Peanut Butter Bread

Remember how good peanut butter sandwiches used to taste, or still do in some of our cases. Have you ever wondered if anyone has come up with a way of having that goodness without the mess of smearing the peanut butter between two slices of bread, or on one slice if it’s an open-faced sandwich? Well, wonder no more. Here’s a recipe for peanut butter bread.

2 c flour
4 tsp baking-powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1 c milk
2/3 c peanut butter

After sifting the flour, measure and sift with the baking-powder and salt. Add the peanut butter and sugar, working the peanut butter into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers. Add the milk and mix lightly but thoroughly. Pour into a well-greased (or use cooking spray) baking pan. Bake at 420 degrees F. about 30 to 35 minutes.

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Yes, Sir

One can tell Catfish was brought up by parents who believed in proper manners. I admire his “sir” and “ma’am” when talking with other people. The other afternoon, his “Ma’am?” to the Pickle Queen when he didn’t hear what she had said, reminded me of the PQ trying to instill this into one of our sons.

I don’t remember which son it was, but when he was about a three-year-old, he had been told several times to get ready for bed. The last time the PQ told him, she was very insistent. His response was, “Yes, sir!”

Correcting him, PQ said, “You would say ‘Yes, sir,’ to a man. I am a lady, and you would say, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ to a lady.”

Being a preschool teacher, she quizzed him on this lesson by asking, “What would you say to Daddy?”

“Yes, sir!” came the reply.

“Then what would you say to Mama?” the PQ continued.

“Yes, Ma’am!” he proudly answered.

“Good job!” replied the PQ. “Now what would you say to Grandma?”

He lit up and said, “Can I have a cookie?”

I don’t think he got the point.

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An Erector Set

We’ve been in a multitude of antique shops in the past couple of years and in around 50 percent of them there was at least one Erector set for sale. There were sets all the way from the very basic set up to ride on sets. The biggest set we’ve seen must have been 3 feet long, 18 inches wide and a foot in height. The price tag was somewhere between a thousand and fifteen hundred dollars. Way out of my league, but it, along with the other sets, brought back memories.

Somewhere in our basement, in one of the many unpacked boxes, is my Erector Set. What boy growing up in the midwest in the 50’s didn’t want an Erector Set from A.C. Gilbert. Metal beams filled with holes for assembly with nuts and bolts, along with pulleys, gears, wheels and a small electric motor was all we could dream about months before Christmas ever came. The year I thought sure I was going to get my Erector Set from Santa, I got a steel scoop shovel. How the heck was I going to build a model of something, take it apart, and build something else with a scoop shovel? That year I couldn’t, but the next year I could.

Erector had become a generic trademark for construction toys of all brands. Now they have Meccano sets. The trademark for Erector was sold to Meccano and in 2015 the Erector brand was relaunched under Meccano. I understand that there are now sets for adults as well as for boys and girls of all ages.

I had the opportunity to put together a project from an adult Erector set this past week. Catfish had bought a Multipurpose Workbench With Lighting and Outlet for Gator Babe to use for her sketching and painting projects. The company from which he purchased this ‘erection set’  is opening a new store every 3 days somewhere in the United States. There lines of tools include, Central Pneumatic, Pittsburg, Chicago Electric, Predator and others. They have advertisement in 99% of  any magazine you may pick up. These ads include coupons for 20% off any one item and choice of a “free” item. But, I digress. Catfish knew that the workbench needed to be assembled, and being a good neighbor, I agreed to do the assembling.

When Catfish opened the door to his basement and seen that I had opened the box and had parts (including at least a dozen little plastic bags of nuts, washers and bolts) strewn all over the floor, he stared in amazement and told me I didn’t have to put the bench together if I didn’t want to. I felt up to a challenge and told him I wanted to continue.

We decided that to be kind to our backs, we’d try to use his workbench as much as possible. It turned out that it was a good place for the instruction booklet to lay and serve as a place to spread out the nuts and bolts. After opening the instruction sheets and seeing that there were more pages of safety precaution in use of the bench than there were assembly instructions, I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew.

While I was off fetching the first two parts, Catfish was busy opening the dozen or so bags of hardware. He was keeping them in neat little piles, but was failing to keep the plastic bags with the part numbers with the piles. Turns out it didn’t make a nickles worth of difference. As I said before, the safety precautions outnumbered the assembly instructions. Besides only 3 pages of very poor schematics, there was no indication as to which bag of hardware went where. But what guy pays attention to instructions and schematics anyway?

After 2 sessions with about 8 person hours of assembly, this erection project was completed. No left over parts, but we did have 1 nut, 1 bolt and 1 washer, none of which fit together, left after all this fun. As I told Catfish, “The second one would go together a lot faster.”

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Pa Won’t Like It

Growing up in the good ‘ole days had its drawbacks. My Granddad, born in the late 1890’s on a small farm in Indiana, had this happen to him one Sunday morning.

On the way to church that morning, he accidentally tipped over his wagon. A neighboring farmer, also on his way to church, heard the commotion and pulled up nearby.

“Hey, hop in with us,” he said. “I’ll help you get the wagon up after church.”

“That’s mighty neighborly of you,” Granddad answered, “but I don’t think Pa would like me to.”

“Come on,” the neighbor insisted, “If you don’t hurry, we’ll be late for the service!”

“Well, okay,” Granddad finally agreed. “But Pa won’t like it.”

After church, Granddad thanked his neighbor for the help. “I’m glad we got to church on time,” he said, “but I know Pa is going to be real upset.”

“Oh, he’ll be fine,” the neighbor said with a smile. “By the way, where is he?”

“Under the wagon,” Granddad replied.”

