Get ready for fall with new recipes

A very nice weekend has been promised to the valley for this weekend. Maybe that is because old Mother Nature was somewhat ashamed over the rain last weekend that about did-in so many events. We take what we get — nothing we can do about it! Texas and western Louisiana are still trying to cope with the water damage they were dealt, and it will linger for a long time. Keep them in your prayers and do anything you can to help them.

This has been a weird stretch of weather, even for here in the valley. Having to dig out a winter blanket in August, and a sweater, too, just doesn’t seem like it should be. Let’s hope the promise of this weekend being more normal is true. There is, or should be, time yet for some more grilling and summer activities.

Time for miracles — every young student I have asked about early days in school has reported how much they love this new school year. Let’s hope that enthusiasm holds up for the rest of the year. School should be an exciting and happy experience for students. They learn better — and more — in that environment.

Football season has started with a heavy schedule of TV games, besides all the local games for the valley. Try to support all of them that you can by attending the games. The players really appreciate family, friends and neighbors being at the games and cheering for them. This is a busy time of year for everyone, but do try to take the time to support our youth. Besides, the games are fun to watch and you will enjoy them. Buy some goodies at the snack bar; it helps pay the way for many school activities.

Another enjoyable activity that will be starting soon ( ads for it are already showing up all over) is going to local craft shows, not only to purchase Christmas gifts and home decor, but to get ideas to use in your own home. It is amazing to realize the talent in our valley. If you have a gift to buy for a family member who always exchanges it, a craft show is the solution. The gifts bought there are not exchangeable. It is a sneaky way to handle that situation, but a person should appreciate whatever you get for them and not go trade it off the day after you give it to them. “Handmade — just for you.” It works every time.

If you do crafts and want to sell some, a craft show is the way to go. It’s an enjoyable way to sell your crafts and you will meet lots of nice folks. Like they say, “Try it! You’ll like it!” If you run out of product, you can always take orders, too. Folks like things made locally and are different from the dozens of inferior, imported, “whole stacks of the same color” merchandise that is seen in stores.

Christmas merchandise is already slipping into view. Of course, if you are making a gift for someone, it needs to be in the production stage and for that, you often need seasonal supplies. Next month’s celebration is Halloween and those decorations and costumes are now readily available. November’s holiday is Thanksgiving and is a family holiday. December has the most important celebration of all, Christmas. Plan ahead for all of them so that you and your family will have a joyous three-month string of celebrations. Ideas for all of them will find their way into this column. So, start getting your full amount of sleep so you are rested for the rest of this quarter. Take those vitamins, eat healthy foods, and make those lists so all your planning goes smoothly and without stress. Start today with a flavorful cup of tea and a restful “time out” in the old rocking chair. Hug the little ones and let all your family know they are loved. Pray for all those affected by Harvey and for our protectors. Most of all, count your blessings. God Bless.

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SOFT GINGER COOKIES

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup molasses

Combine flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. Slightly beat eggs, then combine with the sugars, oil, and molasses. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets that have been lightly greased (or covered with parchment paper). Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies spring back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

These cookies, with a glass of cold milk , make a great “after school” treat.

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EASY PORK CHOPS WITH CRANBERRY SAUCE

4 to 6 pork chops (boneless or bone-in)

1 can jellied cranberry sauce

Coriander

Salt

Pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold all chops. Brown chops on one side until about half done and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and coriander. Turn chops to other side to finish cooking. Spoon a large spoonful of cranberry sauce on each chop and spread so that it starts to melt. Cook until chops are done, but not overdone; time depends on the thickness of the chops. Serve with remaining cranberry sauce.

NOTE: Another variation of this dish is to use apricot jam or orange marmalade instead of cranberry sauce. This is quick and easy to prepare when you are in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

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MADELINE’S FRENCH CABBAGE SOUP

3 cups diced potatoes

1 lb. cooked ham, cubed

3 quarts water

2 lbs. cabbage, chopped fine

6 sprigs fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried

1 bay leaf

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3/4 teaspoon thyme

3/4 teaspoon marjoram

2 large onions, diced

4 celery stalks, sliced

5 carrots, sliced

1 can (15-oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Salt to taste

Place potatoes, ham, and water in a deep soup pot and bring to a boil. Add all other ingredients except beans and salt. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until ham and veggies are tender. Skim excess fat off soup; add beans and season to taste with salt.

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GRANDMA SEMON’S APPLE PIE

Unbaked pie shell

Baking apples

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup cream

2 tablespoons butter

Pare and core apples and cut into halves. Cut a grid about 3/4-inch deep and in 1/4-inch squares across the outside of the apple halves (cut like you are going to slice the apples, but don’t go too deep, then cut the same way going the opposite way). If you do cut too deep and the apple falls apart, use these pieces as fillers. Place these halves in the pie shell. Cut some halves into quarters to fill in the spaces, and use pieces as needed to make a nice layer of apples. Mix together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon, then add cream to make a nice thick mixture, but enough to have this on each apple.

Dot with butter. Bake in preheated 400- to 425-degrees oven for about 45 minutes, or until apples are tender.

HINT: To keep apples from turning brown while you peel others, place the pealed halves in water that has a little lemon juice in it. Drain the apples well before putting into the pie shell. It doesn’t hurt to use a paper towel to blot the halves dry so that the pastry shell doesn’t get too soggy. Don’t do the top cutting until you put the apples into the pie shell.

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FRESH APPLE MUFFINS

1 cup flour

1/4 cup instant mashed potato granules

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tart cooking apple, peeled and finely diced

1 egg, slightly

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine flour, potato granules, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and apple. Lightly beat egg together with milk and butter. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Spoon into well-greased muffin tins (or paper lined ones), filling each no more than 2/3 full. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the muffins. Bake in preheated 425-degrees oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

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