Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Papa's Brittle Recipe.


This is a no tricks, simple and delicious brittle or granola. 
The trick to its wonderful flavor is the toasting of the oats, as well as the good pinch of salt. Salt and sugar makes the taste buds explode. 
Once you start nibbling on the brittle, you can't seem to quit eating. 
This brittle is great over ice cream, also a treat on top of your favorite cereal.  


1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup crushed pecans or walnuts, or nuts of your choice
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup olive oil --or your oil of choice
3/4 cup brown sugar --light or dark brown
1/4 cup Karo, or other corn syrup --light or dark
1/2 cup raisins or cranberries --by choice  
Heat oil in large skillet. 
Add oats and salt, mix quickly so oil is evenly soaked up by all the oats.
On medium to high heat brown the oats. Stir vigorously, turning them over and over until lightly toasted. Turn down heat when you first start to smell the toasting oats. You may even want to remove skillet to make sure the oats will not burn. (You could toast the nuts along with the oats.)
Turn heat to low. If the brown sugar has hard lumps, pre-soften in microwave.
Add nuts, raisins and brown sugar. Stir until all the sugar is melted and thoroughly mixed in. If this takes too long, turn up the heat slightly. 
Add Karo (corn syrup) and stir until totally mixed in. Less Karo makes the final product more brittle and hard. More Karo will make it more chewy. 
Empty skillet onto dinner plate to cool. . . Hint:  First spray plate with a little non-stick spray.

You can also experiment using molasses or honey instead of corn syrup. Or by adding your favorite cereal to the mix, or cinnamon.      
ALTERNATE MIX:   Add 1 cup of natural peanut butter instead of nuts, then cut into bars and refrigerate.

Enjoy!     Papa


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Burn Pile or Kindling?

I'm not a pack rat, but to me EVERYTHING has value. My mother instilled in me not to waste.

I had stored a 2x12, in my basement shop in Bedford, that dated back to 1982. I had cut an arch out of it so the mason could use it as a guide to lay bricks to span a display window in the old B&B Printing building. Not long ago I needed a short 2x8, and after twenty-five years, that old arched piece of wood, good and seasoned, did the trick.

While our cabin was being built, much wood was thrown unto the burn pile. Bowed boards, split boards, cupped boards, bruised boards, boards too short, boards cut wrong, boards that had weathered and boards with mud on them.

Now, my option with that huge pile in Floyd was to burn it, or pay the backhoe man to burry it. Neither  option sat well with me. . . I got off my duff and made use if it.

My table saw turned into a sawmill.

For two days I dragged the usable stuff to the basement. The leftover logs, braces and other timbers I cut into 2x4s. . . It made a truckload of good lumber.

The trim that came off the boards presented a new option, kindling or burn?
If I burn the stuff, I need to reseed the grass. . . So more kindling it was.

A wheelbarrow full of small stuff.

How much need does a man have for kindling? This pile, still at the edge of the woods, got to be brought under cover before winter.

In the winters of 1944-45-46-47-48-49, with that pile, we could have stayed up in the evenings a little longer, instead of having to crawl into bed to keep from freezing to death.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Happened to the Brownbaggers?


What happened to brown bags? I know, they all vanished. What I mean is, do you remember when people went to work, EVERYDAY, carrying a brown bag and a thermos? Folks then didn't worry about prestige. The money of not going out to lunch was put in the kiddy.

People used to cook. . . Remember, COOKING!  Cooking for leftovers. Leftovers that could be sliced, like a pork roast or meatloaf. All our kids carried lunch boxes to school. Snoopy, Charley Brown or Skoobydo lunch boxes.

I guess it is more fashionable now to complain about the school cafeteria's food, than whip out a p-butter sandwich.

No long ago I read a story of a couple in New York, doing the Brownbagging thing. They both had upscale jobs and could afford to eat out. For years they had eaten out every lunch and dinner, plus weekends. At their apartment they sported the most modern kitchen, stainless appliances, marble tops, indirect lighting, the works.

Their goal was to quit eating out for one year. The bottom line, they saved over $40,000.

Now I know you don't live in New York, but if you were to add it up, the both of you probably do at least $5,000 worth of eating out.

I know, I know, you are adding to the town's economy. . . . HOW MUCH ARE YOU ADDING TO YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNT?

We started our business in the basement of the house. After moving it to town, and after the sons joined the firm, we still sat together at lunchtime like we had done since they were born.
"What are we having for supper?" Our kids used to asked every day coming home from school. At least two or three times a week the answer would be, "We're cleaning out the frig."


