Monthly Archives: March 2016

Home Made Turkey Soup Base


We had the absolutely best turkey dinner ever at my son’s home. He used a recipe that among other things called for a bed of vegetables and oranges. My son and DIL work full-time and so don’t have extra time for things like soup from scratch. When she offered me the turkey carcass, I jumped at the chance. I added everything the turkey had cooked with but the oranges to my big stock pot. I also added enough water to halfway cover the carcass.


As you can see the turkey came with carrots and celery and seasoning already part of it. I also made sure to scrap the pan of the brown stuff on the edges and bottom of the pan. That brown stuff makes the broth really tasty. I also scrapped up all the fat and seasoning stuff as well.


After a slow simmering for about two hours, the turkey falls apart easily and the broth has taken on the creamy colour you can see here. (Steam on the camera made the picture steamy but you should be able to see the difference.)

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The next step is the most tedious and took about twenty minutes. Separating the mixture from the pot into bones to be discarded on one plate and meat and veggies to go back into the pot on the other. One needs to work fast to avoid giving the stuff time to cool. Cooling food left standing around is bad. It can grow nasty bacteria if you aren’t careful. Also if you are canning you have to be extra careful about washing your hands and using clean utensils. I emptied the plate back into the simmering stock pot several times to keep the separated stuff hot.


I had no need for turkey soup right away. I wanted to have it handy “put by” in case one of us is not feeling well. There really is nothing as tasty as homemade soup if you’re feeling ill but if you’re not feeling well, then who has the energy to cook soup from scratch? I ladled the soup into well cleaned and rinsed jars that had been sterilized with an extra boiling water rinse.

Even though the stuff is still really hot, you can see how the fat is separating and collecting on top. If you dislike the fat you can skim it off at this point. Personally I think the fat gives the soup more taste and fat has been given a bad name it doesn’t deserve so I left it on. I also added a dash of salt and a tablespoon of lemon. The lemon makes the soup slightly acidic which discourages nasty bacterial growth. Salt is also a preservative and brings out the flavour. I know salt is bad for us, but a dash in a whole jar is not that bad.


I then capped the jars and put them in the pressure cooker for one hour.  It is not safe to put anything into jars with meat or any low acid food, without using a presser cooker. Boiling water simply doesn’t get hot enough. You need the extra pressure of a pressure cooker to get the internal temperature high enough to kill nasty bacteria. That has to be done according to your pressure cooker’s manufacturer’s directions. The amount of time required varies depending on the kind of pressure cooker you have, the size of your jars, what your home’s altitude is, and the size of the individual pieces in the broth.  If I had added say, a whole potato or dropped in big meatballs I would have left it in my pressure cooker for an hour and a half. After the jars came out of the pressure cooker I left them to cool. The seals popped tight almost immediately. They continued to bubble for a long time afterward as they cooled because of how high the internal temperature got. I left them undisturbed until morning.


Now the jars have cooled. The seals are on properly and the fat has settled on top again. The jars can be left for up to a year so they need to be dated so you don’t forget to use them up before they age too much. Now whenever I want to make turkey soup, I can open a jar and reheat it in a pot or the microwave. I do it in the pot and I add vegetables (which this batch won’t need) and some rice or noodles or maybe some potatoes and cook them in the broth at a slow simmer before serving. This is also great with a loaf of homemade bread. The one litre jar is just right for the two of us.

If you don’t like canning you can freeze the soup. I have found freezing changes the flavour and not in a positive way. Jars of home made soup taste nothing like a tin from the grocery store. One of the nice things I have found is home made, home canned goods taste just as good as home made just made. And you can’t beat the cost of doing it yourself.


Home Again


We pulled into our Manitoba home late on March 13, 2016. We got in two days ahead of schedule. We just wanted to be home so when we left Sisseton SD we just kept driving. We crossed the border into Canada at Selkirk about 4:00pm. Each time we cross they check something different. This crossing it was making sure our pet’s papers were all in order. This is why you need to be fully prepared for anything because you just never know what they will test you on. Of course our pets papers, along with all our other papers, were in order so they let us back in.


