Sunday, December 22, 2013

An "Upper Room" Christmas

This morning, as I sat with my head bowed in prayer, I thought about our upcoming Holy Days.  I thought of family and presents and the birth of our Savior.  I thought of how, as a people, we are so easily distracted from the shining light of truth and quick to cleave to worldly fancies, forgetting the source of our very breath.  This morning, as I sat with my head bowed in prayer, my mind was filled with heady thoughts.

During the Christmas season, we attempt to encourage ourselves to remember the "Reason for the Season".  We talk about celebrating "Jesus' Birthday" and read the account of His birth in an attempt not to get caught up in the spectacle that has become "Christmas".  We sing Christmas carols, bake cookies and give each other gifts, all while expressing our desire to emulate the greatest gift.  But, when all is said and done, we feel let down - like we are missing something.  Something big.

Truth be told, Christmas, along with all of our holidays is celebrated with food and family and friends.  And that is right and good.  Every one of the holy days of the bible were celebrated similarly.  They all centered around God's children (family) and feasting.  The feasts were a time of remembrance.  God instituted celebrations as an opportunity for His children to perpetually remember what He had done.  Christmas in our modern time is no different.  It is a time to remember the Savior, that is God, who became man in order to bring perfect reconciliation between sinful mankind and a holy, blameless God.  And we celebrate as in times of old, with fellowship and feasting.

As wonderful as Christmas is, it is all too often overshadowed by strife and discord.  We are consumed with finding that "perfect" present, baking cookies for every person we have ever met and decorating our homes to look like a spread in a glossy magazine.  And then, when the day actually arrives, we feel nothing but dread.  The family is coming.  Uncle Fred is difficult, Aunt Fran smells.  And then there's the drama of Aunt Martha.  She and her family always arrive late and grumpy, her children are sullen, her husband is contentious and she is always mad at someone in the family.  It is so bad that the other brothers and sisters take bets before she gets there as to who she will be mad at this year.  In reality, Christmas would be perfect if it weren't for the people.  They are a burden and serve little purpose but to ruin the "Norman Rockwell" image we have so carefully crafted in our minds.

And therein lies the problem.  We are so set on celebrating a "perfect" Christmas, trying to keep Jesus at the center, that we miss our true calling - one of sacrifice and humility.

Sitting in church this morning, the picture of a perfect Christmas played before my eyes.  It had nothing to do with snow or trees or presents.  There were no carolers or elves or jolly red men.  There was nothing but a humble room, twelve men and a soul intent on doing the will of His father.

Jesus, during his own last supper, revealed to us the perfect keeping of the feast.  He gathered his family (the twelve) together, for an afternoon of fellowship and feasting.  He prepared a feast for those he loved.  He ate and drank with them.  He shared his soul.  He even knelt on the floor before each man, removed his sandals and washed his feet, giving to him a perfect gift.  He did this with full joy mingled with heavy resignation.  He celebrated this feast with his imperfect family, knowing it to be his last feast on earth.  He broke bread with the man He knew would betray him for 30 pieces of silver.  He drank from the cup of the man that He knew would deny him three times.  He gave perfect gifts to a family that would betray and disown him.  He knew it - and he served them anyway.  His was the perfect feast - the perfect Christmas.

As you gather together to celebrate our Lord, remember who it is that you are serving.  You are serving the One who kissed his betrayer on the cheek.  You are serving the One who loved the man who would deny Him.  Can you do any less for the family He has given to you?

This year, celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  Forget the "Norman Rockwell" vision of Christmas and embrace the "Upper Room".  Love those that persecute you, serve those that revile you, kiss those that betray you.

Merry Christmas to you all.  I pray that your "Norman Rockwell" Christmas is replaced with the "Upper Room" Christmas and that God reveals His perfect Gift to every last one of you.

Merry Christmas every one.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Milestone Celebration - American Redoubt Style

Please forgive the photos - some were taken with the phone and the action shots were really hard to get!

December has brought with it a wonderful milestone for our family - Master Hand Grenade has turned 18!  Although not a big "party" family (we prefer quiet, homey celebrations), we decided that an 18th birthday warranted a party that was nothing short of spectacular and so we pulled out all the stops.

