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Some tips on
Living Simply

Tips on when you get Cabin Fever

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By Pat Mestern

Winter has been long which brings to mind the old adage that after looking at four walls and a ceiling forever, there is need be under a blue sky. Cabin fever has struck again. Time to consult the unusual job list. Because snow squalls are sweeping across our area, it is prudent to be inside, and a great time to bake because the oven will add heat to the house, alleviating the oil bill.

Laundry is done and hanging on racks in the upper hall. As usual, a fan is distributing the moist air throughout the house. I heard about a gadget that hooks into the clothes dryer hose. It traps the lint while filtering the moist air out into the home. But as I never use my dryer I have not tested a unit.

What am I baking? So far today, six large quiche, four grand tourtierre- a French Canadian meat pie and four dozen cookies. Recipes are at the bottom of this letter. A roast will be popped into the oven for supper. Baking will be frozen for use later in the month. Even when working full time outside the home, I always found time to bake in bulk. It takes a dedicated hour, all equipment and ingredients at hand and some great background music. Creating from-scratch baking can be soothing to the soul under the right circumstances.

Many people wonder how so much be accomplished so quickly. The realization struck this household some time ago after a near-death situation that we only have one life to live, and that it should be lived to the fullest of our ability. Every minute-of every hour-of every day-of every year is precious. Priorities were sorted out and acted upon. I am home because a conscientious decision was made that we could live very well on one income, and little dribbles of another, as a writing hobby was gradually turned into a career, of sorts. We never regretted the decision. There was no financial hardship when hubby decided to retire because we had by then cut our living expenses in half. Yes, research has shown that with no mortgage, no car payments, no outstanding credit card debt, most can live comfortably on one-half present household income, the key being no debt.

Many parents, because of necessity, work outside the home. The question has to be asked, what is the necessity? If to put a roof overhead and food on the table, that is a legitimate reason. If to pay off debt, two income households can be justified until all is cleared. If the money is used to put status wheels in the drive, electronic gizmos in the house, and designer clothing in closets, there should be some examination of motives as to why both parents are working. Of course, there are circumstances when only one parent is in charge of a household and takes on the responsibilities for two. God bless all who are in that situation.

I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said - the nation is in a bad way if there is no real home; if the woman has lost her sense of duty or has let her nature be twisted that she prefers a sterile pseudo-intellectuality to the great and beautiful development of character, which comes only to those whose lives know the fullest of duty done, of efforts made, and self-sacrifice undergone. I am not a hard-nosed traditionalist who believes that women should remain in the home. Our situation was such that I could contribute more if I stayed at home. I trade recipes and tips with house-husbands, no problem.

Speaking of teddy, as in bears, they tend to accumulate when there are children and grandchildren around. A good way to store these cuddly creatures is to hang them on a teddy- tree. Hubby made a pole that fits nicely in a corner of a bedroom. For top-to- =bottom hangers he used coat hooks that can be bought in any hardware store. A loop was sewn on each bear so that it could be hung. Looks great. Keeps teddy out from underfoot too.

Due to BEARS ACROSS BORDERS, the house is usually full of stuffed teddies. When the need arises, they are packed in boxes and shipped to locations across North America. BAB sends good used (and sometimes newly donated) teddys to nursing homes, disaster relief sites and other special-circumstance sites, when requested, and when bears and mailing expenses are at-hand. BEARS ACROSS BORDERS was spawned from a local street festival, The Great Teddy Bear Caper. It began as the result of a request that was sent to the mascot "Scotty McBear" for teddys to be sent to a nursing home in Georgia whose residents were living in "poorly circumstances."

Who remembers the cozy bundle-bags that were popular during the last fuel spike? They look like sleeping-bags. You zipped yourself into one for an evening of reading or T.V. viewing on cold winter nights so that you wouldn't have to turn the thermostat up to keep warm. They are back and feeling good. People around here make them out of colourful blankets. They sew up the bottom end overlapping the fronts a bit to keep the feet warm. When inside they pull the top around their shoulders like a shawl. There's nothing warmer with a cat tucked inside with you to really generate heat! You can make bundle-bags for every member of your family.

Do you save one dollar coins? By the end of Y2000, we deposited $2342 from change saved throughout the year. In Canada we have a one and two dollar coin. These add up if a conscientious effect is made not to spend any coinage that comes into the house. As the roof needs to be replaced in the spring, this found money will come in handy.

Here are several tips from an eighty-six year old neighbor, Nora. Wrap candles tightly and put them in the freezer for several months. They will burn slower and cleaner if you do. She has a half dozen large plants in every room because she says they must be watered and sprayed regularly which adds to the humidity in her home. Nora wraps family treasures and gives them away as birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents because she says the joy is in the giving of heirlooms why she is still alive to watch the reaction of those receiving an item. Her favourite gift to receive is a placemat that is really laminated art from her great grandchildren.

