Grandma Susan’s Almanac Calendar is an informal monthly journal that encourages homemakers to do more things for themselves - crafts, handiwork, “from-scratch” cooking, gardening, and other domestic arts. Grandma's motto is: "Let's work together to improve our lives by simple living, self-reliance, maintaining our religious faith, and sharing the blessings of life with others."

Recommended reading

 The Life of Mahatma Ghandi -

Louis Fischer

August, 2010

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22/29  23/30  24/31 25 26 27 28

New Moon   First Qtr   Full Moon  Last Qtr
8/9/21:08     8/16/12:14  8/24/11:05  9/1/11:22   

U.S. Central Standard Time


Some Bible verses for August

"Don't store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths and rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Matthew 6:19-21

Saying of the month 

"How sociable the garden was.
We ate and talked in given light.
The children put their toys to grass
All the warm wakeful August night."

Thomas Gunn, Last Days at Teddington 



Some Bible verses      


Saying of the month


Reading recommendation       


Reduce meat consumption


Use less energy at home          


Bread making is hugely rewarding


"From-scratch" recipe of the month:Pan-fried potato cakes


There are a number of topics involved in “going green” or ‘getting greener” that involve our family choices and lifestyles. Energy consumption in the home is one of these topics. Everyday, we hear and see news about the way we consume too much energy in our homes. Sometimes we get these messages because someone wants to sell us a new (supposedly) energy-savings appliance or a new gadget to monitor or control energy use by computer programming. The usual message is that “you can get more use and pay less” through energy-savings appliances and devices.

It's not bad that people want to sell us things to help solve our energy consumption problem, and some of these products and schemes even work. The bigger problem has to do with the high cost of acquiring these new products and services and the lingering doubt that they will work as well as they are advertised. 

My opinion on energy savings in homes by looking at the big picture – and that is, the size of our houses. Yes, the days of McMansions have gone, at least for most of us, who don’t have the credit for the mortgage, or the money for its upkeep. This leads to a question: Just what is an optimally sized home? Many of us once justified having a bigger house than we needed because it was going to build equity and have a great resale value. Well, that justification went out with the bursting housing bubble. There is no guarantee that we will get a lot more for a home in the future than we pay for it, and the current cost of maintenance and energy usage of a large home is an important cause of foreclosures and bankruptcies. As for the cost of heating, cooling, and general living in our homes, the costs are escalating, and there is no real reason to think that this trend will stop (or even stabilize).

 For my husband and me, a smaller house is more desirable and well suited to our needs. A bigger house wouldn’t be more comfortable.  Our current home is new (we’ve been here lonly a few months) and it’s small -- about 550 square feet. Only my husband and I live here - our dog lives outside - and we are satisfied with our space. (Am I totally happy with such a tiny house? Actually, yes, and no. I'm looking forward to a time in the not-so-distant future when we can add a fairly large, covered back porch to use as an additional service area and for entertaining guests.)

For us, small is right. And that has to do with all the following situations: The initial cost was affordable. (We won’t be paying a mortgage for 15 or 30 years.) It’s well designed and highly functional – one floor, block construction, tile floors (no carpeting), high roof, tiny kitchen, 2 small bedrooms, one bath.

We have low maintenance costs and miniscule energy costs. It has few, but enough windows and all of them are designed to be open, with screens, for good ventilation in hot weather. We have no air conditioning, and the house is so comfortable that we haven’t even bought ceiling fans (though we probably will sometime). We have no dishwasher and no garbage disposal. Our kitchen appliances are just a few and small. For now, I wash clothes by hand. Our “clothes dryer” is an outside clothesline. Although we haven’t yet been here through a winter, our plan is to close off one bedroom and heat the rest of our small house with just one gas stove  (since winters are fairly mild here.)



