So many fun things to make, so little time…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-01-2015

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January is nearing the end and that means Valentine’s Day baking is around the corner; I must say, I enjoy baking for it because I have quite a few fun things to bake. First I had to make myself get office work done; cleaning off the desk, paying bills, signing up for vendor shows, and making phone calls. Four different times I walked into the lab, started to work and made myself leave-I am worse than a child at Christmas. When I get sick of the kitchen, you can’t get me out of there fast enough, but if I tell myself I can’t be in there, that’s all I want to do. By lunch the desk looked normal and so rewarded myself by trying recipes, silicone molds (loved them) and variations of recipes I already have tried and liked.  I made a large raspberry twist for an appreciation function tomorrow at a bank and it turned out beautifully:

I cut off the ends when forming it since it was so large and made them into rolls for practice, and I think I have a new favorite roll:

Finally, I made a pasta salad with the aronia dressing I had made for Opie’s gathering; I wanted to see how it tasted so added whatever I could scrounge from the fridge-onion, celery, and Greek olives. If it isn’t in the fridge or pantry, it’s not going to be bought; that is the beauty of a salad.  We sprinkled parmesan on the top right before serving;this would be great for a Minnesota Vikings tailgating gig, Harvey Hornets gathering, or any other team whose colors are purple because it really colors the pasta! However, it was pretty good and more veggies could be added as well as meat-but at the end or you’ll have purple turkey and who wants that? Here’s picture of it:

And yes, we still use my grandma’s Corning Ware plates; it’s a piece of her and until they all break, are perfectly fine to eat off of for meals. They may be 70s, but every time my son sets the table I see her and it makes me smile. We throw too many things away because we get bored and then later realize they were an important part of us and pine for them. I hope my sons each get three or four to use when they are married and have children.

Loved quilting class Monday night; we learned how to make a  friendship star, log cabin, and flying geese blocks. She must think we are fast learners because we cruised through those three and have more at home to make. I took pictures so I could remember what to do so obviously I’m not as bright as she’d like to think. I think I’ll be calling someone or going to Designer Fabrics on Super bowl Sunday for help. I like how the owner has a little get together that day for those of us who aren’t following the teams. It’s kind of deflating for their egos, I’m sure. Pun intended! Here is one of my squares-can you guess what my quilt theme is? I also appreciate having the class at the fabric store; things are at our fingertips if needed and that is really helpful.

I have included too many pictures; I hope this doesn’t spoil you into thinking this will happen regularly. It won’t.

I’m trying to train our dog to bark when the bus comes; if she does, she gets a treat. She did great on Monday, barking both am and pm, but on Tuesday, nothing. I even opened the door to my lab (storm door stays closed-it’s been warm but not that warm) and encouraged her to bark, but all the animals did was meow, stare at me, paw at the door, and beg. I’m sure the smells coming from the oven were driving them crazy, but alas, no bark. I’d take a picture of the cats, but by the time I get the camera ready, they have moved. They’ll stand on their hind paws and lean against the door, watching me work and whining. It’s comical at best and annoying at worst. It isn’t like we’re starving them; all four cats and the dog are healthy looking-I don’t want to say chunky, but they have a good winter coat…

With that another day dawns on the North Dakota prairie-and lately both the sunrises and sunsets have been stunning. That will be the topic of another blog…

The teacher becomes the student…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 21-01-2015

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Oh, such a busy week in the dead of winter; I am patiently waiting for a lull where I don’t have ten million things to be done and can sit back, relax, and maybe blog more than once every two weeks. Alas, that time has not happened yet-yesterday was processing day where raspberry cantaloupe jam was made. A few years back we had a surplus of cantaloupes and couldn’t eat them all so naturally I was figuring out ways to use them and decided I could substitute cantaloupe for peaches in the raspberry peach jam recipe I had; if you’ve never had raspberries and cantaloupe together in the summer, you are missing out-it’s divine. My cantaloupe hating sister would disagree, but I’ll keep working on her and bring her to the dark side-she’ll love it before long, too. Every summer we participate in the NDSU seed trials as a way for my scientist son to measure, gather data, and incorporate gardening into his everyday life, and the cantaloupe seed they provided produced big, juicy, delicious melons; we used black plastic to snare as much heat as possible and he watered them religiously. My watermelons didn’t fare as well, but that’s another story. We washed, peeled and used the Ninja on them before freezing them in 8 c bags since that is what the recipe called for in a double batch. Yesterday they came out of their sleep and I made the first batch; the raspberry jam is made first and is more firm to handle the cantaloupe jam being ladled on top of it.  134 jars were made in no time flat and it was time to make the cantaloupe cover; however, as it was cooking, it looked too thin for gelling, and at that point realized there was too much water content in the cantaloupe. The last time I made it, the cantaloupe was fresh and not as watery…lesson learned a little too late. I doubled the pectin and it turned out fine, but knew that was going to be a lot of pectin so instead began straining it to get half the water out; great in theory, but messy, time consuming, and more importantly, cut into my frozen cantaloupe stash since now 8 c frozen was yielding 4 cups strained. I was planning on using the smaller frozen bags for cantaloupe bread which is moist and delicious…but that will have to wait a year as I used every single bag and was short 4 cups in the end.  I started at 7:30 am and by 6:30 pm had successfully made 120 jars; by my standards that isn’t a lot, but anytime you layer jam, it’s time consuming. I had extra raspberry jam which my family will grudgingly eat; they were not sad at this news since I never let them have any raspberry jam-it all goes into the jar for sale or baking. Maybe it was a conspiracy and they planned this all along…

I don’t know how Martha Stewart and the others on TV keep themselves clean while they work; this is what my apron looks like after a day in the lab…and it’s not just once in awhile, but everyday. By the end of the week, there are four or five of these ready for the wash; thank goodness for OxyClean and hot water.

