Shrove Tuesday Doughnuts
Shrove Tuesday occurs right before Ash Wednesday heralding the beginning of Lent.
It was a day of feasting for the fasting that would take place during Lent.
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. soda
1 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
Flour to make a soft dough
2 tablespoons shortening (optional)
Mix and chill. Roll out and cut into 2 by 3-inch pieces. Slit each strip twice in the center and then pull ends through the slits and then deep fry them until they are browned. Sprinkle with sugar or powdered. Sugar.
Coloring Easter Eggs the old fashioned way.
Purple or brown tones – dry onion skins were wrapped around the egg and covered with a damp cloth soaked in white vinegar.
Red could be obtained from red veggies – Beets…
Coffee or tea was used to stain eggs
Also crepe paper – readily tossed around at weddings, showers and other parties in the days before Pinterest.
“Easter time was kuchen and dying Easter eggs. We had all our own eggs and Mom would dye them with egg dye. My dad would, when we were six or seven years old, hide them in his pocket. He would lay them outside so we would come across them. Gosh, we found Easter eggs. Mom dyed them so we didn’t know when we were at school. We thought the Easter rabbit brought them,” Adeline Moch said.
Ellen Tuttle said, “We didn’t have dye for any eggs. But Mom could make the prettiest Easter eggs. Rabbits didn’t get in the house. They laid those eggs under the plows and in the weeds. We would hunt Easter eggs for a whole week. She used tea and stuff like that to dye those. I was 14 before I knew there was no Easter bunny or Santa Claus. I believed until I was fourteen years old.”
Traditionally the Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, even meals served at schools observed the traditional no-meat Fridays and fish was often served. Meals without meat also included dishes of noodles and prunes or fleisch kuechla with fruit soup.
“Fry bread done mostly during Lent because you couldn’t have meat on Fridays so that was a meal on Fridays. A guy would come around and sell the fish. It was winter and you could buy a big box full. The guy had the ice in there already and they kept a long time,” Bernice (Kiefer) Nagel said.
“We made noodles and colored eggs and my mother would always make little chickens with eggs. They would have little tail and a beak and she would use allspice for the eyes and she would hang them up in different places,” Mavis Erlenbusch said.
GOOD FRIDAY – prunes and noodles.
HOME-MADE EGG NOODLES
As made by Martha (Rott) Ringering b. 1901 Richville Twp, Logan Cnty, N. Dakota. Recipe from Connie Dahlke
3 cups stirred white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
9 Tbsp water
DIRECTIONS:Measure flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl. Break egg into flour and stir in ½ cup of the water, mixing to form a very stiff dough (will need to mix with your hands toward the end). Only use last tablespoon of water if mixture is very dry. Knead 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide dough into two parts and shape each part into a narrow rectangle no more than ½-inch thick. Cover dough pieces with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
On lightly floured surface, roll out dough, one part at a time, until very thin – aim for length rather than width of dough strip. Each dough part should make a thin dough strip 6-7 inches wide and 19-20 inches long.
Starting at long edge, roll dough strip into a loose roll and cut with a sharp knife into ¼” wide noodles. Unroll noodles, smoothing out where needed.
When all noodles are ready, drop a handful at a time into 2-3 quarts of seasoned boiling water and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice to keep noodles separated. Remove noodles from broth with a slotted spoon and drain well.
May serve as a side dish topped with fried bread crumbs, or use in soup or a casserole.
Easter eggs are made from sweet dough, yeasty and baked in a coffee can… if you can find one.
Filled with candied cherries, almonds, lemon flavoring, other candied fruit
Frosted with loads of sweet colored frosting.
Is Russian in origin
AN XV is marked in the top meaning Christ is Risen.
2 packs yeast
½ cup warm water
¾ cup scalded milk; cool
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup shortening
½ cup raisins
½ cup cut-up mixed candied fruit
¼ cup chopped almonds
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour
DIRECTIONS: Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, raisins, candied fruit, almonds, lemon peel and 3 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; let rise in warm place until double, 1 to 1.5 hours. Let rise 40 to 50 minutes.
