Thursday, February 27, 2020

Why I get so political sometimes

I keep telling myself that I MUST avoid political posts and just put other stories and statements on this blog page.  I've put several cooking articles here and I've kept track of my travels around the country but, when election seasons come around, I'm right back to the same old Political Rants.

It occurs to me that it might be advantageous to explain why I get so involved in political crap.

I believe that God made this country as a land, "Choice above all other lands" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 1) and that He means it to be the land where His choice people live. 

In order for people to be judged by their own actions, they must be free to act as they please.  No other country in the world or in the history of the world has offered the complete freedom we enjoy here. Or enjoyed in the past, anyway.

I believe that God brought together a group of Inspired individuals who were directly led, by God, to create this country as it was founded.  There is no question in my mind that the Founding Fathers were directly Inspired by God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, to create this country.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are Divinely Inspired documents.

So, there you go.  I'm not only discussing politics but also Religion, in the same post!  What a terrible person I must be!

Today, we watch as the Democrat Party works to nominate someone to be their candidate for President of this Choice and Special land.  We see all those who aspire to this high office standing on a stage without one single American flag in evidence.  We see a group of people who proudly proclaim their support for killing babies, not only while still in the womb but even after "partial birth"!  What part of "birth" do they not understand?
Jeremiah, 1:5, KJV

We see the whole group agree with the concept of taking our means of self defense away from us, not only thus shredding the Second Amendment of our Divine Constitution, but the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments as well.
Bill of Rights

More frighteningly though is the national support for their front running candidate, Bernie Sanders, who is outspoken about his disdain for this country as founded and for the values our Founding Documents protect.

I think this picture pretty much covers his seriously flawed philosophy

Socialism has NEVER worked anywhere!  The settlers from the Mayflower even tried it.  That's why they almost starved and what the first Thanksgiving was really about.
Socialism at Plymouth

Democrats cite the Scandinavian countries as socialist success stories.  If you are willing to live under the control of a central government and pay huge taxes then; well, maybe.
Scandinavian Taxation

I guess I've strayed somewhat from the original point for which I was aiming.  The Prophet Lehi, cited in The Book Of Mormon, 2Nephi, Chapter 1, I think said it best and I quote verses 10 and 11 here:

"10 But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in aunbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true bMessiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is cjust shall rest upon them.
11 Yea, he will bring aother nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be bscattered and smitten."

 Seems pretty clear to me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Democrat Presidential Candidates

I caught a few moments of last nights grade school level debate and I've read about it today and have the following observations.

First, once again, a U.S. Presidential candidate debate and not one single American Flag on the stage. Hmmm.

All of the candidates support, at one level or another; Partial Birth Abortion; Gun control, up to and including confiscation; Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants who are here and open borders for all those who want to come here; the "New Green Deal; Free Medical Care and lots of other "Free Stuff". Mostly, they all are big on the idea of the government telling us what we can earn, how we can spend what we earn, what we can own and how we live.

Partial Birth Abortion. What part of "birth" do they not get? If the baby has been born, then you are
killing a baby. Even the silly argument that a fetus is not a person doesn't apply.

"Gun buy back" programs are government sponsored theft. Confiscation is government committed theft and a violation of the 4th Amendment.
Gun Control Stances (Politico)

Illegal Immigrants are just that. Illegal. Our immigration laws are in place to try and protect us from diseases that other countries haven't eradicated, criminals from other countries hiding here, the smuggling into our country of dangerous drugs and weapons and so on. Funny how the same people bitching about our immigration laws are also bitching about the Coronavirus coming into this country and are the same people trying to control illegal firearms.

Free Medical Care, under any name, is the death knell for the incredible quality we enjoy in our medical care. If the government sets the prices, a lot of quality doctors will do something else and we'll be seeing PAs and NPs most of the time...like the VA system today
.
Free college tuition? Elizabeth Warren gripes about the cost of college and yet accepts over $200,000 a year salary from teaching college. Which is it, Fauxcahontas?
Politifact

Warren, Biden and Sanders have all been in congress for dozens of years and haven't addressed anything they crow about now.
Donald Trump has been President for 3 years and look at the economic, trade and foreign affairs
successes he already has!

All of them, but Bernie in particular, are advocating some level of socialism. Bernie is just a communist and has told us so many times. His "honeymoon" in the Soviet Union and his glowing praise of Fidel Castro are telling.

Has anyone ever noticed how hard people try to come to this country from socialist countries? Doesn't that make your common sense button throb at least a little?

Socialist Dems often cite Scandinavian countries as socialist success stories. Sure. their governments pay for much of the services they get but at an enormous tax cost. Once again, the government telling us how much we can make (price controls), what we can keep of what we make (taxes) and what we can buy with what we make. Give up all your personal freedoms so that your nanny state can take care of you from womb to tomb.
Scandinavian Taxation


I don't want half of what little I make to be taken (stolen) by the government to pay other peoples bills.

Overall, the entire field of Democrat Presidential Candidates is disgusting at best. I know that many of you think of yourselves as Democrats but this isn't the Democrat Party of your fathers. JFK and Roosevelt are Dead.

Todays Democrat faces are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Crazy Bernie Sanders.



