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A beautiful bouquet of biscuits?

Fair Oaks Lodge folks spent time outside enjoying nature and visiting with friends on Saturday. Sunday there was a Protestant service and on Monday a residents' council and singalong with Nancy Johnson. Tuesday it was chapel, a bingo game, and listening to funny stories that evening.

The big birthday party for this month was back while Thursday was another day outside. Polka music was back. Friday showed up with root beer floats.

We started talking about favorite foods our moms made that we still remember and would like to enjoy one more time, if it were possible. There was no refrigeration, no way of keeping anything a few days without spoiling, and those big hot old ranges to bake or can things with the thermometer at 90 degrees in the summertime gave more than one mom a heat stroke.

Despite all of this, mom was a wonder at putting on a good meal. Sunday dinners, with the family all around the table, or during threshing time was especial.

Some remembered mom or grandma setting Jell-O sealed in a Mason jar at the end of a rope let down in the well, or sometimes the cow watering tank. It was dished up and served with a dip of whipped cream.

It was also mentioned that everything on the table -- other than salt, sugar and coffee -- was likely raised or grown on the farm. Another common comment was that stuff like chicken or eggs no longer tasted the same.

Art recalled homemade ice cream, cooked and made with eggs, but only on special occasions. He said: "We only had it on special days, made in a gallon freezer. Salt had to be sprinkled on the ice to make it colder. Sure was good!"

Grace's mother made many good pancakes as well as the syrup that went on them. Jack's mom didn't monkey with frying chickens. She liked the big ones that were fried brown then baked.

For Leon it was those homemade noodles -- he hasn't tasted any worth eaten' since. Marian's mom was a whiz at cinnamon rolls while Frank's mom excelled in Christmas cookies, except by Christmas they were only a memory. The kid couldn't leave them alone.

Betty likes to think of her mom's lefse, eaten with brown sugar on top. Glen's mom really knew how to cook fish as they lived on the shore of Leaf Lake. He especially likes to think of her buckwheat pancakes, and used to eat about a dozen.

Helen came from a family of 14. When they butchered a pig the only thing that got away was the squeal. Feet and kidneys were pickled with meat in the head getting special treatment.

The meat was minced, mixed with several cups of oatmeal, and fried like a hamburger. It was eaten for breakfasts with sugar on it. The whole family liked it.

Pemmican was a special energy food as far back as the pioneer trappers. Lewis and Clark always had a good supply, made by Sacajawea. It was a mixture of dried meat of venison or buffalo as lean as possible, not pork or bear, and almost as much dried fruit.

Two cups of rendered tallow are poured over the mixture with nuts added. This is mixed up and bagged in desirable portions. Quality is said not to have changed in four years without refrigeration.

When it is eaten a bit of pemmican the size of a golf ball is pinched off, worked in the hand until pliable, a few drops of water mixed in, and eaten. It swells to fill the stomach like a full meal, satisfying hunger when eaten only once a day -- a real energy food.

My own all-time food favorite is baking powder biscuits -- all kinds of baking powder biscuits, cold ones, old ones, with something on them or plain, little ones or big ones, any time of the day, any day of the year.

In 1989 at my retirement party, the Shady Lane kitchen crew made a beautiful baking powder biscuit bouquet.