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Archive for July 2009

It’s a “canna” not a “cuppa”…..

I had to make a quick stop at Orchard Nutrition yesterday.

I was tired and thirsty, and on the verge of cranky ! But there in the cold drink fridge was a little blue and white can. A “canna” iced tea ! Not any old iced tea, not that sweet stuff with wierd flavors, no, it was….Oolong iced tea !
I adore Oolong tea !! And ITO EN products ! This little “shot”, a small can, 6.4 fluid ounces, is
flavorful and tastes like an Oolong is supposed to….full bodied and toasty with an astringent finish. Copious amounts of antioxidants are found in black and green and oolong tea…all good for you !!
Ice cold, unsweetened, all natural and no calories, deliciously refreshing for the hot trip home !
May everyday be your cuppa ( or canna ) of tea !

The “Urge” for Cornbread and Buttermilk

One day the urge overtook me.

I just wanted a tall glass of cold buttermilk and cornbread. I don’t know what it is about a hot summer day that makes me want buttermilk and cornbread.


When I had the Oregon Street Tea Room (on Oregon Street in Redding ), sometimes
I would sneak into the kitchen and pour myself a tall one. The entire staff was appalled.
Them: “Yuck !!”
Me: “What ? What’ s the matter?” I thought they’d seen mouse droppings or something totally deplorable.
Them: ” Are you really gonna drink that ? “
Me: “Of course. Haven’t you ever tried buttermilk ?”
Them: “Buttermilk is for cooking, not drinking”
Me: ” Have you ever tried it ?”
Thus began the survey and ” taste test” of buttermilk.
I converted no one !!
Not one of them appreciated the thick, smooth, tart and buttery flavor as it slid down their throats. ( Two of them gagged ).
I guess, like other unusual foods (sushi, kimchi, escargot, pork fried rinds) buttermilk is an acquired taste. For me, it’s a “comfort” food…I can shut my eyes and see my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. All of us, sitting around the dining room table, laughing and shouting, pouring our buttermilk and smothering our cornbread with butter and sorghum !
Funny how memories and food are connected.
Nammer’s Cornbread Recipe

My husband loves this corn bread because it doesn’t fall apart. (His biggest complaint about cornbread). The color is not a bright yellow because of the sorghum.
My Grandma always baked her cornbread in a square cast iron skillet. I don’t have a

altsquare one so I use my 10″ round one.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
2 cups Cornbread and Muffin Mix
1 egg
2 tablespoons sorghum (or honey)
2 tablespoons soft butter plus a little extra for the skillet
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
After you have put all the ingredients in a bowl to mix, add the extra butter to the skillet and stick the skillet in the pre-heated oven. Mix your ingredients. By now, the butter should be melted in the skillet, so carefully, with a pot holder, pull it out and pour the cornbread mixture into the hot skillet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. It will be nice and crusty on the bottom ! So delicious with a tall glass of buttermilk or a cup of strong black tea, one that takes milk and sugar !


May all your infusions be filled with joyful memories !

Cowboy Ethics and The Last Lecture

The book and the letter from the court came in the same week.

Cowboy Ethics, a western “picture book”, written by James P. Owen, makes a case for what Wall Street could learn from the “Code of the West”. In the forward, David Stoecklein, (also the photographer), says, ” The West is a place where the fence is always tight, but the gate is always open to friends and neighbors. It is a place where a man can make tough decisions without looking over his shoulder or worrying what someone else will think. A cowboy get his strength from knowing what is right and what is wrong and being true to his beliefs”.
The Code is summarized in ten principles:
1. Live each day with courage
2. Take pride in your work
3. Always finish what you start
4. Do what has to be done
5. Be tough, but fair
6. When you make a promise, keep it
7. Ride for the brand
8. Talk less and say more
9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale
10. Know where to draw the line
At first, I viewed the book as entertaining, full of gorgeous photographs and good stories. People I know and love have always abided by similar tenets; it didn’t seem necessarily relevant to our personal lives. I decided this gem would be added to my ” Great Gift Ideas” list.
A few days later, the letter arrived from the court stating that our “friends” were filing bankruptcy . We had loaned them a great deal of money to buy equipment to start a business.
A contract had been drawn up and signed with an agreed upon repayment schedule. For the last six months we had been trying to communicate with them. All of our calls and letters were ignored.
Bewildered, we wondered why they hadn’t at least called or written to us to let us know they might be considering bankruptcy. Perhaps we could have recovered some of our loss with the sale of the equipment.
Smack !
Suddenly the book on ethics and a code of behavior became relevant. Realistically, I understand there is no way to legislate ethical behavior. Even in countries where punishment is severe, there are those who push the line and break “the rules”.
I don’t think we, us, the American people, have lost our commitment to honor principles. I do think we have to be diligent in remembering and teaching (especially by example) a code of ethics, values, what we stand for !
July 25th will be the one year anniversary of the death of Professor Randy Pausch, the author of The Last Lecture. He said in an interview with Diane Sawyer, that he wanted to leave his children memories of values, of what he stood for, not just memories of himself. The following interview is heart-rendering !

