Thursday, July 27, 2023

Coffee That Is Easier On My Stomach

I used to blog a recipe every week and very often I would share my latest concoctions for homemade products.  Over the last eleven years some of them have been successful and others fell by the wayside. My latest has been very successful for me. I am not a doctor so I can't promote anything medically but only how it works for me.

I have written several times about my cancer journey. It is now almost seventeen years that I have been cancer free. I had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. With treatment comes side effects for some people. Although this is probably too much information, one of mine was gut problems when I ate certain foods. I have identified most of those foods, and I have very few issues anymore. I have either eliminated that food or find a way to tolerate it. One of those foods is coffee. I really like my coffee and definitely didn't want to stop drinking it. I find if I drink it with a piece of toast or some type of carbohydrate, my stomach stays calm. The carbs work but the best thing I do is put 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda in the cup of hot coffee. It takes down the acid, and I can tolerate the coffee.  I can slightly taste the baking soda depending on the strength of the coffee, but it is worth it. Taking too much baking soda isn't good for anyone. It cuts the stomach acid too much and interferes with digestion, but this small amount is fine for me. It is good to have an alkaline body but we need acid in our stomach for digestion. As with life, it's a balance.

Before I knew better, I got a Keurig coffee machine. I tried to use the biodegradable K-cups but sometimes I don't.  I do empty the used coffee out and put the plastic cups in with the recyclables. Whether that is helpful, I don't know. Most of the time I use my Aero Press. An Aero Press is basically a portable French press. It can make a cup of coffee as quickly as a Keurig. I actually run water through the Keurig and pour the hot water over the grounds. I just put my 1/8 t. of baking soda in the cup, put grounds in the Aero Press with the hot water and press it through.

Recently I added another step to the process. We all know studies that have shown the health benefits of Cacao. If you haven't heard of them there are tons of testimonials on the internet. It has almost no caffeine and is so good for a person. All I did was buy Cacao Nibs. They are crushed cocoa beans. I put a couple cups on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and roast them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. They smell like brownies baking. When they cool, I grind them in a coffee bean grinder and then put them in a jar. I drink my first cup of coffee plain and black but if I have another cup I add some ground roasted cacao beans to the coffee grounds. As with anything, it takes some getting used to. It has a hint of chocolate. I generally don't like flavored coffee, but I am liking this subtle flavor.

If you like coffee and chocolate, this is perfect.  Some people can drink coffee all day long without any side effects. I'm not one of those people, but this method makes it possible for me to drink a cup or two each morning.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Coyotes in the Neighborhood

The last blog I wrote was over a month ago. It was about my resident sandhill crane couple and the care they took with their colt.  I enjoyed watching them everyday, but I am sad to report the baby crane has disappeared. I watched the parents without the baby for a while thinking they were just giving it space to learn life skills. The more time that passed without seeing it made me realize it was gone. Today I found out what might have happened. 

I was outside preparing my garage window trim for painting. As I was scraping the loose paint off, I heard an especially loud warning from the sandhill crane couple. They separated themselves from each other and hollered as loud as I have ever heard them. I couldn't see anything unusual so I continued working. I was priming the window frames when I heard it again. It was clearly a stranger danger call.

As I looked again, I saw some movement in the cattails. At first I thought it was a dog, then a fox but lo and behold it was a coyote pup. It was eating something. With the water level down to almost nothing, I imagine the frogs are plentiful. It was just chewing away like it was having a snack.
Just a short time before Princeton's noon whistle was going off. As it was sounding I heard coyotes howling. I had a new roof put on my house a couple weeks ago and the guys told me that every day they would hear coyotes when the whistle blew. Today I heard it for myself. As with all animals, the babies are adorable but coyotes are not a good thing to have in the neighborhood. People will have to watch their dogs and cats carefully. After seeing this, I don't think our little sandhill crane colt had a chance.

