Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Making a Peach Cobbler

There are two types of cobblers.

One cobbler is made with fruit stewed in the bottom with a layer of biscuits on top. I bet a layer of yeast rolls would be good. I don't know if the bottom of the dough would cook enough. But how many people make yeast dough nowadays.

What makes a good biscuit is the type of flour you use. There is bread flour which is heavier with a higher protein content. The protein makes more gluten. A high protein flour makes a denser bread which is not good when you want a light fluffy biscuit.

A low protein, all purpose flour like White Lily makes a good biscuit. How do you make a biscuit? A hot oven helps. I cook biscuits at about 425 degrees. I purchase self rising flour. You can use plain flour but you have to add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder for each cup of flour.

The next big trick with biscuit dough is you have to beat it by hand with a strong fork until the dough pulls together. It's that gluten thing going on. Once that happens you can pat your dough on a floured surface and cut biscuits to the shape you desire.

I have an old orange juice can my mother used when I was a kid. Frozen orange juice hasn't come in a can for at least 40 to 50 years. I shudder to think someone will just chunk it one day. Lately I drop biscuit dough in a muffin tin I have sprayed with PAM which brings me back to what you put into biscuit dough.

I use about 2 heaping cups of flour. If we don't eat all the biscuits, the dogs will. I put some oil in. I might drizzle some olive oil or cut in some softened butter into the flour. Maybe 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter but about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Some people use shortening for the oil and some add a bit of sugar. I don't use sugar.

Then I add milk or buttermilk to the flour and stir vigorously until the dough pulls. If you get it too soupy, it makes a better muffin biscuit. You can add more flour if you want to roll the dough out. Buttermilk makes a lighter biscuit in that the acid it contains reacts with the baking powder to produce a gas. Self rising flour already contains salt and baking powder.

For a cobbler with biscuits on top, you want a dough you can roll out. But you don't want a stiff dough or you will have those legendary hard as a rock biscuit. Dense dough makes dense bread. You can add sugar to the biscuit mix. You do that before you add the liquid. Generally the fruit below is well sweetened.

I use this sort of  biscuit for fruit that will not maintain it's shape. An example would be blackberries, I would create a stew or jam of the berries and add sugar. Then drop biscuit dough on top. You can cut the biscuits and push them together or drop biscuit dough on the top.

The more you reshape dough and roll it in more flower, the more that dough will create a lousy biscuit. If you hate to waste the scrapes. Put the scraps in a biscuit shaped pile on the baking pan and cook them that way. I always just drop biscuit dough on top for a cobbler and use a glass baking dish. I don't like the metal taste food can acquire in a metal baking dish.

The second type of cobbler has a layer of fruit with a liquid dough poured over it. Apples and peaches are good fruits for this. Layer sliced fruit on the pan. Season with cinnamon or other spices you like. Nuts and raisins are good on the apples. You can put pats of butter on the fruit if you like the taste of butter a lot. It is good without butter. I use PAM on the glass pan before I place the fruit in.

You have a choice. Sprinkle sugar or sweetener like Splenda on the fruit. I don't use a lot of sugar. I get a lot of compliments on my baked goods. I halve the amount of sugar in everything. Sugar and salt are used heavily in processed foods and restaurant food to hide the inferior quality of the food being served. Plus the more salt and sugar you eat, the less you can taste it. Have you ever noticed smokers can eat the hottest salsa?

The dough is 1 part milk to 1 part self rising flour. That is 1 cup of milk to 1 cup of flour or 2 cups of milk to 2 cups of flour. I add 1/2 part sugar. You may want to make sugar 1 part.

My way is 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and 1 cup self rising flour.

I cook my cobbler in a 400 degree oven. For biscuits on top, I cook it until the biscuits have browned. For the soupy dough, I cook it about 25 to 30 minutes.

Anyway, the Elberta peaches are in this week and we are enjoying them.

How do you make your cobbler, biscuits on top or with the soupy dough bread? Or do you make a pie instead?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

What Southern Heritage is.

Southern heritage is not "The South will rise again" nonsense. It is not an argument that the war was over state's rights and not slavery. The civil war was over slavery. State's rights was a roundabout way of people protecting a free workforce. How well the slaves were treated was dependent upon the people that owned them.

