The rumor is true…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-04-2015

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I am a millionaire-tax free, I may add. I received a very official looking letter accompanied by a check for $1.2 million, tax free, and all I have to do is send THEM a check or cash for #11.99 to cover ‘fees’. I took the check to my bank today and told her I wanted it in dollar bills. She and I are good friends, so we both shared a chuckle over this, but seriously, there are people out there who would fall for this. Every thing about it looks legitimate, but if you are smarter than the average bear, you will see the issues with this offer. Unfortunately, we know not every one IS smarter than a bear based on the inordinate number of selfies on Facebook or videos on YouTube; if this was sent out to a million people and only 5,000 responded, one still makes almost $60,000. I am going to send them $12 in Monopoly money and tell them to keep the change. By the way, I hope no bears were offended in that comparison…

That little rain shower received last Sunday was a blessing; it greened everything up overnight and made things seem not so bleak. Another shower this week would be welcome-our garbage is piling up since we can’t burn. Even with recycling and separating non-recyclables plus composting, we still have four kitchen size bags to burn. It’s funny how spoiled you get out in the country; we throw the bags in the barrel, light it and move on. Yes, we watch it! Usually, I play fetch with the dog while it’s burning, so she’s feeling a little put off by the ban. Growing up, we used to throw it in a big pit dad had dug with the Backhoe and every once in a while we would get gasoline and light it-now THAT was a big fire. I swear, I felt like a pyromaniac, watching the big flames fueled by the gasoline. How we never burned down the house is a mystery.

This morning, as I was pouring my coffee, I looked out the window and saw four adorable little birds flitting around our front porch, pecking at the ground for food. My first thought was, “Why aren’t the cats out there?” but then I decided to enjoy the view until our black cat showed up and made a half-hearted attempt at hunting. They got away-shock. Actually, the cats are good mousers, but birds aren’t their forte; I’ve never seen them kill/eat one, but they bring the mice up often for our approval. Yuck.

Speaking of coffee, my consumption is slowly inching up, reminding me that once again, I am becoming my mother. I started with four cups, then five, and yesterday, made six cups; keep in mind my hubby isn’t home to help drink this and when I drink coffee, I usually have more milk and creamer than coffee. I love to have a little coffee with my creamer. I switched to unsweetened almond milk and that makes me feel a little better, knowing I’m getting calcium with the caffeine while lowering the calories, but still, it takes me the whole morning to drink it all. No, I am not an afternoon coffee drinker-I’d be up all night if that happened. And really, is being like your mother a bad thing? No…that’s why you love your mother.

It’s time to make the last of the raspberry chocolate spread; the raspberries will be officially out after today. While I love emptying the freezer, it makes me a little sad knowing I won’t have anymore until July. I got a large supply of aronias from a friend recently and need to work on them; they are the last berry standing (or resting) in the freezer. However, May will soon be here, and that means planting season where the cycle starts all over again.

With that, I challenge you to have a great Friday-because let’s face it, IT’S FRIDAY! Just the word brings a smile to your face!

 

 

Sounds of Silence…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 16-04-2015

After awaking to the howling, relentless wind for the past five days, I opened my eyes and realized how quiet it was; it took a moment to figure out it was the lack of wind, not my whiny alarm clock, which woke me up. My second thought was, ” Yea! I can finally hang clothes out!” My third thought involved coffee, which in reality, should have been my first thought.

Normally, spring is a beautiful time; the snow is gone, the green grass begins to peek, the buds form on the trees, and our cats mate on the driveway in front of our window. While the last one isn’t my favorite scene, the rest is, but this spring, the grass is still very dead looking. Our lack of moisture is catching up with us and it is a little sad out there. As I drove to a catering last night, I looked at the side of the highway and everywhere is brown, brown, brown. It’s time for those April showers!

