Get ready for canning time

Happy Labor Day Weekend! This is the big one to unofficially end the summer season and we should all enjoy it completely. This holiday celebrates the folks who are the backbone of our nation – the workers. If it weren’t for them, the government would not have any money to operate. They are the ones who provide all the money for those who can’t or won’t work and the money to give away around the world. Company owners and company workers alike pay into a system that spends their tax dollars without appreciating them. The workers are the people who finance the country. They should be honored, along with the military, for providing us the country we enjoy. There is no free money, no money tree, and for others to receive it, someone has to work for it. At the present time, about half of our residents are providing the money to care for the other half. Somehow, I don’t believe that was the dream of those brave souls who started this new country. We should help those who have worked and now can’t and those who legitimately aren’t able to work, but those who ride the free-load train, and work under the table for cash or draw money because of their life style or slipping into the country illegally, should be thrown off that train!

Don’t put the grill away just yet – there are still warm evenings and weekends to come when you can still cook supper on it. For some reason, everything tastes better when it is cooked on the grill. Steak can be seared in a hot iron skillet just as well as on the grill, but that special flavor of one grilled over hot charcoal (with those cancer causing particles on it!) seems so much better. Husband Norm says there is nothing about that charcoal searing that is harmful, and he is probably about right, but I do bring the subject up often, especially when the fat around the edges have that crispy texture. With all the junk we get in our commercially prepared food, one little steak occasionally isn’t going to make a difference, I guess!

This is not the time to be concerned about staying on a diet, while we add hamburgers, hot dogs (the only time I like them is when they are cooked on a grill!), pasta and potato salads, watermelon, cakes and pies as we eat our way through this “end of summer” ritual. Many of us will be attending fairs and those Elephant Ears and Funnel Cakes just HAVE to be sampled! We have almost three months before we engage in another eating marathon – Thanksgiving – so maybe we can control our calories in the meantime so we don’t have to buy larger clothes to start the Holiday season!

The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a long and cold winter, so maybe that extra weight we gain now (and can’t lose) will help us keep warm. Look on the positive side! I hope winter doesn’t come too early as these nice days are so pleasant for enjoying morning coffee on the deck. I just recently finished laundering my good sweaters and putting them away for the summer – now it is almost time to get them back out! Guess I am getting too slow to get things done “timely”.

There are still many things to enjoy before it does get cold. The fall flowers and the colorful leaves make autumn a special time of year. The newspaper is full of neat places to visit as fall approaches. Every season has its own good features. With school starting, we can look forward to football during this season. Whether it is high school, college, JV, or Pop Warner – we enjoy it and go endless miles to cheer on our kids. All students should be in some form of sports, band, chorus or other school activity besides their academic studies, and we family members should let them know how proud we are of them by going to the games, concerts, and award ceremonies.

Have you finished the “putting up” of the summer veggies and fruits? I haven’t and the time is getting shorter to get it done. I didn’t plan to do too much but the plan was to do more than I have! Since the garden is so pitiful, a trip to the Farmers’ Auction will have to fill out the tomatoes and peppers I want. Pepper sandwiches are a joy to eat, but one has to can the peppers as they aren’t available in the stores. So, peppers, Salsa, and peaches are on the agenda. I have been giving in to Norm about not doing so much canning, but some things are just better home processed. I know they are healthier without all the preservatives and “natural ingredients and artificial flavoring” in store bought food. I really don’t know why embalming of a deceased person is necessary with all the “preservatives” we get in our food! To be completely healthy, we should raise all our own food, even to meat and eggs, and grow and raise everything “organically”, but that is impossible for most folks. It also is a lot of work and takes a lot of time that folks just don’t have anymore. Of course, we weren’t meant to live forever on this earth, so it is sometimes best not to read the labels and just enjoy the food we buy and not worry about what we are really eating! Every week there is something new that isn’t good for us and the next week it is what everyone should eat. We really can’t win the advertising game!

While the temperature is still up there, keep the iced tea pitcher filled and sit in the swing often (under a shade tree, of course). Take time for yourself and don’t let others push you into a stressful rush. I, too, sometimes feel that present time slaves are now known as wives! Then, I rebel and trade that iced tea for a glass of wine and a good book and do nothing but sit in the shade and read! I don’t really recommend that for young wives, but age does give one some privileges!

Enjoy the rest of the Labor Day Weekend. Be thankful for all the workers who have made this a great country. Take care and God Bless!

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PICKLED PEPPERS

Cut peppers in strips or in half (for sandwiches). Parboil in salted water for two or three minutes. Drain. Pack in clean jars, cover with syrup and seal. Process in hot water bath for twenty minutes.

SYRUP: One cup vinegar

Two cups sugar

Two cups water

Cook until of light syrup consistency.

For spicy peppers, add two to four tablespoons pickling spice to syrup and a clove of garlic to each jar. To add heat to the peppers, add one or two jalapenos to each jar of mild peppers. If you make both hot and mild peppers, be sure to label each one. One jalapeno per jar will make a warm but not burning hot jar of sweet peppers like the bells.For pepper sandwiches, use red, green and yellow bell peppers mixed with colorful Hungarians. If the peppers get hotter than you thought or like, put more butter on the sandwich and that helps take out some of the hot.

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JAMAICAN BANANA PANCAKES

One egg

One tablespoon sugar

Three tablespoons flour

One-half teaspoon baking powder

Three ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

Butter and sugar

Beat egg with sugar. Add flour, baking powder, and bananas. Whisk together. Drop, a tablespoon at a time, onto a hot buttered frying pan. Turn when bubbles appear. These cook very quickly. Be careful not to burn the butter and add more butter to the pan as needed. Place pancakes on a platter and sprinkle with granulated sugar. These are sweet, so syrup really isn’t needed. It is better to make two batches then to double it. You can double it if you use a blender to make it. Frying in butter gives it that special taste, although butter smokes easily, so use a lower temperature then normal frying oil.

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OLD-FASHIONED MOLASSES COOKIES

One cup white sugar

One cup shortening

One cup molasses

Two eggs

One-half cup milk (or coffee)

Four heaping cups flour

Three teaspoons soda

One teaspoon salt

Mix together sugar, shortening, molasses, eggs, and milk or coffee. Combine dry ingredients and add to the molasses mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased baking sheet and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

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ORANGE COOKIES

One-half cup butter

One cup sugar

Grated rind of 2 oranges

One egg, slightly beaten

One-half cup orange juice

Three cups sifted flour

One-half teaspoon cinnamon

Four teaspoons baking powder

Cream together butter, sugar and grated orange rind. Gradually add egg, orange juice, flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix thoroughly. Drop by a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light brown. They are even better if you sprinkle a little sugar over the cookies before baking them.

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SHASLIK

Six or seven lb. leg of lamb, boned

Three-fourth cup good red wine

Five cloves garlic, halved

Two sweet onions, diced

Three bay leaves

One teaspoon dried basil

One-half teaspoon oregano

One-fourth teaspoon dill seeds, crushed

One-fourth teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

Six whole black peppercorns, crushed

One tablespoon salt

Three green peppers

Six sweet onions

Six ripe firm tomatoes

One pound mushrooms

Dice meat into 1-inch cubes. Place wine, garlic, diced onions and seasonings in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Stir lightly and add lamb. Cover tightly and refrigerate 24 to 60 hours. Stir at intervals to marinate evenly. On skewers alternate lamb with inch green pepper rings, onion quarters, tomato quarters and fresh mushroom buttons. Broil over charcoal fire (grill) until lamb is done. If fresh herbs are used, use three times listed amounts. Fantastic kabobs!!!!!

Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News & Sentinel.