Isn't it planting time yet? I am ready. This playing around with the temperatures isn't funny. Maybe this coming week will straighten the weather pattern out so that it is a true spring and plants won't be getting frozen just as they start to grow and bloom. Of course, we are a month away from the "safe" planting time (as I am reminded by someone in this household). Of course, the grass is growing like crazy and has needed several cuttings. Husband Norm is starting to agree with my idea - just fence in the yard with a fancy fence and run sheep in it. I'll believe it when I see it.
Easter was quiet with the kids away at the beach. They got a lot of work done at the summer place, but about froze to pieces trying to enjoy the beach. Out of habit, I still dyed a dozen eggs with food coloring and made a dozen onion eggs (brown - dyed with onion skins). They are all gone now - don't check our cholesterol - or sugar (cookies and candy plus the usual ice cream!). Now, it is back on track as far as eating correctly. It isn't as much fun but is a lot healthier.
We had some excitement out here in the country recently. In the field next to our hay field is the grave of a former slave and some of his descendents traced their family back and found him. This was on land that he had purchased as a free man. I guess he was rather well known in frontier history. Anyway, he has a new marker, fence around it, and new fame. One never knows what one might find in a corn field or pasture.
You might have read about it in The News and Sentinel - it made quite a splash in the area. He had been a slave at the Blennerhasset plantation before he crossed the Ohio River and started being a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Our house was built in 1863, two years after he died, but, at one time, it had a false cellar, too, although he apparently had no connection to this farm as far as we know. Interesting area.
Earlier, this area was part of the Donation Lands - given to General Devol who was part of the Ohio Company, given (or bought) land for service in the Revolutionary War and the start of settling in the Northwest Territory. It was a hot bed during the Indian Wars earlier, too. Guess we have it pretty peaceful now, considering.
Brother Bill gave me a different recipe for a "Cup" cake.
Take one box of cake mix, any flavor and one box of Angel Food Cake Mix and mix them together. Using this mix, put three tablespoons of the mix into a regular coffee cup and add two tablespoons of water. Mix - I use a tiny whisk - and put it into the microwave for one minute. No need to grease the cup or anything. It is amazing.
This is a good basis for an individual shortcake, and so quick. I put the two combined cake mixes in a jar with a tight lid so it is instantly ready to make a dessert.
There is a Taste of Home Cooking School in our area on April 19 at Dyson Baudo Auditorium at Marietta College. These are always great shows to attend and one always learns something new. The sponsors are Warren's IGA, Food For Less and The Marietta Times. You can get tickets at any of these sponsors and they are $15 each. See you there.
The winter clothes are slowly getting stored for next fall. With cooler nights showing up all the time, it takes some of the inspiration away from getting it done timely. Every time I get a stack of clothes laundered, ready for storage, here comes a cold spell and I have to pull them out to wear again. I may just give up and not store away any more than are in the totes now. Some of the sweaters stay out all year, anyway. In sorting out the clothes, I find that I have a huge stack that is good only for the ragbag. We used to make rug rags or quilt pieces out of not-so-good clothing, but those portions of life have passed into the "good (?) old days" section of memory - at least in my house. If I ever get around to making that quilt I have been planning for years, I want new fabric for it - not that which is half worn out. Expect snow in July if I ever get it done, anyway.
The lettuce has been planted for all those dressings the recipes appeared last week, but it is having a hard time existing with the recent frosts. I think the Framers' Market will be my supplier for quite awhile yet. I have a rosemary plant that is trying to make it until it can go outside before I kill it, too. I have a very hard time with rosemary - it just doesn't seem to like to live inside my house.
Keep checking the markets for fresh spring vegetables - they have to come on soon - and enjoy them while they are local and fresh. Thank goodness for the farmers who have a greener thumb than I do. Thanks to my neighbor, I do have an occasional mushroom - delicious.
Rhubarb is a favorite around here so here are some favorite recipes for it along with some other spring ones to try. Enjoy the season.
(My favorite pie - a repeat)
One-fourth cup cornstarch
One cup sugar
One cup water
Two cups fresh rhubarb, cut into one-half-inch pieces
One-and-one-half cup fresh strawberries, sliced
Pastry for 8-inch double-crust pie
Combine water and cornstarch in a saucepan. Mix until smooth. Add one-half cup rhubarb and one-half cup strawberries and bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes. Stir in remaining rhubarb and strawberries. Line an eight-inch pie pan with pastry, and pour filling into pie shell. Top with top pastry crust. Cut slits in top. Brush with cream (or milk) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until crust is browned.
RHUBARB AND CREAM CHEESE PIE
Four cups rhubarb, cut into one-inch pieces
One-and-one-half cup sugar, divided
Three tablespoons cornstarch
One-fourth teaspoon salt
One eight-ounce package cream cheese
One nine-inch unbaked pie shell
In medium saucepan and over medium heat, cook rhubarb, one-cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir often. Cook until mixture boils and thickens. Pour into pie shell and bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees. While that is baking, combine cream cheese, eggs, and one-half cup sugar and beat until smooth. Pour over rhubarb mixture in pie shell. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake pie another 30-35 minutes (until set). Cool on wire rack. Chill.
FRESH RHUBARB PIE
One-and-one-half to two cups sugar
Six tablespoons all-purpose flour
Four cups cut-up rhubarb
One-and-one-third tablespoons butter
Pastry for two crust pie
Mix together sugar, flour and rhubarb. Pour into pie shell. Dot with butter. Add top crust. Brush with an egg wash or cream or milk. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
Eight slices bacon
One-half cup vinegar
One-half cup water
Two teaspoons sugar
Two quarts torn leaf lettuce
Eight green onions, cut into small pieces
Place lettuce and onions in a salad bowl. Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. In the skillet, add vinegar, water and sugar to the bacon drippings. Bring to a boil. Pour over the lettuce and onion and toss. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle over lettuce.
GERMAN WILTED LETTUCE
Four strips bacon
One tablespoon flour
One tablespoon sugar
One teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons vinegar
One cup light cream
Three quarts torn leaf lettuce
Three hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside. Pour off bacon drippings, reserving three tablespoons in skillet. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, vinegar and cream. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly. Pour hot mixture over lettuce, eggs and reserved bacon. Toss gently to mix and serve immediately.
PORK WITH APPLES AND POTATOES
One-and-one-half pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
Four cups water
One tablespoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon pepper
One bay leaf
Six medium potatoes, pared and cut into eighths
Four medium tart apples, pared, cored and cut in eighths
Place pork cubes, water, salt, pepper and bay leaf in Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes or until meat is tender. Add potatoes and cook 10 minutes. Add apples and cook 20 minutes more or until apples are tender. Serve with crusty bread.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org