Libertyville High School

my mother Treva McCarthy attended Libertyville High School in Illinois. Now you might be asking yourself why I have tagged this with Camp Mishawaka? When I attended Camp Mishawaka as a counselor in 1969 one of the camp directors was Norm Erickson and he also attended Libertyville High School. Surprisingly he knew my mother. Even more surprising to me he told me my mother was a swinger. He also liked my mom and told me a lot about her that I di that I didn’t know before. So here I am I at Camp Mishawaka learning about my mother from virtually a complete stranger. That was a Twist to this post.

Thinking about Christmas

IMG_20171013_133728 I recall a Christmas 2 years ago when I was sitting in my easy chair gazing at the Christmas tree. To the right of me was a roaring fireplace keeping me nice and warm. Outside I could hear the wind howl as snowflakes swirled about. Yet within me that night was a peace that passes all understanding. The only gift I ever craved was a babe wrapped in swaddling Cloths. It was one of the best Christmases that I ever experienced. Let the Peace of Christ reign in you this Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Lowell Tensmeyer

IMG_20171019_062510 I’m including my friend Lowell as part of my family because in essence he was. I often referred to him as my second father. We enjoyed studying the Old Testament of the Bible often. Plus I would take counsel from him both in person and over the phone. He worked for Eli Lilly as a scientist. Sadly he passed away four years ago and I miss him to this day. In life one  rarely meets someone like Lowell.  Fortunately for me I knew him many years.

The cottage my grandmother disliked

my grandmother enjoyed old things and was heartbroken when the old Cottage was torn down. It had been her home since coming from Lithuania. My aunt couldn’t wait to move into the new Cottage. My grandmother missed her old kitchen and so did I. She slept on the second floor among bats. These bats are not Louisville Sluggers. It is hard to understand grandmothers. Aside from her kitchen argument everything else about the new Cottage was much better. The bed  was sure softer . But to my grandmother  that first cabin  was her only true home . She never came to accept the new one .IMG_20171016_183930

My arch enemy

IMG_20171006_142505 what you see here is my archenemy. In the event you do not know I am 6 foot 10 inches high. My mode of travel on Lakes or Rivers is a rowboat. A dingy if possible. Canoes and I get along like Fire And Gasoline. I wouldn’t trust a canoe on Solid Ground. Being so tall is a detriment for taking a canoe anywhere. My back would not tolerate the strain. Plus I would have not made a great actor playing an Indian. My personal motto is ban the canoe.

When is a Township Hall not a Township Hall?

IMG_20171003_141759 the answer to this question is quite simple. This is the Sauble Township Hall on the Eastern shores of Big Bass Lake. But in the days when my dad was a child it was known as The Big Bass Lake School. My dad was not allowed to use English at home even though it was taught at school. My grandparents were Lithuanian as was half the population around the lake. This particular school was a one-room School consisting of six grades. Any teacher must have been frustrated by such a situation including having to deal with Lithuanian families that would not allow their children to speak English at home. Comments?

Dangerous ice

  • IMG_20170921_161359 it might have happened that this author never existed. The reason why was the ice on Big Bass Lake. My father was bringing a Christmas tree home across the Frozen Big Bass Lake. As he was walking across the icy surface the Ice broke and he fell into the lake. My dad was fortunate in that he was able to find the hole and climb out. Others aren’t as fortunate. How many people walk on  unsafe ice and lose their life?

My mother’s grandmother

this lady was Dorothy Lemming and she lived our family until her death  in  1964 .  She was known as grandma Buddie and  she spent  her early life  in Vaudeville .  My father and her  did not get along  as she had a tendency  to dominate .  My father had a hard time  putting up with that . But my three sisters  adored her .  I was more like my father  in this regard . Even though we called Wabash Indiana our home  strangely enough she is the only one buried there . IMG_20171118_184831

My Grandmother’s Bread Recipe

I don’t think our old farmhouse kitchen ever smelled better than when my grandmother was baking bread. While the loaf was still warm she would cut it into slices and there was always homemade preserves of jam on the table with butter. I remember the peach and cherry jams and how they highlighted that ever so warm tasting bread. It would literally melt in your mouth.

So how about a recipe for old fashioned bread?

Making homemade bread is so rewarding, especially when it disappears before it even gets a chance to cool. I can remember how good and soft the insides were, and how crunchy the crusts were.

Here is the basic recipe for old style country bread
4 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups water
3/4 tsp yeast

Bread making is 10% recipe and 90% technique. Sugar, oil, eggs and milk can cause breads to get stale faster, an old style country bread is the kind one might find in a paper bag or basket on the kitchen counter.

Lets get started on our technique. You will need to mix together the salt and the flour in a large mixing bowl. Then make a well in the middle of this mixture and put the yeast in it. Next you will need 2 cups of 75 degree water. This doesn’t sound like it will be warm enough since you are used to 110-115 degrees for regular bread. This is just warm enough to activate the yeast and will make sure that your bread rises slowly. Next pour this water into the well and mix until the yeast dissolves,then start mixing in the rest of the flour. This will be sticky to the touch but don’t add more flour or you won’t get anything but heavy regular bread. The dough will be less sticky after it has been kneaded a bit.