The aronia meeting at Opie’s was a rousing success; his large garage was full of people and food-oh, what yummy food. And this is our point about aronias-they are a versatile berry! There was chili, baked beans, barbecue sauce, summer sausage with cheese and without, wine, smoothies and the various baked goods many of us made featuring the aronia: cookies, bars, coffee cake, muffins, applesauce cake both in Bundt and pan form, and more. I made ‘angry aronia’ pepper jam using red jalapenos with aronia and spread it over cream cheese to serve with crackers. Next to the products I made, a card listed what was in it and asked for comments. Where better to get research and development but from hungry people? Several commented the spread wasn’t hot enough, so this week, I made another batch and amped up the pepper-this is why I appreciate feedback. I don’t eat a lot of hot stuff-my product included-so I rely on others to let me know what the ‘heat’ factor is on any given product I make. By the way, the aronia chili and baked beans were so good; I can’t wait to make them for catering-the two ladies simply added the whole berry to the mix and it married well with the flavors, which makes me think an aronia based salsa will be on my radar next fall for production… here is a picture of products I made for that night.

 

Besides processing, I decided this would be a good time to start quilting by attending a beginner quilting class in Carrington. Maybe not one of my smartest moves, but hey, if not now, when? I missed the first class thanks to the flu, the second one while in San Diego which made the third class my first. However, she did cancel the second one and so in reality, only one was missed. I did discover I like quilting-as long as someone else is telling me how to measure and what to do. I got quite a few blocks done that night and have about ten to do for homework before Monday night-so you know what I’ll be doing on Sunday. I also got a little taste of what my students felt like when I introduced something completely new to them; I’ve been the ‘student’ at inservices, but that information involved things I had a knowledge base in…not so with quilting. The inches, the color schemes-all new to me. I learned a lot and was thankful I had a mom who taught all six of us the importance of sewing through 4-H; it made it easier for the instructor since she didn’t have to teach me how to use a machine, the basic stitches, etc. Ok, to be fair I had a knowledge base about sewing, but not the piecing part-I really hope I can remember how to do these pieces on Sunday. On second thought, I’m glad I am going to the class; it gets me out of the house, meet some new ladies, visit, and learn a new skill. Sounds like a win-win to me!

With that, it is time to make the kuchen. Have a great day and enjoy the white blanket of snow; now it doesn’t look so dirty out there…

 

 

 

Mid month musings…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-01-2015

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We just returned from the American Farm Bureau national convention in San Diego, CA, and I must say we had a good time. They kept apologizing for the ‘cold’ weather, yet at 55 degrees, it was t-shirt/shorts weather for us; more importantly, there was NO WIND. Live in North Dakota long enough, and when it’s not windy you a)notice immediately b)suspect something is up, such as a big storm on the horizon. It was sunny and 70 when we got there-I was actually sweating and wishing I was wearing shorts at that moment. However, my legs are so white I would’ve gotten a citation for blinding many. I was going to post some pictures on Facebook while we were there, but after watching the new ‘Allstate’ commercials featuring mayhem selling Facebook posters’ household goods on TV, I decided to wait. If you haven’t seen them, google and watch them-they are seriously funny yet make a good point;while sharing pictures with the folks back home may seem like a good idea, it lets people know you aren’t home and won’t be for awhile. Back to the convention; the headliner for the final session was Jay Leno and my hubby was excited to hear him speak since they are both big car enthusiasts. Someone forgot to tell Jay who the audience was, because it wasn’t enjoyable-either that or I am getting old and don’t get crass humor. I’ll tell you who his audience was-older members who shaped agriculture and are in their 60s 70s and 80s, middle generationers like us who pay a lot of taxes and are on the tail end of working and people with kids there (also us). We brought our 13 year old because we thought Jay would make us laugh as he did on his show and maybe chat about his car collection, etc. Instead, we were assaulted for an hour with off color jokes with a lot of sexual references. He spoke of things I wasn’t comfortable having our son hear, and I could see other families squirming as a joke was told. He could see there were children in the audience as well as older citizens who weren’t laughing-heck, I wasn’t laughing and I’m in my 40s! Several left and I don’t blame them…I almost did, too. While I liked the conference as a whole and learned much, the ending, which should have left me feeling uplifted, left me disappointed…and I wasn’t alone. He didn’t get a standing ovation and that was a telling sign others weren’t impressed, either.

