Pioneer Potluck: About things in the past

I have had many e-mails and conversations with people who read this column. Most of them I can repeat and some I cannot!



From my sister, Ginger: “When I think of Mom’s garden on the farm I remember how hard she worked to produce all sorts of vegetables for the family meals, including canning just about everything for the wintertime supper. That included bushels and bushels of sweet corn that she had Dad bring in, right from the field, early in the morning. We would have all the corn on the cob we could eat and still had plenty later from the corn she cut off the cob for canning.

I love the memories of Moms flower gardens. She had a formal Iris garden that was laid out in exact spaced rows and had a grid of Iris planted in the big square. A favorite was the grape Iris that, no kidding, smelled like Concorde grape juice and was this amazing purple color. I do remember that Mom and her sister, Ruth, sometimes called Iris by the name of “flags.” And hollyhocks ˆ big tall, multicolored plants that put on quite a show. She taught us how to make the hollyhocks ladies, using the big blossom as a full skirt.

Later on she had all sorts of flowers at the other house after they moved off the farm, including the tallest, finest, delphiniums that were so dense they made a beautiful wall for the edge of her patio. When Gail came to Colorado from Alaska for a visit that year, she stayed with her and they planted a vegetable garden. Mom never failed to mention that the okra that was growing, was Gail’s idea, as she never cared for it.

During my visit one Sunday, I recall Mom rushing into the house, down the hall to the bathroom and dashing back outside with an entire bag of cotton balls clasped her hand. Of course we all had to follow to see what the commotion was about. We found her on her hands and knees making a new dry bed for a family of tiny baby cottontail rabbits that she had accidentally flooded out of their nest while watering her flowers.

I love flowers but don’t have the magic touch of getting them to grow like Mom. I know that her granddaughter Susan, in Alaska has the magic touch as evidence by the amazing explosion of color in the Fireweed Greenhouse. Her grand daughter, Gail has the same farmer, green thumb, touch.


When Mom came to Boulder, (Colorado) to stay with me at the beginning of her journey of living with Alzheimer’s, she still loved flowers. People who came to visit her would bring all sorts of potted plants that Mom would enjoy. When they quit blooming, she’d find a place in our garden to plant them. After all these years I still have an amazing variety of her chrysanthemums that she planted, that have come back every year to remind me of a very special Mom.”


Thank You Ginger - a nice tribute to Mom with Mothers Day right around the corner. Don’t forget your Mom!!


And from Cousin Jim Nelson In Salina, Kansas: “Your letter about wash day brought back so many memories. We lived in a little stone house just east of Westfall. There was a wash house in the yard with a stove that my mother heated the water with. Her first washer, that I remember was a wooden tub with a lever on the side that she would pull up and back. In the summertime we had a faucet in the yard for water from a tank. During cold weather that was shut off and we had to carry all the water from a well some distance from the house. When my sister, Doris was married, her husband, Thomas brought mother a washing machine with an engine. Oh, what a relief for her once she could get the engine started! Well, we have come a long way!”


Cousin Jim talking about my dad and his brothers Evan, Guy, John (my Dad) and Lester:: They were a famous bunch, goodhearted, and would do anything for anyone. All of them worked for the neighbors with no complaints. They grew up knowing how to do everything. I have good memories of each one of them, since they lived just a mile away across the pastures, we were back and forth all the time.


Aunt Hattie (Ann’s grandmother McClure) was a saint. She would load up all the children in that old model “T” with the top folded back and come into Westfall every Sunday. She would unload the kids and head for the basement to teach a children’s class. In later years aunt Hattie had lost most of her sight due to diabetes and could not read the letters from her sons Guy, Evan and Lester,who were in the military during World War II. (My Dad John was exempt from the Draft because his farm produced food for the war effort) Grandma Twibell (Ann’s great Grandmother) who lived just two doors down would come each day and read the letters to Hattie. My (Jims) sister Lola helped out a lot with the personal care of grandpa McClure who had broken his hip. Lola was crippled but strong and willing to do that kind of work.

