Summer is time for berries

Welcome to the second Sunday in June! Graduations and graduation parties are mainly over. June weddings are taking care of the social scene, and the holiday for the week is Flag Day.

This is the day everyone is encouraged to fly our flag. If you have an older house, it is permitted to fly the flag with the number of stars that were on it when the house was built. If the little ones are already looking for something to do since school is out, give them some paper and crayons and have them draw the flag. The refrigerator door can hold one more sheet of art for a day or so, and it will keep them busy for a while. School is still over two months away! The flag on the hilltop will be up and flapping as it usually does. Happy Flag Day!

This is a good time for picnics and overnight camping in the back yard to start if it hasn’t already. Kids seem to get a kick out of that — an inexpensive mini vacation, with no traveling. Try to spend as much time with your little ones as you can. Attending a graduation brings the hard fact to our minds that time flies, as we witness the little tikes, all at once grown up, entering the adult world.

Everyone needs a break from the usual daily happenings. Short or long, it gives one energy and rest from work and/or boredom and a new breath of inspiration. Studies have shown it helps one have a new and better outlook on life. Other countries, like France and England, used to have much longer periods for their “holidays” and didn’t understand why Americans don’t take more time from working. I’m told they still do — I haven’t lived there for a long time. Then, France just about “shut down” for August!

I was late getting my tomato plants this year, so didn’t get my usual favorites, so will be seeing what other plants do. The new beds are awaiting, but that hasn’t hurried me up, so they got transplanted late.

A hundred years from now, no one will ever know when they were planted! The Chesterhill Auction is open and operating on Mondays and Thursdays, so I am covered.

The berry vines have been nipped where they wanted to live, but were in my way, so I’ll see how many like being put under control.

I still have berries in the freezer from last year, so if they get too invasive, they will just get chopped. Berries of any sort are supposed to be a very good thing to eat, health-wise. I don’t think the sugar I put on them is so good, though, or that good crust made with butter! Since strawberries are already here locally, and other berries will be following, there will be some berry recipes today.

Husband Norm thinks I am looney because I just love to pick berries — any kind of berries. I guess that is a return to my childhood (where young people say us older ones go!). Both Grandmothers had berry patches — mostly raspberries — that were part of their income. Now, the raspberries peaked around the first part of July, so the main picking was the fourth! I was older before I knew about fireworks the night of the Fourth.

There were strict rules laid down for the child labor and obeyed if one wanted to sit down in comfort for a while. Stick to your bush; clean your bush; no tasting berries until after all were picked and packed; no stealing big berries from someone else’s row; no complaining; and no lingering — pick rapidly, but no crushing the berries. Those rules seemed to be the backbone in all our upbringing! TV hadn’t been invented then, so we had no way of knowing that some kids didn’t have rules like we did. It didn’t hurt us, though, and all of us used those same rules in raising our families.

We have had some really great “grilling” days. Did you get to use them to try some new ways to cook food? Just about anything can be cooked on the grill and it always seems to taste better. It makes for some good “family time” — that is, if you don’t complain about the griller! Keep some “made ahead salads in the frig, and enjoy summer weather. I have a new salad recipe for you today, sent to me by Midge Simpers. Thanks, Midge, I made it and it is great!

Enjoy your little ones while they are home with you and give them extra hugs. Thank our protectors and do something special for someone. Pray for our leaders and our country. Count your blessings while you sit-a-spell in the swing under the shade tree.

God Bless!

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MIDGE’S FIVE BEAN SALAD

1 can green beans

1 can wax beans

1 can green lima beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can garbanzo beans or pinto beans

2 sliced medium carrots

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups vinegar

1 medium to large sweet onion, diced

Drain all beans in colander; rinse with cold water. Drain well. Bring sugar and cider vinegar to a boil. Put onions, beans, and sliced carrots in a large heat-resistant bowl, and pour boiling liquid on top. Stir occasionally while cooling. Store in container in refrigerator.

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HEAVENLY STRAWBERRIES

8 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or any orange-flavored liqueur)

1 teaspoon almond extract

Combine berries and sugar, stirring gently. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least one hour. Beat whipping cream until foamy. Add liqueur and almond extract, beating until soft peaks form. Fold strawberry mixture into whipped cream mixture. Spoon into individual dessert dishes or parfait glasses. Serve immediately.

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STRAWBERRIES ROMANOFF

1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons brandy

1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Combine liqueur, orange juice and brandy. Add strawberries. Chill at least one hour, spoon liquid over berries several times. Just before serving, whip cream until frothy, add sugar, and whip until soft peaks form. Spoon berries into sherbet dishes and top with whipped cream.

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BERRY ROMANOFF PARFAIT

1 (16-oz.) container sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons Kahlua, or strong coffee

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or frozen orange juice concentrate

3 cups berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, Kahlua and Grand Marnier. Cover and chill several hours or overnight. To serve, layer sour cream mixture and berries in parfait glasses. Save a perfect berry to decorate the top of the glasses. Use any combination of berries you have.

NOTE: I have used plain orange juice, sugar, and sour cream to make a sauce for strawberries and other berries, and it works fine.

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PRETZEL SALAD

(Recipe from Vickie Hall)

3/4 cup melted butter

2 cups crushed pretzels

2 teaspoons sugar

Mix together and press into 9×13-inch pan

1/2 cup sugar

8 oz. softened cream cheese

1 large container Cool Whip

Mix sugar and cream cheese and cream together. Fold Cool Whip into cheese mixture. Pour over pretzel crust. Top with:

1 can cherry or other pie filling.

Refrigerate and cut into squares.

NOTE: This works beautifully with fresh strawberries and the glaze that comes in a package.

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RAINBOW DESSERT

2 cups heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups coconut macaroon crumbs, about 15 cookies

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 pint orange sherbet, softened

1pint lime sherbet, softened

1 pint raspberry sherbet, softened

Lightly oil an 11- to 12-cup mold, such as a Bundt pan. Invert mold to drain excess oil. Beat the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form. Fold the crumb mixture into the whipped cream. Spread half of this mixture evenly in the bottom of the mold. Freeze until firm. Refrigerate the remaining cream. Layer the orange, lime, and raspberry sherbets on top of the frozen whipped cream layer. You may need to put this in the freezer occasionally as you are working to keep the sherbets from softening too much and the colors from running together. Top with the remaining whipped cream mixture. Cover and freeze at least 6 hours. To unmold, briefly dip the mold in hot water and invert onto a platter.

NOTE: To soften the sherbet in a chilled bowl and work the sherbet against the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Work quickly. Put on one sherbet layer, then freeze at least 20 minutes before adding the next layer. Soften each sherbet flavor as you are ready to add it to the dessert. If you use a springform pan with a removable bottom, it is easier to get the finished dessert out. To slice it easily, dip the knife into hot water between cuts.

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FIVE CUP REFRIGERATOR FRUIT SALAD

(One of many versions of this salad!)

1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup small marshmallows

1 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup coconut

1 cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients, cover and let set overnight in the refrigerator to combine flavors.

NOTE: This is an easy and refreshing make-ahead dessert to end a meal.

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

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