Saturday, October 31, 2009


Hallie reported that Nick spent last Sunday perfecting his chili recipe. On Monday, he won the chili contest at work. Hallie said the $50.00 gift certificate paid for the chili ingredients. (Hallie -- who thinks so much like Mike.) Anyway, Nick sent us the recipe and said that we could share it.


½ lb. thick-cut bacon (cut into 1" pieces)

1 large white onion (chopped)

4-5 Jalapeno peppers (sliced)

5-6 large garlic cloves (minced)

2 ½-3 lbs. cubed beef (chuck or "stew meat")

1 can (15 oz.) – tomato sauce

1 can (15 oz.) – pork 'n beans

1 can (15 oz.) – pinto beans (drained)

1 can (15 oz.) – light or dark red kidney beans (drained)

3 tbsp. chili powder (Gebhardt's is good)

½ to 1 ½ tsp. Cayenne powder or red pepper flakes

1 tsp. Mexican oregano

1 tsp. cumin

2 tbsp. spicy brown mustard

Black pepper to taste


Cook bacon in large stock pot. Remove bacon and set aside. Leave grease in pot. Add onion and jalapeno to bacon grease and sauté for a few minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking mixture until onions are nearly translucent. Add meat and cook until brown. Once the meat has thoroughly cooked, drain excess fat. Add remaining ingredients (saving 1 tbsp. chile powder and 1 cup chicken broth for later) and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours. Add remaining chile powder and additional chicken broth as needed to achieve desired consistency and simmer an additional 1-2 hours until meat is tender.

Apparently there was a joke between Hallie and Nick as to whether or not he omitted a key ingredient from the list. Well, that's an old joke, you know. "Back in the day," when housewives depended upon one another for new recipes, the accusation that something was left out was common. Suppose you asked Mrs. Jones for her wonderful devil's food cake recipe. She might prefer not to share it, and instead of answering honestly she might answer vaguely and never give it to you, or she might give you the recipe with a key ingredient missing or an incorrect amount. When you tried the recipe, it just wasn't the same as hers. You would then wonder if she deliberately sabotaged the recipe so that she would be the only one who could make it or if she made an honest mistake in writing it out. Or – maybe you just weren't as good a cook as she. Anyway, we don't struggle so much with this issue any more. It's all online anyway. Unless Mrs. Jones develops original recipes in her own kitchen, you can find it online.

We're having chili for supper tonight, but not Lucifer's Limited Liability. I eat chili sparingly and keep it mild. Instead, we'll use pheasant meat, home-grown tomatoes, a can of kidney beans, and McCormick's seasoning mix. I'll serve it with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and blue corn chips – all low fat. I'll make pumpkin pie for dessert with a recipe I found at The King Arthur Flour Company website. There will be no trick-or-treaters in this place. But – we might watch an old horror movie or two – unless we're watching football. KW

Thursday, October 29, 2009


ISSUES COOK BOOK (from the Clearwater Tribune of Friday, December 8, 1933)

"The Dorcas Circle of the local Christian church has issued 100 copies of a special cook book, or book of recipes for special culinary items. The book is of the loose-leaf type and contains in the neighborhood of 80 recipes, each one of which was furnished by an Orofino housewife and bears her name at the bottom. Each recipe is for a special dish considered to be par excellence. There are 40 pages in the book, including title page and index. They will be sold at 75 cents each and most of them had been sold in advance. Mrs. C. O. Portfors, to whom the books were delivered, asks that those who have signified a desire for one of the books to call and get them. She has done considerable work and of course spent considerable time in connection with getting them out and feels proud of the result. The Tribune did the printing."

It's just a little black leather loose leaf "Snap-It" memo notebook – the kind a man might have carried in his shirt pocket. I found it in a box of clippings and recipe booklets that had been stored in the basement of my mother's house. I didn't recall having seen it before. It didn't look like a treasure, but the yellowed pages said differently. A title page announced "The Dorcas Circle Cook Book, Orofino, Idaho, 1933," and it was recognizable at once as a group fundraising cook book. Flipping through the pages, I saw many familiar names – women who were of mature years when I was a child in the '50s – Oud, Tucker, Kimball, Stalnaker, Wunderlich, Soderberg, Merrill, etc. Both my mother (Mrs. Dorothy Walrath) and my grandmother (Mrs. C.O. Portfors, mentioned in the news clipping above) had contributed recipes. Beyond that, the booklet included blank pages where my mother had pasted some clipped recipes. Her copy also included some lined pages on which she had written a number of recipes by hand. It was surely one of Mother's first efforts to organize the recipes that caught her attention. Quite a treasure indeed!