Speaking of catering, last night I catered a fun bunch of ladies-Wednesday bowling league. They had their banquet last night and asked me to cater; they had the place decorated in a Western theme and it was a great experience-laughter, smiles, and friendships flowing everywhere. This is what mean girls miss-the importance of positive friendships. I feel sorry for them and am glad they weren’t around in the 80s (at least at our school) because having lasting friendships, I fear, is a thing of the past. We didn’t have texting and Facebook-we actually picked up the phone, called each other, and laughed for hours. We hung out together in basements, played games, watched MTV. and giggled, whispered, and shared secrets until late in the night. I have a ton of pictures of girlfriends, but I decided to dig one up from the past of my first friends-my mom and sisters. This gem is from the late 80s:

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Theresa, me, mom, Roseanne, Kathy-we’ve changed so much I thought I better label us.

I could blog for a while, but truthfully, I have a really bad headache and need to get rid of it. This white screen isn’t helping. With that, have a great day and enjoy the lack of wind.

Apparently, lightning does strike twice…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-04-2015

Sigh…there are days I need to ground myself and put me in the corner. Yesterday was just such a day. Last year sometime, I spilled coffee all over my wireless keyboard; if I go back in the blogs, I can probably find the day-it was traumatic. For the longest time, I had to put up with the q and 2 not working as well as the tab key; luckily, I have a touch screen and can pull up a keyboard on the computer, but let’s face it, it’s another step-and we all love more steps in a procedure, don’t we? My kids, feeling sorry for me, bought me a really nice wireless keyboard for Christmas and I loved it; I was careful around it, made sure to keep it away from the coffee, etc.-until yesterday, when a split second decision ruined yet ANOTHER keyboard. After I spilled, I immediately whipped it around and got coffee all over the newly cleaned carpet, ran to the bathroom and tried to wipe it off. Then I ran to my bathroom, got the blow-dryer, and tried to air dry the coffee out of it. The keys survived, but the space bar wouldn’t work; have you ever tried to type without spacing? Nightmare. My husband thought maybe using the air compressor would help, so he took it out to the shop and worked on it awhile. Unfortunately, that didn’t do the trick. Many keys wouldn’t work and worse yet, they kept repeating themselves. The scroll and number locks wouldn’t unlock and overall, it was a goner. Thankfully, I kept my old keyboard and am now back to using that; as punishment, I’m not buying myself a new one until I’ve learned my lesson. I wonder when that will be?

March went out like a lamb-for a whole day. Now April is fooling us by whipping the wind around everything; we thought about burning some boxes for a whole two seconds before realizing that would be a really. bad. idea. And no, I will not be planting my potatoes tomorrow as my grandpa did; no sense in wasting time and potatoes.

I made a pie today for a customer and had some leftover dough, so I found a smaller pan, threw in some home canned apples, sugar, flour and spices, dabbed some butter and put on leftover Girl Scout Samoa crumbs from that recipe a while back. I finished off with some dough apple cut outs and baked it. It turned out nicely:
apple crunch pie

I’m starting to like making pie a little more, but making more than a few at a time makes it a chore, and I don’t want baking to be a chore-I want to love it like a warm, fuzzy sweater. Bread? I can make many loaves and never tire of the dough. Pie? Making the crust is an exact science (no store bought here) and the insides (apples, etc.) take a lot of time. I need more practice and I’m certain the family won’t mind being guinea pigs for it.

Holy Week is in full swing and I love the next few days: the Lord’s Supper, the Crucifixion, and Easter Sunday. It goes from such sadness to elation and I love how the altar changes for each day. With that, someone here has to make supper and that task falls on me; thankfully, dessert is made. Have a Blessed Easter, everyone!

 

Frankenstein strikes again…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-03-2015

 

It is difficult for me to follow a recipe. Not because it’s confusing or complex, but for the simple fact I try to put my two cents’ worth into it. Sometimes it’s to make it better (in my mind), but most times, it’s to use what ingredients I have on hand rather than waste time and money going out to purchase a specific ingredient.