Today it’s back to the real world; wading through all the mail, reading the newspapers, and plotting what to do next. The new coffee shop in Fessenden is having a soft opening tomorrow (Thursday) so I’m baking breads and other goodies for it. I think the lab missed me; it’s been behaving today and nothing has broken, fritzed out or fallen. Now that I’ve said that, something will go wrong…Tomorrow is aronia baking day #2; I am making five or six baked goods for the people to sample and critique. I better put on my big girl panties because while it is constructive, it may still sting. Who knows?! It’s a new element for me and any comments will be welcome; it tastes like no other berry and has to be learned.

One more convention musing and I’ll move on. They featured four companies who were going for a large cash prize to help with their business and one of the companies makes chicken pens which can be moved over grass…the very same pen my husband invented over five years ago since we didn’t have a chicken coop. WHY didn’t we patent it?! It was a weird feeling; the guy was describing the pen and its benefits and I swear my head did a 360. Not 180, but 360, baby. Hubby wasn’t at that session so his head stayed intact. We can’t all lose our heads!

A big congratulations to the NDSU Bison football team on a stellar performance winning the national championship. It’s more impressive considering there was no looting, rioting, or destruction of property either in Texas or North Dakota. It’s too bad Ohio State can’t say the same; what possesses a person to start a couch or trash can on fire? The argument that it was their first and how can one blame them is lame, too; NDSU won their first one four years ago and not one riot. Sadly, people won’t remember Ohio State for the win, but the classless fans who ruined an otherwise special moment in their school’s history. I tried to teach mob mentality to my students and that was a good (negative) example of it.

With that, it is time to get a few things done this evening before the big baking day tomorrow. For those interested in the aronia  meeting, it’s Thursday night, 5 pm, at Opdahl’s, two miles west on Hwy 52. Maybe we’ll meet! I will leave you with a beautiful view of where we were staying-the Gaslamp District in San Diego. We really enjoyed what little time we got to spend there!

 

 

 

Hello (new) old friend…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-01-2015

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I have not baked since December 24th and after the Christmas baking frenzy, swore off the lab for a few days to enjoy the family and recover…not just from that, but the flu. That thing knocked me down, kicked my butt and then stuck around like an old postage stamp for four days. I’ve piddled around in it, organized lots of things, inventoried, and such, but never put on the apron to bake until yesterday. It felt pretty good, I must say. A sweet young lady gave this apron as a gift, knowing my love for anything Bison-good girl! I love aprons-if you need a gift idea for me, one can’t go wrong with this; I have almost a dozen, but there never seems to be enough. It’s a ritual; the light goes on in the lab and right next to the door is the apron hook, where I take one, tie it, and grab a tea towel to tuck into the pocket. My aprons must have pockets for the towel and Kleenexes. That’s a whole different topic. I feel like Mr. Rogers-what a great show that was; he was such a calm man and I loved his train set to ‘make believe’ land. A little girl/boy could get lost for a half hour watching that show-so much to learn by his mannerisms and lessons-without even realizing it. I truly do feel sorry for today’s youth; the ipad/computer/smart phone has ruined their imagination…hey, stop getting me off topic!

Back to the apron. Growing up, we didn’t wear aprons and our shirts showed it. In the evening, I would look down at my shirt and wonder where the heck all the spots and smears came from…now that I wear an apron, I know. I am a messy person in the kitchen as far as aprons go-splatters, smears, stains, globs-they tell quite the tale at the end of the session. I could never be on a cooking show, because I look at people like Martha Stewart and wonder how they can wear such nice clothes in the kitchen and not get them full of grease/chocolate/dough. Many days it’s on from sunrise to well past sunset (especially this time of year when sunset seems to happen at 1:30 pm); at the end of the day/session, I take one last look around, turn off the light, remove the apron/towel, and throw it into the laundry basket for the next washing. There are those unlucky days where I have to keep it on to work on our personal kitchen, but eventually it gets taken off-to date, I haven’t worn it to bed. Not saying that will never happen because some days I’m so exhausted it would be something I may forget to do…

Yesterday I worked with aronia berries as a baking element; I had already tackled them earlier in the week in a hot pepper jam concoction and as a vinaigrette (by the way, I’ve spelled that word wrong every single time I’ve typed it-why is there an ‘a’ in it?!) but it was the first time as a baked item. I found several recipes to tackle and evaluate: two different kinds of cookies, a Bundt and sheet cake, and a scone. The cookies were first and the results are mixed. For those who haven’t heard of aronia, it’s a tart chokeberry (not chokecherry) with amazing antioxidant qualities. This makes for good jam, but baking is a little trickier. The oatmeal cookie recipe was really firm and impossible to form as a cookie, so I put them in a 9 x 13 with parchment paper; aronias really stain and stoneware will take on the color if not protected-that and I always bake with parchment when making bars so they can be lifted and cut outside the pan. I have many pans with knife indentations in them from the past…and unfortunately show my lack of prowess in cutting a straight line. The bar/cookie is moist, but when you bite into the berry, it’s not sweet which isn’t a surprise to me but would be to someone else if they didn’t know what it was. I did drizzle them with chocolate to alleviate that (motto: chocolate saves everything, even lives), but I think they need to be sugared first so that recipe is in the ‘fix’ category. The next was a pinwheel cookie and frankly, I love making these kind of cookies-they are so darn cute and fun to create. Weird, but that’s me. As usual, I used a recipe but ended up tweaking it to what I like; I am getting better at writing notes about what was added/subtracted/done so I can either make the same mistake the next time (done that many a time after smacking myself on the head for not reading the notes) or actually improve/replicate. I am going to tackle the other recipes next week; the kitchen needs a break from me…I have to pace myself-that’s the ticket. (Saturday Night Live reference-insert John Lovitz’s voice)

Here is a picture of each type; I did drizzle a simple white glaze on half of them for a customer so she could tell me which were liked better. She is the world’s best customer; she’ll let me bake anything and is happy, so she, besides my family, is my go to guinea pig for new recipes.