Only 1 percent of white southerners owned slaves. A large slave owner named Pierce Butler had 436 people auctioned to settle debts. It was a horrible breakup of families. Large slave owners often lived in large cities like Philadelphia or New York to enjoy their affluence and culture. Some large slave owners lived on large tracts of land with their slaves and family. Some slave owners owned two to fifteen slaves.

There is nothing good to say about the institution of slavery.

If slavery were legal today, you know there would be people who would own slaves who would justify their actions. Pretty much like someone who has a very profitable business and pays their workers minimum wage. Or someone getting an au pair who helps with a family but is to be paid and have free time being used as a 24/7 childcare helper.

What is as bad as slavery is the prejudice African Americans have had to endure. It is 2017 and the problem is still with us.

But Southern heritage is my family. I had ancestors that fought on both sides of the civil war. I had one branch that received reparations in that they were Union sympathizers that lived in middle Tennessee. However, the bulk served for the Confederacy.

I remember my dad telling my brother before he went to Vietnam that you don't want to lose a war. His answer was based on his experiences in Germany after World War II. His answer was based on grandfathers who served in the Confederate Forces. His answer was based on family deported from England by Cromwell for supporting the bonnie Prince Charles during the turbulent 1600s.

Men were expected to enlist and serve to do their part during the civil war. I came across this letter in doing genealogy research. If I am related to this man, it is most distant. But his letter shares the pathos of the common soldier during the civil war. And this is my heritage.

I do this in memory of my great great grandfathers Simon Bennett and Big John McDuffie. They served in the Confederate Militia. Simon Bennett in a South Carolina Militia and John McDuffie in a Georgia unit. This is my heritage. Both men were not perfect. But they were honorable men and deserve respect.

The Bennett's never owned slaves. The McDuffies did. The civil war alienated people much like today's politics. I don't know if it was the McDuffies or the Bennetts where this story originated. The Southern soldier who was on his deathbed refused to meet with his brother who had fought for the Union.

The customs and treatment of African Americans of that era do not deserve respect. Nor does the class system that permeated the South deserve respect. Both are abominations of the human spirit.

But the men who served and the families that suffered during the Civil War lived through difficult times. I honor them. This is my Southern heritage.

King Richard Sellers died of typhoid fever in June of 1864. He had two brothers who died during the war. Another brother disappeared during the Civil War.  Snipped from  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sellers-141

The Confederate battle flag is a difficult topic. To me, it is a symbol of the South. To African Americans it is of oppression and slavery. Since 90 percent of the African American population was enslaved before the civil war, I see their side. As an American, I have to stand with them to oppose oppression.

The battle for the Confederate battle flag was lost when hate groups began to use it.

Interesting enough, people outside the South have begun to use the flag to state rebelliousness. I was walking my dogs yesterday evening and thought of this anomaly when the thought emerged that in say twenty years, African american youths might start waving the Confederate flag. Much like Muslim teenagers aggravating their parents by wearing a burka.

Hard to believe I know. But nothing is as queer as folks. But never underestimate a new generations redefining who we are as a culture. I've gotten older and seen changes happen I never thought would happen. I just hope we become a more generous, kind culture.

One thing true about the American people, we don't do anything halfheartedly.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Who let the dogs out?

My chi's had their fur all up and Jobelle came back squawking in fear. I stepped out hoping we were not running from a rabid fox or coyote or armadillo. It was a large yellow puppy much bigger than them.

You just can't leave a baby to fend for itself. He arrived July 2nd. I thought it might be fireworks that sent him running from where he came. He has since doubled in size and is turning red. Remarkably friendly and wanting to be a part of the pack, I'll have to let my hostile chi Boduke run with him and let them settle the score. I don't want the score settled when Little Red becomes full sized.

There is an animal rescue that will post the animals I have found. This is convenient in that maybe it will lessen the number of dogs dumped on this road. Two different neighbors shoot the dogs that are dumped. One might enjoy it. The other one gets angry doing it. You can't take care of every dog that is dumped. Another man has about 30 dogs. I don't like something defenseless to go hungry; but, Ten is my max.

Fortunately, I have not had to start shooting dogs. I want to get some chickens, and we eat those chickens. My mother and sister don't think I can kill a chicken. Well maybe they are right. But I would still like to get some chickens.

