Iced Tea Chat: September Things


Hello everyone!   Come on in and have a refreshing glass of iced tea.  We'll just take it indoors.  It's not terribly hot outdoors today but John's mower is kicking up plenty of dust.  We've had nothing but little pass over showers here and there of late.  Not enough rain to amount to anything.

Have some of the cake, won't you?  It's called "Old Lady Cake" and I found the recipe last week when I was looking for recipes to use up soured milk.   I'd told Rhonda I'd share the recipe, so let me go right ahead and do that now.  I'm not very good at remembering things because I have so much on my mind at once.  That's my excuse...

This recipe is from my old cookbook, The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook.  I thought it was first published in the 1920's but in reading the copyrights page I note that my current issue is from 1964 with the oldest publishing date listed as 1910.   I will tell you that aside from changing illustrations between chapters in various publications, the  food pictures and the recipes are the same as originally published.  To say that of a cookbook 110 years after it's first publication is saying something indeed, you know? 

I love this cookbook so much and it's certainly stood the test of time in my lifetime, since I discovered it at the back of Mama's cabinet when I was 14.  Every recipe I've tried from this book has been good and has been repeatedly used.  As in, let's have that again, kind of good.  There are loads of recipes I've yet to try...which kind of inspires me to try cooking from this cookbook exclusively. Hmmm...That sounds like a fun challenge!   It does make me wonder why I'm wasting time over on Pinterest looking for recipes and saying to myself, "My word...That's a lot of cheese and if you do 'x' instead of 'y' you could save a load of money..."   Yeah.  Maybe I've just found a new challenge and will try cooking from this old cookbook more often and try recipes I've never tried.

What I like about this cookbook is that for the most part, the recipes are simple, use pantry basics and lend themselves well to the modern day menus.  Some are quick, easy meals, and none of them are overly complicated.  There are recipes for pressure cookers, picnic menus, lunch box ideas, a chapter on how to preserve foods via smoking, root cellars (and how to properly build one!), table settings for informal and formal meals, how to use leftovers, sandwich ideas, etc.   

I found this recipe in a section called "Leftovers" and that section is divided into categories of what leftovers you might have.  This recipe came from the section subtitled Sour Milk and Cream.

Old Lady Cake

1/4 cup butter or other shortening

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg, well beaten

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour milk

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and beat thoroughly.  Sift dry ingredients together 3 times.  Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to creamed mixture.  Bake in a greased tube pan in a moderate oven, 350F, for 45-60 minutes.  Makes 1 (9 inch) cake.

I only have a 10inch tube pan but I opted for the lesser baking time and it came out fine.  It was so tender that it broke apart...I think I ought to have left it to cool just a wee bit longer than I did and I'll try that next time.  

The recipe does not call for a glaze, which is very common in this book.  Only a few cakes do have a frosting,  but I think a dusting of powdered sugar would do it justice.  It really doesn't need more than that.

There now...I've done what I promised.

This cake calls for allspice and cloves which you seldom see in recipes these days.  I've always kept both on hand because I have this thing about spice cakes especially as we enter the early days of autumn.  The result with this recipe is that the two spices, which have a strong, warm flavor profile, almost make this cake taste like a gingerbread even though there's no ginger in it.

I got curious about these three spices which were commonly used in cakes in the 1800 and 1900's.  I mean, you seldom see a recipe anymore that calls for allspice or cloves but within the pages of this cookbook alone it's a common enough ingredient in a variety of spice cakes and cookies and pies.  I'd noted that in the past, and perhaps that is why I've always kept these spices on hand.  

But having looked up the three they are all three Eugenol spices and have in common a wide variety of properties.  They are anti-inflammatory, natural antihistamines, antioxidants, anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial and good for heart health,  diabetes, dental health, bone health, digestion, irritable bowel syndrome and much more.   I encourage you to look up each of these spices and their property.  You can use it in it's powdered form to make tea or add to foods that you eat or you can use the oils.  I am so impressed!  I really am.  It is a further reminder that our elders and ancestors knew far more than we can even guess at these days!

Cloves, allspice and cinnamon are called for in a favorite 'Hot Wassail' that I used to make each Christmas.  I sometimes dust my pot roast or cubed steak with allspice.  It lends a rich flavor to beef that is out of this world.  I watched a young man make his famous lasagna which had a sprinkling of allspice in the tomato sauce.   My Betty Crocker Cookbook, which I use for a handful of recipes only, has a handy chart inside the covers that offers an example of how spices and herbs might best be used.  It assures me that allspice is most excellent as a seasoning for eggplant, spinach, parsnips and turnips. 

