Great sides for summertime fun

This year is half over and it is time to check ourselves to see if we have done what we intended to do and we have done it the best we can every day. Projects are important, but what is more important is our relationship to others. We will not pass this way again, so it is essential we do the best we can every day. Each day is a gift, so we should treat it as such and not waste it. The news is always full of the bad things happening to people, such as fires and floods and violence, so it is important to put things in the proper prospective in our lives.

This past week we celebrated the birth of our nation. It is always a joyous family and friends holiday, no matter how Mother Nature celebrates it. We love the fireworks and the music specials we see on TV and locally, too. We love the cookouts and the first watermelons of the season. We march in parades and listen to the spritely band music. It is a fun time.

But, it is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices of those who put their lives and fortunes on the line to give us a free land. They had to risk their lives and everything they had. I wonder if it would have ever happened if the people then would have been like most of the people today. It seems the majority of folks think only of themselves and what they can get from others, including the government. Someone has to give so others can get.

Those who have worked hard all their lives, believing they were securing the future for themselves and their families, are now seeing their hard work going to support those who only know how to take. What will happen when everyone gives up and no one works? Where do the free loaders think the money they have been used to getting because they are too lazy to take care of themselves is going to come from? We have lost all our respect for ourselves and for those who gave all to form a way of life that can be enjoyed if we will wake up and change the way things are going now.

We can’t buy respect and love from those who hate us and laugh because we keep giving them money when we have to borrow it, at a high rate of interest, from others who also laugh at our foolishness. It isn’t fair, or decent, to create a situation that our children and their children and grandchildren are going to have to handle.

This nation was created as an honorable and Christian nation. No other country, or group of people, has the right or the ability to take it away from us unless we let them. The worst decay is the decay from within.

Think about it as you enjoy this great holiday.

Because of circumstances beyond their control, our beautiful and talented granddaughters, Cassidy and Baylee, were not able to compete in the pageant in Columbus for which they qualified. It was last weekend. They are having to learn about big disappointments in life too early. Thanks to all of you who supported them and believed in them.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if some of our recent rain could have been diverted to the west where the heat and fires are causing so much misery?

The worst is the loss of life. Things can be replaced, but a human life can’t. Keep those folks (firemen, policemen, and military) who look after all of us in your prayers. We can never repay them for their dedication. This is the time to enjoy fresh berries – blueberries, black and red raspberries, and blackberries just coming on, but the strawberries are mostly over. If you don’t have vines of your own, visit some of the local Farmers’ Markets or the stands manned by the local growers. Everything tastes better from the farm! Husband Norm thinks I’m crazy, but I really love to pick berries. I never know when to stop if I am picking in a u-pick patch, so I always pick too many for using up fresh quickly, and spending more money than I intended, but the extras are frozen easily.

Maybe the reason I love to pick berries is because I grew up picking them. Both grandmothers had a small commercial red raspberry patch for “cash money” in the summer. So, no matter where I was spending time in the summer, I was the local “child labor.” The ones my grandmothers grew always had the biggest picking on July 4. That pretty much limited what I got to do on that holiday. The berries sold for fifty cents a heaped up quart basket in those days. They are definitely more now.

There is a berry patch started in the garden, very small but enough for me to get to “pick berries” to refresh my memory of summers long ago. Isn’t it strange how some small activity like that can take one back to long, peaceful summers and stir up the memories?

Our neighbor near Stanleyville, Ohio, where Dad’s folks lived, raised berries just like Grandma did. His patch was larger than ours and he used to hire local kids to pick berries. He paid them five cents for each filled basket, and as something special, gave each a stick of chewing gum before they started picking. That eliminated berries finding themselves in a kid’s mouth instead of in the basket, but the kids thought it was a special treat. I was strictly taught not to eat as I picked, and to this day, I don’t sample the berries until I am through picking. The only times I ate berries as I picked them was in Delaware when I went with Norm’s father to the blueberry fields. He used to say they should weight me as I went in and again as I left to collect for all the blueberries!

Now it is time to get rested from all the July 4 celebrations. I hope you and your family had a glorious time. Now, make for the swing under the shade tree and just relax. Stay out of the hot sun during midday and drink lots of liquids like water and iced tea. Encourage the “griller” in your family to do the cooking while you sit in the shade. Take care and God Bless!

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One pound dried navy beans

One-half pound bacon

One tablespoon dried mustard

One teaspoon salt, or to taste

One teaspoon black pepper

One teaspoon cinnamon

One-half teaspoon ground cloves

One large onion, diced

Three-fourths cup molasses

One-half cup brown sugar, packed

Pick over the beans and soak overnight. Be sure to have enough water in the bowl so the beans don’t come up above the water as they soak. In the morning, drain, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil very slowly, then simmer until the skins burst (almost tender). Drain. Cut bacon slices into inch pieces and set aside. Combine all other ingredients in another bowl. Place several pieces of bacon in the bottom of a bean pot. Alternate layers of beans, molasses mixture and bacon pieces, ending with bacon pieces on top. Add boiling water to cover, put the lid on, and bake all day (minimum of six to eight hours) in a 250-degree oven. Check from time to time and add boiling water if needed. Uncover the pot during the last hour of baking so the bacon can crisp. To save on oven clean-up, you might want to put a cookie sheet on the shelf below the bean pot, as it sometimes will boil over.

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(One of many versions!)

One cup pineapple tidbits, drained

One cup small marshmallows

One cup mandarin oranges, drained

One cup coconut

One cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients and let set overnight to combine flavors.

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One pound dry pinto beans

One chunk salt pork

One-half teaspoon salt

One medium onion, minced

One teaspoon garlic salt

One teaspoon oregano

One tablespoon chili powder

Dash pepper

Dash parsley

Soak beans overnight. Drain, add fresh water and salt and simmer about one hour. Dice salt pork and brown in a skillet. Remove pork and reserve. Add onion to the skillet and brown in fat drippings. Remove onion and reserve. Add pork, onion, and seasonings to beans and simmer one to two hours or until beans are tender.

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Two cups dry spaghetti, broken small, cooked, rinsed and drained

Six apples, peeled and cubed

One No.2 can chunk pineapple, drained well

One-half cup fresh lemon juice

Two cups powdered sugar

Four eggs

Two cups Cool Whip or whipped cream

Beat eggs well, add lemon juice and sugar. Cook in top of double boiler until thick. Stir often. Cool. Add fruit and cooked spaghetti. Let stand 12-24 hours. Just before serving, add Cool Whip or Whipped Cream.

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Three eggs

One cup salad oil

Two cups sugar

Two teaspoons vanilla

Two cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

One cup crushed pineapple, drained

Three cups flour

Two teaspoons baking soda

One-and-one-half teaspoons cinnamon

One teaspoon salt

Three-fourths teaspoon nutmeg

One-fourth teaspoon baking powder

One cup dates, coarsely chopped, or raisins

One cup English walnuts, coarsely chopped

Beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until thick. Stir in other ingredients. Mix well. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for one hour.

NOTE: Another recipe I have calls for on cup chocolate chips instead of raisins. Just put in whatever you like!

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Patty Christopher is a longtime food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Contact her at