Monthly Archives: April 2019

Memories exchanged over coffee

Another Tuesday, another gathering with friends at Sissy’s in Seymour for coffee.

You can never tell where the conversation will take us as we sip our coffee. This day the talk took a turn when someone mentioned Maplewood Meats would no longer be butchering. This brought on memories of early days when butchering on farms was common.

Bob’s Dad (Shorty), Uncle (Hippy) and Grandpa John Manzke
taking care of a farm raised hog-1950s Mokena, Illinois

I remembered visiting one of my mother’s friends when I was 5 or 6. I always loved going to that farm, except for this one particular day. When we walked into their farmhouse that day we found the whole family busily cutting up the carcass of a hog.

I wasn’t bothered seeing the pig being cut up for food, until I rounded the table. There next to the table leg was a basket. Inside the container was the whole head of the pig. Seeing it look up at me freaked me out. For the first time ever, I wanted to hurry our visit and head home.

Back in our own kitchen, we found Dad cooking supper for the family. He was a great cook, but to my chagrin, that day Dad had decided to make us pork chops.

I couldn’t eat a bite.

An extremely happy husband

Bob started out this year in bad shape because of his cancer. He needed a walker to get around, and sometimes that didn’t seem to be enough.

Today we celebrate a new Bob. After four months of treatments, Bob is getting around with a cane to steady himself and sometimes he even forgets the cane.

Our son, Russ, brought over a gift yesterday. He had built a frame for Bob’s zero-turn mower. Russ and Dave, Rachel’s husband, drilled some holes, did some grinding and attached his metal creation to the mower. When all was set in place, Bob walked over to the machine and climbed aboard, something he couldn’t do without a lot of help.

With the non-skid steps in place, Bob was able to grab hold of the upper bars and mount the mower. In no time, my husband was sitting in a place he had yearned to occupy ever since he got sick.

Bob turned the key (twice) and drove across our yard. There were tears in his eyes, which he tried to hide. The rest of our family who watched had tears too, but they didn’t try hiding those. Everyone had tears of joy, except me. My joy stayed deep in my heart where I cherished it.

Bob and Russ are all smiles.

Bob would be mowing today but he can’t. It’s raining. You can be sure he’ll be on his toy as soon as the lawn dries. My husband is ready for trouble. Thanks to our son, Russell.

Belated Easter egg hunt

Yesterday I posted my Easter soup recipe. Today we celebrated Easter with our family on the farm. It was the best day ever.

Weather reports said we’d be in the 40s, but we made it to 60 with sunshine and no wind. It couldn’t have been nicer.

The cousins had an egg hunt. Rebecca and cousin Serenity filled about 150 plastic eggs yesterday. No candy was involved but there were all kinds of tiny toys and money tucked in the eggs instead.

Harrison and Wyatt started the hunt with their usual flair.
The egg hunt was about to begin with
Arianna, Serenity, Eli, Seth
Harrison, Wyatt, Aryana, and Caleb
all ready to go.

The hunt was set around the whole farmyard. No eggs were in buildings. The race began and lasted longer than a few of our past hunts. Not all the eggs were found. There are a few somewhere in our yard left for Bob and me to find later, but that’s okay. No real eggs are out there to rot.

When I was a kid, my dad hid hardboiled eggs for our country neighborhood (mostly cousins and a couple of friends). One egg went in a hole but quickly slid out of sight. I’m sure a snake was surprised by that egg. We didn’t bother trying to retrieve it.

After the hunt this year, everyone returned to the house for a lunch consisting of Easter soup, sandwiches, fruit, cheese, and much more, but no candy. Everything was yummy.

Our day included a lot more, but I’m too tired after our long, exciting celebration to write more. Tomorrow I will tell you about Russ and his creation for Bob. This is my blog for today.

Family-size Easter Soup

Cold weather soup season will end with our annual pot of Easter Soup. I’m making it a week late because our family’s Easter dinner will be one week late–our children took time with in-laws on Easter day. This Sunday worked for everyone to come to the farm.

My Easter Soup originated with my mother’s mother. Grandma Jo made it for us each year. It revolves around Polish sausage. I like to use fresh sausage, yet our children prefer eating the smoked variety. These days, I add both to the pot.

First, fill a large stockpot two thirds with water; add three long length or more of fresh Polish sausage and three lengths or more of the smoked sausage. Throw in some carrots, celery (optional), and an onion–I don’t measure. You can leave these in large chunks. Some people remove the vegetables before serving; others eat them with their soup. It’s your choice. I happen to like the veggies. Salt and pepper to taste.

Next, add some garlic. I know there’s garlic in the sausage, but I like a bit more. Bring the heat up on the soup and let it simmer until all the meat is cooked and vegetables are tender, probably about an hour.

The next part is tricky. Take a pound of sour cream and put it in a mixing bowl. To that add a tablespoon of flour. Mix well so there are no lumps. Now add a little bit of the soup to the cream mixture. You add this slowly and mix well. If you add the sour cream mixture to the soup first, you’ll just have lumps floating about. We do not want that to happen. We’re trying to make a white soup stock.

Continue to slowly add soup to the sour cream, until it is more soup then cream. Finally, pour the thin mixture into the soup pot. The final ingredient is totally necessary even though it sounds strange. That ingredient is ground horseradish.

I put an 8-ounce jar of horseradish into the bowl I had used for mixing the sour cream. I then add soup back into it and maybe a bit more sour cream. After thinning it down I pour it into the pot and let everything simmer a bit more to combine all the flavors. Do not boil the soup.

To serve you first have to set up your bowl. In individual soup bowls put a chopped hard-boiled egg, slices of the Polish sausage from the soup and hunks of black bread (Pumpernickel). Finally add the soup stock, with or without the vegetables and enjoy.  For most of the Manzke’s Easter would not be Easter without a bowl of Grandma Jo’s Easter Soup. Others are not as enthusiastic, but we’re working on the newcomers so we can carry on this family tradition.

Egg, bread, and sausage is ready for a dipper of white soup….Enjoy

*Much of the text was written in a column I wrote in 2007 .

Trial and error

inked vase

I tried my hand at inking a vase. This is the first time I attempted doing anything with my inks besides plastic eggs.

I got the vase wet before I found out that it has to be sprayed with a sealer to keep the colors.

I should have taken a before-photo when it was white. The first photo here is before my wet hands touched it. The second is after I applied more ink to the white smudges I had inflicted on my creation.

Much of the first coloring came off on my wet hands. I should google ALL instructions and read through everything before leaping ahead. The colors are not fixed when first applied. They need to dry a day or two and then sprayed.

inked vase after correction

I know you might not see the difference, but I do.

I will work on another project soon and but first I will watch a few more instructional videos and not jump ahead.