Cinnamon is lovely added to the flour for oven-fried chicken and in baked beans and with pork.  And who doesn't love it with sweet potatoes and winter squashes?

Cloves the cookbook tells me are suited to Bean and Pea Soups, in tomato sauces, on baked fish or roast chicken, with Corned Beef and we all know that cloves are lovely with a baked ham.  They also suit Beets, Carrots, Onions, Squash and Sweet Potatoes.

I suppose there is good reason why I begin to crave it as autumn looms nearer.  It's apparently good for health purposes and no doubt I'm getting good benefits.  Who knew?   I am forever amazed how the body 'knows' things.  It knows what we're lacking and we'll begin to crave the very things that provide those nutrients and properties sometimes long before we might become aware of a potential problem with our health.  It pays to listen to what your body 'says'.

How's your September going thus far?  Four days in, I can say safely that I have been busy-ish.  I'm not totally knocking myself out but I am mindful each day that I've promised myself to do certain things and if I was lackadaisical about goals these past two months, not this week.  

Just the idea that it's September fills me with a fresh energy and desire to get things done.   It is partly the feeling that the year is winding down and so I feel I must hurry and get things done and partly that even if it doesn't actually cool off here, it's coming.  It's ahead. 

But there is something squirrel-like in my desire to store away, to build my nest for winter that rears it's head.    I want to clean and freshen the house.   Not so odd, considering that by this point we've been  shut in for months due to heat and humidity.  Naturally we won't be opening any windows at the moment.  The pollen counts are as high as in the spring. 

This year my feeling of wanting to create food stores has been especially strong as I've somehow fallen into watching multiple households with beautiful gardens harvesting their produce, canning and freezing and dehydrating.  It makes my fingers itch to plant, to harvest, to preserve.  It reminds me of the pleasure of opening a jar of blackberry jam on a cold winter morning and spreading it on a biscuit, or of opening a jar of peaches in February when summer seems so far away and there for just a moment is a tiny bit of summer sunshine.  

John's slowly coming around to this type of thinking.  He's mentioned various improvements we might make and is open to having chickens.   He is more open to gardening but remarked his distaste of foraging...and yet, I'm thinking of blueberries and plums, blackberries and muscadines or scuppernongs which all grow wild about us.  Why forgo those pleasures?   Well, aside from the fact that all the wild blueberry bushes I know of are high up steep hillsides.

Well, this September I haven't any of the foraging or homegrown produce  to attend to but I do have my little home  and there are things to do.   Yesterday, I went out and picked up the piled up sticks, and noted how very badly I need to take a rake to that bed about the Sweet Gum.  I planted a handful of bulbs that have been sitting waiting for months.  I've no idea what I planted either.  It might be grape hyacinths or daffodils, tulips or spider lilies, or even gladioli.   All I know is, they are all bulbs and I've dug all of them up at some point in the past Spring and there they are still in the same planter I put them in months ago.  I watered the newly planted bulbs in and then watered a few more pots of plants. I say 'pots' but most are 1/4 and half sized barrel type planters or old galvanized wash tubs.

I weeded about the Turkey Foot Oak until the ants ran me away.  I harvested oregano, peppermint and basil and clipped enough flowers to make a rather pretty nearly end of summer bouquet.   I finally realized today that the mystery flower popping up in the concrete block cavities is Sweet William.  

It was so humid out and dry.  Gracious goodness but it is dry.  That takes us back to the pass over showers.  We might get a few drops here and there but not enough to generate any running off the roof or to genuinely.   When I was coming home on Tuesday, I met rain at the first river bridge and left it at the last one.  At home, we had none.  

I was all ready to take a shower and had just stepped in the back door to head to the bathroom when John said "If you'll ride with me into town, I'll buy you a soda..."  Well...I have soda here at home.  But I don't have Orange soda and that was what I was wanting.  So I said, "Fine...But give me a ball cap at least, I'm not fit to be seen in town."  And I wasn't!  I had on no makeup, my hair was wet and sticking up here and there and my clothes were dirty from digging and such.

Now I don't generally put on makeup if I'm going outdoors to work in the yard.  I don't dress up here at home but I promise you I typically look a bit more pulled together.  I'll wear light makeup (mascara and lip balm and do my brows which have a tendency to disappear and I'll put on earrings and my plain gold wedding band.  And I never wear a hat much less a baseball cap but I figured it would hide a world of things while I was sitting in the car at the gas station.

When we came back home, I took my shower then made myself a glass of orange soda over ice.  Oh it was so good and just what was needed after that morning work outdoors.   I don't drink a whole bottle of soda.  I always divide it into two or three, and sometimes four, servings.

