This Thanksgiving week, I spent moving Mama back to the neighborhood, keeping up on work things and got to see my brother for first time in awhile. No cooking of big meal – We tabled it for Christmas. We shared a quick meal, took a break from unpacking boxes and played Farkle. Maybe I’ll do the turkey and ham in the freezer for Christmas dinner? Belated Happy Thanksgiving! And here’s a tale from Thanksgivings from the past, when my brother wrote a entry for the Tribute Family Newsletter we did for my Dad the last Thanksgiving he was with us. Enjoy!
And I can’t help but share this story with you, as well, written by my brother for the same Tribute Edition:
The Tale of Dick, Harold and the Snake
by Dubin Truff (the wrong name that got bestowed on my brother a few years ago)
For all who don’t know who the main characters of this story are, let me give you a little background.
I have always been amused when people get a person’s name wrong, so, a few years ago, when a customer of Dad’s called him “Harold”, I couldn’t help but laugh and immediately started referring to him as “Harold” myself. A short time later Dad, myself and my brother-in-law were riding in Dad’s pickup on the way to the store for some last minute Thanksgiving dinner items.
My sister and her husband were dealing with construction contractors as their new house was being finished, and he…
After running the experiment of doing nothing but spewing my own thoughts, without referring to anyone else’s work, I found I had nothing….
Well, not quite true….
Nothing, but 4 draft posts ….nearly 20,000 words and lots of ‘possible drafts’ of divergent thoughts and tangents, to explore further, develop, refine….
I was worn out enough to not have even the slightest yearning to begin the editing process… so they will just sit and I’ll muse/stew on them for awhile – maybe re-read them in a month or six…..
Therefore, I am breaking my own rule (the short term experiment is over at the other social channel, anyhoo – results interesting to me, but nothing definitive to share that is of use to anyone else I figure…).
Alas, the past week or so, found me with several ‘changes’ sweeping in – some of my own making, some out of the blue, some not wholly unexpected and others???
The inspiration for brevity came to me at a gasoline station.
I managed to fill an old car’s tank with super-deluxe high-octane go-juice. My old hoppy couldn’t handle and got the willies-kept sputtering out at intersections and belching going downhill.
I understood. My mind and my spirit get like that from time to time. Too much high-content information, and I get the existential willies-keep sputtering out at intersections where life choices must be made and I either know too much or not enough.
The examined life is not a picnic.
Robert Fulghum, Author
I Get the Existential Willies, too…
Usually when too much deluxe high-octane information comes into my world (on purpose, cuz I was in research mode…) coupled with human stuff that just shows up via surprises, re-connections, conversations, etc….
I nearly drowned in such things last week – and by Sunday afternoon?
I was pooped – went to bed and hoped for a better morrow – –
No such luck –
Woke up with body, mind and spirit in not the best of places.
Cue the Existential Mega Funk…
Which is what I just ‘do’ once in awhile – I’m certain astrologers, therapists, counselors, naturopaths, nutritionists, genetic researchers, religious leaders, my friends, my family, could ALL give you the ‘reasons’ why I do this/do this to myself -and they would all be simultaneously right and ….um….not quite right on target…to my mind, though I’m open to observations….
The Phone Rings….
And the only reason I get my arse up out of my chair where I’ve retreated from computer, work, research, to find refuge via being a drooling, brain dead mess while movies I’ve watched before play out on the boob-tube (TV), and I proceed to get lost further in the swamp of my own mind….
….is because I recognize the ring-tone.
It’s the one that rings when one person in my contact list calls from any of their assigned work, home, mobile numbers.
Yup. His ringtone is his, and his alone, in my tech world.
“Hey Babes! How are you?”
I try to put some semblance of energy into my greeting – I fail miserably. I wonder if I could have pulled off “Snickerdoodle” better?
I’m tired, I’m in a funk, but I hear his upbeat voice, can tell he is calling during his break at work, and reply, “I’m fine – rather in a funk, but okay. What’s Up?” when he asks me how I’m doing.
Our shared language is to tell the truth when asked how we are – because we both know when the other person is lying, or omitting, anyhoo, so it’s an exercise in futility to lie about it, from our point of view.
Ahh…but I somehow managed, despite overwhelming odds, to not destroy the sensitive/empathic side of this youngest son, during the years I was in charge of him and his growth.
He picks up on the cues about how bad it really is feeling to me, right about now – all from my voice…
Isn’t he just amazing??
(that’s mama bear pride speaking. He is the one topic where I never even attempt to practice humility, other than saying, “Nope, all him. Had nothing to do with me, except staying out of the way best as I could, to not mess up what came to this world as perfection and despite my repeated failures to do so, he still turned out great!)
“Well, needed to ask ya something but that can wait…What’s going on with you?”
I give him the usual, “Overdid it on various fronts, rather discouraged, just in a funk – talk to me and tell me what’s up with you….”
This is what I do when I get really discouraged and worn out – I just shut down and figure what good is talking about it going to do?
Listening to others instead of my own inner committee of pessimists is a relief!
Plus, between mid-day Saturday and Sunday evening? I had talked and interacted with others more than I had the prior month. That takes a lot of energy, ya know….
What’s more – he knows this about me. And like a good friend, he just does what I asked…
He fills me in on holiday schedule at work, when he is returning to working 6 days a week, his invites from various places, and wonders – what’s me and our kin in Wyoming’s holiday plans?
