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Living the Simple Life II

Ellen Telander
Winsted Organics Farm

I’m beginning to realize that I titled this series incorrectly. Not only does it remind me of a notorious TV show with a blond, rich girl (Of which I am neither) it also somehow implies that this life is simple. Well, it’s not meant to come off that way. What I meant to imply is that this life is “down to earth.”

Let me explain. Our suburban friends came over with their young children to visit “the farm.” I asked their six-year old daughter if she wanted some juice with ice. She acknowledged she did and after I retrieved the metal ice tray from the freezer she asked “What’s that?” Shocked, I replied, “Well, it’s an ice tray.” She then asked, with total disbelief, “YOU MAKE YOUR OWN ICE?!” Is this the sign of the times? Have our children become so used to all the electric devices that they don’t even know how to make ice, one of the more basic elements of modern day life? We can make ice and freeze food for storage, but I don’t think that making ice using an ice tray is truly making your own ice. Just two generations ago in Minnesota, they really knew how to “make ice”.

So, I am throwing in a recipe on how to make your own ice, the way they used to in Minnesota. This is a “recipe” from Uncle Clayton, who is now 89 years old and still lives on a farm.

Make ice without electricity

Use a team of horses and sleigh to go onto the iced-over lake in the dead of winter to gather the ice for the year. Cut the ice using ice saws into huge blocks and bring them back to shore using the horses and sleigh. Stack the ice blocks inside a shed and cover them with tons and tons of sawdust to insulate them all summer long. This is what Clayton and his family would use to keep food cool in the summer months. Mind you, this was hard and dangerous work just for ice. But at least now you know how to do it even without electricity.

2007 has been a year to remember on the farm. New challenges and learning opportunities have become “old hat” now and I feel confident in how we manage our time and complete “chores.”

Our little flock of Shetland sheep grew (tripled in size actually). I lost one ewe to pregnancy toxemia but was able to save the twin lambs and bottle-fed them all spring on the extra goat milk from our generous goat Alice. We tried to save the ewe but by the time we figured out what she had, she was lost. I’ve never seen an animal fall ill so quickly like she did. The vet couldn’t help her, either.

Having sheep with goats is not a good idea, and I’ve decided to sell the sheep. The goats tend to eat the sheep’s fleece, so the whole point of gathering their fleece doesn’t really pan out. We will sell them to a good home.

I’ve learned how to make those yummy Morning Star sausage patties. Why would I want to know how to make this? It is a long story but we actually enjoy eating vegetarian foods. Plus, it’s a great way to use up some wheat berries. It’s an easy recipe and tastes like the real thing.

Better than Morning Star Breakfast Sausages

Wheat Meat part:

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 T bouillon (chicken, beef or veggie)
  • 1 cup cracked wheat berries

Cook on low until water is all absorbed and wheat is very soft.

Sausage seasoning (add ground seasonings, not whole):

  • 3 T ground rosemary
  • 7 T ground sage
  • 7 T salt (or less if you prefer)
  • 3 T and 1 tsp powered butter (optional)
  • 3 T and 1 tsp powdered basil
  • 2 T cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 T garlic powder

Mix all together and keep in dry place. This can be used for all future batches of wheat meat. You only use 1 tsp of mixed seasonings per batch.

Sausages:

  • 3 cups wheat meat
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp seasonings mix

Directions: Pour out using a spoon-full into pan and fry in hot oil until brown. You can freeze cooked patties and use them later.

We have planted some raspberry plants on our farm, and this is the first year we will be able to make some preserves and jam. Jam is something that everyone can enjoy. Even if you are a diabetic, there are sweetener alternatives out there for you! You can find “Pomona’s Universal Pectin” at most natural food stores. Using this pectin, you can eliminate the need to add ungodly amounts of sugar. You can use honey or an artificial sweetener or just use what the fruit offers and add nothing.

Jam using Pomona’s Universal Pectin

  • Mashed fruit
  • Pectin: Use about 1/2-3/4 tsp per cup of mashed fruit
  • Lemon juice: for low acid fruits, use 1 T per cup of fruit
  • Sugar: use 1/4-1/2 cup per cup of fruit
  • -OR
  • Honey: use 1/2-1/3 cup per cup of fruit
  • Calcium water: use 1 tsp per cup of fruit (comes with the pectin package)

Directions: Cook fruit on a low boil on stove. Add sugar to taste. Check the temperature according to the directions on the pectin package. Add calcium water and stir well. Take 2 cups of the hot jam out and put it into a blender and then add the pectin to that smaller batch and blend well. Trick: Then add that blended amount back to the pot full of jam and stir well to distribute all the pectin. Don’t blend it all as the package indicates because it is not necessary if you follow this trick. Once the jam reaches the desired temp again, take it off the stove and pour it into hot, sterilized jars and seal well with bands using hot pads to protect your hands. To seal, process jars according to safe canning practices at the links below.

The Simple Life II

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