Fishing Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,518 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,653 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Outpost/Fishing Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I collected my knots: double surgeon’s loop, turle, barrel knot, Palomar, and clinch. I was giddy with excitement (and also hunger). The first step was to head out to the Department of Fish and Game! (I am trying not to use so many exclamation points, but I felt that deserved one because I’ve never been there before.) Other places I’ve yet to go to:

Spatulas R Us

Shirley You Drive Truck Rental

NincomSoup

Wok This Way

Curl Up and Dye Salon

But I digress. Anyway, my fellow fisherwomen, my mistresses of the sea, my water babies, I ventured into the Department of Fish and Game with eagerness. I was ready to learn all about my state’s laws and regulations and to familiarize myself with the available fish (not to mention the bait with which to lure said fishies). The people there were so nice. They didn’t even look too confused when I asked them why Palomar got a knot named after him/her. Well, they didn’t have an answer either, but they seemed nearly as intrigued as I was, so I felt like I really fit in.

I chatted for a bit with a sweet gal named Debbie. Turns out, Debbie was an expert fisherwoman, and once I cultivated her friendship with a latte and a homemade granola bar, she was willing to share a few helpful hints with Yours Truly.

Hey, I’m not above bribery.

Idaho, my new bestie said, is home to the best Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in the world. She showed me what they look like (a peculiar sort of beauty: I find it more attractive on a plate with some wild garlic and a wedge of lemon). Did Debbie merely point out a crudely drawn rendition of a salmon? Oh, never let it be said. No way, Jay, she pulled out her wallet and unfolded what looked to be hundreds of snapshots of herself with her catches.

Methinks Debbie does not have children yet.

Or if she does, they are either extremely shy or hiding behind the ginormous salmon.

I was immediately intimidated by Debbie’s catches. Don’t worry, she assured me, you’ll be starting out small, and odds are, you won’t be pulling out fish the size of a Volkswagen any time soon. At least she hoped not. Debbie is competitive.

With my arms laden with stacks of brochures, I finally left my home away from home, the Department of Fish and Game (no exclamation point needed now that I’ve been there).

Once home, I settled my cravings with a tuna melt and burrowed down for the evening with my rules and regulations, and also my handy-dandy wall poster on bait. Although I was determined to live up to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s standards of a good old worm on a the end of a piece of string attached to a stick, I didn’t mind knowing the more modern stuff, too. You never know. Apparently, fish are picky little things sometimes, and you have to experiment with what they like on any given day. I can relate. I mean, sometimes there’s nothing better than a medium-rare steak with some tossed greens, but other times, all I really want is a PB & J! So I get it, fishies, I totally get it.

I dreamed that night of fish and worms, baits and knots, Laura and Debbie. It was a restless kind of sleep, that kind that only comes when you know you’ll be rising with the dawn, pulling on your waders, and goin’ fishing.

Jump on in, girls, the water’s fine.

 

Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Debbie Platt!!!

Debbie Platt (GardenGirl50, #5353) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner & Intermediate Level Gaining Ground Merit Badge!

“As a Master Gardener I have learned lots about composting. I have been to Sonoma Compost twice to learn about composting. Sonoma Compost is a wonderful program operated by our county waste management. They turn everyone’s green waste (curb pick-up) into OMRI listed organic compost.

After I became a Master Gardener (in 2011), my husband and I built a permanent composting system. It has three sections that are about 3x3x4. We have about an acre and a half of gardens and trees. So we have lots of materials for me to compost. I have a little chipper so I can shred up what I prune from my garden. I add all my vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, and I shred paper, newspaper, light weight cardboard and add that. I have chickens so I have chicken manure to add. I get a full wheelbarrow about three times a year to put back in my gardens.

It has been great to have the 3 bin composting system. It is a lot easier to manage. I love that I rarely if ever have to buy compost. With my homemade compost I know what is in it.”

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Old Recipe Measurements

Hello Ladies, For anyone lucky enough to have recipes from previous generations, you may have hit the same dilemma I have: the language of non-standardized measurement. Or is it the non-standardized language of measurement? I think it is both. What has been your experience with things like this recipe instruction: “butter the size of an egg”? I waaaaay overdid it with my Grandma’s recipe for cherry pudding, which is really a soft baked loose bread pudding kind of thing, but when you make it with too much butter, you get a very unappealing wad of yuck. Does anyone have a “translation guide” for recipes from 1930 or earlier? Thanks! Cindy

Egg-sized? Hmmm …

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Photo by Luisfi, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cindy’s note from our Farmgirl Connection chatroom sent me scrounging for information. I love old recipes! More precious, perhaps, than heirloom jewelry, furniture, or even photos passed from one generation to the next are the secrets of sustenance honed by the hands of women who lived—and cooked—long before our time.