….and I tell him I don’t know, most likely won’t know until last minute and he should make his plans, as he wishes, or if he can wait on RSVPs and wants to? That’s okay too, but seriously, just do what you want to do, babes… I have no answers and…you know we can have our time together when it works for you/your schedule.
Because him and I?
Well, we just get together whenever – via long calls, meeting for lunch, emailed shares of funny stuff, music, the clip from some dystopian cartoon, the drop by, and we manage to celebrate any holiday, with foods we love, together in the kitchen, whenever the mood strikes – sometimes we even make up our own holidays/celebrations.
Thus, we are each other’s safety net against the ‘must happen on this day, at this time’ society we live in –
He says okay, he’ll let me know.
We tend to take each other at our word and what each say – we have plenty of manipulative, ‘my way or the highway’, ‘if you loved me…’, guilt trip 101 style things around us, on various other fronts, that stress us both out, hence, we try to keep that crap out of the shared & sacred place known as ‘our relationship’.
He adds, “Let’s pick a day and I’ll just take you out for a meal, unless you REALLY, REALLY want to cook.”
I miss my roommate – we had fun fixing meals together in the kitchen.
On the other hand, eating out with him is fun too.
He’s one of the few people who take me out to eat that I don’t suffer embarrassment over the ‘never worked in front line customer service menial labor job’ dining companion who is high maintenance, tips poorly and nothing is ever ‘good enough’.
Yup! You Got it! When I’m in a funk? All my judgy, biased sides come up, too.
We exchange our LUBs (Luv U Bunches) and before he hangs up, he ‘reminds me’ –
“Mom? Just call when you’re ready to talk it through, okay? “
My son, my best ‘adulting it’ friend, who knows me OH so WELL, especially when I descend into the status of a toddler throwing a fit instead of taking a nap in the Universe playpen!
2.5 seconds later….
The email hits my inbox – a music link – to a song he loves that cheers him up – and he’s sharing it with me, in hopes it might help me, too….
Ahh….Instantly, my little funky, curmudgeony, Grinchy, shrunken heart busts free AND my mind and spirit wake up, appalled at how I could have forgotten the beauty that surrounds me….
I don’t listen to the song.
Instead, I get up off my lazy-no-good-arse, assess my physical woes, mix the ingredients for massage oil in ‘a little bit of this, for that, hmmm…that smells good, adding that…” fashion, get settled back in the chair and set about giving myself hands, feet, scalp and ear massages while watching Disney’s “Cruella”.
I remember I have an Estella side and not just the Cruella side of me.
I go to bed and hope for a better morrow, and give a prayer of thanks for the Universal Kick in the Pants to nudge me out of the dark pit of my inner swamp.
Physical pains? less. I’m encouraged and repeat the self-care recipe and routine of the night before. Take care of the few work requests that come in – and then…THEN?
I listen to the song sent.
It is beautiful to my ears.
I happen to like the way Starset blends their music and vocals – I often love the stories their songs tell – not always a true fan of their videos, my old eyes sometimes have trouble keeping up with the special effects, but, I really like they put the lyrics right in the lower left corner of their video releasing me from the need to go look them up….
I only know about Starset because of my son – I doubt I would have ever stumbled across them all on my own…
I listen to it again – just to listen – not reading, not watching, and while I listen, I let my mind wander through the heavens above, instead of the teeming swamp full of vipers.
I think about the profound changes astronauts have reported to their inner psyche once they view our home planet from far away….
I think of gifts from earth in form of plants, seeds, oils that support and heal me and make it easier for me to give myself reflexology self-care….
I think of all the health and spirit care providers, who over the years, didn’t just heal me, but also educated me on ways to help myself, while they were ‘doing their life’s work’.
I give thanks for my sons, who never fail to remind me of all the good and beautiful, and who also, don’t run away from me and my ugliness when I get lost in my existential willies and/or funks.
I give thanks that I have one son left who can still call me here on this plane.
I give thanks for the memories and lessons learned from my son who is no longer here to txt, call or give me crap or make me laugh.
So I’m sharing this all with you, including the song.
I’m full speed ahead, on fronts where I can dive in and do without needing to learn more, as my point of re-entry. No sense in giving myself a set-back….
I make journal note to remind myself how I recovered more quickly this time, than I usually do when the existential willies show up….
Thank you All that Is. You sent all the other things this past week onto my radar for some purpose, I imagine, and then sent exactly the reminders I needed, when I got overwhelmed with it all, had no clue what I needed and no energy left to figure it out for myself.
I’m on a mission in several places in cyberland – a mission to, in my own way, run experiments, gauge results and take a stand on the never ending challenges that present themselves to affect the average daily human, all while technology drones on in a relentless pursuit of ‘Look at What I can Do, Ma!” leaps that don’t always take care to look far enough down the road or cliff they are diving off of….
I’m currently running an experiment to see what happens if I don’t quote anyone else, share nothing but my own thoughts, my own pictures, my own quotes (is there any more hubris in the world than quoting oneself? I tell you – I may be on the Highway to Hell…)
But I Do NOT Forget Why I can do such Experiments
And today is the day when it seemed appropriate to say so.
I can do such things because of those who have stood between me and the dark forces in our world that would wipe me out in a nano second given half a chance, because I’m soft, don’t ya see – – –
My Life is Blessed by those Who Serve
I have water to drink, shelter to live within, food to eat, meaningful work to do and access to education/books.