We arrived home to winter. Even though spring has arrived further south it’s really just end of winter here. I have to admit I planned it this way on purpose. I wanted to see our Alonsa home in winter. We have been five years now without winter and in a very weird way I have sort of missed it. Plus coming home early meant we saved about $600 in out of country health insurance which also offset some of the costs of having our dollar plunge to 0.68 of the USA dollar. The other thing I was curious about is I have had three full years without a single asthma attack requiring a trip to the hospital. My allergist attributed that to being away from snow mould. I guess I wanted to test to see if my lungs have healed instead of just functioning without exposure to snow mould. So far so good! We were also worried about our little house. I must admit feeling some resentment about that. We had five years of being worry free about the stick house and now we have this anchor which also at times feels like a burden. It was a relief to back into our own driveway and see out little stick house is still standing.


We promised ourselves we would not try to move into the house that night. We were going to just stay the night in the trailer and then move in the morning. Well that didn’t work out. We were so excited to be home we moved right in anyway even though it was almost midnight. Everything was fine. Well sort of. Houses require maintenance and when you leave for months, repairs pile up. We found our kitchen sink’s tap is leaking and will require replacement. Our furnace wasn’t working properly. The neighbours who had been so kindly watching our house for us told us it had started acting funny just two days before and since we were so close to home and the weather was above freezing, and it was making enough heat to keep it warm enough to not freeze, they would leave it for us to deal with.


The dogs and cat acted like they knew immediately where they were. Fred in particular seemed to be quite happy to be home and the first time we turned our back, he promptly took off to tour the town. He strolled back home about two hours later after setting every dog in the town off barking at him as he came by to say hello.

Snow snow snow blanketed everything. My garden is frozen. The ground is slushy/frozen mess. We dug out winter coats first thing for our daily walks. We then spent the next few days unpacking the trailer and settling back into our stick house. We got an electrician to come and fix our furnace ($80) then the guy to drain our holding tank and check if it needed thawing ($85) and the plumber who had fixed our sump pump while we were away and drained our flooded basement dropped off his bill ($141.25). We learned how to wash dishes fetching water from the tub instead of starting the flood in the kitchen sink again. We did a temporary fix on one deadbolt that failed over the winter until we can get to town to buy a new one. We have two screen doors to fix. One will likely have to be replaced, not fixed. Wind blew them both open and ripped out the frame of one and the door pull of the other. We will make do until we get a chance to go to town and find a good deal. We will check out the “ReNuz It” store and see if they have a nice screen door for cheap. I think that kitchen faucet is as old as the house and we want one with a sprayer so I think the result will be an improvement. I did a temporary fix on that one screen door when we first moved in to try to make it do for now so fixing that properly will be an improvement too. Still, I asked my husband more than once to remind me why we bought a stick house again.

There were soon many reminders why a stick house is nice. I have room to rock in my wonderful rocking chair which was waiting right there for me. The house is warm now that the furnace is working properly. I can take a shower or a bath and use as much hot water as I care to. The “big” kitchen is lovely. I can make chile, wait for bread to rise, and make apple crisp without having to play Chinese puzzle with the limited counter space. We got the new washer in place of the old one and it works like a Maytag is supposed to. The little Panda washer spin dryer did its job but it sure is nice to throw in a load and set it and walk away instead of the infernal wash, manual wring, move wet clothing to spin, spin, rinse, manual wring, move wet clothes to spin, spin cycle. The clothesline is still sitting in the corner of the basement. It’s too cold to hang laundry outside.  It sure felt good to carry loads of laundry warm from the dryer upstairs to fold. Even so, it took a full week before I really felt at home again.

There were so many little things still to do. The trailer had to be drained and winterized. Even though it was above freezing when we got home, I knew, being March it would get cold again fast so the third day home I drained the water and put in the RV antifreeze we bought in North Dakota. We went through the whole trailer, taking out anything that might freeze solid. We left the good mattress in for a few days of subzero weather because that kills dust mites and any Florida cockroaches that might have joined us for a trip to Canada. After everything had been thoroughly frozen we changed mattresses. There have been two snowfalls since we got back and that electric blanket means we can turn the thermostat down low at night and snuggle. The trailer needs a full front to back cleaning and reorganization but it’s too cold to even think of that now.