If we are to be “greener,” we need to confront a number of issues related to the ecology. Consumption of meat and animal products, in general) is ne of these issues. In the U.S. and Europe, meat consumption is high and, only in the past few decades has shown a slight downward trend. In the meantime, global meat consumption continues to grow. Meat production worldwide has increased from 170 million tons in 1990 to 258 million tons in 2004. The huge amount of meat production has enormous consequences for world ecology and global warming. Here’s why:

Production of one kilo of meat takes the same amount of land as 200 kg of tomatoes or 160 kg of potatoes. In the U.S., 230,000 km2 of land produce hay for farm animals, and only 16,000 km2 grow plant foods for humans. The land needed for meat production – primarily for cattle raising -- has already destroyed a great part of the rainforests in Central America and Brazil. What’s more, much of the livestock grown in these areas are consumed in the U.S.  

Given the high cost and ecological impact of meat production, only a small proportion of the five or so billions of people in the world can hope to consume meat on a regular basis. Other reasons aside (and there are many health-related reasons for a vegetarian diet), we can’t be serious about achieving a “greening” of the earth, if we aren’t willing to reduce the amount of meat we eat.

If you agree with this principle but haven’t changed your diet, here’s a way to start. Keep a food diary for you (or your family) for one week. Examine your meat consumption and count the number of times that you eat any sort of meat each day. Then, decide to prepare more meals based on grains, beans and vegetables. Look for tasty vegetarian recipes and make an effort to reduce meat for one week. You’ll probably find that it is a lot easier than you thought.



The cost of  bakery-quality bread has increased substantially. Today, it can cost as much as $3.00 for a good quality commercial bread and $4.50 for bakery bread. It is possible to buy cheaper breads, but they aren’t very nutritious. By baking your own bread, you can assure yourself and your family fresh and nourishing food and save a lot of money.

Everyone has heard the saying that “man does not live by bread alone” (Mathew 4-4); meaning that faith in the word of God is the major source sustaining humankind. Nevertheless, the same saying also reminds us of the unique place of bread as a food throughout the ages. Today, just as in the past, good bread is a major factor in assuring good health. When you knead and bake your own bread, you are mindful of your role in providing the best you can for your family and friends. Your kitchen will also delighful smell of bread in the oven.

For me, baking my own bread is not only a delight, it is also a blessing because it helps me reconnect to a great heritage of women bread bakers. My grandmother prepared some kind of bread every morning that I can remember of the years when we lived at my grandparent's house -- she was up before 6 a.m., preparing yeast rolls, biscuits or cornbread. The warmth of that kitchen and the good smells from my grandmother's oven will be with me for a lifetime. I'm sorry that I didn't get any of my grandmother's recipes, but I've collected several bread-making books as well as numerous cutout and on-line recipes. I've got a few favorite recipes that my family like a lot and I repeat them often. On the other hand, I like to contemplate the many variations in my cookbooks and, from time to time, I experiment with a new variety to surprise my family.

If you are a bread baker, you should congratulate yourself and celebrate every one of your bread making sessions. If you aren’t yet a baking enthusiast, don’t wait any longer. Buy yourself a great bread-making book and use it and cherish it. If you aren’t a skilled baker or have very little time to dedicate to this valuable activity, buy yourself a bread-making machine. The results are also very good and it takes all the guesswork out of it. As far as I can tell, the wonderful smell of bread in the oven is the same.





Pan-fried potato cakes

These potato cakes can be made from newly mashed potatoes, but hold together better when made from refrigerated leftover potatoes.

- Combine all these ingredients in a big bowl:

- 2 cups of fairly dry mashed potatoes, may also include some mashed carrots

-1 egg

-1/4 cup whole wheat or unbleached flour

-Some salt, don't add much if you already cooked your potatoes with salt. Dash of pepper.1/2 teaspoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

- (Optional) 1/2 cup of any of these: shredded or grated cheese, green peas, finely chopped ham, or drained tuna fish

 Put 1/4-cup oil in a skillet and heat it up. Form potato mixture into 3-inch patties and roll them lightly with a little flour or cornmeal. Drop them carefully into the hot skillet. Brown potato cakes on both sides. Best when served warm.


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