He was Dr. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at a prestigious college in the east, but his values, his code of ethics closely resemble the “Code of the West”.
May we always remember however we describe our behavior, whether it is a “Code of the West” or “values” or “what we stand for”, the choices we make concerning our “manner of conducting ourselves” do matter !!
Happy Blessed Infusions,

Building a fence….Do It Right !

My husband commented to a young friend of ours the other day,
” You know Gabe, that fence you and I built is still in good shape !”
(Meaning the fence remains straight and taut having withstood herds of cows leaning on it, calves determined to crash through it, and deer
jumping over it).
Gabe, now nineteen, reminisced about the summer he was thirteen and stayed a week or so with us at the ranch to help build that fence.
I thought about all the fences my husband has built, starting when his mom married his second dad, Sherman. Sherman grew up in Likely, California on a ranch tucked deep into the
mountains. After Sherman married Phil’s mom, they always had donkeys or horses. Phil and his siblings built and rebuilt miles and miles of barb wire fences.
And since we’ve always had horses and cows, our son, daughters, son-in
-law to be, several nephews and young friends learned to build good strong fences capable of corralling critters and prevailing, in tact, through the years.
Barb wire fences are tough to build and maintain, especially if the terrain is steep or rocky. Post hole digging is tedious. Slamming steel post into hardened ground with a fence post driver is body numbing. It’s boring and slow moving….miles and miles of posts and wire. There is no way to avoid nicks, scratches, torn shirts and frustration. Depending on the weather, you are either sweating dirt or morphing into an icicle.
One year our rambunctious twenty year old son was in charge of the “day cowboys” ( our nephews) and fence building was the main project. On a scorching hot day, three dusty young men stomped into the house, declaring that Travis was impossible ! T.J. had just taken a measuring device and decided that the fence the boys had spent hours stretching and crimping didn’t meet his approval. He told them to rip it out and start over. They were fit to be tied !
Of course, T.J. had learned this technique from his father, and his grandfather. In ranching country how a man builds and maintains his fences affects his reputation. The fence has to be built just so…to last…to be straight…and taut…able to keep in his own stock and keep the neighbor’s bulls out !
Red Steagall, a cowboy poet, wrote a great poem, The Fence That Me and Shorty Built, summing up why it’s important to do a job right !
May all your infusions be lasting,

Shuckin’ corn in the Summertime

If you want to eat at the ranch, you have to help
with the work….

whether it’s feeding horses…

repairing a disk:









or shucking corn on the cob for dinner.



After the work is finished, you can rest your weary dogs ! And drink a little iced tea !

The proper way to Shuck Corn:

A Recipe: Corn on the Cob in Tin Foil on the Grill:

Take the husks off and clean off the silks. Using a piece of foil larger than the ear of corn, place the corn in the middle of the foil. Rub butter all over the corn and sprinkle salt and any other seasoning you like. Wrap the foil around the corn and place it on the grill. Roll the ears occasionally to make sure the corn cooks evenly.

After about 10 minutes, stick a fork through the foil to test . Kernels will be soft when the corn is done. Remove from the grill and cool for a bit. Take the foil off and enjoy !

Happy Summer Days !!



Tiny Town 4th of July Parade

Lake City, a tiny town (229 approximate population) in Surprise Valley, hosted a grand 4th of July Parade. Half the town were spectators and the other half were parade participants.

Our family had two entries:
1. Mitch on his quad pulling a trailer loaded with a goose (plastic) and the “dog that can do no wrong”, Osa. (My son’s old hunting dog).
2. Hayley, alternately riding, leading, or abandoning, Spaghetti, the “most patient pony in the world.”

Preparation for the parade :

High pressure wash the quad……

Decorate the pony….
Glitter and Bows

The quad, trailer and goose have been spruced up and loaded. Everyone takes a turn entertaining the pony so he won’t roll and mess up those perfect stars and that perky red bow.

Hey cowboy, that’s a mighty fine lookin’ horse !

