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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
I have just had a lovely walk in 65 degree weather and as I am sitting here typing the neighbor kids are playing in the front yard having a great time being outside. Along my walk I noted that tulip and iris leaves are poking through the ground and that a couple trees are sporting buds. In my yard I do not see grass growing in the bare spots so I fear I am going to have to replant, again. I did spend a while picking up sticks after my walk, I just did not want to come back into the house.

Being outside in nice weather makes it difficult to sit at the computer and think about writing, especially since the time has changed and it is still light enough to have stayed outside. My mind is whirling while thinking of all the yard work that needs to be done as well as wishing I could start new projects. I have consulted with a carpenter friend about the possibilities of building a compost bin; I am not happy with the way the big pile of sticks looks even if it is at the back of the yard. Hubby had built a beautiful three compartment compost setup at the country house and I really miss having a place for leaves and limbs. At the Victorian house, in town, he built a very fancy compost bin complete with Victorian gingerbread decorations. It was pretty and went with the house but it was too small and ended up being a home for the local stray cats.

I like living in the Midwest, we get to enjoy all seasons, none of which are unbearable like I would imagine living in the states where it is always warm or cold most of the year. When traveling I would marvel at the beautiful flowers the northern states and Canada produce with their short growing season. I did not realize, for many years, that gardeners in the colder climates do so much container gardening. I am glad I had started container gardening before I moved to this house because I have a very small yard. Some of the stores have received their first shipment of trees and bushes and I must admit to having wandered through them already. I did resist the urge to buy anything by reminding myself that it is still a bit early to plant. I know there is still time for some bad weather but I will take what we have been given and revel in the moderate temperatures.

The news on TV is so depressing that I am glad for the break outside. I have noticed that I have watched less TV in the last week and spent more time on the computer trying to watch something less depressing. I have found some YouTube garden sites I would like to mention, if you are looking for ideas this year.

Touring Historic American Plantations & Gardens | Garden Style (

 19 Vegetable Gardening Hacks for Amazing No Dig Harvests


10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a New Vegetable Garden (

Beautiful Flower Garden in Canada,The Butchart Gardens

The Most Beautiful Gardens in Europe (

I have not received all my gardening catalogs since I moved and I can’t remember all of them to change my address. I like catalogs in hand not on the computer but I have accessed a couple new web sites you might like to peruse. The “Park Seed” website ( is a really well put together site and I do like all the pictures with descriptions. “AARP” ( has a virtual community gardening site and I have found many interesting websites via their site. “The top 100 Gardening Blogs and Websites” is a great web source for information and one can waste hours visiting these sites: so far I have only looked at about fifteen.”You Grow Girl” ( combines gardening and crafts and if you are a crafter you will enjoy this site. I had forgotten just how much fun I had as a child doing “leaf pressing”. Yes, I said leaf pressing and it was fun reading about it on this site.

Of course I love to read recipes from gardening websites and the “Farm to Table Recipes” ( from Tanaka Farms in California has a great collection of recipes from which to choose. You might recall I love investigating historic and especially pioneer gardening and recipes. “Pioneer kitchen gardens, how the pioneers planned and planted” started from “The Little House on the Prairie” site is very interesting. We visited a historic Pioneer garden and the herbs were planted in a rock garden and I was hooked. The Little House website ( is extremely well done and reminds me of the website I had on the same subject back in 1996. Give it a visit I think you will enjoy all the whimsy.

I love this first Pioneer recipe:

Pocket Yams

First, make a campfire.  Once you’ve got a good amount of coals, you are ready to bake the yams (or potatoes).  Cover the yams with the coals and let them bake until steam is coming out of them – about 40 minutes.  Note that the yams shouldn’t be in the flames, just in the hot coals.

When the yams are done, do not eat them!

These yams are meant to go into your pocket to warm up your hands! This is just another cool way that pioneer mothers kept their families warm during the cold months. (

Thrift Fritters

The pioneers didn’t always know what foods they’d find.  For example, they might come back from a foraging trip with a few wild carrots, nettles, and wild onions.  These random veggies could be added to old mashed potatoes along with a beaten egg and maybe some flour.  Form them into patties and fry in drippings to make a fritter.

Enjoy the warm weather!

Swedish Jam Cake, a 

Pioneer recipe

* 1 1/4 cups sugar

* 3 eggs, separated

* pinch of salt

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1 cup buttermilk

* 2 1/2 cups sifted flour

* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon cloves

* 1/2 teaspoon allspice

* 1 cup strawberry jam

 1. Cream butter and sugar; add beaten egg yolks and salt. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Sift together flour and spices and add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, adding flour last. Beat well and add jam. Fold in beaten egg whites. Bake in a greased and floured 8×8-inch pan at 375 degrees fahrenheit. for 35 to 40 minutes.

2. From the site “Of course, if you’re not into Utah or pioneers or fireworks on the 24th of July, you could always save this recipe for when you’re watching Little House on the Prairie. I love Pa. He was my favorite. And Nellie. Oh, and Mrs. Oleson and her husband Nels. I bet they were Swedish. They would love a piece of jam cake I bet”.

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