So – I knew about the Dorcas Circle Cook Book. And then, to my utter delight, I chanced to come across the clipping quoted above which provided more information. I was transcribing some letters written by my great-Aunt Bertha. Now Bertha, my dad's aunt and Grandma Ina's sister, lived on a farm above Orofino, while my mother's family were "town folk" in the same era. Of course, the "hometown weekly" newspaper, the Clearwater Tribune, served the general area, and Bertha was responsible to submit the Gilbert farm community "news items" (gossip). She would then clip the Gilbert column from the paper and enclose it in her letters to her sisters in Drain, Oregon. Eventually a second cousin sent eight of Aunt Bertha's 1930's-era letters to me with enclosures intact, and on the backside of a clipping, I found the above item about the Dorcas Circle Cook Book. Well, the little cookbook just seemed to come to life when I read that clipping.

Yes, I will share some of those vintage recipes with you from time to time. KW

[The photo is of my mother and her first husband, Fairly Walrath, at the time of their engagement, December 1928.]

Monday, October 26, 2009


A while back Kathy noticed a noise coming from the front of the Dakota. It was out of my hearing range so I wasn’t aware of it. I had Paul Wright listen to it and he thought it was the take-up pulley on the serpentine belt. Finally it got loud enough that I could hear it but I couldn’t tell exactly from where it was coming although it sounded like it was lower than the pulley. After driving it a bit more I decided I would take it down to Kendall’s to let them diagnose it before ordering a pulley I might not need. No sooner had I stopped at Kendall’s than the question was settled as evidenced by the puddle of coolant on the asphalt. I’ve changed water pumps before and it’s no fun so I scheduled an appointment for them to do it in a couple of days.

After thinking about it for a day I thought, “You know, I’d better see just how much that’s going to cost”. So I went back down to get a firm estimate and to my amazement it was about $500. That included a new serpentine belt because I figured it was about time for a new one before that one stranded me some place. I called Hanson’s Garage in Orofino and got a more reasonable estimate but by this time it was leaking so badly that I knew I’d never make it to Orofino. So … that left Mickey the Mechanic.

I got the parts from Napa which were considerable less expensive than Mopar stuff. Unless you have an electric fan, they are attached to the water pump. The first problem I encountered was that the Dakota has a clutch fan that is designed to freewheel at higher speeds. It’s attached to the water pump pulley with a big nut. Although the pump instructions mentioned that some vehicles might have a clutch fan it didn’t address that situation and the shaft appeared to be flush with the end of the pulley with nothing to screw the nut onto. I called the Lewiston Napa store where I had purchased the parts and told the counterman my problem. He told me there was another pump for that application and he didn’t have one but the Clarkston store did. So I took the pump down to the Clarkston store to exchange it only to find out that it really was the right pump but you had to remove a rubber cover to expose the threads. Of course the instructions failed to mention this.

The next problem was getting the 1 ¼ inch nut loose. Since the serpentine belt system was the only resistance, the only way I could get the nut loose was to cause impact by striking it with a big hammer. As you can see by the picture I followed the shade tree mechanic’s creed: “Problem? Get a bigger hammer”. And, by the way, the Napa clerk told me that the pump had left hand threads. After more than a few unsuccessful strikes I checked the new pump and found that they were not left hand threads. So I had been tightening it all along. At any rate, I eventually got the nut loose and the fan removed.

The water pump has seven bolts. Six of them are no problem. The problem bolt is situated so that a socket will not fit straight on it. As I did not have the required 14 mm box end wrench, I called it a day and went over to Schucks’s the next day to get a wrench. By removing an idler pulley and another bolt that was in the way I was able to get the last nut out with my new wrench.

