Spending time with loved ones

While trying to decide on what to write about in last Sunday’s column, the first thing that came to my mind was all of the various graduations taking place this time of the year and that is what my article was about.

However, I left out a very very important special day — Memorial Day –which I think is one of the most important days of the year. It is a day to honor all the Veterans who have served and many who gave their lives to keep our country great and free. It is a day to give thanks and appreciation to all who have passed.

It is a busy day with many ceremonies and parades taking place all over the country, with people attending and doing various activities.

This is also a time when many families get together for picnics and reunions and also some take advantage of the long weekend and go out of town to visit friends or relatives and then others that just stay home to plant their gardens and flowers or relax.

Our families spent the day putting flowers on the graves of our loved ones who have passed and in the afternoon, all met at the City Park for a picnic and chance for all the grandkids to play together.

They all played kickball, soccer, played on the swings, threw frisbees and walked around the park, along with eating and drinking.

I was very surprised because the shelters at City Park were available for the most part. I recall in the past that it was hard to find a shelter unless you made prior arrangements, but this year we had no problem finding a shelter near the concession stand and swings.

It turned out to be a good day for all and better than just having a family dinner at home.

Of course it was also good to get not only our grandkids, but us adults off our cell phones for awhile. You just do not see children out playing as you did before all these electric iPads and cell phones were in existence. On the other hand, while we were all active there was a car with two ladies and a younger girl parked right by our shelter and all three were setting in the car each playing on their iPad or cell phones for over an hour.

Then of course, we have also been caught playing or checking things on our cell phones when we could have been engaged in a conversation or active doing something more creative, and of course they tease us about having our nose in the computer stuff.

Thank goodness for air conditioning! Now that the days are getting hotter and hotter, it makes one wonder how people got along years and years ago without air-conditioning.

Here we have all the conveniences like air conditioning, dishwashers, clothes dryers and washers, robot sweepers and even a robot that can cut your grass, televisions, computers and so on, and yet we still manage to find something to complain about it seems.

I can still look back when all these different things were done by hand, and the washing was hung outside on clotheslines to dry and get the sun.

Now the latest fad where you can order food on your iPhone App and have it either delivered or waiting for you when you go to pick it up. Like Amazon is now down to a one day delivery on items you order, robots and drones to deliver items, and of course you can order your groceries and they will bring your order out to your car and load it.

All this is called advancement and convenience, I wonder what is next? Until next week.

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Swedish Cardamom Braids

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 1/4 cups warm milk

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. add the milk, butter, sugar, egg yolks, cardamom, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once so the grease is on top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into three portions. On a lightly floured surface, shape each portion into a 16-inch long rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid, pinching the ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Brush the warm loaves with butter. Combine the pecans, sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the loaves.

***

Cranberry Relish

1/2 cup orange or apple juice

12 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

dash ground cloves

1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, combine the juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and raisins; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3-4 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from the heat; stir in nuts. Chill for several hours.

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Sauerkraut Salad

1 14-ounce can drained sauerkraut, rinsed

1 medium green pepper, diced

1 cup diced celery

1 medium onion, diced

3/4-1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 2-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained

In a 1-quart bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

***

Fruit Slush

1 46-ounce can pineapple juice

8 cups water

1 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

4 cups sugar

2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries

2 envelopes unsweetened cherry soft drink mix or other red flavor of your choice

grapefruit or citrus soda

In a 6-quart container, combine the first 7 ingredients. Cover and freeze for 12 hours, stirring every 2 hours. For each serving, place 1/2 cup fruit slush in a glass. Add 1/2 cup soda.

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Chocolate Shake

1 cup milk

1/2 cup instant chocolate drink mix

3 cups vanilla ice cream

Place all ingredients in a blender; cover and process on high until smooth. Pour into glasses.

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Warm Blue Cheese, Bacon and Garlic Dip

7 bacon strips, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup half-and-half cream

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

2 tablespoons minced chives

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped smoked almonds

bagel chips

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 1/2 teaspoon of the drippings.

Saute the garlic in reserved drippings for 1 minute; transfer to a small bowl. Add cream cheese and cream; beat until smooth. Stir in the blue cheese, chives and bacon.

Transfer to a 1-quart baking dish; cover and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with almonds; serve with chips.

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Over-the-Top Cherry Jam

2 1/2 pounds fresh tart cherries, pitted

1 package powdered fruit pectin

1/2 teaspoon butter

4 1/2 cups sugar

In a food processor, cover and process cherries in batches until finely chopped. Transfer to a Dutch oven; stir in the pectin and butter. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar; return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; skim off the foam. Ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

***

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

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