Getting ready for Memorial Day weekend

Was your Mother’s Day a happy and joyous one? I hope so. If it wasn’t, just remember elephants aren’t the only creatures that have a long memory and what goes around, comes around! It was a beautiful day and showers only came at night, just like Camelot, at least here on the hilltop!

Several years ago, I said I was going to contact tool makers and suggest they make household tools with pink handles so that they didn’t end up in the garage or workshop (I never die!). Husband Norm saw a neat little tool pouch available in lavender or blue and remembered my fussing. So he got me one and said it was my present!

It is neat and I appreciate it. Now, if he had carried in a sweeper or mop set for my present, the outcome would have been very different!

He had ordered roses, like he does every year, from a local “rose sale”, but he forgot about who took his order and I guess that person forgot his order. Anyway, in Church Sunday, he all at once remembered it, leaned over and whispered, “I forgot to check on that rose order!” His intentions were good, anyway.

It is a common saying for folks as we get older that the first thing we check in the paper to see if our name is in the obituaries to know if we need to get dressed, go to work, or face the day. That happened to me last week. The weird happening was that my “adopted” daughter in North Carolina had ordered flowers for me and called to see if I had received them. I hadn’t. They didn’t come “late” either. (She is checking on that as this is written.) The only reason we could think of, since they had always come on time before, was the local florist had decided I was at the funeral home instead of at the address she had given them. The day before they were to be delivered, there was a funeral, in Marietta, for a lady who had the same name as I have. In honor of that lady, who lived not far from here and had the same name, this column is dedicated. She was a mother and will be missed by many. Prayers for her family.

By the way, this is the second time this has happened. The third time, it will probably be me, so I am going to live each day like we all should anyway, as if it is our last day on earth!

In thinking in that frame of mind, you know where spring cleaning falls! Norm says he has hired me a “housekeeper” and I am going to hold him to it. I still have a lot of “important” things to do, and scrubbing or panting walls isn’t on the list. Windows, maybe.

We had another exciting occasion this past week, in fact, on Election Day. Norm takes three of our dogs to work with him. He had decided to go vote after work, with the dogs in the car. We both arrived home at the same time, and he was frantic. Max, our youngest and newest dog was missing! He didn’t know when or how he had gotten out of the car! He drove back to the voting place and all around the hill, calling for Max, who normally comes as soon as he hears his name. He stayed at the farm, calling, as I went back Watertown to check there again. As soon as I drove in, I saw Max, patiently sitting by the building. You have never seen such a happy dog! Needless to say, he never left the side of one of us all evening. He had lost his leash, but his collar was still on. He lost his “car riding” privileges for a few days!

If you are facing an “empty nest” feeling, just fill the house with dogs. They will keep you taking care of “children” for years. Sometimes they don’t mind any better than kids do, but they don’t “talk back” or “argue”, either! We didn’t plan to become the “rescue center”; it just sort of happened.

Memorial Day and many Graduations are next weekend. Plan ahead!!! Get the grill up and working and summer salads made ahead. If you have a graduates, make that day everything for which they hope; it is a VERY important day for them, one they will remember all their lives. Push any family fusses aside and just enjoy that day! Memorial Day should be a solemn time to honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and all our own family members who have gone before us. Keep all these folks in your prayers on this very American holiday. Take some time for you to relax, and meditate on the importance of this weekend. Add some Iced Tea and some sitting in the swing under the shade tree as you count your blessings!

God Bless!

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!

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BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER SALAD

1 bunch broccoli

1 head cauliflower

1 sweet onion, chopped

Bacon — 12- or 16-oz. package

1 cup crasins or raisins

1 cup honey-roasted peanuts

2 cups mayonnaise (or half mayo and half plain Greek yogurt)

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon celery salt (or add fresh celery, chopped, to veggie mix)

1/2 teaspoon salad seasoning (or Mrs. Dash, dried parsley and other herbs, etc.)

