Don't you just love fall? The weather is so gorgeous and the temperatures are even better. Many in our valley have beautified their front porches and front lawns with the flowers of fall, pumpkins and corn shocks. It is such a pleasure to see as one drives past. The foods associated with this season are pretty good, too, and very healthy. This is definitely apple and winter squash season. The rains can be a nuisance, but they are needed weather if plants and trees are to grow, so we just have to accept them as they come.
Since the air is cooler now, it is time to retrieve the heavier clothes. Would you believe clothes have a bad habit of changing size while they are packed away? Not only that, they seem to develop fading colors as they grow older (just we do!) and elastic waist bands in skirts and pants decide it wants to stretch out of shape. I had not planned any clothes buying this year at all, but my closet seems to think otherwise. Then there is the problem of the ones to be eliminated are either too worn to give to anyone or too good to use for rags. One has to be in a special mood to clear out any closets as the same thinking goes for clearing out china cabinets or clothes. In former years, discarded clothing was made into quilts or comforters! Hard to break old habits, but there is no desire to do that now, so the clothing just builds up until the volcano erupts!
I have a helper writing this Hobo, my favorite cat, wants to sit on the keyboard. Do you know how hard it is to type with a furry cat wanting to sit on the keys? It disturbs concentration, too. The animals here are all loved and very spoiled. The two little dogs like to sleep on the bed, but when one of the cats tries to join them, they go crazy.
This usually happens just after one has gone to sleep or in the middle of the night.
There are six horses in our pasture now. They look so pretty as they run and play like little kids. The young folks like to ride and go to the Fun Shows.
They have another one coming up at the Barlow Fair grounds on Oct. 20. It is a Halloween show and should be lots of fun. They are practicing for it and having as much fun in practice as the actual show will be.
Do you have any Boy Scouts in your family? The 2013 National Jamboree is to be held in West Virginia at the new Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. This new BSA facility is having its opening in July 15-24, 2013. The website for this is www.summit.scouting.org. From the brochure, it sounds just like what a Boy Scout would love.
For ideas for a day trip or mini vacation, the best place to look is in the West Virginia tourist guide.
We think about all the distant places that sound interesting, and often don't realize that our own territory has great places to explore and interesting things to see.
The best place to get one of the booklets is at a Welcome Station on the Interstate. As the leaves turn their brilliant colors, a good way to see them is on a train ride through the mountains.
Kids love train rides of any kind and there are several not too far from our area. I counted 14 events for this weekend in the Travel Guide I picked up at the Welcome Center and there are many local ones, too, so you always can have that Family Day.
If you make your Christmas gifts, it is not too early to get started. It is nice to have every thing taken care before the holidays get here so that you can enjoy them. One project here on the hilltop is to go through all the cookie and candy recipes that have been collected and choose a few for this year. There isn't as much baking for me as there used to be with just the two of us in the house. I like to have something in the cookie jar for the grandkids, though, and no one around here objects to Pumpkin Pie.
For those who put up huge displays for the holidays, this is the month to start to setup. It is a lot of work but it gives much enjoyment to those who view it. Here on the hilltop we don't do much outside for display and the big storm has removed some of the props that were used. The inside is my job alone. Of course, I have a head start the Christmas tree has stayed in the TV room all year with flowers replacing Christmas ornaments. No one had time to figure how to get it apart without ruining all the lights (it is a prelit tree) and it was too big a job for me alone, so I just took the ornaments off and put flowers on. We have enjoyed it all year. More than one way to skin a cat.
I found out last autumn that some folks didn't know about the powdered Apple Cider. It comes in a package like the hot chocolate mix. It is great for a chilly evening and if you have had a rather tiring day, just add a shot of brandy, like the fancy restaurants do.
The following mixes and sample recipes for them will give you a head start on many meals.
They save grocery money and reduce your "cooking supper) time. Enjoy each day and count your blessings.
WHITE SAUCE MIX
Two cups instant nonfat dry milk or 1 one-half cup regular nonfat dry milk
One cup all-purpose flour
Two teaspoons salt
One cup butter or margarine
Combine dry milk, flour and salt. Mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Put into a large airtight container and label with the date, contents and recipe use.
Store in the refrigerator and use within two months. This will make one quart of sauce mix to use to make cream soups. Following are some recipes I use.
BASIC WHITE SAUCE
One-half cup white sauce mix
One cup cool water
Seasoning salt, herbs or spices
In a small saucepan, combine mix with water. This makes a medium sauce for thinner sauce, use one-fourth cup mix and for a thicker sauce, use three-fourth cup mix. Cook over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Season with pepper, herbs and/or spices.
CHEESE SAUCE: Add one-half to 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice) after mixture thickens and stir until cheese is melted.
MUSHROOM SAUCE: Add one-half cup chopped fresh mushrooms and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
CURRY SAUCE: Add 1-teaspoon curry powder to thickened mixture.
Almost like "Semi Homemade" just like on TV! Use your imagination to make about any flavor sauce you would like to serve.
(This is the mix I use like Jiffy Mix or Bisquick)
Eight-and-one-half cups all-purpose flour'
Four tablespoons baking powder
One tablespoon salt
Two teaspoons cream of tartar
One teaspoon baking soda
One-and-one-half cups dry buttermilk powder
Two-and-one-fourth cups vegetable shortening
Sift together all dry ingredients and blend well. With a pasty blender or heavy-duty mixer, cut in shortening until the mixture resembles cornmeal in texture. Put in an airtight container and label with date and contents. Store in a dry, cool place and use within three months.
Two-and-one-fourth cups All-Purpose Mix
One tablespoon sugar
One egg, beaten
One-and-one-half cups milk or water
Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Combine wet ingredients and add all at once to dry ingredients. Blend well and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before cooking on a hot, oiled griddle.
Three cups mix
One-third cup sugar
One egg, slightly beaten
One cup milk or water
One teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, combine mix and sugar. In small bowl, combine wet ingredients and add all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold mixture together until blended. Spread half of mixture in an 8-inch-square pan that you have sprayed with cooking oil. Spread half of topping over the batter. Top with remaining batter, then rest of topping. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
One-third cup all-purpose flour
One-half cup crumbs (bread, cake or cookie)
One-half cup brown sugar
One teaspoon ground cinnamon
One-fourth cup butter or margarine
Combine dry ingredients, then cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.
Patty Christopher is a longtime food columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org