There might be a whole pack of coyotes close by. The howling was definitely more than one. I haven't seen the bobcat for a while. I wonder if they will stay out of each others way. Things could get interesting if they don't.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Parental Love Sandhill Crane Style

Originally I just posted a few pictures on Facebook of a Sandhill Crane family in my marsh. I decided to put several posts together in blog form for a more complete story. For many years a Sandhill Crane couple have called my property home. Some years they have a nest that produces one or two young colts. Some years the nest fails, and they go about their business foraging all summer until it's time to migrate. After a failure, I have never seen them re-nest. I can't be sure if it's the same couple, but I think they are territorial and it is the same couple that show up every year in March. Sandhill Cranes can live over 20 years with proper food and conditions. My marsh is pretty much ideal. This year was different however. I saw them early in the spring but the marsh was completely flooded this year. I couldn't see any place suitable for building a nest. I am glad it flooded early because the most tragic year I have seen was flooding after the nest was built and the eggs were laid. We did not get any rain for the entire month of May. The water receded rapidly, and one day I spotted the cutest little baby crane with its parents. I don't know where the nest was but it must have been in a safe spot and within walking distance. The baby was very young and not close to flying yet, but he sure is learning how to become independent and spread his wings.

I wasn't sure where this little family was sleeping so I was happy to observe them pick out a spot within viewing distance from my window. As the marsh dried up, a mound of dirt appeared. It was surrounded by boggy marshland. A couple evenings after I first observed the family and after giving baby a little nudge, I saw the parents fly over to this mound. 

The baby was left alone and he couldn't fly so he started walking over to his parents. The dad flew back to watch from the shore and the mom watched from the sleeping spot. It was not an easy task. He got stuck many times. I don't know crane behavior that well but it looked like the parents were teaching the baby how to problem solve. Fortunately he made it. Both parents watched carefully. I want to believe they would have stepped in with some sort of rescue if necessary. The mama was right there to greet him at the end. I could just hear her say "good job".

When they all were settled in their new space, it was time to sleep. The young crane is still sleeping under his mother's wing. She would lay down and then he would crawl in. The bigger he gets, the harder that will be.


Day after day the process of getting to the nest wasn't easy. The mom would fly over, the dad would stay on the shore and the baby would make its way across nearly drowning. The task did get easier as the marsh dried more and more. The young one learned the easiest path across and didn't have as much trouble the last couple days. They had a schedule. Every afternoon they would move closer and closer to the sleeping area. Some days they had to contend with interlopers. A family of geese thought they could also stay in the same area. The cranes didn't want any part of that.

Then one morning about 3AM, I heard the famous loud cry of the Sandhill Crane that we are all familiar with. It was still dark out but I had the windows open. I could see the silhouette of the male crane. It must have been a warning. I went back to sleep and checked again at 5AM when it happened again.  This time the family packed up and left. They haven't returned. I think they were too vulnerable out in the open without the safety of the bog to protect them. Also, the baby was getting to big to be protected by mama's wing. I still see them. I think they are sleeping in the tall grass. The baby isn't a baby anymore.  He wanders off and gets his own food.  I am sure he will be flying soon. I will never know what scared them that last night, but parental love or instinct is protecting their offspring. Just as it should be.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cemetery Visit 2023

For as long as I can remember, my parents would visit the cemeteries of loved ones before Memorial Day. It was called Decoration Day when I was young. They would make an occasion out of it and take my grandparents or other family members. It was a big deal to get flowers for the cemeteries. My parents would always take a rake and do some landscaping. My mom's parents and grandparents are buried in a country cemetery in City Point, Wisconsin. Every year they would pull weeds (probably spray them with Round-up before we knew how bad that stuff was) and bring in a fresh load of white rock. It was tradition. Now they are gone, and I feel I should keep up that tradition. I don't go all out like they did, but twice a year I visit the graves of my ancestors. My parents are now buried along with my dad's parents and other family members in the Neillsville, Wisconsin cemetery. Although Memorial Day is meant for those who died in the armed service, I continue the tradition of Decoration Day, which it was called until 1967.  

