Friday, January 30, 2015

When Bread Bags Weren't Funny

"When Bread Bags Weren't Funny" by Megan McArdle

I can't even BEGIN to tell you how encouraging it was to me to find this column today by Megan McArdle.  Titled "When Bread Bags Weren't Funny", it appeared on January 29, 2015 on Bloomberg View.

Much ado has been made about Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and her Republican response to the 2015 State of the Union address, in which she made mention of that fact that, having one good pair of shoes, her mother made her wear empty bread bags over those shoes to protect them from the rain and snow.  Once she boarded her school bus every morning, just about every other child on the bus was wearing bread bags over their shoes as well for the same purpose.

The insults and the ridicule have been fast and furious over this story (which, by the way, she also related in her victory speech last November 2014 upon winning a United States Senate seat from Iowa, the first woman in history to do so). People making fun of such a thing as if it never existed and the idea was preposterous.  Evidently, a Florida state officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) (which does NOT represent the woman writing this blog post) even saw fit to give a speech recently wearing--you guessed it--bread bags over her shoes.


Not very long ago in the United States of America, difficult lives were an everyday occurence.  The Great Depression forced Americans to make do or do without.  Money was scarce or not even available for things that we take for granted nowadays.  During WWII, people had to ration--gas, food, necessities.  Women gave up silk stockings in order for more parachutes to be made for soldiers fighting a world away.  Victory gardens in cities and in rural areas provided much needed food for families and neighbors alike.  Feed sacks were printed with designs and were turned into clothing items by resourceful women. Needs were the focus; wants were dreams.  That includes shoes.

These days, having as many pairs of shoes as possible is considered a hobby.  Back in those days, one good pair of shoes was a blessing.  If you had to go out on an inclement day, it was common sense to wear something to protect that one good pair of shoes.  Bread bags, being available, were put to wise reuse for this purpose.

Even in my younger days, and I was born in the early 1960's, I can remember wearing bread bags on the insides of my snow boots to help further insulate my feet from the snow and cold.  It worked, too. As an adult living on a farm, I wore plastic grocery bags to help me easily slip my feet out of mud boots when I was finished feeding pigs.

Please--ridicule me.  BRING IT ON. I have a whole lot to say to you.

We (and I mean people of this time) are WAY too spoiled and coddled.  We are so far removed from any situation where we might have desperately needed even little things that we have become indifferent and callous to any kind of hardship that our ancestors may have endured.  Common sense, too, seems to be a thing of the past.  I would put money against some people if they had to figure out how to reuse something in the case of an emergency.

More power to you, Senator Ernst, for putting a picture in people's minds of what used to be.  Even though they riducule you and insult you, the picture is there.  Whether they choose to educate themselves to not look quite so foolish is up to them.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Recipe--Banana Beignet Bites

This sounds like a good recipe for blizzard-y conditions such as the ones East Coasters will be facing for the next few days--so long as the power stays on! Drink a mug or two of hot coffee with these little treats, and I can imagine nothing better for being stuck in a snowstorm. Well, a beach in sunny Florida does come to mind, but...


Sugar Mixture
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

Beignet Mixture
2 C cake flour
3/4 C sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
1 egg
1 C mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1/2 C whole milk
2 T canola oil

Oil for deep frying

In small bowl, mix together sugars and cinnamon. In large bowl, whisk first five beignet ingredients. In a third bowl, whisk egg, bananas, milk, and 2 T oil until blended. Add to flour mixture; stir till just moistened.

In electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Drop tablespoonsfull of batter, a few at a time, into hot oil. Fry 45-60 seconds on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Roll in sugar mixture while warm.


Yield: about 3 dozen beignets

The Big Storm's a' Comin'...

"Ski Country" by Debbie Mumm

To all my friends living on the East Coast of the United States, stay safe and hunker down. Break out the board games, sip some hot chocolate, snuggle under your warm blankets. Gee, I almost wish I was there. ALMOST. I think I'll stay in Indiana and take my chances for the rest of the winter...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Too Darned Cute...

Oh, no, I'm afraid I'm going to have to add this one into my rotation pretty soon...

"Dear House" by Carriage House Samplings

Life Goes On, But...

My uncle, Dr. Hobart Jones, passed away on January 8, 2015 at the age of 93.

You know, when you are a young girl and you have three uncles on your Dad's side and seven uncles on your Mom's side, you don't ever think a time will come when you have one uncle left.

That time for me is now. My only surviving uncle is my Uncle John, who married my Mom's sister Mary.

Of course, no death is ever easy to deal with, especially the passing of someone you love. Age and the wisdom and experience that comes with it helps you deal constructively with the grief and pain. But it was very hard to say goodbye to my Uncle. The good memories flooded my mind during the memorial service, and the words spoken by the officiating pastors confirmed and reaffirmed my recollections and soothed my aching heart.

My late Uncle was an animal science professor for almost 40 years at Purdue University. He received his degrees at Purdue, Ohio State, and Kentucky. He was a nationally recognized expert in swine management, and worked with producers and industry professionals, young and old, across the nation in the swine industry. The affection and admiration that people had for him was demonstrated in the overwhelmingly large number of people that made their way to a northwestern Indiana church on a windy January day to pay their respects to someone that helped to formatively guide their lives.

A good thing that comes from the passing of a loved one is the fact that you get to see many of your relatives and people who played a role in shaping your life. It is an interesting experience to see how time has treated them.  Lots of gray hair now replaces the blonde, brown and red of younger years, and there are more than a few wrinkles on more than a few faces. But they are all to a person wonderful, and those people are yours, and it is a comforting feeling to catch up, to re-live, to begin where you had left off like no time had passed at all. It's a chance to revisit those no longer with us through their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews.

In a way, that was a wonderful last gift given to me by my Uncle--the chance to reconnect with the people who play roles in my history. The old adage that "nice guys finish last" was lovingly and firmly disproved on that day I said goodbye. There will be more passings, unfortunately, but that is the ultimate function of life and time. In the meantime, I fully intend to learn the lessons of maturity and share that knowledge at every opportunity I am given. I will grow my heart for the rest of my life.

You are home now, Uncle Hobart. Thank you.

If you are interested, you can view my Uncle's obituary here.