounce packages of apricot jello. (Or, one each of lemon or orange jello.)

Pour in jars

Keep in freezer.

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Kathryn Hepburn’s Brownies

This is just the way Hepburn did it

First melt two squares of unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 pound butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in one cup sugar, add two eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat like mad.

Stir in 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Not all mashed up you know, just chopped, good sized pieces, now mix all that.  

Butter an 8 X 8 inch pan and dump the whole thing quickly, stuff into 325 degree oven for 40 minutes. Cool awhile and cut into one and a half inch squares and dive right in.

Editors note, tested in the kitchen of Ladies Home Journal and is delicious because of the 1/4 cup flour they have a pudding like texture.  Pat, I’ve also made them. (No baking powder or soda)