If you want to know more about aronias, sample many recipes, or just hang out with some really fun(ny) people, there is an aronia informational meeting at Opie’s garage off Hwy 52 on Thursday, January 15 starting at 5 with appetizers (my hot aronia pepper jam with cream cheese will be there), aronia wine (good stuff) and an informal meeting to follow. If you’re local, you know who Opie is-and if you’re not, reply, and I’ll enlighten you. We’d love to see any and all there.

With that, it is time to make a quick recipe and get out of the kitchen for the day. For those Bison fans who are in, or are going to Frisco, I wish you much fun and fanfare. We have gone the past three years but other commitments prevent us from being a part of the herd. We will wear our colors proudly and cheer from the couch. You can take the Bison fan from Frisco, but you can’t take the Frisco out of a Bison fan.

My gift to you

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-01-2015

If you are like most people, the scale is not your friend today…and if you celebrated New Year’s Eve, it most definitely won’t be your friend. We were treated to supper last night by a fine group of people,  enjoyed their company along with the food, and came home in plenty of time to relax before going to bed. No, we didn’t make it to the magical midnight (it was just our son and me), but the calendar still turned the page into a new year without us.

If you have known me prior to 1998, you will know I once taught aerobics and loved it. LOVED IT. Music and dancing in front of a mirror and get paid for it? Yes, please! It started with a class in ‘Slimnastics’ (yes, that was the official title on my NDSU transcript) in 1987 and I was hooked. My mom even made an aerobics outfit for me to wear to class and I loved it…I wish I had taken a picture with it on, but who the heck used their camera back then? By ’88, Gold’s Gym in Fargo and Moorhead had hired me to teach, followed by my favorite, Club Broadway. Now THAT was a health club; multi-level, two aerobic rooms, running track…it was audacious and a blast to teach at in the day. Even  moving to Texas didn’t deter the teaching bug and was fortunate to teach at the very first Curves health club in Harlingen, Texas. However, in moving to Georgia, teaching, kids, and the inability to find a health club ceased my aerobic days. Let’s face it, by the late 9os, the Jane Fonda-esque classes were gone and I guess I felt the need to move on. A little sad now that I think about that. I do like working out and even more, love teaching aerobics, so I need to figure out a way to make that happen in Carrington. Last summer, there were a bunch of calendars on Facebook on getting killer abs, lethal buns, and amazing thighs. Once you looked at the workout schedule, it was pretty obvious a person over 30 who hasn’t exercised seriously since the last millennium and/or is weak in musculature would have difficulty doing them, and we all know if it’s too lofty of a goal, the odds of failure are higher.

Sidebar time: If you went to Moorhead State back in the day and were pursuing a teaching degree, they strongly advised you to get a coaching minor to increase your chances of employment. Not once in my 20+ year teaching career did anyone ask if I had one. Instead, they would point to a football, soccer ball, etc and ask, “Do you know what this object is? Have you ever played, seen, used a word that rhymes with ‘coach’ or seen a commercial involving sports? Do you have a pulse?” Bam! You got the job.

However, I did learn a lot in the classes needed; combine that degree with the aerobics certifications throughout the years, and I feel comfortable knowing what a person in my age group is comfortable being able to achieve. Thus, the following calendar:

30 DAY AB/WORKOUT CHALLENGE

 

SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

15 sit ups5 crunches5 leg raises

8 windshield wipers

10s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

16 sit ups6 crunches6 leg raises

8 windshield wipers

12s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

17 sit ups7 crunches7 leg raises

8 windshield wipers

14s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

18 sit ups8 crunches8 leg raises

9 windshield wipers

16s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

19 sit ups9 crunches9 leg raises

9 windshield wipers

18s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

20 sit ups10 crunches10 leg raises

10 windshield wipers

20s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

21 sit ups11 crunches11 leg raises

10 windshield wipers

22s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

Rest, but go for a nice 30 minute walkYou got through your first week-keep it up! 22 sit ups12 crunches12 leg raises

11 windshield wipers

24s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

23 sit ups14 crunches13 leg raises

11 windshield wipers

26s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

24 sit ups16 crunches14 leg raises

12 windshield wipers

28s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

25 sit ups18 crunches15 leg raises

12 windshield wipers

30s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

26 sit ups20 crunches16 leg raises

13 windshield wipers

32s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

27 sit ups22 crunches17 leg raises

13 windshield wipers

34s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

Rest, but exercise some other way for 30 minutes (swim, walk, jog, hike, garden)Are you feeling better? I am! 28 sit ups24 crunches18 leg raises