This year I had intended to use "real" flowers, but soon realized that I live too far away to keep them watered. A two hour drive is pretty far to drive to water plants when watering my own plants gets to be a hassle after awhile! As much as I don't like silk flowers, that is what I use.  

My husband and I always took a day to do this, but now my daughters take me. Last week we went to the Neillsville cemetery first. It was a gorgeous day. We did a little maintenance, but mostly we put out the flowers and reminisced. It is interesting with every trip I notice a connection to friends and family I hadn't noticed before.

Next stop was a little drive around Neillsville and a sandwich at Hardee's. I hadn't been to a Hardee's restaurant for years. Then we drove to City Point.  

I love this cemetery. It is a quiet old cemetery in Jackson County Wisconsin. It has been cleaned up and is now being maintained better than it was. I miss some of the old bushes and trees but understand why it needed to be spruced up. I don't bring in stone and do the job my parents did, but every year I try to do something. I planted irises a couple years ago and I was so pleased to see they were blooming. 

I will bring more next time because they are such a low maintenance flower. I was warned not to plant hosta but I did. I was told the deer would have them eaten before I left the driveway. I guess they did because not one hosta survived. I planted lilacs and they were gone too.

We took a lot of time walking around. With all my recent genealogy reminders I realized that most of my grandpa's siblings were buried here with their families. My mom would walk around every time they visited. I hadn't paid much attention but now I know that half this cemetery contains many of her aunts, uncles and cousins. They had all settled in this area after immigrating from Denmark. Eight of the ten children came to America. I don't think they spent a lot of time together however. Each family had their own struggles making a living and feeding their families. I remember my grandpa visiting with two of his brothers, but I never knew about the others. If my mom talked about them, it wasn't very often. Some had died when my mom was young, leaving only stories. One particular story was know by all. My grandpa had a brother named Soren Peter. He went by the name Peter. He was the oldest brother. 

As the story goes Peter was a bartender in nearby Merrillan, WI. One day two vagrants came to town. They were trying to sell stolen goods. The Marshall followed them into the saloon and attempted to arrest the men. One slipped out the back door but the other drew his gun. The Marshall called Peter to help and in the struggle Peter was killed.  He was 40 years old and unmarried.  Fast forward to several years ago.  My mom was walking the cemetery and found Peter's grave buried in the ground with only the top showing. She was so happy to find his grave after so many years. I found this image on Find A Grave. 

Last week I noticed this gravestone. It looks new and and is positioned right next to his sister's daughter who died when she was just 15 years old. Someone has remembered him by placing a stone. If any of my relatives know who this was, I would like to thank them. What a wonderful thing to do.

I had mentioned in an earlier post about the spelling of Jepsen (Jepson) name. Grandpa was so adamant about spelling his name with a "sen", but apparently the others spelled it with "son". I noticed that even my grandpa's name was spelled Jepson on his Declaration of Intent to become a citizen. I think when other people filled out paperwork, names got spelled many ways. 

As with most things in life, even cemeteries have changed. Many people are not living close together in communities. People are living and dying all over the world. Another thing that is happening is many people are being cremated and their ashes are being thrown to the wind, some over golf courses, lakes, and many other favorite locations. I think of old cemeteries as libraries where families lived together and stayed together after death. A lot of information can be gleaned from cemeteries. It is going to be much harder to track families without gravestones. Of course with technology records are getting easier to access. I think I want to be put in a permanent place.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Expire


This is my public service announcement. It is another thing I knew but paid no attention to since my husband died. I guess he didnt' either because both my detectors are too old. Carbon monoxide detectors do expire. 

