August 2021

~~ a calendar quindecim

by tkbrown

Cooking, Canning, and Freezing

Summer gardens: a season to reason
all the unlimited health benefits
of choosing this fruit--or maybe that one.
Some folk are 'hip' to the pre-prepped meal kits.
Me? I like fresh, homecooked recipes best--
to mingle flavors of  fresh fruit salad
top with cream, a drop of honey--let rest,
then serve and enjoy, jolting those taste buds
with a pleasure never known anywhere
except right here in the heart of my home.
Creating recipes for health to share
with those stopping by while out on a 'roam.'
Improving my health is ever the goal,
the purpose of chosen nutrient' role
while pouring enrichment upon my soul.

The freezing, the canning, the cooking too
pleasantly providing a stock of food--
colorful and tasty in varied hue--
antioxidants known to boost the mood.
Fruit butters, jams, preserves, and pie filling
in pretty jars with labels to be viewed--
just the item for homemaker billing--
show the little lady to be quite shrewd.
Pickled okra, beans, cucumbers, and spiced pears
give 'tang' to salads, make sandwiches sing,
sauté corn, sprouts, and asparagus spears
can 'grace' any table with special zing.
Fritters of fruit and vegetables too,
multigrain breads of the homemade venue--
stretching the budget with flavor to view.

The bliss of fruit butter or jam on bread
makes breaking the fast such a special fare,
casts festive glow upon a morning spread,
can be a unique gift to those held dear.
Frozen peppers, tomatoes, onions, herbs,
and mushrooms forging umami cuisine,
making taste buds sing: "oooh, la, la--superb,
this is far better than e'er has been seen."
Foods out of season cancel-out cravings,
providing nutrition throughout the year
to meet needs and curb unhealthy ravings
and fuel 'a body' in active gear.
Eating colors of the rainbow each day
can rev your system and reduce the fray--
reducing medical costs 'down the way.'

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Photo Above: by Nadine Primeau @Unsplash.com.

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July 2021

~~ a calendar quindecim

by tkbrown

The Heat of July

July arrives with a sweltering heat,
bringing depressions, storms, torrential rains
to southern states--historical repeat
of bygone seasons with their hurricanes.
The Pacific northwest with record highs
installs rolling outages in Spokane;
while California's veins are parched and dry,
volcanic lava is Hawaii's bane.
Will the northeastern states escape the wrath
being spewed midst July's incoming days,
or will birds there need water in each bath
just to survive heated summertime rays?
We can hope the burn of the scorching sun
by end of month will be seen on the run
as the virus and it leave room for fun.

The new virus variant taking hold
is putting a chill on planned summer fun.
The worldwide spike is becoming quite bold
but not cooling us down via "chill" pun.
The play on words is easier to take
than the virus or heat of July days
typically graced with vacation break
which may slip past us due to viral frays.
While choosing to break with normal routine,
keep a thought to health for others and you;
use sense and caution, keep enjoyment clean
to prevent a new surge when summer's through.
Don't forget the healthy ways you have learned,
practice safe sunning so you don't get burned,
and you'll enjoy home more when you've returned.

Predictions border on dire once again
from many health pros for the months ahead.
Each new variant sets off a new spin
as the vaccines work to capture the spread.
As return to work seeks to create new norms
of work from home and higher rates of pay
we will surely see new variant swarms
in spite of cares we take along the way.
With schools restarting in-person classes,
students will be busy with music, sports,
and studies galore requiring passes
for halls and busses engaged for transports.
Don't store safety precautions on a shelf,
actions are not protected by an elf
negating practicing safety yourself.

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Photo Above:

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Summer 2021

~~ a seasonal quindecim

by tkbrown
Summer, in all its splendor, ushered in--
crowning the longest day just 'ere mid-year--
with promises to warm the soul within
and the body without as days grow shorter
bit by bit with warmer days yet to be.
Gardens are bursting with good food to eat
fresh--raw or cooked, flavors only set free
when plucked from the stalk in the summer heat
of early morn--cooled by lingering night.
Refreshing dips in a freshwater pool
during the heat of day are such delight
to the body, render balm to the soul.
Memories built with family and friends
o'er barbeque or picnic fare attends
to those leaving as summers fun time ends.

