Make Walnut Valley Festival Baked Beans

Summertime means lazy days outdoors. Find some easy meals to cook and eat on the back deck. Gail Lee Martin shared this recipe that’s perfect for this time of year. It was originally published on the eHow website.

Kidney beans - courtesy of Amazon

Kidney beans – photo courtesy of Amazon


Things You’ll Need:
  • 1/3 pound hamburger
  • 1/3 pound chopped bacon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can lima beans
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar or pickle juice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  1. Brown the bacon and hamburger and drain off the grease.
  2. Add all the other ingredients (the cans of beans and the seasonings). Stir it well to mix everything.
  3. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. As an alternative, you can cook it in a slow cooker following the directions in its manual.
  4. Serve it warm. It reheats well so you can take it to potluck dinners.
crock pot

Cook up a big batch of baked beans in the slow cooker. (photo by Virginia Allain)

 Mason Dixon Twins said on 11/8/2008 – These sound absolutely delicious!

Cindy said – One year I helped work by manning one of the entrance gates. The baked beans were sure a welcome treat after standing in the September chilly weather for a two-hour shift. The music in the background was lovely.

Grandma’s Telephone

As I waited in the Verizon store for an updated cell phone, I had time to ponder how far we’ve come over the years. Here I was getting a phone that I can carry with me everywhere and can reach anyone. It’s a smart phone and at times is too smart for me, so many of the features go unused.

The person ahead of me was adding his girlfriend on his phone account and selecting the latest cell phone. Together they would pay $200 a month for being accessible 24 hours a day. It made me think of the phone used by my grandparents many years ago.


Photo by Virginia Allain

It was the old style wooden box on the wall with a hand crank on the right side. You spoke into the center mouthpiece and held the black part (on the left) to your ear to hear. The handy little shelf could hold your phone book or serve as a place to keep paper and pencil for noting numbers and information.

You cranked the handle on the right to connect to the operator who had a switchboard to connect your call to distant places. The phone line was shared with neighbors, and you had to wait for them to finish their call before you could make yours.  When the phone rang, the number of rings indicated if the call was for you or for someone else on the line.

This old-fashioned system seems clunky but was a huge step forward from the previous system. In my grandparents’ childhood days, the early 1900s, you had to walk or ride your horse to the neighbors to give them a message or send a letter to reach more distant friends and family.  Telephones were available but not affordable for all households.

Where my mother grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas in the 1920s and 1930s, not all areas had phone service early on. I know by the time World War II started, they had a phone as she mentions it in her story about her father’s accident. The story is called Why I Love Horses.

As for me, I remember the standard black phone of the 1950s and I can even remember our phone number from that time. It was DAvis1 – 5399, but you only had to dial on the rotary dial DA1-5399. Tell me about your memories of long-ago phones.


Shirley Temple Curls

Originally written by Virginia Allain on February 10th, 2014, the day Shirley Temple died.

I grew up in the nineteen-fifties, but even then, Shirley Temple’s movies inspired little girls. We wanted to be able to sing and dance and have curls like Shirley. We watched her movies over and over, admiring the talented child with the ever-so-cute dimples.


Shirley Temple and her curly hair. 1930s (public domain photo)

One time, my mom attempted to give me Shirley Temple curls. My hair was a bit long for the curly top look. Shirley had 50 adorable ringlets surrounding her sweet face. Mom managed some big sausage curls for me and in the photo, you see the result.

ginger childhood

Ginger Martin and the curls. 1950s

Well, that lasted just one day. Somehow it didn’t work with my t-shirt and blue jeans world. I couldn’t sing and dance either. My sister kept wanting to take tap dancing classes, but that wasn’t in the family budget.

My mother had fairly straight hair as a child, but her younger sister, Carol, had the curly look.



Curly top, Carol McGhee, hugging some kitties.


There will only be one Shirley Temple, but she was an inspiration to us all.

Thoughts about Mulberry Pie

This is an old newspaper clipping about mulberry pies that Mom had saved. Plains Folk was a column written by Tom Isern and Jim Hoy (and apparently they’re still writing it:
mulberries clipping

A distant cousin, Susan Hunnicutt-Balman, remembers her grandparents “had a big old mulberry in their back yard also good for climbing. My sister and I had the job of climbing it, shaking limbs to Grandma’s clean sheet below for collecting mulberries for baking. We liked just eating them off the tree!”

Karen Martin Kolavalli also remembers a childhood mulberry tree. “We had our swing on a huge mulberry in the back yard where I grew up. I wonder why we never gathered the mulberries to use? We just left them for the birds.”
I do remember Mom making gooseberry pies and she put strawberries in to sweeten the rhubarb for pies. Personally, I found the gooseberry pie too tart for my taste, but I do love the strawberry rhubarb combination.
I’ll have to rummage out her recipe. In the meantime, here’s one to try.

Personalize Your Bookshelf

In 2008, Gail Martin wrote the following article for the eHow website.

Bookshelves take on their owner’s personality. Besides the range of titles and the way you organize it, express your personality in the choice of bookends. Here are ideas to personalize a bookshelf.


  1. I like my books separated by authors, rather than all huddled together. So through the 60 plus years of saving books, I have found some unique bookends to do the job of keeping our favorite author’s writings together.

    The old time Kansas school books that I discovered mostly at estate sales, I group together with bookends that are replicas of the school desks like my husband used in the one-room school he attended. They even have two miniature school books with each of them.

