Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trying to Get Motivated

I'm trying to get motivated to do something productive today. Last month I went cidering and was able to put up about 13 qts. of cider, but I still have apples galore. I dehydrated for 3 weekends in a row, and I still have apples coming out my ears. I even made apple pie filling, which I canned. I put one overly full box in the bottom of our garage fridge, and I have another box. So, this morning, I grabbed that box and cut them up. Wait... there's still more apples in the box! My 16 qt. pot is full with cut up apples, which I plan to turn into applesauce. They are simmering until soft, and then into my food mill on my Kitchenaid to separate skin and seeds. Then back into the pot will be applesauce ready to can up. But it is like that box is a bottomless pit. And, there are more in the fridge!

That is my plan. But I am having a difficult time getting moving. Now that I have started the process, there is nothing left to do but complete my endeavor. DH is back to work after 5 days off, DD17 is working, and DD18 is off to see her first Seahawks game. I went to mass last night, so won't be socializing after church. So, maybe I am lonely more so than not motivated. But I need to use these apples or find a better storage solution. My theory is that if we don't make use of what God has blessed us with, we may not be blessed with abundance in the future. And you never know, next year we might not get any apples! So, I'm applesaucing today.

Just got back from milling and filling jars. I know, you have no idea if I sit down and write all at once, or take breaks to process my apples. That's the convenience of blogging, I guess. Anyway, I just got the applesauce in the canner, 6 qts. worth. 3 qt. jars, and 4- 1 1/2 pt. jars. I LOVE the 1 1/2 pint size which they don't make anymore. I have a case that was my late mother's, and I was lucky enough to score a handful this summer at garage sales. They are tall and have the wide mouth, which is my preference.

Okay, so let's get motivated. I have leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner. My favorite thing to do with leftover mashed potatoes is to make potato dough. It is so versatile and you will love the quick and easy dinner rolls and luscious cinnamon rolls that you can make. You keep the dough in the fridge for up to 5 days until you're ready to use it. The starch from the potatoes helps feed the yeast, so your dough lasts. You don't need to let it rise again, just punch it down and take what you need to make the rolls or whatever it is you're making. I don't remember where I found the recipe, but somewhere I think I read that it is from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. We make the cloverleaf rolls and the cinnamon rolls were my idea and didn't come with the original recipe. (the filling and frosting are my personal recipes). The cinnamon rolls are a family hit. I often make them the night before. They reheat well covered in the oven. Here is the recipe with variations.

Betty Crocker Potato Refrigerator Dough with Variations

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115F)
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes*
6 1/2 to 7 cups Gold Medal all-purpose** or unbleached flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix in sugar, salt, shortening, eggs, potatoes and 4 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover bowl tightly; refrigerate at least 8 hours. Can be stored in refrigerator at 45 degrees or below up to 5 days. Keep covered.

Punch down dough; divide dough into 4 parts for Casserole, Cloverleaf, Crescents, Fan Tans, Four-leaf Clover and Parker House Rolls. Divide dough into 3 parts for Orange Butterhorn Rolls, Apricot Cream Cake, Cinnamon Braid, Rich Nut Roll, Parker House Rolls, Braided Dinner Rolls and Hamburger Buns. Divide in half for loaves.

*Potato Buds mashed potatoes can be used for the mashed potatoes. Prepare as directed on package for 2 servings.

**If using self-rising flour, omit salt.

*** Cloverleaf (easy, and a favorite): Shape bits of 1/4 of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 3 balls in each greased muffin cup. Brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 1 dozen rolls.

**** Cinnamon rolls (my idea and a family favorite, my method, filling and frosting): Punch dough down and use 2/3 of the potato dough recipe. Let the dough rest for 35-45 min. after you take it out of the fridge. It is easier to roll out when it is not cold. Roll on a floured surface into a rectangle that is about 21” by 16”, and is ¼ in. thick. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make filling: 1 C packed brown sugar, 2 ½ TB. Cinnamon, mix well. Spread 1/3 C softened butter on rolled out dough, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon mix.