Little Red looks like he is mostly Golden Retriever which is a wonderful dog. Dogs earn their keep. No one sneaks up on this house. I dare say we are low on the list of home invaders. Who wants to deal with a pack of dogs in the house. But I don't plan to go for the full thirty.

The chi's are therapy dogs in their own way. Louise the pitbull is my therapy dog.

I came across prompts for summer and remembrances of summer camp was offered.

As a girl scout, I did a lot of hiking and camping. I would say girl scouts instilled a lot of my love of outdoors; but, my family life was more responsible. We always went berry picking as a kid. My grandmother lived in the country. I remember chasing fireflies in tall weeds covered in flowers. Bringing a bunch to my mother, mom and grandma both start hollering to not bring those weeds in. They were covered with bugs.

I remember a pack of wild dogs approached my family as were walking back from picking blackberries close to the Echeconnee Creek. My dad, mother and siblings were close to the car and hopped in. I was straggling, and we were parked on a dirt road on a hill. The road had washed into deep gullies. My dad yelled run and he backed that car close to the edge of a rut. I don't know how I got in the car so fast. I'm sure one of my older brothers yanked me in while another one shut the door. The car was surrounded. Dad floored it and we were out of there with plenty of berries to make pie.

My parents had two sets of kids. There is me the lone female with three brothers. I was so spoiled in that my dad favored me. I was a regular five year old tyrant. Those were the days. I have two sisters who were born later. They always informed me how gross I was. Growing up with brothers and a neighborhood filled with boys, I was a major tomboy. I came by those tomboy ways honestly. My mother was one. My grandmother Ada Prestwood was one. Grandma lost her first baby due to jumping over a turf row.

In the early 1990s, my older brother Gene's wife threw him out of the house, and he was laid off later that week. He came to stay with me in the Atlanta area. Atlanta is an oasis of jobs for people in Georgia. Long story short, I cooked chili one night and we both had a gas attack later that evening and we reminisced about all the "fart" jokes. I knew why I was gross. It was my brother's fault.

My brother found a job within a day of coming to my house in Atlanta. He has since retired and lives outside Atlanta. He plans to move down here one down. But it is hard to move and I don't know if he has it in him to get it done. Plus he has a dog that is scared to ride in a car. He plans to let Miss 14 year old Sadie live out her days and then get serious about moving.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Getting things off my chest.

I live in Georgia which is one the United States "third world" states; resources are limited. This is why I am the caregiver to four people. I have no choice. I could not stand what would happen if I walked away.

My developmentally delayed brother could live in a group home. My mother could live in personal care home. But ---- They enjoy the comforts of living in a home, having a pet, their own room, television and bathroom. Plus, they help me. My brother helps me with some work. My mother helps in spending quality time with him and my sisters. I would visit them daily and it is easier for them to live in my home to visit with them.

Queen Charlotte, formerly known as Checkers, she was originally named Grace. She doesn't like her children and will treat them badly if they fraternize with her owner. But Charlotte takes care of her owner with undying devotion. 

I am amazed at people who will just tell me how I can make care giving so much easier. Many of these same people will step in my shoes one day. At that point, they will hear "crickets" when they ask for real help. They will not be consoled that you can be put in jail for abandoning a handicapped person. No one is going to help you nor are they letting you off the hook.

Now some remarks from people older than me make sense. They had taken care of a parent.

The statement that makes me mad is "You get a lot of money from the government." Like heck I don't.

My dad left my mom well taken care of. Sharing my home, she is relieved of many bills and able to live "higher on the hog". She would enjoy assisted living. However, I have handicapped siblings. Although my mother is unable to do physical work, she is still super mom to these individuals and a great companion to me.

That said, you have to face doing the dirty work. I don't do it unless I have to. But you do have to tell people their limitations. Sometimes they have to tell me my limitations. Family will tell you what other people will be too polite to say.

One thing you learn with mentally disabled individuals, there are predators.

This person is not a predator. I've got to tell my sister's therapist we focus on living a content life and accepting ourselves as we are at 55. The therapist is about 25. You do the math. I don't know what is being discussed. Frankly, I don't care. My sister gets creative at times which is more due to her disability and loneliness. This is one on one attention for one hour a month which my sister normally enjoys.

