March 2014: The Children Are Tender

Caregiving, teaching little kids to read, and riding in the pickup with Farmer John; I tweet, pin, and blog, from my home in rural Kansas. If you've landed here looking for information about my books, visit my author's page by clicking this link: Amazon.com/Linda A. Born. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Moose and the Pumpkin

Moose showed no remorse and actually seemed grateful to me for providing such a nifty chew toy.  I asked him politely not to do this again, and to his credit he's left the other two porch pumpkins alone.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

All's Well That Ends Well...


Every farm worker knows that moving equipment from field to field is one of the less exciting jobs on the farm.  Combining corn, wheat, and soybeans = fun!  I even kind of like sitting at the edge of the field watching John swath or bale hay.  But I find moving the combine and the grain cart and the semi from a neighboring farm to the far south field (about 8 miles) to be pretty boring.  And so I entertain myself best I can.

Tonight I drove John to the neighbor's hayfield to bring home his tractor and baler, a 12 mile round trip.  The sun was setting and everything was so beautiful that I kept stopping to take phone photos.  I found an interesting angle in the side mirror and began working to get a photo of the approaching tractor and baler.  I was clicking away when I heard the tractor downshift and realized about a dozen tons of farm equipment was almost upon me!  I gunned the motor of my little Chevy Trax and got out of the way.

Farmer John is used to my ways and was undoubtedly watching me closely.  Whether we are on a walk or moving equipment field to field he knows my penchant for taking photos.  But next time I'm leading the way and simultaneously taking photos, I will strive to remember that objects in the mirror are closer than they appear!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September Weekend

The two grandsons pictured upper left accompanied me on my evening walk Sunday.  They had been out with their dad gathering milkweed leaves to feed their monarch caterpillars.  Middle top:  Our son and his daughter spent some time here this weekend as our daughter-in-law was at a conference in Texas.  Jonathan, our son, helped his dad with the combining and I got some wonderful quality time with our granddaughter, beautiful Miss Rebekah.  Top right: Mr. Logan, age 6, has a gap in his smile as he has lost a tooth in front!  The little guy lower left is a champ on the rope swing his daddy put up in their backyard, and he's not yet 3 years old (but almost)!  

We had some heartache this weekend as my Alzheimer's mom shows signs of increasing confusion, but there is joy along with the sorrow as she continues to praise the Lord for her blessings.

We were busy all weekend with grandkids all around and corn harvest in full swing.  I fed the group that gathered at our house Saturday at noon with a large budget pack of chicken legs.  I did half with the honey soy sauce recipe you can find here, and concocted a crispy oven baked version with the remainder,  and this ended out to be the clear winner.  I don't know amounts--sorry--but I beat two eggs, mixed Italian seasoned fine bread crumbs and crushed cornflakes, dipped each leg into the egg mixture, then the crumbs, and then repeated. This was a messy process but the double dipping yielded a nice crispy crust.  I placed the prepared legs into a 9 x 13 glass pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, spritzed the legs with olive oil to aid crisping, and baked uncovered a little over an hour at 350ยบ.  Yum!  Next best thing to my grandma's fried chicken. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pushing the Season

Last night was lovely, a hint of fall in the air.  The maple tree in our yard is no longer June green; it has faded a bit as the nights grow shorter.  I took some phone photos at the foot of our driveway just at sunset, and look!  The light has turned September gold (maybe it's all those Kansas sunflowers that have blossomed out). 


August Photos

Upper left:  Our oldest grandson, Daniel, has been looking out this window since he was old enough to drag a stool to the window seat and clamber up to perch there, proud of his accomplishment. He is a tall ten-year-old now and no longer needs the stool, but still likes to sit here. On the day this photo was taken he said, "I like looking out this window.  There is always something different to see."  I feel the same way!  

Farmer John and I have resumed walking for exercise. Our dog, Moose, is the only family member who is entirely happy about this daily discipline. I like taking pictures, though.  My favorite here is one you can't see just real well--see Moose charging toward John in the photo at upper right, and how John has held out his arms?  This is a nightly ritual. I almost always go striding out ahead while I'm waiting for John to put on his boots, and when he appears around the corner of the house Moose runs back and forth between us until John catches up to me.  

