Dreaming of a Different Life



Have you ever heard of miniature cows? Go ahead and Google. You won't regret it. They are adorable. My daughter showed me photos of them and tried to convince me we needed one. Now, we live on half an acre in a residential section of a small town in Connecticut. It is not exactly the prime location for owning cows, miniature or otherwise. However, for one brief moment, I was seduced by the cuteness and very tempted. I quickly returned to reality but the thought did lead to me being happily occupied for the evening planning a totally imaginary, self-sufficient, mini-farm somewhere. Did you know you can buy 5 acres in upstate New York for about $10,000? So tempting.

I am not a gardener. I have mentioned that before. In my fantasy rural life, I have elected my husband to care for the garden. He is humoring me and has agreed. I want a huge vegetable garden with lots of stuff to can and freeze; tomatoes for sauce and salsa, cucumbers for pickles, onions and garlic to season everything. Plus, I insist on fruit trees and berry bushes so I can make jams and jellies.

At some point in these over-the-top plans I was making I remembered this book, Prairie Kitchen Sampler:  Sixty-six Years of a Midwestern Farm Kitchen. It is part memoir and part recipe book and I love it. It is the story of the life of a Nebraskan farm wife starting in the 1920s and going through the early 1980s, I believe. Her recipes are simple and hearty and sound very appealing, at least until you get to the 1970s. That was not a good era for food. There is a recipe for something called Salad Delight that contains lemon Jello, marshmallows, pineapple, bananas, and...cheddar cheese. The mind boggles. That is the exception though. There are so many things I want to make. Who can resist recipes for Tillie's Hardtimes Cake, Never Fail Noodles, Kolaches, Carrie's Damson Plum Jelly, or Overnight Coffee Cake?

I am seriously thinking of working my way through the cookbook though I don't think I would do it in order. My family doesn't need twelve cakes in a row or six different kinds of candy. All the recipes are very accessible and made out of simple, everyday ingredients so it would be relatively easy to do. Though I do think I will give Salad Delight a miss, or maybe not. Maybe I should fully commit to the experience.  I am particularly interested in all the different types of bread. I do like making bread.

This book is a picture of a time that is past and somehow, cooking the recipes feels like it can give me a connection to that past. I think we all feel as if we need a little grounding in this crazy world we live in and I say if making cake and bread can provide that then maybe I should do it.

And as for my mini-farm in upstate New York, I have decided it needs sheep. I could shear them and learn to spin and weave. Totally reasonable, right?








8 comments

  1. My fantasy country place has rescue donkeys and chickens. No sheep because I am a knitter with way too much yarn already, but if your (fantasy) sheep were to visit my (fantasy) place I would not mind in the least!

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    1. My sheep will visit and you can teach me how to knit. How does that sound?

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  2. I love books like this--from the weird recipes to the ones that will become favorites. I like kolaches, but have never tried to make them. Yes, working your way through in order might not be the best idea :)

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    1. I have never made kolaches either. It will be interesting. I'll have to pick and choose interesting recipes from throughout the book so we aren't only eating dessert though that doesn't sound all bad!

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  3. Oh - these cows are adorable!

    My dream place has a cow - not sure if mini, sheep, a few goats, chickens, a pair of draft horses, big dogs, and probably more I'm not thinking of right now. Not all are are for self-sufficiency but simply because I like them.

    Keep making plans - otherwise they won't come to fruition!

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    1. Yes to the horses but no to the dogs. I am not a dog person at all. I make lots of plans these days. Maybe one of these days some of them will be possible.

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  4. Wow if I lived in the US - not that I want to - I would definitely buy a patch of land in upstate NY, and build an eco-house on it. I would definitely have a few Shetland ponies, just to pet and hug and alpacas for their wool. I well remember some truly horrible 1970s dishes, one celebrity cook here thought it was great to have bright pink mashed potatoes!

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    1. Upstate New York is beautiful. I really wouldn't mind living there. I will add the Shetland ponies to my dream little farm. Pink mashed potatoes are an abomination.

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