I do not live in a daily life where I fear the warlord and his army from just over the ridge riding over to tear up my garden plans, steal my food or press me into service in their army and/or, suffer a fate worse than death as marauders seek to rape pillage and destroy to ‘leave their mark on a territory/rule by fear’.
I have all of these things due to the service of so many Veterans, alive and from my ancestry, who went and did the hard things – putting their life on the line, standing on principal, pushing back against those who conquer with lust, greed and joy in their heart while the most atrocious acts one human can do to another is played out, over and over.
Sadly, in front of the eyes and heart of those who serve.
All that stands between my small, tiny soft life and a life of never ending chaos and horror are the brave men & women who serve to go fight monsters on behalf of others, including me.
I can fight for them, in my own way…
I can look at my daily life and see where I can make a difference through my engagement with politics, purchasing dollars, volunteer hours and community service to be there for them – for backup, emotional support, political support, financial support.
I can raise my voice in dissent when it seems they are being sent into no-win battles, cry foul when they serve and then are cheated of their promised compensation – I know not what the Latin version of “Never Forget” is, but I remember what happened to the Roman Soldiers when wealth and abundance rottened the core of the Leaders in charge of them…
I choose to NOT forget such things…
I can step up to ensure their loved ones, left behind while they fight for all of us, have enough to eat, are warm and watched out for while they are on duty.
But it seems so overall small and inconsequential compared to their service.
A monument, names on a wall, stone and structures and books and words and memes and songs….
It all seems so small and Not ENOUGH to repay as I can, for what their service to others, afforded me and mine.
I’ll close with my own Personal Message
To those I know – (and you know who you are….)
I am a witness to your life of service. When things turned out okay, you received your training, education, did your one-hitch and/or career term service and came home to enter the civilian workforce, in service to a smaller community. I so loved working with you on the local home front and cherish what I learned from you during our time together.
I’ve also witnessed the health hits, the nightmares, the hoops to jump through to get medical treatment and your personal internal struggles as you fight, often daily, the monsters of your past engagements. I happen to know just a bit about trauma that affects the brain, and being so mad at paying into the systems that prevail in our world that only leave one alone to face daily life best as they can when you are no longer deemed ‘healthy enough to serve’ in this capacity or that.
As long as you aren’t bent on kicking my ass to get over your angst, I’m a safe place for you to say, “I am angry, I feel betrayed” –
No happy wappy-positive thoughts only advice from me here – although, I tend to have a dark humour streak – and look at possibilities if only to make us laugh for a moment or snort in derision over fanciful ideas that are being trucked out by the boatloads in memes.
Those things are the only way I personally know how to deal with and separate my inner core from external world things enough to be functional and do what needs be done without falling into a puddle of ‘do nothing’ status….
I’ve quietly mourned and grieved all while you’ve spouted off to me how I know nothing about the sacrifice you and your unit went through, and how I don’t appreciate your sacrifice.
You’re right – I can’t fully appreciate it in all its full measure, simply because, You saved me from having to survive various fields where slaughter occurred and I somehow managed to live long enough to crawl to safety and to know within myself, the full scope of the story…
But do not ever imagine that I take such things lightly and I grieve over your personal losses as best as I can in imperfect knowledge and understand, if you need to be mad at me or I somehow missed a fine point and need corrected? I’m okay with that –
I’ll sometimes address you as sir or ma’am – to show respect to you. Not based on what your rank was, whether you ‘worked for a living’ or not (is that a real thing? I suspect it is, though I’ve seen it displayed more in movies/fictional works than in real life interactions), or your age and I may not be recognizing your preferred form of address (I’ve worked with women veterans – took some explaining by me, in stammered fashion, for them to get over being mad as hell when I called them ma’am – they managed to forgive my idiocy).
It’s simply my way to show respect and deference if we meet, and I recognize just enough hints to understand, but not educated enough to address you by your full title or name or rank or preference.
I recognize you, often – not because of uniform, or patches, pins, ribbons or medals…no, to my mind & being, it’s more subtle than that –
I know you are A Warrior who protects me and many, because of the look in your eye, the way you carry yourself and move your body through time/space. Through the words you say when all hell breaks loose on this front or that and how you react to external stimuli.
If I’m lucky
I’ll never have to test myself on the field of battle – never have to find out whether or not I’m really a coward at heart – this makes me soft and of no use to you – I get that.
And if YOU Are Lucky
You’ll never find yourself wondering if you can depend upon me on the field of battle – I’m untrained…. an unknown – I know just enough to consider myself useless to you in such circumstances –
On the other hand? If all hell breaks loose?
I hope I am equipped well enough to look at you and solemnly promise,
“Okay then. If you’re asking for my help, it must be desperate times. Put me where I can cause the least damage to your plans and optimum place to take out the enemy.
Oh, and if I get gut shot? Leave me behind – with some ammunition if you can spare it – Too many resources wasted to care for me and in face of chaos? I’ll probably die anyways – and I don’t want to die from being gut shot – cuz I’m a coward and it’s a horrific way to die – I’d rather go out with a bang facing the enemy while you retreat/move to out flank them, if it’s all the same to you…”
You have my full permission to leave me behind unless it upsets you so badly you can’t bear to do it – You are the Warrior – so I leave it to your discretion.
One day a year isn’t enough – and I hope my missive doesn’t offend.
But this Veteran’s Day? I wanted to write and tell the truth of what goes on in my mind when I think year ’round about those who serve and how I see my place in all of it.
I know not how else to tell ya the depth of my gratitude over the things you are willing to take upon yourself, to spare others the need to do such things.
