Day 20: Æthelflæd . . . was she ready?

Æthelflæd_as_depicted_in_the_cartulary_of_Abingdon_Abbey

Æthrlflæd

 

A thought crossed my mind today, as thoughts do; I was thinking about Christmas and the fact that I am not really ready. The name Æthelred the Unready was the first thought and then I wondered if there was a feminine version of the name, so I looked it up. Ms Google can be an obliging friend at times . . . But I have no idea if Ms Æthelflæd, who succeeded her husband, Æthelred the Unready, was also Unready. Perhaps she was not. She is a very interesting person, though, but I’ll leave it to you to look her up.

I also learned that, in fact, the epithet “Unready” actually meant ‘ill-advised’ and was a pun on his name, which means ‘well-advised’. I knew immediately that you would all be waiting with bated breath to learn these facts, so there they are . . .  Any idea why I am ‘unready’? And no pun intended or existent. Ah, well . . .

So I have spent much of today not preparing for the Day, but rather immersed in one of a series of mysteries, one with  descriptions so realistic that it is often depressing. But I have to know what happened next . . . I used to read non-stop, pretty much; more than a book a day for many years, and over the past months have read hardly anything. Until I discovered e-books, at which I once sneered, as I love the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands, the older the better; the smell, the look, the touch, it’s all part of reading for me. Sitting hunched over the laptop is not quite the same thing. Still, at least it’s reading. And I have also found out that Amazon has an amazing variety of free e-books for Kindle and an app that lets one read them on a smartphone or PC or laptop. When I found the Amazon books, I spent two days going through the first 400 pages (about a quarter of what’s available in only the section :Classics;) and downloading the books that I’d always meant to read, or re-read in many cases.

an-old-fashioned-girlEverything from ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ to Plato.  I  had forgotten what a natural appetite I have for reading and learning. But I haven’t touched any of those except ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl’ by Louisa May Alcott. The rest are waiting until next year. I’ll be sharing my resolutions and plans in a week or two.

In the meantime: I did no baking today, and no preparation of the various cookie doughs that need refrigeration overnight, either. And tomorrow Cousin M and I are going to town to shop. I want to buy some things for their stockings, so will have to give him the slip for a while.

I still have an email to finish composing for my winners (see yesterday’s post) and, of course, music to locate. The music takes me the longest, as I always find myself lured down memory lanes, roads not taken and just plain jaunts cross-country, musically  speaking. A close second to reading, is music . . .

For today, then:

A song that made me intensely homesick for BC all the years I was living in Edmonton: The Hills of Ardmorn by The Corries, whose music I loved long before I came across Runrig. Beautiful voices and harmonies.

kate and anna mcgarrigleCanadians Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends (Rufus Wainwright – son of Kate -, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Rod Paterson) perform Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More during the Transatlantic Sessions. (If you haven’t heard of the Transatlantic Sessions, do look them up.)

More of my favourite Christmas music: Pete Seeger’s Working Class Christmas Tunes. I like them all, but Ode to Joy on the 5-string banjo, with my favourite lyrics, is wonderful.

Off to write that email now. Much Love and Light to you all. ~ Linne

Apun my word . . .

An opun letter to all and pundry . . .

I have been increasingly concerned by our conservative government’s growing willingness to not only increase trade with the Chinese government, but to sell off bits of our country to them, with agreements heavily weighted in their favour.

I’m not so worried any more, now that I see how fragile China is, how much in need of protection, how vulnerable to those of us who revel in wordplay. I was not aware that the Chinese government is teetering on the brink of a linguistic cliff where any stray and subtle use of language may shove the whole artificial edifice over the brink.

Then I happunned upun Jon Stewart’s Daily show the other night . . .

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=MUeOIud0q-g

Learning that China is further into the ‘marijuana era’ than Colorado or Uruguay, I see there is hope for the future; a light at the end of the tunnel that is not a train headed our way . . . and I wonder what the punishment will be for those Bolshie enough to break the new law . . . forced to perform at an ‘opun mike night’? or will that be reserved for the elite among the pundits? Those jokers from Szechuan may be forced to eat only bland foods, with all the pungent spices banned from their kichens . . .

I wonder how businesses will deal with employees arriving at random times, now that punctiliousness is a thing of the past.

This law opuns many doors, doesn’t it?

So, as China enters the ‘Age of the Alpaca’, the rest of the world can relax and begin to plan more trips to the Far East. Me, Alpaca large book of puns . . .