My story starts with my busy (or almost busy) day. One grandson had a track meet and another had a band concert. I headed out about 2:30pm to go to Ewan's track meet. It was raining, but I packed up a blanket, warm jacket, raincoat and umbrella. I was almost there when the track meet was called off. My decision was to go a half hour back home or stay until Jack's concert at 7:00pm. I decided to go back home but started visiting with my daughter and before I knew it it was silly to go home. My other daughter told me to come for supper before the concert, so I went there. The concert was awesome, and I got home at 9:15pm. I had a snack and noticed a raccoon had figured out how to get onto the camera bird feeder. I yelled at him through the microphone, but alas he came back. They aren't as cute close up. but I let him be and planned how to fix that in the morning. 

By the time I was all ready for bed, it was 10:45. In the quiet of the house, I could hear a beep. I got up and gradually worked my way to the sound. It was in the basement. Yikes, it was the carbon monoxide detector. I looked and it said "get to fresh air". I called my daughter and said I was coming back to her house. I got dressed, packed Pj's and was in the car again. It was 11:11. Those who know me know that was comforting. I had presence of mind to take the batteries out of the device before I called my daughter and tried new ones. Nope, it still beeped. I didn't investigate or troubleshoot any further. I don't think clearly under pressure. On the way, I had more time to think logically. I thought my upstairs detector didn't go off, but the door was closed so maybe it hadn't detected it yet. Every one was in bed when I got there, so my daughter put me in one of their spare bedrooms. Surprisingly I fell asleep quickly. In the morning we googled carbon monoxide detectors. I didn't know they have a relatively short expiration date. After seven years you need a new one. I also didn't know all the information is on the back of the device. Apparently when the detector beeps every 30 seconds it just means it is dead. If it has a continuous sound, it is time to vacate and call 911. It also has the date on the back.  I thought this was the  "new" one, and it was made in 2005.  Time passes so quickly sometimes.

So my advice for today is to check your detectors. Both of mine are too old. Thank goodness nothing bad happened the past few years. I felt confident they would alert me and never gave it a thought. Today I will be replacing them. It is a very nerve wracking feeling to think you have to vacate your house especially late at night.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Gifts Come In All Forms

Recently my cousin Deb moved into a new space. She had a lot of photos she had acquired from cleaning out her parents home. Since she doesn't have the time to go through them or the space to store them, she asked if I wanted to look through them. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I was sure there were some treasures in there. We put them in one of my spare rooms because I admit I was a little surprised at the amount. I'm anxious to dive in although it may take a while.

I have only just begun, but it renewed my interest in family history. I have been gathering information for many years, but I haven't done much with it. I'm still not sure how to handle all this information, but I may post some stories on this blog to document a few of them.

My mother had an Aunt named Ella. She was her mother’s sister, and they were very close. My grandmother died when my mom was 13. Besides her older sisters, Aunt Ella was the closest thing my mom had to a mother.  Ella had some tragedy in her life also. Her husband went fishing one day in November and never came home. I never knew any details, but he fell out of the boat and drowned.  He was 51 years old. They didn't find his body until spring. It was 1938, the same year her sister Martha died. 

Ella was also very close to my mom's oldest sister Agnes. Agnes never married and took being the oldest of ten children very seriously. At the age of 73 Ella moved to Madison, Wisconsin and into the same apartment building as Agnes. I worked a short distance from their apartment and visited them often.  During that time Agnes had Ella record her story as she remembered it. This is a transcription of that story. It ends with Ella still in her apartment. She was an amazing woman full of grit and gumption. I guess she had to be to survive all she had been through. Eventually she moved to Neenah, Wisconsin to be near her daughter Audrey. Ella died in 1983 at age 91. Sadly her daughter only survived her by one year and her son by two years. This is Ella and her son in 1977. She was 86 and he was 65.

