How did you survive the storm that made all of us realize how dependent we have become on our modern conveniences? Nasty way to learn, wasn't it? There are still many folks who are not back to normal - in fact, most of us one way or another. Many of us have found out our insurance policies have that fine print (or none at all) covering things we always believed were covered. Things can be replaced, or replanted, but people cannot, so be thankful if everyone in your family is OK. Mother Nature can be very cruel and doesn't care if a person needs cool air to survive or not. Hopefully, all of your family and friends have made it through this trying time. Not everyone has and our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones from an act of nature.
A giant "thank you" goes to all those workers who have been working around the clock to help all of us. The saying is that into every life some rain must fall, but I have never seen that tons of rain must fall on everyone at once! Keep your chin up and try to find something positive about this entire situation.
Some of us had gone to the East Coast to take care of a needed situation there, but husband Norm was caught here due to the storm damage and disruption of public utilities. I came home to a rather clean house, considering all the difficulties. He said it had been too hot to work outside, so he had done several "housekeeping" chores he had planned to do for some time. Also, he was cook and housemother to several teenage boys who had no electricity at home. I guess the laundry, cooking and dishwashing kept him busy. I was very appreciative to find things so neat and clean.
Although the flowerbeds and containers took a hard blow from the storm, the garden didn't see any of the destruction the yard did. I see that the zucchini plants are producing and the cucumbers have lots of bloom, so they must be OK. Norm got the tomato stakes in and the first tying of the plants. They need another tying and suckering now, though, so that is my job this evening when the sun isn't so hot. By the time you read this, that chore should be completed, even when it does often take me a few days. I enjoy the garden, but this year has me glad it is smaller than usual, and the Farmers' Markets are close and have abundant produce.
All four dogs enjoyed chasing the skunks the evening I got back. One of the granddaughters enjoys giving dogs a bath, and I was so thankful for her being here. She just grabbed them, one by one, and scrubbed them down. They smell almost presentable now. One of them, along with a neighbor's dog, was caught carrying around a baby skunk in their mouths. No doggy kisses from that one. None of them have learned that they can't win an encounter with a skunk.
Coming back from the coast, we stopped at the West Virginia Welcome Station. While there, I got several books and pamphlets about events in the state. If you are ever wishing you knew a neat place to go that is close to home, go to one of those welcome stations and you can get more ideas than you ever dreamed possible. Of course, the really big one that is starting this week is the WV Interstate Fair and Exposition. No one should miss that one. It is in our own "backyard" and is one of the best events of the summer. Let's hope for not-too-hot temperatures. For a full list of the 2012 Calendar of Events, pick one up at a WV Rest Stop or call 1-888-982-3247.
"There is something for everyone" is definitely true for the many activities in our valley, and we should be certain our young ones know about many of them and appreciate the area in which they live. This year is a special one for WV with the celebration of the beginning of the state. The Civil War celebrations this year can teach young ones more about that conflict than any history book can. It is important to know that many of their ancestors were involved in the history of this region. A search of one's family tree can make history come alive if any ancestors can be found to be a part of this. A scrapbook of this summer's activities including where they went and what they learned about it would be a good project for kids of any age.
We have to cook, but hopefully, you have some recipes that don't heat up the entire house. Leave those for the chilly nights this winter. Salads and cold soups are good for lunch on hot summer days and the outdoor grill is the perfect cooking area for dinner. I hope these summer recipes will give you some ideas for "cool cooking" and/or "cool eating". Keep the iced tea jug full and the pillows in the swing under the shade tree. Enjoy these summer days.
Six cups sliced zucchini
One cup sliced carrots
One-half cup sliced onion
One-fourth cup sliced celery
One-fourth cup water
One cup sour cream
One can Cream of Chicken soup
One-half cup butter, melted
One package chicken flavored StoveTop Stuffing Mix
Place zucchini, onion, celery and water in saucepan and cook until just tender. Add sour cream and Cream of Chicken soup. Mix. Combine melted butter and stuffing mix. In a greased two-quart casserole dish, place one-half of zucchini mixture, then half of stuffing. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Two large cucumbers
One sweet onion
One cup dairy sour cream
Two tablespoons vinegar or fresh lemon juice
One tablespoon sugar
Pinch white pepper
Peel and very thinly slice cucumbers and onion. Place in glass bowl and sprinkle quite heavily with salt. Let set for at least one hour. Squeeze cucumbers and onions and place in colander. If still too salty, lightly rinse and squeeze well again. Put in clean glass bowl and add other ingredients. Check for seasoning and add pinch of slat if needed. Let set for at least one hour before serving and serve cold.
NOTE: When I was small, this was served on top of mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes.
CUCUMBER SALAD (VINEGAR DRSSING)
Two large cucumbers
One sweet onion
Minced dill and/or parsley
Treat cucumbers and onions as above through the conditioning step. After draining well, add mixture of equal parts of water and vinegar. Season with sugar and add salt if needed. Add dill and/or parsley.
MARINATED TOMATO, CUCUMBER, ONION
Two peeled and sliced cucumbers
Two sliced tomatoes
One sliced sweet onion
One cup cider vinegar
One cup water
One-fourth cup sugar
One-half cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
NOTE: We keep this mixture in the refrigerator all summer. Slices of tomato, cucumber and onion are added as needed (or from left over sandwich fixings). When liquid gets less tasty with tomato juice, cucumber and onion juice, we make new marinate. This mixture can be eaten as is for a salad, with lettuce, or on a sandwich or with other added ingredients for a quick lunch.
Two cans refrigerated crescent rolls
Two packages of cream cheese (8 oz. each), softened
Three-fourths cup mayonnaise or sour cream
One envelope dry dressing mix - Ranch or Italian
Any combination of finely chopped vegetables: peppers, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini or lettuce.
One-half to one cup shredded cheese
Roll crescent rolls together on a cookie sheet or large pizza pan to make one crust, approximately one-fourth inch think. Bake in 350-degreee oven for 12-15 minutes. Mix together the cream cheese, mayo or sour cream and dressing mix. Spread this mixture on top of cooled crust. Add chopped veggies and top off with shredded cheese.
NOTE: If you don't have dry dressing mix on hand, the cream cheese can be seasoned with garlic powder and onion powder, about three-fourths teaspoon of each. Or use any vegetable seasoning you have on hand. Make this to your taste.
Contact Patty at JKoenitzer@aol.com