For a number of years, our older children have gotten together with a large group of other Christian young folks from the area (an area of about 100 square miles) to fellowship, play and dance.  During the summer months, the group gets together once a week in a park about 45 miles south of us to play Frisbee and volleyball and have a bible study.  They play hard, bring snacks and retire to a covered picnic area to study the bible and sing worship songs.  They are a wonderful group of people, comprised of kids as young as 12 and young married couples in their mid to late 20's.

Master Hand Grenade stringing the garland

Some well-placed ribbon and a little plaid seat
From time to time, the group gets together for a dance.  Not a modern, nightclub type dance, but an old-fashioned group dance that includes everyone, from the youngest children to the oldest grandparent.  They "line-dance" - dances popular generations ago, like The Virginia Reel, The Posties Jig, The Scottish Polka, Hunting the Fox, Whip the Willow, The Patty-Cake Polka and the Grand March.  Set to Celtic music, the dances are fun, fast-moving and all-inclusive.

The community center is dressing up

In honor of Master Hand Grenade's 18th birthday, Sir Knight and I decided to host a dance in our local community center.  What fun we had!  We set the date for a Friday night (the 13th, no less!) and sent out invitations (via one of the other kids' Facebook account) and set about with our preparations.

The morning of the party, the children and I headed into town to decorate the community center for the dance.  We didn't do anything too fancy, just wholesome and sweet.  We draped lots of burlap garland about, along with plenty of plaid ribbon, plaid throws and bows of fragrant evergreen.  We covered tables in festive table-cloths and placed electric candles here and there.  We had borrowed a sound system (complete with microphone for the dance caller) that hooked directly into our callers sound system (run on a MacBook) and were ready to go.

Father and daughter Do' Si' Do-ing

Bow to your partner.....
In the late afternoon, Maid Elizabeth and I headed to our nearest Costco, picked up 10 pre-baked pizza's, a sheet cake, bottled water and a few snacks and were homeward bound in record time.  By the time we got home, the children were dressed up out the door before we could turn the truck off!

We opened the community center at 6 in the evening and the first few people were already waiting outside.  They helped haul in the pizza's and other goodies and get the last minute details taken care of. By a quarter after six, the crowds began to arrive.  Our caller walked through the door at 6:30 and was calling the Grand March within minutes.

Dear Julianne of Providence Lodge and her Handsome Husband (She's going to kill me for this photo!)

Brother escorting sister - Master Hand Grenade with Miss Serenity

And the younger set - Princess Dragon Snack with her best friend
Wow!  What a night!  We had kids, families and even grandparents present.  Most of the folks knew the dances, although the few that didn't know them had nothing to worry about.  The experienced dancers were more than happy to show the inexperienced people the moves and the dancing commenced.  Dance after dance after dance were danced, people grabbing food and water when they were able.  Master Calvin danced the Grand March with his older sister while Master Knight and I helped lead the way.

Dancers Down!

Master Hand Grenade with his partner (Our Caller is the young man in the red)

Nothing but smiles

Taking a well-deserved rest and watching the action

Could there be a better 18th birthday party?

During one of the intermissions, the caller put on "swing" music so that a brother/sister duo could show us what swing dancing was all about.  Soon, a husband and wife joined in and in no time, the dance floor was once again full, with couples trying out their new moves.

We had a wonderful time, dancing with our children, our friends and all of the other neat people that we had an opportunity to meet.   I have to say, we sure know how to celebrate in the Redoubt - we are truly blessed!

Happy Birthday Master Hand Grenade!  What an honor to have been chosen to be your parents.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Case for Women's Liberation

I live a life of ultimate women's liberation.  My freedom is abundant and life-giving.  I truly am blessed among women.  I, Enola Gay, a stay-at-home wife and mother am the poster child for a new breed of women libbers.

Traditionally, women's lib has been associated with breaking the bonds of a restrictive home-centered life and pursuing the "fulfilling" passions of life beyond the family.  It has been about the "self" focused  desires of women to stand on "equal" footing with men.  Unfortunately, rather than women achieving their longed for freedom, women's lib has effectively shackled women with the responsibilities of both women and men.

When I was growing up, I bought into the "new normal" for women.  I eschewed the thought of marriage and children, embracing the idea of being independent, powerful and marvelously free.  I left my family home, moved to the city and went to work, enthusiastically embracing my new found "freedom".