I still have a whole lot to do over the next few weeks. The final sets of proofs for the book are here and need our attention. I started some plants from seeds. I am showing my faith it will warm up and we will have a garden again. I am looking around at the interior of this little house and thinking I need to get at fixing that again. I have promised myself I will not spend another penny on the house until everything I have material purchased for is used up. That mean painting the garage and finishing the bathroom tiles. The truck needs a full inspection, wash and wax, inside and out. There is always something to do, isn’t there?

And there are some special good things. Our internet provider contacted us with the good news that our area now has upgraded service so we can finally enjoy full LTE Wifi for a little bit less than we were paying for the slow stuff! Best of all, our assorted neighbours recognized us and every step outside of the house we are greeted with pleasantries and asked about our trip. We heard all the local news too, a new baby girl in this family, an elderly grandfather who was very ill when we left has passed on. We feel we have a community here and we really like that. And so we are home.

Band offices of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation

On our trip back to Manitoba we stayed for a couple of nights at “Camp Dakota” in Sisseton, South Dakota. Our visit was to see our friend Sister Patrice who is a teacher at the Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation School. We were invited to speak at her class about our experiences as scientists and our visit to Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. The kids were great and after the class we got a tour of the reserve. I am not a big person for architecture but this place really just “blew me away” as they say. The offices are in a huge circular building with four entrances. Each entrance is marked by one of the four animals they revere, the bald eagle, the buffalo, the kit fox and the horse.  The central area is a huge open hall that can accommodate large meetings, pow wows and community events. I was really impressed with the sheer beauty of the place  and I was very grateful for the complete tour we got compliments of the head of maintenance.


Front Entrance with Bald Eagle



Walls were covered with lovely Star Quilts. Since my SIL is of the Cree Turtle Clan I was especially drawn to this one. As it turns out, the quilts were picked to dampen noise in an attractive way rather than for any particular spiritual significance.

The central large area was designed to be reminiscent of a teepee and being in the great plains sky, but indoors for the brutal winters. Since the prairies are also places with strong summer storms the inner windowless rooms double as tornado shelters. The open space is supported by a Russian design normally used for train bridges.

We were even allowed to see into the court room and the tribal council area. These are all decorated with various religious and spiritual objects as well as a bunch of stuff that just plain looks nice. Plus there is wood, wood, wood everywhere.

The wood was all spruce and pine and gave one the feeling of being outside in a forest even though we were indoors. It was a really nice feeling!

The offices had overhead beams that were natural wood, with lights behind. The whole building is also “green” well insulated, geothermal heating, and solar supplement and including other various ways to be kind to the Earth. Every wall had pictures of life and culture of the Dakota. The one of the Sun Dance in particular caught my eye. There is a Sundance gathering place not far from our home in Alonsa.


I wanted to show one other eye catching building. This is the nearby Community College where people are taking courses in things like diesel engine repair and other skills useful and employable within the rural farm community that the reserve is located in. This is a drum circle motif and it is very eye pleasing.

This is a reserve coming out of a long dark time. There is money and jobs from the Casinos and they have been reinvesting that money back into their own people. They are taking back their language and culture. They are also diversifying the local economy and have one factory and more planned. They also have a buffalo herd they plan to make larger. This year they will be opening a Dakota language immersion kindergarten. The military has been a way up for many of them and they have a disproportionate number of vets especially Marines. The people I met are fiercely proud of and protective of the USA even as they aware of her weaknesses and failures. I hope the Dakota are growing some of their own lawyers, too, because they have had to live with some major treaty violation issues that they need to fix and that will take some warriors in suits with law degrees.

I won’t say all is 100% well here. The youth suicide rate is awful. The week we were there, there was also a major meth bust and a human trafficking ring was broken up. I do think this reserve is moving the right way and, if they keep on their current path, in a short time they will end up like the reserves we visited in Osoyoos, British Columbia and Laughlin, Nevada. If they keep on their current path they too will have 100% employment and white people will travel to the reserve for work each day. And they will have done it for themselves without losing who and what they are. The visit was a very positive experience for me and I appreciated the opportunity to see their wonderful new buildings and feeling the life and hope for the future in the place. It will be interesting to come back in ten years and see how far they have gotten.


Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park was a real surprise to us. We were thinking Yellowstone, lots of wild spaces with a few boardwalks so you could get close to hot water. Hot Springs National Park is entirely different. For one thing, all the hot springs come out of the side of the same hill in a cluster. Since the place was originally found, the hot water has been used as a bathing area both for cleanliness, for treatment of illness and just plain comfort. One of the consequences is that all the hot springs were long ago capped and all the hot water pooled in one big aqueduct system. There is a central row of original bathhouses with a lovely outdoor walking plaza. All the hot water comes out in controlled civilized structures. These are fountains, waterfalls and grottos. There is one spot where there is a spring in a lawn, probably because some pipe is leaking. You can walk around and see all the hot springs in a couple of hours and it is a pretty walk. We had the good fortune to have the park’s water specialist and biologist show off the spring area to us. We are interested in sampling the hot water’s green goop to see if it has any hot water acclimated diatoms. The park is supportive of the idea so we got visiting royalty treatment and we really appreciated it. We will be trying to get the permits in order for sampling for a fall visit.

One thing that was a big disappointment is it is a very developed place where the actual hot water is. There are two spas you can go into to swim but they are not swimming pools. They are full out spas. The cheapest visit is $20 each to just sit in the huge hot tub and it goes up from there. The full spa treatment with the works will cost you over $600 each for four hours of massage, aroma therapy, hot stones, facial and foot treatments and everything else before you get into the hot water. I walked in, and being scent sensitive, I found the aroma therapy quickly made the place a no go zone for me, never mind the price.


The rest of the area around the Hot Springs reminded me most of Niagra Falls. There was even a wax museum and a Ripley’s believe or not type place. It is a rather exclusive sort of place for all that, with a suburb of charming homes and some lovely bike paths. There was abundant free parking in the parkade one block off the main street and it was even tall enough to accommodate our pick up with canoe. Bonus!


We stayed at the national park’s campground and I can highly recommend it. It is small. It is in a ravine with a small creek complete with trout and full babbling brook sensoround. The campground is small with only about 50 sites altogether. Most back onto the creek for a very pretty view. There are no reservations and the number of full service and part service sites is limited. About half the sites are no service for tenters. We got a full service site for $13 a night since my husband has the senior pass. There were no open sites on the creek so we took an interior one but it was very nice anyway.

One of the best things about the campground is that the ridge between the campground and Hot Springs townsite is a ridge covered with lots of trails. They criss cross and you can walk from the campground to the springs and main part of town. Since we arrived just as the trees were budding, the trails were visible. We did not do the full walk due to Dick still recovering from his long walk off a short dock, but we did do some of the less than one mile trails that lead from the campground. They are really nice trails, quite demanding with steeps stairs in some places and wide and open with room to walk side by side in others. The rock formations are multicoloured and SO beautiful.We also took the winding road in our truck to the top of the ridge so we got to see the view from the top in spite of Dick’s still recovering knee.

We really enjoyed our stay at Hot Springs National Park and we will definitely go again if we can, “God willing and the crick don’t rise”.



20% off our book thanks to GSML

This is what I have been up to recently.

Embryogenesis Explained

Thank you Gulf Specimen Marine Lab!

Big news at Gulf Specimen     
“Embryogenesis Explained”
Now available for pre-order!!
Announcing the newest book by co-authors Dick and Natalie Gordon, about embryology; that Gulf Specimen fully recommends to anyone interested in conception of life and the development of cells.
Here’s a video directly from the author herself, explaining the purpose behind their book, “Embryogenesis Explained”

For years, these Canadian scientists have been involved as volunteers and advisors on a wide variety of technical subjects.  Such as digitizing all of Jack & Anne Rudloe’s book to be available on Kindle, applying for government grants to improve the facility, helping  with the success of our online fundraising campaigns and studying the behavior of octopuses and their human interactions.

They also have decades of experience of raising aquatic life in captivity, including disease control and nutrition. Over the past few months, Dick and Natalie…

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