Archive for the ‘Cooking. Not Really.’ Category

Tea With Auntie Linden


What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own tea

The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.

There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.

coppice

Coppiced tree +1 year. Image Wikipedia.

The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .

Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??

There’s more.   “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.

July2013 069

I read on:

“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”

Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!

It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!

Linden, Bassweed, tea, make your own linden tea

But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.

“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own linden tea

Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:

  • when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
  • I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
  • Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

You’re welcome.

As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!

 

 

 

Rooster Noodle Soup


I am very nervous around poultry.  (See “Guinea Monsters From Hell”)   And I used to hate cooking. So this Martha Stewart-esque-ness is new to me. I have been growing, canning, cooking, drying and freezing food a lot more the last few years. Now, being unemployed AND on the Low Child Support Diet has encouraged me to do even more, and to do it better. It’s been a slow process, and many people have contributed along the way. Here are two that I remember.

One of my favorite bloggers is Jackie  Clay.  (Check her out here. Chop chop!) We are lucky to have this awesome lady in our community, and I have learned so much from her books and blogs about living off the land in this area code.  I subscribed to her blog for several months before I even attempted canning on my own.

I vaguely remember Anthony Bourdain saying that the poorest people had the best-tasting food, because their seasonings could make even the cheapest cuts of meat and other ingredients taste good. That’s when I started growing herbs, tomatoes, etc. in containers and finally a garden.

As I mentioned, I am scared of live poultry; however, they are delicious, especially roasted with organic herbs that we grew here on the hill. Growing rosemary, sage, celery leaf, red onion, garlic and thyme makes me happy.  So as long I have Lois and Jill next door to raise chickens, I will cook them.

omnom, thyme, sage, celery leaf, rosemary, funny farm, organic

By the way, does anyone know why when they are alive they are hens & roosters, but as soon as the heads come off they are just chicken?? Same with cows, bulls, steers, heifers, and beef… What the hell?Roosters, Funny Farm, Pajari Girls, Food, Soup

I believe it’s important to know where our food comes from.  I like that the chicken (fka: rooster) was grass-fed next door, not in a cramped factory “farm.”

Rooster, Banty, Food, Pajari Girls, Funny Farm, chicken

And better yet, the next day I made the leftovers into soup and paired it with homemade bread.  Note to self: next year, grow a LOT more carrots and potatoes.  As far as fast, cheap and easy goes….it was super cheap and really easy…two out of three isn’t bad.

omnom, rooster noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, homemade soupPS: Thank you Ant, for the title! You’re right; Rooster Noodle Soup sounds way better than Chicken Noodle Soup.

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy


Lois’ motto for The Barn is: “We’re not here to make money; we’re here to make friends.” So far, so good, lol! We have met some amazing and interesting people in the last 7 years–Miranda Lambert is right, everybody IS famous in a small town.

My sister Lois and I met Kathy Weiand (pronounced WHY-end) through the Dollar Barn almost seven years ago. She used to travel the 45 miles every Monday to shop our store, garage sales, and The Thrift Shop for treasures to add to her craft projects (mostly birdhouses).  In the summer, Fridays are a better day to hit garage sales along the way, so Monday Kathy became Friday Kathy. In the winter, Thursday is her town day, thus she became Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy. As nicknames go, it’s not the most succinct.  Too bad if you’re into the whole brevity thing. (Big Lebowski reference…keep up.)

Now her nephew Cory, of  World By My Design, has revamped her website, tweaked her Etsy shop, and added a blog! We are so excited for her we could just die! 🙂

shopping, holed up north, cook dollar barn, art

This is what she looks like every time she walks into The Barn. That smile! Those dimples! The pure JOY she radiates! Plus, she is usually carrying baked goods and lunch.

birch, lichen, foraging

Surrounded by thousands of acres of woods, there is no shortage of lichen and birch bark for her projects.

birch bark, birdhouse

In her own words:

“I’ve always been creative/crafty. When my husband and I moved up to Northern Minnesota (by the Canadian border) in 1982, we worked a lot at resorts and therefore, had our winters off (hence the ‘Holed up North’). So I started doing crafts to stay busy. A little over 10 years ago I converted our sauna into a wood working shop and started building birdhouses.

