Pioneer Potluck

Picnics in the Hayfield -- 1943-1945


About Growing Up On The Farm

Mom made wonderful tasting lemonade. Fresh squeezed lemons, using a little glass juice squeezer and a few oranges. Mom never wrote down her recipe. She just tasted and sipped until it was just right. I can still remember the taste of her lemonade we used to make for my Dad working out in the hot, dusty hayfield. She made a jug every day during haying season.

Dad had two horses, Barney and Babe, on the mowing machine or dump rake. Then the hay had to be stacked by a stacker, which was pulled by two horses. In Dad's inventive years he had a "coyote wagon," a cut down pickup that he ran backward hooked to the stacker. He had loads of fun with the "coyote wagon," scaring us out of our wits with his antics in the pasture bringing the cows into the corral.

The horses were replaced by a "putt-putt," a new John Deere tractor. Much later the hay baler came along and replaced the haystacks and all the dusty stacking hay by three or four people, was now done baling hay usually by just one person. My brother, John mastered the hay baler. It still was hot dusty work.

My job was to make sure there was enough ice cubes made each day for the lemonade. After Mom got a refrigerator that replaced the iceman and the icebox, we had the most wonderful device called a "fridgerator." I am not too sure how modern it was because now we still had to make our own ice. That meant you had to put water in those awful little pans with dividers in them, then try to get them in the freezer part of the "fridgerator" without spilling. The freezer part was always high above the "fridge" part and it required lots of skill to get those little pans full of water into the freezer compartment.

Careful as I was, this 6-year-old would have water dripping or at least one ice cube tray tipped and spilled down my front and on to the floor. I hated my "job" but also wanted my Dad to have ice in his lemonade, so I took my job seriously. I spent most of my grown-up years eradicating those gosh awful ice cube trays, by doing the ice cube tray dance to the nearest trash basket.

Oh yes, she also made sandwiches and cookies to go with the lemonade. Dad made a big deal out of our trip to the hay field. He treated like a big picnic.

But first, the ritual of making lemonade. Pour the juice of 6 lemons and 2 oranges in the gallon jar. Add the cut portions of one lemon and half a squeezed orange. Add water to fill half full. Add 2 cups of sugar and stir and stir with wooden spoon until the sugar dissolved. Taste to see if it was sweet enough. Mom made hers real sweet and probably used more than two cups of sugar. Add the ice cubes tray by tray. Put the lid on the jar and wrap a dishtowel around the jar. She would tell us kids to get in the car, carry the sandwiches and cookies out and hand each one of us the cookies or sandwiches. Then came the jar of lemonade, handing it to the person that was already sitting in the front seat. We took turns and if we griped about it we would loose a turn. She would close the doors to the car, start it, roar the engine, put it in gear and off we would go to Dad in the hay field. I can still hear the clink-clink of the ice cubes that bumped along in the jar we held so tightly in our lap.

Dad would get off the mower, or dump rake, make the horse stand and rest. Later it was the putt-putt. He would take off his hat wipe his forehead. Sit down in the shade of the tires or the running boards of the car and say to us with a big grin "what ya got?" Mom would pour him the first glass of lemonade and hand him the first sandwich. Then we each got a glass of lemonade and a half a sandwich.

I can see my little sister Ginger sitting beside her Dad, waiting for him to take the first sip, then she would take a sip and they both would say "AUWHH that's good!" Johnny would sit on the other side and I would stand in front of Dad. I did not like to sit in the sticky, pokey hay stubble. Mom would set on the seat of the car with door open. It was a wonderful picnic in the hay field everyday until the hay season was over. They bring back warm happy memories!

So when you plan a picnic this Memorial Day make a jar of lemonade and reminisce. Don't forget to say "AUWHH that's good."

After Church or Picnic Fried Chicken

For some reason, fried chicken sure tastes good at church socials or at a picnic. Try this for a Memorial Day picnic.

1 fryer chicken, cut up OR 4 each of breasts, drumsticks, and thighs.

1 tblsp sugar

1 1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 tsp season salt (op)

2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup Bisquick Mix

1 envelope of dry Italian mix

1 envelop of onion soup mix

2 eggs mixed with 1/4 cup water

1 cup oil

Combine dry ingredients

Dip chicken pieces in egg, then in dry coating and back in egg, back in dry. Set aside to slightly dry. Prepare iron skillet with 1 cup oil. Heat to medium heat. Brown pieces without crowding. Place on cookie sheet and bake in 350 degrees oven for 30 to 40 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes to crisp. Transport to church or picnic after chilling.

Alaskan Cabbage-Reindeer Sausage Soup

In a large soup pot saute in 2 tblsp butter:

3 cups of shredded cabbage

2 carrots chopped

2 potatoes cut in 8ths

1 cup of onion chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 tea caraway seed

Cook until tender and add the following:

2 - 32 oz can of chicken broth

1 pound of reindeer sausage sliced in 1/2 inch pieces.

(NOTE: Reindeer sausage is spicy so if your family does not like a spicy soup, use Kielbasa or Polish sausage).

Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve in a soup bowl with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of pepper. Usually does not require salt.

Rhubarb Buttermilk Coffee Cake

I have made tons of this cake and with rhubarb poking its head through the soil, it's time to make some for the Memorial Day picnic. Make a double batch -this freezes well.

Oil 9 x 9 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 cups diced fresh rhubarb

1/4 cup plus 2/3 sugar - divided (one fourth) plus (two thirds)

1/2 cup butter softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking power

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 tblsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine rhubarb and 1/2 cup sugar and set aside

In a large bowl cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking power, salt and baking soda: add to creamed mixture, alternately with buttermilk. Beat well after each addition.

Fold in rhubarb.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over batter. Bake 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, test with toothpick in center to see if done.

Serve warm. 9 servings.

Cobb Salad -- Alaska Style

Replace the chicken with poached salmon or halibut or crab.

1 head of iceberg lettuce - torn in bite sized pieces

1 small head of Romaine - torn in bite sized pieces

2 cups poached salmon, halibut or crab, flaked. (or a combination)

2 ripe tomatoes - diced

2 hard boiled eggs-diced

2 Avocado's -diced

6 strips of cooked bacon - crumbled

1/2 cup bleu cheese or Roquefort cheese - crumbled.

Divide lettuce onto 4 large salad bowls. Arrange rest of ingredients divided evenly between the plates. Top with bacon and tomato.

Top with French dressing and sprinkle with sliced black olives and green onion tops.


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