Community involvement is key

As I was driving on Garfield Ave. a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a billboard that read, “Volunteer in West Virginia,” and I didn’t realize that April was the month for volunteering and it really caught my attention.

Our city and state need volunteers, and I am happy to be able to say that I am one of them. To many it may seem ridiculous and a big waste of time and energy, but I am one that wants to be where the action is, even if it does involve a lot of time and energy. Being a volunteer is a great opportunity to serve as a good citizen and help to improve living standards and quality of life in our area.

With my own experience, if I had to pay all the people on my committees for their help, I would be flat broke. Fortunately, all of my helpers and committee members are excellent to which I am very thankful. I personally appreciate each and every one of them that takes time from work and family to help on the various projects during the year. A big thank you to all of you, and I want you to know that you all are very much appreciated.

Thinking ahead, I like to organize things in advance so guess what big holiday is coming up soon…Mother’s Day! It is in two weeks, so make your plans now and don’t let the event slip by you. If your mother lives out of town, be sure to either send her a card, flowers or a little gift to remember her. Everyone’s mother is very special to them and it is a special time to show your love and appreciation.

Of course, for some who has lost their mother then Mother’s Day is a sad day, and hopefully you have fond memories to comfort you.

Finally, the weather made it possible for me to clean up my yard and tree branches, and finally today the man that has taken care of our yard and cut the grass was able to do so this past week.

Another major purchase, at least for us, is that we bought our 12 tomato plants ready to put out fairly soon. That is the total extent of our gardening and we love good fresh tomatoes. I have been told to wait until after Mother’s Day to plant tomatoes.

Below are some recipes you might consider for your Mother’s Day lunch or dinner.

Until next week!

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Creamy Dill Pasta Salad

3 cups uncooked tri-color spiral pasta

6-ounce can black olives, halved and drained

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup onions, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon dill weed

Dressing:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

1/4 cup vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Rinse in cool water. Drain well. Place in large mixing bowl. Add vegetables and dill weed and toss. In a mixing bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Pour over pasta and vegetables and stir to coat.

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Greek Orzo Salad

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

6 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 large tomato, chopped

1 large red pepper, chopped

1 medium-sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup black olives, sliced and drained

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. In a large mixing bowl, toss cooked orzo with 2 teaspoons olive oil. In a separate bowl, combine the onion, parsley, vinegar, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper and remaining oil. Pour over orzo and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2-24 hours. Just before serving, gently stir in tomato, red pepper, cucumber, olives and cheese.

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Summer Pasta Salad

1 pound uncooked penne or corkscrew pasta

1 yellow pepper, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

8 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1/2 pound pitted Kalamata olives

cherry tomatoes

16-ounce bottle Caesar salad dressing

10-ounce package chicken strips, cooked

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except salad dressing and chicken. Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss. Add chicken immediately before serving.

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Frozen Waldorf Salad

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 cups frozen whipped topping, slightly thawed

1 cup apples, unpeeled and chopped

1/2 cup celery, sliced

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whip together cream cheese and mayonnaise, either by hand or with a mixer or food processor. Fold in whipped topping. Fold in apples, celery, grapes and pineapple. Pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish. Cover and freeze for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares. Top each serving with toasted walnuts.

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Strawberry Gelatin Salad

2 cups water

6-ounce box strawberry gelatin

4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries

15-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

3 large bananas, sliced

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir gelatine into boiling water until dissolved. Stir in additional ingredients. Refrigerate until gelatin is firm.

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Favorite Blueberry Salad

6-ounce package raspberry gelatin

1 1/2 cups boiling water

16 1/2-ounce can blueberries, undrained

20-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts

In a large saucepan or mixing bowl, dissolve gelatin in water. Stir in blueberries and pineapple. Pour into a 9×13 pan. Chill until set, about 4 hours. Meanwhile, cream together cream cheese, sour cream and sugar, either by hand or with an electric mixer or food processor.

Spread on top of congealed salad. Sprinkle with nuts.

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Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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