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Let's Soak Some Beans

Hey folks! Hard times may stay awhile.
Have you soaked some beans lately? Have you cooked for leftovers lately?

Years ago, old Johnny F. visited our church. He wasn't a regular church goer, but we were glad he came.

He lived on East Main and knew where our place of business was. Toward the end of the month, money often got tight. He'd come by and kindly ask for help. Sometimes it was for kerosine and other times he needed to fill his belly. We did not mind helping. Been there myself.   See "A Time And Place, The Making of an Immigrant"

I remember the last time, before Johnny died, I brought some sacks of vittles to his house. It was a drafty old house. A pretty young girl, late teens, was also there playing with her young child. His great-grandbaby he said. I pulled from the bags can goods, bread and other staples. Among them was a large bag of dried pinto beans.

"What's that?" the girl said.

That question has never left me. After seeing POVERTY in several third-world countries, it shocked me to realize that a most inexpensive and nutritious staple was not a means to make it to the next check. A bowl of beans or rice, once a day, is what most of the world survives on.

Now you can elevate a bowl of beans, slow cooked with a hunk of country ham, to a status of supreme. Add a handful of chopped raw onions, a hunk of buttered cornbread in one hand an a soupspoon in the other, and you're ready to go to town. Yum. Yum. Wash it all down with a tall glass of buttermilk, it doesn't get any better.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finally Rain

The year was dry, dry, dry when we excavated for the pond.

The contractor arrived with his dozer, looked at me sideways and said, "You want me to dig a pond, aye?
"Yes," I said, "as big a one you can make!"

"Ok." He walked to the stream, looked at the water source which eventually would fill the pond, looked at me, . . . and I'm glad he didn't say out loud what he thought.

The stream was dry. No water flowing. Just a few muddy spots indicating a little underground wetness.

"It'll come," I said. "It flowed last year."

He probably thought, whatever you say fool, at two-hundred dollars an hour I'll dig until you tell me to stop.

Well, he did a wonderful job. And then the rains came, lots of rain. Enough rain to green up the fields, water the trees and gardens, saturate the earth and raise the water table.

The fish we added multiplied. Wildlife came and communed with the new water source.

God keeps supplying the rain needed, as He chooses. On the just and on the unjust. We can trust Him. The cabin got built. God kept supplying. Over the gutters it poured.

The pond has not gone down since it filled. Enough water for this guy to get around.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Wood Shed

Up in Floyd County, among the trees and bittersweet vines, hanging on to old age, are the support structures for the 100 year old two story home. There is the barn, the wood shed, the smoke house, and the parlor of contemplation.

Hidden among the overgrowth is the wood shed.

Behind this woodshed is a boxwood bush that towers as tall as the shed itself. I imagine at least a handful of kids have received their "correction" out behind the woodshed. And, don't you suppose, a young maiden may have receive her first kiss out behind the woodshed.

Just inside the door of this shed is the well worn chopping block. On this chopping block many-a-sticks of kindling had been chopped, and, maybe a few heads of chickens.

40 plus years after the main house was last occupied, the chopped sticks of kindling are still in the shed waiting to comfort someone, heating a teakettle of water or stew.

To further my suspicion that the old homestead was owned by Europeans, or even Germans, I found currant bushes. ( see post, "If that barn could talk").

They are white currants. One plant had struggled to produce a few berries. My grandmother in Germany grew white, red and black currants. (get my book about the old times as a boy, )
With little sun, the bushes have almost succumbed to creeping vines and perpetual shade. I will make an effort to transplant and save what I can.

I love exploring the old homestead. A person realizes that all things must die. There is nothing permanent in this world. Even you and I are mortal. If you think the worms will have the last laugh with your flesh, I feel sorry for you. As for me, my body may decay, but my soul will be with my Lord. He created us and has given us a choice, in this life, to choose to be made righteous through Jesus, or to reject Him.


Monday, September 12, 2011

The Year My Tonsils Died

I remember it well. It was the year of 1961. I was twenty-one and deathly sick, high fever, swollen tonsils. Two weeks in the bed, trying to sweat it out.

By sweating it out I mean I covered up to get the sweating going until the fever broke. But that time it did not work.

A doctor was finally called. He came to the house and jerked the covers off me, and, believe it or not I instantly felt better. . . So much for old remedies.

My point to this whole story, we never heard of Government assistance. In my book you can see how we hung on to the American dream. (Click Here)

Well, my tonsils did die. Never missed another day of work because of them again.

But, but, but, . . . I'm ashamed to say it. A co-worker convinced me to apply for out of work benefits and I received one week's assistance from the State.

50 YEARS LATER, a friend suggested to look into using available assistance from the State to fence in the spring that feeds our pond. I called. Four, very polite young people, arrived to check out the lay of the land. Two folks from the State and two folks from the Feds came. Both teams drove a brand new, large, four wheel drive SUV. ( ain't the gettin' good?)

I qualified for assistance. Great.

But my gut feeling was not in it. As nice it would be to take $2,000 from the Government, I JUST CAN NOT DO IT. NEVER!

With the help of the Lord, this Country has given me everything,  Why should I sponge? Don't we have too many sucking the sow already?


Follow-up on OLD GLORY

The only two new cars I ever bought was a Rambler, and years later a Chevy station wagon.

The only foreign cars I bought were a '59 and a'66 VW. Both used.

I know you have heard that all the foreign carmakers who build cars in this country bring in jobs. True. BUT, Where are their corporate headquarters?

Do these foreign carmakers make a profit?  Yes!


Do we not build cars in this country?

You can apply this same scenario to many other so-called job creating companies.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

OLD GLORY You Shall Never Die


As a Nation sometimes we get tangled and wrapped up. . .

We may get ripped. . .

We may get tattered and torn. . .

We may have some to split off, but hang on. . .

We, as a nation, with our wide range of political ideology, may have a gap in the middle. . .

BUT,  . . . as far as our house, OLD GLORY flies high above the roof.

I remember when the first Walmart opened in our neighborhood. When one entered, a giant American Flag was proudly displayed on the wall, boasting "We sell American made goods."

What happened?

Recently I picked up a used 2x4 to make a handrail. I was sanding off the stains, rough holes and nicks when I spotted this most glorious image.

Totally surprised, it almost brought me to tears. . . Why am I affected so?  Because I see this country heading toward the brink. I immigrated here in 1955 and this Country offered Life, Liberty and Justice. I can't stand the thought we may be losing this uniqueness, this gift of God.

Why is the mighty American oak hollowed out by termites that never get enough?
Where is the patriotism, the pride, the unity and common purpose to build and make this a stronger Nation?

Do you look for what may make a difference?

It upsets me terribly when I see a person wearing a pair of shorts having the American Flag plastered all around it, or a dog wearing a flag cape.

Respect and love for Country and one another, where has it gone? It is still  The Golden Rule!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stinkbug Antidote


You have witnesses the previous suggestion: . . . Simply acquiring a taste for them.

The new method of controlling this lethargic fruit juice sucker is simple: DO NOT DUST OR CLEAN THE HOUSE!

Note how David kills Goliath!

Simple. Too bad this tiny spider can live off the catch for the next tree months. Come on big boy, invite your buddies over to dinner. Show them how to catch the "Big One".

I know this "not dusting bit" wouldn't go over with Carol.  My way to control the bugs from entering the house is to spray ant killer around all door seals and thresholds.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

These Crappie Covers


No, I'm not getting foul here. Crappies are a type of fish. When we dug the new pond in Floyd we stocked it with bluegills and crappie.

Both species multiply rapidly. There are so many little fish in the pond that one can't take a leisurely swim without bringing to mind the mighty Amazon River with it's ravenous piranha.

No skinny dipping in this pond. If you have a freckle, a pimple or a nipple they will find it and hang on. When I do want to cool off, I usually flounder around in my T-shirt and long-johns, held up by my red suspenders. (No pictures please).


Crappies need a cover, somewhere to hide and attack from. Take notice of the fine engineering and finness revealed in the following pics.

Cedar trees don't grow to well in high altitude. At 2900 feet in Floyd county there are none. At least not at our place. Cedars do not decay fast. They make an excellent cover for fish.

Brought to Floyd from Bedford, I waited for the trees to dry, so they would float somewhat and be easier to pull into the desired spots of the pond. With cement block attached, I started the process.

Fifty foot or so away from the dock, makes for an easy cast with a jig lure. With the branches pointing toward the dock, the lure will free easier should it get hung on a branch. At six feet deep it makes for good spring and fall cover. . . . . One down.

Gee, these cargo pants are heavy when the pockets are full of water!

Now, to duplicate the process in ten feet of water I needed the help of some floaties, or noodle as our grandkids call them.

