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Farm life was simple, happy time for her

When I look back to the time when I was growing up, I have very happy memories, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

I grew up on a farm. As I look back, we may have been considered poor, but I never realized it. We had cows for milk, and chickens for eggs.

We always had a big garden. My mother canned a lot and put the jars down in the cave. We raised potatoes and ate them twice a day. We also had pigs and steers, which we butchered for meat.

Until I got into high school, my mother would let me pick out the chicken feed sacks I thought she should buy. The chicken feed came in cotton sacks, and my mother would sew my clothes from them.

I had some chores to do. I would go get the cows up from the pasture when it was milking time, and I helped milk and run the separator.

We always had to separate the milk from the cream because we sold the cream. I washed the separator and sometimes the dishes. I also helped feed the chickens.

My mother would let me have the money for any eggs I found outdoors in the nests the hens made.

I remember I hated to gather eggs in the hen house if the hens were sitting on their nests. Sometimes the hens would peck at me.

We kept the screen door on the hen house shut at night so wild animals couldn't get in. I thought it was so much fun to see them fly out in the morning when I opened the door. I liked seeing which chickens came out first. I even named some of them.

Some of my enjoyment came from the animals. We had chickens, ducks, geese, guineas, cats, dogs, goats, cows, pigs and horses.

I liked to watch the ducks go down to the dam in the field. They would waddle down in a straight row quacking all the way. A wild duck came and joined them two summers in a row.

We always had a lot of kittens, and I enjoyed playing with them as well as the dogs. The goats were my pets, and I would milk them along with the cows.

I also had a pet pig, Pollyanna, who came when I called her name.

We lived on a corner, and the road north of our house was a dirt road. I would ride my bike back and forth on that road.

We had a basketball pole out in the yard, and I spent hours shooting baskets. That paid off later when I played basketball in high school. I was known for shooting baskets, and I was on many honors basketball teams.

We learned to roller skate in the granary when there wasn't any corn in it. When a skating rink opened in a town five miles from us, I got to go skating twice a week.

This town also showed movies two nights a week, and one night was free. It was before drive-in theaters, but we could park on Main Street and watch from our car.

When I was in 10th grade, we got a television set, and I was fascinated with it.

My mother always got me a subscription to Jack and Jill magazine,and I would read the entire magazine. I also checked out a lot of books from the library because I loved to read.

None of the kids in my small school - about 50 students in high school - ever thought about smoking or drinking, and we didn't even know what drugs were.

Hardly any of us had our own cars. Some of the boys drove their parents' cars.

Kids these days may find that kind of life boring, but I was happy.

Red Oak, Iowa

Growing up on farm was great experience

Growing up on an Iowa farm was something extra special to me and quite different from anything I see California city children experiencing.

My summer vacations were wonderful oases of freedom, although my sister and I did have chores to do - including feeding the chickens, washing windows and helping prepare food from the garden.

We had our own corner of the large garden where we could plant anything we wanted, which was usually flowers. We earned our small plots by weeding the bigger garden.

We showed our parents respect. There was no sassing back. We learned early on that life was much sweeter if we simply did as we were told.

Growing up on a farm was great. I've always loved the country, and it seems to me that city children today would benefit from exposure to that kind of life.

Rosemead, Calif.

Father's Day Memories

What is your most memorable Father's Day and why? Maybe it was when you were a child and you and your dad went fishing. Perhaps it was when you and your siblings made a special gift for your dad or saved your money and bought him something he'd always wanted.
For you dads, maybe it was the year the kids got together and planned a special day just for you, or maybe it was when your children were too small to understand the meaning of Father's Day, so your wife made you a special dinner with all your favorite foods.
Tell us about your most memorable Father's Day. Send your letters by April 9 to CAPPER'S, Kate Marchbanks, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265.

Serve nutritious, versatile potatoes in delicious new ways

The United Nations has declared 2008 the 'International Year of the Potato,' citing the potato's strong nutrition profile, versatility and ability to feed the masses.

The potato is fast-growing and nutritious. One medium (5.3 ounces) potato contains 110 calories, 45 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, essential B vitamins, and 2 grams of fiber. Potatoes contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and potato skins are a good source of potassium.

For additional potato recipes, visit the Web site www.PotatoGoodness.com.

Irish Potato Bread

2 ¾-pound russet potatoes, divided
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
? cup canola oil, plus additional for greasing the baking sheet
¾ cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons minced chives or the green part of a scallion
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting and kneading
1½ tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil over high heat in a vegetable steamer or a large saucepan fitted with a portable vegetable steamer. Peel 1 potato and cut into eighths; steam pieces until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Rice or mash pieces in a large bowl; set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet with a little canola oil dabbed on a paper towel.

