The Perfect Pizza Pan

Remember my perfect pizza pan, the black iron pan that I love?  It’s also the perfect hash brown maker.

I usually use the regular black iron skillet for hash browns but, because it’s a bit smaller than the pizza pan, it takes two batches to get them real crispy.

Yesterday morning I decided to use the pizza pan.  It has a little lip on it so I knew there shouldn’t be any spills.  I was able to cook the whole batch at once.

Cleanup was a breeze!  I scraped the pan with the spatula and oiled it with a paper towel.

I love this pan!

The Little Red Hen

Have you heard the story of The Little Red Hen? As a child, my parents and grandparents read that book to me often.  As with most any books they read, they basically taught it to me as a parable.  I never remember my parents or my grandparents asking for anything.  They worked hard.  My grandparents had a huge garden.  My dad raised quilt quail, pheasant, rabbits . . all in our backyard and then they ended up on our dinner table.  My grandparents traded for things they didn’t grow but they never expected anything from anyone else.  They knew they were on their own as far as taking care of themselves and feeding their family.  As a kid, we lived through hurricanes and I never heard mention of FEMA.  We never waited for trucks to come by and bring food or water.  My parents stocked up on whatever we might need — toilet paper, vienna sausage, sardines, crackers.  I can tell you that as a child, I feared hurricanes . . not because of the damage they would do but because of the food I knew we would have to eat when the power went off.

So much of what happens in our early years shapes the adult we grow to be.  I am so thankful that my parents and their parents taught me to work hard and be responsible for my own self, to help others when they need help but to never expect a handout.  There was never any doubt in my mind growing up . . I would go to college, get a job and be able to support myself.  We live in a bit different world today.  If there are no jobs, then getting a job is not easy and may be downright impossible for some.  I’m glad I’m not a young college graduate looking for work these days.

But the one thing I will always believe is that everyone has the power to become a better person, if they want to do so.  Not to get political but I believe the government has done a terrible disservice to our society by allowing so many to depend upon a government check for money, for food, for cell phone . . for whatever the government provides.  I’m not talking about folks who truly are in need of a helping hand . . I’m talking of folks who know from about the time that they’re 16 years old that they can be supported by the government.  If you don’t believe those folks exist, you simply need to get out of your bubble.  There are teens who know that the more babies they have, the more money they get.  I’ve seen it!  I’ve talked to folks.  I’ll never forget when we lived in Kentucky, there was a kid who would come visit Chad from time to time.  He always wore name brand clothing, had good stuff.  We were chatting one day and he was telling me something his dad had done that day which led me to believe his dad was off during the day.  I asked him where his dad worked.  The kid told me that his dad just got a check.  Stayed home and got a check from the government.  He told me that during the summer, his dad cut grass for people but they couldn’t tell anyone or he wouldn’t get his government check.  The kid learned dishonesty from his parents.

In my mind, preparing for whatever I can imagine happening, growing my own food, canning my own food comes down to taking care of myself.  By growing and canning what I’ve grown, I know what goes into the food.  I know the chemicals used (or not) on my plants.  I know the preservatives used (or not) in the foods I can.  There’s no harm in not doing what I do.  Most people don’t!  The harm is in wishing and wanting to do it and not doing it.  I hear people say:

  • I don’t know how to can – Neither did I.  My grandma did but my mom didn’t til after I left home.  I learned on my own.  I asked questions, I tried it, I read about it . . if there’s something I want to do bad enough, I’m going to do it.  I haven’t blown my head off yet from the pressure canner and as far as I know, no one has gotten seriously ill or died from the foods I canned.
  • I have a glasstop stove – I canned for 9 years in Kentucky on a glass top stove, for 4-1/2 years living in Missouri on a glass top stove.  I’m not telling you to do it because if you ruin yours, you’re on your own.  I’m telling you I did it successfully for 13-1/2 years.
  • I don’t have the room – If you want the room, make the room.  We bought a 1675 square foot house and with as little room as we have after coming out of a 3800 square foot house, I could find room to store a year’s worth of food if I wanted to do it.  We built the sewing room and put in a closet that’s part of the air conditioned area and that’s where I store my food supply.

Even if you don’t do your own canning, you can still prepare your family by buying canned goods.  Don’t make excuses — make a plan and do it.  This doesn’t apply only to canning and prepping . . this applies to every area of your life.  Not one of you is getting a day younger . . if there’s something you truly want to do, figure out how to get started and do it!