After you have the flour all mixed up, turn it out on a very lightly floured bread board. If you do not have a bread board, dampen your counter and sprinkle flour over it, then lightly smooth the excess flour to one side.

Kneading old style country bread is a bit different then regular bread in that you don’t use the palms of your hands, instead you will stretch and fold the dough. Pick it up and throw it down, fold it over and slap it down on the counter some more. Keep doing this for about five minutes then cover the dough with a clean cloth and let it and your arms rest for five minutes. Repeat the kneading for another five minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic by now. Cover up the dough and let rise for exactly forty-five minutes, no longer. After forty-five minutes have passed, knead the dough for five minutes again, then let it rise for forty-five minutes again. You will need to repeat this one more time. Make sure the room that you are rising the dough in is at least 70 degrees, and not nore then 75 degrees.

While waiting for the last rising, you will need to prepare a baking stone for the final loaf rising. If you don’t have a baking stone, a baking sheet will do. Sprinkle some of the cornmeal on it. Then divide the dough in half and form into the desired loaf shape. Place the loaves on your baking sheet or stone and cover with a cloth to let rise for an hour and a half. You can make slits in the loaves just before baking.

While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a shallow, empty roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven when you preheat the oven. Put the loaves in the oven and add 1/2 cup of water to the roasting pan. Close the door quickly and bake for fifteen minutes, without peeking. The water will create steam that will keep the loaves from breaking open. After fifteen miutes, turn the temperature down to 425 degrees for thirty minutes or until hollow when tapped.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool completely. If you give in to the temptation to eat it hot from the oven, you will surely miss out on the flavor and texture that is formed from cooling the bread completely. You are only limited by your imagination. If your first try doesn’t come out just right, please try again, you won’t be disappointed.

And keep those cherry and peach jams at the ready for some really good eating.

My Grandmother’s Pasti Recipe

My grandmother, Barbara Noreika, hailed from Lithuania and she and my grandfather established a farm in North Central Michigan in the early to mid 1900’s. Our family changed the name to Norris in the 1940’s to sound more American but my grandmother maintained the true family name. She was a superb cook in her little farmhouse kitchen that was mostly wood with an old fashioned stove. She had a circular table in that kitchen that we ate from. Her specialty was pasti which is a meat pie with a thick salted crust. It is an unsweetened pastry but full of great things to feast upon. For all you chef’s out there I have an unofficial recipe for this gourmet dish.
4 Cups of Flour
One-eighth Teaspoon of Salt
1.5 Cups of Lard in one-fourth inch cut cubes
8-10 Teaspoons of ice water
1 egg (beaten)

The Filling-
1 Cup coarsely chopped White Rutabaga
2 Cups finely diced boneless beef or steak
1 Cup coarsely chopped onions
2 Cups finely diced potatoes
1.5 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub together the flour and fat to make a coarse meal and then add in the 8-10 teaspoons of ice water all at once. If the dough crumbles add more ice water. Then refrigerate the dough for about one hour.

Then roll the dough into a circle about one-fourth inch thick and cut into six inch rounds. Re-roll.

As for the filling cut the ingredients into small pieces making sure to cook the meat and the potatoes together. Combine in a bowl and combine one fourth of the mixture into the center of the rolled out pasti. Moisten the pasti edges then fold in half making sure to crimp the edges to seal. Place the pasti on a buttered baking sheet and brush lightly with the egg wash. Make two slits in the pasti to allow steam to escape. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 degrees until the pasti is golden brown.

For best results serve the pasti with Cole slaw and you are in for one tasty meal. If the pasti dough is made just right you will never forget this recipe of my grandmother’s. To be honest, I haven’t tasted pasti the way she made it since her death in the 1970’s. The Upper Penisula of Michigan has many pasti restaurants but none with her recipe. Bon apetite!

I should also let you know that when I was taking camping trips into the area with kids I would always be treated to this marvelous pasti at least once per trip. It was the best meal ever!

The Lake Michigan Recreational Area

Here I am atop the lookout tower at the Lake Michigan Recreational Area with a beautiful view of the Manistee National Forest behind me. In front of me is Lake Michigan in all its glory so you get the best of both worlds from this vista. Directly behind me and under me is a vast sand dune that reaches down into the bowels of this forest.

I had taken a boys club trip to this are and the kids were busy taking my picture while begging to take a swim on this rather hot day. We had brought inner tubes to enjoy a rather wavy day. The kids had a blast swimming and this is the time where we had laid our towels and other materials down and gone into the water. After about an hour of frolic we went back ashore only to find nothing of our equipment! We thought someone had ripped us off but unknown to us, the current of Lake Michigan was the culprit.

It had taken us downshore about a half mile without anyone noticing a thing. As we walked back on shore we found all our stuff right where we had left it. All that seemingly movement without us feeling a thing! Remarkable.