The next monumental problem was replacing a small manifold bypass hose that the Service Manager at Hanson’s had recommended that I replace while replacing the pump. In order to replace this little six inch long hose you have to remove a large platform bracket attached to the front of the engine on which the alternator and air conditioner compressor are mounted. After getting the platform bracket loose I found I couldn’t move it very far because of all the electrical and refrigerant hoses attached. Finally I was able to move it just far enough to get to the top hose clamp by rigging up a crowbar to hold it in place so as to free my hands to get the clamp off. Of course, after removing the clamp the hose was heat glued to the mount so I had to work a knife in the small space to cut the hose loose.

Before replacing the new pump you must remove the gasket remains on the front of the engine. I had a good scraper but the material was attached so well I had to make another trip to Napa to get a can of gasket remover. It seemed like I worked about an hour getting the gasket surface clean – not counting the trip to town.

Remarkably, things went pretty well reassembling things except for one maddening circumstance – I had one bolt left over. When I took things apart I had marked all the bolts except for this one which I had set on top of the pulley I had to remove in order to get the seventh bolt out of the water pump. This was ruining my whole day. It was time to quit anyway so there was nothing else to do. Finally, just before bedtime I remembered that one bolt I had had to remove along with the pulley to get the seventh water pump bolt out. I went right out in my pajamas, removed and replaced the pulley again after replacing the bolt.

I finished getting things back together the next morning and so far so good. If you think this sounds like a lot of grief and pain, you’re right. Of course, I’m used to that (The Warnock slogan is “Nothing is ever easy”) and I do have about $350 more in my pocket. I didn’t forget to hit the Easy Button when I finished either.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


My mother mentioned to me once or twice that she had clipped a recipe that involved wrapping a sweet potato roll in ground beef. She had never tried the recipe, she said, but she wanted to. Who knows why she didn't try it. Perhaps she lost track of the recipe, or maybe trying such a recipe just didn't fit her routine. But I came across the recipe again last week, and since I found myself with sweet potatoes I need to bake and plenty of ground meat in the freezer, I decided to give it a try.

The recipe calls for two cups of mashed sweet potatoes, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 2 tbsp butter, and 3 tbsp milk. I can tell you now it's too much salt. Just ½ tsp would be enough, I think. After mashing the sweet potatoes, I used my mixer to blend the ingredients. I found it fairly easy to make the sweet potato roll, which I wrapped in waxed paper and put in the refrigerator.

I then took a pound of ground meat and mixed with one egg and a teaspoon of dried minced onion. Sensing I had used too much salt in the sweet potatoes, I cut back the salt in the meat to ½ tsp. Since I was using a pound instead of 1 ½ pounds of ground meat, I didn't have enough meat to wrap over the ends. It worked out okay anyway. I removed it from the oven after 30 minutes at 350, but Mike and I agreed it wasn't done. So I turned the heat to 375 and baked for another 15 minutes.

Now that I've tried the recipe, I wouldn't hesitate to do so again. I'd cut way back on the salt and maybe even dress up the meat with more onion and barbecue sauce.

Having served a meal built around sweet potato, I wouldn't normally choose to make a pumpkin dessert, but I had a cup of canned pumpkin that needed to be used, so I made a pumpkin ice cream dessert. I mixed the pumpkin with sugar and spices and then blended it with softened vanilla ice cream. Next I poured the pumpkin ice cream mixture over gingersnap crumbs and put it in the freezer. Or, you could just soften some pumpkin ice cream and pour it over a bed of gingersnap crumbs. Or – you could just eat your pumpkin ice cream with a gingersnap. Just depends on how much you want to fuss. KW

Friday, October 23, 2009


Earlier this year, Hallie asked if I would share on the blog some of her Grandma Dobson's (my mother's) recipes. I admit to being stumped at first. Since I hadn't eaten regular meals in my parents' home for 40 years, I had to give it some thought and the process has been fun.

Anyway, in the same timeframe as Hallie's request, Murray asked for my recipe for mustard green beans, and I responded that I knew there had been a recipe in my family, but I had never seen it. I simply put some margarine and a little mustard on the beans. But -- as I was researching recently with Aunt Bertha's letters as my guide, I came up with my mother's recipe for "Green Beans Piquant." She had written it by hand in the back of a little group cookbook dated 1933.

Cream 4 tbsp butter with 1 tsp prepared mustard, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, cayenne. Serve on 4 cups hot green beans.