James Nelson prints a Spanish Magazine each month, printing off thousands of sheets of paper. He also mails and e-mails this and other information for missionaries in Mexico and other South American countries. He spend days translating material from English to Spanish for the monthly magazine. It keeps him very busy but very glad to have something to do - Jim is in his late 80’s. Thank you for all your work Jim!


And this note from a good friend: This article touches so amazingly, my days on the farm. We only had coal for the very coldest of days in winter. Wood was to plentiful and cheap. The coal was added to the wood so it would burn longer. This reminds me of bath day. Usually Saturday night so you would be clean for Sunday church. A big round galvanized water tub in front of the wood stove to which boiling water from the stove to start with and then cold water was added. After each kid, more boiling water was added and the last kid got the dirty grey water. I don’t think I will ever forget that! But the homemade brown lye soap got us clean regardless! After we kids were in bed, Ma and Pa took their baths in fresh water. Those were hard days but good days and many memories.


This note from a new friend: Her Mom still irons table clothes and insists that they use her pretty dishes to serve food in and never allowed them to serve from a pot that they cooked in! Her favorite job as a child was folding cloth napkins in fancy designs for Easter and making haystack cookies that looked like nests. Her Mom would buy Easter colored Peanut M&M’s to use as eggs in the nests. Her Dad would always eat a couple of eggs out of each nest and say “Well, look at that! They must have hatched and flown off last night!”


Thank you for your kind thoughts, comments and words of encouragement. They keep me digging deeper into my past memories.


Keep the lest fortunate and those suffering from various diseases in your prayers. And Thank God for getting you up this morning!

Hawaiian Ginger Chicken Salad

This can be doubled. Serves 4

1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, cut each into fourths

1 Tblsp finely chopped red onion

1 Tbps finely chopped green pepper

1/2 cup finely diced celery

2 cups cooked chicken diced

Garlic salt to taste

Pepper to taste

2 heaping Tbps mayonnaise (I like to use the one made with olive oil-but you also can use Miracle Whip)

1 Tbsp buttermilk or sour cream

1 to 2 tsp grated fresh ginger

Juice of a small lime

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix Mayonnaise, buttermilk. lime juice, cayenne and set aside. Prepare the pineapple and vegetables, mix with the chicken and salt and pepper. Fold in dressing and add:

1/2 cup cashews - pecans work

Fold in, cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Serve as a salad on a bed of lettuce, with toast or crackers. Or make a sandwich. Be sure and use fresh ginger. Freeze ginger when not using, and grate frozen - no strings! ENJOY!

Potato Rolls

Rolls are light and airy - with a great taste!

Set oven at 450%

1/2 cup instant potato flakes

1 tea sugar

2 Tblsp soft butter

1/2 cup hot water

1/3 cup cold water

2 cups biscuit mix

Stir potatoes flakes, sugar and butter with hot water. Stir in cold water and biscuit mix. Smooth dough into a ball on a floured board. Knead 10 to12 times. Roll out to a 10” x 6” rectangle. Cut into 12 squares.(I use the well oiled pizza cutter.) Arrange on a ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450% for about 10 minutes, until tops are golden. You may use your round biscuit cutter also. Making them into squares does not leave any dough to be re-rolled. Fast, quick, tasty!!

Shiitake Mushroom Chicken

A great recipe for the Shiitake Mushrooms.

Make a marinade of:

1 tblsp each of soy sauce, Mirin - a Japanese sweet rice wine, cornstarch and grated ginger.

Mix well and add:

3 pounds of boneless chicken cut in 2 inch pieces. Let stand in marinade for 30 minutes. Remove and reserve the liquid.

Remove the stems from 8 to 10 dried whole shiitake mushrooms that have been softened in water (reserve the liquid) and cut the caps in half. Set aside.

Heat 1 tblsp oil and fry chicken until browned. Pour off oil and add enough water to cover.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer chicken for 10 minutes.

Pan-fry mushrooms in 1 tlbsp oil. Season with small amount of salt and a tblsp of the mushroom liquid. Cook about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add one can bamboo shoots, rinsed and sliced and the mushrooms to chicken. Cover and cook until chicken is tender 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in:

1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water into the hot chicken mixture. Stir and cook until thick. Adjust salt and serve with rice or noodles. Garnish with parsley. Added ingredients could be sliced onions and celery.


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