Punch down; divide into halves. Shape each half into round bun-shaped loaf. Place in two well-greased 3-pound shortening cans; or 46-ounce juice cans. Let rise until doubled.
Heat oven to 375°. Place cans on low rack so midpoint of can is in the middle of the oven. Bake until tops are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. If top browns too quickly cover with aluminum foil. Cool 10 minutes; remove from cans. Spoon lemon icing over tops of warm bread, allowing some to drizzle down sides. Tim with tiny decorating candies if desired.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix powdered sugar, water and lemon juice until smooth; glaze consistency. Add a little water if necessary.
Asparagus can be found in most grocery stores this time of the year as one of the earliest spring veggie crops
If you are old enough you will remember a book called "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" by Euell Gibbons. It is still available here. Euell also promoted Grape Nuts back in the day. Which reminds me. I think I need to buy some next week.
Asparagus should be purchased and consumed as soon as possible. Select closed budded stalks that are still crisp. Thicker spears are more tender than the small ones and are super good grilled or roasted in the oven.
Here are my five ways to eat asparagus.
1. Raw in salads
2. Blanched and chilled. Boil in salted water till tender and then plunge in cold water to stop the enzymes from leaching all the flavor.
3. Grilled -- Toss 1 pound asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place over a grill preheated to high heat and cook, turning occasionally, until well-charred and tender, 5 to 8 minutes. If desired, cut lemon in half and place cut side down on grill until charred, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a large plate, drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with lemon (if desired), and serve immediately.
4. Oven Roasted – toss with olive oil and seasonings and place on cookie sheet in 500 degree oven … toss with parmesan cheese.
5. Braised – sear in pan with a little oil, toss in a lump of butter, cover and steam. Drizzle with lemon juice…
After enjoying asparagus, you may notice that your urine has a "haunting" smell. It is not known why some people are more prone to this than others, but worry not. It is actually pulling toxins from your body.
Rather than stalking the wild stuff, you can grow your own. It is a perennial and best planted from stalk, not seed. It takes a while to establish an asparagus patch and the male plants are better tasting. Female plants are the ones that spend all their energy on berries.
Here's some advice from the Farmers Almanac folks on growing your own asparagus.
Plant crowns deeply to protect them from the deep cultivation needed for annual weed control.
Here is a photo outside our first home in Fredonia. I'm not sure what the occasion for flowers, albeit fake ones, was. Photos were saved for special occasions.
My sister and I in the coolest house ever. I do not recall that crazy floral wall paper, but I loved those columns.
It's time to celebrate another year traveling around the sun and all I could think about is "I wish I could call my mom." After all, without her, I wouldn't be here. She's not with us anymore and I can't express how many times I say to myself, "I have to call my mom."
It was a pleasant and low-key weekend with the exception of a visit from Lucy and Oliver (and their parents) on Sunday. We baked and ate to our heart's content. It was all good.
The farther from my childhood I travel, the closer the memories of those days become.
Working with a variety of ages can be a challenge. Someone pointed out to me that I am 40 years older than some of our youth directors. Nice. Thanks for the reminder. I already feel like I am fading, fading, fading from the workforce. IT'S A GOOD THING. I'm ready to turn the world over to people with new ideas and energy. I want to focus on my creative side and writing.
Something I cannot accept easily is how difficult it is to be a child in today's world. Yes, I have grandchildren that are even younger than the people I work with. The stories I hear. With social media and cell phones, they will never ever experience the freedom we had as children.
When walking to school the biggest danger to our lives was only what we could cook up in our own minds. Playing make-believe and climbing trees. Pretending to jump off a cliff that I later realized was a mere rise in the schoolyard. But add an enormous snowbank and some recesses and we were having a ball.