Saturday, September 8, 2018

An August Gathering

 Our church has welcomed our new pastor and his lovely wife by inviting them to a number of small group suppers, hosted in homes.  And so toward the end of August John and I hosted the final scheduled get-acquainted meal. Nine of us gathered around our table and we really did have a lovely evening.

I made much of the meal ahead of time. I've found that turkey breast can be baked and frozen in a plentiful amount of seasoned broth, and if heated gently at low temperatures on serving day (about 275 degrees) it comes out moister and more flavorful even than on the day it was placed in the freezer.  This has worked well for me with roast beef as well.  I made the mashed potatoes and gravy well ahead of time on the day of the meal and kept them hot in crockpots on the serving table. As our family has grown we nearly always serve food buffet style, and that's how I chose to serve this meal as well.

Some neighbor kids had sold me a 40# box of beautiful Colorado peaches, and from the portions I didn't package for the freezer, I made the dessert below for our gathering.  Our pastor avoids added sugar and my mother-in-law has type 1 diabetes, and so I sweetened the slab pie with Truvia baking blend.  It was yummy with no aftertaste in the finished pie.  And--I wrapped it well in saran and then foil and froze it before baking, another convenient make-ahead. 

The menu was pretty simple; turkey breast, sliced roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted green beans, my mother-in-law's famous potato salad, peach/almond summer salad, a colorful fruit platter, garlic bread, peach slab pie and frozen yogurt.  To my vast relief the food turned out well, and we enjoyed our evening greatly.  






Peach Slab Pie

 Grandma Irma's Never Fail Pie Crust:

5 cups flour
2 and 2/3 cup chortening
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

Cut shortening and 5 cups of flour together. Make a paste of the last three ingredients and stir into the first mixture.  Roll half the dough out and place in bottom and sides of a half sheet pan (jelly roll pan).  Roll the other half out and set aside between sheets of wax paper.  Cover pastry to keep it from drying out while you prepare the filling.  You may have extra pastry, not a bad thing. Freeze it or make cinnamon piecrust for the kids (add butter, cinnamon and sugar to rolled out dough, bake about 10 minutes at 375 degrees).  

Filling

Stir together: 
1 cup Truvia blend
12 medium/large fresh peaches, blanched, peeled, and sliced
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place filling into prepared bottom layer of pastry, cover with pastry and crimp edges, do not cut vent holes if you are putting it into the freezer.  When people don't mind a little sugar, I pat about a tablespoon of water on top and then sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Can be covered well with saran and then foil and frozen.  I wouldn't leave it frozen over 2 months.  On day you plan to serve it, it can go straight into the oven from the freezer.  Cut vents in the top pastry, bake at 350 degrees about an hour, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.  


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

June and July in Kansas

June was unseasonably hot, and July has been uncomfortably dry.  That it is also uncomfortably hot goes without saying; this is Kansas, after all.  Our son will work at The Farm Show in Pittsburg, Kansas this Friday and Saturday, and he told me the high is predicted to be 98 degrees with a heat index of 109.  I had a flashback of how I used to feel when he began football practice under similar conditions in early August during his his junior high and high school years.

But despite the almost painful brightness of the sun and the unrelenting heat, there is nevertheless so much beauty.  I especially love the early mornings, just before sunrise. The scents of summer are perfumed with a humid sweetness; milkweed blossoms in the road ditch, freshly mown hay across the road, and the green grass scent of our yard which hasn't yet dried to depressing brown.

I hope it rains soon, and I'll sure be glad for the cooler temperatures of Autumn.  But right now I am actually enjoying summer.

Colors are vivid in summer.  The old fashioned rose at bottom grows in a wild corner of our yard and has vined into a scrubby tree in the hedgerow.

Our grandkids: ages 10, 6, and two 2-year-olds  Lower right:  Big brother reading aloud to little brother; this blesses my heart because I brushed off my stagnating reading teacher skills and, toward the end of this school year, began daily lessons with the guy on the right.  He has just turned 6, and is reading at mid-year first grade level.