As much as I liked doing the other crafts I loved making birdhouses. These were not your ordinary birdhouses. I would scour garage sales, gift shops, and thrift stores to find small figurines or decorations I could use to make the most unique house for indoors or out. I would collect, wash, and varnish small stones from our road, cut alder brush and collect moss from our property to use on the houses. The houses are God-inspired and love-made with my hands.”

holed up north, birdhouse, ornament birdhouse, cook dollar barn, christmas crafts

I still can’t believe she made THIS with stuff from The Barn!

bamboobrasshouse

birdhouse, salon, holed up north, cook dollar barn

Her first blog post is the story behind this perfect gift for your stylist.

In the summer, this is her other job– her “real” job…she is a caretaker and all-around handywoman. One of her clients says this about her OTHER business, Lawn, Home, & Garden:  “This company has taken care of my property, lawn care and then some, for quite awhile ! The quality of their work coupled with fair pricing is unparalleled. In addition to property maintenance, they also have a team of artisans who design and render the most beautiful art such as glorified bird houses, etc… not to be hung outside as they are the most treasured of interior decor! Great company!”

Her other job

But that’s just a few parts of Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy…we love her not just because of what she does, but also who she IS.

In her spare time? She is a firefighter. True story.

Firefighter

Her OTHER other job

Her OTHER other job involves driving this beauty. (We both have a thing for semi’s.)

Employee of the Month, Cook Dollar Barn, Holed Up North

She has even been Employee of the Month at The Barn! And she doesn’t even technically WORK here!!

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy worries about us because we don’t cook or eat very healthily. So she brings us a homemade, healthy, TASTY lunch every week (veggies cleverly camouflaged in bacon), and extra cookies at Christmas. For Inventory, she volunteers to count billions of tiny dollar store things and brings homemade BOOZE-FILLED CUPCAKES. (We get them for our birthdays, too!) I asked her to marry me for years, but she just laughed…which is good, because then I  found Mr. Wonderful.

She loves to be outside, creates beautiful art, is a volunteer firefighter, lives off the land, bakes, cooks, is deeply spiritual,  heats with wood, loves with words AND actions, and is an all-around Day Brightener. One of my life goals is to be as happy, joyous and free as Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy.

And we may never have gotten to know this wonderful lady if I hadn’t “ruined my sister’s life” by talking her into quitting her job with a Fortune 500 company and opening a dollar store in our home town of Cook, MN (pop. 574). Funny how things work out.

Now go say hi to Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy!! Please?

Fire Starters


Usually, our projects are like what we eat: fast, cheap, and easy. This is not one of those. The good news is that it’s way simpler than it sounds.

It’s fast if you have the supplies already and don’t have to gather the pine cones now and wait two days for them to thaw, warm, and open. Just collecting them was an adventure… (See that one here).

pony, pine cones, fire starters

He wanted to eat the basket. (He gets his head stuck in things a lot.)

It’s cheap if you have wax and a few common kitchen tools that can be dedicated to wax projects.

It’s easier than making candles from scratch.

You will need:

A large pillar candle

Candle, fire starters

This was a huge three wick coconut cake-scented pillar candle.

Double boiler (or a small pot and a glass 2-cup measuring cup, OR a small pot and a wax pouring pitcher)

melting wax

This is a wax melting pitcher, but a large glass or metal measuring cup will work, too.

Wick from pillar candle or pre-waxed wicks

Cupcake papers

firestarters, wax, pinecone, muffins

muffin papers from The Barn

Muffin pan/s (disposable aluminum pans from the Barn would have been smarter than using my real pans.)

Scented wax (optional)

Pine cones

Directions:

While the wax was melting in the double boiler thingy, I set up the papers and wicks.

pine cone firestarters in muffin cups

These are pre-waxed wicks, aka primed wicks. Leave two inches hanging out.

Pine cone firestarters

Also had some pre-made votive wicks with the little metal thingy attached.

pine cone fire starters

Next, I added the pine cones.

pine cone fire starters

Slowly, carefully, and gently pour the melted wax into the papers

pine cone fire starters

The cupcake papers came with foofy picks, so I added them, too.

pine cone fire starters

Let them set for a few hours in the pan, until hardened.

To use: place under kindling and light the wick.

Notes: I did two kinds; the larger fire starters are made with leftover green wax from an unscented pillar and a few balsam scented wax tarts, the smaller starters are made with the already-scented coconut cake candle.

These are easier than real candles because you won’t need to have the wax at a certain temperature or monitor the stearic acid content. They were made with pillar wax so they will hold their shape longer without needing a holder.

As usual, if you found this useful, or have something to add, share, like, comment or Pin it!