Working from the long edge, roll firmly jelly roll style down to the bottom edge. Cut into 1-1/2 in. slices and place in greased baking pan. Bake for 10-20 min. until light golden brown.

While rolls are baking, make icing: Beat with an electric mixer ½ C. softened butter, 1 ½ C powdered sugar, ½ C cream cheese, ½ tsp vanilla, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1 TB. Lemon juice.
Spread over rolls that have just come out of the oven, ENJOY!

Four-leaf Clover: Shape 1/4 of dough into 2-inch balls. Place each ball in greased muffin cup. With scissors, snip each ball in half, then into quarters. Brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. About 1 dozen rolls.

Casserole: Shape bits of 1/4 of dough into 1-inch balls. Place in lightly greased round pan, 9x1 1/2 inches. Brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen rolls.

Crescents: Roll 1/4 of dough into 12-inch circle. Spread with margarine or butter, softened. Cut into 16 wedges. Roll up, beginning at rounded edge. Place rolls, with points underneath, on greased cookie sheet; curve slightly. Brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 16 rolls.

Fan Tans: Roll 1/4 of dough into rectangle, 13x9 inches. Spread with margarine or butter, softened. Cut lengthwise into 6 strips, 1 1/2 inches wide. Stack strips evenly, one on top of the other; cut into 12 pieces, each about 1 inch wide. Place cut side down in greased muffin cups; brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 1 dozen rolls.

Parker House Rolls: Roll 1/4 of dough into rectangle, 13x9 inches. Cut into 3-inch circles; brush with margarine or butter, softened. Fold so top half overlaps slightly. Press edges together. Place close together in greased round pan, 9x1 1/2 inches. Brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 10 rolls.

Orange Butterhorn Rolls: Divide 1/3 of dough in half; roll each half into 10-inch circle. Spread 2 tablespoons Orange Glaze (below) on outside of circle, leaving 2-inch circle in the center without glaze. Cut into 12 wedges. Roll up, beginning at rounded edge. Place rolls, points underneath, on greased cookie sheet. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until light brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Spread remaining glaze on hot rolls. Makes 24 rolls.

Orange Glaze: Mix 2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened, 1 tablespoon grated orange peel, 1 tablespoon orange juice and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar until smooth and of desired consistency. If necessary, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons additional orange juice.

Apricot Cream Cake: Roll 1/3 of dough into 15-inch circle; place over greased 9-inch ring mold. Fit dough into ring mold (outer edge of circle will come to rim of mold). Spoon Cream Cheese Filling (below) on dough. Lap edge of circle over filling; seal to inside ring of dough. Cut a cross in dough which covers the center of the mold. Fold each triangle formed back over ring and pinch each point to the dough to seal securely. Let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours. Heat oven to 350F. Bake 30 minutes. Remove Apricot Cream Cake from pan; place top side up on serving plate. Heat 1/2 cup apricot jam until melted; spoon on ring. Sift 1 tablespoon powdered sugar on top.

Cream Cheese Filling:
Beat 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened, and 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Cinnamon Braid: Divide 1/3 of dough into 3 parts; roll each part into strand, 15 inches long. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll each strand in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place strands close together and braid gently and loosely. Seal ends securely and tuck under. Place in greased loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches. Brush braid with milk; sprinkle remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture on top. Let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours. Heat oven to 375F. Bake until loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.

Rich Nut Roll: Roll 1/3 of dough into rectangle, 12x10 inches. Spread Nut Filling (below) to within 1/2 inch of edge. Roll up tightly, beginning at 12-inch side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal securely. Stretch roll to make even. Place on greased cookie sheet; seal ends securely. Let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours. Heat oven to 350F. Beat 1 egg white slightly; brush roll with beaten egg white. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped nuts on top. Bake 40 minutes. While warm, drizzle mixture of 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon half-and-half on top.