We would stop and watch the birds in the fields, flush crayfish from their homes in the slough we passed by; picked Pasque flowers in the spring when the earth was waking up. I loved to go to school in the chill of the morning and break the thin layers of ice coating the water puddles. The cracking sound, the crooked spider-web designs all the while trying not to get my shoes wet. You know, I probably only owned one pair at that time.
We knew all the children in town and either played together or not, depending on the day. Yes, there was one youngster in my class that licked the flag pole. It must have been really painful cause he couldn't talk very well until it healed. We took turns putting up the flag, taking it down at the end of the day and folding it properly for storage.
Once school was out we experienced summer to its fullest. From the time we got up in the morning until supper, we ran wild around the town. Everything seemed so large and city blocks seemed so long.
Nowadays, everyone is under lock and key and followed by cameras and never going anywhere without a "snack." There's no real dark, or quiet anymore; ours is a world far removed from the electronic age. Boy, where do we go from here?
Because I need to get back to work, I have to end my reminiscing and make use of this tool that allows me to connect with people miles apart. My plan, however, is to disconnect as soon as possible and go back to the garden. The best part of my birthday is timing. The end of March, the weather warming. Time to look for April showers and think about planting veggies and flowers. Until next time.
It's Kuchen Season -- and we broadcast a Main Street Eats episode all about kuchen on Thursday, March 21. I promised to share my recipe and so here we go.
So here goes. The two photos are Marion and myself baking kuchen for Sheena's wedding... we made a ton of kuchen that day using my Grandmother Emma Meidinger's recipe. I used to keep it to myself, but I don't think she would have appreciated me not sharing - so here goes.
Grandma Meidinger’s Kuchen
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Packages Yeast
1 Cup Milk
3 Eggs (beaten)
6 Tablespoons Shortening
¾ cup sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
6 Cups Flour
Dissolve sugar and yeast in one cup water.
Scald milk. Pour into large bowl; add shortening, sugar, and salt. Cool. Mix in two cups flour, then proofed yeast, and rest of flour. Let rise three times.
Divide dough into about 12 pieces, press into greased round pie tins, or cake pans. Top with well-drained fruit, cottage cheese or filling of your choice.
Cover with pudding and crumb topping. Bake at 350 degrees until crust is nicely browned.
6 Eggs Beaten
3 Cups Milk
1 Cup Cream
2 Cups Sugar
½ Cup Flour
Mix sugar and flour. Add the cream, milk and eggs. Cook over low heat, stirring all the while until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from heat, continue to stir until pudding cools a bit.
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Sugar
Add butter until crumbly (Mix like pie crust)
Cinnamon to taste
We can't see too much green with all the snow of late, but that won't stop us from joining all Irish in celebrating St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, March 17.
Not being Irish, I can only attempt to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a traditional manner.
First off, I just read that the Irish call March 17 Paddy’s Day. No saint involved. It’s a difficult pattern to break. On the other hand, it’s not too difficult to enjoy the cuisine of Paddy’s Day, cause it’s really some of my favorite.
Without relatives of Irish descent I had to rely on the internet for information about food and facts about St. Pat… opps Paddy’s Day.
No corned beef and cabbage for the Irish – that’s an American-Irish tradition. Corned beef aside, I’m all about a fried Irish breakfast. From this website http://dish.allrecipes.com/irish-recipes-for-st-patricks-day/ I learned about this traditional breakfast of a few slices of bacon (called rashers), fried tomatoes, black pudding (blood sausage), brown soda bread, and a huge pot of tea.
IRISH FRIED BREAKFAST
1. Lay the bacon slices in a single layer in a large skillet. Fry over medium heat until it begins to get tinged with brown. Fry on both sides. Remove from pan, but save grease.
2. Melt butter in skillet. Crack eggs into pan, being careful not to break yolks. Place tomato slices, mushrooms, and bread in pan. Fry gently, stirring mushrooms and tomatoes occasionally. Keep everything separate. Turn bread over to brown on both sides.
