Enjoy warm weather with new recipes

How was your Mother’s Day? Wonderful, I hope. If it wasn’t, I hope those who gave you a bad time remember that what goes around comes around. So just enjoy this delightful season and declare a holiday for yourself. We all deserve that once in awhile.

This is high season for graduations – from kindergarten to college. No matter the educational level, it is important to the one graduating. It means going into another cycle of life. That gets more intense as it goes from kindergarten to college.

The top level means it is time to join the world of working adults. The fun of school is over and the hard facts hit you in the face. Maybe not on Graduation Day – that is a day of rejoicing, but soon after. If your folks have rented out your room or turned it into a sewing room, you get the idea very quickly.

Now for the high school graduate, it is also a choice of going to school or some other type of training, the military, or getting a job right away. Only the very lucky – maybe with some pull – can go right out in the working world and get a job with a wage on which to survive. Further training or some type of education is absolutely necessary. You may be tired of school, but think ahead. This is a critical turning in your life and you want to make a choice that will help you in the years ahead. The world isn’t all fun and games like some of your school has been. Girls as well as boys need to be able to take care of themselves. It isn’t like the old days when you could get married right away and not have to be concerned about taking care of yourself for the rest of your life.

The middle school kids and the kindergarten kids can just enjoy. They don’t have to make decisions that will determine their life’s journey right now.

Whatever level graduate you are, enjoy this special day and lock it in your memory. Just keep your life dream in front of you and do what you need to do in order to reach it. Congratulations to you all!

Last Saturday, I took a day just for me and went on a road trip. First, I went to our grade school reunion at a small community in Fearing Township – Stanleyville. That school has been gone for years and our family moved to the hilltop where I now live even earlier. I thought I wouldn’t know anyone, but I found several old friends. We all look different than those grade school pictures, and I had to ask many who they were, but as soon as I heard their names, their features were seen. It was a wonderful Saturday afternoon. I even won two of the door prizes – one, a book by a former classmate and one, a “mystery prize” that had a bird feeder, two lottery tickets, some flowers, and a very original bird bath in it. That was the neatest prize of the day. Some people are really creative to make a bird feeder like I won. The potluck food was better than any fancy restaurant ever served, and I am certain I gained a few pounds.

When the gathering was over, I drove the few miles out to the farm where I grew up. The old bank barn is gone, as well as the garage and woodshed. The house still looks the same and I am very grateful for the folks who have it now for the way they have preserved it. Even those wonderful porches were still strong and well cared for. A huge barn has been built where the old apple orchard grew. Everything looked neat and well cared for. It brought back many memories for me and I hope those who live there now will have happy memories in later years, just as I have now.

Two of the most beautiful homes in Washington County have been built out there on those green hills that remind me of the Bavarian Alps. I guess that is why my ancestors settled there – it reminded them of the home they left when they came to this country. How I wish they had left a journal of their lives.

Some of the recipes I have given you over the years have been those handed down from the “old country.” When I make them, or even read the recipes, I can almost taste the food from Grandma Semon’s table. How I wish I could visit with her and ask all the questions I have now that I never thought of asking her when she was still here. That is a lesson for all of us – talk to our elders and learn about their lives. Of course, now I am one of the “elders,” so my chances have gone. My grandkids don’t seem very interested either, so I guess I will have to record it for my great-great grandchildren.

One of the benefits of living in the country is the large variety, and quantity, of the birds who visit our feeders. Of course, by the time I buy bird feed, dog feed, cat feed and litter, my grocery bill has hit the high mark. We have other visitors, too, but they are not welcomed like the birds are. We had just planted asparagus, with all the extra work of making a proper bed for it so it would last for decades, when husband Norm went to check the previous day’s work (and expense) of planting our Mary Washington. The blue mushroom cloud went up over the garden; the raccoons (we think it was) had dug up all the plants and eaten them. They are beautiful animals, but are not welcome here. Our “watch dogs” are “house watch dogs” and only protect the house, I guess.

With the hummingbirds back, the recipe for Hummingbird Cake will be included today in their honor. It is an old one but is sort of a tradition with me. Grilling season is here and many meals will be cooked out on the deck, so it is time to go back to our cookbooks for those summer recipes. It seems everything tastes better if it is cooked outside. The stove grill just doesn’t bring out the same flavors.

So get out the grills, shorts, bathing suits, and the suntan lotion – summer is here at last. After last winter, we should really be glad to see the warmer weather come, even if it does get a little too hot. Enjoy each day. God Bless!



Three cups all-purpose flour

One teaspoon baking soda

One-half teaspoon salt

Two cups sugar

One teaspoon ground cinnamon

Three eggs, beaten

Three-fourths cup vegetable oil

One and one-half teaspoons vanilla extract

One (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, not drained

One cup chopped pecans

One and three-fourth cups mashed bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting

One-half cup chopped pecans, toasted

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, then add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, one cup pecans, and bananas. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 23 to 28 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle toasted pecans over top.


One-half cup butter or margarine, softened

One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

One (1-pound) box powdered sugar, sifted

One teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cheese. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.



One-half cup celery, chopped fine

Four green onions, tops and bulbs, chopped fine

Two packages Knorr’s Vegetable soup mix

One cup mayonnaise

One cup sour cream, room temperature

Two (8-oz. each) packages cream cheese

One (8-oz.) can water chestnuts, chopped fine

One bag fresh spinach leaves, chopped fine

Two teaspoons garlic powder

One-half teaspoon black pepper

Pinch salt

Large soft tortillas, room temperature

Chop all vegetables fine. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except tortilla shells. Let mixture set at least two hours, chilled, or overnight. Spread a large spoonful on tortilla shells almost to edge. Roll up and cut diagonally into slices about -inch wide. Discard ends, or use for the cook’s treat. Place on serving plate, cut side up.

This can also be used as a dip, or as spread on crackers or party bread slices.



One (two-pound) package pasta shells

One large sweet onion, chopped

Two green peppers, chopped

One small package red radishes, sliced

Two cans (15 oz) green beans, drained

Six small cans (6 oz.) tuna in oil, not drained

Two fresh tomatoes, chopped

Five stalks celery, chopped

Two packages dry Italian salad dressing mix, made according to the directions on the package

Cook pasta shells, rinse in cool water and drain. In a very large bowl, combine all ingredients except tomatoes and salad dressing. Make up one package of salad dressing according to directions on package. Toss with salad. Refrigerate. Right before serving, add chopped tomato and second salad dressing mix that has been made up according to directions on package and toss gently again.

NOTE: I use 6 cans of tuna, but 2 or 3 with oil and the rest in water. I drain half of those before adding to the salad. The oil and/or water liquid in the tuna adds to the flavor of the salad, but you don’t want it too watery. Also, I use both red and green peppers.

This is a summer standard at our house. A large serving of it and a glass of iced tea will make a summer meal, and it can be made ahead. Like Bean Salad, this is even better a day or two after it has been made.

You can add other vegetables to this, too, as it is just a basic pasta salad.


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