A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Paw Flapper dog puzzle

It’s been a long time since I published a blog post.  I just haven’t felt moved to share anything lately.  Recently I bought a puzzle toy for Frankie, and so I’m doing a product review.

This puzzle is the Outward Hound Paw Flapper.  It has 8 treat cups and 4 flapper doors, with scent holes between the doors.  The idea is for the dog to smell and find the treats and use his nose to lift the appropriate door to get the treat.  Frankie caught on very quickly and was able to lift the doors almost right away.  He hasn’t used the scent holes to sniff out the treats yet.  This toy needs a human to supervise because you need to put the doors back down.  Frankie got scared of it when a door attacked him.  He needs to learn to rotate the toy to position the doors over the treat cups.

I like this toy and I think Frankie likes it.

Baked Potato Soup


This is a hearty and flavorful soup. Perfect for cold winter dinners.
My only note for this recipe is to use baked potatoes. Boiled potatoes won’t do the trick. You need that special, nutty taste that only a baked potato can give you. Trust me.
4 baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper, white
7 cups lowfat milk
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Bake potatoes at 350 for 65-75 minutes or until tender. Cool completely. Peel and cube.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter and stir in flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Gradually add milk while whisking. Bring to a boil and simmer while stirring for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add potatoes, bacon, onions, and cheese. Simmer and stir for 10 minutes.
Add sour cream and remove from heat.
Garnish each bowl as desired with bacon, chives, grated cheese.
Makes 8 servings.

Family Losses

prachettAs we age it becomes inevitable that we begin to lose family and friends of our generation. Unfortunately for this family, we’ve had a cluster of deaths in a very short amount of time.
The first of three losses was my cousin Sonny. Two years younger than me. One of the nicest and most caring people you’ll ever know. His death was shocking, as it was so unexpected. It was his heart. He died on Christmas Eve. His family and friends are missing him.
Then, on January 12 I received a phone call from a stranger, telling me that my brother Tommy had died. Tom was very much estranged from the family and I was listed as his next of kin. How should I feel about this? I hadn’t seen him since he was 21 years old, 44 years ago. He lived a life of emotional pain, and spent time in prison. He died alone, a pauper, from a heart attack followed by a stroke. I’m sorry about his life and death. I feel sad that he made so many bad choices. I hope he’s resting in peace.
Finally (I hope) Lee’s older brother Arlan passed away yesterday, January 15. His death was not unexpected. He had a heart condition and had been on home hospice care for some time. His family was with him when he passed. He was 18 years older than Lee and they weren’t close until later years. Arlan was loved by family and friends.

I still have to care for the cremains of my brother, and we will be going through the funeral and grieving process for Lee’s brother. After that we’ll look forward to brighter days in 2016.

Tried and True, or not

rice cooker

Christmas is over and I had an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my cyber pocket. I’ve been wanting to buy a rice cooker and I’ve read and heard that they can be used for lots more than cooking rice. So not only did I order a rice cooker, I also ordered a recipe book, full of recipes for this particular brand of rice cooker. The book says right on the front cover that the recipes are “tried and true”. What does “tried and true” mean to you? To me it means that every recipe in this book (hundreds of them) has been tested by the author or her agents. Am I wrong?
This morning Lee texted me from the barn and asked me to make hot cereal for breakfast. Our temps are in the single digits. I remembered when paging through the recipes in my new book I saw a couple of oatmeal recipes, so since I had some time before Lee finished chores I decided to try the one I found using steel cut oats.cookbookOh my gosh! I put the ingredients into the rice cooker bowl and let ‘er rip. A few minutes later I heard a noise. It was the kind of noise that needs to be investigated quickly. Even though I was quick, I didn’t avoid THE MESS. The oatmeal was boiling over. It also boiled into. I managed to finish it by leaving the lid open. I ended up with a very small amount of oatmeal for us to eat, and a lot of oatmeal for me to clean up. It was all over the counter. It was running down the sides of the cooker. It had spilled into the heating area and burned there. It was under the lip of the lid. I blame the cookbook author. I followed her instructions to the letter.