Signed – the comfortable civilian who thanks you for your service.
Halloween….Harvest Home…..Fall Celebration of summer’s bounty…..Hunting season, butchering season, all of these things are held in my heart, my mind and are so deeply ingrained in the cellular memory of my inherited DNA from my ancestors.
Those in my family tree who survived famine, harsh Northern European winters in serfdom/medieval times, under tyrannical local leaders and warring nobility (who waged battles in fields of crops and ruined the harvest…) The Black Death (many times), and more recently, also survived the violence and deprivation of the American Civil War, World War 1, the Spanish Influenza, WWII, the Great Depression…. need I go on??
See how big my inheritances are?
I simply need a word to encompass it all – one that, for me, somehow, via its mystery of being not from my primary language and by its very long history, speaks to the deep time memory of all this time of year entails…and embraces all of me, at the same time.
Unfortunately, on many fronts, my love of this time of year and celebration of it, under the given name, means there are many in my circle who are certain I’m a goin’ to hell –
If true, well, I guess my ancestors, who celebrated this time of year, will be waiting for me near the bonfire of eternal damnation (as if surviving hell on earth wasn’t penance enough….)
I also, on October 29th, celebrated my 10 year anniversary of being a stroke survivor…
Thus the end of October, no matter who says what about certain days, traditions and whether my soul celebration of this time of year is cause for concern to some, ignored by others and/or grandly in a myriad of ancient AND modern consumer ways, celebrated by many….
It’s simply a time to rest, reflect and also a time when the bittersweet knowledge of gains unrealized this past season of ‘growing’ and a time for memories of those who came before, and the lessons they imparted during our time together, be they flora, fauna or human.
A time for reflection before I sink into the winter rest/rejuvenation, read, learn, contemplate, in order to be ready for next Spring when the all of me once more vibrates with a hum of “Go! Go! GO!!!!”
It’s also the time of ‘comfort foods’….
Soups, Stews and Chili
“Break out the crockpots, cuz WINTER FOOD bonanza has arrived!”
Me, giddily dancing around my kitchen, talking to myself, when I wake up and realize it’s cold, I need to start back up the pilot light on the wall furnace, etc….
Gifts of the Season
The Turkeys tried to tell me gifts were on their way to me…. I just didn’t listen, because, well, the wild turkeys are so prevalent in our small town that nestles up to ranchland and the Big Sandy water way (now often dry…but was always seasonally dry, since my earliest memory), the town website home page even notates in highlighted fashion,
“Don’t Feed the Turkeys!!”
Which cracks up urban hosting providers when I have pushed out website updates, and the ‘cached’ version of the site keeps showing up, even though I flushed the SERVER cache, too – They just laugh and I inwardly chuckle at their ignorance of living close to wildlife and morphing borders between us humans and the wild things we share an ecosystem with….
My place does feeds the turkeys, I think, though I do not. I lived in bear and mountain lion country for too long to be as foolish as to feed wildlife on purpose or through carelessness.
Nope, the turkeys just show up when they do, hunt/peck across my place, and move on to the next area.
I’m hoping turkey poops is as rich and nourishing as chicken poop come spring time.
Interestingly, to me, they tend to hunt and peck in areas that have been spots of ‘problems in the landscape, in need of planting something else to out compete the problem children of flora world’, for which, I have yet to find any medicinal, food or daily use in crafts, dyes, etc., use for… (bind weed, goatheads, and wild mustard areas I’ve not yet declared victory over, but still unwilling to vinegar or salt my earth to eradicate them – I might want to GROW something there some day!!)
But there is one juvenile male this year that reminds me in his bearing of Grandfather Robin, with the broken but healed leg, who shared his companionship with me in the garden for ever so long, and passed away during the winter of 2019-2020.
The young male turkey showed up morning after morning outside my bathroom window this fall- no matter what time I awoke in the pearly dawn.
He seems smaller and/or more laid back than the other turkeys and appears to keep himself apart from them, even while he moves along ‘grazing’ with the herd, although I haven’t seen sign of injury or lameness.
I finally pulled out my Animal Spirits book to look up the message of Turkey, chuckled and thought, ‘what a nice thought! okey-dokey then….”
Message of Turkey
Focus on community/family instead of yourself (check – been doing that for ever so long and sometimes, more than I should which is why I get worn out here and there and grumpy and wonder, “when will it be my turn??” which just makes me turn into all the things I no-likey, that are exhibited by others – sigh)
You’re about to receive a gift – it may be mental, spiritual or material (okey-dokey, will wait and see…but I’ve heard this line before and do not count on it…)
Honor the earth and pick up the trash (check! sigh – every durn week! the neighbor’s trash blows in or folks walking around town getting drunk like to drop their crap on my borders…If I find one more airline/hotel sized plastic bottle of Fireball hooch, I swear I will lose what little of my ‘shit I know where it’s at” – Sigh)
When I hope but do not expect it….
I’m familiar with wishful hoping and prayers that go unanswered, but Gifts started arriving about 10 days ago- –
Bonus check from a client that I had no expectations of/knew nothing about prior to receiving – read through the enclosed letter 3 times to ensure, it wasn’t a joke or attempt at ‘fraud’ via me actually depositing the check!
Pledges from three in my circle to aide in getting my side venture off the ground in the coming months
Gift of food – in form of ham-hocks, venison steaks and ground venison from friend whose son is an excellent hunter and stocks their freezer so well, she needed to make room for this year’s bounty…(they also raise their own pigs, and she knows who will use the fat (for lard), the neck bones (for broth) and the ham hocks (too many recipes to list!) that she doesn’t have time to process/use….
