Peach Pie and Grandma Mable's Bread

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The snow is on the lilacs. We hope the lilacs won't freeze.

The snow is on the lilacs. We hope the lilacs won't freeze.

Winter is having her wild way with us this weekend, making another run before Spring ushers her out the door for a few seasons. I’m inside working on research while the snow flies, and decided to make some bread and bake a pie. Now, pie is a problem for me. I’ve never been good at making the crust. But last week I found a recipe I decided to try, and it was a snap. I have no idea if I have just changed, or if this recipe makes the difference, but I definitely made a pretty pie. That first one was cherry. Today, it is peach – and it turned out great, also. 

 

Unbaked pie, ready to go in the oven

Unbaked pie, ready to go in the oven

Here’s the recipe I used, which is attached to the cherry pie recipe I found online (I’m posting the link).cherry pie and crust recipe
The crust calls for butter, a little shortening, and, surprise, cream cheese! I had some in the refrigerator that needed to be used, so this was perfect. I did make the cherry pie as the recipe called for, but I confess I didn’t like the use of the potato starch. So for the peach pie, I used corn starch, only added a half cup of sugar, and used two 28-ounce cans of cling peaches in heavy syrup.
One of the things I loved about this recipe was, it told how to cook the crust without getting it too brown – using foil on a pizza stone under the pie, then wrapping the pie up around the edges in the foil after the first 30 or so minutes of cooking. Superb!

The peach pie is out of the oven and needs to cool.

The peach pie is out of the oven and needs to cool.


The bread recipe is one my husband’s mother made. Mable Kilby was quite a cook, and I’ve heard all Larry’s siblings talk about her exploits in the kitchen. I found this recipe in a cookbook she owned, written in her own hand. It is easy to make, fast, and always turns out perfectly. Here’s the recipe:

1 ½ cups scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
¼ pound butter
2 packages yeast dissolved in ½ cup lukewarm water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 beaten eggs
7 cups flour

After proofing the yeast, add to the milk, then sift in the flour, first putting four cups in and mixing, then adding the rest until it comes away from the sides of the bowl (I confess I cheat here and use my food processor, processing it in two batches, and skipping the kneading.)
Turn out and knead for about 13 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Then put in a greased or buttered bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 ½ hours. Punch down, let rise again, then turn out on a floured board, make into three loaves, and let rise until above the edge of the pans. Bake at 375 for about 25-30 minutes, until golden. Test for doneness by tapping the loaf – if it sounds hollow, it is done. Turn out on a rack and slather with butter, and let cool. Do not wrap in plastic until the bread has cooled totally, about 8 hours. Otherwise, it will sweat and get soggy.

Ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in the oven


The bread, out of the oven and buttered. Yum!

The bread, out of the oven and buttered. Yum!

Spring is here!

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Another view of the Mallards and the Goose

Another view of the Mallards and the Goose

I’ve been away from blogging for a few days, as I worked on some school assignments and took care of chores. Last weekend I went down to the field and took some fresh photos; you will notice I have a new header picture, with two Mallards and a Goose. The geese and ducks are all mating, and it is very noisy down there. We also have a new crop of baby froglets and more minnows than you can shake a seine at.A few cows
Geese landing on the pond.cute calfAnother cutie.the pond is fullThe farm

Missouri waits for stimulus funds and they're already fighting over it.

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missouri12-07aWhen I say “they’re,” I’m referring to the bunch in Jefferson City who are supposed to look out for the people’s interests. Instead, what I’m seeing is that they are looking out for two things:

1. Their re-election efforts

2. Big business’ interests

Where did the people go? Don’t ask me. Ask Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, Mo. Sen. Gary Nodler, and other Republican members of the legislature, who are threatening to turn away much of the stimulus money the Obama administration has offered to our state. Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is leading the charge, claiming that accepting the stimulus money for unemployment claims would be a “tax hike” to employers, and reward people who are not eligible presently in Missouri for unemployment compensation. This includes those who are temporary workers and those who are “at fault” for losing their job.

OK. Lets talk about this. Temporary workers? The problem with this is, many businesses have gone to employing “temps,” rather than hiring people outright. The protection to the employer is a reduction in unemployment compensation insurance. They don’t have to pay it presently. And they don’t have to give benefits to these temporary workers. When jobs are scarce, this is an attractive tool to employers, who use temps as a way to get out of paying their share of the burden for people who are, in essence, working for them, but “not really,” because they are just temps. I know several such people. It is a travesty, already, that these workers are not treated as “real.” When they fall through the system’s cracks, it makes the rest of us pick up the tab so businesses can prosper. 