Do you know that originally a six ounce Coca Cola was meant to serve two?  Or that Welch's grape juice was meant to be watered down before serving?   I was telling Bess the other day that I often forget that a small drink is no longer 8 ounces as it was when I growing up.  I mean if you ordered a small soda you got a small cup.  I ordered a medium drink one day when I was especially hot and thirsty and was absolutely shocked when I received a HUGE drink, what I referred to as the half gallon soda.  Needless to say I never ordered a medium again.  I generally opt for an unsweet iced tea as I know I'm not taking in too many carbs if I drink it all because I'm genuinely thirsty.   

But today, I wanted an orange soda.  I haven't had an orange soda in five years.  Seriously.  Five years.  I filled a glass full of ice and poured about half the bottle into the glass.  It  There's just something about an icy soda on a hot summer's day, isn't there?

I made meat loaf last night and for some reason it wasn't playing nice with our digestion two hours later.   Now it wasn't a spicy meatloaf.  I added in just a little onion, bread crumb, an egg, and a little garlic, oregano and parsley, same as always, but it fought back all evening long.   When I mentioned to John that we might have sandwiches off it today he wasn't keen.  In fact he began by saying there was no way he was ever eating more of that.  

Oh Phooey!  I've done this song and dance before.  I went YEARS without making meatloaf at all because he claimed it hated it and then he came home one day RAVING over how good the meatloaf was at a Mennonite restaurant.  I couldn't believe he'd eaten it when he'd gone ten years without meatloaf here at home.   What was different about it, I wanted to know and he felt sure it was the lack of bell peppers.  Okay then, I made meatloaf and left out the bell peppers and we've done just fine these past few years.  But one night of minor indigestion and he wants to throw the meatloaf on the banned foods list.

I reminded him we had a half loaf left and I wasn't going to let it go to waste.  "Make it into sandwiches if you want, then," he said as he left the kitchen.  I told him if he didn't want it right away we had other options like hot dogs or cheese or Spam.  "Nope.  You make what you want.  I'll eat it."  And then when I sat the plate down with an open faced toasted meatloaf sandwich he said "Hmmm...How'd you get the hot dogs to lay so flat?"  I reminded him he'd said we might have meatloaf sandwiches for all he cared, and he hotly denied it.  "Hot dogs!  I said Hot dogs!"   Well no, he didn't but I was feeling testy by then and I knew an argument was headed my way so I conceded that I must have heard wrong.   

After lunch, I was determined to tackle the kitchen a little deeper.  I'd had in mind yesterday that I'd clean out the rolling island which really just needed wiping down and neatening up.  There wasn't anything of excess in that little cabinet.  Then I tackled the cabinet underneath the baking center.  I keep glass storage jars and a few canned items and such there.  It needed a good straightening up, too.  And while I did that I puzzled over what to make for supper.  

My menu plan had several options.  All of which were tomato based and I feel very reluctant to put another such meal before him right away.   It's moments like this when I wish hard that we had takeout options in town that aren't fried foods.   I didn't feel inclined to drive to any of the towns 15 minutes from us in three different directions to pick up takeout.  It would all be barely warm by the time I got home with it and I know full well after coming in from mowing that lawn he's not going to want to go anywhere with me to get a thing.  So it's cook at home or do without.  He's not the going without sort of man...Not a fussy man either.  If I set a sandwich before him he'd be just fine with it.  And maybe I really ought to just cook the hot dogs he thought he asked for at lunch time.  He'd be just fine with it, I know.

I've shared how the boys came over without permission Friday and poor Sam came in yelling at them and then broke down in tears of relief that they were okay.   I mulled that over all Saturday morning as I read my Bible study.  I couldn't help but picture that shepherd whom Christ said sought the one lost sheep and gathered it in, though he had 99 others.  And then I thought about the scripture I'd read in one of Paul's letters which said that it was never God's desire to lose even one of his children. I thought about Sam's absolute grief and relief over his two little boys and pictured Abba being the same over any one of us who had been lost.   It moved me deeply to imagine that.

On Sunday at church the pastor had a coffin brought in.  At the end of the service he asked each of us who had been holding on to bitterness over a situation or person, who felt they had too much between them and God to let go, who had been marching around and around a situation that never seemed to get better to write it down on a piece of paper and bring it to that coffin so it could all be buried and forgotten.   It was amazing that probably 3/4 of the congregation was standing there and indeed people began tearing out sheets of paper to write on before the pastor had fully finished his statement.   As we all stood at the altar awaiting prayer, a little boy came running and shouted "Daddy!" and I turned and watched as that father took up that child and held him tightly against him in a hug.   I saw all the people at that altar and realized that each one of them, in their own way, had suddenly 'gotten free' and our father in heaven was holding out his arms waiting for each of us to run into them.   It moved me deeply to think of us running to Him. 