"Ask not what you can do for your country! Ask what free stuff your country can give to you."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Trump plays too much golf


This is a meme I saw on Facebook today and I just HAD to answer it!

That Damned Trump! He needs to quit golfing and fix this China trade war and get some kind of deal with them so we can start trading goods again. He needs to fix the NAFTA mess and get a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.
CNN: US/China Phase 1 Trade Deal
NBC News: USMCA Trade Deal replaces NAFTA

If he'd knock off the golfing, maybe he could come up with some policies that will reduce the unemployment in this country. Minorities need better employment rates and so do women.
factcheck.org: Trump economic numbers

Get off that golf course and make our military stronger and improve the morale in our military.
Defense News: Military Readiness

He needs to get some kind of tax reform so we don't pay so much in taxes.
Wall Street Journal: Tax reform is helping most people

He should be sitting in his office, signing bills to battle sex trafficking in our country.
McClatchydc.com: Trump increasing budget to fight human trafficking

If he weren't golfing, he could be the first sitting President ever to attend the Right to Life rally.
  









Let's get some border wall built and reduce the numbers of illegal immigrants who sneak into our country while deporting those who are already here. 
CNN: Trump Border Wall
San Diego Tribune: Like them or not, Trumps policies are reducing illegal immigration

Yep. If he weren't wasting so much time golfing, maybe he could keep a couple of promises that he made.

 Yes sir, I agree that he needs to quit golfing and get some work done for America, like the Democrat leadership has done. All the things the Democrats have done for America in the past three years speak for themselves.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Another example of what those in power think of "We the People"


This is who we are to "Them".  When you go to the polls this year, remember, this is how the "leaders" in our government feel about those of us who make the country work. 


Friday, January 24, 2020

Coronavirus: Major pandemic or media hype?

Wuhan Hospital scene
I'm back to wondering what is REALLY going on in China with this Coronavirus.

Is this a major Pandemic in the making; with an already major epidemic in Wuhan, China or, are there only under 1000 people infected?  Which is it?

If you read this article, it says both things, sometimes in the same paragraph: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10808633/coronavirus-wuhan-zombieland/
Here's a quote that illustrates my point:  "Harrowing pictures on social media show people collapsed on the street and in hospital waiting rooms amid the epidemic which has claimed the lives of at least 26 people."

Ok.  Which is it?  Are people collapsing on the streets or have only 26 people, in a city of 11 MILLION people?  Are things as chaotic as the pictures in this article suggest or are there less than 1000 people infected, worldwide?  In a city of 11million, how many thousands are home sick each day with common cold or flu?  Likely far more than 800 and no panic in the streets, empty grocery shelves and crowded hospitals.
Wuhan Grocery store

The conspiracy theorist inside of me says that the pictures and videos we see here are true and our world is facing annihilation while the governments and media work to make it seem insignificant.

The logical part of me says, if only 1000 people, worldwide, are infected, then these are more internet hype pictures, as believable as the "Lincoln said" memes we see every day.

I'm reminded of the Book/movie, "The Stand".  A Steven King story where the government covered up a devastating disease while it destroyed civilization. 

What is the truth? 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Why is Coronavirus such a big deal?

As usual, I don't understand. Why is this Chinese virus such a big deal? 620 people have caught it and 17 have died. I get that, but there are 1.3 billion people in China. So, .00005% of the people in China have an illness and .000001% have died of it. https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/longevity/479573-china-cancels-new-year-plans-amid-coronavirus-outbreak

There are 7.7 BILLION people in the world.

There are 327 million people in the USA. Here is a quote from https://time.com/5610878/2018-2019-flu-season/; "In total, the CDC estimates that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season, 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died. That’s fairly on par with a typical season".

I'd call those flu numbers truly frightening and I had no idea they were that high.

Very few people have been affected by this Corona virus and it doesn't seem to be overrunning, even China, where it seems to have started.

So, my question is, why is this Corona virus outbreak such a newsworthy, panicky situation?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Democrats who cry "Wolf"



Why should we believe anything the Democrats say at this point? Their track record is one of blatant lies and concealed facts.

Anyone ever hear of the story about "The boy who cried 'wolf'"?

When President Trump nominated Judge Kavenaugh to the Supreme court, suddenly there was a "whistleblower" who had horrific stories to tell about rape and sexual assault, by Kavenaugh, back in his college days. When Blasey-Ford came out into the public eye, it quickly became evident that she was not credible. Probably lying. When her credibility became muddles, suddenly there were more women who came out, a couple led by Avenatti, with the same kind of stories. One by one, they all admitted they were lying. The whole thing just kind of went away after he was confirmed to the Supreme Court. 
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/no-kavanaughs-accusers-are-not-credible

Another one? How about Nicholas Sandmann and his contemptuous treatment of an elderly Native American man? 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_2019_Lincoln_Memorial_confrontation

Mr. Sandmann, at the time a 16 year old boy, was on a field trip with other students from a Catholic School. They were minding their own business, watching the events around them. However, Mr. Sandmann had the temerity to be wearing a Make America Great Again hat!