Such was the case last week. I had leftover caramel rolls that had dried out a bit from a catering job; let’s be honest, in my house, ‘leftover’ and ‘caramel rolls’ are never synonymous. Ever. But these were out for the entire morning before lunch was served and so I froze them as soon as I got home, thinking they would be good for something eventually. I also had a potpourri of things in the fridge/freezer I wanted to use- a cup here, a baggie there-all were begging to be used. In my kitchen, we eat from the freezers at least three times a week-what’s the point of freezing all of these things if you are never going to use them?! First I looked in the cookbooks to get some ideas, and two things came to mind: egg bake and French toast bake. My family loves both, so why not combine the two? I did, and let me tell you, the three of us ate half the pan in no time flat, and the leftovers were gobbled up the next day for a snack. As usual, the problem with me is the throwing things in without really measuring or writing it down, but I tried my best to keep track and jot things down as I added them, because I had a sneaking suspicion we would like this-and we did. My dad was notorious for this-we never quite knew what we were going to eat when he made ‘leftover hotdish’. Sometimes it was pretty good and sometimes, well, the dog and cats got to eat well that night. I am all for repurposing leftovers, but sometimes, cooked beets just shouldn’t be mixed with anything it can bleed on, like tuna hotdish…and keep in mind, I love beets. Here is what it looked like after our first pig-out:

egg bake

‘French Toast’ egg bake:

Spray a 9×13 pan and layer the bottom with dried sweet bread; I used caramel rolls, but you could use raisin bread, sweet rolls, or whatever you have on hand.
12 eggs
2 c whipping cream (half and half would work too, as would whole milk-you get the picture)
1/4 c sugar
Crack the eggs into a blender, add the next two and blend until smooth; pour over the bread
sprinkle 2 c cheddar cheese (or a mix of Colby jack, etc)
sprinkle 1 c crumbled bacon (bacon bits would work, I’m sure)
Now you have two options: cover and refrigerate overnight OR let sit in fridge for an hour (which is what I did)
Preheat oven to 350
Mix 1/2 c sugar, 1/3 c flour and 1/4 c softened butter together and sprinkle on top of mixture (if your bottom layer doesn’t have cinnamon you may want to add 1/2 tsp to this)
Bake for an hour and let set for a few minutes before serving.

The sweet and cinnamon of the rolls along with the crunchy topping mixed with the cheese/bacon made this taste REALLY GOOD. My topping was from a blueberry muffin recipe I had made and had leftovers in a baggie stored in the freezer. The same with the bacon and cheese-you could add more or less, depending on what you have on hand. Try it and let me know how it turns out. My family loves breakfast for supper.

For a while last week I thought maybe I could plant potatoes on Good Friday as my grandparents did, but this week put the kibosh on that. I do love not seeing snow in March; the wind the last two days has been howling, making it miserable outside, but today it’s still and sunny. The promise of a good day.

With that it’s time to fire up the ovens. Cookies and crusts are on the agenda. Tomorrow is Friday and that means the weekend-go out an enjoy the warmer weather!

 

 

I’m a blockhead now!

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-03-2015

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It took longer than planned, but the quilt is done! To be fair, it is a wall hanging, not a quilt, yet it had to be pieced together, thus making it a quilt in my mind. As you can see, Bison green and gold is the theme-that can’t be a shock to anyone. Now I will need to pester a sister-in-law to help me finish the back so it can be hung on the wall with pride. I went to Designer Fabrics last Sunday after church to get help with the border and another lady brought her finished quilt in-now THAT was a quilt; it was gorgeous, complicated, and something I will never be able to do. At that moment, I realized how people who don’t cook or bake must feel; I was so proud of my little wall hanging and the progress I made, just as someone who makes a cookie or bread for the first time must feel. Our son is interested in making one next winter with the arrow pattern since he is now into shooting a bow; I bought enough fabric since I didn’t know what I was doing so that shouldn’t be a problem.

I hung clothes outside yesterday which has got to be a record; we are usually knee deep in snow until April or gasp, even May, which made having outdoor fresh smelling clothes extra special. It was windy but extra clothes pins kept all but one item intact until we took them down a few hours later. Luckily the neighbors aren’t finding our underwear over there thanks to the wind…

We had 4-H today and as a club made four tie blankets for the Linus project; it was a lot of fun watching them work as a team to get them measured, cut, and tied. It’s important for children to do something for the good of others rather than the standard ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality.