Loveyabye!

Fast, Cheap, and Easy Ice Candle Ring


Ok, so all my ice-cream buckets are toast.  The ice pushed through the bottoms instead of the tops. 😦 And I have yet to master the five gallon bucket or garbage can methods. However, I did have one experiment that turned out great…an ice candle ring.

You will need:

A bundt pan

about three quarts water

3 drops food coloring (optional)

winter or a  freezer

votive or tealight candle

long fireplace lighter thingy deal

Ice Marbles/Gems, balloons, ice candle ring, bundt pan, cake pan

I was multitasking.The knobby balloons made weird marbles, and tended to burst.

This is almost too easy. I should check the Thrift Shop for more bundt pans and jell-o molds… Anyway, I just set the pan outside and filled it with water. If you want to add food coloring, rock on. The first ring I made popped right out of the pan, but the second one was tougher, so I asked myself,” What would Lois do??” She said to place the pan in a sink of hot water for a few minutes. It worked like a charm :).

Add a tealight or votive candle, and it’s probably best to light it with a long grill/fireplace/candle lighter. Unless you like burns and frostbite at the same time. (We usually have the candles, food coloring, balloons and lighters at The Barn if you’re local.)

Ice Candle Ring from Bundt Pan

Bring a little light to the cold, dark time of year.

Short video clip of candle flickering here. It was COLD out (-15 F), so it’s a short video. I recommend placing ice candles away from your house, yet visible from a window. It’s very possible they will freeze where they are placed, so make sure it’s not a tripping/shoveling hazard. Safety first, people! Or top five, anyway.

If you think this is a GREAT IDEA, like, comment, pin or share it. Please? If you know a way to make this idea even GREATER, let us know that, too! Loveyabe, Laura

Ice Candle Tutorial


This is northern Minnesota. Bitching  Bragging about extreme winterness is in our Nordic DNA. When hell freezes over, Minnesota schools will start 2 hours late.  There are four seasons in Minnesota: Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter, and Road Construction. The majority of cars and trucks have block heaters, standard. And on and on…

I used to hate  detest  abhor dread winter. Winter can be cold, dark, expensive, depressing, and we love to complain about it.  However, as part of my ongoing quest for better health, personal growth and general serenity, I have been looking for ways to be more positive. I have come to realize that hating winter does not make it shorter, dreading winter does not prolong its arrival, and preparing for winter internally and externally reduces my stress levels about it. Less stress translates into less physical pain and reduces depression. This may be first-grade stuff to most people, but for me it was a revelation. Winter may never be my favorite season, but I can accept hate it less and find its unique moments of beauty and joy.

You will need:

2 containers of Cool-Whip

2 plastic tumblers

rocks or sand

food coloring

water

tea-light candles

First, eat the Cool-Whip. If you are from North Dakota, mix it with Jell-O and cottage cheese. If you are in Minnesota, combine it with a can of fruit cocktail and Jell-O to make a “salad”. Wash out the Cool-Whip containers, after licking them mostly clean.

I brought everything outside, having had a VLE (Valuable Learning Experience) while making Ice Gems/Marbles . I centered the rock-filled tumblers in the Cool-Whip containers, then filled them with hot water* from a teapot and added a few drops of food coloring. *I was told that the boiling water would make the ice less cloudy and add cool bubbles, but with a project this small, and my overuse of food coloring, it didn’t seem to matter.

Cool-Whip, ice candle

Freezing times vary, depending on climate. These small containers freeze faster than their traditional 5-gallon bucket counterparts. And I can lift these without hurting myself. Once frozen, I tapped the whole works gently and popped the tumbler out.

Cool-Whip, Ice CandleTah-dah!! Add the tea light candles for another craft that’s fast, cheap, and easy. 🙂 And hopefully, something to make winter feel a little less…blah.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

ice candle

As usual, if you enjoyed this post, let us know.  “Like”, share, or comment. Loveyabye.

PS: This is just another glowing example of how I am working ’round the clock to help Cook Dollar Barn. This is Employee of the Year stuff, if you ask me. Vote for me here. Or send my sister a postcard. Better yet, bring us a plate of Christmas Cookies and tell Lois in person that LAURA ROCKS!

Beeeeep


Dear Mr. Wonderful,

The lovely kitchen timer you installed just after we started dating is beeping irregularly. And I’m not even cooking. Do these things wear out?

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Text from spawn…

Loveyabye.

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I think I found the problem…

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