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House Plants For Your Health

In my many years of teaching agriculture, crop production was one of the subjects/topics I taught at not only the high school and post secondary levels but also in my Veteran’s Farm Management and Adult Farm Management classes. I could write the following two formulas from memory then as I can now.

  • C6H12O6 + 6O2 –> 6CO2+ 6H2O + ATP(energy)
  • 6CO2 + 6H2O in the presence of sunlight & chlorophyl –> C6H12O6 + 6O2

The 1st is the formula for respiration and the 2nd, the formula for photosynthesis. One of the things I mentioned while discussing respiration was that “back in the old days” they would take the flowers a patient received while in the hospital, out of the room at night. They were under the opinion that the CO2 (carbon dioxide) given off at night was enough to hinder the recuperation of the patients. They later realized that there was not enough CO2 given off, so they let the flowers stay beyond visiting hours! They were onto something though. Instead of looking at the negative side of plants and flowers, they should have been looking at the positive side of plants.

My folks had a small forest in their living room along with an air purifier. Needless to say, indoor air pollution wasn’t a problem in their home. That isn’t always the case. Building materials made from synthetic products, cleaning products, carpeting, upholstery, artificial scents, molds and various other toxins in the air in some homes may add to the lack of health and wellness of the family living there. Some everyday houseplants may play a big part in eliminating or lessening the problem. Here are 6 suggestions for your consideration.

  • Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) – We probably all have used an aloe plant for its burn-healing gel found in its leaves. The gel contains a combination of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe also helps to rid our homes of benzene which is found in some chemical cleaning products.
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifritzii) – Thriving indoors, this plant may grow to be over 10 feet tall. It is pet friendly which may be a plus to some people. It filters trichloroethylene and benzene from the air. It does not stand over watering.
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) – This is the plant often received as a gift. By reducing the level of spores in the home, it helps to keep mildew to a minimum. You will know when it needs watering, but be careful not to over water this plant. It does best in bright, indirect light. The blooms may contribute pollens or scents to the air, so be careful if allergies are a problem in your family.
  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) – Growing from 1 to 6 feet tall, this plant adds a vertical effect to the plants you have, while being low maintenance. It converts CO2 into O2 at night, so place this one in the bedroom. It requires little water, so if you are a ‘plant killer’, this plant is for you.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – As these plants need little care, they are a good choice for the novice plant grower. The spider plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight and only needs a weekly watering. They remove small amounts of formaldehyde and xylene from our homes.
  • Weeping Fig (Fiscus benjamina) – This plant prefers indirect sunlight and requires infrequent watering. In warmer weather or climates, the weeping fig can be moved outdoors if desired. It reduces pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde from the air in our homes. Consider this plant if you want an easy keeper.

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The Dead Rabbit

Seeing a flattened bunny laying on the road reminded me of an episode that happened many years ago.

We had ‘adopted’ a beagle, Pepper, that had the run of the town before coming to live with us. Every so often he would slip his collar and revert back to his old ways. I have no idea as to what kind of stock he came from, but he did have some hunting instincts. When we went bunny hunting he may not have been the best at flushing the furry little critters out of the brush, but he was exceptional at retrieving them after the shot was made.

I came home from school one day and seen that Pepper had slipped his collar again. I changed my clothes and as I was about to get back into the pickup and go looking for him, he came around the corner of the house with the neighbor’s pet rabbit in his mouth. This was a good news, bad news situation. The good news was that the lost was found. The bad, the bunny was dead. The neighbor/owner of the dead bunny was known by everyone in town to be ‘different’ and I was sure that he would demand that Pepper be destroyed. I did what any sane man would do, I took the dirty, chewed up bunny into the house, gave it a bath, blow dried its fur, snuck into the neighbor’s garage and put the rabbit back in its cage, hoping they would think it died from natural causes.

A few days later, I was trimming some bushes in the back yard when the neighbor came over. After the usual neighborly conversation he asked, “Did you hear that Fluffy died?”

I stammered around a bit, finally saying, “Um…no…um what happened?”

The neighbor replied, ” We just found him dead in his cage one day. But the weird thing is that the day after we buried him, we went into the garage, and someone had dug him up, gave him a bath, and put him back into his cage. There are some real sick people out there.”

All of a sudden, I didn’t have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach anymore.

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The Outhouse

While visiting our son, Olaf, and his family last week, I noticed that the fill valve in the commode tank wasn’t working properly. A new valve and some time later, the problem was solved.

We didn’t have such problems when I was a kid as we didn’t have a flushing mechanism on our toilet. Our two-holer was a simple outhouse with an old peach crate nailed in one corner to hold old catalogs and the tissue like paper that apples came wrapped in. These were reserved for Mom and my sisters. In the same corner, under the “paper” crate were two worn out scrub pails. One contained red corncobs while the other held white corncobs. We didn’t even have the luxury of a piece of styrofoam for winter insulation from the cold bench.

If you didn’t grow up using this small out building, you don’t know what you missed. I forget who I was talking to a while back, but this very topic came up. They could understand the catalogs and tissue paper, but the corncobs had them baffled. I had to explain that instead of ‘the paper work’ finishing the project, one would grab and use a red cob. As I hesitated, they asked what the white cobs were used for. I went on to explain that after the red cob was used, you would use a white cob to determine if a second red cob was needed. This seemed to answer their concerns. I say ‘seemed’ as they had one more question. “Weren’t these cobs awfully rough?” they asked.

“No, they weren’t,” I answered, “we sanded them smooth.”

“Sanded them smooth,” they came back with, “what grit sandpaper did you use?”

“We didn’t use sandpaper, we used Kernel Sanders,” I answered.

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