14 windshield wipers

36s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

29 sit ups26 crunches19 leg raises

14 windshield wipers

38s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

30 sit ups28 crunches20 leg raises

15 windshield wipers

40s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

31 sit ups30 crunches21 leg raises

15 windshield wipers

42s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

32 sit ups32 crunches22 leg raises

16 windshield wipers

44s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

33 sit ups34 crunches23 leg raises

16 windshield wipers

46s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

Rest, but exercise some other way for 30 minutes (swim, walk, jog, hike, garden)Congratulations! Only two weeks left; you’ll be increasing daily! 34 sit ups36 crunches24 leg raises

17 windshield wipers

48s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

35 sit ups38 crunches25 leg raises

18 windshield wipers

50s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

36 sit ups40 crunches26 leg raises

19 windshield wipers

52s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

37 sit ups42 crunches27 leg raises

20 windshield wipers

54s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

38 sit ups44 crunches28 leg raises

21 windshield wipers

56s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

39 sit ups46 crunches29 leg raises

22 windshield wipers

58s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

40 sit ups48 crunches30 leg raises

23 windshield wipers

60s plank and superman!

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

42 sit ups50 crunches GOAL!31 leg raises

24 windshield wipers

61s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

44 sit ups50 crunches32 leg raises

25 windshield wipers

62s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

46 sit ups50 crunches33 leg raises

26 windshield wipers

63s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

48 sit ups50 crunches34 leg raises

27 windshield wipers

64s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

50 sit ups-GOAL!50 crunches35 leg raises

29 windshield wipers

65s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

50 sit ups50 crunches35 leg raises

30 windshield wipers

70s plank and superman

One minute each of:

Prisoner squat, burpee, mt. climber

 

 

 

 

 

You did it! Look where you started and where you ended. Keep it up by starting over or adding on as I did.

If you don’t know what some of these exercises are, google them. One can usually find a video to go with the action. I may have my son record me doing them so I can show you how to modify the moves; there are things he could do that I couldn’t when I first started-especially mountain (mt) climbers. I don’t bounce; I am too old and am not going to feel the tsunami type jiggles which would result from jumping up and down like that. I followed this in June and loved the results; I’m going to start on Sunday again and see what January brings. Since I’ll be in Appleton, I’m going to make my sister do it as well, whether she likes it or not. What are older sisters for?! Let me know if you take the challenge and we’ll support each other. I am all for inspirational texts and emails.

There it is: out with the old, in with the new. What will be new for you this year?

 

 

 

 

 

Give me an ‘F’…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-11-2014

It is indeed sad when I only blog on the first and last day of the month. This month was a whirlwind and December is going to be more of a circus, but I need to find time to blog for my faithful readers…all two of you. The problem is finding time to sit down at the computer; I knew it was bad when I opened up my checking account and realized I hadn’t written anything down since November sixth. My husband is going to kill me when he sees the check register, but as CFO it’s his job to fix that mess. Lucky him! What’s been happening on the farm to keep me from the computer? The business. I love all three facets of my business: the catering, custom baking, and making products all give me great pleasure, but they are all like a jealous boyfriend, trying to one up each other and hog all my time. Right now it’s a matter of keeping the flames down long enough to get to the other and not let it burn me out. Woodward Farm’s open house was this month, and that put a lot of pressure me to get things made for it, but that was one fun weekend in my mind. I loved visiting with people, showing them where the magic begins, and providing many samples of some of the products made. Ugly Sister did not disappoint as she was a big hit-I swear, the uglier that salsa is, the better it tastes. I had to make product for “The Big One” vendor show in Minot early in the month and in between, there were three caterings to attend to, including one on Thanksgiving Day. I must admit; I really enjoyed that one-it’s the first time I’ve made the entire meal (for 40) by myself and not had any leftovers to throw in the fridge. I’ve got one more vendor show and it’s next weekend- the “Pride of Dakota” show in Bismarck and since it’s during my birthday, it looks to be a good one. We have made close to 300 jars of various products for the show in the past two days and I have one more day of jam making before a catering on Wednesday. Our thirteen year old son has been right by my side, helping me ladle the jam, wipe the lids, etc, and so last night, as I realized I had absolutely NO YEAST in the house, decided he and I needed a break from the work. We went to Jamestown, got some supplies, and then went to see The Penguins of Madagascar movie. I am so glad we went; we both laughed loudly and constantly; I love those four penguins and all of their antics, and most of the kids in the theater don’t realize all the play-on-words which goes on in Disney movies. I sometimes feel they write the script with adults over forty in mind because there are references to things only our generation would understand. Wait, are still wondering why I would let yeast run out in my house? Me too. It was a first and a last.

I am so over snow, and it’s only the beginning of winter. Calgon, take me away! Why is it when I lived in Texas a person longed for the snow, but once you are in it, realize it is vastly overrated?!

