What a wild weekend for the East Coast, and inland, too. This was the storm nobody thought could be. Just shows you what a powerful force nature can be. So many folks lost everything in such a short time. Things and buildings can be replaced people can't, and that is where the sorrow is. As bad as it was for so many, it will create jobs for many, too. Just think of all the cars that will have to be purchased to replace those that went for a swim in salty and sandy water. Buildings will have to be replaced and new roads, bridges, and utilities will have to be repaired or rebuilt.
There was a picture of the West Virginia Turnpike on the news. That heavy and early snow caused problems, too. The school kids watched that picture and were certain the storm was headed directly to our valley and they would get "snow days" in October. We just can't predict what nature will do and how it will affect our lives. Those professionals in the weather predicting business had never seen anything like this before and had no history to go on as far as predicting how bad the storm would be. As this is written, the storm hasn't completely left the country and will probably cause even more damage before it is all over. It is wonderful to live near an ocean, most of the time, but this last week has just convinced me that the place I want to stay is right here in our valley. We have a lot for which to give thanks this Thanksgiving holiday coming up. We complain about our weather here (often), but it isn't so bad, after all.
If we can do anything to help those folks back East, let's try to do it. I can imagine many of them will have a rough holiday season. The lucky ones still have a home to which to go back, and cleaning up is better than losing, but it surely takes the starch out of anyone who has to deal with the aftermath of this giant of a storm. I think storms must sometimes have evil minds it took three of them converging together to create the mess they have left. Anyway, be thankful we are where we are.
The next two months will fly by too fast. To keep from being snowed under, take some time now to plan what you have to do and want to do, leaving time for family memories and a holiday visit to see the lights or listen to a Christmas concert or whatever you would like to do to relax and forget stress. If we remember what the holidays really are, it will take some of the demands on our time away. Don't be afraid to say "no" to activities about which you really don't care or that interfere with your family. Memories mean more to our kids than expensive presents things break, but memories stay with one forever. Get the young ones involved with helping someone else have a nice holiday volunteer at a community center that is serving dinner, or forgoing some of their presents to give to someone less fortunate. This may be easier to do if you can keep them away from the constant ads on TV for the latest toys and gadgets...
The horse herd in our pasture has grown to six, all different colors and temperaments. They are so pretty when they run and play, just like a bunch of pups. They have some age on them, too, so it just shows that anyone, horse or human, can have fun, even if they are a bit older than they once were. I am thankful that we have help with them so the most we do is just to enjoy them. The three dogs and four cats are just being themselves lying by the fire on their cushions and expecting food and loving by the humans. They permit us to live in their house, not the other way around. I just wish they would learn to dust, sweep and mop. As soon as husband Norm sits down in his chair, he has a lapful of animals, usually dogs. If one of them gets there first, the others show their jealousy by jumping up and down in front of him. Even Rock, the BIG Lab, gets upset because he is too large to be a "lap dog" and leans against him to be petted. I miss the chickens (especially their eggs), but not the work. The pretty Angus cattle in the pasture were enjoyable to watch but chasing them when they decided to do a "walk around" in the neighborhood was not enjoyable. The older I get, the more I enjoy the "watching" and less of the "working."
The recipes today are some of my old standby favorites for this time of year. The magazines this fall have had really great ideas and recipes in them, and I do plan to use some new ones. We can get into a rut if we don't try something new once in awhile. I hope you get some ideas from these today to try for your family.
BAVARIAN APPLE TART
One cup all-purpose flour
One-half cup butter, softened
One-third cup sugar
One-fourth teaspoon vanilla extract
One-half cup sugar
Two (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
One-teaspoon vanilla extract
Four medium (4 cups) tart cooking apples, peeled, sliced one-fourth inch slices
One-third cup sugar
One-half teaspoon ground cinnamon
One-half teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cardamom
One-fourth cup sliced almonds
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all crust ingredients in a small bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until dough leaves sides of bowl and forms a ball. Press into bottom of 10-inch springform pan with lightly floured hands.
Combine one- half cup sugar, cream cheese, eggs and one teaspoon vanilla in same small bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until smooth. Spread mixture over crust. Place apples in large bowl. Sprinkle with one-third cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom: toss to coat. Arrange apple slices over filling.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until apples are fork tender. Sprinkle with almonds and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until almonds are lightly browned. Cool completely.
Two cups sugar
One-half cup shortening
One cup chopped dates
Two teaspoons baking soda
Two cups boiling water
Three cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
One teaspoon baking powder
Two teaspoons vanilla
One cup English walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a large tube pan or Bundt pan. (Do this well as I have had trouble with the cake not coming out of my Bundt pan perfectly. It is quite pretty when it does come out, as it should). In a crock, combine sugar, shortening, dates and soda. Pour boiling water over and stir to melt the shortening and dissolve the sugar. Let cool slightly while you combine the remaining dry ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients, and when mixed well, add the vanilla and nuts. Mix well and pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack. Serve with whipped cream or Hard Sauce.
One-half cup butter
One cup sifted confectioners' sugar
One-half teaspoon vanilla
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Spoon into serving dish. This can be topped with grated orange peel. Refrigerate until firm.
NOTE: The Southern way to make Hard Sauce is to flavor it with bourbon.
ANNA DEAN'S ORANGE CHOCOLATE MELTAWAYS
(This is the best candy I have ever tasted, and the recipe is from one of the top cooks in our area.)
One package (12-oz.) milk chocolate chips
One cup (6-oz. package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Three-fourths cup whipping cream
One teaspoon grated orange peel
Two-and-one-half teaspoons orange extract
One-and-one-half cups finely chopped toasted pecans
One-cup (6-oz.) milk chocolate chips
Two tablespoons shortening
Place chocolate chips in a mixing bowl; set aside. In a saucepan, bring cream and orange peel to a gentle boil; immediately pour over chips. Let stand one minute; whisk until smooth. Add the extract. Cover and chill for 35 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Beat for 10 to 15 seconds or just until mixture lightens in color (do not overbeat). Spoon rounded teaspoons onto waxed paper lined baking sheets. Cover and chill for five minutes. Gently shape into balls; roll half in pecans. For coating, in a microwave or double boiler, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip remaining balls into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper lined baking sheets to harden. Store in refrigerator.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org