Ready to say goodbye to winter chill

As this is written, the flood waters are receding, and we hope they will get completely back into their banks and stay there. It has been a problem for so many folks and we can say a giant “Thank you!” to the volunteers who helped those folks who needed a helping hand in the clean-up. No matter how angry some folks get about circumstances, there are just some things that can’t be screamed into submission. That goes for many things, including flooding, and that old Ohio River really showed itself this year.

It is hard to realize that the third month of the year has slipped upon us so quickly. I guess that is one of those “getting older” things — time goes too fast. We are in Lent and Easter is coming up soon. Spring just HAS to be coming soon, too, and will be very much appreciated. Some of the spring bulbs here on the hilltop are showing their buds and will probably get killed by frost. March is such a fickle month that we can expect anything. So, we take whatever nature throws at us and find something in which to rejoice!

Are you saving the brown onion skins for the “onion eggs?” They are so easy to do and the directions will be given before Easter. Those brown eggs make the colored ones really stand out — looks good in a basket or table centerpiece. If you don’t use lots of onions from which to save the brown skins, many grocery stores do sell individual onions and if you ask the produce manager for some skins, you can probably get a bag of them for free. My little ones live too far from me to color eggs for them, but I still do a few “just for old times’ sake.” I enjoy them, even if no one else does!

If the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays were a little too much filled with loads of calories, and you are all-at-once aware your present clothing has shrunk “in the drier” since then, now is the time to start sending those unwanted pounds away. If you make your own salad dressings, you can control the amount of calories you add to that bowl of lettuce. Besides, fresh made dressings taste better — they are fresh! Some ideas will be in the recipes today. One of the few things that are good about getting older is that it is just easier to go get a size larger than to work on losing pounds, especially in the swimsuit department. Most of us older ones aren’t planning on wearing a skimpy bikini anyway. Of course, we should consider health issues with the weight situation, too, but if you are okay in that department, buying a few new outfits beats denying yourself of that luscious dessert!

Next weekend we go back on daylight savings time, so reset the clocks Saturday night if you don’t want to be late for Church. I usually forget at least one time-keeper — clock or watch — and sometimes both. Always something to confuse me!

If you haven’t already put it on your daily planner, it is time to start thinking about summer vacation and trips. For some trips that require a week at the beach, it isn’t too soon to decide where you want to go and make reservations now. Myrtle Beach is one area that fills up on reservations fast and it seems to be a “beach of choice” for many in this valley. Personally, the beaches along the Gulf, Florida and Alabama, are my favorites, but thank goodness, not everyone wants to go to the same place. Sanibel and living in Cape Coral in Florida spoiled me for any other beach areas. That area has the best shelling of any ocean area and I enjoyed that over the swimming and tanning.

There is so much to see in our country, besides the beaches, that one can enjoy whatever the family’s interest. Let the kids help plan and they will be more likely to handle that for which they don’t like, (riding in the car for hours). It doesn’t take a lot of “Are we there yet?” to get on an adult’s nerves! Many interesting areas are fairly close to our valley and can even be “day trips.” The secret is to plan ahead.

The recipes today are mostly from my Mom’s old, hand-written recipe book and they bring back happy memories of her. Do leave a family recipe book for your daughters and sons; it will be so greatly appreciated in future years!

Smile! Spring is coming! Hug your family members and let them know how much you love them, kept that prayer list going for them and those who govern us. Be thankful for all our protectors.

God Bless!

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BUTTER HERBED FISH

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 lb. frozen perch or sole fillets, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a 13- x 9-inch baking dish or pan, melt butter in the oven. In a pie pan, combine cracker crumbs, cheese, basil, oregano, salt, and garlic powder. Roll fish in this mixture and arrange in baking dish (single layer). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.

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CHURCH POTLUCK POTATO CASSEROLE

12 cups sliced potatoes

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

2 cans Cream of Celery Soup

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

Place sliced potatoes and chopped onions in a large, buttered baking dish. In a bowl, combine other ingredients and mix well. Pour this mixture over the potatoes and onions in the baking dish. Bake, covered, in 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Uncover, and bake another 30 to 45 minutes.

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OYSTER SCALLOP

2 cups soft bread crumbs

2 cups coarsely crushed cracker crumbs

1 pint oysters, drained — reserve liquid

1/4 teaspoon red pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 small can condensed milk

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Milk

6 tablespoons butter

In a bowl, combine soup and, using the soup can, add the condensed milk and add enough regular milk to fill the soup can as to make soup (as directed on soup can) and mix. Add the liquid from oysters, pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs and cracker crumbs. Melt butter and pour over crumbs. Butter well a 4-cup casserole dish and put half the crumb mixture in the bottom. Then layer in the oysters. Pour milk mixture over this. Cover well with rest of crumb mixture. Bake in preheated 325-degrees oven for about 1 hour.

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CHICKEN, TURKEY OR TUNA CASSEROLE

10 slices bread, cubed

1 can tuna OR chicken OR turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Cheese, cheddar or your choice, cubed

Put half of bread cubes in a buttered casserole. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise with meat, onion, and celery. In separate bowl, mix eggs and milk. Put meat mixture over bread cubes in casserole. Top with remainder of bread cubes. Pour soup mixture over ingredients in casserole and dot with cheese cubes. Bake in preheated 350-degrees oven 30 to45 minutes.

NOTE: I saute onions and celery in a little butter before I add them to the meat.

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MOM CHRISTOPHER’S CRAB CAKES

3 slices bread, torn into small pieces

1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of paprika

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 cups crab meat

Mix bread pieces and mayonnaise and let stand five minutes. Beat egg and add along with other ingredients. Mix lightly but thoroughly with a fork. Fry in lightly oiled pan until brown.

NOTE: We used the meat from the Blue crabs we caught off our pier in Delaware. One reason this recipe was so good was the generous amount of crab meat. Good memories!

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TRI-COLORED ROTINI SALAD

1 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil, leaves crushed

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (8 oz.) block Cheddar cheese, cubed

2 cups mixed broccoli and cauliflower florets

1 cup (4 oz.) rotini, cooked as per instructions on package

2 medium tomatoes, chunked OR Cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine salad dressing with parsley, basil, and garlic powder. Combine vegetables and cooked rotini in salad bowl. Add dressing mix and toss lightly; let stand for about 2 hours. Add tomato chunks or Cherry tomatoes and toss lightly just before serving, or serve by the side. Sprinkle walnuts over top of salad to serve.

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CARROT SALAD

3 cups shredded carrots

1 1/2 cups mini-marshmallows

2/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1/2 cup salad dressing

Mix all ingredients together and chill to blend flavors.

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

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