My sister gets $525 a month from social security. I give her $250 for spending money. The rest I put in the grocery money. She gets medicare in that she has about $6000 in a thrift plan that disqualifies her from medicaid. Medicaid is their preferred source. Public mental health care is superior to private. Private frames their care around insurance coverage. You cannot get it across to them that you will take a second mortgage to get the care they need.

I am grateful for her Social Security benefit and medicare. I'm incredibly grateful.  My siblings, cousins and I have worked and paid taxes. We certainly aren't eating steaks and caviar with her money.

With the nuttiness in Washington, she can stay on medicare. Medicaid is tightly controlled by Georgia's budget. They have been cutting social service and school budgets by approximately 5 percent every year for the past 14 years. Only certain doctors take medicaid due to state restrictions.

 I feel a vise constantly tightening about my sister mental health care. I put up with a great deal of humiliation. I put Uncle Tom to shame yes ma'aming and yes siring where my sister gets mental health care. They keep cutting funds. One day, my family may live as beggars. It is expensive to be mentally ill.

I hate the Halloween laugh. It's real. It's having your sister open a door and cuss imaginary people for about 15 minutes. This happened as she was getting on medication. Before my sister moved in with me, her private practice psychiatrist took her off her medication. When my sister had a problem with the new medication, well my sister had become a bad patient. She should take the medicine. The fact that no real plan was in place to evaluate whether the new drug was the problem or not created a lot of grief and loss for my sister. The medicine was the problem.

Like many schizophrenics, it was not her. It is the world that is a problem. (Sometimes I feel that too.) Long story short, she lost her job and was arrested for disorderly conduct about two years later. The judge told me to get guardianship which I did. Two years without medication created havoc with her reason. It cost me about $1500 to get guardianship.

With appropriate medication, she has made strides in the 8 years she has lived with me. She is content. There is a little dog who is a lifesaver. Why is family different than the wonderful staff at a personal care home? It is someone who will have a conversation with her. Not those "how are you" depth of conversation that I call "gee gaw" talk. No depth, no real interaction occurs. Plus, she cannot afford the cost to live in a personal care home. Remember, it is $525 a month.

For my sister who has had the stroke. It's saying no you cannot move back into your home. You are unable to shower or toilet without assistance. And even when you get disability, it would be a stretch for it to pay for a full time caregiving situation. I am hoping she might be rehabilitated to living independently.  A meaningful life is my hope for her. Her recovery is going well.

How do people get help who live on the margins of society.

A homeless man was hit by a car and killed about two weeks ago in Macon, GA. The family in Ohio were in grief. They had hunted for their schizophrenic relative. Apparently, the people in Macon liked this man and took up money for his final expenses. The family was heartbroken to be taking back ashes versus the family member who disappeared years ago.

Not everyone has the finances or health to do what I do. My sister could have just disappeared 8 years ago. The day I got the call that she was in jail, I was searching for her. She had disappeared two weeks earlier.

I will not be able to do this forever. But I am doing it now. What I do now pays nothing. But it does pay in quality of life. I have never known anyone to live better by running away from problems. We all got problems. My next big goal is to get my affairs in order so that what I have can finance them to live a decent life. My developmentally delayed brother does have a safety net. It's my sisters and myself I am concerned about.

For my friends, I want you to know how small that dog I have in the fight for healthcare. I wasn't born to be a liberal. I wasn't raised to be a liberal. I wasn't inclined to be liberal. I did not work long hours most of my life to be a liberal. I resent the heck out of being called a liberal. But if that is the group of people who will side with me. I'm honored to stand with them.

I live in Georgia where they have cut taxes and defunded  mental healthcare and education. (I still pay 6 percent of my income on taxes, I don't know who got the break for sure.) Obamacare is not perfect by any means. But it is better than nothing or less. So I don't care what your politics are, you best keep up with these new healthcare bills. It affects so many people.

Of course, I could pack everyone up and move to a state with resources which I have known people to do. Georgia is my home. I'm descended from the original settlers.  But that is all baloney. It takes everything I got to keep the house going and people taken care of. I couldn't move if my life depended on it. I don't get my chores done as it is. Plus Georgia is who I am.

I don't want people to feel sorry for me or my family. We all got troubles in this world. I just want people to know why I look at the world the way I do. You might not have a dog in the fight. I hope you never do.