Think I’m being self-indulgent and not that punny? Haven’t heard yet? . . . click here:

http://qz.com/304268/why-china-is-now-banning-puns/

or here (and choose from the links):

http://www.google.ca/search?q=puns+in+china&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

Perhaps, seeing smiles and hearing chuckles from around the world, the Chinese government will keep an opun mind and allow their entendres to continue to be double.

Well, that’s your homespun humour for the week . . .

a quick note and then the recipe for Feather Buns MMmmmmm . . .

Hello, my friends in  this Virtual Village . . . if you have emailed me and not seen a reply, don’t worry; I’ll be getting to them by later next week at the latest . . .

In the meantime: by popular request, here is the recipe for Feather Buns (and/or bread, of course). There’s nothing much more frugal and deliciously so, than baking your own bread. This is good enough to make me want an outdoor oven so I can enjoy it in summer, too . . . And if you have kids, let them help with the punching down (helps to oil the hands first, then make a fist and punch right in the middle. Great fun!). They can be given a bun-sized piece of dough to form, making a roll for themselves to enjoy later on. They might even want to shape one for Dad (or Mum) to have with their supper or tea. That’s how I learned . . . by the time I was making bread alone (about age 12), I’d been changing diapers for a couple of years, so I knew exactly what a baby’s bottom felt like. LOL That’s the best guide to achieving perfect texture and resiliency in bread dough. 😉

Our wee tins are a great size for a child to make a loaf of their own, too.

My older son was at a YMCA summer camp one year when he was about 10 years old and came back all enthused about having made bannock (a quickbread dough wrapped around green willow sticks and then baked over the coals from a campfire). So I asked if he’d like to learn to make bread. A hearty ‘yes!’, so I taught him, just as I was taught, and he made all our bread for a couple of years, ’til we moved back to the city.

I have this recipe courtesy of my friend Debbie (AKA Mrs. Crafty) and she got it from her mother, Shirley H., who passed away last year. (in case, like me, you put notes about provenance on your recipe cards for later when your memory is a bit sketchy) 🙂

I’ll put the ingredients at the end without the notes to make it easier to read. The notes on ingredients and procedure are mine, of course.

Feather Buns

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In a large heavy bowl (like our bread bowls, if possible, but use what you have) put

2 c. lukewarm water (I like to fill the bowl with hot water beforehand for a couple of minutes; it seems to help the yeast grow a bit quicker; especially if your room is a little cool.

add 4 tsp. sugar and mix,
then sprinkle 4 Tblsp. Yeast over it and let stand for 10 minutes.

Next, add:

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cup melted margarine (or use butter or your preferred oil)
3 eggs, beaten well

Mix thoroughly (I used our heavy wooden spoon for this).

Start adding 8 cups of flour (this recipe calls for white; I used about 4 cups whole wheat and the rest white, mostly ’cause I ran out of WW; if I’d had any wheat germ, I’d have thrown some of that in, too; ditto nutritional yeast. LOL);

Mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

Then: fold in flour until the dough isn’t sticky. If you’re a Mum, it should feel like a baby’s bottom. If you’re not, use your best judgement and imagination . . . 🙂  )

Cover (I used a teatowel wetted thoroughly with hot water, then wrung out. The extra warmth is good, and the steam keeps the top of the dough from getting ‘crusty’.

Let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Make sure your bowl is a large one, or else halve the recipe. Seriously . . .

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Punch the dough down and make loaves or buns (or both). Grease your pans before putting the dough in. I used margarine (cheaper than butter), but you can use oil or whatever works for you.

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When I made this, I had a dozen good-sized buns, three large loaves and two tiny ones which could have made an extra large loaf. I was guided by how many bread pans we have and also what would fit in the oven in two loads.

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Let rise in pans ’til double and then bake at 375° F (about 190.5° C) ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

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As mine wouldn’t all fit in the oven at once, I turned the oven on low just before I punched down the dough in the bowl. I put the buns (in our large rectangular casserole dish) and the two tiny loaves into the warmed oven to rise as above (I’d turned off the oven, of course, once it was warm, but not hot). I left the three large loaves on the counter where it was cooler and covered them with the teatowel, this time wetted with cold water and wrung out. This was to slow the rising of the second lot.

IMG_5826 IMG_5835

Once the first batch were done, they were left on a rack to rest for a minute and the second lot were popped in to bake. Then I greased the tops of the first set with Mum’s pastry brush and margarine (again, use what you like or even leave plain for a crustier finish), then turned them out to cool.

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When the second lot were baked, same thing: let rest a few minutes, then butter (or oil) and turn out of the pan to cool. If you leave them in the pans, they tend to ‘sweat’ a bit and this can lead to them moulding earlier than usual. Not nice . . .

