I was fortunate enough to get to spend a few hours with my friend Addy this week. Actually, I spent three hours at her kitchen table, breaking green beans and taking advantage of the time with her by making good conversation.
Now, I am not really a very social person. Actually I’m pretty much an introvert when around people I don’t know. I don’t even hang out with my friends any more. Ever. My life is at home, and I’m happy with that! But for some reason I am drawn to Addy. I love spending time with her, probably because time spent with her and the conversation spoken is always so useful and rich.
When the kids and I first arrived at Addy’s house, we hung out in the front yard for a minute and Addy’s kids showed me their kittens again. They are SO CUTE! They tried to get me to take one home, but I just know Titus would terrorize the poor thing! Watching them nurse on their mother reminded me of how I’m trying to wean Titus, and I told Addy about my attempts, and how I’m now giving him Soy milk.
She said to me very cautiously, “Whatever you do, DON’T give him rice milk!” She told me of a friend of hers who has a son with Autism. He has to have a special diet, which included rice milk. At his latest checkup they did a blood test or something and it revealed dangerous levels of Arsenic.
The baffled mother didn’t know how in the world he got that in his system, but when she started telling them what her son had been eating as soon as she mentioned rice milk they knew that that was where it was coming from. (According to this article, Rice Milk does have Arsenic in it.) Now he’s going to have to go through some sort of detox to clean his system out. Glad she shared that with me!
We soon went inside to get out of the heat. Addy had traded some blueberries for green beans at the farmer’s market, and she had tons of them to prepare for canning! When I saw the huge boxes full of beans, enough to make over 5 gallons canned, I offered my novice help. Jada ran off to play outside with Addy’s youngest little girl.
It’s funny, I never know what they are doing, or where exactly there are off to, but I don’t worry when I’m there. I know she will be fine. They always come back laughing and absolutely filthy! I’ve learned very quickly to bring Jada in play clothes when we visit.
Little Titus had a great time opening all of her cabinets, and playing with plastic jugs and wooden spoons and things that he found around the kitchen. Addy didn’t mind at all that he was into everything. I told her how I am trying to begin living with less stuff, and that I’ve had a really hard time purging the kids “educational” toys. She told me about how when she was a little girl and stayed with her grandmother all that she had to play with there was whatever her grandmother had. So with her own kids she did the same thing; she lets them play with whatever she has. Pots, spoons, mason jars, whatever is there, nothing fancy but just as entertaining. She pointed out that these things were doing double duty as useful household items but playthings as well.
That really got me thinking! What a great way to save space in your home. I have now been inspired to get rid of all of Jada’s little play kitchen bowls and plates. I can instead let her play with her “real” dishes and our plastic containers when she wants to pretend cooking, saving space and using the items for double duty! Also I am going to get rid of Jada’s 50 piece box of Play-Dough cutters, and instead let her use my cookie cutters. (Hmmm, what else can I replace??)
We talked a while about the book Henry and The Great Society that she gave to me, and about living more simply. We discussed what would happen to us as Americans if we had to survive without power. Her mission is to be able to comfortably live independent of electricity and totally self sufficient. It was inspiring listening to her talk about using old fashioned tools and gadgets that don’t require power. Not that they live with no power, but if they ever had to, it would not affect their lifestyle much.
She showed me the oil lanterns hanging on her walls, not only for decoration, but also for when the power is out. I started thinking, “Man, if we lost power, I wouldn’t be able to function!” I think most of us wouldn’t know where to start, and things would go very bad, very quickly! I want to learn more about living independent of electricity. We discussed the Great Depression, and how things were back then, and what would become of the U.S. if it ever got that bad again. Thinking of not being able to feed my children, knocking on stranger’s doors asking for food or even having to steal to survive, makes me long for self sufficient living with even more desire.