3. When egg whites are set, but yolks are still runny, dish half of everything onto each of 2 warmed plates, and serve immediately.
My personal baking experiments include soda bread; and I did try this brown soda bread recipe. It’s okay, but much heavier with whole wheat than the traditional white wheat loaf. And, it’s a big batch. It's traditionally made into a round loaf with a cross etched in the center to keep the fairies out! I am not sure why or where those fairies light? But the cross is nice.
IRISH BROWN SODA BREAD
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly grease two baking sheets.
2. In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, white flour, rolled oats, baking soda and salt. Gently mix in the buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. Knead very lightly. Divide dough into 4 pieces; form into rounded flat loaves. Mark each loaf with an 'X' and place on prepared baking sheets.
3. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Then there’s scones. I love scones. Not the mushy ones you can find in coffee shops, but the crispy on the outside, tender in the inside scones. This recipe makes a large batch of scones which I read are not triangle shaped in Ireland, but round like biscuits.
Gemma's Best Ever Irish Scones
Author: Gemma Stafford
1. In a large mixing bowl, add self raising flour .
2. Using a cheese grater, grate the butter in until it is all gone. (alternatively using a pastry cutter, cut/rub butter into flour until fully crumbed and resembles course breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in raisins, baking powder and sugar.
4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs and milk and until thoroughly combined. Pour mix into flour mix and stir until a soft dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and press to 1 1/2 inch thick. (if your scones are not forming a dough add a little more liquid)
5. Cut scones out with a round 3 inch cookie cutter.
6. Place cut scones onto a baking tray lined with parchment.
7. Gather remaining dough in a ball, re-flatten then cut scones from dough. Repeat until entire batch of dough is cut into scones. If you have a little excess dough left, just pat it onto the top of the scones.
8. Bake at 425oF (210oC) for roughly 22-26 minutes. In the video I said 12 minutes but to get them really golden brown you will want to bake for longer. Cool on wire rack.
9. Serve warm or fully fully cooled with butter, jam, or fresh cream.
For dessert, I found an apple tart recipe from the Kerry Gold website. If you haven’t had Kerry Gold butter, I would recommend that over a rasher of bacon if you are deviating from your diet on Sunday, March 17.
The sublime supper favorite, homemade apple tart evokes childhood memories of granny’s magical kitchen, filled with sugar-coated treats. Keep it traditional with apples or try seasonal fruits such as blueberries or the classic culinary pair of rhubarb and strawberry.
1. Master the perfect pastry with luxurious Kerrygold butter. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Work in the butter with a knife and mix in the egg yolks with just enough ice-cold water so the dough comes together. Wrap up in cling film and let it chill for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas Mark 5. Give the work surface a light dusting of flour. Split the pastry into two portions, one a little larger than the other. Roll out the bigger bit until it’s 30cm (12in) in diameter and line a 20cm (8in) deep dish pie plate or 23cm (9in) flat pie plate, gently pressing into the corners with your thumb. Knock the sides with a round-bladed knife to give a decorative finish and place back in the fridge to chill while you prepare the apples.
3. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Place in a large bowl with all but one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the cinnamon and cloves. Brush the edge of the pastry with a little milk. Mix the apple filling together, then stuff into the lined pie dish. Roll out the second piece of pastry into a circle slightly larger than the pie dish and position to cover the apples. Press the edges together to seal, then use a sharp knife to cut away any excess.
4. Great pastry calls for a decorative finish. Crimp the edges of the tart with a round-bladed knife using your fingers as a guide and then roll out the pastry scraps and cut into leaf shapes. Brush with milk and stick on top of the pie and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4 and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
5. To serve, allow the apple tart to settle for at least 5 minutes, then cut into slices and arrange on plates. In our rule book, the chef deserves a second helping.