IMG_5836

Ok, here’s the straight ingredient list, in order of adding:

2 cups lukewarm water
4 tsp. sugar
4 Tblsp. yeast
Let sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should be foamy)

________________

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cups melted margarine
3 eggs, well beaten

Mix thoroughly, then add:

___________________________

8 cups flour. Mix well, then
add more flour to make a non-sticky dough.
Cover and let rise to double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F or 190° C.

Grease pans.
Punch down dough.
Form rolls and/or loaves.
Let rise in pans.

Bake  ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

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Make your favourite hot drink. Tea is especially nice with this, though.

Ignore the old wives’ tales about not eating hot bread (designed to keep kids out of the fresh bread so there would be some for dinner 😉  ); punch a hole in the side of a bun or slice off a good bit of heel from one of the loaves. Slather with butter and then home-made jam (store-bought if you must . . .).

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Enjoy.  I insist!  🙂

And here’s a great bolshie song by a wonderful bolshie song-writer and singer, Malvina Reynolds. Have a listen while you enjoy the fruits of your labours . . . I don’t think Malvina wrote this one, though. That’s Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger on Pete’s tv show, ‘Rainbow Quest’ singing and playing along with her . . .

The Little Red Hen

So you thought we were ‘nice’ in Canada . . .

I just found this and thought all of you small homesteaders should know, even though the articles are over a year old. I am horrified that this would happen anywhere, but also ashamed that it happened here. I thought we were ‘nice’, too . . .

http://shropshiresheep.org/media/

“Farmed and Dangerous”, indeed . . . If this can happen in one country, it can happen in any country. Be prepared!

Water Purification

Watching the news from the Phillipines these past few days caused mt to start thinking about water and how vital it is in challenging situations.

There is an interesting article here:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/diy-ceramic-water-filters-zwfz1207zmat.aspx#axzz2hSec8CSz

and there’s a YouTube video here:

I’m thinking this would be a good priority for anyone. Safe water can be very hard to come by in city or country after natural disasters of many sorts.

Potters Without Borders is a great site, too. Check them out here:

http://www.potterswithoutborders.com/2012/11/efficient-ceramic-water-filter/

My initial Google search (to save you time):

http://www.google.ca/search?q=making+a+ceramic+water+filter&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

Hope you find some of this helpful at some time. ~ Linne

Sorry, no photos; I’m using my phone for this one.

While you are waiting . . .

Those of you in the southern hemisphere will not thank me for this, but the rest of you  might . . . google “Slow TV Norway” and then follow up a few of the links.

***just saw your comment, Wendy; here is the search I meant, click on this and a list of links will show up***  😦  sadly, the live streaming seems not to be working; I hope they will upload some of that soon; it looked awesome, what I managed to see of it . . .

http://www.google.ca/search?q=slow+tv+norway+knitting&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

YouTube programs; check out the fjord cruise link; Mum and I caught part of it when it aired. Loved it! http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=slow%20tv%20norway&oq=slow%20tv%20norway&gs_l=youtube.3..0.1979.3524.0.3908.7.2.0.5.5.0.98.195.2.2.0…0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.nApq_4OOpu8

This is a different knitting link, showing silently how to do what I’ve been doing; knit with two colours, one yarn in each hand:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsP63A_nsfw&list=PLF53158006B91FAE8

This is the BEST ‘fad’ ever and I hope it lasts! and spreads to Canada, at least! Just what I’ve been wanting . . . I’m not saying anything more, as I have a lot to do and as usual have left it for late in the day. We have plumbers coming anytime after eight tomorrow morning to replace all the water valves, so two bathrooms and the kitchen. I have yet to move stuff so they can do what’s needed. And tomorrow evening I’m back downstairs with my Aunty, so I’ll have to tidy up before that. I hope they don’t come at eight, but that’s the most likely, as we are on the top floor of the building.

I owe you all a post and have photos for one, but it’s not written yet. I’ve been very slack of late, haven’t I? But there is a silver lining and light in the tunnel (better not be a train, I tell you!) and I’ll have to share that soon.

Funny how the universe seems to send what I need just when I need it; this time it was a new edition of an old favourite book (although I say favourite with some reservations lol) But that’s for next time . . .

In the meantime, those of you with time to have a quick peep at some of those google search results are welcome to share your thoughts . . . The knitting event was on our news here last night, which led me to look it up. I haven’t had time to do much viewing, but it’s on the menu now . . .

Have a great week, everyone. Back soon, I think.