Nut Filling: Beat 1 egg white until stiff. Fold in 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts.

Parker House Rolls: Roll 1/3 of dough into rectangle, 15x10 inches. Cut into 3-inch circles; brush with margarine or butter, softened. Fold so top half overlaps slightly. Pinch edges together. Place close together in greased pan, 9x9x2 inches. Brush with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Bake until brown, 13 to 15 minutes.

Bread Loaves: Increase salt to 2 teaspoons. Roll each half into rectangle, 18x9 inches. Roll up, beginning at 9-inch side. Press each end with side of hand to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place loaf, seam side down, in greased loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches. Brush loaves with margarine or butter, softened. Let rise until double, about 2 hours. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.) Heat oven to 375F. Place loaves on low rack so tops of pan are in center of oven. Pans should not touch each other or sides of oven. Bake until deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from pans. Brush with margarine or butter, softened; cool on wire rack.

Braided Dinner Rolls

1/3 Potato Refrigerator Dough (above)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon poppy seed
3/4 teaspoon sesame seed

Divide dough into 18 equal parts. Roll each part into rope, 7 inches long, on lightly floured surface. Place groups of 3 ropes each close together on lightly greased cookie sheet. Braid ropes gently and loosely. Do not stretch. Pinch ends to fasten; tuck under securely. Let rise until double, about 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 375F. Beat egg and water slightly; brush over braids. Sprinkle each of 3 braids with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seed and each of remaining 3 braids with 1/4 teaspoon sesame seed. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 rolls.

Hamburger Buns
Divide 1/3 of Potato Refrigerator Dough (above) into 12 equal parts. Shape each part into smooth ball on lightly floured surface with lightly greased fingers; flatten. Place about 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Heat oven to 400F. Brush buns with margarine or butter, softened; sprinkle with sesame seed or poppy seed. Bake until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 1 dozen rolls.

High Altitude Directions (3500 to 6500 feet): For Casserole, Crescents, Parker House Rolls, Bread Loaves, Braided Dinner Rolls and Hamburger Buns, rising time may be slightly shorter.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shoppers, Protesters, and Terrorists

This weekend I have been busy being thankful for all the blessings and freedoms that my family and I have. We went up in the forest to cut our Christmas tree and put it up. We put up our lighted cross in our front yard, finally got our potatoes in storage, got the remains of the corn off the stalks and in a box for chicken feed this winter, and tried to tie up any loose ends before winter really hits. DH also coyote proofed the chicken pen. We are taking the time to be prepared and be self-sufficient, so we don't have to rely on others for our needs.

Meanwhile, other, less thankful people have been busy making life miserable for the rest of America. I am sure you have heard about the woman at Walmart who pepper sprayed other shoppers to deter them from getting "her" XBox before she could get her grubby hands on it. Is this what our shallow materialistic personalities have come to? Is an XBox really worth treating others in this manner? 20 people were injured. The woman apparently has surrendered.

Then there' the OWS protesters in San Diego that "continued its outreach program of thuggery, harassment and intimidation on Black Friday" by verbally harassing Walmart shoppers with vulgar rhetoric and filling 75 shopping carts with merchandise, then leaving the carts for employees to restock. Isn't that nice? Has anyone seen evidence that any of these protesters even have jobs, a mortgage, or a family to support?

Of course, this discomfort may pale in comparison with what Oakland protesters are planning for December 12th. They plan to shut down all west coast ports. The Oakland protesters are calling to close the entire west coast. Do they realize that this will affect their access to goods and services as well as the rest of us? Seriously, their antics and intimidation are hurting the workers of America who are trying to earn a living and provide for their families. Remember back in September when 500 Longshoremen broke down gates of the Port of Longview at about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack,...and six guards were held hostage for a few hours. Not everyone who belongs to a union is like this, but this is how violent and disruptive our unions and protesters are becoming. Makes you proud to be giving your money to these crooks and thugs, doesn't it?

