Family favorites for your kitchen

Is spring really here? Of course, we have had snow in April, and from the Weather Channel it seems some of our neighbor states are getting a touch of it.

As this is written, the temperature is nice – no freezing temps or wind – but in our valley that could change in a matter of hours. With the weather, we might as well like what we get since there isn’t an alternative. And we all can’t move to Florida or that long, skinny state would sink!

The spring flowers are showing their beauty and that is heart-lifting. Spring is such a beautiful season with everything greening up.

The trees haven’t shaken themselves awake yet to put out leaves, but the time is coming close. The yard is greening and husband Norm is itching to get the lawn mower up and running.

It won’t be three weeks before he is complaining that he never gets anything done but mow grass. I have offered to do it, but he insists that he “knows how.” I think he just likes to complain and that is the easiest thing to complain about. My theory is to fence in the yard and get a herd of sheep.

The dandelions are jumping up everywhere. They aren’t blooming yet so one can’t make Dandelion Jelly or Dandelion Wine, but fresh in a salad or cooked as greens, they can find their way onto our table. My grandmother used to pick about twenty different kinds of greens on this farm, but I was too young to learn which greens they were and if I tried it now, I would probably find the only poisonous ones around. Guess I would never have made a “pioneer woman.”

Many years ago, I lived on a large tract of land north of Charlotte, N.C. I just knew there had to be dandelions on all those fields and I was hungry for one of grandma’s salads. I looked and looked and thought what little I did find was just a little different from the dandelions in Ohio. I picked them anyway and made salad. They were bitter and rough and not at all the salad I craved. I only fixed it once. Later I explained it to Mom and showed her the plants one time she came to visit. She had a really good laugh – I had picked Blue Devil. It didn’t hurt us, but it really wasn’t very good.

In every farm store one can hear the peeping of the little chicks. They are so cute that it is hard to remember I promised myself not to get any this year. The granddaughters couldn’t believe Grandma said, “No!” to their wanting a couple of chicks or ducks to keep in their room. I do like to have my own chickens, especially for the fresh eggs, but I have given in to the fact they are not so easy to care for since we are gone a lot in the summer. Same reason I am not putting in a big garden. I refuse to grow old gracefully – I am kicking and screaming all the way – but facts are facts.

We have another horse in our pasture. She is a beautiful paint. That makes us five, so there are enough for everyone to ride who wants to ride. I just watch Little Sunshine, the little filly of our neighbor’s mare, is growing like the proverbial weed. She already is getting used to being lead and has attached herself to her young owner – three-year-old Adian. He is so proud that he is “training” his own horse.

Prom time is coming up quickly for the schools in our area. Grandson Austin is a senior this year and is getting in the mood for a “dress-up” evening. We have to get lots of pictures since he isn’t one for fancy dress.

Proms really stretch the parents’ pockets these days – a lot different than when I was in that same country school. We may not have had that classy a prom, but I know we had as much fun as the kids today do, even if their proms are much more elaborate (and expensive!).

Our family is trying to accept the new “normal,” but it is a struggle for all of us. We are forever grateful for the many friends and family who have helped us through this period.

Everyone has to experience it in one way or another during a lifetime, so if you know any friends, neighbors or family going through a sad time, just let them know you care. It helps so very much. No one is promised tomorrow, so never forget to tell your loved ones how much you care. Your love, thoughts and prayers have kept us going. Thank you!

Food is something we have to have and preparing what your family enjoys is one way to show how much you care.

Maybe some of the recipes today will tap your memory of some of your family favorites and you can show your love from the kitchen.

There is a reason the kitchen is called the “heart of the home.” Enjoy, and God Bless.

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(Make some for your spring Church Bazaar)

Pick one quart of blossoms in the morning. Hold each flower by its calyx (the green base) and snip off the golden blossoms with scissors into a saucepan. Discard the calyx. Boil blossoms in one quart water for three minutes. Drain off three cups liquid. Strain through a cheesecloth if you want clear jelly. Add one package (1 3/4 oz.) powdered pectin to the liquid and add two tablespoons fresh lemon juice. When it comes to a boiling boil, add four and one-half cups sugar and a few drops yellow food coloring. Boil three minutes or to the jelly stage. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

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Three quarts blossoms

Four pounds white sugar

Two lemons

One-fourth cake yeast (large cake – or 1/2 small cake)

One gallon boiling water

Wash blossoms. Scald with the boiling water and let set in the water overnight. The next day, add the remaining ingredients. Juice the lemons, but put the rinds in as well as the juice. Let set 48 hours. Strain, bottle and cover with cheesecloth until it quits working so much. Then set the corks LIGHTLY until it quits working. Then cork tightly. It is extremely important to set the corks lightly until it quits working completely and to set the bottles where the flying glass won’t hurt anyone in case you set the corks too tightly too soon. You can use this basic recipe or about any blossom wine, such as elder blossom.

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Taco chips or homemade tortilla shells

One-half pound lean ground beef or turkey

Three garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)

One can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

One cup taco sauce

One tablespoon chili powder

Six cups shredded lettuce

Two medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

One green pepper, chopped

Four green onions, sliced

Three-fourths cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

One avocado, pitted and sliced (optional)

Sour cream, to taste (optional)

Taco sauce or salsa (optional)

Cook meat and garlic in a skillet until juices run clear. Drain off fat. Stir in kidney beans, taco sauce, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer ten minutes.

In a large bowl combine lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, and green onions. To serve, place a serving of the lettuce mixture on a plate lined with taco chips or in a tortilla shell. Add meat and avocado. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with sour cream and taco sauce or salsa – optional.

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Lightly brush 9- or 10-onch flour tortillas with a small amount of water or spray non-stick spray coating on one side of each tortilla. Spray non-stick coating into small oven-safe bowls or small casseroles. Press tortillas, coated side up, into the bowls.

Place a ball of foil in each tortilla cup to keep the sides up. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until light brown.

Remove the foil and cool. Remove the shells from the bowls and serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Contact Patty Christopher at