Little by little, I realized that my "freedom" was nothing more than an illusion.  I had embraced women's liberation and in doing so I had shackled myself to the responsibilities traditionally shouldered by men.

Ten years I lost.  Ten years of doubling my burden.  For ten years I carried the responsibilities of both a man and a woman.  And then I woke up.   I left the false world of "women's liberation" and became truly liberated.  I was liberated from being responsible for financially supporting my family.  I was liberated from working for someone else for mere money.  I was liberated from having to go to work when I was sick or when my children were ill.  I was liberated from having to put aside my passions and desires simply because I had to collect a pay check.  I was liberated from working for someone else and was finally allowed to simply work for my family and myself.  I was liberated indeed.

Today, my husband got up and went to work.  It was 5°.  He works outside.  And his knee is still sore from knee surgery.  But he went to work.  He went to work because it is his job to support our family.  He doesn't particularly like his job, but he does it anyway.  Why?  Because that is his burden and he does it because he loves us.  My husband has relieved me of the job of living in a man's world.  I don't have to work outside when it is 5°.  I don't have to do physical labor with a sore knee.  I am liberated.

As a stay-at-home wife I have tremendous freedom.  I have the freedom to pursue dreams that would have been unattainable had I not left the working world.  I have the freedom to cultivate creativity, to create a beautiful home and to freely minister to all of the people that I love.  I have the freedom to work for eternal purposes, not just monetary gain.  I have the freedom to be a woman - nothing more, nothing less - just what I was created to be.

I can't tell you how thankful I am to have been liberated.  I am so glad that I do not have to bear the burden of both man and woman, that I am free to fully embrace my wonderful, abundant life.  Oh, the blessings of true women's liberation.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Gift of Thankfulness

When I was a little girl I had terrible dreams, night terrors, really.  I dreamt of running, being chased, dressed in rags, being hunted.  I could feel the cold, hear the dogs.  I ran, under cover of darkness, stumbling through snowbanks and hiding under dilapidated porches.  My dreams were always the same and even as a child they drove me to my knees in prayer.

We didn't have a television when I was little and we never went to the movies. I didn't have any scary images filling my mind. My childhood was wholesome and uncomplicated - and yet I dreamed unspeakable dreams.   I couldn't understand my dreams.  I had no idea where they had come from.  I knew only that they terrified me and filled me with dread.  And then I read "The Diary of Anne Frank".  At 9 years old, I sat curled in a chair next to the wood stove, engrossed in the story of young Anne, knowing in the very core of my being that this atrocious persecution was the stuff that filled my dreams.

That night, as I lay in my cozy, warm bed, I prayed.  I thanked God for warm blankets and a roof over my head.  I thanked Him for enough food to eat and indoor plumbing.  I thanked Him for my family and my gloves and my boots.  I lay in bed thanking God for every good thing I could think of.

My dreams kept coming, however, they didn't scare me as they once had.  I dreamt of running with my family and hiding and always being two steps ahead of my pursuers.  I dreamt of hiding in plain sight yet never being seen.  As a little girl, I began to plan for the future rather than fear it.

I grew up.  The dreams ceased, for the most part anyway.  I got married, had children and chased the American Dream.  Even so, every night when I got into bed, I would thank God with a grateful heart.  When the weather was snowing and blowing outside, I would snuggle into my blankets and thank the Lord for my comfortable bed and warm quilts.  And I would know that this could all end tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I could be on the run, cold and hungry.  But tonight I was warm and impossibility comfortable and I was thankful.

When we moved to our "Little Shouse on the Prairie",  I learned to be even more thankful.  Living without electricity or hot water or flushing toilets make me thankful to have oil lamps, a wood cookstove and an outhouse.  Living without refrigeration made me thankful for my pressure canner and living without a dryer made me thankful for the clothes horse my husband built for me.  But more than all of those things, I have learned to be thankful for every hardship, every inconvenience.  Why?  Because every difficult thing has been my schoolmaster.  Every impossible situation I have endured has strengthened me and built my faith.  Hardships and trials have wrought in me the great gift of thankfulness.  Because I have lived without, because I have struggled, I have the capacity to be truly thankful.