Don't forget the US terrorists in Egypt who threw molotov cocktails at police. At least one wants to renounce his US citizenship. Let him. Let's leave them in Egypt to experience what other countries do to terrorists and criminals. I don't want them back here in our country.

My friends, I fear our life as we have lived it is fast approaching it's demise. There is massive unrest and violence in our cities. The liberal leftist looters are after us and our way of life. This civil unrest my lead to a civil war. Our politicians have spent our cities and country into a deep abyss. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that I need to be right with God. Be thankful and be prepared.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Christmas Tree Hunt

Almost every year for the last 12 years, we have gone up to a little stand of Noble Fir trees to pick out our Christmas tree. We buy a $5 permit, which allows us to drive and park on NFS and BLM lands without the ridiculous Forest Service Pass that Washington put into effect this year. The $30 pass is not transferable from car to car, so if you want to drive, say your passenger car in the summer, and your pickup in the winter, you need to pay $60 for two passes. It has been wildly unpopular with residents and the state is complaining that sales of the pass didn't bring in projected revenue. Duh! Not only are fewer people coughing up money for this pass, people can't afford to pay twice.

Only 2 other years have we not been able to make it up to our coveted tree stand of Nobles due to snow. It was 23 degrees out and fresh snow had fallen overnight. It was 14-18" deep, the roads are not maintained, and there is ice in places. When the snowmobilers compact the snow, it is hard to drive in, and the fresh snow compounds the driving difficulties making it hard to make headway. We have a Dodge Ram 3500 crew cab, and even with chains, we couldn't make it through the snow to our hunting grounds. We only came across a handful of snowmobilers, which was very unusual. It seems that even the die hards will scrimp and save to have snowmobliling money for fun and play. We also usually come across other Christmas tree hunters, but not this year. So we were alone up in the woods. It was sunny and breezy. The thin clouds overhead were moving at a brisk pace. A gorgeous day. We always pack a thermos of hot chocolate, and sometimes sandwiches, if we plan to stay and play.

Today, we brought hot cocoa in anticipation of a quick jaunt, up and back, and a few minutes planned for some target practice. DD18 had to work, so it was me, DH and DD17 along with Cooper, our golden retriever. Well, we made it past the rock pit. One year, the road past the rock pit was closed, so we had to hunt near there for a tree. But usually, if we can make it past that landmark, we only have a few hairpin corners and it's not too much further to our secret hunting spot. Only, again this year, we got to the point where our pickup was not able to keep up with the snow. So we backed down and turned around, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for the perfect Christmas tree. Not a Noble to be found. Now, we love Nobles because they have a lot of room between the layers of branches for hanging ornaments. They last a long time, are fragrant, and are very pretty, and, well, noble.

We hunted and hiked and huffed and puffed as we trudged around in the deep snow. I have a pair of old Snocraft snow shoes made in Norway, Maine, that belonged to my mother when I lived in Alaska. They would have been perfect for getting around in the snow. At least I'd like to think so, because I have actually never used them before. Maybe next time.

A white jackrabbit took off when we got too close, but Cooper was too interested in romping in the snow that he didn't even notice. DD17 is not as into this tree hunt now that it has become more work trudging in deep snow, and there are basically no trees to choose from. She's hunting from the road, now. Almost all the fir trees have dead needles on the tips. Not sure what is up with that, beetle kill, maybe? We go up and around the rock pit. Cooper spots a squirrel up in a tree which he is enamored with. We head back towards the pickup, and down further on. We settled for a Douglas fir. Not our first choice, and maybe it is even hinting at being a Charlie Brown tree, although we can cover up any flaws with plenty of ornaments. DH cuts it down and lugs it to the pickup. That means it's hot cocoa time!

We set up our target which is stapled to a thick board and lean it up against a tree. I practice with my PK380 and DH with his 357. DD17 gets in on some practice, too. None of us are doing very well. I know I need to get dialed in, I keep shooting too low. I am much better with a rifle. I also am thinking of adding a laser to my pistol. But I need to be good without it, if I am to be any good at all. Worst case, shotguns are on sale at Bi-Mart this week.