On a daily basis, you might not prepare 4 cups of green beans, but based on the amount of beans you cook, this should give you a guide for other ingredients using a dash of this and a splash of that. After all, you want your beans to be "piquant" and not overpowered by the strong mustard and Worcestershire flavors.

It's raining here at the farm, but my spirits are undaunted. We'll go back to town today. Tomorrow pheasant season opens in Washington State, so Mike and Ken have hunting plans. Then Sunday Mike will tackle the Dakota's water pump. KW

Thursday, October 22, 2009


"Where do you and Mike live now?" asked an acquaintance I hadn't seen in years.

"We live an unenviable lifestyle," I replied. "We try to keep two places." And I explained to her about the farm (the old family home place) and the modular home in town.

"Oh, no, that's all right," she said. "I know exactly what you're talking about. My parents did it for years between the house in town and the home place near Genesee. But –" she paused, "it's always at the other place. No matter what you need, it's always at the other place." We laughed. So true.

Here are pictures of today's tramp at the homestead. Same place – different views. The time between harvest and seeding (late summer / early fall) is really a window of opportunity to walk the fields. Once the fields are plowed, it's not so easy to hike around -- sometimes ever impossible.

If you look carefully in the photo to the left, you can see Nellie "working the field." For some reason I couldn't bring myself to crop this photo. The low, wispy clouds sit above the Clearwater River. And the photo on the right shows Central Ridge between Big and Little Canyons framed by the crisscrossing topography of the farm fields.

And this last photo I took "in the forenoon," as my dad would say. Somewhere out there Farmer Kyle is still working at his seeding. I could hear him but couldn't see him. KW

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Despite a rather spectacular sunrise, it's a dreary day here at the farm – overcast, no sun. Lentil chili made with fresh tomatoes simmers in the old avocado green crock pot, filling the house with an autumnal aroma. I can see Farmer Kyle going back and forth, seeding the Miller field to the north. I've opened my last box of "Gingerbread Spice" herbal tea leftover from last year. Time to find some more.

Most everything I like to do involves sitting – computer, sewing, crocheting, reading, etc. -- and I know that's not good on a 16-hour basis, so when Mike and Nellie announced they were going hunting this morning, I trudged along behind – for the exercise and to get out of the house. We saw two coveys of huns – all members of which are still flying. Mike says they're "wild."

Here in northern Idaho, tourists don't seek us out for spectacular fall color the way they do New England or the Ozarks, for instance, but we do have autumn beauty here and already spectacular views will take on autumn hues when the leaves change color. Although some of nature's colors are showing, this is not the most beautiful fall on record owing to the regional cold snap we experienced ten days ago or so. Temperatures were not just freezing but well-below, and because the leaves hadn't really begun the process of turning yet, some simply froze on the tree and turned brittle or black. That's the lay person's observation. Your tree professional could probably shed more light on the subject. The photo to the left is our big poplar tree in town with gray, dry leaves. The leaves of the old pear tree behind the farmhouse are blackened.

The photo to the left is of my pretty garden chrysanthemum before the freeze. The same plant now sits burned by the frost. You can see how devastating the cold was to fall gardens. Aunt Chris said that Uncle Dan saved the last picking of beans by covering them every night during the cold spell.

Not much has been going on, but -- Oh! I have to tell you about the Dakota. A weird high-pitched whirring sound was coming from under the hood. Mike was blissfully unaware, but I could hear it. Now that we listen to "Car Talk," he tried to get me to mimic the sound. "Come on!" he said; "you can do it. What does it sound like?" Sorry – I'm no good at that. But I did tell him I thought it sounded abnormal and should have attention. We stopped to see Mike's Mopar rebuilding buddy who thought it was a faulty pulley. Before delving into the work of replacing the pulley himself, Mike decided to confirm with a mechanic at the dealership who told him it was the water pump, and by that time, it was leaking. Mike was going to have the mechanic do the work – until he was provided an estimate that included $250 labor. The work might have been done for $100 less in Orofino, but by that time Mike was afraid to drive it that 50 miles or so. So – we came to the farm in the Magnum and when we go back to town this weekend, Mike is going to replace the water pump himself. Should be fun! Stay tuned. . .