The longer days and shorter nights will blend
some of the best daytime activities
to be carried in thought as life doth send
loved ones to local schools or overseas,
beginning new chapters in books mostly
yet to be written as steps lead away
from home fires. Embracing new life boldly,
with surety closely akin to the sway
of limbs on a tree waving in the breeze--
ruminations of failure never piqued
by fear, remorse, or guilt provoking pleas
through rife cajoling whether squawked or shrieked.
Emboldened by new friends in new places
standing out 'midst a sea of new faces
where past life is leaving no bold traces.

Graduations, weddings and moving top
summer lists for vacation reflection.
Those completed, checked-of, doing the flip
as packing moves to a higher section
amid lives taking a new direction.
Not seeing the void in lives of others
who must now find some substitute function
to insert where newly loosened tethers
flutter freely, blown hither and thither,
refashioning purpose at each new whim--
until satisfied with some new dither
utilizing free flowing excess vim.
Activities of summer dawn an ardor
determined by planned point of departure
and designed to nurture exit fervor.

~~~~~~~~~~

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My Morning Do . . . Down on the Farm — I

~~ by tkbrown

19 November 2020 — From time to time, I begin to think anew upon the days when I was young, the things I did, the things I learned–things most folk today would have no idea how to do. I am thankful for those days, and I have fond memories of the learning, the doing, and the being a part of . . . whatever process was taking place.

I grew up on a farm in the middle of Brown Hollow in the heart of the Ozark Mountains–Southen Missouri, USA. We worked eighty acres–the back forty belonged to us, and the front forty belonged to my uncle. My uncle’s forty acres had an old clapboard house that served as our home. Life was not easy on the farm. We grew most of our food, herded cattle, sheep, a pig sty, rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, guineas–you name it, we probably had it at some point in time–not really, but it often seemed to be the case.

Each summer, we grew a ten-acre garden and a small (probably an acre or so) kitchen garden right behind the house. Five acres of the main garden were dedicated to vegetables of various sorts. Each year, this section included some new vegetable. My Mama loved trying new vegetables–most often chosen from the Henry Fields Seed Catalog, the Burpee Seed Catalog, or from a brother or some neighbor’s son who were selling seeds as an FFA Project (Future Farmers of America). Through her venturesome nature I got my first exposure to Kohlrabi, Rutabagas, Peanuts, Beets, and learned of the many and varied types of tomatoes, green beans, etc. When it came time to plant or hoe, those rows seemed to never end. The remaining five acres were planted in corn and potatoes. The corn was mainly used to feed the stock during the colder months, but part of it was put into the freezer or canned to be eaten with family meals.

The potatoes were one of our staples. Our evening meals almost always consisted of cornbread and potatoes along with other filling, stick-to-the-ribs type foods–i.e., beans of some sort. The potatoes were typically boiled–with or without the jackets (peels)–mashed, fried, or creamed. We never had fancy food, but what we had was prepared and served with love. Since I was the seventh of nine living children, we all pitched-in and helped cook and clean up afterward. Teaching us how to cook took much of Mama’s time, but she made it seem like we were learning on our own–I still have not figured out how she did that.

My earliest memories of cooking began around the age of four. We had an old round oak, pedestal table where Mama did most of her biscuit making, and other baking preparations. When family would come from out of state or out of county, they always asked for her hand-slung biscuits. Each was about three inches in diameter and about three inches high. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, she would cook twelve biscuits–four rows of three. Mama was famous for her biscuits.

We had an old empty lard can big enough to hold about forty to fifty pounds of flour. With nine people to feed, that did not last long. Many breakfasts boasted Mama’s biscuits with eggs or gravy–or both. During the winter, we usually ate oatmeal with those biscuits.

When seh was prepping food to cook, I would sit on the lard can–which also served as my seat at the dinner table–and watch her prepare those biscuits. She would let me dip the flour out of the can for her to sift, and as I learned the process, I was allowed to sift too. When she made short-bread or cornbread, I could help stir. I have no doubt this was the beginning of me loving to cook. As I was learning to cook, I took the experience outside and blended it into playtime by making mudpies and all sorts of goodies to be served to a make-believe family at a make-believe table. As I grew older, instead of mudpies, I made cakes, pies, cookies, coffee cakes, etc. which were eaten at my real-family mealtime. I became known in the community for my cakes. There were those who would make a special trip to get a piece of cake if they knew I was baking. This was quite a feat in a rural community with very few telephones. This says even people from the community encouraged skills which were above average. Cooking has been a hobby of mine since that time.