The story is interesting because it mentions how both her parents came from Schleswig-Holstein Germany. I knew this area was close to Denmark because my paternal grandfather immigrated from Denmark in 1900. We lived in Stoughton, Wisconsin which was a very Norwegian community at the time we lived there. Grandpa made sure that everyone knew his name was spelled JEPSEN and not SON. He always said that is how you tell a Norwegian from a Dane. Norwegian names have ON and Danes are EN. Ella's father's name was PETERSEN. I was curious, so I looked it up. I found out that this area was under Danish control during the Viking age. There was confusion over the years as to who this area should be ruled by. In the 19th century both Germans and Danes believed they had claim to Schleswig-Holstein even though most of the population were ethnic Germans. The dispute was known as the Schleswig-Holstein Question. In 1848 Denmark tried to annex the area. There was a war and Denmark was victorious, but a fight broke out again in 1864. This time Prussia and Austria won and the area was absorbed into Prussia. After WW I some of the territory went back to Denmark. In her story Ella says her parents were born in 1852 and 1855. That was the time when Denmark had control. Were they Danish or German? The E in Great grandpa's last name tells me he was Danish, but I guess it doesn't matter anymore. Enough of this speculation. This photo is Henning Petersen and Christine Matson's wedding pictures. These are not normal photos they look like chalk drawings. I am not sure how that was done, but they are in very good condition. These photos are 140 years old unless they were done at a later date from this existing photo which is 140 years old. I think it is amazing it survived all the trials and tribulations that this couple endured.

Here is Ella's story in her own words. 

The Memoirs of Ella Petersen Belter

I will try my best to think back 73 years or so, to recall the experiences of the Petersen family.

My father and mother, Henning Petersen and Christine Matson, were both born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Mother, March 23, 1852 and dad March 25, 1855. They had met in Germany and become engaged before coming to America, in 1882. The traveled with two of mother's sisters and their husbands. Mother worked for a year before they were married as a cook in the Mandel Brothers store. Dad worked as a cabinet maker, a trade he had learned in Germany. They were married August 25, 1883 and had six children, 3 boys and then 3 girls. Every other child died in infancy. The three children were Chris the oldest, Martha and myself, the youngest born in 1891. Dad continued his work as a carpenter and mother took in boarders. They then moved to a farm in Indiana where they lived a short time and then moved back to Chicago where they bought a China Store on Milwaukee Avenue across from Coons Park. I was born after they returned to Chicago. Dad worked and mother had the store and three children to care for.

One day as dad was going to work on an open street car, he was pushed off by the crowded number of people on the car. His left leg was run over by an oncoming street car. He was rushed to the hospital before mother was notified. They operated three times removing more each time. The last surgery removed the leg just below the knee. They were going to operate again and remove the leg above the knee when dad said "I will go home and die first".  So he went home and they got a different doctor who made one clean cut below the knee and saved the rest of his leg. He then got an artificial leg. He was never able to return to work but did help with the store. They carried butter, eggs, tea and coffee, in addition to a lovely selection of fine china.