On the topic of children's art work. Keep a portfolio of any that you get. Have several favorites laminated and use to decorate the children's room and tuck the rest away. At an appropriate time, when your child has grown into an adult and moved away from home, give the portfolio of cherished memories to him/her. Watch for the delighted expression as they rediscover their hand-work.

Here is a great cabin fever job, have some of your good family photographs duplicated and make albums of them for each of your children. Add to it as necessary. They will appreciate receiving this beautiful gift on their graduation, marriage or other special occasion. Include a family history. This might not be important to a child in her twenties, but for a forty-year-old, it is heritage found.

Now for the recipes, as mentioned above. Tsp=teaspoon; tbsp=tablespoon. Have a great bake!

TOURTIERE, a Meat Pie: Serves 6 people

Can be made with ground pork or beef, but traditionally the Tourtiere is made of pork. You will need enough pastry for a double crust pie - for each Touritere you make. I make 5-6 meat pies at a time. They freeze well. This pie is great served with chili-sauce, tomato sauces and lots of pickles. I also add a little brown or maple sugar to the crust for variation and have been known to throw a pinch of sage into the crust too.

Pastry for a double crust pie
2 good sized potatoes
1 and ½ pounds ground pork - you can substitute pork and beef or all beef
1 medium onion, chopped fine
½ cup boiling water
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 celery stocks, chopped
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ to ½ tsp sage
A pinch of ground cloves and a pinch of ground nutmeg

Boil potatoes, mash with a bit of margarine or butter and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine meat, onion, water, garlic, celery, seasonings and spices. Cook over low heat until ½ the liquid has evaporated and the meat has lost its red colour. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for another 45 minutes. Mix mashed potatoes into the cooked meat mixture and let cool.

Roll enough pastry for a bottom crust and line a deep nine or ten inch pie plate. Fill with cooked mixture. Roll the top crust and cover the meat pie. Seal tightly then prick or slash to the top crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-40 minutes.

QUICHE, Makes one pie that serves five people

One unbaked pastry lined nine/ten inch pie pan
6 slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled or ¼ cup cooked ham chopped
2 tbsps finely chopped onion
½ cup grated Swiss-style cheese
4 eggs
1 and ½ cups milk
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of pepper

Spread bacon or ham onto unbaked pastry in pie pan. Sprinkle with chopped onion. Cover with grated cheese. Beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over meat/onion in pie pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until set. Serve immediately or very warm.

, Makes 3 dozen cookies

¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 and ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups corn flakes

Cream together shortening, sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in vanilla and corn flakes being careful not to break up the flakes. Drop by spoonfuls 1" apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until done. Remove to wire racks.

CURLY TEDS, Makes 4 dozen large cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp corn syrup or honey
¼ tsp cloves
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup raisins
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped nuts
1/8 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and corn syrup. Add dry ingredients and fruit alternately with milk. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until done. Remove to wire racks.

Oatmeal is a staple food in our house as it has been in my ancestor's homes, for generations. Oatmeal cookies came into their own in the mid 1800's. Today, recipe for oatmeal cookies must number in the hundreds. The following recipes are the best I have in my book.

SPICY OATMEAL CRISPS, Makes 4 dozen cookies

½ cup shortening
1 cup corn syrup
1 egg
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 and ½ cups quick cooking oats
¼ tsp cloves
1 cup cut up seeded raisins

Cream shortening. Beat in corn syrup and egg. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Mix well. Add rolled oats and raisins. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2" apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on sheets for a few minutes before attempting to lift off.

NOTE: Always let cookies that have corn syrup or honey in the recipe sit for a little while before lifting from the baking sheets to wire racks.

CRUNCHY CRISPS, Makes 4 dozen cookies

1 cup shortening or margarine or combination of both
1 and ½ cups brown sugar
1 egg
1and ¼ cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup flaked coconut
1 and ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
White sugar

Beat butter, sugar and egg. Add oats and coconut to creamed mixture and stir well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to mixture and mix well. Shape into small balls with your fingers. Dip the top of each ball in white sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork which has been dipped each time in white sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until done. Remove to wire cooling racks.


½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
¾ cup coconut
1 cup flour
½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg. Add all dry ingredients including the coconut. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Press down with a fork dipped in cold water. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire racks.

Enough of oatmeal! How about a change? How about a recipe found in a cabinet at Stonehome? I''ve modernized it for you. I have no idea who this belonged to but they are an excellent thin, crisp cookie.


1 cup margarine
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp soda Pinch of salt
1½ tsps maple flavouring - you can substitute vanilla if maple is not available
3 cups all purpose flour

Cream margarine and sugar. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add walnuts, baking soda, salt and part of the flour. Mix well. Add the remainder of the flour and mix well. Make the dough into three rolls approximately 2½" in diameter. Chill overnight. Cut thin with a sharp knife and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake on the middle rack of a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until done. Cool on wire racks.

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