Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
By Liz Taylor
February 20, 1980
Mouse River Farmers Press
Some years ago when the children were small, I would have a neighbor girl hired for a couple of the summer months. They would help with the cooking and cleaning but would mostly keep an eye on the kids, especially if I worked in the hayfield, which was seldom.
One day as I was preparing to go out to the field, the hired girl began mixing a cake. I had told her approximately where to find the basic ingredients. Indeed, finding things in my house makes any cooking task an adventure!
The girl was rummaging through a kitchen drawer, and asked, “Where do you keep your egg beater?”
I said, “It’s under the television set,” and went out the door.
When I returned from the field she had a lovely cake ready but announced that it was no easy task without an egg beater, which she had not been able to find.
“Did you look under the television set in the living room?” I asked.
“Why, no, I thought you were kidding,” she answered.
I went to the living room and under the TV, along with a myriad of toys was the egg beater. “Why would you think I was kidding? Where does your mother keep hers?” I joked, and told her that Tara had been playing with it and left it there the day before. And I had decided to leave it where both Tara and I could find it! Tara was about two years old at the time and had not been mixing a cake. She was just making noise in a pan with the beater and ignoring about $100 worth of toys.
I’m sure there are no better toys for kids of that age than pots and pans and beaters.
Of course, I can no longer blame small children for the way my house looks most of the time, perhaps it just got to be a habit with me.
On another occasion, we were all sitting at the breakfast table discussing a movie we had seen the night before. The movie was “Sound of Music,” based on the book “Maria” by Maria Von Trapp.
“I’m sure I bought that book one time, but now I can’t find it,” I said. “If I could find it, we could read it.”
“Oh, it’s right here under the table,” Justin announced. “It’s holding up the broken pedestal of the table, along with…” and he ducked his head under the table, “along with ‘The World Almanac’ and the ‘Guinness Book of Records’.”
Sure enough! Several weeks before someone had sat on the edge of the table and by so doing, caused a foot of the pedestal to break off. Grabbing a few books I had made adequate, if minor, repairs.
“Gee, Bud, if you’ll fix the table leg, we can read the book,” I said, and he replied, “Well! If you’re going to nag about it…”
Yes, a place for everything, and everything in its place!
I remember when I was a teenager at home and we decided to improve our kitchen somewhat. With the aid of a crowbar and a hammer, a few boards were removed from a wall to make room for some cupboards. Inside the wall were a lot of magazines and newspapers nailed between the studdings for insulation some twenty years before.
We immediately had a “work slow down” while we, a family crew, began to read and discuss news and happenings of bygone days.
In my column two weeks ago I mentioned my fondness for mushrooms and through the “power of the press” I received a book of mushroom recipes in the mail. While the recipes made my mouth water, for the most part, there were some that would kill the appetite of a few people.
One of my favorites began, “One boiled calf’s head,” and went on with such yummy ingredients as basil, tomato sauce, red pepper, beef essence, brown roux, gherkins, eggs, olives, sherry, two sheep’s kidneys, and, of course, mushrooms and truffles! A search through my pantry soon showed me I was out of most of the ingredients, with the exception of calf’s heads, which I expect to have plenty of when calving starts!
Another recipe called for “Six fresh snipes” as the main ingredient, and while I never use anything but ‘fresh’ snipe, I could find none in the local grocery stores. This was for a snipe pudding, and really sounded quite delicious. Those of you who would like to read this book, ask for it at your book dealer. It’s called “Mushroom Recipes” and is written by Andre L. Simon. Good luck.
The other day I decided to hand wash some sweaters and carefully read the label for washing instructions, as any smart homemaker would do. I got smart years ago by machine washing a wool sweater and putting it in the dryer…if anyone needs a size two, I still have the sweater!
I said I would read anything, and clothing labels are hard to beat for improving your mind. One sweater boldly announced on the label that it was “100% Virgin Acrylic.” Now, there is something I had never known existed. How can a chemical compound be virginal? Indeed, I have never had an item of clothing that was part virgin acrylic, and part reprocessed acrylic.
I wonder who come up with these labels in the clothing business? The instructions were simple enough, “machine wash, in warm or cool water and tumble dry, hang immediately.” I guess the latter means don’t dump it on the bed with damp towels and underwear until tomorrow.
There is apparently not much you can do to harm 100% virgin acrylic. Some folks prefer to hang their sweaters on the mast of their sailboat in a hurricane until the storm is over.
Something exciting here in the rural homes of this part of North Dakota this past month is a new TV station. We are actually being treated to PBS, or public broadcasting, and it gives us a “choice instead of an echo” when CBS, ABC and NBC have an evening of pure pabulum.
Most of the daytime PBS is devoted to such children’s shows as The Electric Company, Sesame Street, and Mr. Rogers, which is quite an improvement over what children would see on other stations. Some excellent shows in the evening have been The Voyage of Charles Darwin, A History of World War II, All Creatures Great and Small, and many excellent news shows and interviews.
As I write this I am preparing to go to Moorhead, Minnesota, to take in son Justin’s personal music recital. I am looking forward to it and a fun weekend, and the only thing that bothers me is that I will be on the bus between Towner and Fargo when the PBS station is offering a Verdi opera, live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.
This three hour performance may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I would love to see it, and this from a gal who also enjoys “Hee Haw.” How wonderful to be offered this variety on television in this part of the country.
“If you want to write something that lives forever, sign a mortgage…”
Next Week, “More about survival kits.”