I am thankful that we found a tree. We will put it up tomorrow. It is always fun to go up and play in the snow. We look forward to our Christmas tree hunts every year. We never know what conditions we will run into, or what our tree will be. But we always have a great time and it's those family traditions that make lasting memories. What do you do for your family Christmas tree?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happenings That Build Faith Update

My DH talked with our neighbor today and I had to keep you posted as to the happenings in our neighborhood. In my previous post, I talked about how the coyotes had been exploring the chicken barn and how our dog, Cooper, had barked his alarm warnings and by the time we went out to investigate the girls, all that was left were coyote prints in the snow, which Cooper eagerly familiarized himself with. Well, our neighbor lost 9 chickens that night. Yep, they dug under his barn and stole 9 laying hens. I know how it feels to lose your livestock, so I am even more determined to keep those rascals out. DH made sure to lock them in tonight, but we also have a dirt floor, and night creatures are determined when they are hungry. I will pray that we will be blessed with no chicken losses.

Our DD17 who was disappointed with the basketball outcome, has signed up for another Running Start class at the local college for winter quarter. This will keep her busy and focused. I will pray that she does well and that a new open door will present itself to her soon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happenings That Build Faith

It has been one of those odd weeks where curious events happen. Now, I guess the events may not seem odd or unusual for anyone else, but I have been praying about how things have worked out and I know that my family and I are truly blessed and we have our guardian angels and the Holy Spirit looking out for us.

On Monday, my DH, was in a near death accident. He was still upset about it when he got home that evening, relieved that he was alive. Tuesday morning, DD18 was driving out to our house so DH could put her snow tires on. Right before you turn to go up the road to our house, there is a big corner. As she approached the corner, a big semi came barreling down the road completely in her lane. There is very little shoulder and a drop off into a ditch, which she did her best to try and get off the road to avoid a collision. There was a car at the stop sign on our road that was watching in horror at what was unraveling before their eyes. She managed to squeeze off the road in the split second of time as the semi started swerving all over the road. She was so shaken and trembling it was all she could do to make it the 2 miles to our house where she could be in the comfort of her dad's arms. Thank God she is alive and safe!

So Wednesday after school, I begin my commute home. It had snowed a couple of inches that day, with highs between 25-31, so that translates to slick roads. As I crest one of the hills and start my descent, I see flares in the road and I'm thinking, "Oh, no." Sure enough, two trucks and a car had been going too fast and were all twisted up in the ditch on the side of the road. I have a Subaru with studs and all wheel drive, but I could still feel my tires slip as I was driving. I try my best to be safe and not be over confident. I moved to the left lane. The problem here was drivers who were over confident, and black ice. I prayed for a safe drive the rest of the way home as a car flew up on my rear end, trying to mate with the my car, I guess. Can't these people see the wrecks? Fortunately, I was able to get over and let this nincumpoop pass me. Funny, about a 1/2 mile after he passed me, I saw him slip. He slowed down. I made it home safely.

Friday morning, DD18 called to let us know that one of her roommates (she moved out last week) had backed out while turning and damaged the front driver side of her car so bad that she has to crawl through the passenger side to get in because she can't open her door. At least the car is driveable. She had already had a rough week with Monday's near death experience, that this was enough to build doubt.

DD17 has played basketball for 6 years, from 5th grade on. She is not a star player, but she is one of the few players that consistently blocks out, runs the plays correctly, and tries her hardest. She needs to work on squaring up to make her shots. She is not one of the high scorers. She was on C squad the last two years. Last year she started almost every game, and played point guard, or 2 and 3. Well, after tryouts this week, she was cut from the team last night. Told there was no room on JV or V for her. She is devastated. She needs to have something to do. I baked brownies for her. Chocolate, you know, makes things easier. She perked up and said that she would have an awesome IBA (intramural) basketball team and have fun with that. When one door closes, another door opens. As a parent, I am trying not to seethe over this whole situation, noting that the head coach has never liked either one of our daughters, but how the JV and C coach always played her and told us how she was improving her game, and how much they liked her. Okay, enough griping. I need to think positive. There is a plan for her.

