It is amazing how quickly the days start to be longer. It shouldn't be any surprise since it has been doing that from the beginning of earth. Sometimes, it just takes a little longer for humans to notice those little things. It is scary, though, to think how fast this month is disappearing.
Time waits for no one, and that is a very good reason one should budget one's time the same way one budgets one's money. Both are valuable and affect the way of life one leads. There is a saying that "time is money" but since many of us don't draw a paycheck any more, we don't tend to realize the truth of that bit of wisdom.
When one manages the time better, there is more of a chance of having time to do the fun things that often get pushed out of the way for a lack of time to do them. I am very guilty of that and am trying to make it a rule to be a better steward of each day. Somehow, I don't think I am the only guilty one who could use some better planning so I have time to do things I enjoy. We forget that our time just might be limited. I don't think any cemetery would be pleased to have some wayward spirit wondering around and picking flowers and scaring everyone. One thing we hate to think about is that none of us are promised tomorrow, no matter what our age.
One of the joys of this month is the arrival of all those seed catalogs that get one to dreaming about what could be put into a garden. It is more of a dream than reality here on the hilltop since the garden space will be limited this year. It's still enjoyable to dream, though. Of course, it would be nice to have a paid gardener who would do the work one would like done. Norm reminds me that Martha Stewart has an entire crew who tend to her gardens and I don't.
It's the same with the interior of the house. The list of needed and wanted projects is just too long to contemplate. It would be easier to start with a new house - and cost less, too. That spring renovation list is like my bucket list - needs revising down to a reasonable roar.
I was remembering how my Grandmother Nichols lived in this house with only a fraction of the kitchen tools I have, and fixed great meals, canned, kept the house clean and laundry done up, along with a big garden and, always, loads of flowers. I have all these modern conveniences and can't do half as much. She had that mountain pioneer spirit that our forebearers who built this country had.
I wonder where that spirit of taking care of ourselves and our family has gone. They didn't have to be told how to keep their kids safe or what products were safe to use. If someone needed help, the neighbors pitched in. No government agency told them where or how they could live their lives, so they took care of themselves and helped their neighbors do the same. Now, we have over half the population dependent on the Big Santa Claus in Washington to give them what they need or want instead of having a plan where they could help themselves.
Instead of helping our own people, we send money to other countries, most of which don't even like us and will do us in if they get a chance.
The people in this country who want to help those who want and need jobs are finding themselves being hindered by legislation that keeps them from helping those people who want to help themselves.
What is wrong with our leaders? Is there some kind of magnet in Washington that sucks out the brains of those whom we have elected to watch out for us and our country? Maybe the ones who want to see our way of government fail are putting something in the water to render those in high positions to be brain dead. Where is the proper example of leadership that the young people need to see so they can learn how to govern this country? Every day, pray for our country and pray for those in high positions of leadership to get their heads back on straight.
There is nothing we here at home can do other than check out every candidate who comes up for election and then vote at every election.
Whenever I get upset about something in which I cannot do anything about at the time, I ramble around the kitchen. Trying a new recipe can wipe all else out of one's mind. It is less fattening than eating to calm frustration and kills some time to calm down from the cooking to the eating. One reason I don't always keep a full cookie jar. I recently started looking through one of Mom's old cookbooks that I hadn't seen for years and found some old recipes that will take some studying to digest what all has been written in it. I even found the old recipe for beer - which I surely don't need to relearn how to make right now. Anyway, it will be interesting to reread some of those ideas she collected from her mother and other family members. Many of the hand-written recipes are in the handwriting of my grandmother and several from my aunt when she lived in Philadelphia during World War II and worked in the shipyards. Some of the recipes have no name - guess what it is by the ingredients - and some could use some measurements other than "flour 'til the dough feels right". Several have ingredients listed that are no longer readable. It will be my "puzzle project" to get a lot of these into usable form.
We will have more cold weather before spring comes, so do keep warm and try to stay well. Did you get your flu shot? It does help. Take care and God Bless!
(Also known as GOLUMPY or STUFFED CABBAGE)
(1 OF 4 IN BOOK)
One pound sausage
One and three-fourths pound ground beef
One onion, diced
Two cups cooked rice
Salt and pepper to taste
One egg, beaten
Scant teaspoon allspice
Two tablespoons dried parsley
One and one-half teaspoons summer savory
One teaspoon dried oregano
One teaspoon onion salt
One-half cup catsup - to moisten mixture
One large cabbage or 2 small ones
Prepare cabbage by cutting out heart - leave cabbage whole - and put into boiling water. As leaves wilt, take off. Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. Use enough catsup to moisten mixture. Take one-fourth to one-half cup of the mixture and place in a cabbage leaf. Fold leaf 4 ways - bottom up, then two sides in and top down to make enclosed roll. Use toothpicks to hold if necessary. Hard vein on large leaves of cabbage may need to be partly removed, but do not cut into leaf. Place each roll in large pot (Dutch oven) as it is filled. Cover the rolls with tomato juice to which 1 teaspoon celery salt and 1 teaspoon garlic has been added (or add 1 or 2 cloves of garlic and 1 stalk of celery to the pot.)
Simmer on stove top or put into a 350-degree oven for about two hours. (Oven is easiest - less likely to scorch.
Other recipes add diced carrots, or sauerkraut, or shredded cabbage to put on bottom of rolls. Some use tomato soup and sour cream.
Every cook has a different recipe for Cabbage Rolls, and all I have tasted have been good. The one above was my Aunt Madeline's, from a "one generation off the ship" cook and we used it often at our house.
* ITALIAN SPAGHETTI SAUCE
(Another recipe from a "just off the boat" cook in Philly)
One-half cup olive oil
One and one-half cups onion (3 medium ones)
Four cloves garlic, finely chopped
One pound ground beef
One-half pound ground veal
One-half pound hot Italian sausage, cut into pieces
Three-fourths cup chopped green pepper (1 pepper)
Two (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
One can condensed tomato soup
One (1 lb.) can Italian-style tomatoes
One and one-half teaspoon Angostura bitters
One and one-half teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
One teaspoon salt
One teaspoon sugar
One-half teaspoon celery salt
One-half teaspoon crushed red pepper
Dash each of: chile powder, ground cinnamon, fennel seed, and oregano
Three bay leaves
Four whole allspice
One-half lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
One-half cup chopped green or ripe olives
One (4-oz.) can pimentoes, drained and chopped
Heat oil and add onion and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes. Add beef, veal, and sausage and brown well. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients except mushrooms, olives, and pimentos. Stir in browned meat mixture. Bring to a boil, and then simmer 4 hours. One-half hour before it is done, add the mushrooms, olives, and pimentos.
(After cooking all of this with all those ingredients, the cook needs to sit down and have a glass of good Italian Red. I think most Italian cooks add it to the sauce, too.)
AUNT M'S MEAT LOAF
Two pounds ground beef
One cup tomato catsup
One-half cup dry bread crumbs (whole wheat is best)
One-fourth cup chopped onion
Two tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
One teaspoon salt
One-half teaspoon ground sage
Mix together well and shape into meatloaf. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 60 minutes.
Top with glaze and bake another 10 or 15 minutes.
Glaze for Meat Loaf
One-fourth cup catsup
Two tablespoons brown sugar
One teaspoon dry mustard
Mix together well and spread on Meatloaf when it is almost done.
I use the yellow mustard out of the jar. After you make this glaze once, you won't need to measure. I use the same basic glaze for Corned Beef, just using more mustard and less catsup.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel.