This week has been a delightful week, weatherwise. The garden, such as it is, finally got planted. It is a pitiful excuse for a garden, but we discovered the produce wholesale market at Chesterhill, Ohio, and know where the local Farmers" Markets are located. The veggies at all those places are as good as I can grow, and I can carry them to the car easier than I can plant, weed, hoe and worry about the weather. I love to garden, but my back doesn't.
The local school band boosters had a dinner a week ago to raise money for new uniforms and other band needs. It was run the easiest that I have seen a community dinner run in a long time. The steaks were grilled to order and served hot. The band members worked like little beavers to make the occasion go smoothly. It just proves the point that if young people have an activity or sport they enjoy, that will be their focus instead of getting into trouble. We were really proud of them.
I am still trying to convince my laptop it should do what I want, not what it wants to do. Last week, it ate two columns I wrote before I gave up and used my old PC. With this column, it ate only one before I reverted to "old faithful." Back to the drawing board, I guess. The young folks seem to have no problems with this newer technology and think "Grandma" is a little out of it. It amazes me the quick way they pick up on everything. We often have to call for help with all of the new toys.
Next weekend is Father's Day, so you have this week to plan (and prepare) his feast. The old way we were told to get to your guy's heart with through his stomach, and I guess that remains true yet today. I am including some of the recipes I have used. This isn't a day to have a "healthy" meal. Make what the King of the Castle wants or likes. You can cook your kind of meal the next day. Some men are like a cheap steak - they tend to need a little "tenderizing" - the ingredients for both are found in the kitchen. Now, if you got the royal treatment on Mother's Day (flowers, dinner out, nice gift, etc.), be sure you return the favor. However, if you didn't, return that "favor," too. You have a week to decide.
My favorite cat, Hobo, is on another of his "road trips." He often disappears for a few days or a week, then comes home. He has been gone for too long this time so I guess he is really gone. I hope he has found a friendly home, or is happy with his wandering, but I do miss him and hope he is OK.
Now that school is out, it is the time of relaxation for everyone. Everybody does need a time of rest from the normal routine. There are so many "one-day" trips in our area that it is hard to pick just a few, but one every now and then can be a day of enjoyment for all. With the Civil War remembrance and the founding of the state of West Virginia, a day in that direction could be both educational and enjoyable. There are so many choices in our valley. A trip to the Wilds, near Cumberland, Ohio, will be like a safari in Africa at a tiny fraction of the cost. It is the largest area of its kind in the world, and right in our own back yard. Even theme parks are within a distance of a day's vacation. So, do something, for you as well as for the entertainment of the young ones. A week or two away is wonderful, but not always in the cards for any of us.
This is one time to enjoy getting older, though. If one is retired, one can always take the grandkids for a vacation. The parents and the kids will love you for it, and you can do the things you wanted to do with your own kids but weren't able to when they were young. Summer is the time for making memories, whether it is just camping in the back yard, running a cooking school in your own kitchen, going to King's Island, a trip to Williamsburg - so do something with the young ones in your family. They will always remember it.
Keep the Sun Tea jar filled and the cushion in the swing. Enjoy each day. It is a gift, you know. Give Dad a treat next Sunday and let him know you appreciate him.
(A repeat but a Father's Day Favorite)
One cup chopped English walnuts
Three tablespoons bourbon
One cup sugar
One cup white corn syrup
One stick butter, melted
One-cup chocolate chips
One teaspoon vanilla extract
Two unbaked pie shells
Pour bourbon over nuts and set aside. Beat sugar, syrup and eggs together. Add butter, chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Add bourbon and nut mixture. Pour into unbaked pie shells. Bake 45 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven.
NOTE: Pecans are great in this pie instead of walnuts, too.
STRAWBERRY PIE WITH CREAM CHEESE
One graham cracker pie crust, nine or ten-inch size
One quart fresh strawberries
One (eight-ounce) package cream cheese
One-fourth cup sugar
Two teaspoons lemon juice
One-half cup whipping cream
One package strawberry pie glaze
Wash strawberries and cut into halves or smaller if berries are large. Let cream cheese come to room temperature. With electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice. Add cold whipping cream and beat until light and fluffy. Spread in piecrust. Top with the strawberries, then the glaze. Frost pie with the whipped topping, using a large decorating star tip if available. Keep chilled.
Round or sirloin steak, cut -inch thick
Dill pickle spears
Garlic cloves - optional
Seasonings - salt, pepper, garlic powder, coriander
Fat for browning
Broth (can be made with hot water and Tone Beef Flavoring)
Dried Onion Soup Mix - optional
Red wine - optional
Cut each steak in half, lengthwise. Pound with meat tenderizer mallet to make steak thin if cut over one-fourth-inch thick. (Mom and Grandma used to use the edge of a heavy saucer.) Lay meat pieces out on working area so these can be put together assembly style. Spread a thin layer of mustard on each piece. Lay a strip of bacon on top of this. If bacon is really nice, one-half strip on each is sufficient. Sprinkle with the seasonings and use seasonings to taste. (I often use Everglades Seasoning, otherwise known as Monkey Dust, and bought in the Publix stores in Florida.) Cut the vegetables about three inches long, to make large strips. Likewise, cut the pickles in strips. Put a piece of carrot, celery, onion and pickle on one end of each strip. Roll up, starting with the end the vegetables are on, and fasten with a toothpick or kitchen thread. Brown on each side, starting with the cut side (to seal). Place the browned Rouladen in a roasting pan and add garlic cloves to taste. Deglaze skillet and add that liquid to pan. Add strong broth to cover Rouladen (see note), if possible; if not without running over, add as much as you can. Add wine if using. Cover pan and bake in slow oven - 325-350 - for at least two hours, or until they are very tender. These can also be cooked in a Dutch oven (watch that they don't stick) or in a crockpot for several hours.
Use the juice as is to put over meat when it is served or thicken it to make gravy (this is best). Serve over noodles (Spatzle is best) or mashed potatoes. This is even better warmed up the next day. It isn't hard, but does take time, and it is just as easy to make a lot as a little.
NOTE: I make the broth by making the Onion Soup and adding some of the beef seasoning mix to get the right taste. I add mushrooms to the broth or later when the gravy is made.
Two-and-one-fourth cups flour
One teaspoon salt
One egg, well-beaten
One-fourth to three-fourth cups water
Sift flour and salt into bowl. Add egg and mix. Add water gradually until batter is stiff but smooth. Press dough flat on a plate or floured board . With a sharp knife, scrape small pieces of dough off and drop into boiling salted water. (A Spatzle press is easier to use if you have one.) There should be only one layer of Spatzle at a time in the cooking water. Boil gently five to eight minutes or until you try a few and find them done. Remove from water with perforated spoon and drain. These are especially good when sauted in butter until a bright golden color and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs.
NOTE: I always use a Spatzle press, but my German friends said that was the lazy way to do them - they use a "Spatzle board" and cut them into the boiling water. This makes tiny dumplings. I never mastered that knack.