It drops off fast here. Had it dug out so the kids can dive off the dock.

Holding on to the tree and the noodles, flailing only with one arm, makes for slow progress.

Fifty feet out, let the tree sink. . . . . Relax and float a while.



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Squirrels, I've Got Your Number

Before you know it, the snow will swirl and icicles will replace popsicles. ( Icicles are refreshing, at least to me. Providing they did not rinse the gutter first.)

Most homeowners that want to sustain the bird population during the hard months of winter, have met the challenge of out smarting the squirrels. Those critters have been given by the Lord the instinct to "squirrel away" their sustenance during the time of plenty to kick back during the harsh times.

Not the squirrels around my house. They are like the never ending sucklings that suck on the government sow day after day, year after year.

My squirrels have become accustomed to the handouts meant for the birds, which do not sow or reap, or gather into barns.

So, how do you wean those feisty little buggers? You can't, unless you outsmart them. Look at this bird feeder:

It may be ugly as sin, but it has them scratching their head. The feeder is a piece of eight inch PVC about a foot tall. The depth for seeds on top is about three inches. At first, when the feed bowl was only four inches tall, I had a pole elevate the contraption high enough so the culprits in question could not jump to the feed. Well, they simply climbed the pole and sat on top and feasted.

I'll fix them I said! I'll grease the pole. I smeared Vaseline all up and down. Great! It worked! You should have seen those feisty things climb four and five feet up then slowly slide back down. Carol and I laughed our heads off.

Soon the Vaseline wore off, and again they sprawled out on top laughing at us.

That is when I added a two foot long, two inch thick, PVC pipe just under the feed bowl. That worked. They could not put their cute little paws around that pipe to climb up. Carol said, "This is nonsense. We have this beautiful view of the Peaks of Otter and you place this god-awful rigging there smack dab in the middle of it." It was the only spot on the deck where the bandits couldn't get to the top of the feeder from a tree or the roof.

Plan 4. Make the vertical distance of the large PVC sleeve tall enough so even the patriarch of the clan can not grasp the top of the bowl, while holding on to the thin pole with his hind paws, to pull himself up.

Carol can live with that. A compromise! AND IT WORKS. The piglets didn't like it. They now have to fend for themselves when the gettin' is good.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

UFO in Bedford VA?

Around 11pm, Friday the second of September, I was walking our dog. He did his urgent business first, being glad he finally got to uncross his hind legs. Further out in the yard, moving closer to the church cemetery, the pooch started to walk sideways and seemed to have forgotten the purpose of the late night routine.

I too became aware of a certain hum, mixed with a low jumble of chattering. Kind of an eery buzz that affected the few wisps of hair on my head.

About a hundred-and-fifty yards away, just the other side of the gravestones, a lit-up and mysterious object sat on the ground. Being a big time Blogger, I whipped out my ever-present camera, leaned against the dark side of a tree and snapped this photo.

From the strange craft emanated a glow that generated a static charge which travelled along the barbed wire fence around the adjoining pasture. With each step, as I slowly walked closer to dare to investigate, a sparking sound, that of electricity discharging, came from each metal T-post that held the wire.

The dog never did number two, I guess the intrusion of the strange vibes made him pucker up.

I'm afraid to point this out to the pastor, or folks in the church. I don't want the pastor and his children be afraid to enjoy the normally serene nights here at Bunker Hill.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Locals Didn't Know

When I asked an old timer, who has lived in these hills all his life, he said, "It's a cistern of some sort."

I didn't want to argue, but why is it in the front of the old house? Why is it always full of water, during dry spells and wet? Why is there a barrel inside the larger, three foot drum? Why would the cistern be full of water and not the root cellar under the house, which is lower in elevation?

Then I met Sadie. A smiling elderly lady. She used to live in the old two-story house from 1946 till she left home. That buried tank in the front yard was no mystery to her. "Daddy made carbide gas in there to feed the lamps throughout the house, before we got electricity."

Well, well! The same principal of a miner's lamp.

Drips of water unto calcium carbide makes acetylene gas, strike a flint, and you've got a flame. When reflected off a shiny disk it will light up a mine shaft, a cave and a room.

There is still a mystery to the situation. Where does the water come from. I've walked the acres up hill from the drum. No water source. All the springs are well below where the gas generating water level is.

There has to be a pipe feeding it. I need a metal detector to locate the pipe. I know it is not a plastic pipe.