And with that, I already need to sign off. I got up at 5 am to make kuchen and need to get in that kitchen to make the yummy filling. I also want to color my hair before church but am thinking something has gotta give…those pesky gray hairs! I will leave you with a picture of what a catering job for 40 on Thanksgiving Day looks like in my car; a typical catering job is a meat, starch, bread, veggie and dessert. This had two meats, five starches, two veggies,  relish/veggie/fruit trays, buns, two gravies, and five kinds of pie. By the way-the Nevco cutting board is from a time when addresses were still primitive; it’s a classic but one of my favorite boards for cutting/carving meat. I need a bigger vehicle, but am still paying this one off…enjoy your day!

Endings

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-11-2014

Yesterday marked the conclusion of three things: October, peppers, and the cattle. Bob came to pick up his cattle we pasture from June-October and while my husband is always glad to see another successful season in the books, it’s sad to look out the kitchen window in the morning and see empty pasture. There is something comforting about a cow grazing or chewing its cud…however, when the wind is howling and the snow is thick, we will be glad to not worry about frozen water lines and getting hay out to them.  The second thing which finally disappeared yesterday is the peppers; I have been sorting, cleaning, chopping and freezing peppers now since August and am so glad to see the fridge empty-it’s had sweet, red, green, jalapeno, chili, banana and everything in between peppers in it, mocking me to do something to them. The last bags were frozen yesterday and last night I paid the price-sneezing, stuffy nose, and a rough throat. I am pretty sure there is an allergy to the peppers going on here…

I heard Georgia had snow late last night which could be a first-them getting snow before us. While I love snow in December, I would rather not see it in November. The wind is blowing out there right now and mixed with snow, would make for a wintry storm. No thanks! The grill is going into storage today to make way for the ultra large dog house and Daisy will be one happy dog. Just one more sign winter is fast approaching…

Reason #5960 why I love living on a farm: no trick or treaters; we bought candy the first year and have never bothered since then. Who is going to drag their children down a mile long driveway in hopes the people will be home? My husband asked if we had any candy in the house to give in case someone did come. We don’t, but I’m sure there’s some crackers or canned tuna to throw in their bag. Kidding. I miss the days of homemade popcorn balls. Eileen Anderson down the road made them big, thick, and so tasty. If we came late enough she gave us two of them and sometimes they were colored red, green or orange.  My son is in 8th grade and decided no more trick or treating which meant we were all home last night…those days may be limited once he gets a learners’ permit, so we enjoy them while we can.

Another reason I love living in a small community: yesterday our  insurance man and his boss came out to the kitchen to see how it looked, take pictures, and eat some food. If you come to my house, I will feed you. However, I was making strawberry margarita jam and ran out of triple sec. I called his office and he brought out a bottle. Now THAT is customer care. Would a big city insurance guy bring you booze? I think not. It was pretty comical-I paid him for the booze, he paid me for some apple butter and his boss bought pickles. It was a good business day…

I will leave you with a picture of the perfect comfort cookie-oatmeal raisin. I hate the hard, dry ones; this one is soft, chewy and easy to eat. Enjoy your first weekend in November and get ready for deer hunting season…it’s right around the corner!

The demise of customer service

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-10-2014

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We have all had some version of poor customer service whether on the phone or in person yet it seems to have taken on a new persona thanks to our friend, the computer. Perhaps it is easier to tell a customer nothing can be done when the words are typed and not spoken, or when you think you are speaking to someone in America who can help you when in reality, you are speaking to an 18 year old in Bangladesh who is probably texting as they are handling your case.

Here is a reality: we live in the sticks of North Dakota and by that I mean one can’t just jump in the car and ten minutes later be at a mall. Many of us live on a farm where the nearest small town is twenty or so minutes away and the nearest large city is two hours away. This is why we chose Carrington-Minot, Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks are all two hours away which is as central as one can get. I do not want to hear, “You chose to live there” because news flash, people: many farmers and ranchers ‘chose’ to live where they are living to provide food for the world and without us living where we do, you would be awfully hungry right now. To get around this geographical snafu, many order online and it’s been a wonderful tool up until yesterday. Amazon, ebay, Kohl’s-I do a lot of online shopping for my business and our family and am thankful the products get out here in a reasonable time.