Another sign we are getting older; my husband forgot our anniversary today. He saw his gift next to the coffee pot, where I knew he’d find it, and he said, “A gift for me? How nice.” When I stated it was his anniversary gift, the blank look he gave me was priceless. Ten years ago I may have been upset by this, but I take it in stride now. The man has bigger fish to fry in his mind and that’s ok. Speaking of fish, we had salmon for lunch and that was a great way to enjoy each other’s company, especially when our fourteen year old thinks it’s tasty, too. It is so easy to feed those two men; they eat everything and anything I put in front of them. To me, my son’s demeanor (which is mild like his dad’s) is the best anniversary gift a mom could have.

It’s 70 degrees out on a sunny Sunday; it’s time to cut this blog short and get out there to soak in some vitamin D since it’s supposed to be in the 40s tomorrow. Gotta love the weather!

 

 

 

Manic Monday Mishaps

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-02-2015

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cookie messThat, my friends, is what parchment paper looks like when it meets the oven element. Yesterday was my typical baking day for Cornerstone Coffee in Fessenden and things were running smoothly. A batch of kuchen turned out beautifully, the first batch of cookies went swimmingly, and the banana breads (in honor of National Banana Bread Day) all turned out as they should.  At the last minute, a customer called and wanted a dozen cookies and since I was heading into town anyways, decided this would be No Problem. These two words are rarely in my daily vocabulary it seems because when things are going well, doom is around the corner snickering. Once every two weeks I spend one whole day making and freezing batches of cookie balls to pop in the oven for orders; I got out the last dozen of the almond joy cookies to bake and when they were done, reached in the oven to grab them, knowing I had to hit the road in ten minutes for town. Apparently I didn’t grab both the parchment paper and stone because the stone came out but the parchment didn’t-it went sailing down to the bottom of the oven where it hit the element and promptly started on fire. I grabbed the broom since I knew the smoke detector was going to go off, and sure enough, it did, so I went to open the door to let some ‘warm’ winter air in/smoke out when the OTHER alarm known as my whiney cats all stood outside the door and meowed in chorus. At this point, I just stood there and watched the fire burn, almost as if it were a fireplace; there was really nothing I could do but let the paper burn out. I would have left the lab and made a Bloody Mary, but I still had a town delivery for which I was now running late, and did not think drinking and driving would benefit anybody. How does the story end? Does the customer get their cookies? Will the fire ever stop burning? How does one recuperate from such a loss?! In my world, pretty easily.  The delivery was done, the cookies were remade when I got home and my lucky son got to bring them to school to drop off at the front office so the person could pick them up. When my son and I got home yesterday, he saw that mess on the sink and the first thing he did was look for a non-charred chunk to eat-it’s not like it landed on the floor…reason  number 431 why I love that kid-he knows under there is some good to be found! The point of my story is this: none of us are perfect, and although I love to bake and think I can do a lot of good with it, mishaps happen, and one should never be too proud to think they are above making mistakes. This is my wart and now you’ve seen it. Moving on…

It’s going to be a short one today; I have 25 loaves of various breads to make for a large order today and ‘knead’ to get busy. Ha! Great pun! Have a great day and don’t sweat it if the cookies in your life fall to the ground. Dust them (and you) off and move on-have a good laugh. I did.

 

Why rural life is Valentine’s Day everyday…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-02-2015

I wanted to say why living in North Dakota is lovely, but I grew up in rural Minnesota and lived in rural Georgia, both of which were beautiful places to live. While Valentine’s Day is all about external shows of affection, living in a rural area is more internal, but for today, I will chat about some of the external ‘loves’ of living here by starting with the amazing sunrises and sunsets.

There’s the joke about seeing your dog run away for two miles if you live here, but doggone it (pun intended), how does one not love that view? It’s one of the reasons I love my commercial kitchen because that is what I see when I look out the window twenty million times a day; I never get sick of it. I’ve lived in a big city and never got to see either sunrise or sunset-the high buildings clogged the view. When we went to San Diego and stayed downtown, there was no sunrise to greet me. Thank you, rural landscape, for that daily gift of seeing morning wake and slumber.