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Photo by Nils Keyland via Wikimedia Commons

But, back then, measurements were made by eye, by hand, by intuition. When a woman knew her recipes by heart, she had little need of specific language to describe them, especially when she passed them to her progeny by means of show-and-tell.

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Photo by Eva Bruggmann, CC-BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons

“Older recipes, such as before the late 1800s, often used imprecise measurements … Many times, a cook would learn a recipe by watching someone else, rather than by reading a cookbook,” confirms the Farmer’s Almanac. “Experienced cooks knew intuitively how much to add, or found that precise measurements weren’t needed in many cases. A pinch, a dash, a fistful or handful, etc., might be common in these recipes.” In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that pioneering cookbook author Fannie Farmer helped to standardize U.S. cooking measurements.

Before Fanny, cookbooks regularly called for such quantities as “butter the size of an egg.” To make matters more confusing, there were inconsistencies in measurements that are set in stone today. “For instance, one cup of sugar would be a larger amount than one cup of butter because a sugar measurement was supposed to be level, but butter was measured as a scant cup,” explains Choosing Voluntary Simplicity. “Baking powder or soda was measured by the heaping spoonful (which meant that the top was to be rounded up as much as the bottom of the spoon), but spices were measured by the level spoonful. Cooks of the day just ‘knew’ these things.” So, how can we continue to enjoy recipes whose language is lost in time? (Pottle, peck, or pinch?) Fortunately, there are a few places online where you can find translations for some of the ambiguous amounts used in old recipes. Here are a few fun ones from “Home Cooking” on About.com:

  • 1 jigger = 1.5 fluid ounces
  • 1 gill = 1/2 cup
  • 1 teacup = a scant 3/4 cup
  • 1 coffeecup = a scant cup
  • 1 peck = 2 gallons, dry
  • 1 pinch/dash = what can be picked up between thumb and first two fingers
  • 1/2 pinch = what can be picked up between thumb and one finger
  • 1 saltspoon = 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 dessert spoon = 2 teaspoons or 1 soupspoon
  • 1 spoonful = approximately 1 tablespoon
  • 1 saucer = approximately 1 heaping cup

And, by all means, the butter:

  • Butter the size of an egg = 1/4 cup or 2 ounces
  • Butter the size of a walnut  = 1 tablespoon
  • Butter the size of a hazelnut  = 1 teaspoon

 

Pay It Forward Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,518 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,653 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Pay it Forward Merit Badge, I had to channel my inner camel. What’s that, you say? You know, that humpy, lumpy, dumpy animal that can go for days without food? Or is that water? Well, whatevs, my dears—I’m no zoologist. I just know to earn my badge this week, I was going to do a little math and do a little fast. (See what I did there? Made a poem.)

Anyway, the math came in when I did a rough calculation of about how much it costs to feed Yours Truly on a weekly daily hourly (ahem) basis. It takes a lot of fuel to keep this much cuteness going, in my defense. Then from there, I got to take that amount (from one meal) and donate it to my local food bank, and—get this—skip that meal myself.

Gulp.

I’m not very good with skipping meals, I confess. I get a little shaky, a little grouchy, a little panicky.

In short, it’s a good thing it’s Halloween season, cuz if I find a broom, I may be riding it around my house shortly.

But it’s just one meal, Janie my girl, I tell myself, you can do this. I am woman, hear me roar.

Or whisper for a cracker, whatever the case may be.

But to my surprise, that didn’t happen at all. Fasting for a cause was nothing like forgetting to eat breakfast! Maybe it was because I was doing it for a reason, maybe it was because I wasn’t focused on myself so much, maybe it was because I had the Trucker’s Omelet Special that morning … but I didn’t even miss it. It was a miracle! I felt really good (except for the gravy-smothered hash browns, which were totally not loving me back).

Each time I got a little hungry, a little tummy-growling action, a little persnickety, I stopped and thought: Too many people go through this feeling (times a hundred) every day. I patted my stomach and told it to simmer down, and it did. Obedient little belly have I.

