PostScripts from Blessing

The official blog of author Lauraine Snelling and the fictional town of Blessing, North Dakota

August 1902 - A Note from Ingeborg

My dear friend,

It's been awhile since we talked, so I decided to write and let you know what is happening here on our farm. Each year seems to fly by faster and here we are nearing the end of summer and harvest is in full swing. For us here in Blessing, that mostly means wheat first and then oats for cattle feed later. The field corn is the last because it can still be harvested after a frost since the corn is already dry. Astrid has always enjoyed rubbing two ears of dried corn together to feed her chickens.

I must admit to a bit of pride. We are known for setting a table of good and plenty of food for the threshing crews. We, meaning Kaaren, Ilse, and our girls and me, start getting ready for breakfast long before daylight by setting the bread to rising. Today we can buy yeast which makes baking bread so much easier and faster. Today we served four meals, those men need a lot of food to keep going in all the heat and dust in the fields. Breakfast was oatmeal slow cooked all night,served with cream and molasses or brown sugar, pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, sliced ham, apple sauce and all the coffee and milk they could drink. We feed about ten to fifteen men and boys. For dinner we had baked ham, potatoes and gravy, string beans with bacon, dill pickles, sweet pickles, fresh bread, hard cheese, cottage cheese, corn on the cob, baked beans and apple pie, chocolate cream pie and custard pie. We served lunch in the afternoon oof ham and cheese sanwiches with cookies and lemonade. Supper was roast chicken, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, three kinds of vegetables, the rest of the baked beans, sliced cucumber salad, lettuce and tomato salad and ginger bread with lemon sauce for dessert. We just get the kitchen cleaned up in time to start the next meal. As I reread this, it makes me hungry just thinking about all the food we prepared.

Of course the garden is producing so fast that we have to can in amongst all the cooking, beans especially can't wait. I read that in the south they have summer kitchens in a separate building. I'm thinking of building one for next year and at least do the canning out there.

I have to confess that by the end of the day I am so tired that I cannot think straight, but I rejoice that harvest here lasts only about a week, shorter than it used to be because of all the new and better machinery. We send the cook wagon along with our crew since some of the other farmers don’t feed the men well enough. Haakan says a man can't work good on an empty stomach and he is right. We never have trouble finding enough men for our crew because we take good care of them. The month when Haakan is gone harvesting gets pretty long. He teases me about missing him but I can't help it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You asked for my recipe for pickled beets so I am including it. Wash and cook the beets, let them cool and you can slip the skins right off. Then slice the beets and cover with a brine made of equal parts of vinegar and sugar. I sometimes add a couple of cloves to each jar. Pack the sliced beets loosely in the jars, cover with the brine and lids and process in a hot water bath for twenty minutes, just enough to seal them. See, I told you it was a simple recipe.

I sat for a few minutes on the back porch and let the breeze blow cool across my face and neck. God is so good to provide shade and a breeze. Of course I was snapping beans while I sat there, but there is something restful in snapping beans sitting in a rocking chair in the shade.

So many years ago it was that I planted those cottonwood trees by the house. Haakan said the leaves would plug the down spouts but the shade is so appreciated.

I thank our God every day for our friendship and I pray that all is well with your soul, as it is with mine. I promise to write more often.

Your friend,