When I crawl into bed tonight, I will thank God for my impossibly cozy, comfortable life.  I will thank Him for the hardships that He has allowed in my life, knowing they have been His way of preparing me to trust Him completely.  I will thank Him for my warm bed knowing that tomorrow I could be running for my life.  And even then, I will thank Him for preparing me, in His perfect wisdom, for just such a future.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Years ago, I felt compelled to continue the traditions I had been raised with -  namely the Sunday Afternoon Dinner.  You know the one - Roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, freshly baked rolls - the tradition many of us grew up cherishing.  I loved walking in from church and breathing in the heady aromas emanating from my cozy kitchen.  I loved the familiarity of Sunday Dinner and the memories it would build for my children.  I loved that I always had dinner in the oven for spur of the moment hospitality opportunities.  But I didn't love the work - the hurried, even frantic Sunday mornings spent barking out orders to my children, just to keep things moving along so that I could have everything ready before we walked out the door for church.  I didn't love the mountains of dishes that awaited me after our big dinner.  And I didn't love never really getting a day of rest.

And so, I changed our tradition.  I began to cook our big family dinner on Saturday.  I varied the menu and rotated between roast, ham, chicken and even pork chops.   Knowing there would be leftovers, I began to plan soups for Sunday dinner.  Making roll dough the night before, I was able to turn Sunday into a true day of rest.  Now, Sunday morning is peaceful, no rushing or hurrying about and with a big pot of soup on the stove and rolls raising in the warming oven, we always have a meal ready for guests.  Sunday has become restful indeed.

Every once in a while, instead of soup, I will make Tea on Sunday afternoon.  Tea is generally light, not involving a lot of work.  Sunday Tea, served on our best china, bathed in firelight, is the highlight of a dreary winter afternoon.

This Sunday, Maid Elizabeth and I served a simple tea of Bacon Onion Galette and Biscuits with Raspberry Jam.  A Galette is nothing more than a savory, rustic tart with a fancy name.  It is quite simple to make - here is a rough recipe.

Bacon Onion Galette

1 pound bacon, chopped (or bacon bits)
3 large sweet onions
1/3 C butter (optional)
2 bulbs garlic, chopped
1 tsp. (or more to taste) Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 C Parmesan cheese

1 pie crust (I used my buttermilk pie crust recipe cut in half).

Chop bacon into small chunks and saute in large saucepan until just beginning to cook.  Add onion, sliced into rings.  Cover and continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding butter if more fat is needed.  Remove cover and continue to saute, adding chives (optional) and garlic.  Saute until the onions until they are caramelized.  Add the Dijon mustard and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Roll out pie crust into a rectangle (on a cookie sheet or rectangle baking stone).  Sprinkle the crust with about 1/3 C Parmesan.  Pour the onion/bacon mixture into the middle of the pie crust and spread to within 2 inches of the edge.  Sprinkle with another 1/3 C of Parmesan.  Fold the excess pie crust back onto the Galette.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 C Parmesan and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.  Serve warm.

Sauteing the bacon

Adding onions

Almost there...

Rolling out the pie crust

Parmesan added

I spread out the bacon/onion mixture and sprinkled with Parmesan

The crust has been folded over the Galette

Biscuits fresh from the wood cookstove

Tea is served!

This Galette is rich - you can only eat a small piece - but it is wonderfully flavorful!  Served with veg and a biscuit, it is perfect for Sunday Tea.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Breakfast on the Run

Sunday mornings at our house are often a hurried affair.  Getting 7 people ready for church does not leave a whole lot of time to prepare a hearty breakfast, but not having breakfast is not an option.  The few times I've hustled my family out of the door before feeding them I ended up regretting it - seriously.

Although I am sure that breakfast cereal is the quickest option, I can't quite reconcile myself with throwing sugar-laden fruity-O's at the children right before I expect them to sit quietly for 3 hours.  And so, I am always looking for ways to produce a good, hearty breakfast with the least amount of work in the shortest amount of time.  Well, a girl can dream, right?!

One of my favorite standbys is eggs in sausage cups.  They take about 5 minutes to prepared and 25 minutes to cook (during which time I can get everybody ready).  During the last 5 minutes of baking, I put homemade bread in the oven to toast and by the time the sausage and eggs are done, we have a complete breakfast - hot, hearty and full of protein.