By dinner time I was, of course, slightly on the famished side, and I wouldn’t say I was at my best, personality wise, but still, I had gone without and learned something in the process:

  • how to help my local food bank (more on that with Level Two of this Merit Badge)
  • how to be aware of and lower my own food budget
  • the meaning of this word:

Hangry: hang-ree, adj. A state of anger due to a lack of food, causing irritability and a negative change in an emotional state.

 

 

Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Sue Hacker!!!

Sue Hacker (Teenie weenies, #5458) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Level Horse Dreams Merit Badge!

“In my back road drives, I found myself admiring those cute little tiny horses. I knew nothing about them or if they required more because of their small size. After talking with a trainer friend, I learned they were so easy to care for and required less hay, and space. I also learned they are great for cart driving for adults, which looked pretty fun.

I kinda peeked on craigslist to see miniature horses were on there, and found a handsome little sorrel paint. He was with a rescue group and a lot older. I looked at the rescue site, and saw a little miniature mare, the same age. I inquired about him, then about her, and asked if it’s possible to get them both. They said that would be ideal because they have been together all their life. But If I wanted just one, that would be okay too. Without any hesitation, I happily adopted them both and even a cart to drive him. It didn’t take me long to realize he knew how to cart drive, but he’s happier just enjoying the retired life with his little woman. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to make Sniffy and Libby part of our family.

Um, well… it has turned dangerous – in the best of ways. I have since rescued three other horses and have been continually learning more about not only horses, but different breeds. I am always sharing the joy of horses with my daughters and encouraging them to enjoy these amazing and beautiful animals.”

Herbs Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,518 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,301 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Garden Gate/Herbs Merit Badge, Intermediate Level, I continued onward with my obsession desire to make the perfect homemade tea. Since it was going to be a while before my cardamom was ready to harvest, I decided to try another (and faster) indulgence:

Mint!

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I love a good cuppa peppermint or spearmint tea, especially on a chilly winter’s night, or iced on a busy summer’s day. And it’s not as heavy as my beloved chai, a fact my jeans will testify to.

Unbeknownst to me, there are more than just good ol’, tried-and-true spearmint and peppermint. Have you ever heard of … drum roll, please …

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Herbs Merit Badge, Part I

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,518 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,301 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Garden Gate/Herbs Merit Badge, I decided to make my barista’s life a little easier. You see, I’m a real chai lover: that subtly spicy, oh so creamy, delectably frothy, so-thick-you-could-chew-it beverage of choice. Especially during the fall season (oh, let it begin soon). I could pretty much drink my weight in chai lattes. Okay, okay, I am a pint-sized gal, but still. You get my drift.

Anyway, I was really fine-tuning my chai specifications and it was starting to wear on my barista. She was beginning to get the shakes around me, and I don’t think it’s simply because she gets an employee discount on her grande, almond, double-shot mochas. It was because my order was a bit … well, specific. Tailored to fit my tummy’s needs. Complicated. As in,

Medium-sized chai latte with goat’s milk, heavy on the nutmeg, light on the cloves, sprinkled with cinnamon, extra cardamom, dash of grated ginger, drizzled with local honey, in a tall cup with room for sprinkles.

It was getting a little out of hand, I admit.

But the taste! Ah, bliss in a reusable travel mug … come to Mama, sweet thing, come to Mama.

So, anyway, when I realized there was a badge I hadn’t even touched yet and it involved knowing and growing herbs, I was all about it. Sadly for me, the first thing I learned is I don’t live in Sri Lanka, so growing my own cinnamon was going to be an unrealized dream for moi. But cardamom was a possibility, and I jumped in with both feet. I could already taste my homemade chai. It was going to be epic. It was going to knock my socks off.

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Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Sharon Demers!!!

Sharon Demers (#5392) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner and Intermediate Level Weather Merit Badge!

“I know that I must have learned about weather when in school, but that was a long time ago. It was fun getting a refresher course while researching for this badge.

I learned how the atmosphere (the gaseous envelope surrounding the earth, composed primarily of nitrogen and oxygen) contributes to weather conditions reflecting changes in temperature, moisture/humidity, pressure changes, and air masses and fronts.

The air associated with a high pressure system sinks down from above and warms as it does so and is very stable. High pressure systems tend to cover a greater area, move more slowly, and have a longer life.

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photo-of-the-day

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