  2. On the long top shelf where my husband’s books about Abraham Lincoln fill the whole shelf, I added a pair of heavy bookends depicting the Lincoln Memorial. Between some of the different Lincoln biographers, I added a gold bust of ‘Abe’ sold by Avon and a small, square bottle, decorated with a black silhouette of Lincoln and capped with a gold eagle, separates another group of his books.
  3. I found miniature birdhouses that hold our nature books together. This section includes bird guides and insect books. Also in that section, I placed several Foxfire books that feature the lives of the Appalachian Mountain people and Euell Gibbons book, “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” What fun we had hunting edible food along the back roads after we retired.
  4. I selected a couple of large pieces of petrified wood that we found on 4-H geology field trips. By adding felt to the bottoms so they don’t scratch the wooden shelves, they make attractive bookends and are certainly heavy enough to hold many books together.

  5. I even use the mantel clock that my sister and her husband made for us one Christmas to separate sections of books. It’s made of local black walnut wood.
  6. On one bookshelf, I use old blue-green canning jars to hold categories of cookbooks apart. In one jar, I collect buttons; in another I drop marbles when I find them and in some I put sand to make them heavier. I like to separate all the canning books in one place and cookbooks published by churches and families in another.

 Tips & Warnings

  • Heavy objects make good bookends.
  •  Lighter items can separate subjects or authors in a row of books.
  •  Open items can be filled with something weighty like sand to make it heavy enough to serve as a bookend.
  •  Put felt on the bottom of anything that might scratch the bookshelf.

Make Turnip Kraut

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, found creative ways to use the produce from their bountiful garden each summer. She shared this turnip kraut recipe on the eHow site in 2009.

Turnip kraut is made the same way as sauerkraut has been made with cabbage

for centuries. Americans discovered the wonderful taste of sour turnips
during the Great Depression and when they spread it upon knackwurst in a bun, the sandwiches were called sauerrubens.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:

  • A plentiful supply of turnips
  • A shredder with a medium cutter
  • Scales
  • Set of measuring spoons
  • Canning salt
  • Enameled pan shallow enough to fit under the shredder
  • Large stoneware crock
  • Dinner plate that will fit inside the crock
  • A heavy weight to hold the plate and the kraut down under the brine, a quart jar full of water works well
  1. We like to make sauerkraut from turnips because we can grow turnips in the spring and again in the fall when the weather is cooler. We prefer the purple tops but other varieties work well too. Cabbage matures in the hottest part of the summer in Kansas and it either splits or we are pestered with worms. We don’t have those problems with turnips.

    We loved to preserve the finished kraut by canning it in pint canning jars to store on our pantry shelves. This is another way of saving our garden produce that we can add to our growing list of fast foods for the homemaker.

  2. Prepare the turnips by washing thoroughly, then cut the top and tail off. Peel the turnips.
  3. Push them through the shredder.
  4. Weigh out five pounds of shredded turnips.
  5. Mix in three and one-half tablespoons of canning salt to each five pounds of turnips.
  6. Pack the salted turnip mixture in the stoneware crock. Press down
    thoroughly. Place the dinner plate on top of the cut turnips and place a weight on top to hold the turnips about two inches under the brine. The brine will start immediately. The brine should cover the cut turnips at all times to keep the strings of vegetable from discoloring or drying out. If at any time the brine gets less that the two inches, add more salty water. Then cover the top of the crock with a clean cloth to keep dust out. We also cover the crock with a black plastic bag, which keeps the sunlight from the kraut.

    2008-11-02 gail and ks photos 001

    Two of the crocks that Gail and Clyde used for making turnip kraut.

  7. Kraut takes about ten to twelve days to complete its fermentation if kept around seventy degrees temperature. The environment will influence the flavor of the finished product: a warm curing area will speed up the curing process, while a cooler area will result in a longer curing time. Short fermentation tends to produce a ‘sweet’ kraut; the prolonged time results in a ‘tart’ or really sour sauerkraut. While the kraut is progressing, inspect the crock daily. As the curing continues, bubbles will form and work to the top, skim off the bubbles from the surface of the brine. The fermentation process will produce an odor that some people find unpleasant.
  8. When the mixture ceases to bubble you may fix your first serving by adding a cup or so of the kraut to browned and cooked ‘country style pork ribs.’ Slow cook so the flavors mingle.
  9. The remaining turnip kraut is best preserved in canning jars. Bring the
    mixture to a simmer and hot pack the kraut into clean, hot pint or quart jars. Cover the kraut with the hot brine, leaving a one-half inch space at the top. Adjust canning lids and process in boiling water bath, which means the water is one inch over the top of the jars, which are setting on a wire rack that comes with your canner. Start timing when the water is at a full rolling boil, fifteen minutes for pints and twenty minutes for quarts.

    kraut ready for the pantry

    The kraut is ready to store in the pantry.

  10. Turnip kraut is delicious and easy to prepare with a variety of meals. Open the jar, heat, and add the meat. Any kind of sausage or just plain wieners are tasty too. Our favorite is with pork ribs.

Home Churned Butter

When I was a kid, growing up on a farm in Kansas, we made our own butter. Now you may think this was back in the dark ages, but it was just in the 1950s.

We had our own Jersey cow who gave a prodigious amount of milk and rich cream, enough for the eight people in the family. She was cream-colored and her name was Cream.

cream the cow + Roxio

A vintage photo of our Jersey milk cow.

The cream rose to the top of the milk and was so thick that you could stand a spoon up in it. We loved it on our oatmeal each morning. We put sugar or brown sugar on the oatmeal too.

The bulk of the cream went into the glass Dazey churn for converting to butter. Turning the metal handle was assigned to one of the children and after what seemed like hours, the wooden paddles became harder and harder to turn. The cream was becoming butter.

Daisy Churn_edited

I browsed around on eBay and found this picture. It’s exactly what our churn looked like.

Mom would form it into a lump and rinse it over and over. Fifty years later, I still remember how good it tasted on toast or on mashed potatoes.

(Memory by Virginia Allain, first published on Bubblews, March 2014)