He was approached, in what I would term an aggressive manner, by Nathan Phillips, who was banging a small drum and did so, well withing Mr. Sandmann's space, actually right in his face. Sandmann kept his composure, said nothing out of the way and even tried to smile his way through it all.

The news media portrayed Sandmann as the aggressor and characterized his smile as being condescending and portrayed him as a racist bigot.

It turned out, of course, to be exactly the opposite, as proven by many videos that the media tried to keep us all from seeing. Happily, CNN has recently settled a lawsuit, by Sandmann, for an "undisclosed amount".

My point is, here is another case of the leftist media vilifying someone with no true facts.

How about all the "Russia Collusion " investigation we put up with? After two and a half years, absolutely no evidence of President Trump and any Russian "colluding" to "fix" the election despite a special prosecutor and millions of dollars spent in the effort.

Once again, the real truth is probably exactly the opposite. Hillary had paid for opposition research, the "Dossier", getting much of the "information" from Russian sources. She seems to have many more ties to Russia than President Trump. Could it be, that Hillary Clinton is actually guilty of all the things for which "They" accused President Trump?

Do you see the pattern unfolding here? Make the allegation and bring out some vague "testimony" from people not in a position to know anything. Investigate it, widely report it on the main stream media and then, when it's proven false, either let it fade away or just say that you were right all along, just couldn't find the evidence.

Sound familiar?

A "whistleblower" comes out with information about President Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian President. President Trump immediately releases the transcript of the call, blowing the whistleblowers story all apart. Representative Schiff lies, on the floor of the House, telling us what Schiff WISHED the President had said. Everyone conveniently forgets Schiff lying about the phone call.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/11/13/impeaching-hearing-factcheck-adam-schiff-parody/4178449002/

An "investigation" is started and they call numerous people who have no direct knowledge of anything germane to the call or the situation.

Why should we believe anything the Democrats say at this point? They have repeatedly played this same Bullshit game over and over during President Trump's tenure and many of us are tired of it.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Uncle Dean is gone


