Welcoming fall with new recipes

As you read this, I should be heading back home from the Catskills in New York. We try to get away for a few days of R & R, more for husband Norm than for me. I truly enjoy it, too, though. The area is beautiful, the resort is top class, the friends are great to see, and I don’t feel guilty when I just sit and read and relax. I have already packed a book by John Grisham that I have been saving to read this vacation week.

Those pretty multi-colored peppers are sitting in jars on the shelf, ready for wintertime eating. One bag of thirty-six of the hot ones is in the freezer for another batch of hot mustard, and one bunch of them already cooked up. The jars of peppers for sandwiches look so pretty and it really is easy to do and doesn’t take long. I think of my canning like Norm thinks of his lawn mowing and keeping the yard neat and green. I have about given up on the fence and sheep idea since he enjoys those hours on the mower, even if he does complain about it. He doesn’t even get too upset over the flowerbeds these days since he had blocks place around them. Only one problem there – the store ran out of the color of blocks we used before the second row of them got around one bed. He even is planning more raised beds in the garden, even though we don’t do a lot of gardening now.

The fairs for us are now over, along with the horse shows for the year. The last one for us was at the Morgan County Fair. Connie, our “horse lady” and neighbor, took three horses and three girls to the horse show and they came home with three first place trophies and blue ribbons. That was a great way to end the season. Now, they can concentrate on school work.

Here in the country, it is time to be getting ready for the coming winter. Final hay is being put up, corn is getting ready to be picked, fruit trees are delivering their end of harvest as are the gardens, and the guys (and some of the girls) are watching to see where the deer may be living in anticipation of hunting season this winter. We usually have big wild turkeys around here, too, but I wouldn’t clean them for the meat. Guess I would if I were hungry. Norm doesn’t hunt anything and hasn’t since he was a teenager. We like to watch the deer and turkeys too much to ever even think about hunting them. I think those “deer camps” are more for getting together with the guys, playing cards, eating, and checking out who made the best wine than for serious hunting. Sorry, guys; we are onto you.

This fall season promises to be a very busy and enjoyable time. The Beverly American Legion’s chili cook-off is Saturday, Sept. 28, our church’s fall rummage sale is the next week, and then the highlight of the season – the wedding of my oldest granddaughter, Amanda. In October comes the final judging for the News and Sentinel’s Cookbook Contest – always a great event and one to which I look forward. The cookbook with all the recipes will be in the paper the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so you can try one or more of them for your Turkey Day dinner. We have such good cooks here in our Valley. This is really the start of a hectic, but wonderful time of year. Just take your vitamins (and maybe a Prozac).

One thing that always says fall to me is the flavor of gingerbread, so one of the recipes today is our family’s Ginger Dumplings. This dish is good with either peaches or pears. I have always been a “dessert” person, and one of my favorites is the recipe my sister-in-law Sharon gave me for Twenty-four Hour Dessert. Both the lemon and chocolate versions are heavenly. So, fix your favorite dish today, smile at the world, and don’t worry about things you cannot help or change. Be thankful, tell your family you love them, and be good to yourself. God Bless!

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GINGER DUMPLINGS

One tablespoon butter

Four tablespoons molasses

Pinch salt

Four tablespoons sweet milk

One-half teaspoon soda

Mix together.

Sift: One-half teaspoon ground ginger

One teaspoon baking powder

One-half teaspoon nutmeg

One cup (or more) flour

Add to liquid mixture.

Have fruit mixture boiling (peaches or pears) and drop dumpling mixture by spoonfuls into the fruit mixture. Cover (don’t peek!) and cook for fifteen minutes.

Fruit mixture: Add peaches or pears to a simple syrup, usually one cup sugar to one cup water, and bring to boiling. Boil for a few minutes before adding dumplings so fruit is cooked when dumplings are done. For heavier syrup, use two cups sugar to one cup water.

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TWENTY-FOUR HOUR DESSERT

One-half cup margarine

One cup flour

Two tablespoons sugar

One-half cup walnuts, chopped

One (8-oz.) package cream cheese

One cup powdered sugar

One cup Cool Whip

Two packages instant pudding mix, chocolate or lemon

Three cups milk

More Cool Whip and nuts for topping

Cut flour, margarine, sugar, and walnuts like a pie dough and press into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, greased and floured. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 15 minutes and then cool. Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and Cool Whip together and spread over cooled crust.

Pour milk into a bowl and beat in chocolate or lemon pudding mix, beating pudding mix until thick. Spread over cream cheese mixture. Top with Cool Whip and spread with more chopped nuts. Refrigerate overnight and cut into separate squares to serve.

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PEPPERS AND HOT DOGS

Four pounds hot dogs

One (32-oz) bottle ketchup

One cup vegetable oil

Two cups sugar

Eight to ten peppers – sweet or hot, to taste

One cup vinegar

Use hot or sweet Hungarian peppers, or sweet with one or two hot ones, depending on the heat or lack of it that is wanted for the hot dogs. Bring all ingredients except hot dogs to a boil. Cut hot dogs into one-inch sections (do not cook). Add hot dogs to sauce as you fill each jar. Use clean, hot jars and seal as each one is filled. Process in hot water bath for ten minutes (after water comes to a boil). Use hot dogs as appetizers or snacks and use sauce, reheated, on pasta – two dishes in one!

The hot dogs cook in the hot sauce as they are canned and won’t split.

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SPAGHETTI SAUCE

Twelve quarts tomatoes finely chopped or pureed

Six cups onions, finely chopped

Three cups green bell peppers, finely chopped

Three cups red bell peppers, finely chopped

One and one-half cups banana peppers, finely chopped (any sweet pepper)

Three cups celery, finely chopped

Nine cloves garlic, minced

One-fourth cup pickling salt

One and one-half tablespoons celery seed

One and one-half tablespoons mustard seed

One and one-half tablespoons dried oregano

One and one-half tablespoons dried basil

One and one-half tablespoons Italian seasoning

Three cups sugar

Four cups vinegar

Peal tomatoes, quarter, and let drain in colander. Do not use juice that drains off tomatoes. Chop tomatoes and put through food mill to remove seeds211. (To make chunky style, do not put through food mill.) Put tomatoes into 18-quart electric roaster with all other ingredients, and cook down to desired consistency. Hold back on some of the tomatoes until all other ingredients are in to make certain you have enough room in the roaster. If all the tomatoes won’t it, add the remaining tomatoes as it boils down some. The cooking down process normally takes about three hours, but may be less if the tomatoes are drained well in the first step. Fill hot, clean jars, seal, and process in hot water bath for thirty minutes after water comes to a boil.

To peel tomatoes, plunge tomatoes into boiling water for one minute, then immediately plunge them into cold water. Do not use any tomatoes that have bad spots on them for any canning – whole, juice, sauce, etc. The bacteria from a bad spot goes through the whole tomato, and will ruin the entire batch of whatever you are making.