I remember when I was four years old, we were preparing for an especially difficult winter when the money was tight. Daddy went to the old smokehouse and brought-out an old, old, hand-grinder for corn and other grains. We used it to grind corn for cornmeal. The grind was very coarse, more like grits than cornmeal, but it worked. It was an interesting learning experience for a four or five year old.

The old smokehouse was built using 1/2 inch x four- or five-inch boards about seven feet long. These were nailed side by side onto the frame. The roof was aluminum colored tin sheets nailed to the trusses which were cross braced with 2 x 4s cut to fit. The wood was very porous from age and weathered to a gun-metal gray. When Daddy was a child (during the early twentieth century), the old smokehouse was truly used as intended–to smoke meats. It was one room with a flue in the roof which allowed the smoke to escape. I seem to remember, when I was very young, the door was attached with straps of leather. At some time during my early years, those straps were replaced with long, angled, black-looking steel hinges attached to the outside. During my childhood, the old smokehouse served as a storage shed for tools and other items that were beloved but no longer used. This is also where we kept the gardening tools–i.e., hoes, rakes, spades, picks, shovels, etc. Gardening was hard work, but the fresh produce was wonderful. I loved it.

The eggs we had for breakfast were most often laid by hens on the farm. They were grain fed, free range. We found laying nests in some of the strangest places, and the eggs were delicious. Sometimes, they were quite large. Once in a while, we would get one that had two yolks, These were typically a bit larger than the regular fare. When there was an excess of eggs, Mama would break enough for a meal of scrambled eggs into a plastic freezer container and freeze them. In wintertime, when the hens were not laying many eggs due to the cold, we would use those eggs–usually on the weekend.

Mama and Daddy would purchase two or three flats of baby chickens each year. We would tend to them as they grew. When they were about six weeks old, they were good to eat as fryers. We would kill, pluck, clean, cut and freeze enough to last most of the summer. During the fall, we would repeat the process with older hens and roosters which were used for chicken soups, chicken and dumplings, and fried chicken during the colder months.

We had a small herd of beef cattle and a small herd of milking cows. Daddy and my brothers would milk the cows each morning and night. We took out what we needed for the family, and the rest was stored in ten gallon cans which were kept in a cooling tank. The milkman would come twice a week, pick up what we had in the cooler and leave the empty cans for more milk. The cream on this milk ranged from an inch and a half thick on top of the milk to three inches thick. We skimmed most of the cream off to make hand churned butter. We often kept a gallon or two in the freezer. When Mama made grape dumplings in the winter months (using the half-gallon jars of grape pulp she had canned the previous summer), this frozen cream was scooped out and served atop the dumplings. Mmmmmm!!! This was some good eatin’ on a cold winter night.

There is so much more I could tell, but this gives a general synopsis of life “Down on the Farm” when I was young.

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Photo Above: by Gabriel Jiminez @ Unsplash.com.

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Calendar Quindecims July

by tkbrown
Summer heat melts most ev'ry day
and seems to give erotic sway
as opportunity surmounts
all thought in those special moments
of delightful, hot arousal.
Then, sudden, shrill silence doth stall
as the heat sets in, shimmering
the sky, passersby in faux bling
seem to be seeking summer breeze
that pushes out upon the seas.
'Twas lost upon the desert sands
drifting in from faraway lands.
The virus again takes a toll
amongst reveling protestor's roll
and partygoers on a stroll.

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Image Above: Fourth of July Fireworks @depositphotos.com/vector-images/
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Calendar Quindecims – September 2019

by tkbrown

~~~~~~~~~~

September
The waning days of September
bring memories from days of yore,
of growing-up, learning the ways
employed by those living before.
Comforts not thought to be quite new
by those who enjoy them today —
were considered luxury then
and wood heaters merely cliche.
Summer ends with fall equinox,
cooler nights bring welcome relief,
people start thinking to months ahead
when holidays will seem too brief.
Time will become holiday blur
as days and nights begin to whirr —
and suddenly appears New Year.

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo above:
Fall Foliage Homestead -- by Matthew Pla @ Unsplash.com.

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Summer into Fall . . . a haiku by tkbrown

Summer’s hottest days

are the ones toward its end —

and then, fall begins.

Just some thoughts on 9/11 – Eighteen years ago today – the day known as 911 – the people of this country united as one against ‘the enemy’. Patriotism was at a pinnacle for a long time after that day. Now, patriotism is viewed as ‘far right’. This view is so far left that it does not even recognize itself.

When the best thing that can be said denigrates another, that is not patriotism – it is denigration. I would like to see some more of that patriotism that was so strong after 9/11. I hope it does not take another attack on our country to bring it back.

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