Cracking eggs into the sausage cups

Notice the ones with just the whites?
The sausage cups are ridiculously easy - pinch off about 3 tablespoons of bulk sausage and press into each cup of a muffin tin.  Although the original recipe used olive oil to grease each muffin cup I thought that step was unnecessary since sausage really is self-greasing.  After the sausage has been pressed into the tin, I crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Generally, when I crack the eggs, there is too much egg for each cup, so I reserve a little of the egg white from each cup.  This works out really well since a couple of my children love egg whites but not the yolks.  With the reserved whites, I fill a few sausage cups with whites only - the children love them!  I fill all of the sausage cups with egg, except for the ones Sir Knight and I plan to eat - those we cook without egg.  We allow the sausage cups to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, pull the muffin tin from the oven and break eggs into Sir Knight and my sausage cups so that the yolks are a little runny when the cooking is complete.  Cooking the eggs for different lengths of time works perfectly.  The children have eggs cooked through thoroughly and Sir Knight and I have eggs "over-easy".  Paired with toast, these sausage cups are a perfect way to start the day!

Mostly cooked - I add Sir Knight and my eggs now

Add some toast and breakfast is ready!

Bake the sausage cups at 350° (or thereabouts) for 25 to 30 minutes (or until the eggs are done to your satisfaction).

Remember, sausage doesn't have to be pork.  Just about any ground meat mixed with sausage spices will work well.

NOTE:  Our children love to eat these cold - grabbing one on their way out the door to work or to play!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bishop's Song

Finally!  Joe Nobody's newest Holding Their Own installment is here!  At this point it is available in Kindle format only, however, the print version will follow shortly.

Joe weaves an adventurous yarn full of TEOTWAWKI excitement, carrying the reader on a rollercoaster ride of end of the world thrills.  Sir Knight has been anxiously awaiting Holding Their Own VI: Bishop's Song, since he was laid up with a knee injury and devoured the first 5 books.

If you have a Kindle and have been awaiting Joe's new book, you can click on the link below and satisfy your Bishop and Terri craving.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The One True God

The effects of the new "Affordable Care Act" (aka Obamacare) are being realized by nearly every American citizen.  The fallacy of "if you like your insurance, you can keep it" has been widely exposed as patently false and previously insured families have become the latest victims of an overreaching government bent on proclaiming its godhood.

Although our immediate family has not yet been affected (not yet, being the operative phrase), my parents health care has seen a marked change.  For years, they have scheduled a yearly physical.  They have no major health issues and their physical is merely preventative maintenance.  This year, they called to schedule their physical and were told that under the new Affordable Care Act legislation, they were no longer allowed to have a "physical", however, they could make different appointments, each specifically dealing with one aspect of their previously scheduled yearly physical.  During one appointment, they could discuss any health concerns with their doctor.  During another, completely separate appointment, they could have blood tests performed.  Yet another appointment would be required to address any of their previously discussed health concerns and test results.  Wow!  That makes sense - three appointments where one would have sufficed.

While this may not seem excessive to some of you (although I can't imagine anyone who would think this was a good idea), when you take into consideration that my folks live way out in the boonies and have to travel over 2 1/2 hours, one way, to make a trip to their doctor, legislation like this becomes ridiculous.  Not only did my parents have to make three 5 hour trips, they also learned that their coverage had changed significantly.  They had been deemed too old for numerous routine tests yet they now qualified for STD testing and birth control pills.  What?!

As you may have guessed, I am no fan of Obamacare.  I do not believe that the government has any business melding in our health care.  So why do they?  Because we have forced them.  We have become terrified of death and dying.  We have bowed down to worship at the feet of health and youth.  We no longer rely on God for our every breath.  Having dethroned God, we now believe that the State issues life.  And if the State issues life, then the State must also be responsible for health.

The truth is, that our very existence is a gift from the One True God.  The State has nothing to do with it.  I am not the State's responsibility - I am God's responsibility.  He made me, He cares for me and He sustains me.  He numbered the days of my life before I was born.  He counted the hairs on my head and breathed existence into my being.  As a child of God, I have nothing to fear.

I know that I may fall ill tomorrow.  I know that one of my children may be in a horrific accident.  But when push comes to shove, do I demand redress from the State, for help from an unfeeling bureaucrat?  Or do I appeal to the maker of the universe?