Last Friday, with a fall concert on the horizon, my son and I went to Jamestown, an hour away, to get his required white shirt, black tie and pants; I do not mind doing this because those students look sharp up there in the various forms of black and white; my son outgrew last year’s pants and needed another anyways for the winter church season. While finding the shirt and tie were no problem, finding pants became an issue; no store carried them and so we went home, jumped on the internet, and found Sears had a decent pair for sale. I paid extra for Wednesday delivery and hit the button; I got the customary email order confirmation with an order number and didn’t worry about it until Wednesday when the UPS driver didn’t show up. That night, I went on the Sears’ site and had a live chat; first lesson learned-copy/paste any and all live chats. The person found my order and said the pants were at the store in Devils Lake (which by the way, we NEVER go in that direction so why are they there?) but he/she (who knows, the name was ambiguous) assured me the pants would be on the UPS truck in the morning and by 9 am would be at our door. Many apologies but no real customer satisfaction…there were a ton of grammatical/syntax errors which made me think the transaction was not on American soil, but if the pants were here, that would be a fight for a different day. 9 am came and went, 10 am too and so despite having a full plate of things to do, I got on the computer and did another live chat. This person tells me the pants are at the store and will get them on the UPS truck but no guarantees as to when we would see them; what little I know of UPS I am certain they have a schedule/route to follow and a farm an hour away is not going to be easy to fit into the route. The important thing to notice here is both of these reps stated the pants were in Devils Lake as this will come into play in a minute. Back and forth we go, and I keep asking to speak to a manager because this person will not guarantee the pants will be here in time and for my inconvenience, offers a 5% refund…that covers the extra shipping I paid for in my mind. Then $5 is offered and finally $10. The person agrees to have a manager from Sears call me and the phone rings, but it acts as if I made the call to Sears and sure enough, another customer representative is on the line with an accent letting me know this call is not local. I bluntly (because at this point my blood pressure is on the rise, folks) ask if she’s a manager and tell her to get one on the phone NOW…meanwhile I’m still on the live chat with that Helpful Hal and wants to know if someone called; when I told the person it wasn’t a manager, the first thing typed is ‘don’t ask for one’. What?! I never was a good listener…at this point I copied and pasted the live chat message for future reference. A ’manager’ did  come on the line and it is now 11 am-I spent the next hour and a half either on hold or trying to convince this person to call the Devils Lake store and get those pants out here or my son was going to go to a concert without them. At first he tries to tell me the order was for pick up from the store and when I ask him why I paid extra shipping for it to come to my door and the invoice CLEARLY shows my address as the ship to address, he doesn’t have an answer. Folks, this is why you never delete any correspondence with a company regarding your order; it’s pretty hard to dispute the fact when it’s written. He told me that extra money paid for the shipping to the store, not my house. These pants are for sale at the store-why would a person pay shipping to the store when the item is already there? It’s like going to the grocery store, ordering something already on the shelf and paying extra for it. Dumb. At he end of all this waiting, he comes on the line and tells me the order was never received because the Devils Lake Sears was having computer issues. This is the best story they can come up with for me?! Never mind that two different agents saw the order and it was at the store…However, as an apology for this glitch, they were offering me 20% off my next order. What next order?! Anyone can get that deal on the internet. He stated PayPal had never been charged and not to worry.  I started to laugh-a crazy, homicidal laugh I’m certain, and I had to hang up before I completely lost it. I did what any angry customer would do-go to Facebook. I went on their webpage and stated my dissatisfaction with how I was treated and got a response back pretty fast. They promised a rep would call me but I’m still waiting for that. Then I went on my page and asked for help and once again, this is why one lives in a small town-one lady offered to drive to Devils Lake to get the pants, then went to the thrift store to look for me, and another had a pair and dropped them off at the school. Love small town life. I had wasted so much time yesterday I had to drop the issue for a day, but this morning went on PayPal to see if indeed, it had not been charged. Guess what is on there from Oct. 17? A charge from Sears. Of course…

My son brought the pants home and thought the mail delivered them to the school. Funny. The concert was amazing and both choirs and bands sounded fantastic. The school needs to protect the band time better; the junior high is large but the senior high is not and it’s because of a scheduling issue. Folks, the band director is GOOD and the kids want to play. Figure out a way to make it happen; it is sad when the students have to choose because the arts always lose. When the band program was lousy no one seemed to care, but the district has a talented director and they need to protect this program better. The elementary band instructor does a fabulous job of teaching the 5th and 6th graders the fundamentals and the students flourish in junior high. Then suddenly, they hit high school and are forced to make a choice…help them, administration. Time to be creative…

It’s baking day and with that, it’s time to hit the oven…speaking of, yesterday I used the self-clean feature for the very first time EVER on an oven. I turned it on and five minutes later, smoke is curling out of it; the door is locked so it can’t be opened to see what the heck is going on in there, but three hours later, it was a lot cleaner. I need to vacuum out the ashes, but that is a small price to pay for a clean oven. I think it takes a ridiculous amount of electricity with the element on at such a high temperature so next time I will opt for a shorter cycle. I will leave you with a picture of our dog, Daisy, enjoying the warm fall sunshine next to the pumpkin display. That blanket is supposed to be on them to protect from the frost, but she keeps trying to lay on it so I gave up the ghost and let her enjoy it. It’s Friday-enjoy this beautiful weather!

Some days my life resembles a book…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-10-2014