 

Every Day is Like Christmas

With the cooler weather, I’ve been spending some amount of time each day going through boxes upstairs.  When I open some of the boxes, I want to kick myself for having so much junk but when I open other boxes, I am so happy with what I find.  This morning I unpacked a box of sewing treasures and had to laugh.

 

Needles!  Lots of hand applique needles, lots of what I guess are hand quilting needles . . sharps, betweens . . don’t have a clue.  There are Milliners and a ton of embroidery needles.  One thing I can say for myself . . if I think I need one of something, I must think having 100+ would be even better.  I guess my road to “you know where” might be paved with needles!  I’m sure I was planning to hand quilt and hand applique when I bought all these.

Singer MR3.5 needles are the needles I love for my longarm and they’ve quit making them.  I knew I had a few packs of them but was  happy to find a box with 10 packs of 10 needles.

But then I found these.  The package says Singer and all the specs are the same and there are 10 packs of 10 of those so that’s 200 longarm needles.  Considering that as little as I quilt these days, I change my needle about once a year, I’m set for 200 years!  When these needles are all used up, I’ll have to figure out which needles to use but somehow, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of longarm needles.

A lifetime of sewing machine needles.  Twin needles.  Wing needles . . I have done a variety of sewing through the years.  Mostly I use the Schmetz Universal 70/10 needles and unless I have a run of bad luck breaking needles, I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy sewing machine needles again.

For every 10 boxes of junk and “why did we save that” that I unpack, I find one good, worthwhile box.

For the first time in most of my adult life, I feel like there’s not another move in our future so it’s time to get all these boxes unpacked.

How Baby Chicks Get Here

My blog readers are in serious trouble.  You’ve asked ME about eggs/setting/baby chicks.  I will share what I know but honestly, I don’t know much.  I feel like I’m writing a fiction story . . making stuff up as I go.  Please don’t tell anyone anything I’m about to tell you because it’s probably at least 90% wrong.  :)

Chickens lay eggs.  There does not have to be a rooster on the scene.

Whether or not there’s a rooster, the chicken still lays the egg just the same.

If there’s no rooster, the eggs are not fertile.  If there’s a rooster, the eggs probably are fertile because roosters . . well, they’re men chickens and . .  well, if you’re explaining this to your kids, you’re on your own with the further explanation but roosters do what roosters do and then the eggs are fertile.

So if a hen has been with a rooster, she lays a fertile egg.  If not, she lays a non-fertile egg.

From the outside, the eggs all look the same.  I’m not sure if you can see it on a store bought egg but if you look at the yolk, somewhere you’ll see a tiny little white-ish, opaque circle.  If the egg is fertile, the circle will be solid.  If the circle is hollow looking in the center, kinda like a donut, the egg is not fertile.  Here’s a good example with pictures.

If a hen lays a fertile egg and I get it, it’s just like any other egg.  I don’t see any difference. We eat fertile and non-fertile eggs and can’t tell the difference but I gather them within an hour or two of them being layed and never let the hens set on the eggs we’re eating.

If the hen begins to “set” on the egg, or if I place the egg in an incubator, after a few days, the baby chicken will begin to form.  If I’m not sure if there’s a baby chick, I can “candle” the egg.  This is a process of holding a lit candle or a bright flashlight to the egg and looking for a baby chick.

My chicks are 6 months old and I wasn’t expecting them to get “broody” and start setting this early.  I’m not sure how many eggs are under Louise.  It doesn’t matter so I don’t mess with aggravating her to see how many are under her.

Here’s a funny story:  Louise and Tiffany each lay an egg almost every day.  I get 4 or 5 eggs from them each week.  While Louise is setting, I don’t think she’s laying but I haven’t gotten any eggs from Tiffany since last Friday.  I wasn’t sure if she was laying eggs and Louise was somehow getting them into her nest, or if out of respect or sympathy for Louise, Tiffany had just stopped laying.  This morning I opened the egg door to check on Louise and Tiffany was in the nesting box with her but I scared Tiffany and she jumped down but . . she left an egg behind.  I figured I’d just leave it there and see if Louise moved it under herself.  An hour or so I went back out and sure enough . . the egg was missing.  Louise had added it to her little family of eggs.  I’m glad I saw that.  Tiffany is brown.  Louise is snow white.  Thelma, the father of both eggs/potential chicks is snow white.

Two weeks from tomorrow and if all goes well, we should have baby Silkies!