I did google my predicament and I found that I’m not the only sucker trying to make oatmeal in a rice cooker and failing.
The whole “tried and true” phrase pulled me in and led me astray. The world is full of liars!
I’m going to stay with rice for a while. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m gun shy.

Beefy Pocket Pies


Beefy Pocket Pies
These are a variation of Pasties. I had a recipe for pasties and since I hate making any sort of rolled out dough I used crescent roll dough and they turned out nicely. The beef filling is similar to the recipe I started with but I made some changes to suit my needs.



Pastry: 2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
Filling: 1 lb. lean ground beef
1 russet potato unpeeled and grated
1 turnip peeled and grated
1/2 white onion peeled and grated
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Mix filling ingredients and set aside.
Remove dough from cans and unroll. This is where you need to get a little creative. I made 6 pies with these ingredients, so you need to have 12 square or rectangle pieces of dough. seal all of the seams of the dough from one can. Spread and flatten the dough and cut it into 6 fairly even squares. You’ll have to cut and piece a bit. Mine were more rectangular, about 4×5 each. Repeat with the second can. Divide the filling onto 6 of the dough squares. Cover each with another square of dough. Roll and pinch the edges and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm with brown gravy if desired, or with grainy mustard.

Notes:  Add a grated carrot if you like.  If you want more veggies you can cut the ground beef to 8 oz, and double up on the grated veg.

Cool Weather Inspiration

We had a busy summer.  Busy and hot!  We used the AC a lot this summer.

This morning we woke to cool, crisp air and it put me in the mood to cook, preferably comfort food.  One of my favorite crockpot meals is Salisbury Steak.  We love it.  It makes a perfect hearty meal.  The recipe I use came from allrecipes.com.

I like to serve it with mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles.

Lemon cake

Lemon cake

salisbury steak allrecipes

I also baked a lemon cake.  No recipe needed.  Mix up a lemon cake mix according to pk directions.  Plop tablespoons of lemon pie filling (1 can) evenly onto the batter.  Bake.  Poke holes in the cake with a wooden spoon handle.  Pour on a glaze made with 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/3 cup orange juice or lemonaide.  Done!


2 pounds lean ground beef

1 envelope onion soup mix

1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup milk

Mix well and form into 8 patties.

Dredge patties in flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet, and brown patties well.

Transfer browned patties to slow cooker.


2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 (1 oz) pk. au jus mix

3/4 cup water

Pour over the patties in slow cooker.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours until patties are done.

It’s Strawberry Season

Fresh berries

Fresh berries

One of our neighbors has a strawberry farm. He brought us a flat of berries because he’s a nice guy. I spent today dealing with the berries.
When my kids were in elementary school their school had an annual pie social at the end of the school year. Each family was expected to bring 2 pies, preferably home-made. If they weren’t home-made you would receive the big stink eye from more than one PTA lady. Some families donated money in lieu of home-made pies.
I usually made fresh strawberry pies for the pie social. They looked so pretty, tasted delicious, and disappeared quickly.
The first thing I made with my lovely free berries was strawberry pie.

Strawberry pie

Strawberry pie

1 pie shell, 8 or 9 ”
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbls corn starch
1 pk strawberry jello ( can use sugar-free)
1 cup water
Bake your pie shell until golden brown, about 13 minutes
When pie shell is cool pour the sliced berries into it and level them off.
Mix water, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan and cook until thickened.
Remove from heat and mix in jello powder until dissolved. Cool about 20 minutes.

Strawberry freezer jam

Strawberry freezer jam

Pour the strawberry filling over the strawberries in the pie shell.
Refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip.
I also made freezer jam today, and had berries left over so I froze a couple of containers for strawberry shortcake next winter.

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