Make use of fall harvest

It is nice to be back in the Ohio Valley, sleeping in one’s own bed and being welcomed by seven four-legged residents and nice neighbors. Vacations are great, but there is nothing like home! The Catskills are always beautiful any time of year, and the leaves were just starting to turn. In about two or three weeks, they will be magnificent, but it will be for others to enjoy as this writer has too much to do to go back. The leaves here in our valley are just as pretty, only the hills aren’t as high and not so sparsely populated as the mountains.

It was the perfect vacation. The weather was a very comfortable range in the 70s with cool evenings. The sun stayed out for every day and the friends we see each year were there. We have been going there for several years, so it is almost a second home to us. The best part – I didn’t cook or wash dishes! We take a “meal plan” which gives us breakfast and dinner, all served in luxury style. The clothes are just a wee bit tight now!! The professional entertainment every evening was fantastic. One afternoon show was a “Jersey Boys Honor Show” – beyond great! There is always a “Caesar’s Feast,” done in proper Roman style, with great music and more food than one can eat. Also, a Western BBQ banquet with an “all you can eat” buffet was offered. Needless to say, we were never hungry!

As always when we leave the valley, the cell phone rings with work for husband Norm. The fax machine got a lot of use by him (good thing he is in good standing with the resort office!) and we even had to leave a day early to take care of Norm’s mother’s house in Delaware. That side trip caused a rather long and tiring day – over a thousand miles and packing five big moving boxes before a motel was found at two in the morning! Needless to say, a vacation to rest up from a vacation was needed, but did it happen? No! Will we do it again? – Of course! We don’t learn so good!!

The valley is always busy this time of year – festivals, the last of the fairs, and big “going-ons” in every part. If you tried to see everything, it is time for a day of rest for you, too! Maybe a fun trip to a “u-pick” apple orchard would be great. Just don’t pick so many apples that you are tired from trying to put them all up in all the good things you can make from apples! Some desserts, like pies, etc., can be made for the up-coming holidays and can help you in the cooking and baking department for those busy times.

Pumpkins are everywhere these days. Pumpkin is a healthy food, and can be used in more ways than Pumpkin Pie (still a favorite of mine) and Jack-o-lanterns. There was a savory and a sweet recipe two weeks ago, but some more this week. This is the best time for apple cider, too. A pot of yellow chrysanthemums can brighten your mood as well as your yard, so if you feel puny, or upset about something, go get you a pot of them. They look good in the middle of the supper table, too. If any of your family complains, just tell them to hush or they will get the next meal made from them!

It is time to get the gardens ready for the winter. Pick all your veggies if frost is forecast and eat hardy rather than waste them. Green tomatoes will ripen gradually (or made into relish or pie) and often stay good until Thanksgiving if you have a good place to lay them out not touching (garage, etc.). Just don’t let them freeze unless you put them in a container in the freezer! Ripe tomatoes can be frozen, too, for use in sauces and soups. They don’t do too well in a sandwich! Messy!

We have over a year to listen to campaign speeches – Lord, help us! Do your own research before you decide for whom you will vote. We have more than enough time. Just remember, a leopard doesn’t change its spots! Look at what our country needs and think about who has the guts to get it done.

Fall is a beautiful time of year, but it can be so busy that we forget to look for the nice part of it. Take time to enjoy it. We only go this way one time – this isn’t a rehearsal for our life. And, when you get to those Pearly Gates, you aren’t going to say, “I wish I had mopped the kitchen more often” or “I wish I had worked at the office longer hours”. Enjoy each day and hug your kids and give them the tools they will need to have a nice and loving life, too. We just don’t have time not to look for the good things in life.

The recipes for the Cookbook are in. The first judging has taken place and the final judging will be on October 21st. I wish all of you “Good Luck.” When the cookbook is printed, try many of the recipes. Only a few can be in the winning circle, but there are many, many great ones for you to enjoy.

God Bless!

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PUMPKIN COOKIES

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 half cup brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups flour

3/4 cup copped nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together all ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until cookies are done – check after ten minutes. Time will depend on size of cookies.

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END OF SEASON RELISH

2 quarts green tomatoes

1 quart ripe tomatoes

3 red sweet peppers

3 sweet green peppers

3 large sweet onions

1 large ripe cucumber

1 small head cabbage

3 stalks celery

1 half cup pickling salt

Wash and chop all vegetables, in small pieces for relish, larger for pickles. Sprinkle with salt and let stand overnight. Drain thoroughly. Add pickling liquid and cook until transparent, about 1 hour. Can in hot, sterilized jars and seal. This can be thickened with some cornstarch (or flour) if desired.

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PICKLING LIQUID

3 pints vinegar

2 pounds brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon pepper

Mix together and add to the vegetables to make above recipe.

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GRANDMA SEMON’S CHRISTMAS APPLES

Cooking apples

Simple syrup (sugar and water)

Red Hots (cinnamon candy) or cinnamon oil and red food coloring

Wash, pare, core, and halve apple. Make simple syrup as for canning fruits ( I use cup for cup of sugar and water which is a heavy syrup). Add the cinnamon candy to the syrup and stir until the candies are dissolved. Use enough to get the color you want – my feeling is you can’t use too many! Drop the apples in a single layer into the syrup and cook until slightly transparent. Cool and store in syrup. These can be canned – put hot apples into hot, sterilized jars, cover with syrup, and seal.

A jar of these pretty apples makes a nice Christmas gift. A dish of them is always on our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.

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PUMPKIN AND APPLE BUTTER PIE

1 half cup all-purpose flour

1 third cup packed dark brown sugar

1 third cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup apple butter

1 cup evaporated milk

3 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each of salt, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Combine flour, 1 third cup brown sugar, pecans, and butter. Stir well and set aside. Combine pumpkin, apple, butter, milk, eggs brown sugar and spices in a medium bowl and mix well. Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway between edge and middle comes out clean. Sprinkle pie with reserved pecan mixture and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cover edges with foil to prevent them from getting too brown. Cool pie on a wire rack.

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