Last night at 1 a.m., I awoke to hear the coyotes howling and yipping closer to our house than I had ever heard them before. Like maybe 25-30 yards away. Cooper, our golden retriever, was going ballistic! His bark changes and you can tell he is upset and doing his best to guard his pack. I finally got up and got the spotlight. By then, I didn't hear them. So, I went back to bed, but Cooper sure didn't. He circles the house routinely, and he was still barking and growling. DH got grumpily up and grabbed the gun and spotlight. We checked out the chicken barn. "Are those Cooper prints in the snow?" They didn't appear to be. More like several coyotes. So we checked on the gals, who were snug in the barn. Well, I guess 20 degrees is not easy to be snug in, but they were safe. Whew! Actually, one of my biggest worries with coyotes is Cooper. If coyotes feel a dog is a threat, they send in a lure close to the house. If your dog chases it away into the field, there is the rest of the pack waiting to ambush. I know this because when we had our other golden, who was barking maniacally late one night, stood his ground in the front yard. As I shone the spotlight out into the front field I saw nothing. I couldn't figure out what was up with him. As I brought my spotlight down, there was a coyote at the edge of our front lawn! When the light hit him, he ran off and as I followed him with the spotlight, all of a sudden several sets of glowing eyes appeared in the field. I was so relieved that Jake had stood his ground and not chased the bait. I hope that Cooper will show he is wise in this way as well. I could not stand to lose a great protector.

I know these are the kinds of events that happen. They are nothing unusual. But for whatever reason, I feel blessed that my DH is alive and able to wrap his arms around me. My DD18 was paying attention when she was driving, otherwise, I would be planning a funeral right now. I had a safe trip home. A damaged car is more of an inconvenience than anything else. DD17 will be blessed in some way after losing the opportunity to play her favorite game. Cooper is a good watchdog who stays up all night to guard us and our livestock. I feel blessed. I am happy that although things may go wrong, I am being shown that I have Him on our side.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

College "Weed Out" Classes Designed to Indoctrinate and Generate Income

My freshman daughter has indicated her desire to become an oncology nurse. She is a good student with a good head on her shoulders. She was told by her adviser to take a 100 level Finite Math class, as it is required for a degree in nursing. So she registered and bought the books and attended class. On the first day her professor told the class that 75% of them would fail and have to retake the class. Her confidence in math is low anyway, and being told she would fail, of course put doubt in her impressionable mind. She said she was already struggling the first week and it was math that was unfamiliar to her. So, she dropped the class and received no refund in tuition. An expensive lesson that cost her confidence and money.

This is a weed out class. I just became aware of this college policy to require professors to intentionally make sure students fail when my DH called today after listening to Kevin Walter on True Wealth Radio. Unfortunately, I will have to wait for a month until the archive of today's show is on the website so I can have a listen. My DH described our daughter and her nightmare math class to a tee. Weed out classes are introductory classes that are intentionally made exceptionally challenging. Often these classes are graded on a curve and set up so that a certain percentage of students must fail.

"In almost every major, especially high paying ones, there are weed out classes designed to get rid of you. There are usually 3-5 weed out classes per major. What happens is the school will pick the most difficult class in the major (usually). Then, in addition, the school will make a policy that only a few students may receive a good grade. The university will make another policy that states to advance you will need to have a good grade in these select classes. What happens is that a lot of poor performing students change majors to something easier. Anyone want a low paying low standardized degree?"

The college claims that the first two years of general education requirements are designed to make students more "well-rounded." According to the college catalog, Finite Math meets the general education "reasoning" requirement. Really, though, any college's "reasoning" centers around liberal indoctrination. With these "weed out" classes in place, the school has a hold on your child's mind for a longer period as a result of having to retake all these bogus classes, and a hold of your pocketbook.