Time to go. Hayley loads Spaghetti in the stock trailer.

Mitch checks his passengers before entering the line-up.

The Colors lead the way….

Uh oh…

…..who are all these people ?

Mitch’s Papa keeping pace.

Hayley and Spaghetti happy now to be with the other riders !

And a reminder for all of us….we have much to be thankful for….especially to live in the U.S.A.!

Hope you all had a blessed 4th of July !



“Healthy” Finger Jello

Usually I have plenty of help in the kitchen when I’m making food for small children. My sweet granddaughter likes to wear her Aunt Kassidy’s apron when we cook.

And after our work, we have time for a little recreation ! This is my grandson’s favorite part!

I decided to try a new recipe for “healthy” finger Jello, even though my great helpers were elsewhere.

The ingredients are simple: water, unflavored gelatin, and frozen grape juice. (That’s the cookbook in the background..The Taming of the C.A.N.D.Y. Monster
(Continuously Advertised Nutritionally Deficient Yummies) by Vicki Lansky.

In this photo, the finger jello looks like brownies, but it is really a lovely dark purple color, and very sweet.

My boxer, Max, kept begging for a bite…and another bite…and another.

If my grandchildren, won’t eat the finger Jello, Max will !

“Healthy” Grape Finger Jello

1 (12 oz.) can frozen grape juice concentrate, thawed
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups water

Soften gelatin in grape juice. Boil the water, add the juice/gelatin mixture and stir till gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat, pour into a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan, cool and then chill. Cut into squares when firm. Refrigerate in a covered container.

Variation: You can use frozen cranberry juice cocktail for grape juice.

Happy Healthy Infusions,



Cousin Bonnie’s Apple Pie in a Cast Iron Skillet

  • Our current collection of cast iron cooking ware:

Bulleted List
We started using cast iron while living on our ranch in Surprise Valley. It seemed to fit our life style…durable, ( can take abuse), multi-purpose ( easily goes from stove to oven), inexpensive, lasts a life time ( or two) and cooks evenly. We still use cast iron at the ranch, but after replacing 3 Teflon skillets at our Redding home, I decided to invest in more cast iron cookware. My husband is a great cook, and the iron skillet suits his style and temperament..meaning he doesn’t want to worry about the pan he’s cooking in, while he’s cooking. An added bonus is having wrist and arms weights every time we cook !

Last week, at our Rinehart Family Reunion, in Cedarville, California, our Cousin Bonnie demonstrated how to make an apple pie in a cast iron skillet. We had asked everyone to bring a six inch cast iron skillet to make a pie for two. Twenty adult “Cousins”, and several of the younger generation, participated in this class.

Preparation began with peeling the apples: two young Rinehart cousins happily peeled 40 apples rather efficiently and floated them in water with a little lemon juice. Later, the apples were cored and sliced.

Pre-measured ingredients were stationed at two tables and dowels (our rolling pins) distributed.

Bonnie, an excellent cook, and practiced pie maker, discussed the importance of handling the dough as little as possible. This photo shows Bonnie forming the dough into a ball.

Just a little note, one time, when we were in our twenties, Bonnie got up and made three pies before daylight, so we could take them to the branding that day ! I watched with fascination…my Grandma could bake a great pie, but I’d never seen anyone do it so quickly ! I’ve been intimated about making pies for over 40 years now !

The results were stunning. The ooobh’s and aaahhh’s from delighted cousins identifying and admiring their finished handiwork filled the room. Everyone hurried through dinner so they could dig into their apple pie in a cast iron skillet !

A perfect recipe for the 4th of July weekend … Cousin Bonnie’s Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie.

Happy celebrating & may all your infusions be as sweet as apple pie !


Cousin Bonnie’s Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie


1 cup regular flour
1/2 cup shortening, ( Crisco, not butter or oil) needs to be kept cool
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using a fork or pastry blender, gradually work the shortening into the flour until it resembles pea size clumps

3 tablespoons water…mix in carefully
Form in ball and cut in half

Roll 1 ball on floured board/counter in circle for bottom crust, it must extend over edge of the skillet.


2 good size cooking apples (Granny Smith or other favorite) peeled, cored, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
“Scant” cup flour (just under a cup)
Shake of cinnamon
Mix well, pour into the 6″ iron skillet, mounding apples in the middle

Roll top crust larger than the skillet
Remove excess dough
Press sides of bottom and top crusts together to seal in juices
Finish edge and top as desired…include vent holes

Brush crust with milk, using pastry brush
Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar

Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, no matter what size

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