Making time to get together

Thank you, Mother Nature, for the beautiful day last Sunday. It was family reunion time here on the hilltop. Wonderful weather, great food and relaxed visiting among family members made for a great time. The attendance this year was down due to several members being required to work on this day, vacations and so many of the younger generations having more interesting things to do instead of a traditional family gathering. Those of us here had a good time and a delicious dinner. Having a family reunion is almost a lost happening with all the other distractions this time of year. Back when we didn’t have much social contact with others and we lived a much quieter life, everyone went to the reunion, just to catch up on the happenings of other family members and it was of the few summer attractions. Now, it is too easy to catch up on Facebook or the cellphone. Time marches on.

Schools are getting ready to open soon. Remember to never pass a school bus when the warning lights are on. Watch your speed, too. Watching out for the little ones is much more important than getting someplace in a hurry. If your budget has just the tiniest extra in it, buy some extra school supplies to give to your child’s teacher to help those students who need help getting the needed items for school. It seems that every year the list for “needed supplies” gets longer and longer and it causes a problem for some of our friends and neighbors. I am a firm believer in helping those in our own community before we help others.

So much is mandated by the state and federal governments these days that it is hard for the local school districts to furnish some of the things they used to do. It is terrible that students have to pay for sports or music. Those are things that should be part of a regular education for all kids. Even the lunches keep going higher and higher and many of the recipes the school cooks have to use are not the most tasteful. My favorite sandwich when I went to school in the Stone Age (brown sugar and cinnamon sandwich) would probably cause a school kitchen to be shut down.

I have picked the final quart of blackberries off my few bushes for this year. Come winter, the posts and wire on which to tie the bushes will be installed if I want to have any next year. Standing on my head to find the berries on the underside of the stalks is not my idea of a good berry patch. Besides, it makes me dizzy and at this age, I don’t need that.

Speaking of age, I passed another year mark this past week. Age really doesn’t make much of an impression on me, but sometimes my bones don’t care so much for it. It is just frustrating not to be able to do what I did a few years ago. I am not facing an old age gracefully – I am kicking and screaming all the way. The Golden Years mean one is supposed to give all one’s gold to others (doctors, medical folks and pharmacies) to keep going… It doesn’t mean one is to have a Golden time… Just remember that, young folks, when you feel tempted to say mean things about the lack of ability your older relatives have to perform as they used to do. You will be there someday.

The past days of cooler weather made some folks comment they thought that meant an early and bad winter. Wash your mouth out with lye soap. We don’t need to tempt Mother Nature to make that come true. Hope for a comfortable fall and beautiful leaves and sunny (not hot) days to enjoy the festivals and final fairs. Then, about mid-December or January, have days just cool enough to get some pretty snow that just covers the ground but isn’t too deep – no cold rain or black ice or ice of any kind. And cold just enough and only long enough to kill the bugs. That shouldn’t be asking too much.

I planted 50 gladiolus bulbs and have one blooming. Miss Rosemary is just the same size she was when I planted her outside, too. I can’t say my thumb has been very green this summer. Like Scarlett would say, “Next year is another year.” Even my zucchini plants produced few zucchini. It is pretty bad when those plants don’t do their job. On, well. I know the way to the Chesterhill Auction and several farmers’ markets. One can eat only so much zucchini Casserole anyway and we don’t eat enough sweet stuff for me to make the cakes or cookies from it. We didn’t even have enough of our own to get our fill of it grilled.

Our local community fair is the end of this week. There seems to be a tradition of Mother Nature’s to always turn cool enough for folks to need a jacket as they watch the evening events. It can be scorching during the day, but when evening comes, it gets downright chilly – of course, most younger folks sit on the ground. There is a rather steep hillside above the track. Regular viewers have modified chairs so the back legs are shorter and they can sit in comfort on that hillside. Everyone in the community goes even if it is just to see their neighbors. The 4-H/FFA Hog Sale is the big thing for many of the young folks (that’s where they get nice checks for their summer’s work) and it is the one for all Washington County and is well supported by local politicians, businesses and grandparents. It is also the place to get the best pork you can find as the kids have to follow a strict feeding program for their animals. I try to take my turn in the Grange food booth. Everyone loves the noodles for which it is famous. Many local organizations have food booths and it is all good homestyle food. So, if you are looking for a local, country-style happening this next weekend, come to Waterford, Ohio – just up the Muskingham River.

Enjoy the last few days of school vacation time with your little ones. You can rest when school starts. God Bless.

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GREEN TOMATO PIE

Pastry for double-crust pie

One-half cup sugar

Two tablespoons flour

Grated rind of one lemon

One-fourth teaspoon ground allspice

One-fourth teaspoon salt

Four cups peeled and sliced green tomatoes

One-tablespoon lemon juice

Three tablespoons butter

Line pie pan with pastry dough. Mix the sugar, flour, lemon rind, allspice and salt together. Sprinkle just a little of this on the bottom of the pie shell. Arrange the tomato slices, a layer at a time and sprinkle some of the sugar mixture on each layer. Sprinkle the lemon juice on each layer and put a dot of butter on each slice of tomato. Keep layering until you reach the top of the pie pan. Cover with latticed top crust. Brush top crust with egg wash or cream (or milk) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

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CRISPY PICKLES

One-fourth cup pickling salt

Two tablespoons celery seed

Two tablespoons pickling spice

Two cups white sugar

Thirty-six medium cucumbers

Three red bell peppers

One quart cider vinegar

Two tablespoons ground ginger

Wash cucumbers and peppers and place in granite or pottery container. Add salt and cover cucumbers and peppers with water. Let stand in brine overnight. Drain cucumbers and peppers and cut into one-inch chunks. Mix remaining ingredients in large granite or stainless steel kettle and heat to boiling. Add cucumbers and peppers and heat through but do not boil. Pack in hot, sterilized jars and seal.

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GERMAN APPLE KUCHEN CRUST

One-half cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Two cups all-purpose flour

Three-fourths cup butter

One egg yolk

One-half teaspoon vanilla

Four large cooking apples, peeled and sliced (like Granny Smith)

FILLING

One cup heavy (whipping) cream

One tablespoon flour

One-half teaspoon vanilla

Zest from one lemon

Three eggs

One-half cup sugar

Cinnamon – for top of kuchen

Mix sugar, flour and butter (crust ingredients) in food processor as for piecrust. Combine egg yolk and vanilla and stir into flour mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Combine all ingredients for filling except cinnamon and mix well. Press crust into large spring-form pan and arrange apple slices in rows around the crust. Be sure all the crust is covered with apple slices. Gently pour filling over apple slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

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CHEDDAR CHEESE ANGEL BISCUIT

One package dry yeast

One-fourth cup warm water

Five cups all-purpose flour

One-half cup sugar

One teaspoon baking soda

Two teaspoons salt

Three teaspoons baking powder

One tablespoon chopped parsley

One cup shortening

One-and-one-half cups buttermilk

One-half cup finely grated cheddar cheese

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Sift flour, sugar, soda, salt and baking powder together in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until crumbly. Mix in the chopped parsley and the cheddar cheese. Add buttermilk, then dissolved yeast mixture and stir well. Cover bowl and chill. Drop by tablespoons on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly brown. This dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and biscuits baked when needed, or biscuits can be baked and frozen. Let thaw and reheat to serve.

Contact Patty Christopher at jkoenitzer@aol.com