YUM!! Food Gifts!!
Since moving from the mountains to the plains, post divorce, I just no longer have a friend’s circle that through purchase, trade or gifts, net me venison…and it’s been so long since I’ve tasted venison chili and had venison stew…
My tummy was rumbling, my brain was activating my taste buds and my glands were salivating, the minute I read the text,
“Hey are u home? Have some venison and ham hocks for you….”
I have a conservative supply of ham hocks, but in my mind? Can never have too many and there are, after all, only so many hocks on one pig and I only purchase 1/2 hog a year….
Venison? Oh lordy lordy! When received from a good hunter that tracks, and quietly drops the prey in their sites, while they are grazing? (instead of chasing them all over hell’s back forty and/or injuring them and getting all that adrenalin and stuff coursing through?)
It’s not gamey, or strong tasting – – it’s tender and flavorful…
But…well…for my body? Lean enough usually, that I like to add in some kind of broth with some fat in it (especially to make flavorful beans!) and well, ham hocks do the trick!
Do your prep, make your broth/beans, cook up 1 lb of venison?
Ta-Da! 3 quarts of goodies (and may not sound like much, but when nutrition packed?? A cup of soup, stew or chili goes a loooonggg way to satsifying the body and telling the hunger signals to ‘shut up! I’m FULL!”
On the other hand…sometimes it tastes so good, ya know you shouldn’t, but you just have to have one more little bit…. 😀
Thus, I’m on the brink, now, of having meals today, tomorrow and meals to throw into the freezer for ‘quick dinner’ when I get engrossed in something and don’t want to mess with cooking. About 4.5 quarts of goodies, from the below ingredients list…..
Ingredients Used for Soup & Chili
If food used is available for you to order online, I’ve included links to the item/companies I stock my pantry & home with…)
1 lb of ground deer (local hunter)
1 pkg of ham hocks (.5 -1 lb local provider(s) those who don’t use, give them to me, often – I’m SOOO BLESSED!!)
1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (I like Bragg (with the mother) but in the past few years? Even housebrands at big box stores that advertise “organic/with mother” work just fine for me…and at lower cost overall – but I use a variety of vinegars from variety of sources – so who knows what I might miss out on if I used JUST corporate made Apple Cider Vinegar?? I don’t claim to know…)
2 TBS concentrated Vegetable Broth (sigh – I’m behind and out of luck on hitting farmer’s markets and no annual veggie garden for me this year… – so I just use this until I once more get my shit together and make my homemade roasted veggie broth for the year: Better than Bouillon – Seasoned Vegetable Base from Vitacost, or Walmart, or Costco, or probably, Amazon…)
1/2 TBS Avocado Oil ( or olive oil, or lard, or tallow – basically, any saturated or monosaturated oil works – just enough to add some additional vitamins/nutrients that might not be in your ham hocks or venison )
Kosher salt to taste (some salt found in locally preserved hamhocks, the spice mix AND the vegetable base/broth used, as well as the light dusting of kosher salt I put in bean soaking water (after reading Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat by Samin Nosrat last winter)
Since I’m not a huge salt addict (or am well nourished?) I seriously cannot tell you other than ‘to taste’ after you prep everything else and then taste it every hour as it simmers…cuz that’s your brunch, lunch, afternoon snack….LOL. I would have more stuff to freeze ahead if I didn’t ‘graze’ while it was cooking, but then, also, I don’t have to cook a meal, while I’m cooking batches, either! – 🙂
6 qt crockpot with high/low/warm setting
(Optional) Crockpot unit that has three (3), 1.5 qt capacity crocks in it (useful for making small batches of different varieties, that have common ingredients in foundational prep/starts)
Kitchen Utensils (spoons, spatulas, fine mesh colanders)
32-64 oz Mason Jars
Mason Jar Sprouting lids from Amazon (optional – But I got this low cost set (just one of set of three takes care of my small household AND when I bust in to do big batch cooking and has done so since summer of 2018….)
*Side note – yes, yes, those of you who see Amazon as the devil incarnate – I hear ya – but consider this:
On publicly traded companies who have to report such things, Amazon has a better “big leaders make vs. everyday workers earn” ratio than many other companies do AND, if you shop at Smile.Amazon.com, when you shop? Your chosen charities get a donation, too – so just saying – – I mean, for me? These are long lasting, have had them since 2018, they save me time and trouble and my local Friends of the Library got a small cut of the action, too…so I REFUSE to feel ‘guilty’ about it – especially since I don’t know a bpa free, plastic kitchen tools, maker to support in my locale……)
Slow Food Prep
I’m a Slow Food Fan – and I go way slower than even the creators of that term do – simply because – I’m willing to wait another day (instead of rushing the process!) if I forget start the prep for this or that (usually, sigh, I get all gung ho and then get distracted and have to wait while my legumes, grains or nuts ‘soak’ the required time….)
Prep Step 1 – Sort, Rinse & Soak your Beans
**Note – below method is for 6,480 elevation in fall/winter abode that averages 65-70 degrees, dependent upon where I place the soaking jar – don’t use lukewarm water IF your house temp runs hotter and/or, use cold water and rinse/refill more often in hotter conditions- otherwise, you’ll ‘ferment them’ or, worse, they’ll get nasty and won’t smell like anything ya want to eat!!
