This past week has been unusual to say the least. Not only did we have a hurricane, it was one of epic proportions. It has wreaked havoc not only up and down the Texas coast, but inland as well with some areas receiving ten to twenty inches of rain. In some areas, it has been called a “1,000 year storm”.
The first part of the week, while I listened to TV and people talking, my thought was “this is not going to be too bad, I’ll just stay here”. By the time Friday arrived and the forecasts worsened, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and retreated inland to my son and daughter-in-laws home for the duration. (Besides that, my kids ganged up on me and told me to “Get the heck out of Dodge, Mom”). So, first thing Friday morning I left, thinking it would only be for three or four days, imagine my surprise when it took a week before I was able to return home due to rivers being out of their banks closing all routes to my home, and keeping them closed. The Guadalupe River is still out of its banks in the Victoria area, keeping families from their homes and causing the zoo to transfer their animals to various other zoos. Help seems to be pouring in from many sources. My worst damage was a large limb from the tree in my front yard being on my roof. As I write this, two neighbors are working on it, (they came in with a tractor with a front end loader and a bunch of chains and in about three hours had it done and hauled off). While they were working, my friend’s grandson came over to clean up the small limbs, moss, etc., from the rest of my yard and did a great job. The man who has my property leased, called to let me know of the damage and has since checked to see if I needed any help. It surely seems to me that Texans know how to help their fellow Texans who are in trouble. Today’s (Saturday) Victoria Advocate had only one article about looting in their area. Since I wrote this, I have found that Victoria is still in truly bad shape. In fact, my niece’s husband told her not to even try to go there. On Thursday my brother had told me about the long lines at service stations in locations he had been around (he lives in N. TX), I had not seen any and went into town for a couple of things. At the local HEB the cars were seven and eight deep at each of the four pumps. It was not much better when I went into town yesterday as there were four and five in each line. Later, I heard that they had run out of gas, received more and there were still lines! Here at my home the mosquitoes are a ginormous size and are everywhere, and they love me a lot!
Even though Labor Day was last weekend, I thought you might like to know some of the facts concerning it.
Labor Day is one of the few holidays we have that has not been affected by the changes made to some other holidays to give workers a long weekend as it has always been on the first Monday in September and still is. It was first celebrated by the Knights of Labor in New York City in 1882 and 1884 and is now a legal holiday throughout the United States and Canada. It falls about midway between July 4th and Thanksgiving, which is one of the reasons the first Monday in September was chosen for this holiday.
Labor Day has always signaled the end of summer fun and the countdown to fall and winter. In times past, the Tuesday after Labor Day was always the first day of school. That no longer holds true with school beginning anywhere from the 15th to the 27th of August now. Of course, this year, with the hurricane, even schools that had begun have closed and will re-open on the day after Labor Day, and how’s that for irony? You just never know what will happen when Mother Nature gets involved in our lives! The Sunday paper stated that some schools would not open until the 11th and some maybe later than that, with one school stating they had so much damage that it might be four to six weeks before they could use classrooms!
In some parts of the country, fall is already in the air, however, in our area, we will (hopefully) still have weekends that can be spent fishing, camping and picnicking (weather permitting, of course). (I spoke with a friend who is in Michigan for the summer months, and she said it was cold up there with the temps being in the low 60s, and people were coming in and buying wood to use for heat. They have a motor home and stay in the same place each year and she works checking folks in and out and helping them in general, I told her to come home!)
Now, I know I’ve said this numerous times, but, if you go on any type of outing and take food along, be sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Did you know that you could use an ice chest to keep food hot? It works both ways, cold or hot. If you have casseroles or any type of dish that is very hot, line the bottom of the ice chest with several folded newspapers for insulation and to keep from messing up the bottom of the chest and set the casseroles inside. I have even stuck a cutting board between the casserole dishes and was able to get more than one at a time in the ice chest.
The following recipes are good at any time, but all travel well and make great picnic fare.
½ cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
1¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, (lightly beaten enough to mix well)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2¼ cups Biscuit and Baking Mix (Buttermilk or regular)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped nuts
Spray or grease 9×12 pan and set aside.
In medium sized microwave-safe bowl, heat butter on high until melted. Stir in brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Stir in baking mix until well combined. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle chips and nuts on top. Bake at 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until bars are light golden brown and center is almost set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes about 4 dozen.
The following recipe is a favorite of mine. We attended a funeral and a cousin brought this. We were sitting out in the yard at a picnic table, and you’d never believe how many of us wrote the recipe down right then. She was kind enough to share and knew it by heart. I have made it many times since and think of her each time. The coconut is optional, but since coconut is a favorite of mine, I always use it. It goes over great at bake sales.
Barbara’s Quickie Bars
2 cups baking mix
1 pound light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 can coconut (optional)
Beat eggs and sugar together. Stir in vanilla and baking mix, add pecans and coconut. Pour into 9×12 pan and bake at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.
This recipe for baked beans came from my sister-in-law. She has brought it to many family get-togethers over the years she has been in the family and it is a favorite.
Jo’s Baked Beans
3 cans pork and beans (15½-oz size)
1 envelope onion soup mix
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
3 or 4 strips bacon (thin sliced)
In a 2-quart casserole, mix together beans, onion soup mix, brown sugar and mustard. Top with bacon slices, bake at 350ºF for 30 to 45 minutes or until dish is thoroughly heated and bacon is cooked and crisp.
The following salad is very good. All of the vegetables should be diced to the size of the corn kernels.
Now, if you want to make a casserole that is slightly different, but very filling, try the one below. It makes two large casserole dishes and will serve 25 or more people. It is a recipe my sister-in-law gave me from a friend of hers. She and I can both get 20 to 25 people together for a meal really easily as she and my brother have three children with spouses and ten grandchildren, some who have boyfriends, while we have four children with spouses, and ten grandchildren with assorted girlfriends, boyfriends and just plain friends! We all have a great time together.
Many of us have made Chicken or Turkey Tetrazzini, but I had never thought of making it with ham.
6 cups diced ham
3 medium sweet onions, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 packages spaghetti (10-oz each)
2 sticks margarine
1 cup milk
1 pound American cheese
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans (8-oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered almonds, optional
Parmesan cheese (garnish)
Dice ham into large bowl, set aside. Cook onion, celery and green pepper in small amount of water (1/4 cup or less). Cook spaghetti according to package directions. In large saucepan, melt margarine; add milk, cheese, soup and mushrooms. Heat until cheese is melted. Drain celery, onion and pepper; add to ham. Stir in cooked, drained spaghetti, sauce, and salt and pepper if used. Pour into 2 lightly greased 3-quart casserole dishes. Bake for 30 minutes at 375ºF. Garnish with parsley, sliced olives and slivered almonds. Sprinkle top with grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 25 to 30. Carries well, but needs to be kept hot.