My Uncle, Dean Dixon, died this week. He'd been in hospitals and nursing homes for the past three months and this was not unexpected.
He was in a nursing home bed and attended by a couple of pretty nurses. Just his kind of thing!
He asked me to have him cremated and interred on the plot with Aunt Phyllis and that is what I plan. At this time, we're thinking just the dedication of the grave at interment and try to put together a memorial service later.
Uncle Dean was a great fisherman and hunter. He taught me all about such things and many more.
He married my mothers sister, Phyllis, just before he enlisted in the U.S. Army and went to fight in Korea.  In Korea, he was a truck driver for a while, hauling supplies around the country.   At some point, he was reassigned as a tank driver.  When he came home from Korea, he went back to his life in S.E. Idaho, often working with our family in the logging camps around West Yellowstone, MT.
During the '50s, my grandfather and his brothers logged the West Yellowstone area and lived in tents and half-tents in camps near their work sites. Each month, one of the men would take off from the logging work in order to provide camp meat for the whole camp. My understanding is that if no one else was having any success, Uncle Dean was the go-to guy for bringing in the game!  He used to have an old bolt action .22 rifle that he called his "moose gun".  When I laughed at him, he told me he'd taken more moose with that .22 than I had ever shot elk.  He said: "If you shoot them in the head, the go right down and if the game warden is more than 50 yards away, he didn't hear the shot!"
For those in today's world, this probably sounds harsh.  But those people lived on wild meat year around.  Animals weren't killed for fun, profit or as trophies but were used to provide food for big families with little or no money.  And "hunting season" wasn't as big a consideration because we had to eat all year long, not just in the fall.  The game wardens of the day knew these things and pretty much looked the other way, even having dinner with our family once in a while, eating moose meat along with everyone else.
Uncle Dean was also a great fisherman.  I can't remember a time that he came off a fishing trip "skunked".  Even if the rest of us didn't catch anything, he always did.
We had gone fishing on Willow Creek (aptly named) in the Island Park, ID area when I was very young.  There were at least four or five other men going fishing in addition to Uncle dean and myself.  Anyway, I took a little too long getting ready and by the time I was ready to leave the car and hit the creek, everyone else was out of sight.  There was only a small area of clear stream bank, where the road crossed the creek and both up and downstream seemed to be blocked by an impenetrable wall of willows.  I started crying because I couldn't figure out where to go.  Aunt Phyllis shouted "Dean!" and he came back to the car.  He showed me how to navigate through the wall of willows and find water to fish in.  Once I had caught one on my own, he left me to it and went on his way.
Our big family group, probably four or five families together at one camp, were at Island Park Reservoir (the Backwaters) fishing.  I really didn't like fishing with bait; throwing your worm out as far as you could and then watching the tip of your pole intently, waiting for "a bite" and I quickly got bored.  Uncle Dean had propped his pole up near me and was behind me, near the campfire, drinking coffee with the rest of the men.  Anyway, I started throwing small rocks at his pole.  When one hit, his pole would bounce as if he had a bite, he'd come running down the bank and haul back on the pole in an effort to "set the hook" and then give up in disgust, thinking the fish had not completely taken the bait.  We kids were quietly laughing at getting him to keep trying.  Anyway, one time, I got his pole to bounce and he came running down the bank alright...picked me up and threw me in the lake!
He was hunting elk one fall near West Yellowstone.  He got on a set of tracks and began following.  More than once, he saw antlers moving through the trees but could never get quite close enough to get a shot.  He kept following for quite some time.  At one point, he crossed a road and wasn't sure which road.  Then, a truck with Idaho plates came by and the driver told him that he was a couple of miles into Idaho.  He had to turn around and track himself back!
He worked at Elk Studs sawmill in West Yellowstone from almost the time it opened until around 1975, working every position in the mill, finally including Millwright.  The millwright is the guy who keeps everything working.  Later on, he moved to Townsend, MT and went to work at Wickes lumber, later RY Timber.  He retired from there a few years ago.
He was married to my Aunt Phyllis for 43 years before she died.  The two were almost inseparable from the time he came back from Korea.  The love between the two was almost visible. "Phyllis and Dean"  or "Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Dean".  Rarely one without the other somewhere close by. They never had any children and I guess I was the prime beneficiary of that fact.
When they first moved to the logging camps, as newlyweds, there was a fallen down old cabin on the campsite.  All the other men said they would help get the cabin fixed up so that Dean and Phyllis wouldn't have to live in a tent.  But, work and other activities kind of kept putting off the job until one night there was a grizzly sniffing around their tent.  The next day, while the men were all off working, the women got together, at Aunt Phyllis's urging, and got the cabin fit for occupancy.  When the men got back, Phyllis and Dean were moved!
When we went fishing or hunting, Aunt Phyllis would usually go along and sit in the car, reading or sewing or something, waiting for us to come back.  I remember one hot summer day, Uncle Dean and I were fishing the South Fork of the Madison river near West Yellowstone.  We had a great time, caught a bunch of fish and pretty much stayed on the river for most of the day.  When we got back to the car, the windows were all up, Aunt Phyllis was seriously hot and sweaty and she had made a little pile of mosquito carcasses on the dashboard.  If she opened the windows of the car, they just swarmed in at her so, all that time we were having a great fishing trip, she was fighting hordes of mosquitoes.
Aunt Phyllis's kidneys began failing in the early 80s and she had to start dialysis.  This meant three times a week she had to go to St. Peters Hospital in Helena, MT, early in the morning, and spend the day hooked up to the dialysis machine.  Uncle Dean took the graveyard shift at the mill so he could work all night and then take her to dialysis for the day.  He'd sleep in the car while she was there, take her home and go back to work. This went on for over ten years. That kind of says it about the devotion the two had for each other.  
Aunt Phyllis died in early '96 and Uncle Dean, as someone who had literally NEVER lived alone, soon remarried.  He showed the same devotion to his second wife, Vivia, as he had Aunt Phyllis and the two traveled a lot after he retired, driving around the country with a fifth wheel trailer behind his pickup.  Vivia died about three years ago and he was finally on his own; by himself and he really didn't like it.
I hadn't realized that he was having so many problems with finances and home repair and so on.  About a year ago I began helping him with those things, managing his bank account and keeping things going with his house and that sort of stuff as he slowly drifted into more and more acute dementia.  He never really had any major physical impairments, he just kind of stopped eating well or doing things.
A few months ago, he fell, apparently trying to replace a light bulb, and hit his head.  The caregiver I had arranged for called me and said he looked injured but wouldn't let her take him to the Dr.  I went to his house as soon as I got off work and found that he had a big knot on his head.  I told him we were on our way to the VA in Helena.  He said: "I don't need to see no GD Doctor!"  I said: "I didn't hear anybody ask you".  The VA found that he had a fractured vertebrae in his neck and from then on he went from one facility to another, winding up in a nursing home in Great Falls where he finally died.
He was just an all around nice guy. I can't think of hearing anything particularly bad that he ever did. He was always friendly to everyone and always seemed to have a good, positive attitude, even at the end.  I had gone up to see him only a week before and we talked for a while.  The nurses and residents all liked him and he seemed to be enjoying the company.
He has one brother and three sisters left of an original 11 kids. They were born and raised in Ashton, Idaho. 
When I first got him signed up for the VA medical service, he still had his original copy of his DD214 in his wallet. "They told me to keep it with me" he said. Over 64 years carried around in his wallet!
I'll miss him.  He was a wonderful Uncle and friend and I hope Aunt Phyllis is satisfied with my efforts.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sally Lunn



Here's an old recipe for you, called Sally Lunn.  It comes from old England and was often used by the ranch and chuckwagon cooks in this country.  When they needed a quick dessert or breakfast bread, this one was easy and quick to prepare and could easily be adjusted for more people.

There actually is some history from England and Colonial America with some argument as to who first did this and where.

Sally Lunn is a spongy cross between bread and cake.  I like it best fresh and hot with some whipped cream on it.  Basically, with whipped cream I see it as a dessert and without whipped cream it's a pleasant breakfast bread.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix ingredients together and pour into a well greased cake pan.

Sprinkle the top liberally with cinnamon and brown sugar

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until done.

The recipes I find online all use yeast instead of baking powder.  I found my recipe in an old book for cow camp cooks and this is the way I'm used to making it. 