I had just started school and was in the first grade when dad decided to sell the store and move to a farm in Oblong, Illinois. Mother did not want to do this as they were doing very well in the store and had just gotten a start. Again dad had his way and soon found that he did not like it in Oblong, so we moved to Tilton Arkansas. The land which he had bought unsight unseen turned out to be under water and the house was a shack built on stilts, as were all the houses in the area. The sidewalks and the railroad tracks were built above the water. In the spring they moved in with a man who had been divorced and drank a lot. We had two rooms in his house. This man was always singing "the water is cold and chilly and I am called to die". One day, when his horse returned without him, they found him drowned. He had fallen off the horse. We were all sick most of the time from fever and chills, so much so that again dad decided to move while we all were still alive. They settled for a team of horses and a covered wagon, and we started north like a band of gypsies...and there were gypsies ahead or behind us most of the way. They wanted to tell our fortune but we did not let them as we were afraid of them. When we crossed the Missouri River we lost them. We were stuck often in the red Missouri clay, and the poor horses had to pull so hard to get us out. We would cook over a campfire, and buy milk and eggs from farmers along the way. Mother said that she never had it so good. We slept in the wagon and had the little furniture we had shipped by freight to Clinton, Iowa. After 6 weeks we arrived in Clinton, Iowa where dad had a brother. Dad got work in Kelly's furniture factory, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, about 2 miles from home. We bought a horse and buggy and mom drove dad to work in the morning and got him at night besides taking care of the three of us and caring for a cow, pig and chicken. I went to school and Martha went to Chancy School with Libby Moody, about 2 miles. They carried their lunches. Chris got a job in the wagon factory, 10 hours a day, l6 days a week. We rented a small house. I remember the teacher asked me where I lived, and I said "the $5.00 house". That was the rent we paid. When I told the folks what I told the teacher, they laughed-later I realized why they laughed. Later we bought a very nice house, 7 rooms, 2 bedrooms upstairs, a fenced in yard, a barn and of course a two seater outhouse which everyone had at the time. Our dog Bismark went with us from Chicago to Arkansas, then to Clinton and died of old age in Wisconsin Rapids.

We stayed in Clinton about 3 years and had just gotten a nice start and a feeling of security and settled, when dad again got the wanderlust, and he and his brother Hans heard of the wild land in Wisconsin, so they went there and each bought 80 acres. There was no road leading to the land and no bridge over the river.

Dismal as the sight was, dad moved his family, and uncle Hans also. We all moved into a shanty type house with 2 rooms upstairs, and 2 downstairs. The five of us lived downstairs, and Uncle Hans and family, six of them lived upstairs. This was about six miles from the land and each morning, in the cold winter, the three men, dad, uncle Hans and Chris would go out to the land and cut the logs and haul them to a sawmill two miles away, where the logs were sawed into lumber and hauled the two miles back. Each family built a house across the road from each other. One part of the house was for the cow and horses. We had one room downstairs, and one very low room upstairs. We could only stand upright in the middle of the room. We had not any stairs, we stood on a trunk and then a couple boards nailed to the two by fours to help us climb up. The men did all this without any heat when they got there and a frozen lunch, and dad with only one leg.

I went to school near Pittsville and then was told it was not my district, so I went to Veedum, both schools were at least 2 miles from home, which I walked. The roads were not plowed in the winter, so I had to make my own path in the winter. I went from October to January to the first school, and January thru February in the Veedum school. I lied about my grade, said that I was in the second grade, as we had no report cards. Then in March we moved on to the wild land and there was no more school for at least two years. The closest grocery store and post office was Veedum five miles away. The fellow who owned the store was Stumph, a good name for anyone in that country. We got a weekly newspaper, The Minneapolis Tribune, which was old news when we got it, but I did not know the difference. We lived on this isolated place for about two years, dad and Chris had cleared some land, but the money had run out, so the folks moved to Wisconsin Rapids where dad and Chris found work in Overbeck's furniture factory. Martha, Mother and I stayed until they found a house for us. Mother took in boarders, and had as many as 9 men for $3.00 a week, which included washing and ironing, and two good hot meals a day. Breakfast included pancakes, fried potatoes, meat and eggs.