Our last stay in town lasted more than a week. We cleaned the garage, then defrosted and inventoried the freezer, and last Friday we drove to Orofino to pick up our deer meat from the meat packer. It was not great creative time, though I did sign up for a machine embroidery class listed for November 2. I hope that will get me started with my new embroidery module. KW

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I admit it! I'm an internet newsletter junkie. If some corporation or organization has a newsletter or regular online updates and the topic is of interest to me, sure – I'll sign up. So, I get lots of email. I can usually tell at a glance if I'm interested. It seems manageable.

Just the other day, I received an update from the good folks at Bisquick with a featured recipe – "monkey bread." My curiosity was piqued at once. "It's Grandma Ina's bread!" I exclaimed to myself. Remember last month when my half-brother, Chuck, reminisced about the delicious cinnamon bread that Ina baked in a casserole dish? And I mentioned that my dad had tried to duplicate that bread without success? I hadn't been able to find a recipe anything like it – until that newsletter from Bisquick.

So I did a little research. "Monkey bread," also called Hungarian coffee cake, golden crown, pinch me cake, or bubble loaf, first appeared in American women's magazines and community cookbooks in the 1950s. Well, so, maybe monkey bread isn't exactly what Grandma Ina made – but since I'll probably never know her secret, I decided to have a bit of fun with this recipe. Instead of using the time-saving Bisquick recipe, however, I chose to return to a yeast dough.

As Mike left the house to hunt this morning, I pulled the bread machine out and chose a recipe for rich sweet dough. Yes, I know – Ina didn't have a bread machine, but I am not a practiced maker of breads. So I had the bread machine make the dough for me while I went shopping. The bread was ready when I got home.

I turned it out on a floured cloth and pinched off pieces that I rolled into little balls. One by one I dipped the balls into real melted butter, rolled them in cinnamon sugar, and layered them in a well-buttered casserole dish, sprinkling a few raisins as I went along. I placed the monkey bread into a warm oven to rise, then baked it at 375 for 35 minutes. I can post pictures, but I can't send you the wonderful aroma of baking cinnamon bread or the sound of the vintage Christmas music playing in the background.

The monkey bread was just coming out of the oven as Mike arrived home. We ate a little lunch while the bread cooled, then began to pull off and devour pieces of the warm cinnamon bread. It was "Christmas morning" good. It's a bit embarrassing to admit we ate fully half of it before we made ourselves quit.

"This is the best thing you've made in years!" exclaimed Mike.

"You make it sound like I'm not a good cook," I replied.

"And that's not the case, so that tells you something," was Mike's comeback. Yes, it tells me that real egg and real butter make a real difference in the final product.

So -- was it Ina's bread? My guess -- darned close. I suspect she didn't make the little balls, but she probably swirled cinnamon and sugar through the dough as she finished her kneading. KW

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Wash pans and kettles immediately after use.

Wipe the range well after cooking a meal.

The temperature of the over can be lowered by placing in it a basin of cold water.

Turpentine is better than water for making stove polish.

Anything made with sugar, milk , and eggs should not be allowed to reach the boiling point.

Molasses to be used for gingerbread is greatly improved by being first boiled, then skimmed.

Blankets and furs put away well sprinkled with borax and done up air-tight will not be troubled by moths.

Macaroni should be used more than it is; it is a very good substitute for potatoes when that vegetable is scarce and high. Many physicians object strongly to the use of old potatoes after they have begun to sprout, and on their own tables use macaroni instead. The simple ways of preparing it are very generally known.

Flour cannot be too cold for pastry, cookies or kindred doughs, while for yeast bread it should be warm enough to favor the growth of the yeast plant. For the same reason warm water should be used with yeast, while with cream of tartar and soda it would hasten the escape of the gas, and cold liquids only are allowable.

It is said if one awakes in the night as hopelessly wide awake as if galvanized or electrified with vital activity, an unfailing remedy is a glass of hot – not warm – water. It can be heated over a gas jet, or over a spirit lamp and sipped while almost at boiling heat, and one who tries it will find himself or herself going to sleep like an infant, and getting, too, the most peaceful and restful sleep imaginable.

From the Home Comfort Range Cook Book

[Tea Party -- c. 1910. My dad's sister, Ethel, pours. Daddy is on the right.]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


"I know! Let's pretend we're hunting," said Nellie as we began our walk. "I'll be your hunting dog, and you be the hunter. It's okay that you don't have a gun. We're just pretending anyway."