This was a popular cake with the cow camp cooks because it was so easy and could be made up in a hurry if there was an unexpected occasion.

Anyway, this is one of the easier and quicker desserts I count on when I'm planning my menus.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The "Family Recipe"

Ok, one of my favorite dishes can be adjusted to feed from two to about as many as you want with only a little adjustment to ingredient amounts.  I call it a Mexican Casserole.  My Mom called it an Enchilada Casserole.  My daughter just calls it "The family Recipe"

Pretty simple, really.

For one or two people:

1lb hamburger.
small onion
small bell pepper
1 can of enchilada sauce
1/2 cup salsa
tortilla chips
cheddar cheese

That's it.  Brown the hamburger along with a chopped onion and diced pepper.  Once the hamburger is browned, add the enchilada sauce and salsa, then stir it together and simmer it well.  Meanwhile, crunch up some of your tortilla chips in the bottom of a casserole dish or a 9x9 cake pan or a cast iron skillet or any other fairly deep oven ready baking dish.

Pour half of the hamburger mixture over the base of crushed tortilla chips.  Cover with cheese and more crushed tortilla chips.  Pour the rest of your hamburger mixture and cover with cheese.  Bake it until the cheese is melted all over the top. 

For variety, use different intensities of enchilada sauce and salsa.  Put some chili peppers in it. 

If you want to fancy up the service, put some refried beans and Spanish rice on the plate with it.

Figure 1/2 lb of burger per person and one 10oz can of enchilada sauce per pound of burger.  I've made two 9x13 cake pans of this to feed 11 but I've also had 8 cowboys eat up that much.  If I've got a big group, I'll definitely do the beans and rice as filler.





Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hunting camp, 2017


Two hours and more crammed into the back seat of a 4 door Ford pickup as we slewed into the mountains of central Montana, chains on all four wheels, spinning, sliding and bouncing our way into another hunting camp. 

I’d just enjoyed two weeks in a hunting camp with no road access.  The whole camp had been packed in on horse and mule pack train and we’d only come out a couple of days before, on horseback, because the snow had gotten so deep that hunting was nearly impossible and mostly fruitless, as the animals are smarter than we are and had gone to lower elevations.  Se, we did too.

Now, we were headed into a different camp.  One that we could access with four wheel drive vehicles…kind of.  The outfitter and his crew had already been in and put up the tents and gotten the equipment ready.  Now, as darkness closed in and the cold settled down on us, we were almost there.  “Are we there yet?”  Bounce across one more creek and then there were the tents showing in the headlights.  My cooktent was the biggest and had two wood stoves for heating, a two burner propane stove and a propane oven/stove top for cooking.

No one was waiting for us at the camp so none of the wood stoves were going…no heat yet.  As I walked into the cook tent, a headlamp for my only illumination, I found several boxes, totes and coolers of groceries and utensils stacked around the tent.  Although the propane stoves were hooked up, the propane had to be turned on and I still needed something to cook on them.

In parka, gloves and warm hat, I began rooting through the various containers.  First order of business was to find a coffee pot and some coffee while I dispatched one of the guides to the spring for a couple of buckets of water.  We used just pots of water and coffee; no percolator innards in our pots.  “Cowboy Coffee”.  Once I got some coffee going, my urgency diminished a little but I still needed to
get a dinner going.

 In one of the coolers I found a 3lb and a 5lb chub of hamburger…solidly frozen.  Nothing I could do with that right now.  Hmm, what’s this, down in the bottom?  Ahh, 5 1lb chubs of hamburger.  Solidly frozen but much more useful.  I put my 15” cast iron skillet on the propane burner, skinned the chubs into it and covered them with the lid.  There; those will thaw ok.

Now, one of the boxes has canned goods.  Four big cans of "sloppy joe" sauce.  Another box with breads, including some hamburger buns and a package of frozen corn on the cob in another cooler.  Ok, we’re set.  Within a half hour, I had dinner ready, just about the time the outfitters crew had gotten the lights strung and the generator going so I could turn off my weakening headlamp and finish up by actual electric lights.  Both my wood stoves were going well by this time, too so I could take off my parka and gloves.  Less than an hour from the time we bounced into camp, I had coffee and dinner ready.  The outfitters wife had sent up a big apple pie so we even had dessert.   Life is good!

When I had gone into the first camp, on a two hour horseback/pack train ride and was setting up my personal space in the cook tent, I had realized I had forgotten (I’m used to doing stupid stuff, but THIS was a real winner!) my sleeping bag.  Not like I could just run home and get it!  One of the guides was not coming in that night so I used his bag that first night while the outfitter got on a horse and rode to a place a couple of miles away where his cell phone would work and called for additional items we had all forgotten…including my Sleeping Bag!  Anyway, I had a really good bag; a mummy bag, very lightweight and rated for -30 degrees.  Nice and warm and worked very well.  Not, however, as wonderfully luxurious as the huge -35 sleeping bag I borrowed that first night!  Wow!  What a great bed that one was!  For the two weeks at the Mount Edith camp I slept warm and comfortable in my lightweight backpackers bag with no complaints.  But, when we had that two days between camps, I had gone to Helena and bought one of those great, roomy, soft, comfortable, LUXURIOUS outfitters type sleeping bags.  No, I wouldn’t want to pack it on my own back but in a pickup or even on a pack train I wouldn’t be without it any more.  Best money I ever spent.