We have forgotten where our life comes from.  In our earnestness to make sure that everyone has equal access to health care - to take from one person and give to another, we have forgotten that we already do have equal access.  Rich or poor, healthy or sick, black or white, we all have the ability to kneel before the throne of God and plead our case.  We have forgotten that health is not our god.  That sickness and death may, in fact, be the very path to the salvation of our souls.  We have forgotten that our soul is by far more important than our body and that suffering can be the cocoon from which the greatest blessings and beauty emerge.

I am in no way advocating deserting prudent health care.  That would be poor stewardship and completely ridiculous.  I am, however, advocating that we become less focused on our "right to accessible health care" and more focused on the author of life.  The State is not our god.  The King of Kings alone bears that title.

The State is but a puny god.  Worship in Truth.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What I Didn't do Today

Today, I didn't roll out of bed, stumble into the shower and get ready for work while trying to figure out how to get all of the kids fed and properly clothed before sending them into the dark morning to catch the school bus.

Today, I didn't spend 15 minutes at a drive-thru coffee shop waiting for my morning cup of liquid energy just to give me the courage to make my morning commute.

Today, I didn't gossip with the ladies at the front desk or file paperwork for my demanding boss.

Today, I didn't spend my hours at the office feeling guilty that I wasn't home with my children.

Today, I didn't spend my hours at home feeling guilty that I wasn't at the office.

Today, I didn't grab lunch on the run.

Today, I didn't stress about missed deadlines.

Today, I didn't feel overwhelmed and resentful while making dinner for my family.

Today, I didn't eat dinner slouched in front of the television.

Today, I didn't get angry with my husband for asking me to do one more thing.

Today, I didn't go to bed feeling guilty about not spending enough time reading to, talking to or playing with my children.

Today, I didn't have to think of any man other than my husband.


Today, I loved my life.


Why do I love my life?  Because I have freedom.  I have the freedom to live my life for my family, to serve them, nurture them and care for them.  I have the freedom to create a beautiful home, cook wonderful meals and raise future heads-of-state (or at least heads-of-households).

Today, I got to have tea with my husband before he left for work.

Today, I got to cuddle with my children and make breakfast for them.

Today, I got to study the bible.

Today, I got to teach my children how to read, how to count and how to reason.

Today, I got to grind grain and make bread.

Today, I got to steam a pudding for dessert.

Today, I got to put dinner in the oven early, do the dishes, peel potatoes and create an impossibly cozy home for all of my family to gather at days end.

Today, I got to have tea with my husband when he got home from work.

Today, I got to read to my children, pay the bills and trek in the newly fallen snow.

Today, I got visit with my girlfriend as we watched the snow fall gently to the ground.

Today, I got to pray for my daughter's friend, shaken as she faces life's uncertainties.

Today, I got to stretch my feet before a warm fire and sip hot cocoa in the candlelight.


I have the best job in the world.  
Wife.  Mother. Daughter.  Friend.  
I am blessed beyond measure.


When asked if I am just a stay-at-home mom, I smile.  Yes, I am just a stay-at-home mom.  It is what I was created for - the job description was written in my DNA.  It is my job - and I want no other.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Using our Abundant Rose Hip Harvest

As I mentioned in "Providential Preparedness", this year the roses have produced fruit (rose hips) in abundant profusion.  They are everywhere - looking like small apples hanging from low-slung bushes.   Realizing that God doesn't provide unless there is a need, Sir Knight and I decided it would be wise to get rose hips while the gettin' was good.  We have spent the last few weeks transforming our rose hip harvest into many wonderful things - wine, jelly and dried hips (well, almost).

Our first order of business was wine making.  After picking pound after pound of rose hips, we lugged them home, plucked their stems, washed  and weighed them and prepared to make wine.  This is our first time making rose hip wine so I scoured the web for a recipe.  After looking over many, many recipes, I combined a couple of different ones and came up with one that looked good to us.

Our basic recipe is as follows:

Rose Hip Wine

4 pounds fresh rose hips
3 pounds sugar
1 gallon boiling water
1 tsp. black tea
1 tsp. wine yeast

Wanting more than 1 gallon of wine, we picked 19 pounds of rose hips.  We adjusted things here and there and this is the recipe we used:

19 pounds of rose hips
26 C sugar
4 1/2 gallons boiling water
4 tsp. pectic enzyme
1 pkg. wine yeast (Montrachet)

Sterilize (2) 5 gallon buckets and dived the rose hips between the two.