"Okay," I agreed, "but you'll have to tell me what to do."

"Don't I always?" she retorted.

Down the lane we went, Nellie quite a bit ahead of me. She checked for apples under the old apple trees, then hurried on her way, stopping once or twice to make sure I was coming along. When I finally caught up to her, she was on point at the Plank homestead. The house was torn down long ago, but the driveway, the big tree, the rose and lilac bushes clearly identify the site. Nellie has been standing on point for some minutes, waiting for me. She didn't move a muscle but rolled her eyes in my direction. "I've been waiting for you," she said quietly, barely above a whisper. "Come up by me." I complied.

As I cautiously approached her, Nellie suddenly moved into the bushes and began to sniff around. Round and round the bushes she went but nothing flushed. "This can't be," she muttered to herself. "I know I smelled something in here." Ignoring me, she dropped to her haunches and moved along the ground, sniffing fervently. "It just has to be here," she muttered again. Dropping closer to the ground, she crept along, nose to the ground, sniffing all the while she moved up the driveway.

Suddenly a lone hun (Hungarian partridge) got up and flew off. Nellie ran off after it, as if that would do any good. Mike would call her back, but today Nellie is "calling the shots."

We finished our "pretend hunt" without any other clear finds, but Nellie kept looking.

The barn is always a good place to hunt.

And that's the way it goes with the fall walks -- if you're Nellie and Kathy. KW

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We had a fine crop of green tomatoes in the town garden this year, so I decided it was time to make another batch of green tomato mincemeat. I've been doing so on an occasional basis since Mike and I were married.

I started this morning by straightening the kitchen and organizing the ingredients. I chopped the tomatoes and apples with my old Sunbeam Kitchen Center. Then I mixed all the ingredients together in my largest stock pot – almost not big enough.

This is what the mixture looked like as it began to simmer.

And this is what it looked like after simmering 1 ½ hours.

I put up 4 ½ quarts of green tomato mincemeat. I probably wouldn't bother just for myself, but Mike also likes mincemeat. And it beats trying to ripen the tomatoes by wrapping them in newspaper. I've never been successful at that. Over the weekend I also made two more batches of elderberry jelly, zucchini bars, and zucchini banana bread. KW

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Brrrrr! It turned cold last night. Our low here was 23. It was so cold that the wall heaters in the master bedroom and bathroom came on automatically. It was so cold that I covered my neck with a shawl -- a cold-weather trick I picked up from my little Hallie. (Tonight I will wear warmer pjs.) The coyotes howled, the wind shrieked, and I was awake a long time. (Our high today was 49 at 3:30.)

Despite a night that wasn't exactly comfortable, we had a productive day. Mike got his deer this morning and we were both relieved. Once you go to the expense for the license and tag, you feel obligated to keep hunting till you get one. And in this place, the earlier the better. With continued cool weather and changing conditions, such as plowed fields, the deer will disappear into the canyon.

I also tramped behind Mike and Nellie as they hunted birds, both today and yesterday. The fields are steep but I make myself go with them because I love the views and I need the exercise. I carry the camera and do shooting of another sort. Mike has lamented that his shooting has been off lately -- says he feels about his shooting like I do about my sewing -- something you love to do but it just doesn't go right. Well, you just have to keep doing it then, I told him, reassuring myself as much as him.

Mike and I were discussing the fact that one is bound by state game laws even when hunting on one's own property. I remember when I asked my dad about that. Yes, he told me, the game laws apply even on private land, and then with a chuckle he recounted a time when they were having out-of-season pheasant for supper, and the game warden (Harry Walrath at that time) ambled up and requested dinner. They had to quickly alter the menu and kill one of Ina's "egg-money" chickens.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


It wasn't so long ago that Wal-Mart came to this community – maybe 15 years ago? They built a store on the top of Thain Grade in Lewiston. Everyone complained about that store – that it was crowded, wasn't clean, had narrow aisles, and the lines at check-out were long, but as near as I could see, it was well-visited. I joked that going to Wal-Mart was what people here did for entertainment, and to a certain extent, I think that was true. Then Wal-Mart, "in its infinite wisdom," as they say, decided to abandon that building and build a big new Super Wal-Mart across the river in Clarkston, Washington. If you can by-pass the fact that the community didn't need another empty, non-descript building, it's perhaps not such a bad thing to have a mart in Clarkston. For one thing, outside of a couple of hardware stores, one major grocery store, Costco, a Dollar Tree, and a few specialty shops, shopping in Clarkston has been limited and expensive – in other words, no marts for the masses.