Anyway, all that said, I got my space together at the new camp, folding cot assembled, foam pad on it and my new sleeping bag spread out and open, getting warm.  I wasn’t right beside the stove like I had been on Edith but I was close enough.  True comfort.  A canvas tent, a wood burning stove and a sleeping bag on a cot, all twenty miles into the Montana wilderness where I was now going to cook for twelve hunters and guides for a week.

I’ve worked as a cowboy and ridden many a horseback mile but that was a few years and pounds ago.  When I was offered the cooking job for this outfitter my girlfriend laughed and said she wanted to watch me get into the saddle for the ride in.  I had to be babied a little but once I was in the saddle I was ok.

We rode for over two hours, up the south side of Mount Edith, then down past Edith Lake and on to the little basin where the camp was set up.  Here too, my cook tent was the biggest of the four.  I had two wood burning stoves for heat and for keeping things warm as well as a two burner propane stove and that wonderful propane oven/stovetop. 

I set up my bed next to the back wood stove, hung my gear on some nails in the tent frame and was home.

For two weeks, I got up around 0430 and fixed breakfast.  Out first group was seven hunters, four guides and a camp jack (general worker) plus myself.  I had set up a weekly menu to cover from Sunday night to Sunday morning schedule as the hunter groups come in Sunday afternoons and leave Sunday mornings. 

After breakfast I’d do the dishes and clean up my kitchen, put together the lunches for the next day and then would have the rest of the day pretty much to myself.  Hunters and guides all gone, doing their thing, camp jack getting firewood dealt with and taking care of the horses and mules while I read, took a nap or whatever.  I’d usually laze around through the early part of the day and then do some baking.  Cookies for the lunches, cakes and pies for desserts. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast treats, that sort of thing. 

Dinner didn’t have to be on the table until everyone was back and some of the groups were quite a ways away so they wouldn’t get in until way after dark.  I’d usually be ready to put dinner on the table around 8:30, often even later.  What with cleanup and getting things prepared for the morning breakfast, I usually didn’t get to bed until around 11 each night, then up at 0430 again to start it all over. 

At the Edith camp, water was hauled from the creek about 40 yards downhill from the cook tent.  Carrying two 5 gallon buckets of water uphill in the snow showed me that there must not be anything wrong with my old heart!  I’d be seriously sucking wind by the time I got to my tent but I had made it!  I kept a three gallon metal pot full of water on the wood stove all the time so I had hot water for cleanups and so on.  A small coffee pot with plain hot water on that same stove for things like hot chocolate or tea and a big coffee pot always full of hot coffee…always!  

We had a generator and had strung electric lights into all the tents but the generator didn’t like Montana cold so, when I turned it off at night, I’d put it inside the guides tent where it would be warmer and would start easier in the morning.  Usually, though, I had breakfast pretty much done by the time the generator got started.  I cooked a lot of breakfast by the light of a headlamp strapped to my forehead. 

Firewood had to be blocked, split and hauled into tents and wood stoves kept going.  This is, after all, Montana in October and November so it was plenty cold most of the time.  It amazes me that those canvas tents hold the heat as well as they do.  A couple of times, at each camp, the nighttime temps were subzero but we slept nice and warm in our tents. 

I thought the hunters were crazy for getting up at 5 and going out in sub-zero cold to go hunting.  I remember a routine by Ron White about hunting…”It’s real early in the morning, it’s real cold and I don’t want to go!”  That’s me any more.  My Grandfather probably spins in his grave when I say stuff like that! 

We had a shower tent set up.  Go in it and get a fire going in the stove, set the 3 gallon pot of water on the stove, leave and zip the tent fly closed to keep in the heat.  Give it a while to get the tent warm and the water hot.  There was a bucket with a spigot tied to a pulley so you could pull it above your head.  A pallet to stand on and some nails in the tent frame to hang your clothes and towel.  Put hot water in from the pot, add some cold water to your liking, pull the bucket up over your head and take your shower. 

The latrine was a bench with a toilet seat thereon, over a hole and screened by a tent.  Not warm or comfortable; just utilitarian.  My home bathroom habit of a book and plenty of time definitely went out the window here.  Get in, get it over with and get back to my warm tent! 

The first week of November it started snowing one evening and just kept snowing.  By morning we were pushing two feet of new snow and no end in sight with our only way down from the mountain a horseback ride over the top of Edith and back down to beginnings of civilization.  I looked at the outfitter and said: “For two years, I’ve been trying to talk you into hiring me for this and now I’m gonna die up here!”  He just laughed at me and told me he hadn’t lost anybody in 39 years and we’d be fine.  He was right, of course.  As a matter of fact, the horseback ride down to where the pickups could reach us was a beautiful, scenic trip that I wouldn’t have missed. 

