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Pioneer Potluck: About Dad, John Melvin Mcclure

Posted: January 14, 2014 - 6:29pm  |  Updated: January 15, 2014 - 10:15am

He was born in Westfall, Kansas, February 15, 1914. He was the third of seven children. His mother hauled him and his brothers and sisters off to church every Sunday in a car that she learned to drive in the 1920s. I can just see that old car now!

When he graduated from high school he and two of his brothers went to Montana and worked on a dam. The brothers went back to Kansas and Dad apparently bought an Indian or Eagle motorcycle and came to northern Colorado about 1935. He worked on a farm East of Fort Collins, met my mother, Loretta Edith Cogswell and settled on a farm East of Fort Collins, just north of Cactus Hill Observatory District #101 Elementary School where my brothers and sisters and I went to grade school for eight years.

Dad eventually bought that farm from Sam Kemp, who had a contract with Safeway grocery stores to provide Japanese popcorn. This corn was canned in a blue can in the fall and shipped to the Safeway location. His hard work turned the farm into a productive sugar beet farm. He also raised corn for silage to feed his growing herd of cattle and a hay. He eventually turned the farm into a ranch called Shamrock Shorthorn Ranch. He cut out the Cloverleaf wood for the sign, painted it white and I got to paint the green lettering. He hung it out beside the driveway for everyone to see. I will forever be proud of being part of that sign. Wonder where it is today?

Dad had a sawed-off type gun he called a “mule leg” or a “hog leg.” He kept it high in the coat closet on the porch “just in case.” We never knew what “just in case” meant. After bugging him for several years and begging him to let me shoot the gun, he finally said OK when I was about 14. Setting up a 5 gallon bucket on a fence post for a target, much preparation went into the final “OK, now it packs a punch, so you have to keep your arm straight and rigid! Do not bend your elbow!” After several minutes of making sure I was safe and understood all the details, he gave me the gun and repeated the “keeping your arm straight!”

Sure enough as I pulled the trigger, I bent my elbow, WHAM! The gun came back and smacked me in the forehead and the hammer caught me in the right side of my nostril and tore a big rip in it! There was blood everywhere! My dad thought for a minute I had shot myself, until he realized I had hit the big 5 gallon can. He scolded “I told you TO KEEP your arm straight!” He took his old hankie out of his back pocket and held it up to my nose until it stopped bleeding like a “stuck hog.” Then we both had to go see Mom who scolded both of us in no uncertain terms! Boy was she mad at my Dad!

In 1955 after a terrible long hailstorm that destroyed cattle, horses and broke windows out of houses and damaged roofs and did lots of damage to cars and vehicles, Dad decided he needed to go into the John Deere Equipment business. He was in his total element as he got to visit with farmers and ranchers and old family friends every day and tell his stories and jokes and learn new ones.

Dad was a big hard-working auburn haired Irishman. He loved to tell jokes and stories and pull pranks on everyone especially us kids. He taught us work ethics, common sense, love of animals and how to say Amen, please and thank you. He also taught us how to sing Jesus Loves Me and the Old rugged Cross and the Old Strawberry Roan. Perhaps that’s where he learned to sing in the car going to church with his mother and sisters. I still sing in the car — that way no one can hear my monotone-Dad voice!

Good memories!

HALIBUT LASAGNA WITH FRESH VEGETABLES

This is my own creation-may be some similar but I’m sure you will get lots of compliments like I did. Susan and her company enjoyed this and suggested that I write the recipe down - so here ya go!

PS This is long but not complicated-just read through first, gather your ingredients and enjoy!

 

Poached or leftover halibut about 2 to 3 cups

TO POACH halibut(or salmon) bring a large pot of water to boil and add spices such as parsley, oregano, thyme, small amount of red pepper, lemon pepper garlic salt. 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or 1 teaspoon regular table salt, 1/4 cup sugar.

When water comes to a full boil, gently drop the trimmed halibut pieces into the hot water.(Be sure to remove all the darks spots from the halibut)

After ONE min., turn off the burner and put a lid on the pot. Do not remove from the burner. Let set for one hour or more. Drain and let cool.

Break halibut into bite-size pieces and set aside.

While the halibut is poaching make the White Cheese Sauce and chop the fresh vegetables

About 1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms, small bite-size broccoli floweret’s.

About 1/2 cup each chopped diced onions, sliced and chopped red and green pepper, thin sliced celery.

WHITE CHEESE SAUCE

4 cups of milk in large saucepan

Add the following:

1/2 teaspoon each, dill weed, onion powder, garlic powder, brown mustard, paprika, lemon pepper, sea salt or table salt.

Bring to a simmer and add:

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water, stir to dissolve.

Swirl milk with whisk as you slowly pour cornstarch-water into hot milk mixture. This burns easily so stir until just thickened and take off stove and stir in:

One large package of fresh mozzarella cheese-use your judgment on how much cheese you want, stir until cheese melts. Set aside.

One package of thin lasagna noodles (I had some that you do not need to boil, they are very handy, but if you have the pre-cook type, be sure and follow directions on package to make them pliable.)

In a well buttered 9 x 13 glass baking dish, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of White Cheese Sauce into bottom of dish. Lay lasagna noodles on sauce.

Sprinkle half the vegetables over noodles, lay all the halibut over the vegetables. Spread one half the White Cheese Sauce over halibut. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Layer with noodles vegetables, sauce, Parmesan cheese and end with noodles and top with the remaining half of the White Sauce. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese, black pepper and paprika. If you intend to freeze this or put in refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours cover with plastic wrap and then foil.

If you intend to baking immediately cover with foil and bake in 350° oven for 35 min. Take foil off and bake another 35 min. until it gets bubbly on the sides and slightly brown on top. Do not over bake. Halibut tends to dry out if baked too long.

For added taste you could add Swiss cheese on the first layer of noodles in the middle of the casserole.

If frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight or 6 to 8 hours. Then bake but be sure and take the plastic wrap off and replace the foil for 35 min. You may have ingredients leftover so make a small pan for your neighbor. Enjoy! We did! Bob who does not like seafood casseroles wanted this for the next night. Now you know that it’s tasty.

COOKIES

1 cup of drippings or lard

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 egg beaten

Pinch of salt

Some flour

Beat the dripping and the sugar with wooden spoon, add molasses and egg and beat well. Add baking soda, ginger, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 15 to 20 min..

MY NOTE: Drippings are, bacon grease, chicken fat, pork or beef fat, all poured into a jar or old coffee can and kept beside the stove to use for frying and in this case baking. So I would say this is a molasses cookie with the different flavors of drippings.

Advice for the care of your kitchen floor-1930s

A linoleum covered floor is the most easily kept clean. The hardwood floor is the next best. Anything you spill should be wiped up at once. Grease spots on wood or stone floors should be covered with flour, starch or powder chalk, to absorb the grease. You may pour cold water on the grease as soon as it’s split to harden it and the greater part may then be scraped up. Sweep your floor thoroughly once a day. With care it will not need washing or scrubbing “oftener” then once a week.

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