Oh, that title was meant to mean ‘while you are waiting for me to write a proper post’; not that I imagine for one minute that any of you have so little going on that you are simply sitting and waiting . . . but, just in case, do check out that search, ok? If you only have time to check out one link, I highly recommend the ‘knitting’ one.  🙂

Feta Cheese – it’s easy to make it yourself . . .

After reading about Rabid Little Hippy’s goat coming home and then rabid herself going to a workshop on cheese-making http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/life-is-good/, I was delighted to find this post on the ‘Mortgage Free in Three’ blog: http://mortgagefreeinthree.com/2013/06/homemade-feta-cheese/ Good pictures and clear instructions.

Then I looked up my favourite bought feta (was called Dofo, but they were bought out by someone else; the cheese seems the same now, which is good news for me); sorry, I do digress, don’t I  😉

Anyway, I found this: http://gourmet.lovetoknow.com/Difference_Between_Feta_Cheese_and_Goat_Cheese

where they say that technically, feta is made from at least 70% sheep’s milk and up to, but not exceeding, 30% goat’s milk. I doubt there’s a lot of sheep’s milk around, but I bet if you used 70% goat’s milk and up to 30% cow’s milk, you’d get a tasty cheese. Worth trying, I’d say.

The word for Wednesday was . . .

. . . waste

I’ve been lazy/busy and so this word should really be for the week, not for Wednesday. Oh, well, I hope you all forgive me . . . (note: there are other thoughts in here besides strictly waste-related ones . . . those darn ‘blades of grass’ . . .)

What sparked this word was this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/05/wasting-food-stealing-poor-pope

I very much agree with the Pope on this and am thrilled that he is calling for global financial reform and other positive changes. This is very good news, if it is followed up by action.

I see waste so often; at work it was amazing. I got in trouble for suggesting that if people weren’t going to eat their ‘dated’ yogourt, etc., that they let me know and I would see it got to someone who would use it. I worked in the natural and organic food business some years ago and I know that food does not become inedible the minute the ‘due date’ arrives. I always check, of course, because sometimes even food with ‘time left’ has gone bad early.

Another way of not wasting food is to use leftovers to make frittatas, soups, stews, shepherds’ pies, and much more. I have always saved all the bones from chicken or turkey and used them to make stock. The hard part here is having so little storage room; a freezer would help a lot.

Small amounts of vegetables can be blended with liquid and used for making breads. I see that Dempster’s  now has a Veggie Bread that claims to provide half a serving of veg in every two slices. But I could do that for less . . .

Many large businesses here, especially retailers, do not recycle paper (no time, they say). The condo building (recently converted from apartments) that we live in only started providing re-cycle bins in the past year. Before that I would put Mum’s and my recycling items into blue bags; when I had two or three ready, I would call friends to pick them up. We would put them in the garbage collection area back of their house. I first began recycling long ago, when we had to separate everything (cans, glass jars, paper, etc.), then take it to a recycling centre and put each type into a separate collection box. At one time, when it first began, you had to pay for the privilege, too.

When I lived in Chilliwack, BC, there was a group called ‘The Gleaners’; they would come pick up any garden produce that you couldn’t use yourself. They came for the extra zucchini that I grew in the backyard. Not much of my garden did well, but I didn’t have much time for it, either.

I was not happy when I found out that untouched food in restaurants cannot be given to a local food bank; it’s a ‘health risk’. Apparently, throwing it in the dumpster, then letting homeless people dig through for whatever they can salvage is not a health risk . . .

For myself, I finish what’s on my plate (early training, along with ‘don’t take more than you can eat, come back for seconds if necessary’) or else I take the leftovers home for the next day. When I had a compost pile, anything I didn’t want to eat the next day went there to be recycled.

I don’t throw out my clothes, either. I mend if needed and I re-use the fabrics once they are past wearing. When I lived in the country, old clothes became what we wore for outdoor work. My grandmothers made quilts out of old clothing; none of what we do now (buying new fabric, cutting it up small, then sewing it back together). The art quilts are fantastic, and I plan to make some myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also make recycled quilts. My grandmothers often used old woolen things, like coats, for filling the quilt. Makes for heavy covers, but on an icy winter night, that’s often a good thing.