The greatest benefit to home fermenting, if that IS your goal? without a lot of controls and ordered in, pricey additives? If/When your ‘project’ goes south?
It smells like the locker room or sweaty socks of Junior High, puberty aged males and YOU aren’t EVEN TEMPTED, at all! to ‘give it a taste test” and manage to poison yourself. – To me? I find home fermentation sans fancy stuff WAY less intimidating and less worrying! I win some and lose some, but since I’m no longer allowed to make even 200 bottles of home made ‘small wines’ to trade/barter with? Well – if folks can stand being in my house/know me, they’re willing to try my ‘homemade’ refreshments – – LOL
Take your 4 cups of Anasazi (or pinto!) dried beans,
sort them (if you buy bulk/local, you want to sort out small stones and such),
place in mason jar, run some cool water in to cover the beans,
put on the sprout lid,(red, large holes if you bought the set I linked to…),
put one hand on the bottom of the jar, the other hand on covering the top, hold it horizontal in front of you (over the sink) and sing and dance…
Shake, shake, shake
Shake shake shake!
Shake your bootie!
Music to Shake To
Tip upside down, let the water drain out and Repeat until the water runs clear..
Fill the jar of beans with lukewarm (if cold house) or cool water (if warmer house/warmer season) and then set it on the counter and leave it be for 24 hours –
Note! placing 2 cups in 64oz mason jar works really well for easy of rinsing, shaking and draining – I did 2 cups to start with and realized I needed 2 more cups after I got through it, and you CAN do more cups in one 64oz jar, but, sigh, it will be more of a pain in the arse – easier to do two jars, for me, but hey! As long as the beans are covered with water, even as they soak/swell and you can rinse easily/well and refill easily (in hot/warm conditions) as needed, whatever floats your boat….
If you are using dried turtle beans instead of the dehydrated flakes? Do a jar of them too -only need a quart jar for that small amount – same thing – rinse, cover with lots of water and wait….
I do turtle beans separate from other beans – they just take longer, at least for me and no ‘guidance’ on additives to speed up the process, touted on many info sites, books and mommy blogs over the years has ever given me good results the minute I do anything other than water. So I just keep ’em separate and simple, but usually start black beans with warmer water (in winter) and a tad sooner than Anasazi beans, even though they are smaller….
Hot weather?? Left them next to your wood stove/wall furnace? And some slightly sour smell greets you when you walk nearby??
Rinse until smell gone – refill with water – every 4-12 hours if need be (the hotter it gets? the more often you need to rinse/refill with cool water!). Fall/Winter in my house? One fill set on counter near (but not too near!) the wall furnace, crockpot going or toaster oven, does the trick!)
Step 2 – Broth & Bean Base
Once your mason jars of beans have plumped up to 2-3 size their original volume?
Time to drain the water off your beans & dump the beans into your 6 qt crockpot
Throw the ham hocks (or any bones with some fat on them (or bacon bit ends with some fat, work too….) on top of the beans
Cover that whole mess with enough water to cover everything by 2″.
Add and stir in the 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (if you have bones in the crock – if not – you can add the vinegar later for a ‘kick’ of goodness for ya –
Put on the lid…turn the dial to HIGH and then wait…..
Until it’s bubbling along when you look at it, or you get lost in work and come up for air and think, “what smells so good???”
Skim off any foam at top as it comes to bubbling simmer (though, I’ve found, with quality food sources? I don’t have or need to scrape the foam at all – it doesn’t even show up!)
Then turn the dial to low and just let it simmer along for 24-36 hours. (the longer it goes, the more nutrients leached into the broth from the bones in the ham hocks (which is why we put the vinegar in – it aids with that – longer time for heavy, dense, marrow bones from pork, beef, big game…) If the only bones you have are smaller (say from poultry or fish? pull out the bones earlier, they will crumble down into the pot and be harder to tell ‘what’s bone, what’s not’ if you let smaller bones simmer too long!)
And now? Ta-Da! Your broth and bean base is READY to get turned into yummy goodies….
Somewhere around the time you start your broth or check on it mid-day, throw your chub of ground venison (or venison steak) into the refrigerator to thaw.
Chili Spice Mix Recipe
I like to sprinkle 2 TBS of this over 1 lb of meat while it’s cooking -works with hamburger, ground venison and ground pork – or added to chili or taco soup recipes if you (oops!) added too much water/broth:
2 TBS ground Chili Powder
2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp dry minced garlic
1 tsp dry minced onion
1 tsp smoked (or regular!) paprika (I prefer the hot/smoked variety)
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4-1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (the cayenne I have is..well…LITTLE goes LONG WAY! so know your Cayenne source, heat rating and the tolerances of those who will eat your meal!)
1/8 – 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (to taste – some like it hot, some not!)
Putting it all together!
Now? We’re on to making 3 quarts of chili and 1 quart of ham & bean soup OR ham and beans for over corn or millet quick breads!
A side note on Broth, Foam and Fat….
Sigh – I’ve worked to build up a list of providers from which to purchase my proteins from – and I will say – while there is a layer of fat on my broths, it’s just never that greasy, horrible, thick, make ya gag layer of fat that I would see back in the 90s when I had moved to new place, far from home and was just purchasing meat with bones in the local super grocer store – that also carried faint smell of rancid/spoiled while I was cooking it – – if ever I was tempted to become a vegetarian/vegan, it was back then – I liked to gag just trying to fix supper for my family before I got connected with local providers –
But, many in our nation do not HAVE the option – either they live too far away from small producers OR they live in area where only the affluent can afford good ‘dog bones/broth bones” –
Yup, you heard me! The bones I take when others don’t want them?