I again started school, and this time said that I was in the 5th grade. One month in the 6th grade, we returned to the farm in October. This time we stayed three years, during which time Martha was married and was living at City Point, and the rest of us moved back to Wisconsin Rapids. After two years the folks moved back to New Dam and I stayed in the Rapids. I worked in a box factory, did house work, and worked in the paper mill for $1.00 a day. I worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I boarded with Mrs. Jensen, and during this time I met Herman. We went together three years and we married in Merrill, December 30, 1911, in his mother's home, with only his sister and three friends as witnesses. It was a very snowy Saturday. We had pictures taken Sunday morning and then Herman left for Menominee where he worked and I left for the farm until he got a place for us. The end of January, I went to Menominee and we stayed in the hotel until we found a two room furnished apartment and heated. Later we got a house and the folks gave up the farm and came and lived with us. Orby was born here October 12, 1912. We were not in Menominee very long when Herman got an offer to work in a piano factory in Milwaukee. It was better pay so we all moved there and dad got a job too, Shortly thereafter, the Menominee Piano Factory asked him back again, so we repacked and headed back for Menominee, hardly got settled when Herman received a letter from Stang & Ellis sash and door factory where he had worked before, offering him a better job, so again we repacked and moved to Wisconsin Rapids-the folks came later and lived with us. Herman was superintendent of the factory, and we built a nice home there. Dad helped with the finishing of it. Audrey was born in this home October 16, 1917, We sold the home and rented for a year, then we bought our old home back, trading in 80 acres of wild land in City Point across from Martha's place. The former owners had improved the home, and had put in a furnace. About 8 years later, we again sold the home, as the factory was moving out West. I did not like to go that far away, as the folks were now quite old and dad with only one leg and mother on crutches. Herman was transferred to Merrill to run the sash and door factory. We were there a year when he was offered a job in Wausau running Silbernagel's Sash and Door factory. We rented a house on Third Ave. on the West side. Agnes stayed with us for two years, when she went to high school and normal school. We built a home on Young Street in 1929 and the folks came and lived with us during the winter and went to Martha's in the summer. Dad died in December 1935 while living in Pray, Martha in January 1938, Herman drowned in November 1938 and his body was not found until April 29, 1939. Mother died July 13, 1943 and Chris died April 1967 leaving me the "last leaf on the tree".  I went to work in the grocery department at the Fair Store and worked there for twelve years. I was 64 when I quit. Audrey got married November 28th, 1947 and lived with me for 9 years. Russell was born while they lived with me. Later they moved to Oshkosh and I lived alone for five years. I sold the home in June 1961 and moved to Neenah and lived with Audrey for three years. August 2, 1964, I moved to Madison at the age of 73, and worked at the girls's dorm for four school terms. Ten months, half day and no Saturday or Sunday work. I haven't done anything for five years now. January 30, 1972, I fell down and broke my hip. I was 80 years and 6 months when it happened. I was in the hospital for a month, at Audreys for 4 months. July 8th I came back to my apartment and I am getting along fine. I take the bus to various shopping centers, but get tired after walking 10 or 12 blocks. 

This is a picture of the three Petersen children. Ella is the little one on the left. Chris in the middle and my grandmother on the right. I am assuming this picture was taken before they moved from the good life in Chicago.

Ella was an amazing resilient woman. I am so happy I had the pleasure to know her. She talked quickly as you can probably sense from her story. She would say "honest to God kid".  One time she used lye to clean something and got some on her leg. It ate her flesh down to the bone, but somehow she healed it herself. I bet she didn't want to stay in the hospital a month when she broke her hip. My favorite part of her story was the last sentence and it said everything about her personality. At 81 and recovering from a broken hip she got tired when she walked 10-12 blocks. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Cashew Milk

In the previous blog about our St. Patrick celebration 2023 (, I briefly wrote about Cashew Milk. I am writing this blog so the recipes can be searched easily without reading all the other details of the celebration. Even though I make this often, I want a reference for myself as well. It is easier than digging through all my unorganized recipes in a drawer.

Real dairy milk has been around since there were cows. Everyone thought it was the perfect food and for much of the population this is probably true, but my family is very intolerant of dairy products. We like the butter, yogurt and milk but it doesn't like us. When my youngest daughter was a newborn baby we discovered she couldn't tolerate cow's milk. We found out for sure when she ended up in the hospital for a week when she was eight months old. In her growing up years we bought fresh Goat's milk from a local goat farmer. Gradually through her teenage years and young adulthood, she let some dairy into her life. She didn't overeat it and somehow was able to tolerate it in moderation.  Then as she grew older it became evident that it wasn't worth the side effects. This is true for others in the family also. Fortunately in this day and age substitutions are readily available. The trouble with some of these products are the additives to make it to look more pleasing and to maintain its shelf life. If you ever check the label for Almond or Cashew milk, the expiration date is a long time from purchase. That fact in itself tells a lot. 