Yesterday I decided to familiarize myself with Wal-Mart's new store and do my grocery shopping there. I went alone because I wanted to take my time. My first negative experience happened as I drove there. I got caught in the middle of an intersection. I stopped at the red light and when it changed, I assumed it was safe to follow the car ahead of me. But no – there's a 4-way stop not half a block away. A right turn takes you into Costco near the gas station while left is Wal-Mart's main entrance, and there's no left-turn bay. There's enough traffic coming straight to bog down those left turns and back up traffic at the light. (Welcome to Lewis-Clark Valley traffic.) Once I parked at Wal-Mart, I looked around for a better way out than the way I came in, but I didn't see one.

Walking into the store, I immediately had "déjà vu." Where am I? – Boise? Denver? Nope, this is the new Wal-Mart in my community – spacious and somehow uninviting (perhaps just unfamiliar). I don't know why I felt rather unwelcome. Perhaps it was because the door greeter was not yet on duty. I grabbed a cart and began my tour with the non-grocery side of the store. I was really just walking the aisles, but I found plastic juice boxes for my Mickey. He lost his and they have proved elusive in recent years, so I tossed two into my cart. I was saddened by the lack of sewing notions and yarn, since that was useful to me. I understand Wal-Mart no longer carries these things nationwide, which means the interests of some of us are not being well-served. I noticed a half dozen male associates in the tire department who seemed to have nothing better to do than stand behind the counter and watch me. Creepy! I was glad to turn the corner and head the other way. Apparently the tire department has not yet caught on.

Other shoppers seemed to be mainly elderly and parents with very young children – and that makes sense since it was Wednesday morning. After gaining an understanding of the floor plan (yeah – right), I headed to the grocery department. I was amazed by the prices – bananas, $.47/lb.; apples, $.56/lb.; milk, $1.45/gal. I haven't seen prices that low in years. I was enticed to buy – and buy I did. I was a little disappointed by a lack of variety, but I also wonder if the store has yet to hit its stride. The whole store seemed a little sparse.

The biggest complaint I have is that it must have taken 15 minutes to check out, and it wasn't service with a smile – no "how are you today?" and "did you find everything?" I don't really care, but at other stores I do have my favorite checkers where I enjoy a friendly word or two. (Maybe they should grab a couple of those guys from the tire department and put them at the front check-out . . .)

"Wow!" said Mike when I told him about the price of milk. "Yes, but it's not a place where you'd drop in just to pick up a gallon of milk or something you need," I explained to him. "You have to walk too far – both outside and inside – and then it takes too long to check out." Would I shop there again? Probably – but it won't be my first choice, and I'll be choosy about the time of day. KW

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


is always in demand at every social function. Many women are naturally beautiful but are handicapped in their appearance by others who are tastily decorated with becoming jewelry. A little money spent with us for an appropriate ring, necklace, earrings, etc., makes a judicious investment. We always have the new things and our prices are not high. Glad to show you what we have, anyway.

JAEGER BROS., Jewelers and Opticians
200 Morrison Street, near Fifth
(Portland, OR)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I was looking at one of Grandma Ina's cookbooks last night – The Portland Ideal Cook Book, compiled by the ladies of the Geo. Wright Woman's Relief Corps, Portland, Oregon, 1905. I can tell this "softbound" book was one of Ina's favorites because of its worn condition. It fell apart and she (or someone) sewed it together – perhaps several times -- and some pages are splattered with food substances. It's one of those fundraiser-type cookbooks wherein the members donate one or two tried-and-true recipes. We all know about such cookbooks or perhaps have one or two or six on the cookbook shelf. I just didn't know organizations had been using this format for – well, over one hundred years.

