Quilting, Farming, Variety

Monday, September 30, 2013

Low-Hanging Limbs

All summer I mowed beneath these low-hanging limbs.  I had to bend low to keep leaves and sticks out of my eyes and many times my hat got pushed off my head.  I'm sure if someone saw me they wondered, "Why doesn't she just cut them off?"   But you see, I had a very good reason not to cut them:

they're full of pecans!  And I can reach them!  I think the tree has more on it this year than ever before, which surprised me after two years of drought.  Now, if Edgar Allen Crow and Squirrel Nutkin don't steal too many, there should be plenty for me to gather and have pecans for breads, cookies, brownies, salads...

I'd like to share a portion of a favorite read-aloud story by Alvin Tresselt, which is about the four seasons;  maybe you can find it in one of his books at your local library.  This will be about the fall season from the story, Now Is the Time:

"...now the warm days grow shorter, and the cool nights grow longer.
The trees have a tired, rusty look, and brown leaves gather at the gutters.
'It's time again,' say the mothers.
Time to get out warm clothes...
This is the time of leaf fall in the parks, and a faint tang of leaf smoke in the air.
Hard sweet apples in the markets, and golden orange tangerines again..." 

Charlotte

I've been asked of I drew the picture at the heading of my blog.  The answer is "No" but I wish I could draw that well.  Actually it is a picture from an old calendar.





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Making Molasses

Do you have a favorite molasses cookies recipe? My family really likes a gingersnap cookie made by a recipe from the back of an oleo box; it's several years old. Since I can't make a good chewy cookie by any recipe (I'm cookie challenged), and I've always been more of the "eat to live" type anyway, I won't send out the recipe. However, I would like to take you through the steps involved in making molasses. 

Perhaps some of you have read this, as it was first posted in 2011.  As I have mentioned before, raising sorghum cane for making molasses was the main crop produced on our farm when I was a child, and the harvest started about this time of year. (Pardon the line drawings; we had no cameras back in those days.)

...Early each spring the grounds were prepared for the new planting. For several days, Daddy and his brother took their teams of horses to the fields, and all day the horses pulled the plows, back and forth, around and around in the loose, brown dirt. The seeds were put into the ground and the warm sun and rain soon made the rows glisten with tiny green shoots. As the plants grew taller, the women began to hoe the long rows in the hot sun, stopping now and then to straighten their tired backs and go to the edge of the field to rest and drink water that had warmed while they worked.
As the summer passed the plants grew into tall, slender stalks, the fodder turned yellow, the seed heads browned; the cane was ready to harvest. The men and women each took a long wooden paddle, sharpened on the edges, and began to strip the fodder from off the cane. With the leaves stripped off, the cane stalks stood tall and naked. Reaching high, and with a quick flick of the wrist, each woman slashed the seeded heads from the top of the stalks. Behind the women, the men cut the long jointed stalks and laid them in piles, ready to be loaded onto the wagon and hauled to the mill.


Early the next morning, preparations were made at the mill to start making molasses. Easter came to start feeding the cane stalks into the mill. The horse walked around and around the mill, pushing the long pole that turned two big iron rollers. A watery, green juice was squeezed out of the stalks and ran down into a barrel and on to the cooking pan. Frothy foam covered the top of the cooking juice as it began to boil, and as the foam was skimmed off, and the juice began to thicken, it was pushed along the sections of the pan, gradually turning to a golden brown.


The new molasses were strained and put into glass jars and tin buckets, set aside to cool, and labeled, waiting to be taken to the food market in town to be sold...

The brothers were recognized for their efforts in producing good molasses one year, when two half-gallon buckets were prepared and shipped to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (I tried to include a picture of the letter they received but it wouldn't load; however, the envelope did.)

It's not easy to find molasses now that are golden brown and good for eating on a hot buttered biscuit; most are dark and very strong tasting. Perhaps when one has had the best it's not easy to be satisfied with anything less.

























Charlotte

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Apron

Did you think I'd make it this far into the year posting an apron each month?  I've had so much enjoyment making these; it's almost sad to think there's only three more to go this year.

 
Made up in a brown cotton print for fall, the apron is very simple, a good one for a beginner to sew.  I learned to make one continuous strap which feeds through side facings, forming an adjustable neck strap and back ties, eliminating the need for ties at the neck.  I like that.

 
I used this 1971, well-worn pattern,
 
 
and appliqued the rooster to give it some character.  Don't you think he looks like the Kellogg's Corn Flakes rooster?
 
Just for fun, I'm adding a child's apron, made much the same way except it ties at the neck,
 
 
has a big double pocket, and is reversible.
 
 
This would be nice for helping in the kitchen, or for carrying crayons, etc.
This was a free pattern from
I bet you know a little girl who would love to have one of these, so dust off the machine and get started!  You have less than four months until Christmas!
 
Charlotte