Add the sugar (divided between the two buckets) and the black tea (the black tea adds tannin - which naturally occurs in grape wine - and body to the wine.  Use 1 tsp. per gallon of wine for flower and grain wine).

At this point we also added the pectic enzyme.  The pectin enzyme is NOT required.  It does nothing to affect the taste, it serves only to keep the pectin (naturally present in rose hips) from congealing and making the wine cloudy.

Pour the boiling water (divided evenly between the two buckets) over the rose hips, sugar and tea.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved and gone into solution.

Cover tightly and allow to sit for 24 hours.

After the must (the wine liquid) has been allowed to sit for 24 hours, add the yeast (we split one package between our two buckets - 1 pkg. of wine yeast is good for about 5 gallons of wine).

Cover tightly for another 7 days, stirring once a day.

At the end of 7 days, strain the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a demijohn or carboy.  Fit with an airlock and allow to ferment.

Rack (siphon) the wine after about 6 weeks into a clean demijohn, fix the airlock again and allow to ferment.  The wine will continue to "work" (bubble and ferment) for another 6 months or so.  If the fermenting appears to cease (there are no longer bubbles moving), rack again and see if it gets bubbly again.  If it does, allow to ferment some more.  It may take 2 or three rackings before it is ready to bottle.  When fermenting has ended, bottle and cork.  This wine (from what I have read) really needs to age for about two years - but then it is out of this world.  In two years, we will let you know what we think!

The "Must"

Straining into a demijohn

We found that it was easier to hold the rose hips back while straining

Straining through cheesecloth

The left-over rose hip sludge (this is why we strain through the cheesecloth)

This is the beginning of rose hip wine
While the wine was stewing in the buckets, we picked and cleaned more rose hips to turn into jelly and dry for tea.  After cleaning the rose hips, I measured them for jelly and spread the rest on newspaper lined cookie sheets to dry in the wood cookstove.  It has been warm here lately, so the cookstove has been shut down, barely boiling along.  It was cool enough that I put the rose hips in the cookstove oven to dry.  Occasionally I would pull the hips from the oven and roll them around on the cookie sheet so they would dry evenly.  They were looking wonderful!  And then I forgot about them and went to church.  By this time the weather had turned cooler and I had opened the drafts to get the cookstove roaring.  I remembered those rose hips in the middle of the worship service.  Needless to say, when we got home from church, there was not much left of my wonderful rose hips.  And so, I don't have any pictures to show you of perfectly dried rose hips.  I will, however, tell you what to do with the rose hips after they have been dried.

Rose hips spread on a cookie sheet, ready to dry

Drying in the wood cookstove

Dried Rose Hips

Dry the rose hips (whole), in something other than a hot wood cookstove.  A dehydrator works well, or a gas range with the pilot lit, should be fine.

After the rose hips are thoroughly dried, quickly whir them through a food processor (or coarsely chop them).

Shake the rose hips through a metal sieve (mesh) to remove all the little "hairs".

Store your coarsely ground dried rose hips in a jar and use at will.  A few teaspoons steeped in boiling water makes a lovely tea.

Back to the jelly.  I tried a new recipe this year and I think it turned out wonderfully.  Rose hip jelly has a slightly wild, sweet taste to it - not something to miss.

Rose Hip Jelly

8 C. Rose Hip liquid
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 box pectin (or 1 C bulk pectin) (for looser jelly could reduce to 2 boxes or 2/3 C bulk)
8 C sugar

To make the liquid:  Use 2 quarts of cleaned rose hips.  In a large pot, place the rose hips and enough water to cover well, plus a little extra.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

With the back of a spoon, gently press the rose hips against the side of the pot to release more juice.  Try not to cause the rose hips to burst (if they do, you'll just strain the seeds through cheesecloth).

Strain the juice through cheesecloth to measure 8 cups.  If you don't have 8 cups of liquid, use water to make up the balance.

To make the jelly:  Measure the rose hip liquid into a large pot, add the lemon juice and pectin.  Stir well.  Bring to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in the sugar.  Continue to stir, return to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute (timed from the beginning of the rolling boil).

Remove the pot from the heat.  Skim foam from the top and ladle jelly into jars.  Wipe thread and rims carefully, then top with prepared lids and rings.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Bring the rose hips to a boil

Gently pressing the hips with the back of a spoon

Straining through cheesecloth

I strained a second time - just to have clear jelly

Making jelly

Ready for the shelves!