Should you be so inclined to drink too much in celebration of Paddy’s Day, you can stave off that hangover by drinking a flat 7-up and having a crisp sandwich. All you need is buttered white bread and some Irish potato crisps.
So have some fun with green on Sunday and do a little weekend baking in celebration of St. Patrick.
Winter saves some space for gardeners to read. And, what else would we read about except food and gardening. So here are some great books to savor until spring; which we hope is right around the corner.
You will find these books and many more on my bookshelf.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver
This family spends a year getting back to the “simpler” life, eating only what they or others they know personally grow. Kingsolver writes the main material, her husband throws in a few sidebars with interesting facts and figures about agribusiness, and her daughter includes some great recipes. While she’s a bit preachy at times, and sometimes overly detailed explanations, her desire is really to help people get back to community sustainable agriculture, and she gives a vivid picture for how this has happened or her family.
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Four Season Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses, by Eliot Coleman
Barbara Damrosch (Photographer)
Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend that's taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with "The New Organic Grower" published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.
Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown
Gabe Brown didn’t set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown—in an effort to simply survive—began experimenting with new practices he’d learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable,
Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Garden Diary: No Dig, Healthy Soil, Fewer Weeds, 2nd Edition2nd Edition
An illustrated full-color gardener’s journal with perpetual diary―75% advice on how to grow great crops, 25% writing space for each day of the year―a manual to inform and inspire, from a no-dig pioneer and one of Britain's most trusted vegetable gardeners
Here is a hidden gem called, “The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book: Secrets of the Famous Year-Round Mulch Method” by Ruth Stout.
This book was published when I was in high school and retailed for $1.25ish. I had to dig pretty deep to find a copy and ended up paying about $25 in an online second-hand shop.
If you are in a hurry to catch the drift of this woman’s unique method of gardening check out the actual video of her speaking to her simple method of a no-work garden at the top of the post.
And finally, from my favorite see company Prairie Road Organics a book called, “Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness” byLisa M. Hamilton
If you skip to the last chapters of this book, you will find the story of the Podall family from Fullerton. A century of industrialization has left our food system riddled with problems, yet for solutions we look to nutritionists and government agencies, scientists and chefs. Lisa M. Hamilton asks: Why not look to the people who grow our food?
So read on my friends. The books never stop at our house, even in the summer months.
I’ve heard it told that North Dakota does caramel rolls like no other state. We want to think so.
My recent post on rolls had many shares and yums and requests for the recipe. It’s common practice to share recipes. However, be warned that many of my recipes are for large batches indicative of the large families that needed to be fed by German-Russian mothers.
Speaking of mothers. I miss mine. One day I was fortunate enough to pull this recipe out of her recipe box. I plan to write my memoirs through her recipe box. It told my brother, Curt, that I don’t recall her ever talking about this recipe or sharing it. I guess later in life when one pays attention to such things, she was past doing everything by hand and began using Rhodes frozen bread dough for her rolls.
That was a mistake. In my mind anyway. This dough is soft and sweet and tender to the touch and the tummy. The finished rolls are delightful covered with creamy caramel – which I will share the recipe for that, and it’s not the one on the card.
It’s spring, and that means cleaning out the house. Oh wait, the housework remains, I’m cleaning out the freezer. There was an icy tub of vanilla ice cream with just enough left for two batches of rolls. Yep. That is correct. That Saturday I made my caramel with ice cream rather than real cream. When baking becomes art in your house you always improvise.
So, as promised here is the roll dough recipe passed along from someone to my mother, Lorraine Kaseman, to me. I hope to scan and share all her recipes with the next generation or two. Provided I can find the time.
1 cup sugar
¾ cup Crisco
Add 1.5 cups hot milk
And 1 cup water
Dissolved [sic] 3 yeast in ½ cup water.
1 teasp. Salt
About 8.5-9 cups flour Nutmeg (don’t ask I don't understand this additional word)
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup vanilla ice cream
½ cup butter
I doubled the caramel recipe, ran short and made an additional batch.
