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|Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt||Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli|
by Bill Blauvelt
Last fall the main drive belt broke on one of the bread machines I regulary used when baking bread. Depending upon the week's activities and menus, the editor's house requires two to four 1.5 pounds loaves of homemade bread per week.
Each loaf takes about three hours to bake and with only one machine, I have to be scheduled to have four loaves finished in a day. It is easier to bake four loaves in a day if I have at least two machines.
I have had three machines, all bought on city-wide garage sales at a big discount under new price. I gave one away, broke the belt on one and the third one sounds like it is on its last loaf.
Rather than buying a new machine, I was waiting for the April city-wide garage sale. Then I discovered I was scheduled to be out of town and would not be able to shop the garage sales.
On April 15, I was walking past the Nifty-Thrifty Store on other business when I decided to make a quick detour through the store. At the back of the store, I found a nearly new bread machine priced at less than $5. Without careful examination, I bought the machine.
After work, I carried it home on my bicycle. Smiling over my purchase, I took it into the house and placed the machine on the dining room table. Rita quickly informed me the table was not the place to leave a bread machine.
She looked at the machine and then at me and asked, "Why did you buy a one-pound machine? All your others make larger loaves. Do you plan on filling my cupboard with two sizes of mixes?
I hadn't noticed the machine was smaller than the others I had bought at previous garage sales.
That night I researched bread machines on the internet and learned about the bread machine books written by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway. The next morning I asked Rita to stop by the Superior Public Library and check out the books.
With travel in our plans the coming week, I was informed, she didn't have time to experiment with bread making machines or read books about bread making.
That afternoon I called at the library. I had the numbers for the books and both were available for check out. However, they were located on a bottom shelf and I was having trouble reading the titles and index numbers. I got down on the floor so I could more easily read the titles and numbers. In the process of getting up, I flipped an entire shelf of books onto the floor. The librarian, Vicki Perrie, was gracious. She asked that I not try to put the books back on the shelf. Instead she said the shelf needed dusting and she would do that while picking up the books.
The first book I looked at claimed to have 139 recipes designed for 1 pound machines. I browsed the pages until I found a recipe that called for ingredients I expected to find in our kitchen. I settled on one for Anadama Bread that included corn meal and had an interesting story.
Supposedly the recipe can be traced to the colonial days.
Depending on the teller, the story of how the bread came into existence and got its name is about either a woodsman, a hunter, a farmer, or a fisherman from old New England whose wife, Anna, was an absolutely horrid cook who could only make cornmeal mush. One evening, coming in from the woods, fields or water, the man found yet another bowl of cornmeal mush waiting for him. The man angrily grabbed the dish and added molasses, flour and yeast to the mix and put the mixture on the hearth to bake.
Surprisingly, the mixture turned out to be delicious and the basic recipe has been handed down through the generations. At one time 70 people were employed by a commercial bakery to make and deliver Anadama bread.
I was surprised how my Anadama bread turned out. With cornmeal in the recipe, I expected to have a course textured, crumbly product much like cornbread. That wasn't the case. The finished bread has a fine, moist texture with a slight molasses flavor. Monday we finished the last of the loaf when we used it to make sandwiches with fried fresh ground pork patties topped with saurkraut.
While the bread from the new machine was good, I'm only getting pushed further into Rita's doghouse. As within a week's time I have brought home two nearly new bread machines.
A friend, knowing I was looking for a machine and would not be able to attend Saturday's garage sales, got me a pound and a half bread maker at a Nelson garage sale. It also appears to be near new. Unlike the other machines I have purchased, this one came with an instruction manual. That may prove helpful.
The inaugural loaf was in the machine baking when the tornado siren went off. On the way to the basement shelter, I checked the timer---30 minutes to go. I expected in the best case scenario, the power would fail leaving me with a partially baked loaf. At the worst my house would be blown away and I would never know how the bread turned out.
Today I can report nothing really bad came from that tornado, no major property damage, no one apparently injured, the power didn't blink and the machine turned out a beautiful loaf of bread made from my standard mix.
But now I have to convince Rita we have room in our house for three bread machines. According to her, the kitchen is off limits. The old machine is stored in the laundry room and there isn't room for another one there. She has told me the new machines can stay only if I am willing to dispose of either books or boots.
When I left home this morning, the two new machines were sitting on the dining room table. I'm sure they won't stay there for long.
Knowing this is not a good time to bring home more books from the library book sale, I've only browsed the sale offerings. But I'm considering going back for the last day bag sale.
I know Rita plans to attend the bag sale. If she buys enough books, perhaps, I can barter with her by saying "If you get to keep your books, I get to keep my books, boots and bread machines."
Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli
There is a saying: "Good fences make for good neighbors."
With this in mind, it is the time of year when farmers and ranchers
head to the pastures to check, mend and fix fences. It's tough
when phone calls are received during the summer from a neighbor
informing you your cattle are in their fields, or in with their
cattle. So, the fences need to be checked to see if there are
any broken or loose wires caused by the heavy snow drifts that
covered the fences during the winter months.
Plans were made for my farmer husband and me to devote at least two days this week to checking the fences in the northern pastures. The back of our pickup was loaded with fence fixing supplies two wire stretchers, a coffee can filled with post claps and staples, metal posts to be used as replacements if need be, a heavy post driver, a chain saw, baler wire and a partial roll of barbed wire. Of course, the much needed pliers are put into the pickup cab, along with a filled water jug and bug spray to keep the ticks off the jeans legs. And then there are the not to be forgotten leather gloves. A lunch is also prepared and packed so time is not wasted driving home to eat lunch.
The task before us was made easier because within the past two years new fence was built on one side of each of the two pastures, and it was built by professionals who did a great job. We drove slowly down the new fence line, admiring the work and thankful no repairs were needed there. We began to drive the pickup slowly down the older fence lines, stopping to manually pull the wire to see that it is tight enough. If it is loose, the wire stretchers have to be put into operation. Posts are wiggled back and forth to see if they remain strong enough to support the tightened wires for another year. If the post proves to be too weak, a replacement is pounded into the ground. If the wire is broken, the stretchers are used to hold both ends in place while a piece of wire is twisted between both ends, joining the wire and making it hold together.
A chain saw is used where weak trees close to the fence had fallen onto the fence. Fallen trees and heavy branches were cut and removed from the fence. Then the fence wire has to be tightened. Once in a while, a young cedar tree is found growing into the fence line and they also have to be cut out.
Cattle sometimes think "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" and move as close as they can to the fence. They stick their heads under the lowest wire trying to get the grass on the other side. This moves the wire up the posts, so the wire has to be pushed or pulled back into place.
My job was keeping the pickup moving slowly as my farmer husband walked along, testing and checking the fence wires and posts. This helped in keeping the supplies handy for the fence fixer. I am also the "gofer" who brings what is needed from the pickup and into the hands of the fence fixer, as quickly as possible.
From early morning to late afternoon, the fence work continued. Then, after circling the whole pasture, the job is finally done and it is hoped the fence will remain strong and in place through the summer and into the fall.