In one of those lovely coincidences, Bess came over on Monday to print out some things for Josh's school work.  I sat in my room (it's where the printer is located) as she worked and we chatted and she told me of losing a special chicken and how upset she'd been over it even though she had 10 more chickens.  "Then I was talking to Becca and she said "Bess, if God can grieve over the one lost when he still has 99 others, then you can grieve over your 1 chicken though you've got ten more."  I just smiled, because over and over again that image had been coming to me over the past three days and here it was one more time.  It led Bess and I into a deeper conversation than we've had in a long while about God, about our own longings to be better and grow as Christ would have us grow.  It was just the sort of nourishment my soul needed. 

And yet, despite all those lovely days before, I got up on Tuesday morning and read a note from  someone that I'd been following online and I immediately felt peevish.   She'd disappeared for months and I'd  felt an urgent need to pray for her.  And so I did.  I didn't know what she was facing but I knew that God meant me to pray and pray I did.  

Why did I feel peevish over her return note?  Because it seemed to me that the thing she'd been downhearted over, the reason she'd disappeared, was minor in the scheme of things.  I fumed and sputtered internally and then God reminded me, "You didn't  need to know why she was depressed.   I called you to pray for her.  She really needed your prayers."   

Pass a test, fail a test.  I do this all the time.  To God, that woman, hurting, was just as important in her depression and weariness, as I in my endless rounds on the same mountain I've prayed over a thousand times. 

Truth time:  I don't know all of what went before the circumstance that sent her into a downward spiral but to say that her life the past 12 months has been trying I can say for certain.  She and her family have been in social isolation for months longer than we have.  That much I know.  I don't have a clue what else might have happened.  

Who was I to judge?  Indeed.  Thank God she's okay.  I hope my prayers were worthy.  I know this: my prayers didn't fail.  I failed at the end, but my prayers did not fail.

Last week I felt the need to be more mindful of moments.  It's so easy to get caught up in our daily round of tasks and our mind can zip right along with a million thoughts.  At some point during the last month I realized I had missed out on much of what happens in my own life because I was mentally busy.   So I took time to slowly fold and smooth a load of clothes.  I concentrated on the aroma, the feel of the sheets under my hand.  I felt the warmth of the clothes dried in the sun.  The rough texture of the towels.  I felt my mind growing quiet, a rare thing for me.  It was the most satisfying few minutes of the day.  It pointed up how important taking a little time each day to just be quiet and how much that was needed in my life.

So I've sought moments in each day when I'll just sit down and do nothing.  I will go the kitchen rocker or into the bedroom and sit in the wing chair or sit across the living room in another chair and do nothing.  Sometimes I sit for only five minutes.  Now and then I'll sit longer, but that five minute span of time is generally enough.  I don't read.  I don't mentally recount tasks I should be doing.  I don't worry or fret over the current lot of concerns.  I purposely sit down and shut away the thoughts and gaze out the window and that quiet mantle settles over me and I feel a deep peace.

The payoff has come in noticing even more little things,  a cicada's outgrown shell in a pile of old leaves, or t the bright green leaf in a potted plant that was actually a large grasshopper cleverly disguised.  I see small details better instead of being so busy that I miss it entirely.  I've saved the cicada shell, the tiny butterfly and the grasshopper body for the boys.  I want them to see the incredible details God put into those smaller things they might not notice on their own.

This week I recommitted to Zone work.  I started in my kitchen this week but on Monday, I realized that Mondays aren't meant for Zone work.  Mondays are meant for reclaiming my household from the weekend behind.  I tagged it Reclamation Monday.  It's a good time  to notice tasks I might need to put on my list to be done that month (or immediately if the need is great).  I did manage to fit in a little of the Zone work on Monday afternoon and was mindful on Tuesday, when I'd had a busy morning out, that I needed to concentrate on that space again.  I didn't do a big task but I did get a little bit extra done.  Today, with little need to do anything other than the most minor housework, I was able to work on two areas that I felt needed attention.

The results weren't that I cleared out a load of clutter.  Not at all.  The result was that I left two neatly organized spaces behind.  It was reassuring that I've finally reached the stage where it's not decluttering that is needed but simply neatening up.  That's what I found last month when I went through my sewing things and reorganized them.  Not an excess of anything, not things that needed to be thrown or given away.  Just things to straighten up and organize a little better.  I like that I've reached this stage in my homemaking.