So, there you have it - all of my rose hip recipes.  I hope you take time to gather the harvest and enjoy the abundant blessings of God.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Providential Preparedness

When Maid Elizabeth was in grade school we made our way through Noah Webster's Value of the Bible and Excellence of the Christian Religion - 1834.  It is a wonderful book that was designed to walk young children through the bible so they could understand this incredible world that God made specifically for humankind.  One section really struck me with its simple wisdom - truths that should be apparent, but aren't.  Mr. Webster contends that even the geographical makeup of our planet is providential.  His conclusions are summed up in these few paragraphs....

29.  Esculent grains - The different species of grain intended for the food of men, and fitted to grow in different climates.  Of these rice is one of the principal kinds.  It grows only in warm climates, and its qualities are peculiarly fitted for a wholesome diet in such climates, which tend to produce fevers of a bilious type.  Probably half of the human race subsist on rice.

30.  Wheat, rye and maiz - Next to rice in importance is wheat, which give us the finest flour and best bread.  This plant is fitted to grow in almost every habitable latitude.  Rye, though less valuable, constitutes a large portion of food in parts of the earth not fitted to produce rice or wheat.  Maiz or Indian corn, a native grain of America, supplies an abundance of nourishing food both for man and beast.  This grain is wonderfully fitted to grow in different climates.  In the warmer latitudes, where the summer is long, it rises to the height of seven or eight feet, and in colder climates, its height is not more than four or five feet.

31.  Plants of less general use - In distributing the materials of food, the Creator has given to every country such plants as the climate will bring to perfection.  Oats are fitted for cool climates, and in such climates, grow to a larger size than in warmer latitudes.  Certain varieties of turnips and potatoes grow to higher perfection in the cool climates of Sweden, Scotland and Nova Scotia, than in the warmer climates and richer soil  of more southern latitudes.  Such facts prove the benevolence, as well as the wisdom and power of the Creator.

What struck me was that God provided the grains that would be most beneficial to peoples in every part of the world according to their climates and their physical needs. He created everything to serve mankind before he even placed men on the earth. As I schooled Maid Elizabeth, I began to call this concept Providential Geography.  It seemed a fitting description.

7 Gallons of fermenting Apple Cider Vinegar
This fall, as my family and I have been busy gathering the harvest, we have noticed something unusual.  Every wild plant in our neck of the woods is producing heavily - abundantly.  Unusually so.  While we were out picking elderberries for wine and syrup (medicinal), we had to carefully pick our way through rose bushes heavily laden with rose hips.  The fruits were as large as small apples and so heavy on bush that they were drooping under the weight.  Ignoring the rose hips, we harvested elderberries in huge, juicy clumps.  Pounds and pounds of elderberries came home with us while we barely made a dent in the elderberry bushes.

A bowl full of elderberries

Divided into buckets to make wine

Elderberry must fermenting in a demijon
After we got home and were busily removing elderberries from their branches, I began to think of those fruit-laden rose bushes.  The more I thought about them, the more I began to realize how unusual such an abundant rose-hip harvest was.  It dawned on me that perhaps there was a reason for such an overflowing harvest.  Knowing that God prepared the earth to perfectly support mankind, it stood to reason that He also prepared the plants to produce abundantly in anticipation of hardship.

Cleaning rose hips

Washing the hips

Divided for wine making

Sugar and yeast added
Within days, Sir Knight, the children and I were back in the wild, picking pound after pound of rose hips.  The fruit practically fell from the bush and filled our baskets, begging to be turned into wonderful things to fill our shelves - and our bellies.  We made wine and jelly and syrup and dried and ground the rest of the hips to be made into rose hip tea at the first sign of a cold.

As we worked, I realized that we need to prepare as God provides.  This year we had an abundant berry, apple and pear harvest.  Honeysuckle, elderberries and rose hips grew in profusion.  As God provided, we prepared.

I don't know if this is going to be a hard year.  I won't prognosticate on the likelihood of famine or plague.  I will, however, prepare for the future with whatever the Lord provides.  I will practice Providential Preparedness, just like my brother Joseph.  And I will know that God has provided, in advance, for whatever my family needs - as long as I have the wisdom to see His providence.