Bake these in 350° oven till browned on top. Be warned; if you stuff the pans with rolls, the caramel may run over in the oven.
I apologize to anyone who got caramel rolls that tasted like smoke last summer at the farmers market.
Thanks for reading my blog. Remember to listen to Prairie Public Radio Main Street Eats with Root Seller Sue every Thursday. Main Street begins at 3 p.m.
Everyone thinks about losing weight after Christmas. Or not.
It is winter in North Dakota and so we need a few extra carbs to get through these cold winter nights. After a good night's sleep, it's important to Break Your Fast by eating. Many people do not appreciate food - but some of us wake up and think, "I'm starving. What can I eat."
Time is precious in the morning, even with out children to get ready for school, I sometimes run out of time to eat a good breakfast. So, here are a few quick items to cook, and/or grab on your way out the door. Be sure and scroll all the way to the end to get some tips about easy morning smoothies.
1. Overnight Oats: Mix 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats with 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. raw honey, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tbs. each chia and ground flax seeds. Mix well and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, top with 1/2 cup organic berries and 2 tbs chopped raw almonds or walnuts. You can take this one to work and microwave for a hot cereal. If you make your own granola, you can use that instead of oats. YUMMMY goodness times two.
Omelets are the quickest hot breakfast around. It's even simpler if you prepare your toppings and grate your cheese the evening before.
2. Breakfast Tacos: Cook 2 eggs with chopped sausage, 1 tsp. Parmesan cheese and place in a sprouted grain tortilla and top with salsa (red or green) and 1/4 of an avocado or 2 tbs guacamole.
3. South of the Border Omelet: In a little coconut or olive oil, sauté chopped onion, Ortega chiles, tomato, and mushrooms until soft; add 3 whisked eggs and cook until bottom is set. Flip and cook 1 minute longer. Serve with 1 slice sprouted grain toast.
4. Berrylicious Smoothie: Combine 6 oz. tart cherry juice, 3/4 cup frozen organic mixed berries raspberries, 1 tbs chia seed, and 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, ice if necessary. Blend until smooth.
Here are a few tips and tricks to get that smoothie on in the morning.
1. Buy a Nutra Bullet. You will love it.
2. Take a quart of greek yogurt -- plain or vanilla. Mix in cinnamon to taste. Then spoon into silicone cookie molds. Freeze until solid.
3. Toast some oats. Yes, toasted oats have a richer flavor and you can easily do that in an oven set to about 300° in a high-sided cookie sheet.
4. Peel some bananas, or get those frozen bananas out of the freezer, peel and chunk.
5. Find those blueberries you purchased at the peak of summer and froze. Open a bag or two of those blue-tiful berries.
CLICK HERE for the article about Great Uncle Jake and his 105th birthday. He actually got to read it and sent me a note. I'm looking for that note.
By 9 a.m. Saturday morning, I was up to my elbows in homemade vegetable soup, a hand-knit sweater, and framing a photo for a wedding gift. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I turned on my cell phone. I think I was going to call my mother, instead, I found a message. My children maintain if I turn that phone on, it would be more useful. However, in spite of having a cell phone for nearly 10 years, it's mostly always off. In case of an emergency, it's on. On the other hand, my Uncle Ed uses his phone, and he has a computer with e-mail. The message was from him. He had called on Friday. I called him back right away.
"Do you want to go to a birthday party for a 105-year-old in South Dakota," he asked. It surprised me, because I didn't know what he was talking about.
"Uncle Jake," he said. "We are meeting your mom and dad in Wishek, and then driving to Bowdle." Darn. Looking at the mess in my house, and not being able to figure out how to leave it, I turned him down.
"Take pictures," I said, before hanging up. "Thanks for reminding me. I will go get the camera right now," he said. Sure enough, by Sunday evening I had e-mail with photos of Uncle Jake, my parents, some aunts and uncles, and the cake. Now, I'm not sure but I think Uncle Jake is my grandmother's brother because they have the same last name.