Make dressing and check for taste and set aside for at least 2 hours to let flavors blend. This amount of ingredients should be enough for a fairly large-sized broccoli bunch and large cauliflower.

Fry bacon crisp, drain and crumble; set aside. In a large bowl, break (or cut) broccoli and cauliflower into flowerets, roughly bite-sized pieces. Add crasins or raisins. Add dressing and toss. Add bacon and toss.

Add or subtract any ingredients; this is an approximate list of what I do here on the hilltop!

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FOUR BEAN SALAD

1 can cut green beans

1 can yellow wax beans

1 can red kidney beans

1 can Garbonzo beans

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup salad oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Drain beans, rinse and drain again. (I use the 14-15-oz. size cans,) Place in bowl that has a cover. Add green pepper and sliced onion (broken into rings). Mix all other ingredients and add to the bean mixture. Toss lightly, cover and let set overnight in the refrigerator. This salad keeps well and is a good one to have on hand for spring and summer meals. This is a salad to which you can add ingredients (whole kennel canned corn, other beans, etc.), make ahead and keep a bowl always ready in the frig.

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COPPER CARROTS

(From Mom’s recipe book)

2 lbs. carrots, cooked and sliced crossways

1 small green bell pepper

1 medium sweet onion

1 can (10 1/2 oz.) tomato soup

1/2 cup salad oil

3/4 cup vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cook carrots (with a pinch of salt) until tender crisp (do not overcook), drain and cool. Chop green pepper and onion fairly fine and put aside. Combine remaining ingredients and heat until sugar dissolves. In a large bowl, place a layer of carrots, then pepper and onions. Repeat layer (should be 2 layers). Pour warm sauce over the layers and marinate 10 to 12 hours. This keeps in the refrigerator for some time.

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SWEET SPAGHETTI SALAD

2 cups dry spaghetti, broken small, boiled and rinsed

6 apples, peeled and cubed

1 (No. 2) can chunk pineapple, drained well

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 cups powdered sugar

4 eggs

2 cups Cool Whip or whipped cream

Beat eggs well, add lemon juice and sugar. Cook in top of a double boiler until thick (water in bottom pan). Stir often. Cool. Add fruit and cooked spaghetti. Let stand 12 to 24 hours. Just before serving, add the Cool Whip or whipped cream.

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NORM’S TUNA SALAD

1 2-lb. package of pasta shells

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 small package radishes, sliced

2 cans (15 1/2-oz.) green beans

6 small cans (6 1/2 -oz.) tuna in oil

5 stalks celery, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

2 packages dry Italian salad dressing mix, made according to directions

Cook pasta shells, rinse and strain. In a very large bowl, combine all ingredients except tomatoes and salad dressing. Make up one package salad dressing according to directions on package.

Toss with salad. Refrigerate. Right before serving, add chopped tomatoes and second salad dressing mix that has been made according to directions on package and toss again.

(This is a summer standard at our house. A large serving of this and a glass of iced tea will make a summer meal, and it can be made ahead.)

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CUCUMBER SALAD

Cucumbers, 3 or 4

Sweet onions

Coarse salt, about a cup

Sour cream, about a cup

Peel cucumbers and slice very thin. A food processor is great for this. Slice onions as thin as possible (again, food processor) and divide into rings. Put cucumbers and onion slices in a glass bowl and salt fairly heavily.

Let set for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Squeeze out veggies and place in another bowl. Taste cucumber slices for saltiness — if still too salty, rinse briefly with fresh water but don’t rinse all the salty taste out. Add sour cream and mix thoroughly. Good as is, or even better over boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes.

This is a “throw together” recipe. I never measure anything in it. If the cucumber slices are salted pretty good before they are squeezed out, you don’t need any more salt as they will be salty. The salting of the slices makes them limp. The onion slices don’t really have to be salted down with the cucumber slices, but I like them to be sort of wilted, also.

The old German way to make this (like Grandma Semon did) was to use the heavy cream she skimmed off the milk crocks and add vinegar.

Sour cream gives about the same taste and is more available today.

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

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