You may never become a caregiver or be the reason for someone becoming an unpaid caregiver. I read of a woman who died in her van that she lived in. She was in Washington state at the time. She was 86. They were looking for a home for her dog. Barbara Woolworth, the Woolworth heir, died with $3000 in her checking account.

And my brother gets $261 a month from social security. My mother uses the money to pay his medicine co-pays.

I have a dream for my little piece of property. It's to develop a place for people like my sister to live. It is still only a dream and may remain that. I'm religious in that I believe God opens and closes doors for a reason. I need to put some concrete in that dream if it will happen. At the moment, I've got a full plate.

In the meantime, take some time to advocate for responsible health care.  If you live in a "have" state, remember there are "have not" states. Politics should not be a decision maker. Be sure to tell your lawmaker that. The your side versus my side will be a death sentence for those that don't have access to healthcare. Promises are not the same thing as what is written as law. Whatever law is written, there will be surprises in it's interpretations.

Healthcare is like all men are born equal. People don't understand the definition. Access to healthcare and the availability of good healthcare are two different things. Call different doctor offices and ask if they accept patients without insurance. There are only a few that do.

All people are not born the same. But we are all born to have the same rights as the next person. I learned the difference in fifth grade. I will not be out protesting. But if someone with a wheelchair needs me to push them into a legislator's office to plead their case. I will.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cooled Coffee

 Mornings are hectic at my house. That is when I have the most energy. I took a nap yesterday and got up with the same effect. Man retirement sucks in that your body seems to know you don't have that endurance. A physical therapist warned me that when I retired to spend a certain amount of time standing. Those muscles would weaken from sitting and not getting up like I did when I worked.

I drink a huge cup of coffee and check my sites on the internet most mornings. Not a whole lot goes on. I don't click the reading list or I'll be at my computer much too long. I've enjoyed all the politics. I do read a few news sites. I had never heard of "morning joe" before. But, I drink a lot of Joe.

I try to think younger. I remember when I entered the work world, I just tried to keep it light with everyone. Agree as much as possible with folks without taking a stand. More importantly, I had lots to do. Although I have always read the newspaper, I just did not get that excited about politics. I had things to do.

So I ask myself, why in the "h" "e" "double hockey sticks" people have gone crazy over the politics of the day? It's not like anybody really cares what each of us think.  "Baby boomers" just don't know how to get along. Remember the sixties.

Once I looked the woman in the mirror and she was right, 😊 I began to block all the politics on Facebook from people. I got both sides coming full throttle. I mean the world is still turning. Fortunately, of all the tragedies in the world, I've got a roof over my head, food to eat, and a computer with internet. I'll try not to think of that person making $7 an hour, $280 a week, maybe $900 a month after taxes.

Impeachment news gets under my skin. We will have this President whether people like it or not. I'm incredulous when people say he is ordained by God to be President. No he is President in that he reflects the American people who voted for him. It's that free will thingey.  2020 will be around before we know it.

What I have learned from the harsh opinions is that I am more concerned with the ability to be President. I do tend to vote Democrat. But, the best candidate in my opinion was Mario Rubio. He is young enough to do the job.

My father taught me you have to have float. You have a disagreement with your friend. You don't stop being friends. You don't do something spiteful or hurtful to get back at them. You get over it.

You might think this is an old way of thinking. It is as old as time and adaptive. This is something I tapped into as a teacher. Most parents try to instill this way of thinking. Yeah, I know about the helicopter parent. But most parents are not that parent. They are making judgement calls continuously. Am I helping my child, am I hurting my child. Sometimes you are the helicopter and sometimes a kid needs one.

Helicopter parents to a degree gives a child a leg up. But those adaptive skills will save their sanity at times. I've met people my entire life who made it with a lot of help from who they knew. They developed adaptive skills. I had a a lot of help in my life from people who got nothing for helping me nor did they have any vested interest in me. I try to be those people when I can.

But when that 20 ounce cup of coffee of mine gets cool. I take the rest of my vitamins with what is left and go feed the dogs. I remember my dad's story of some old man telling all the men in a Robins Air Force Base hangar in the late 1940s that the world was messed up when he came and would be messed up when he left.
Another Happy Customer


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