Anyway, Ina made good use of this cookbook. Every other page has ads – probably meaningless to Ina -- so she covered those advertising pages with recipes and such items of interest as she liked, clipped from newspapers. I think it's kind of ingenious and proves that in any age the management of information one desires to keep on hand calls for inspiration. At any rate, I enjoy reading it for its out-of-date methods and recommendations, whether printed in the book or saved by Grandma Ina.

The ads are fun, too, and the following seemed especially a propos since Hallie has shared with me some of her trials in changing her name and marital status.


This Bank is calculated to be of

special convenience to the women;

a place where they can come and

FEEL AT HOME. We welcome

small transactions, and gladly

explain matters of business when-

ever called upon to do so.



Saturday, October 3, 2009


Have you ever had a recipe you used over and over with unfailing results? And suddenly one day you go to make that recipe – whatever it is – and it just won't work for you? Perhaps it's over-confidence, perhaps it's subtle changes in ingredients. Whatever – it's baffling. This year's elderberry jelly has been like that for me.

Murray left a comment on the last elderberry post: "I read that 100% cane sugar is important - no Idaho beet sugar. Also boiling time." I'm not so old but what I can still find someone old enough to have been my mother, so I asked my oldest sister, who was a country housewife for 50+ years, if she could confirm that cane sugar should be used in jelly making. She said she believed she had known that at one time because she has always insisted on C&H brand sugar. Okay, I admit it. I have been buying store brand sugar and I guess it caught up to me. Mike and I have always believed that the grocery store is not the place to scrimp, but I have been experimenting a bit with store brands.

"So you don't have any elderberry jelly?" Clinton asked as he was getting ready to leave. "Elisha likes it." So I gave him a jar of last year's batch and explained that I have not given up on this year's product. Then I decided that this would be the day I would make another batch. I came prepared with a bag of cane sugar and a sack-ful of Gala apples. First I cooked the apples (2.5 pounds of apples cooked with 2.5 cups of water) and strained the juice. Apple juice mellows the flavor of the elderberry and provides natural pectin. I decided to go with Sure-Jell brand pectin, and I increased the juice to 3.75 cups as recommended by one online expert. (Remember, both Sure-Jell and MCP have dropped elderberry from their recipe lists in the last couple of years.) I used 2.5 cups of pre-processed elderberry juice to 1.25 cups of my processed apple juice.

According to recommended procedure, I stirred the powdered pectin into the juice (including ¼ cup lemon juice) and stirred this mixture constantly over high heat (except for when I took this picture of a rolling boil). I had pre-measured the cane sugar and poured it all at once into the hot liquid. The difference between the cane sugar and the previous failed mixtures was visible at once. The cane sugar dissolved immediately and the syrup appeared silky smooth as opposed to grainy and globular. I kept stirring over high heat until the rolling boil was reached. Whereas previously I had questioned when the mixture came to a rolling boil, there was no question about that rolling boil with the cane sugar. It actually foamed up in the pot. I boiled for one minute per Sure-Jell instructions.

The jars and lids were ready and I filled them immediately with the hot liquid. The jars have now sealed and are sitting on the counter for 24 hours.

Well, I figure if cane sugar is best for my jelly it's probably best for anything I make. From now on, this "Mrs. Retro Housewife" will insist on brand name cane sugar for the visibly superior final product.

Oh – any suggestions for using up three batches of gooey jelly? I already tried re-cooking – it didn't improve the product. KW

Thursday, October 1, 2009



That stone jars for bread and cake boxes should be scalded twice a week in summer weather, sunning, if possible, to keep mold from gathering.

That an infant's clothing should always be so arranged as to allow the limbs freedom of motion, and not to compress any portion of the baby.

That a pint of berries or peaches cut fine added to a quart of ordinary ice cream while in the process of freezing makes a delicious fruit ice cream.

That pickles should be well salted in strong brine or they will be tasteless and insipid. Better too much than too little salt, as they can be freshened in weak vinegar.

That potash put down the drain-pipes will prevent a plumber's bill.

That wash-boilers when a little rusty may be cleaned with sweet milk.

That benzene rubbed on the edges of carpet is a sure preventive of moths.

That in cooking string beans, peas and spinach a grating of nutmeg much improves their flavor.

That to remove peach stains soak in milk for forty-eight hours, or rub with lemon juice and salt.

That if a sprig of pasley dipped in vinegar is eaten after an onion no unpleasant odor from the breath can be detected.