I have learned to make my own Cashew Milk from raw cashews and water. Raw cashews can be purchased in a lot of places. I recently bought a bag from Walmart for $9.99 for 14 ounces.  That is equivalent to almost $11.50 per pound.  I began a search for a more affordable product of a similar quality and was able to find them for $6 per pound but I had to buy five pounds.  That isn't a problem because I use them regularly.

Cashew Milk

1 cup raw cashews (pieces are fine)

4 cups water

Soak the cashews for two hours and drain off the water.  

In a high power blender add the soaked cashews to two cups of water.  Blend for 2 minutes.

Then add the rest of the water (another 2 cups) and blend for another minute.

It's ready, no straining necessary.  As you can see, it's a white creamy milk that can be interchanged with dairy milk in most recipes.  

Cashews have a good heart healthy fat.  It has magnesium which most people need more of especially if you have muscle spasms. it has a low glycemic index for anyone with diabetes, its a good source of phosphorus for strong teeth, provides 10% of your recommend iron and provide antioxidants for the eyes, skin and hair.  It seems to be a healthy alternative to dairy.

With the milk I make Greek yogurt the exact same way I made it with cow's milk.  Cashew yogurt in the grocery store is very expensive.  A 1/2 cup container can cost $2 or more.

Cashew Yogurt

4 cups of Cashew Milk

1 heaping Tablespoon (or up to 1/3 cup) of starter (I bought a container of cashew yogurt that had live cultures)

After the first batch with purchased starter, just save back enough to use in subsequent batches. 

Heat your milk to 180 degrees.  You can use a saucepan or the microwave.  Use a digital thermometer to make sure the milk is hot enough.  Then let it cool to 110 degrees.  Stir in the yogurt starter.  I usually put the yogurt starter in a small dish and add some warm milk just to get it mixed.  I then add it to the cooled milk. Now just incubate it for 10-12 hours. Those with an instant pot just make it in the cooker on the yogurt setting. I have an old yogurt maker which keeps the mixture at the proper warmth. Just keep it warm any way you can. When the time is up, I drain off the excess liquid. You can use cheesecloth or a fine sieve like a nut bag.  Just put in the refrigerator and let it drain for a few hours. The excess whey drains and leaves a very thick Greek yogurt. The whey can be used in bread or soups. It has beneficial bacteria in it as well.

Cashew Milk Pudding

Pudding can be made with Cashew milk.  Either use the box mix or make it from scratch.  Be careful with the box mix because some of them have non fat dry milk in the ingredients.  Jello brand does not.

To make cooked pudding you will need:

3 1/4 cups of Cashew milk

3 T. cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar 

Pinch of salt

3 egg yolks (mixed together)

1 t. vanilla

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of milk

In a saucepan, whisk the remaining milk, salt and sugar and begin heating until it's steamy and not boiling.  Slowly add some of the warm milk to the egg yolks.  This is called tempering and the eggs won't curdle this way.  Slowly add the egg yolks back into the saucepan with the cornstarch mixture. Cook whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Put in dishes covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

I also make overnight oats with this milk.  My favorite is Apple Pie Oats.

1 apple (granny smith preferred but gala or other varieties work well)

1/2 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup Cashew milk

1 T. pure maple syrup

1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate in a jar or sealed container overnight. I can't eat all of this recipe at one sitting so I scoop some out in a dish, add a little more milk and heat for a minute in the microwave. 

As i mentioned before this homemade Cashew milk can be used in most recipes that use dairy milk.  It can be used for coffee creamer.  I have blogged about making Almond milk and Oat milk but this is by far the easiest and best.