I shared with Addy that I canned for the first time last week with my sweet Mother-in-law. We canned potatoes. I was very proud of myself! I told her that my MIL didn’t think you could can potatoes, and I told her, “Addy told me that anything can be canned”! I asked Addy if she makes juice too. I knew she made Apple Cider, but I wondered if she made other stuff. Well, I learned that what she calls “cider” is what I call “juice”, so she was actually making Apple Juice. She also makes her own Grape juice, and Muscadine juice too. I asked her if she has to cook the fruit, and squeeze the juice and all that. She laughed and said, “No!” and she shared with me how she cans her own fresh juice. She was kind enough to make a copy of her recipe for me, so here it is, it is so simple!:
Grape Juice (Quarts)
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. grapes
Wash grapes. Put sugar and grapes in jar. Fill jars with boiling water. Pressure cook jars for 5 min. at 5 lbs.
She explained that when they are done, the juice from the grapes fills the jars, and the grape skins fall to the bottom of the jar. She thought for a minute about whether she had any or not, and then retrieved a jar of juice from her cabinet. She opened the lid and poured a glass for me. I truly have to say that it was the BEST grape juice I’ve ever had! It tasted so clean, and fresh. I poured some in Titus’s sippy cup and once he started drinking I don’t think he took a single breath before it was all gone! It was really good.
I told her that my Mother-in-law has an apple tree, and she said that if I gather some apples I can come and use her apple press to make my own juice. I can’t wait to try that!!
She told me that the Ball Blue Book of Canning was a great resource for recipes. BUT, she warned me not to use their recipe for canning corn. She said it’s not good. She did give me her recipe though:
Canned Corn (Pint)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
Cut corn off cobs. Pack corn cold in jars. Pour boiling water to cover. Add salt, sugar and lemon juice. Water bath 30 min. or pressure 10 lbs. 15 min.
*Approx. 12 ears = 1 quart.
She told me that you can reuse the lids from the jars if you are careful not to damage them when removing. I knew you could reuse the rings around the lid, but not the flat part too! That’s good to know. She said she has some that she’s been using for years.
She also told me how she grows and cans her own Pimentos for making home made Pimento Cheese. In the winter time they especially love grilled pimento cheese sandwiches with homemade soup. I need to visit their house this winter… yummy!!
I asked her how she keeps the deer out of her garden. She smiled and said she doesn’t. But she doesn’t mind it if they get into it, she said, she’s gonna eat that deer the first chance she gets, and she likes to know what her food has been eating! I thought that was clever. She’s pretty funny!
We got on the subject of making shampoo and soap and stuff and I asked her if her soaps are made with lye. She said yes, and she has to order it from a catalog now because the stores have pulled it from their shelves. I guess people are using it to make Meth. How sad. So, she told me that she orders hers from Rainbow Meadow, Inc. and that it isn’t very expensive. (I checked out the website and there are lots of other cool things for sale there!) I told her I’m a little nervous messing with something labeled “Danger”, “Poison!”, but I do want to learn how to use it properly. Perhaps she can show me how sometime.
After about three hours of chatting and breaking beans, I realized what time it was and had to head home to feed the kids some lunch. We went outside and she took me to her little shed, which she calls her “grocery barn” ’cause it houses two large freezers full of meat. She asked her son to help her as she pulled out a humongous box full of mason jars. She told me that I could have them (since I had admitted to not owning a single jar), and they loaded them up into my van. I thought that was awfully kind! As they were getting the jars out of the shed I admired her water stove. I told her that I would love to have one, but they are really expensive to buy! She told me that the new ones are expensive, but she got hers from a greenhouse that was upgrading, for $150! She told me to look in the local classifieds and sometimes you can find them there. I will definitely be keeping my eye out!
As we finished talking, we looked around for the girls, but they were nowhere in sight. We figured they were down at the blueberry patch. Addy told me that she has a dinner bell on the back porch. Whenever it’s snack or meal time, she just rings her bell and all the kids come running. How funny. We walked down to the blueberry bushes, and there were the girls, covered from head-to-toe with mud (evidently from making mud pies), filling their bellies with blueberries. I gathered up Jada, and loaded her into the van. We said our goodbye’s, and they told us to come again. I assured them that we would! I love that family! What a great time we had with them.