While on the topic of dogs (were we?!) animals on the farm are another reason to love rural living. From newborn calves and piglets, to baby chicks and kittens in the barn, there is no better gift than life in all stages. I may grouse about our cats being whiney and irritating, but on a summer morning, nothing is better than sitting on the rocking chair on the front porch, cup of coffee in hand, and having a cat crawl into your lap to be loved. One can’t leave out the trusty farm dog; ours is a gem and watching her sun herself on the lawn or guard the house warms the heart. Daisy (and the cats) loved to hang out by the fall display and the cats constantly get into any object on the porch:

Finally, there is the rural family work ethic; whether it’s all working in the garden to bring in the harvest before the frost or peeling potatoes for a catering job, working together is no stranger on a farm. How many times we shoveled grain out of the bins or drove truck from the field to the dryer while growing up was innumerable, but it needed to be done. No whining, negotiating, or promise of money or trip; you did it because you were part of something bigger. Giving of yourself to help the greater good makes living in a rural setting a gift that never stops giving. After I snapped the picture this morning, these two claimed they didn’t sign a waiver of release, but I overruled that sad argument. These two are king of potato peeling, and I will even admit my husband and I had a peeling contest once-and he won.

Enjoy this day of recognized affection, but keep in mind Valentine’s Day should be every day in your heart; loving those around you, showing you care by doing, not giving, things-this is what we should aspire to do.

A new chapter on Friday…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-02-2015

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Feeling like a pretzel is not a fun feeling, especially if you are the pretzel being doused with hot cheese…which sounds a little tasty right now. I love what I do with the three facets of custom baking, catering, and processing jams, etc, but there are many days when all three worlds collide and it’s tough to find time to be a mom, wife, and chief house engineer-which means the toilets may not get cleaned as often as I’d like. Besides the processing, one needs to take the show on the road to sell the product at shows such as Pride of Dakota, The Big One, Junkfest, and many, many more. That takes time out of the other pieces of the puzzle and it’s time to let someone else do some of the selling-which is hard for me to do since I love to talk about the product, how to use it, what’s inside of it, etc. On Friday, I packed up the Rav, loaded it full of product, and drove to begin the wholesale game. I chose three places who had expressed an interest and all purchased product, so now people in the western part of the state can go to the Lewis & Clark museum in Washburn, Susie Q’s Craft Emporium in Mandan, and Plaza Drug in Bismarck. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with all three, sampling product, and creating a relationship which I hope will last until I’m retired…which may be next week. The picture above was the first stop of the day; Sarah was a delight to work with and am looking forward to dropping off samples and product for them. Next up is Minot and Fargo!

Besides wholesaling, this weekend was also the North Dakota Grape & Wine Association annual meeting/conference; it is two days of networking, workshops, and wine drinking. In full disclosure, we do not have a vineyard-I have three Valiant grape plants given to me by good friends who are passionate about grape growing in North Dakota-but those three plants give me enough juice to make one of my most popular products, grape chili jam, so I feel I have a little stake in the process. And by little, I mean one could barely support a pepper plant on the size of stake I have… I catered some of the appetizers Friday night and then sold product on Saturday during the breaks, which is another great reason to go. I love meeting the other vendors and chatting with them; besides being really nice people, we all have something to share with one another and many ideas are thrown back and forth. All in all, it was a successful trip to the capitol; I even chatted with Doug Goering, the  state ag commissioner, which lets you know how intimate North Dakota is when you can chat with a state figurehead and not have secret service throwing you down.

Our 4-H club met yesterday and it was a lot of fun for both the kids and adults; while the kids were in the kitchen learning how to make frosted sugar cookies with Sarah Aberle, the adults met and planned a charity event our club will spearhead at the county fair for the first time. The kitchen was full of laughter and good smells while they each decorated many different cookies and the adults bounced ideas and came together as a group to help our children learn the importance of giving back to the community. We are fortunate to have a large 4-H club and believe our children will be the winners in the end with the skills they are learning; I am a product of being a lifetime 4-Her and want to pass that on to my children; while 4-H isn’t as big as it was back in the 80s, it is still relevant in our part of the country and our club is doing its part to continue the legacy.

With that, it is time to fire up the lab and get busy baking. It’s Valentine’s Week and that means a lot of cookies, cakes and cupcakes will be flying out the door. Make your Monday sing by smiling at every person you see-they will either think you are up to something or are glad it’s a Monday. Either way you win!

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…

 

 

 

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