I don't expect I'll never have to declutter again.  I will.  It's inevitable I'll have too much of something or some life change will occur and I'll no longer need a set of items.  Or I'll stop paying attention and suddenly find myself with a bulging cupboard or storage shed.  It happens.  But it's nice that right now, there's no excess of anything, just stuff that is being used.

I ordered myself some clothes this past weekend and then went shopping on Tuesday.  As I hung up new items this week, I removed one of the older items and moved it to the house drawer.  Now I have a few new things to wear this coming fall and winter and a few new tops to wear about the house, too.  Which means I can get rid of a few of the stained ones.  Win win.

Well, time for me to wind down.  The week is practically over and I'll tell you now I've no idea how on earth that happened so quickly!  It was just Monday, wasn't it?  Gosh, I hope September doesn't fly away from us altogether.  I'd like to enjoy it a bit.  I noticed this evening that the Sweet Gum by the driveway is dotted with yellow stars and the trees are changing color in a subtle way.  I do hope it stays with us a bit.

Talk to you all later!  


Liz from New York said...

Sounds like you had a spiritual awakening this week. I’m realizing more and more, that being ‘in the moment’ has done a lot for my state of mind. My son’s baseball coach has lots of practices(bless his heart) it gets the boys out running around, which is what all kids should be doing. There are fields in the beach area of Staten Island, and I’ll bring a chair, a book, and some snacks and just BE. I stay because my son has asthma, just in case. I listen to the birds, say hi to strangers walking their dogs, and breathe in the beach air. It always refreshes me. Anyway, the meatloaf story has me lol’ing. My husband hates my meatloaf. All my kids love it. He’ll eat it grudgingly, Amazing how men can grumble! I’m always happy to have someone prepare food for me. I guess I spoiled him! Have a great week! Best, Liz

Anne said...

I, too, have been reading on my many blogs about all of these women who are harvesting and canning massive amounts of food. It's great fun to read about, but I have no interest in doing so. There are just two of us, we are in our 70s, and I have no place to grow anything, even if I wanted to, in our urban retirement home.

I can buy anything I want in jars and cans for my pantry and I really do like stocking up.

The funny thing is I am in love with the vintage, cottage look and my house reflects this. I even put out flowers in canning jars. So while I do no canning, my house LOOKS like the kind of house in which canning would happen.

Hey, it works for me. :D

terricheney said...

Liz, the ball practice venue sounds like a lovely spot to be mindful of things. I sat on the front porch with Caleb this morning and enjoyed the feel of the sun on my shoulders and the rustle of leaves that are drying.

Anne, I love that your home has the country harvest vibes...and I know just what you mean about NOT doing those things. John grew up in the city and feels much the same as you. "Can't you still buy that at the grocery store?" I'm just 61 and I don't want to do big things but I'd love a little garden and a few hens to lay eggs and I've wanted that for the 24 years we've lived here. Reality tells me that now is the time to wind down not gear up for a big homesteading.

Lana said...

My Mom has that cookbook! I am sure it is packed away on a box somewhere in her garage but she never used it and wouldn't care if I took it home.

terricheney said...

Lana, If you can dig it out, bring it home. It would be well worth having in my opinion. And if you don't care for it, it would sell for a nice sum on ebay if it's in good condition.

Deanna said...

I have a 1974 edition of that cookbook. It was given to me as a new bride by an older friend who is an excellent cook. It's definitely a favorite of mine although I must admit I have enjoyed the extra features it contains even more than recipes I've tried. So much helpful information!

Anonymous said...

As I read this post I could hear your voice like you were sitting next to me as I read. It was really like person to person. Not that the thoughts were just for me but how it was written sounded so natural for a real actual talk. many good thoughts too! I know too that there is no way to convince my husband he said one thing when he insisted he didn't. Or did this or didn't do that. For sure !! :) The information about the spices and the talk of your insites about God and the worry over loss. The rethinking about your home all meant so much to me as well as anything else at this moment I am leaving out. It surely felt like Lana and everyone else who comes here were actually in your front room having that ice tea! I was grateful for your full explanation of your cookbook. I often wondered about it. Many thoughts will be in my head from just this one post. And you have so many other wonderful posts too ! Yes I have found sitting in the back yard ,...just sitting means so much. To be IN the moment..not just part of it. To not rush through chores but take time to do them. Anyway, just a thank you again for sharing your thoughts. Sarah