2. At fault: what this truly means is, an employer can claim you did something horrible and get rid of you in that regard, and refuse to pay unemployment compensation. Now, if someone commits a crime, I can see that. But most of the time it is the employer looking for a loophole to save their bucks. 

Fact: The whole issue is a scam on the public. The Republican right wing in Missouri is trying to scam the voters into believing their rhetoric. What I would like to see is someone with the cojones to lay out the other sides of this argument publicly, and then I would like to see the local newspapers, like our local McDonald County papers, print it. Yes, right alongside Marilyn Ruestman’s leglislative report, which is really just a rehash of the GOP crap she feeds everyone who will listen. My question to her is, when did you ever do anything for McDonald County that wasn’t a calculated effort for your re-election, or your seeking another high office later? If you can prove it, Marilyn, send me the goods. 

If Missouri is not able to take part in the national stimulus package because of all this posturing, I certainly hope that the fault is put on these people, beginning with Kinder and all the way down to Ruestman. And when Missouri is totally broke and there is no money for schools, bridges and infrastructure, and the coffers are empty, we will know whom to blame.

Death Penalty, Drug Offenders, Three-Strikers: Sour Economy Causing Policy Change

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jailfree
Prison is expensive to taxpayers. Facing budget shortfalls, several states are considering changing policies to abolish the death penalty, release non-violent inmates, and change laws that require jail time for certain offenders. 

California didn’t have to wait for lawmakers to act. A federal court ordered the state to release fifty-eight non-violent inmates in February, due to overcrowding in California prisons. The release will save the state $900 million a year, but also is expected to save lives. At least one prisoner a month would have committed suicide because of crowding and other health issues, had the courts not intervened, judges determined. 
Other states, including Missouri, will consider bills to abolish the death penalty, as prisoners on death row cost more to house. But I expect that more states will consider ways to reduce their prison popoulations. A CNN article Link to Article said today that one in 31 of us did time in 2007. Part of the problem is, prisons have become big business. Much of the corrections system in this country has been privatized, and the state pays these companies to house the prisoners we incarcerate. County jails have also gotten into the business of housing inmates, building bigger and better facilities to reap the state-paid rewards of keeping people behind bars.
Our policies feed this frenzy, requiring more incarceration today than ever before. Today, if you drink and drive, chances are you will do time. If you get caught with recreational drugs, you most certainly will be in jail for a time. Statistics state that most of the people who are being kept by the state are non-violent offenders who would be better off out of the system — and we taxpayers would be better off if these people were out of jail, too.
The cost of incarceration is not just in the cost of housing the inmate. Other costs should be considered, not necessarily monetary expenses. For example, I’ve often heard that people learn how to be criminals when they are put behind bars. I’m certain that if I were jailed for a time, It would change the way I feel about the world in general. When I got out of jail, I might be a meaner, tougher, more dangerous individual. And I’m a pussycat.
Another consideration is what happens to families when they are torn apart by jail. Children who see their parents do time are more likely to become fearful of authority. They may also become offenders, themselves, adding to juvenile crime and costing us more in the long run. In the short run, it costs more to pay for Medicaid and Welfare for children whose parents are in jail, as well as for parents who are unable to work because another parent is in jail and someone has to stay home with the children.

Violent, dangerous, and criminally insane people belong behind bars. The rest of them should be given another way to pay their debt to society. Let the drug users pay fines and get educated about what they are doing to themselves and to society as a whole, and make them pay for this education. But let them stay out of jail so they can work, and keep their families intact, and become better citizens. The same with alcoholics who drink and drive. Make them pay for those locks on their vehicles that won’t let them drive while under the influence.
Abolish the death penalty and keep the killers in the general population with the other killers. Put thieves in prison, but for shorter times. Make them pay back society, literally, by getting a job and paying back the person they stole from. The real sick people, the ones who molest children, who rape and murder and do other horrible things, should be removed from society and confined in such a way they can never get out and do this again. But there are, truly, fewer of those than we believe. The few who are truly criminally insane will cost the most to house. But I believe that if we continue to make prison a business, where a corporation is paid to house our inmates, we will only make a problem worse. Corporations don’t care about people, or whether an inmate is treated humanely. Treating our prisoners inhumanely can cause them to come out of prison with a vendetta that is more dangerous than when they went in.