A couple of days at home while they got the new camp set up (and I went in and bought my NEW SLEEPING BAG!) and then the trip into the camp near Tenderfoot Creek.  Although we were able to haul our gear in by pickup, I felt this was the more remote camp.  Two hours of 4x4 riding, chained up on all four and still slipping, sliding and bouncing over nearly non-existent roads, as well as the fact that there was NO communication.  At the pack train camp, we were within two miles of cell phone connection.  Even walking that isn’t too far and on horseback, pretty much nothing.  But, in the pickup camp we were two hard 4x4 hours from even the chance of getting phone use. 

My schedule was pretty much the same at either camp.  Cook breakfast, put lunches together and cook dinner. 

Will I do it again?  Absolutely!  As long as they want me as their cook and I can still hang on to a horse I’ll be headed into the Montana mountains every fall.  The job itself is great.  I’m free, even encouraged, to be creative.  I have the time and the solitude for not only the cooking but also for myself.  I’m comfortable with the living conditions and I didn’t miss the modern world much at all.  I am used to talking with Joann every day so I missed that but the outfitter had to ride down several times with game and other issues so we sent notes back and forth. 

If you can afford to use an outfitter for a Montana hunting trip, I can highly recommend it.  They work hard to find game for you and they have someone like me to keep you fed and comfortable.  

Come on up and see us.  The coffee pot is full and hot and the fire is always going.
 

 

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I'll be leaving this week to go cook at a hunting camp for Ramshorn Outfitters from Townsend, MT.

This one will be different from the last hunting camp I did as this is a pack in camp as opposed to a drive in camp.  All the gear goes in on horseback. 

I'm limited on how much weight I can take in so I can't take my dutch ovens or my other cast iron gear.  I am insisting on my big cast iron skillet, though.  I have a 15" skillet with a cover.  I can brown five pounds of hamburger in it at once or cook scrambled eggs for several people.  It gives me enough room and cooking surface to make eggs to order or even omelets if I want.  But, it weighs about 15 pounds.

I'll have a camp stove and a Camp Chef oven/stove top and will be cooking for as many as 13 people.

So, Friday I ride into the mountains for 3 weeks of new experiences!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sourdough starter and pancakes


As we progress through this cooking odyssey together, one thing you will need is a sourdough starter.  Making a good sourdough starter is actually pretty easy.  I use sourdough for breads, doughnuts and pancakes all the time so this is an important step. 


First, get yourself something to store it in.  I like a sealable crock.  One of those with the wire clamp to hold the lid on.  Here's the thing, though.  I remove the rubber seal!  So, there is some air circulation but it's still well covered.  Just a canning jar will do, but it would have to be a pretty big one...quart sized or more.  I like the crock because I got one big enough to hold five or six cups of starter, it stays closed without strangling my starter and the mouth is big enough to get a measuring cup in to scoop out what I need. 

Now, put in 2 cups of all purpose flour and two cups of "no sugar added" fruit juice.  I make my own apple juice and always have some of that on hand so that's what I used the last time I had to make starter; about a year ago. 

Another way is to boil some peeled potatoes; maybe making mashed or something, and use the left over water instead of juice.  I’ve done both.  When your starter is a few years old you won’t be able to tell which liquid you used.  

Mix the flour and the juice well and leave it lightly covered for two or three days, stirring once in a while each day.  Once you have a good bubbling action going on...called a "sponge", and you can smell that sour, yeasty smell, then you have starter.  

Over time, the stored starter will develop a brownish colored liquid on top.  This is called “hootch” and is just part of the sourdough.  I mix it back into the starter once in a while.  Some people pour it off.  Whatever “floats yer stick” here. 

http://breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management/ is a great page about maintaining sourdough starters.  I keep mine in the crock in the refrigerator.  I try to remember to "feed" it once in a while but usually it is replenished, or "fed", often enough because I am using it. 

 Starter can last for a long time…years even…if you store it correctly, use it once in a while and, even if not using it, feed it occasionally.   The old chuckwagon cooks kept their starter for years, sometimes sleeping with it in their bedroll so it wouldn’t freeze. 

Now that you have your starter working; it’s bubbling a little and smells “yeasty” , it’s time to put it to use.


Sourdough Pancakes

The night before, mix well (to incorporate some air) 1 cup of your starter with 1 ½  cups of all purpose flour and ¾  cup of warm water.  Cover and leave at warm room temperature: 70-85 degrees, overnight.  

The next morning, return one cup of the starter mixture to your crock.

Then, mix the remaining 1 ½ cups of starter with:
 

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon of sugar…more if you want.  I like a little more.
¾ tablespoon of salt
½ teaspoon (generous) of baking soda
2 tablespoons of milk

Try to have your ingredients at room temperature.  This will help to make more tender pancakes.

Your pancakes will be a little heavier and not as fluffy as you are used to.  In my opinion, the sourdough flavor blends with a fruity syrup better than regular maple syrup.  I also like these with butter and my home made raspberry jam. 

Now that you have made sourdough pancakes from scratch, here’s a cheat.

Depending on how many you are making, put ½ to 1 cup of starter in your mixing bowl and then add your favorite boxed pancake mix and just make your regular mix, using your sourdough starter as part of the liquid.  This gives you the sourdough flavor, they’ll be a little fluffier  than scratch and it’s a little easier because you can do this spontaneously without having to plan from the night before.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Let's try some Cookies!