That would make him Uncle Ed's uncle and my, well.... You get the picture. We've never been able to decipher the second cousin, once removed, thing, so why try? The photos were great. Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised. I remember seeing Uncle Jake at the family reunion in Bismarck about three years ago. Wow, he looks fantastic or as close to that as possible when you are over 100 years old. I'm sorry I didn't get the message any sooner, it would have been a great experience, and there may never be another chance. Hopefully, someone sent the photo to the Today Show and the Smucker's Jelly birthday segment because I do not know too many people who even think about living that long.
Uncle Ed said Uncle Jake's getting a little tired of celebrating birthdays and was commenting on how he'd rather everybody came to his funeral instead. Perhaps that's true. Think about the changes you have seen in your lifetime.
Then, think about the changes that have occurred in the past 105 years. In 1901, the Wright Brothers built a 17-foot glider. But, another man, Gustave Whitehead a Germany immigrant reported to authorities that he gained flight in his flying in a field in Fairfield, Connecticut. He stated that he was able to sustain flight where he gained an altitude of 200 feet and flew 1.5 miles just before dawn. "I was soaring above my fellow beings in a thing my own brain had evolved". The craft had two propellers driven by a 12 HP engine that weighed 54 lbs. There were no photos, so nothing could be proved. Between 1901 and 1904, Pablo Picasso was going through his Blue Period. He was painting with mostly blue colors in a style that was not recognized at the time - abstract art. In 1901, Marconi sent his first radio communication across the Atlantic Ocean, and King Gillette invented a safety razor with a disposable blade. Corn Flakes were not made until 1906. Zippers were invented in 1914, and the television came along in 1926. In was 1938 until the ballpoint pen was invented, so Uncle Jake must have written in pencil until he was 37 years old, unless he used a quill and I doubt that. In 1952, the transistor radio made music and news portable.
Now, we are able to have television on our phones, televisions, and laptops. Can you imagine how life has changed for Uncle Jake in 105 years? Heck, life has changed so much in my lifetime and I'm not even half his age...
Some days, I wonder what I did before a computer. There was no e-mail or Internet, no online banking, no e-books, music videos, or digital images. It was great. If I remember correctly, I gardened, canned, baked, and cooked to my heart's content. It was a great life. So, yes, I can see why Uncle Jake feels a bit like it's time to go home.
Uncle Ed said, "I've never met anyone who wants to home to heaven as much as Uncle Jake."
HERE is the link to the personal column I refer to in the following text.
I'm looking for something. A piece of paper with scrawling lines of pen. Uneven rows of words that provide a piece of the puzzle of my life.
It's nowhere to be found where I thought it should be found. I'll keep looking. For today, I would like to share another piece or two of that puzzle. A distant relative (please don't ask me to connect the dots) posted a photo of my father's Uncle Jake Schilling on Facebook. It's a great photo with a farmhouse and hollyhocks and loads of feelings tied to days of our youth.
She shared it with me. And, when I find that piece of paper with the note he wrote to me I will share it with her. My great Uncle Jake wrote that note to me after he read a personal column I wrote about what it must be like to celebrate 105 years of life. My biggest regret is not going to the party when Uncle Ed invited me.
I found the article. At one time printed on paper, now just x's and o's saved to my hard drive. With that article is the photo of Uncle Jake on his birthday.
It's been a year of loss so far. According to my father seven or eight of our relatives have passed away and two just this past week. A generational turnover of sorts.
In the early part of the year, I feel the need to do some spring cleaning. I've been sorting and stowing and throwing and then putting things back where they have not seen the light of day for many years. In particular the old letters I have saved. I can't seem to part with them.
We will talk about that later. Today, I would like to share my column and a couple of photos of my Great Uncle Jake Schilling. Just because that photo stirred up a memory in this recipe I call my life.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.