Real Cooking

Last night, after I pulled the last bit of the last load of laundry from the washing machine, I peered into the empty tub to find…that it wasn’t empty.

Experience has taught me to always look in the washer after completing a load of my husband’s work clothes. I never know what I might find lingering there after the shirts and jeans, the gloves and coveralls have already started their ride in the tumbling dryer.

Last night there were two large nails, myriad tiny staples, a safety pin and a couple of strands of cleaned-“Bizzed”-and softened alfalfa stems.

I think they were alfalfa stems.

Now, as sure as the world if I say that stuff was alfalfa, when he reads this my husband will correct me and say, “Where did you get alfalfa? That was prairie hay.”

Whatever. It’s green and the cows eat it. And I have to clean it out of the bottom of my washing machine.

But that’s better than the dead mouse that I found once. I’m sorry, but it’s true. When Keith’s farm clothes are particularly dirty, he will leave them in the garage and, being the good man that he is, he will, before washing these extra grimy things, be considerate enough to go through the pockets and shake off the excess mire.

Well, one day, I got the jump on him and got to the “garage clothes” before he did. I checked the pockets but must not have been too thorough because later, upon unloading the washer, I found the dead mouse.

The rodent was squeaky clean and lemon fresh and I was so-o-o-o thankful he hadn’t made it into the dryer.

Ahh…. It’s these little unanticipated events that make farm life such a joy.

And so, well, not boring.

My sister lives in Southern California. Her husband has a nice job in a nice office in a nice building.

When our family visits her family, we often help out with the household tasks of meal preparation and laundry. And let me tell you, her laundry is really ho-hum. I never find anything interesting in my brother-in-law’s pockets except for maybe a few coins that he missed before tossing his clothes into the hamper.

And it’s all so clean. Of course, there might be an odd stain or two from a lunch drip or a coffee mug spill, but come on-I’m used to handling jeans with three layers of heaven-only-knows-what’s on them.

Well, to tell you the truth, from the smell, heaven isn’t the only one who knows what’s on those jeans.

My sister always has to ask her husband what kind of project he’s involved with at the office. I never have to inquire as to what my husband has been working on. I know because of the debris that comes out of his pockets and pants’ cuffs.

Yellow ear tags and empty serum bottles. He’s been tending to the cattle.

Nails and tape measures. He’s found time to work on our home addition.

Kleenex and milo kernels. Must be milo harvest-the dust always makes him sneeze.

Bolts, business cards, washers, silage, oily paper towels, money, sunglasses, gloves, pliers, dog food samples, pens, crackers in cellophane packaging-you name it, I’ve probably found it.

Not too long ago I found a socket in a pair of jeans, but not in the

pocket. I found it in the rolled-up cuff of my husband’s pants. I could just imagine him repairing some piece of equipment and then searching for that lost socket.

He probably thought he had lost his mind.

“I just used that socket…I know it’s here somewhere.”

It had dropped, landed in his cuff-which also, I might add, was full of silage-and wasn’t found until I came across it while doing the laundry. I just tossed it on the pile with the other reusable “treasures” I had found.

When going through my husband’s clothes in preparation for laundering, I never worry about finding lipstick on his collar or unidentified telephone numbers written in feminine script on scraps of paper.

No, I’m more concerned about thrusting my hand into an empty pocket and finding something slimy or sharp.

Or furry.

Like I’ve said, laundry on the farm might be a challenge, but it’s never boring.

* * *

Thanks for the responses for the sourdough starter I requested a couple of weeks back. Hopefully, we will be doing a piece shortly regarding that topic.

* * *

I’ve been helping a committee at Parkview Church find ideas for a ladies’ tea party that’s coming soon. One afternoon, while I was perusing the store shelves for inspiration, my daughter asked what I was working on. I explained I was trying to come up with some ideas for a sandwich or a pastry bundle of some kind-something the women might enjoy.

“Tell them to buy some Hot Pockets,” said Meg. “It’s a sandwich in a bundle.”

I don’t think that’s what they have in mind. Perhaps this recipe for a pita pocket might be more appropriate. I’ve never taken the time or trouble to make my own pita bread, but someone out there might be up to the challenge.

Curried Chicken Pockets

(Makes 12 sandwiches)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chutney

1 tbs. curry powder

6 cups cooked and cubed chicken

Pita bread:

1 pkg. active dry yeast

11/3 cups warm water, divided

3 to 31/2 cups flour

1 tbs. vegetable oil

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sugar

3 tbs. cornmeal

Combine the salad ingredients and refrigerate until serving. In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/3-cup warm water. Add half the flour, the oil, salt, sugar and remaining water. Beat until smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to form soft dough. Turn out and knead on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise until doubled. Then, punch dough down and divide into six balls. Let rise for 30 minutes. Sprinkle ungreased baking sheets with cornmeal. Roll each ball into a seven-inch circle. Let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool and then cut pitas in half, pulling sides apart to form pocket. Line with lettuce and fill with chicken salad.

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