Enjoy summertime treats

Summer is finally here, I think! I may have angered Mother Nature by welcoming June a day too early. The weather has been somewhat questionable during the week leading up to Memorial Day. Parades did go on even if it wasn’t the best condition for the folks in the parade or for the treatment of musical instruments. Memorial Day Weekend is one of those holidays that we do a lot of reflecting on our country’s past as well as our family’s past. We give thanks for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice as well as for all those who put their lives in danger to keep us free. It is a time for reflection on America’s history as well as on the history of our own families. We honor all those who have passed on with flags and flowers and some tears, too. It is hard to go visit one’s family and go to the cemetery to do it. We know they are not actually there, but we talk to them anyway and hope an angel hears us and relays our words and continued love.

The enjoyable part of the weekend was the gathering of friends, especially those we see so seldom. The class of 1953 had a very enjoyable lunch at noon Saturday and then we visited with them as well as other friends at the school Alumni Banquet on Saturday evening. We looked at old school pictures and laughed about some of the things we did back in the Stone Age. It is hard to realize how many of us are no longer here and a reminder that no one is promised tomorrow. Our class president from 1953 gave all of us at the luncheon a rubber chicken key ring, which brought much laughing and camaraderie.

High school graduation is one of the high spots in one’s life. As our grandson Austin and his class went through the graduation ceremony, it was a bittersweet time for him and all of his classmates as they realized they were leaving the comfortable halls of learning and the classmates with whom they had spent years. They eagerly looked toward the future and shed tears at leaving the past. A lot of parents were feeling the same emotional pains, too. Life goes so quickly – a baby one minute and a high school graduate the next.

Granddaughter Cassidy had eighth-grade promotion last Wednesday night. It is so hard to believe she will be in high school next year. I know you all are feeling the same emotions as you see your children and grandchildren going from one time in their lives to another as they are getting ready to enter the adult world. We prepare them to go on to that part of life but it hurts us to let them go. It is hard to remember that we are given them for only a short time and it is our duty to prepare them to move on as they reach the age of adulthood. To everything there is a season.

And the garden season is here. We were lucky the other evening when the temperature tried to get to freezing as those plants we had just put into the garden seemed to survive. It probably knocked their growing time down somewhat, but at least they are still standing. I have a container planted with lettuce and one with beets on the patio and they seem to be doing okay, and this past week I finally got around to finish the flower containers. Husband Norm has been working hard to get the yard in shape. He says he didn’t fertilize it this year or put more seed down except on the areas we had to redo, but the way it is growing makes me wonder! He has said he is going to take my suggestion and turn one part of the yard into a pasture, but not for sheep, like I said, but for the horses. He enjoys mowing but not when it takes him so much time.

Molly’s kittens are getting to the age where it is fun to watch them. All five are getting adventurous. Bella and Scarlett, the little dogs, are doing pretty good at not pestering them but playing with them and, of course, old Rocky just lays there and watches the whole bunch. Not all the older cats like Molly joining them in the house, but she is here until the kittens are weaned and she gets a visit to the cat doctor. Then I am going to try to move all the cats to the barn. The problem is going to be when the kittens need to find homes and Cassidy and Baylee want to keep them. They are going to the barn, too, unless they find homes. I am trying to unclutter all the house, and that includes some of the residents. Wish me luck.

If it was just this house that needed a good sorting out, it wouldn’t be so bad, but the house in Delaware has to be attended to, also. We don’t get to go over there enough to keep up with the necessary maintenance, so, once in a while, it is a huge job that has to be done. I still am planning an escape to the Catskills this summer, and, of course, the state competition for Cassidy and Baylee. Looks like a busy summer, so I got a new bottle of vitamins the other day in preparation. I’m glad Norm talked me into no big garden. Now I don’t have to worry about doing canning and freezing just when the garden says it is ready but when I am ready, thanks to the Farmers’ Markets.

With summer here, we will be doing lots of grilling, barbecuing, picnics and family gatherings. Dessert is as important at a gathering as the meat, so the recipes today are ones you can make ahead in the cool of the morning and carry to a gathering or picnic. Making a freezer of ice cream is always a fun project in the summer, so a recipe for that is included, also. Enjoy your family and friends and make precious memories. Explore some new sights and don’t forget to sit under the shade tree every chance you get. God bless you all!

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FRUIT ICE CREAM

Two pints fresh fruit – strawberries or peaches

One pint half and half

One lemon, freshly squeezed or two tablespoons lemon juice

One and one-half cups sugar

One quart milk

Blend mashed fruit, half and half, and lemon juice. Add sugar and then milk. Pour into ice cream freezer can to within two inches of the top. If necessary, add more milk. Put into freezer, securing lid. Pack with ice and coarse salt, according to freezer directions. Churn until firm.

If you have one of those little freezer cans that go into the freezer, then churn in an electric container, you may have to freeze the ice cream in two or more batches. The most fun, though, especially for kids, is to use a big, old-fashioned freezer with a hand or electric crank.

NOTE: I add one teaspoon vanilla to any ice cream, and one-half teaspoon almond extract to the peach.

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LEMON SQUARES

Two sticks butter

Two cups flour

One-half cup confectioners’ sugar

Four eggs, slightly beaten

Two cups sugar

Six tablespoons fresh lemon juice with grated zest

One tablespoon flour

One-half tablespoon baking powder

Mix butter, flour, and powdered sugar together by hand. Press into a 10-inch by 14-inch baking dish. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 15 minutes. Mix eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Pour over pastry in baking dish and bake in 325-degree oven for 45 minutes.

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PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

One cup (two sticks) butter or margarine

One cup brown sugar

One cup white sugar

Two eggs

One cup peanut butter

One teaspoon vanilla

Three-and-one-fourth cups flour

Two teaspoons baking soda

One-half teaspoon salt

Mix together butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add eggs, peanut butter and vanilla. Combine flour, soda and salt in another bowl. Then add to the peanut butter mixture. This will make a stiff dough. Shape into one-inch balls and place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Criss-cross each cookie with a fork while pressing down to flatten cookie. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cookies will be very soft when taken from the oven. Very carefully, pull parchment paper onto a wire rack and let cookies cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.

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CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE

Four tablespoons butter

Four tablespoons cocoa

One-and-one-half cups sugar

Dash of salt

One teaspoon vanilla

Two eggs, beaten

One (5-oz.) can evaporated milk

One unbaked pie shell

Melt butter. Mix in cocoa, sugar and salt. Stir in vanilla and eggs. Add milk and mix well. Pour into pie shell and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until it cools to room temperature.

APPLESAUCE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

One-half cup shortening

One cup sugar

Two eggs

One teaspoon vanilla

One-half cup cocoa

One cup flour

One-half teaspoon baking soda

One-half teaspoon baking powder

One-eighth teaspoon salt

One-half cup applesauce

One-half cup walnuts or pecans

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Mix dry ingredients with shortening mixture. Add applesauce and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes.

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SIMPLE SYRUP FOR ICED TEA

(Make this simple syrup and keep in refrigerator to use in place of sugar in iced tea or other summer drinks.)

One cup sugar

One cup water

Combine and bring to a good boil. Cool and refrigerate. For more condensed syrup, use twice as much sugar as water. Easy and convenient.