Peel remaining potato and grate it through the large holes of a box grater. Squeeze out any excess moisture; add to riced or mashed potatoes.

Stir in egg and egg white, oil, milk, chives and caraway seeds until fairly smooth. Add flour, baking powder and salt; stir with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a soft but sticky dough.

Lightly flour a clean work surface and hands. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 1 minute, adding additional flour in 1-tablespoon increments to keep dough from turning too sticky. Too much flour will turn the dough tough; it should remain a little tacky but workable.

Shape dough into an 8-inch circle; flatten slightly, keeping loaf mounded at its center, and place on prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' in top of dough, cutting into dough about ½ inch. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 55 minutes. Cool for 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing and serving. Yields 16 slices.

Kootu Curry

½ cup plus 6 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound plus 2 ounces red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)
2¼ cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2¼ cups peeled, diced eggplant
1½ cups chopped green beans
¾ cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons canola oil
¾ cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place ½ cup coconut, ginger, coriander, cumin, salt, dry mustard, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a spice grinder or a mini food processor; grind or process until mixture is about the consistency of coarse sand.

Combine potatoes, broth and spice mixture in a large saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.

Add eggplant, green beans and chickpeas. Cover and continue simmering slowly until vegetables are quite tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast remaining coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Heat oil in the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, soft and very sweet, about 12 minutes.

Stir lemon juice into stew. Serve in bowls, topped with toasted coconut and shallots. Yields 6 servings.

Editor's note: Unsweetened coconut, sometimes called 'desiccated coconut,' is simply dried, shaved coconut flakes. It can be found in gourmet markets, East Indian markets and health food stores. Do not substitute sweetened coconut, found in baking aisles of most supermarkets.

Red Cooking Pork and Potatoes

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons ginger ale
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon honey
2¼ pounds boneless pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pounds very small yellow-fleshed potatoes, halved
9 medium scallions, cut into 2-inch strips
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
3 garlic cloves, slivered
3 star anise pods
3 4-inch cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1½ pounds Swiss chard, mustard greens or turnip greens, rinsed (but not dried) and chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Stir broth, ginger ale, soy sauce, ginger, orange zest and honey together in a large pot until honey is dissolved. Add pork loin, potatoes, scallions, chiles, garlic, star anise pods and cinnamon sticks. Stir well and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until pork is meltingly tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add Swiss chard and vinegar. Cover, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until chard is wilted and tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cover and keep warm on stove.

To serve, discard star anise pods and cinnamon sticks. Divide chard among serving bowls, then ladle stew over the top. Yields 6 servings.

A Letter from Kate:

Things are definitely not the same as they were when I was growing up.

When I was young, my parents taught me to respect my elders and to be considerate of others.
I was taught the Golden Rule, that two wrongs don't make a right, to apologize when I've wronged someone, and to forgive those who have wronged me.

The years I was growing up seemed like such a simple time. But isn't that the way it is for all of us? What adult wouldn't want to go back to those carefree days when life's greatest decisions were what toy to play with, which flavor of ice cream to choose or how to spend your allowance?

My parents believed in spanking, but I don't remember being spanked very often. My dad used to threaten us with the yardstick, but he never had to use it. Every time he headed for the basement door (the yardstick hung on the other side), we would straighten up and promise to be good.

The thing I remember most about my upbringing is how loved I felt. My parents always told us they loved us, especially when my brother, sister and I went up to bed. It made me feel safe and secure.

With every generation, family rules and discipline may change, but the love of a parent or child is one thing that will endure.

Kate Marchbanks

Together with God:

Raising children today is completely different then when we were children. But, why wouldn't it be? It's a different world. With each generation, one world stops and a new one begins. I am from the beginning of the television era, my children were part of the satellite generation, and my grandchildren are in the technology revolution. Our world continues to advance further and further forward in knowledge and abilities. Teaching techniques and discipline change with each generation.

What I find amazing is that the core remains the same strong message it was when Jesus walked with us. Even though we are raised differently from generation to generation, we are all taught the same quality message: Be kind to one another, love, believe and have faith, and all will come your way eventually. And the most important message of all - we are not alone in our struggles.

It is sad that my grandchildren will not experience the awe that I experienced while lying on my back on a summer evening looking up at the stars. But then, they wonder how it is that I have trouble understanding that a Blackberry is not necessarily a fruit. So, even with the differences and the feeling that one generation is missing the same childhood experiences from the other generation, I think we are doing well in our efforts to keep the message of God's promise alive.

Father, thank You for our time in this world that we may witness the changes of each generation. Help us to keep Your message growing. Guide us with the nurturing of our children in this ever-changing world. May we always feel Your presence and strength in our lives. Amen.

- D. Susan Rutz