Instead of buying plastic ‘toys’ for kids, which often do nothing but clutter up the house and look ugly, we bought books and project kits or supplies (mostly supplies) for our own and other people’s kids. The books are often from the second-hand book store. My theory is that everything’s ‘used’ after you’ve had it for a couple of hours, so why the big deal? And my Mum often remarked that when we were toddlers, we were just as happy with a couple of pot lids to bang together and a cardboard box to climb in and out of, as with a new toy. Mum was good at helping us create fun from very little. By the time I was 9 or 10, she showed us how to tie a piece of string on one end of a long branch (about a foot back from the end, and the branch usually had no twigs or leaves; maybe a small bunch at the far end). We would straddle these ‘horses’ and gallop happily through the woods, across the meadows, down the driveway and back, making loud neighing sounds the whole way. (or we’d be cowboys . . .)

We made our own music and played board games of various sorts. All of us read a LOT!! As did my own two. And we mostly did things together, not each off in a separate room. Sundays we often went for a drive (cars were still a big deal then and no-one had thought about pollution or peak oil), sometimes to go fishing, more often to visit a favourite uncle and aunt, who had a son just younger than I was. Sometimes it was just a drive, off the main highways, with a stop at a lake to swim or an icecream and pop treat (those were fairly rare, even at 5 cents a cone for a single, 10 cents for a double scoop and 10 cents for the bottle of pop, it was still pricey for a family with nine kids).

We used to sing in the car. My Dad had a great voice and at home he played the guitar as well as singing, alone or with us joining in. We later had a small chord organ and all of us taught ourselves to play. Dad would accompany us while we sang.

We went to the drive-in to watch a movie most weekends when Dad was home. Mum popped popcorn and we ate it out of shared brown grocery bags. For a drink, we each got a glass of ‘Freshie’, which was the Canadian original to ‘Kool-Aid’. It was on the market from the 50s to the early 80s. Nowadays, I’d find something healthier to take along.

Friends of mine, whose three children lived at home back then, took their kids to the thrift stores every week or two. They would donate any clothes they had outgrown or gotten tired of, then were allowed to buy ‘new’ things to replace them. The littlest girl just loved it! I remember when she found a cute tulle tutu and wore it over everything; long skirts, jeans, pajamas; for weeks, it was her one constant garment. The parents bought nearly all their clothing at the thrift store, too. I’m quite tall, and in later years put on some extra pounds, so I’ve always had difficulty finding things that fit and looked ok on me. But that was true in the retail stores as well as the thrift stores. I’m not a fashionista, but I don’t care to look as though I thought the feed sack would do, either. My solution was teaching myself to sew. I hand-stitched (no electricity, then, by choice) so much of my clothing. I love long skirts and dresses, so that was the bulk of it. I still have those things, too . . . I saved money buying T-shirts and jeans in the mens’ departments. The sizing offers more choices (ladies’ pants just got wider but not longer, so I always looked as though I’d grown out of my things; and the blouses end a couple of inches north of my wrist; a look that only appeals if I was going for the ‘orphan Annie’ or ‘Little MatchGirl’ look . . . ) Sizing is a little better these days, but it’s still hard for me to find clothes I like that also fit.

I know some people are making ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn) by cutting plastic bags into long strips and using that for knitting or crocheting things like boot mats for outside the front door. Others are re-cycling old T-shirts into ‘Tarn’, using the same process. There’s not end to human creativity; and now we can share what we know and learn from others, too.

I’ve been lucky, I think. I never had the ‘new’ bug that so many people have. I like to get things the way I like them and then leave them that way. Occasionally, I might move some furniture to make room for a new ‘find’ or to accomodate a new hobby. The benefit to leaving things where they ‘belong’ is not tripping over them when you get up in the night.

I’ve been very happy salvaging from what others have thrown out, or intended to throw out. I have a few books from the late 1800s that I found in a house I was hired to clean out after the renters fled, leaving a few things behind. Three of them are music books with embossing and gilt lettering on the covers. One features English music, another Scottish Music and the third is all songs by the Irish composer Thomas Moore, who wrote “The Minstrel Boy”, still one of my favourites and it still makes me cry. Speaking of waste . . .

It’s not that hard to cut down on waste, at home, work or in public. And we can all put the pressure on companies to do more, and do it better, when it comes to re-cycling.

If you have a minute (and aren’t too busy un-wasting something LOL), share your favourite way to not waste or anything your community is doing to effect positive change in this area.

Water . . . who owns it? You may be surprised . . .

So here’s another scary link:

http://worldtruth.tv/collecting-rainwater-now-illegal-in-many-states-as-big-government-claims-ownership-over-our-water/

I’m feeling more and more that we all need to stand together, in our own communities, but also across the globe. Sociopaths (and that’s what they are, so far as I can see) must not be allowed to run the world. You might as well hand a five year old a loaded gun and let them run your home . . . oh, wait . . . that’s been done, hasn’t it?

A happier post later, I promise . . .