Remember before Christmas when we sang "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?" I think we overdid it. Even for someone who loves snow, this is getting a little ridiculous. Perhaps I would enjoy it more if the prices hadn't gone up so much.
Our "gas man" has been really good about seeing that we don't run out of fuel, and he can't help what is happening to his suppliers. Spring will be very much celebrated here on the hill though.
We can be very thankful that we live in this country and do have freedom. Can you imagine what it is like to have a neighboring country march into your country and take over?
It sounds too much like the late 1930s in Europe. Let's all pray we don't have to go through anything close to what happened then again. The unstable countries now have weapons so much worse than what had even been invented back then.
Right now, our current need is to keep warm. Spring really is coming. I do have confidence in that. The seed catalogs and this month's magazines all have cheerful ways to welcome the warmer weather.
It would be nice to do more "container" plantings - those could be right outside the door - but they don't seem to like me as well as I like them. I think it is a matter of watering. Go away for a few days and come home to dead plants. Then, back to the growers to buy new plants. No wonder husband Norm gets a little disgusted with my gardening.
We do like tomatoes right out of the garden, still warm from the sun and big and red and juicy. We live on BLTs much of the summer. There has been a promise of more raised beds and help with controlling my berries this year. The spirit is willing, but the old bones may be weak. More trips will be made to the local Farmers' Markets and the produce auction at Chesterhill.
The shelves in the cellar are getting a little bare, so there will have to be plans to refill them.
Tomato products, for sure, are on the canning agenda, and most other veggies will go into the freezer.
One granddaughter, Jessica, has said she wants to learn to can and "put up" food this summer and is planning a nice garden, so I am pleased that a family tradition will continue. Her other grandmother, Bonnie, does even more canning than I do, so she will have good guidance.
Another granddaughter, Amanda, and her husband, Cody, are expecting a little boy this summer, so it will be a good and joyous summer.
Even with the snow and cold, now is the time we all should be looking forward to the summer months and planning some happy things for us and our families. The time goes too fast to put off making memories with those we love.
That would be one good thing we could do this Lenten season for our family. It isn't all about "giving up" something for Lent, it is more about giving more of ourselves for others and especially strengthening our family and the way we hope our children will follow by seeing our examples. We can't expect peace in the world if we don't work on peace with our families and neighbors.
Did you finish off the doughnuts before midnight that you made for last Tuesday? The trick is not to make very many - just enough to celebrate Doughnut Day. I guess I'm not very "traditional," but it seems to me it is more important what is in one's heart than what is in one's stomach.
A sacrifice of one's heart and time seems more important than a sacrifice of one's eating habits, but to each his/her own faith. However, not eating candy until Easter is good for the person as well as a sacrifice.
Remember when Easter meant a new hat and outfit? Hey, you are close to my generation. I remember when a new hat was the same as Prozac for depression. Thanks to Kiki, Parkersburg has a wonderful Easter Parade. Make an Easter bonnet and be part of it this year. We all will be glad to see those Easter flowers blooming. Spring is a beautiful season in our valley and will help us forget the winter we have had (that doesn't want to go away).
We aren't close enough to the ocean to get fresh seafood all the time, but the local grocery stores are doing a good job at seeing that we do get it part of the time. Take advantage of it when they run a "fresh seafood" sale. It is good for us, and is often the main meal for many during Lent. Seafood is served often here on the hill - usually frozen - but still an easy dish to fix. Often, at restaurants, it is served deep fried, but is easy and good when fixed at home by baking. Don't be afraid of cooking it yourself, either fried or baked. Today's recipes are some of the ones I use regularly.
Use this season to renew your spirit and yourself. You can't help others if you don't take care of yourself, so never think you are selfish in thinking of what is good for you. Take care, keep warm, and God Bless!
2 pounds grouper or snapper fillets
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1 cup dry, white wine
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 orange, sliced
Place fish in buttered baking dish and layer with sliced vegetables and olives. Pour wine on top, cover, and bake in preheated 350-degree oven about 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Use citrus slices as bed on serving plate, then place fish and vegetables on top.
NOTE: I use any fish on sale. If the fillets are thin, they will be done sooner than thick fillets.
1/2 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup milk
Oil for frying
Blend all ingredients except milk and oil. Stir in just enough milk to moisten dough. It should be stiff and rather heavy. Drop from tablespoon into hot oil (350 degrees) and fry until brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Jambalaya, Florida style
(Good on these still cold days!)
3 dozen oysters
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound smoked sausage
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
3 cups cooked rice
Brown sausage in oil and set aside. Saute garlic, onion, celery and green pepper until tender. Add just enough water to cover, then add tomatoes, seasonings and tomato paste. Simmer for fifteen minutes. Add shrimp and oysters and simmer a few minutes more or until shrimp turn pink. Add rice and sausage. Cover and cook five to 10 minutes more. Add hot sauce to taste.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 to 5 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 7 1/2-oz. cans chopped clams
Juice from clams plus red wine to equal 2 cups
Cornstarch or flour, plus water to thicken sauce - optional
1 pound linguine, cooked
Saute garlic and onion in oil and butter. Add salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Add clams and juice to sauce. Thicken slightly with a slurry of cornstarch or flour and water, if desired. Reheat. Bring just to boiling if thickened to cook starch, but do not boil or clams will be toughened. Serve over hot linguine.
Maxine's Green Salad
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 box lime gelatin
1 8-oz. container whipped topping
1 8-oz. container cottage cheese
Combine all ingredients and chill.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel.