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We moved our blog a while ago but still are getting some followers on this one. We have two blogs active. Sure would love to see you follow us on them. Here they are, links and all:

Amanda’s Bequest

Bygone Basics

We will not be posting from this blog again.

Please, Stop on over and check it all out!

And…THANK YOU for following us. ūüôā


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We had to consolidate blogs…too much to keep up with different sites.¬† So we merged the blog with our website and think it works out well.

Click the link above to this blog’s new location and read¬†about new babies. ¬†….And of course, follow the new blog!


We are now at

Dead and Gone

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I am sharing a quick note with you. ¬†I am transitioning to a blog located at my website. ¬†It is still a wordpress blog, but is now easier for me to manage. ¬†I’m telling you this so you will click the link below to the blog I just posted. ¬†It tells of a¬†devastating¬†loss that¬†occurred¬†here today. ¬†Please click below, read, and follow that blog. ¬†Thank you!

Bygone Basics Blog and Website


Sourdough Sally

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Hi folks. ¬†Remember me? ¬†I know, I know. ¬†It has been a bit of time. ¬†But, I’ve been here all along….. just¬†apparently¬†really “messy” over the holidays, as things keep falling off my plate….including this blog. ¬†ūüė¶

Today, I’m sharing my pet with you. ¬†Sourdough starter. ¬†This pet (or rather these million pets, a combination of beneficial yeasts and bacteria, if you are feeling technical) is easy to keep. ¬†You just have to remember to feed. ¬†I call mine Sally and she lives in my¬†refrigerator¬†in a half-gallon blue Ball jar.

Here is Sally in all her yeasty glory.

Here is Sally in all her yeasty glory.

I have literally shared Sally by giving some of the starter to guests who had an intense interest in sourdough bread. ¬†But since attempting to send the real thing to you via electronic signal might get a little messy …. especially for my computer … I hope you’ll be ok with sharing Sally via blog.

I’m somewhat of a sourdough snob in that I believe that sourdough bread should be comprised entirely of my own¬†cultured¬†yeast. ¬†Most recipes you find these days call for part sourdough starter and part commercial yeast.

Soon, in this Bygone Basics blog, you will get a recipe for Sourdough bread. ¬†I am giving you time to get your own pet in the refrigerator….ready to make bread.

Ever hear the old adage, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”? ¬†There is more than one way to start your own culture. ¬†Some include potatoes, some take much longer…

Here’s a basic flour and water way:

  1. Make a paste with 1/2 c flour (unbleached/bread if you can) and 1/2 c water.  Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for 1 day.
  2. Stir in another 1/2 c flour and 1/c water.  Loosely cover and leave at room temperature.
  3. On the third day, it will smell a bit sour and be a bit bubbly.  Stir in another 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. water.  Loosely cover and leave at room temperature.
  4. On the fourth day….you may get the drill by now…. Stir in the 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. water. ¬†Cover and leave at room temperature. ¬†You should be seeing some clear evidence of the yeast “working”.
  5. On the fifth day, you should have a bubbly, fermented, pungent mass. ¬†You have just given birth to your own Sally! ¬†If it looks like it isn’t frothy and yeasty, leave it out another day…it could be your home wasn’t warm enough to encourage the growth in 5 days. ¬† Once, I was making it for someone and it took about 9 days at room temperature to get a¬†thick¬†bubbly mass.

Another method…think “Easy Button” to borrow a phrase ….is this:

Mix 2 c. warm water (not over 115 degrees F) with a packet of active dry yeast. ¬†Then stir in 1 1/2 c. flour. ¬†Cover loosely and leave in a warm (not hot) place overnight. ¬†It should be a frothy mass, but will not yet have the pungent, alcohol-ly, smell and depth of quality and flavor (some things are best taking the slow-road for). ¬†At this point treat just as I describe above (as if it was the fifth day). ¬†It is¬†usable¬†as sourdough starter and will develop the same depth of flavor and taste over time as it ferments in the¬†refrigerator. ¬†Don’t forget to feed her!

I just fed Sally.  I leave her out of the 'fridge for an hour to ensure feeding.  I feel better knowing my pet is alive and the little bubbles tell me she's doing just fine.

I just fed Sally. I leave her out of the ‘fridge for an hour to ensure feeding. I feel better knowing my pet is alive and the little bubbles tell me she’s doing just fine.

Regardless of how you start Sally, she will live indefinitely as long as you don’t starve her. ¬†Her flavor will evolve based on the flours you use and even the wild yeasts that are present in your environment. ¬†She will become, one of a kind, YOURS over time.

You can now make bread with her. ¬†It is time to store her in the¬†refrigerator. ¬†She’ll live in there for 7 to 10 days. ¬†Then, if you haven’t used some and refreshed her, you need to feed Sally. ¬†Just take out a cup of the starter to make room for the “feed” and add in a 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. water (sound familiar?) ¬†Every 2 or 3 feedings, I add a tablespoon of honey; and swap the white flour for whole wheat or…another flour every several feedings….but that’s just what I choose to do.

Do you make sourdough bread?  How do your techniques/recipe for starter differ?

Just don’t forget to feed her every week or so…

‚ÄúI would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?‚ÄĚ –‚ÄôHousekeeping In Old Virginia’ Marion Cabell Tyree ed. (1878)

¬†Soon…..a nice recipe for bread using Sally and no commercial yeast.

To really add depth of learning and wonderful memories, you can come the our heritage kitchen here at Bygone Basics to learn heirloom ¬†bread-making¬†hands-on…and/or many other heritage home arts… ¬†You can even stay here at our immersion bed and breakfast! ¬†

Amanda – The Green Chemist & her Den Adel Community Garden Project

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A guest blog – by Daughter, Jessica.

My daughter, Jessica, is one of my kitchenaire assistants.  I have been known to lovingly and in great fun, call her a scullery maid.  Jessica is in the U.S. Army and a tough gal who speaks Russian.  No scullery maid she.  She is however, a study in conflicts.

She is a pretty, little pixie looking girl – but tough as nails. ¬†She is traveled, even living in Kiev in the past – yet enjoys the small town peace and character. ¬†She has a degree from MSU in Russian and possibly seeks deployment into scary areas of the world – yet happily dons a “Fetching Apron” and becomes a scullery maid for a day. ¬†She reads War and Peace – but is currently helping me write a humorous cookbook.

So….that was a long intro….but I wanted you to know the author. ¬†She writes about Amanda (and Kyle) who have gone from learning from me at Bygone Basics to create a phenomenal project. ¬†At our first session, I actually asked Amanda if she knew how to pare an apple. ¬†(she did) ¬†My comments are italicized in red (my favorite color):

Bygone Basics was sad to lose Amanda Goudreau, but we all must grow up. Amanda was a celebrated Kitchenaire
Assistant in the days when Bygone Basics was still young and living in the suburbs of Whitehall, MI. (Amanda was my “scullery maid” for a long time and helped me build Bygone Basics into what it is and dreamt the dream of Amanda’s Bequest B&B with me as well. ¬†She seems to think I named it after her!! ¬†I am forever grateful for her friendship and assistance). After marrying Kyle, who had just arrived back home from Iraq, (his absence nearly drove Amanda….and those of us around her …CRAZY. ¬†We are so glad he’s back and safe.) ¬†the couple moved to Kalamazoo to attend the university there. To Mom, (Valerie) it must have seemed like one of her chicks was leaving the nest, but I knew that it meant the ideals Bygone Basics was founded on was simply spreading to a new city.¬†And how right I was!¬†( I really tried hard to talk them into giving up the silly notion of attending University ūüėČ and having them buy a farmhouse just down the street….)
Kyle and Amanda Goudreau are excited to announce the opening of their community garden. There is a hideous, vacant half-lot directly next to their new house, and a condemned house on the other side of that. Why not make good use of it? If all goes well in their endeavors for the next couple of months, they will be able to use that plot of land to start a community garden‚Ķ.and hopefully they will even be able to remove the mostly-dead tree that stands smack-dab in the center of it. Currently, they are still in the planning stages, but the more community support they gain from the start, the easier it will go for them. Luckily, they already managed to find a supporter willing to fund 100% of their project, and to also help out with any legal matters that may need attending to. (I’m not going to lie, I fought a tear when I watched them find out they weren’t fighting an uphill battle alone.) ¬† We were/are SO PROUD of them.