In my University 101 Kool Aid post, I reveal how the colleges are working hard on the very first week of class to grab your child's mind to put a progressive leftwing liberal theology worldview into their mindset. I want our students to be able to reason with lucid discernment, and not socialist thinking. Students need to be taught how to look at information from both sides, and then logically discern the truth, and not be afraid to speak the truth that political correctness has silenced. Isn't that what any intelligent person, college educated or not, does?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winnie the Pooh Kind of Day

It was what I refer to as a Winnie the Pooh day. Cold, blustery and requiring a hot chocolate fix. I had just enough mix left over to make two delectable mugs of hot cocoa. There's just something about hot chocolate that soothes and comforts. So now we are officially into the hot chocolate season at our house. After enjoying some hot chocolate, I whipped up a batch of this mix. This mix makes a lot and I make it several times during the winter months. Of course, Winnie the Pooh would have added honey to his hot chocolate, but this is close enough.

Hot Chocolate Mix

2 lbs. Nesquick
1 1/4 C. powdered sugar
2 C. coffee creamer
4 1/2 C non-fat dry milk

Mix all together. Store in an airtight container (or two). To use, put desired amount into a mug (2-3 TB. or so), add hot water, and enjoy!

Remember our Veterans.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Canning Apple Pie Filling

I have an abundance of apples and I have been trying my best to keep up with them. I got one box off my two dwarf Jonagold trees. My DSH got a box of some fantastic eating variety, Honeycrisp, maybe. And I came home with 2 1/2 boxes after I went cidering with some friends a couple of weeks ago. I canned up the cider I had, and I have been drying 12 trays the past 3 weekends. But we still have apples. I will make applesauce soon, but you can use apples that aren't as firm and crisp, so I wanted to make some more apple pie filling since I only had one jar left. I I only have so much room in my fridge to keep apples in cold storage, which is where I have my home grown Jonagolds. The rest are sitting in the garage under less than ideal conditions. So I need to use them soon, or put together some form of makeshift root cellar.

Canned Apple Pie Filling

7 quarts

6 qts. fresh, tart apples
1 tsp ascorbic acid
5 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C Clear Jel (you can order this from Kitchen Krafts here)
1 TB cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
5 C apple juice
2 1/2 C water
3/4 C bottled lemon juice

** A note on Clear Jel- do not use regular corn starch as it will not stand up under the processing. Clear Jel is approved for use in canning. Plus, Kitchen Krafts will send you other pie recipes to make with the Clear Jel.

Wash, peel and core the apples. Cut slices 1/2" thick. Place in a bowl with 6 C. cold water and 2 TB. of Fruit Fresh or other treatment to prevent browning while you are working.

Bring to a boil 1 gallon of water and add the ascorbic acid to prevent browning.
Place 6 C of apples at a time in the boiling water and blanch 1 min. after water returns to boiling. Drain, and put in a covered pot to keep warm. Repeat until all apples are blanched.

Combine the sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large pot. Stir in the apple juice and water. Stir and cook over Med-High heat until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble.

Add the lemon juice and boil for 1 min, stirring constantly.

Fold in the drained apples and quickly fill hot quart jars with the apple mixture. Remove air bubbles, cap and seal.

Process in a boiling water bath (BWB) for 25 min. and adjust for altitude if needed.

To use, dump in your home made or store bought pie crust and bake!

Sorry I don't have any pictures, but my camera died and we've been spending money like no other on never ending expenses.

When I made the filling today, I ended up with 6 qts to can, and about 1 cup left over. So I opened my last remaining jar, made a pie crust, dumped in my jar of filling and added the leftover pie filling I had just made on top. I topped with the crust and it is in the oven as I write. Smells wonderful... and I think there is some ice cream in the freezer.