I read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day to my oldest son many years ago and yesterday got to live my version of it. It started in the wee hours of the morning when I felt a headache coming on and by 6 am, I can’t stand lying in the bed anymore-it pounds like a drum that won’t shut off. I took some meds to stave it off, but sure enough, the migraine comes to visit anyways and ruins a perfectly good day. And it WAS a beautiful day in North Dakota yesterday-sunny, warm, slight breeze-and where was I? Shades drawn, lights off and a cold compress on my head. However, for the first time, I had a baking order to fill  and so I had to get in the lab and make some magic. Normally this order would be a piece of cake for me-two loaves of bread and a dozen buns. But trying to bake with a pounding headache is not for the weak and boy, was I weak. Nothing went my way; I burned the buns, started the smoke alarm (which by the way, with the head thing, was enough to drive me to drink at that moment) and ran out of eggs. No eggs means no second batch of buns. Let’s go back to the smoke alarm because while it wasn’t funny, it was…there I was, trying to get it to stop by waving a broom over it while the animals at the door started whining from the noise-which I had opened to let the smoke dissipate.  Then the pan got stuck in the oven so I couldn’t get it out and ended up using tongs to pull the buns out one by one (there were twenty-four). I looked up every recipe I had for buns and they all called for at least one egg; while I love my customer, I was not driving to town with a migraine in the blinding sunshine to get an egg. I managed to eek out six from the two loaves and felt like the apostles when Jesus made the loaves and fishes feed the masses. To make me more frustrated, those twenty-four buns were works of art-I had weighed them each individually and carefully formed them. They had the promise of a beautiful bun, but let’s face it, pale on top and brown on the bottom only describes me when I’m out mowing in the summer with my white chest and tan legs, not a bun for sale. The bright spot of the day is now I don’t have to wonder if my smoke detector works…it does! The final touch on my day was in the evening when I made a delivery to Fessenden, twenty-three miles to the west, knowing I had to go back to Carrington, sixteen miles to the east of us, to pick up son from a meet. I told him in the morning to text when they got to Jamestown to give me an hour warning. Did he? No. Am I shocked? Not really. He’s a thirteen year old with bigger things to worry about like what game to buy on x box for Christmas. I texted him outside of Fessenden to see where they were at and he states they are about twenty minutes from Carrington. I’m no mathamagician (yes, I think I made that up, but don’t want to pull an Al Gore here) but I had twenty miles plus sixteen to get to Ctown…not going to happen. We got home, he finished his social studies project, and gave me a big hug good night. The day ended on a high note for certain.

This morning I feel back to normal again and wish I knew why I get those migraines; they completely erase twenty-four hours from your clock, as if the day never happened. In the winter or on a cold, windy day it wouldn’t be so bad, but when I have twelve million things to do outside (and inside) it makes life a little difficult. However, it is the promise of a good day and much to do-it is supposed to be in the upper 60s/ low 70s today. In OCTOBER. Life is good. I will leave you with a picture of a cupcake I made last week for a party. I look at the picture and smile…and hope whomever ate it enjoyed every last bite of it.

Change of seasons…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-10-2014

We knew it was coming; the warning signs were there, the threat was posted everywhere, and yet, at 6:30 pm yesterday where was I?! In the garden, trying one last time to eek some summer out of the plants and realizing tomorrow at this time they will be frozen, wilted, and dead. The first freeze always saddens me; in March, the seeds were started with the whisper of a promise, in May they were planted with high hopes, and throughout the summer/ fall they did as promised and provided much for our family.  I harvested some green tomatoes for the first time to try them in a pickle recipe and fry some as well; I find it funny how Southerners love fried green tomatoes yet we Northerners are the ones who HAVE the green tomatoes because the vines can never seem to finish what they started before it freezes. I can’t tell you how many pounds of tomatoes were left out there last night, but it was a lot and that is just the way it is.  94 pounds were processed yesterday into salsa and spaghetti sauce; if someone had told me twenty-five years ago that I’d be hanging out with my thirteen year old on a Friday night putting tomatoes through the food mill and enjoying it, I would have laughed. I was in Texas, going out on the weekends and being young/silly/stupid/all the above. But there we were, and it was a good time; I prepped the tomatoes and he got to put them through the mill-a job every boy should get to do. He loves to see the ‘poopsicles’ -the skins and seeds which come out the end-and we run them through twice to get all the juice/pulp out. One may think that is overkill, but we got another two quarts of the delicious red stuff so it was well worth it. Here’s a picture of him and his buddies:

BTW we did have a little bit of tomato juice left from the milling and will be our soup tomorrow night. If you’ve never had fresh, homemade tomato soup, you are missing out. Campbell’s has NOTHING on the real thing-and I like that soup!

Besides being the day before the first freeze, another thing saddened/puzzled me. I went past the sedum which love to bloom in late fall and discovered a dozen dead bees on them. Earlier this week they were buzzing around and having a grand old time on the sedum, but to see them dead, hanging on the last spot they were on or resting on a leaf was just plain…disconcerting. Don’t they go somewhere for the winter like the birds? Couldn’t they have gone into one of our buildings and laid low until it warmed up again? I love bumblebees and must say this was a hard fact to see:

There’s two in the picture; one on top of the sedum and one hanging on the bottom right. Sorry, I don’t have a great camera nor are my skills top notch at picture taking…

Somehow I managed to bruise my left ring finger in Thursday night’s attempt at covering the peppers; we use rocks to hold down the blankets and ended up with a rock sandwich-rock, my finger, and another rock. Good lord that hurt! Now my ring won’t go on and what I thought was beet juice (even though I wasn’t canning any beets!) was instead a bruised finger. The price we pay for our veggies…

Hey, who ordered those snow flakes yesterday?! We were sweating a week ago…I want that weather back!

With that, it is time to get the day going. I was so proud to go through ten flats of tomatoes yesterday, but with the last minute picking, now have twelve in there to contend with. At least they are in various shades of red so they won’t have to be processed all at once-it gets to be drug out for weeks now. Goody. Stay warm, think warm thoughts, and act warmly towards one another. There-I used it as three different parts of speech. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…