Local people will be able to secure a plot for a very small fee, which has yet to be decided, and will be provided with every opportunity to be successful in gardening their plot from the very beginning. They are also hoping to get some chickens for the garden, so that local children will be able to hunt for eggs, and will have a better understanding of where their food comes from, in all it’s forms. In addition to the garden, itself, Amanda and Kyle will be hosting several workshops, about one per week. They will, of course, be free to attend, and will cover such topics as: drying out seeds and saving them for the following year, vermiculture – composting with worms, animal husbandry – mainly with raising and breeding chickens and rabbits, and plenty of generic ones about gardening that will be immediately applicable on the plot. ¬†(Understand that this isn’t just a pretty pipe dream. ¬†These two Goodreaus are outstanding and intelligent young people – Amanda is in the Chemistry field and Kyle is studying Medicine. ¬†I have zero doubt they will make numerous impacts on the world as they proceed through life.)

Any surplus crops from the community garden will be donated to local food pantries. The over-arching mission for this project is to promote community cohesiveness, and to improve the surrounding area through inspiration.

Jessica wrote this blog a few weeks ago….(yes, Jessica, I know, I know….it took too long for me to post! ¬†But at least now I can add this good news follow-up…) ¬†A follow-up note from Amanda tells us:

“Well guys, we did it. We’ve been given the green light for the Den Adel Community Garden Project. There are a few last legal details to iron out but we should be breaking ground before the end of the month. That gives us just enough time to get the tree removed, lay the beds, and get a fence up before the ground freezes.” ¬†

There may have been occasional silliness occurring in the Bygone Basics kitchen (with Valerie Hanson, Mary Lynn Rabe, and Amanda (Putnam) Goodreau

If you are in or about the Kalamazoo, Michigan (USA) area and wish to be a part of this very neat project, let me know and I will put you in touch with Amanda.

Do you have a desire to learn some of these progressive AND retro (talk about conflicting words) skills (gardening, canning, baking, raising chickens/ducks, soap making, butter churning, composting…etc)? ¬†Come visit Bygone Basics at Amanda’s Bequest! ¬†Heck….you can even stay here while you learn (true immersion).


Jade Jam

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Hi all. ¬†This week’s Bygone Basics’ blog is very special. ¬†Jade has taken what she learned here in our kitchen to her home kitchen and gone crazy making jam. ¬†She then “infected” her Mother-in-Law, Debbie, with her jam-making and now they do it together. ¬†Next in her sticky wake she wrote notes and took photos. ¬†Be still my heart. ¬†I LOVE to hear of stories like this. ¬†Here is Jammin’ Jade’s story as she sent it to me. (there may have been some¬†notes added by the editor¬†in the interest of fun…darned editor) ūüėČ ¬†Jade’s words are in green (of course).

The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday Рbut never jam today.  -Lewis Carroll 

Today, Debbie ¬†and I made Caramel Apple Jam. If it weren’t for you, Valerie Hanson, this never would have been able to happen. I took the liberty of sending pictures that I have taken and hope that my notes come across. It was a lovely bonding experience for us and I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to you. So, thank you.

You could thank me with a little jar of that jam. CARAMEL APPLE, nice. But seriously….You are most welcome….THANK YOU!

First we peeled, cored and sliced the apples.

We made sure to have washed and sterilized jars on hand.

We pre-measured (yay) the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice and butter (to stop the foaming). This is of course so that we had exactly what we needed the instant we needed it.

Someone was paying attention!! I bet they were exact measurements too, so the jam “sets” like it should….

Then Debbie diced the apples into small pieces. Then put the apples, lemon juice, apple juice and butter into a pot to boil.

Mother-in-Law was made to do the tedious job of processing the apples? tsk tsk.. ūüėČ ¬†Guessing that Jade is doing this while her little girl is napping (taking note of the monitor).

After it came to a boil, we turned the apples down to a simmer for 5 minutes while covered. Then we added the brown sugar and sugar very carefully and a bit at a time. Making sure to stir until it was all blended.

After it had came to a rolling boil we added the liquid pectin. Having already prepped the package for use. lol

Standing it in a glass is handy. ¬†It IS very disappointing to reach for the envelope of pectin at the proper time only to discover that it has slid down from where it was leaning and the pectin escaped all over the counter. ¬†Don’t ask me how I know this….

Then after it started boiling we waited one minute before removing it from the stove.

Then Debbie put the jam into the jars while I checked the amounts. Then they were wiped on the tops (where the rubber meets the road…hahahah) and sealed with the lids and rings. We both turned them just to make sure there was no leaking problems.

I hate it when my problems leak…

Here is what it looks like pre-lids.

Then the sealed jars were put into a water bath for 10 minutes.

Then the jars were removed and put onto a wire rack to cool until tomorrow. Then we will wash the jars, label and store. This was extremely simple to do. As for the blue duck, it isn’t required. My daughter Beth kept handing it to me. Presumably it is for good luck. I can only say that when I sampled the jam it was really good. ūüôā

We all should have a blue good luck canning duck.  (must be Beth got up from nap-time mid-jamming)

Here is Jade at Bygone Basics….

Schedule your jam session at Bygone Basics.  What better time than food, friends, fun?

What treat this has been. Thank you Jade and Debbie

….and blue good luck canning duck.

Better than Wedding Cake.

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Gather ingredients and tools. It is such a disappointing feeling to get part-way through a recipe only to discover you don’t have everything you need.

I think I may have a serious addiction. Pumpkins. They really do capture my attention as they are the source of the pure goodness known as: Pumpkin Pie.Welcome to the second part of the pumkin series.

I love pumpkin pie.¬† I could eat it morning, noon, and evening meals….and the occassional 1 a.m. kitchen raid.¬† In fact, when we married, I didn’t want a fluffy, fancy wedding cake.¬† I wanted pie.¬† ūüôā¬† The bridal cake was a pumkin pie, in case you wondered.

“Pumpkin pie, if rightly made, is a thing of beauty and a joy – while it lasts…..Pies that cut a little less firm than a pine board, and those that run round your plate are alike to be avoided. Two inches deep is better than the thin plasters one sometimes sees, that look for all he world like pumpkin flap-jacks. The expressive phrase, ‘too thin’, must have come from these lean parodies on pumpkin pie. With pastry light, tender, and not too rich, and a generous filling of smooth spiced sweetness – a little ‘trembly’ as to consistency, and delicately brown on top – a perfect pumpkin pie, eaten before the life has gone out of it, is one of the real additions made by American cookery to the good things of the world. For the first pumpkin pie of the season, flanked by a liberal cut of creamy cheeses, we prefer to sit down, as the French gourmand said about his turkey: ‘with just two of us; myself and the turkey.'” –‚ÄėThe House Mother‚Äô

So this blog post is a follow-up to the last one.¬† If you remember, we baked pumpkins and saw how easy it is to get to the point of making a pie.¬† (I’m sure you rushed right out and cooked up pumpkins yourself!)

Pretty nice ingredients. Our free range hen eggs, milk from a local dairy, pumpkin from our garden…mmmmmmm

As I type this, I probably should have done a post on the pastry, but oh well, forward motion.

Pumpkin pie is pretty easy too.

Find your recipe.¬† I hope you’ll consider sharing your favorite one with me in the comments!¬† I use one that has become my favorite.¬† It requires simple ingredients….(no milk product from a can).¬† Now, gather your ingredients.

Two basic rules that will really help you enjoy your time in the kitchen is to prepare (premeasure, make sure you have everything) and clean as you go.

One pie pastry. Line the tin, forming the pastry to the pan. Flute the top.

Line your tin with the pie pastry.¬† In these photos, I’m making a smaller pie that will be gifted to a friend so it is in¬†tin that she doesn’t have to get back to me.

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  This such a great recipe for requiring very few tools and bowls.

Now is time for the wet ingredients.¬† But first…Did you preheat that oven?¬† I frequently forget so thought you might like a reminder too.¬† A couple of comments on how I do things.¬† You might do them differently, but am sharing them anyway.¬† I bake my pies on a foil lined cookie sheet to catch drippings.¬† I also bake my pies in the lower part of the oven to direct the heat right onto the bottom pastry so it bakes before getting too soggy.

Add the wet ingredients.  With Pumpkin Pie, the usual suspects will be milk, pumpkin, eggs, extract.  But your recipe may differ.  It is really important to get the eggs thoroughly whisked into the filling.  If they are not incorporated well, you will have bits of egg white visible in your baked pie.

I whisk the eggs and pumkin in first. Taking care to get a good blend.

Place your pastry lined pie tin on the cookie sheet now if you are going that route.

Now, pour into the pastry lined tin and pop into the oven!  Be sure to double check your recipe for baking time.

I line my crust with foil to prevent overbrowning and to help support the pastry until it bakes some. It is so sad to discover your crust gave way and the filling poured out!


The recipe:

3/4 cup Brown Sugar             1/2 tsp Salt

1 TBSP Flour                            3/4 tsp Ginger

1 tsp Cinnamon                       1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Cloves                          1 1/2 cups mashed cooked Pumpkin

3 Eggs                                       1 1/2 cups whole Milk

1 pie tin lined with pastry

Bake at 400 F for 50 minutes

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PUMPKIN PIE RECIPE?  Does it have a family history?

As Easy as Pie

Oh…the joys of Spring and Summer are upon us….no? ¬†It’s Autumn, you say? ¬†Really? ¬†Where’d my Summer go?!!

You might also feel that way…just a bit?

These little 3 to 4 pound beauties make the best pies!

This post really brings me into reality.  I just realized it was time to bake the pumpkins. (still shaking my head that it is autumn)

“Oh how we love pumpkin season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin…. We anxiously anticipate it every year.” ~Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, October 2010

I usually prefer to bake up actual pie pumpkins and my favorite one is the little “Winter Luxury” pie pumpkin, as smaller tends to mean sweeter. ¬†I get the seeds from the Jung Seed company in¬†Wisconsin. ¬†But since my unofficial motto is (according to my husband) “Can it before it rots” I pretty much put-by food regardless of pedigree. ¬†I rather enjoy carving a huge jack-o-lantern and baking a pie from the face parts I cut out. ¬†It brings a chuckle to any kid in your home to be eating “face pie” on Halloween. ¬†I also will use hearty sweeter pumpkin like squashes like Red Warty Thing and hubbard as pumpkin mash as they are pretty much¬†interchangeable¬†in recipes.

Pumpkin is the one thing I don’t can. ¬†Instead I prefer to freeze it. ¬†The pure density of squash leaves too much question about whether the pressure canning process brought the center of the jar up to the right temperature and for long enough. ¬†Additionally, I prefer to take it out as ready to go mash. ¬†NEVER, can mashed pumpkin as it is too dense for safe home processing.

So….this morning, my house was 59 degrees. ¬†By George, I am NOT lighting the furnaces in September. ¬†That makes it a perfect day to bake pumpkins. ¬†Here is what I do:

Just halve the pumpkins and place on a cookie sheet to bake.

Preheat oven to 325 (you can do 350 for a faster bake, but don’t go higher). ¬†You want to slow simmer the flesh, not bake it crispy. ¬†Take a long carving knife and slice the pumpkin in half. ¬†Scoop the seedy center our with a spoon and …in my case at least….feed that yummy center to the chickens and ducks! ¬†Lay the halved pumpkin¬†face down¬†on foil covered (for clean-up ease only, foil bottom not necessary) cookie sheets and cover with foil.

Boy…that took all of 5-10 minutes. ¬†Really…this isn’t that hard or time consuming. ¬†I might lose my day-job if people realized how easy some of these very heirloom activities actually are….

Bake for 1 to 3 hours, depending on how much you have in your oven and how big the pieces are.  Smaller equals faster.

You know the pumpkin is done when a fork slides easily in all the way to the shell as if warm butter.

You know they are done when you can sink a dinner fork like into warm butter until it reaches the shell. ¬†Take out and let cool a few minutes. ¬†You probably can read half of “Fifty Shades of Grey” during this effortless time and people will thing you slaved to make them a pumpkin pie from scratch. ¬†Your secret. ¬†ūüôā

After baking let the pumpkins cool just enough to handle. It is easier to work with when warm.

Next is up to you. ¬†At this point the pumpkin is ready to use in recipes. ¬†I don’t like the texture of the¬†occasional¬†strings in the flesh. ¬†So here is what I do:

With a soup spoon I scoop the now soft and warm flesh into my old food mill.  Press it with a few turns of my hand and it deposits into the bowl underneath.  Any strings are strained out by this extra step and it is also not time consuming.  Warmer is better.

If not using it right away, stir and premeasure into freezer containers or bags, writing the amount,date, and of course, contents on a label.  100% pumpkin.

SO EASY. ¬†AND, it is your family food quality control … You know what is in that pumpkin puree and what isn’t. ¬†You may not have read that aforementioned book, but I get a lot done when baking pumpkin and I adjust the oven temp lower if I have to run on an errand that is longer than an hour or so.

This food mill may be old, but it sure does a quick job of sending pumpkin through.

It is very easy to scoop out a baked pumpkin.

Mine almost entirely goes into pumpkin pie. ¬†Which should be another post perhaps. ¬†Equally as easy, but oh so tasty! ¬†My favorite pie. ¬†I actually had it be my “wedding cake” when I married. ¬†I love it that much.

Do you bake your own pumpkin?  What is your favorite variety for it?

Ready for the freezer!

Holy Cow

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Holy cow, it has been a very eventful summer.  My apologies to you for a prolonged absence.

We have had twin grandaughters and a grandson born.

We have also learned of another grandchild on the way, and were saddened by the loss of a grandbaby-in-womb.

Our garden has been prolific lately, but as a result of much tending and watering due to the extreme high temps this summer and drought.

Our bed & breakfast, Amanda’s Bequest Bed & Breakfast, in here in Montague, Michigan¬† ¬†has been busy.¬† Certainly for its opening year!¬† We operate as a farmstay and guests are immersed in a real working farm-stle home.¬† They collect eggs and can help churn butter or gather food from the gardens for breakfast¬†if they wish.¬† We have enjoyed many wonderful and diverse guests from all over the world now!!¬† (How cool is that?!)¬† One guest, who was a world traveler, rated us as top two B&B’s in all his travels.¬† Turns out I’m I’m an ok cook.¬† He couldn’t decide who was better, a B&B in Scotland, or us.¬† I have to tell you, I was so dumb-struck at the remark.¬† After all…we are

Also busy for us has been our Bygone Basics culinary experiences. ¬†¬†¬†People are really wanting to know how to go back to the healthy nutritious foods that were on our predescessor’s tables.¬† I teach them how to use what tools they already have to get that heritage “kitchen is the heart and soul of the home” healthy foods back into their lives and in their “today” lifestyle.

We have had kitchen guests from 7 countries and 44 USA States now.

To top it all off, I’m now a licensed kitchen and am baking and selling heritage recipe and artisan foods.¬† All made to order and by hand from natural foods and basic ingredients (nothing you can’t spell or say!).

We have grown our little flock of hens from 6 to 12…plus a duck…but don’t tell Daisy, she thinks she’s a chicken.

My loving husband has been amazing as our journey has brought us to this kind of activity.¬† He just smiles and builds what I need.¬† ūüôā¬† I wish this kind of a husband on all of our daughters.


My niece Jade is now “apprenticing.”¬† Leaving me with a few hours at the end of the week to blog and do other things that I’ve been too swamped to do.¬† I taught her how to hoe the other day.¬† I told her she was going to be a great hoe-er someday.¬† She laughed.¬† I realized what I said.¬† Too funny.¬† She’s been learning to bake, make pies, artisan breads, hoe, can, make soap…she’s been a treasure of help to me too!

I will “talk” with you soon.¬† Just needed to catch you up on my busy-bee “holy cow, what changes!”¬†summer.


Valerie Hanson


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I have been “off-line” lately due in part to the immanent birth of our daughter’s baby.¬† (And that cooking & canning classes have really booked me up, along with our bed & breakfast.¬† I am pleased to announce the birth of twin granddaughters!!¬† Photo to follow soon.