Friday, November 4, 2011

La Nina Comes Knocking

A La Nina winter is predicted here in the PACNW which means more snow and precipitation. The La Nina trend is to get stronger as fall turns into winter. Meteorologists are calling for an Arctic Oscillation as well. This means that there can be a sudden change of brief, unseasonably warm temperatures and precipitation which can cause sudden melting snow, or rain on snow, and subsequent flooding. The arctic oscillation can generate strong changes in the weather patterns and can wreak havoc so be prepared.

It is already getting cold here. This morning it was 30. It got down to 19 degrees about a week and a half ago, and this evening when I went out to feed the chickens and put them up it was a very cold wind. I have a water heater plugged in for the chicken water but won't know if it is working until it freezes. We still need to get the horse water heater in. Not to mention our dog's heated water dish and Cooper needs a heated bed, too. His is old and torn up and not working. But gosh they are expensive. One year I put hot water bottles out for him to lay on every night. What was I thinking?

We have not gotten everything winterized and ready. DSH got snow tires and they are ready to put on cars. We have the Drize the air in the camp trailer. I think most hoses are put up, except on the front porch. We need to cover the garden with a tarp.I got out our snow boots and have ice scrapers in the car. The tractor has fuel and is ready for DSW to plow the driveway. We have a 1/2 mile long driveway and we get the wind so snowdrifts can get really bad and we have been snow bound for a couple of days before. We have never lost power for more than a couple of hours but the generator is ready if needed and we will manage if we need without power. Got candles and can cook because we have propane.

Oh, and have you bought some peanut butter lately? The price is jumping by leaps and bounds. I got a rain check for some that was on sale and a 40 oz. jar of Skippy was $8.58. Better stock up. Are you ready for winter?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Flu Attack

It all started last Tuesday when DD18 came home from school sick with the flu. You know, aching, headache, diarrhea, stuffy nose etc. She was laid up for 3 days in her room. Saturday night DH was up at 1:30 a.m. in the bathroom getting rid of everything in his body. At one point, he blacked out and fell practically biting his lip off. It was a long night. He was down for 2 days before he started to feel back to himself. I was happy to play caregiver, after all, I was feeling fine.

So, Monday afternoon, DD17 has to have older sis pick her up from school. Yep, she has it, too. The flu. She got home and curled up on the couch for a couple of hours. Later DD 18 noticed she had been in the bathroom for 45 minutes so I check on her. She was literally camped out in there with her blanket, a pot, and sitting on the floor in front of the commode. That's no way to be sick. So we convinced her to camp out on the couch some more. She was cold as ice, 96.4 temp and pasty, pale white. So we do our best to keep her comfortable.

Fast forward to 11:00 p.m. Monday evening and you guessed it. Me! I'm making friends with the commode in the bathroom. Aching, miserable, and honestly, just how long can this go on? There can't possibly be anything left in my body to get rid of. This flu that we had is sudden and violent. Not fun! I don't buy acetaminophen because it has never helped me with headaches or anything else. But the ibuprofen and aleve that we had on hand said to take with food, which I obviously hadn't eaten, and I didn't want to further distress my stomach. So DH made a run to town Tuesday and picked some acetaminophen up and guess what. I took two at 1:00, and fell asleep for an hour. At 2:00 p.m., I woke up and most of my achiness was gone. I was on the road to recovery!

The biggest challenge was to try and keep DD17 hydrated. She didn't want to take anything in. She finally perked up Tuesday afternoon and had some toast and gatorade. Plus, she's off to school today. I stayed home again today. I want to be sure I don't have any unforeseen bodily attacks at school!

I haven't had a flu shot in about 5 years. The last time I had a flu shot, I was sicker than a dog for the next 2 days with all the miserable flu symptoms. I haven't had one since. The rest of my family doesn't get the shots either. I don't know that I trust what the government puts in those shots, either. And why do I want to be putting the virus in my body anyway? Flu shots are only good for a few strains of the flu, and who knows, we may have had a strain that wasn't included in the shots. I have heard it is going through the schools here. It's never fun. But my advice is to have some acetaminophen on hand. It was my life saver.