They are marketed as ‘dog bones’ often – well – if you know who raised it, how it was raised and who processed it?
Those ‘dog bones’ on a budget? Make really awesome broth for humans!
But..well – all I can say is, buy the best you can afford, and here’s some tips for when you can’t afford much at all….
You will have Foam when the animal is factory farmed- Scrape that foam crap of as it rises to the surface when your broth/beans mixture comes to simmering bubbling temp. Use a spoon, a spatula, whatever, scrape that crap off, and just bang the utensil over the top of your garbage can bag (or slop can – anything that doesn’t ‘sully’ your tool by coming into contact with ‘trash’
You may have ‘gag ya’ levels of Fat – Sigh – factory farmed animals sent to market via plump weight, just simply, um, have more fat and not always the fats you want to be eating a lot of – IF there is a thick layer of ‘grease/fat’ over your broth/beans mixture? Skim it off the top, carefully (this is another reason to cover your beans and bones with plenty of water – no skimming goodies out along with the fat…..you can just look and see the slick fat layer and what’s not fat.
Time to Cook up the Ground Protein & Veggies!
Pre-Heat your skillet on low heat with the TBS of your fave fat
Pull out your fresh yellow onion, jalapeno and garlic cloves now – if you’re using – the Chili spice mix works well – but, I like putting in fresh veggies, too!
Small dice the onion and the jalapeno pepper (do not include the seeds for milder flavor, leave some of them in for spicier Tex mex style chili, if you want – )
Mince your garlic or smash it and small dice it – I’ve done both.
Once your skillet warmed up? Dial the heat up to medium low, toss in the diced onion & Jalapeno, stir to coat with the oil, wait a minute or 3,
add the garlic, give it a good stir for a couple of minutes….
Add the ground protein, crumbled with your hands or broke up with your spatula…
Stir and mix the meat and veggies together until well mixed…
Then sprinkle 1 TBS of the Chili Mix over the meat, stir and mix, then sprinkle the second TBS of Chili Mix over it, stir to incorporate
Put a lid over it, turn on low heat, cover and set time for 10 minutes –
Go read your bloggy pals recent post(s) OR do some sit-ups, or call your mama for a quick check in – whatever – Just let that mixture slow cook, with the lid on
Yes, YES! You can stand over it, crank the heat up, stir like you are bat-shit crazy or dance/sing, and it’ll get done faster – I just prefer the slow melding of flavors in the meat this way, and the fact the garlic and spices and smaller bits of onion don’t BURN, when I do it this way – 😀
Turn off the burner after 10-15 minutes is up, give it a stir and look carefully! The spice mix makes it hard to tell if all the meat cooked or is bloody raw still (though it will finish in the soup/chili if you are letting simmer for a while longer!)
All Chili, Some Chili, Mix an Match –
The moment of truth –
Just what will you make with all your slow food goodies now???
This is what I did with my above listed equipment –
Nope, not exact science, but I figure, you are smart – you know how many quarts of stuff you have, how much meat you have, and you will mix, match, add other veggies or powders (to hide nutrients added from loved ones that won’t notice as long as they aren’t faced with ‘chunks of’ ‘eww??? Whats that???” LOL
Three (3) 1.5 quart crocks
Into 2 of them I place half of the skillet meat mixture (1/2 of mixture in each)
Then, using my pasta scoop (the scoop with holes in it!) I dip beans out of the broth/bean crock, remove the big chunks of ham and the bones, and dump beans on top of each meat layer, until 2/3’s full in the crock
Then, using a mesh strainer over the crock, I ladle in broth (and beans and bones, and ham are caught in the strainer) until the Crock is about an 1.5″ from the top of the crock
I set the strainer contents aside to cool, enough for me to pick the meat/bones out of, and add the left over beans to each chili mix.
Then, to each Chili 1.5 crock, I added the following:
2 TBS of tomato flakes
2 TBS of tomato powder
1/3 cup of refried black bean flakes (I forgot to start black beans soaking – got distracted…)
In the third 1.5 quart crock?
I dumped in the broth left from the crockpot (using the strainer), pulled all the bones out of the strainer leavings and tossed that in, and realized, oops! Didn’t soak enough beans! So 2 cups more of Anasazi beans to soak, so I can add later tonight (they are sitting right next to going crock, they will plump up faster! in warmer setting!) and….
I have enough Chili for 64+ meals for me, and will soon have Ham & Beans or Bean with Bacon (ahem! Ham!) soup for one meal and a couple small containers of ‘quick thaw and heat’ meal when I’m tired, sick and don’t feel like cooking….
I didn’t soak enough beans to account for the amount of broth I made
I ate some of the beans on the first day of simmering, they were ready and digestible, I just was working on other things – I grazed and had to ‘soak more’ this morning to make up for the ones I ate (and watered down the broth as it thickened/concentrated to, during the ‘grazing periods….)
Not pictured?? The sink full of dishes and 2 feet of counterspace holding dirty dishes from this week – it’s Friday – they’re soaking – I’ll do them tomorrow – 😀
You’re TIRED if you Read this Far, Right??
I get it – IT sounds like a LOT unless you just prep, prepare and look forward to in your schedule – Here’s my schedule of fixing this and what ALL ELSE I did while making this….