Before we start with cooking anything, I need to emphasize the key to this whole enterprise and that is…preparation.  If you are planning southwestern style diced potatoes for breakfast, dice the potatoes and ingredients and then mix it all together the night before.  Put your meat out to thaw, get your sourdough starter warmed up, make your salad.  Anything that can be prepared to a point and then finished later should be.  

When I was a kid, we didn’t live next door to a grocery store so if there were things we had to buy; we did so in bulk, often once a month (or even longer).  Neither my Grandmother nor my mother went to the store for meals every day as I see people do today.  They had pantries where weeks or months of supplies were stored.  Grandmother had a “root cellar” where many things were kept.  I remember being sent to the root cellar to get canned (canned at home, of course) goods, potatoes, onions or garlic.  By the time of my memories we had a refrigerator so I don’t have any firsthand experience of how she kept things before that. 

If you plan to bake things for yourself, then plan certain days when that will be done.  My Grandmother had to provide lunches for my Grandfather and a couple of my uncles back in the logging days so she had to have food ready.  She baked bread on Wednesday.  She made enough loaves to go through the week.  Cookies were on Thursday.  Pies and cakes were made the day she planned to serve them.  She had her menu for the week planned out in advance and had all the ingredients for those meals prepared sometimes a couple of days before the meal was cooked.  

I remember that she would boil a pot of potatoes and store them in the refrigerator for later use.  Sometimes they were diced for frying, sometimes made into mashed or potato pancakes or whatever.  The point being, she was prepared in advance.

Ok, now that we’ve got our tools and we’re prepared to productively use part of our day, it’s time to cook something. Let’s start with something easy.  How about Chocolate chip cookies? 

My Great-grandmother’s house always smelled of cookies.  She always had chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies in a cookie jar in the kitchen so when any of us kids would take the time to visit her, it was a rewarding experience.  Maybe she did that just so we would visit more often?  

I remember small grocery stores in our area that had their own bakery and the whole store smelled so great because of it.  That bakery smell would hit me as I walked in the door and those freshly baked cookies were fabulous.  It doesn’t seem as if I find those kinds of places any more.  If you want cookies in the store you buy the prepackaged ones. 

When you walk down the cookie aisle, you’ll see many different brands of chocolate chip cookies; crisp, soft, big, little, bags of miniatures, packages of two together…on and on.  Most of these I like ok.  I mean, is there such a thing as a “bad” chocolate chip cookie? 

But the ones my Mom made were always the best.  I like them about 2” in diameter and fairly crispy but not crunchy.  I don’t want to have to dunk a cookie in coffee to be able to chew it. 

The recipe I normally use is the one on the back of the Nestle’s chocolate chip bag.

 

Ingredients:

·                                 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

·                                 1 teaspoon baking soda

·                                 1 teaspoon salt

·                                 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

·                                 3/4 cup granulated sugar

·                                 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

·                                 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·                                 2 large eggs

·                                 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pan Cookie Variation Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

For High Altitude (over 5200ft) Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Here’s where you can start making this your own.  Semi-sweet, milk chocolate, butterscotch, cinnamon or whatever chips. M&Ms maybe?  Reeses pieces?  Add chopped walnuts if you want.  How about adding some toffee chips?  How about all of the above?  Remember, though, if you are putting in a couple of different kinds of chips, split it up so you put in about 2 cups of chips total.  To that you can still add a cup of walnuts and not dry out your dough. 

Be aware of what they look like when they are done the way you want them so you can make them the same way next time.  I like mine a little golden brown and crispy.  Light tan is a little softer and more chewy.  You can deliberately make them a little thinner and more crispy by adding a half stick more butter to the recipe. For light and cakey cookies use 1 ¾ sticks of butter.  That’s another positive about doing this yourself.  It’s ok to experiment!   

If you are making cookies for a varied group, you might want to either skip putting in nuts or at least ask the group if anyone has nut allergies. 

At a Roundup camp in Nevada one time, the dough in my first batch of cookies turned out really thin.  Just a film of cookie with lumps of chocolate chips in it.  I called it cookie leather.  It still tasted good but the cookies were super thin and crunchy.  As I was watching the first batch in the oven and seeing this happening, I realized my problem and fixed the rest of the dough.   

The cookhouse was at a higher elevation than even my home in Montana so my 4000ft elevation recipe didn’t have enough flour in it for my almost 6000ft location.  I added a half cup of flour and some water so the rest of the cookies came out the way I wanted.  We ate all of them anyway!

This is where a thin metal spatula is nice as it will easily slide under the hot cookies so you can take them off the pan.  If you’re kind of folding the cookies up because the spatula is sticking, just spray the spatula with a little pan oil each time.   

I like to lay the cookies out on waxed paper or even a clean counter until they cool and get a little more solid, then I can stack them on a plate or in a container and they keep their shape. 

Try it.  Make your own cookies.  It’s really easy, takes very little time out of your day and you not only have better cookies, the way you and your family like them, but the people you are cooking for think you’re a hero.   

Maybe the grandkids will visit more often, too.