Tuesday Mid-Day- Set Beans to soak/put wild game in fridge to thaw –
Wednesday – Pulled out big crock, put beans in, frozen ham hocks & vinegar in, cranked on high until I smelled it cooking, then turned to low
Thursday – Had beans and some ham for breakfast & lunch, snacks as I got hungry, cuz busy day and no time to cook (I added some pepper and the beans were firm but enjoyable – they are, after all, from 2017 stocked goods -even when soaked…. )
This morning? Prepped the rest and now, yes, I have some dishes to do, but I won’t have to cook for the next 3 days other than fixing a salad to go with, or warming up a tortilla, or whipping up a quick batch of corn or millet muffins – 😀
During this week and this bounty just simmering along in Yum?
I also did the following:
Slept between 9 and 10 hours a night (I’ve just come down off of 3 months of go, go, go and some projects not complete yet, due to unexpecteds – I’m tired – I took a nap a couple of days this week, too, just because, I was falling asleep in front of my computer….)
Worked to earn my living in billable hours- 17 hours
Business admin/billing operations/client reports, help & training – 4 hours
Worked on my business operations to expand my offerings of aide & skills- 9 hours. (total of 30 hours for biz)
Volunteered hours to 2 local non profits providing skills/services/officer duties/reports – 4.75 hours
Worked through herbal learning courses lessons – 4 hours
NAILED my adjusted blended coffee/herbal blend of coffee-Finally! 1 hour after two weeks of tiny experiments in small percolator
NAILED an herbal infusion to mix in with my wine, instead of plain water-merlot wine mix (sigh – 15 minutes prep – 4 hours waiting for infusion, 3 times this week!)
Researched the herbs I have nailed for morning/afternoon beverages, regarding growing in my garden options – can’t grow all of them here, but most of them, I CAN!! – that journey took at least 5+ hours (I forgot to start/stop timer – )
Researched and ordered in new spices, after I learned more in Herbal Care Courses, that will never, ever, even with help/greenhouse, grow here….
Caught up on news and current events Through READING, exploring, talking with others – 6 hours
Election night/morning after monitoring (off and on for about 17 hours…Sigh!)
Time spent in social media, reading, writing, commenting, posting – 5 hours so far
Re-read three of my favorite books – 6-9 hours ( sometimes fall asleep while taking my mid-afternoon after lunch break – and don’t know when I quit reading – only that I awake to do more work, or more learning, or maybe? Some housework – – LOL)
Did weekly laundry load (um, I have a washer and line dry – 15 minutes?? maybe?? I work from home and ain’t toiling in the dirt just now – no sense washing outer clothing every day – )
Um, yeah – I still need to do my weekly dishes – with the extra cooking (and I don’t have a dishwasher), I have sink and tiny counter full of stuff to get washed and put away –
Why do I share this list?
Because, as you can see, while I LOVE good food, it’s also apparent, it’s not my top priority every day to actually FIX meals – for right then and one meal only –
Also, because for the most part, my tiny kitchen is full of long ago purchased and/or long ago gifted tiny appliances – I do not have a full sized oven, stovetop, etc.
My cooking area is smaller than some of my friends’ bathrooms are!
I just want to say – even with my lackadaisical schedule – feeding 1 and having leftovers OR feeding 6-9 with some thoughtful prep time, a nourishing, tasty meal that values resources well and takes advantage of pricey meat/good fats in small amounts, and full of lots of ‘more cost effective foods’ to keep a body going on lower budget?
It’s possible – it will be work – you’ll have to try and learn and tweak your operations, and work as you can to build out your pantry, as you go – the most recent thing in my list of ingredients at the beginning of this post?
The Venison –
Everything else I have had on hand since 2017-2020 – still good, still works, still satisfying, even the spices! (cool, dark, storage is the key!) and cost per serving is so much lower and wasted food is much lower too, when you can just use what you need to from bulk stores –
Oh – and….
I also updated my blog with a 1/4 of a Novella length (almost!) post – which makes up for not posting anything but quick posts for some time, right? Maybe? Perhaps you’re willing to overlook……???
Today & Tonight?
The Chili Crocks are less full – from taste testing/eating today… I might need to adjust the seasonings, ya know (nope, I didn’t have to – It’s YUM meld of flavors with just a slight warming, sinus clearing action but not set your mouth on fire! heat…)
The Ham Broth/some beans crock is more full tonight, than this morning, cuz the “oops! Didn’t soak enough beans!” realization of this morning, more soaked during the day, and plumped up beautifully and quickly once in warmer place…
Tomorrow? I might make some millet muffins (same recipe as your fave corn bread recipe, just use ground millet instead of corn meal) and have me some down home simple fare from the eastern Holler’s where my ancestors hail from…
Tonight? Tex Mex Chili with buttered tortilla(s) for final meal of the day – I’m peckish for my grains/carbs – LOL
Happy Friday and Happy Cooking!
And yes, a bloggy pal made & gifted to me the beautiful tiles I sat the soaking beans jar on and use as trivets for hot things, instead of using as spoon rests, as originally intended by the artist – see how pretty they are? And yup, I’ve dropped them on hard floor, quickly plopped down hot castiron skillets, pizza stones, broiler pans and stone crock inserts, on them to – they are just QUALITY made, and purdy to look at, too!
Um, yeah, can thin it down with more water/time as the chili concentrates flavors as it simmers – more chili for tomorrow & to freeze and just a tad too much salt for my taste, but edible….