A little picnic fare

Yesterday evening, a grandson called and is coming to spend the day with me. I’ve boiled some shrimp for us to snack on and made a pot of carne guisada this morning. My house smells awesome! Since I haven’t seen him since April, I’m really looking forward to his visit. My week was fairly quiet, with a couple of mornings or afternoons working in the hospital gift shop, or selling tickets. We are selling tickets on a gorgeous, handmade quilt, along with several other items. The hospital CEO provides us with a table in an entryway to the doctor’s offices and other departments and some days, there is a constant stream of people coming in. This helps us immensely, and the tickets seem to be moving quickly with this set up.
The money we make with these drawings and an occasional bake sale enable us to donate needed items to the hospital. Several years ago, we purchased new sleep-chairs for some of the rooms, to enable a family member to have a more comfortable night when they stay with their loved one. Also we have helped with much needed wheel chairs and also donated toward the purchase of our state-of-the art mammography machine as well as other items.
This coming Monday is Labor Day. This is the only holiday that has always been on Monday, so therefore it has not fallen to the changes that some of our other holidays have. It is still celebrated on the first Monday of September, just as it has been for many years.
When many of us were still students, the first day of school was the day after Labor Day; and back then, Labor Day truly signaled the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new season. Now, in some areas school has already started, and in others the teachers have been going to school to workshops and in-services for the past two weeks.
The Knights of Labor in New York City first celebrated Labor Day in 1882 and 1884. Labor Day is now a legal holiday throughout the United States and Canada. It is just about midway between July 4th and Thanksgiving, which is why the first Monday of September, was chosen as this holiday.
Many families plan their last get-together of the summer, their last trip to the lake or the coast, or their last camp out for Labor Day weekend.
In south Texas, we will have lots more weekends with good warm weather (hot, actually), however, in other places, the weather is already cooling off and the leaves are beginning to turn. The thermometers around my house all seem to stay in the high 90s or low 100s daily. However, nights are a little cooler, with temps in the high 70s when I get up in the morning.
Monday, September 22 is officially the first day of autumn; do you really think that our weather will get cooler that quickly? Don’t hold your breath, waiting for it to happen! We will still be having days of 85ºF to 90ºF well into November, and we won’t be surprised if we can wear shorts at Christmas.
Now, I know I’ve said this unlimited 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 your ice chest to keep foods hot? Pour a gallon or so of hot water into the ice chest, close the lid for a few minutes, then drain the water out. I always put several sections of newspaper in the bottom before setting hot casseroles or pots in to keep from damaging the ice chest. I have not tried this with anything other than the cooler type, not the foam; however, they would probably work just as well.
Now, that you’re interested in having a picnic or a cook-out in your own back yard, here are several recipes as suggestions for food! The Mountain Man Burgers recipe has been around for years. When I made them, many times, I just cooked the patties under the broiler or baked them and everyone loved them.
Mountain Man Burgers
2 to 3 lbs. Ground meat
½ cup oatmeal regular or quick cooking (not instant)
¼ cup catsup
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs. prepared mustard
2 eggs
½ to 1 tsp. salt
8 (6) large slices onion
½ cup pickle relish
Cheese sauce (recipe follows)
8 regular or 6 “Texas Sized” hamburger rolls
Thoroughly combing meat, oatmeal, catsup, milk, mustard, eggs and seasonings. Shape into 8 (or if using large buns) 6 patties
Cook on one side on the grill or under the broiler. Turn, top with onion slices and pickle relish, cook until done. Serve with this cheese sauce spooned on top:
Easy Cheese Sauce
2/3 cup Cheese Whiz
¼ cup salad dressing
2 tbs. prepared mustard
Mix Cheese Whiz, salad dressing and mustard together; place meat patty on bottom half of bun, top with sauce, serve with lettuce and tomatoes if desired.
Fried Chicken
1 fryer, about 3 to 4 pounds (or leg/thigh quarters in equal weight)
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Cut chicken into serving sized pieces and thoroughly season chicken with salt and pepper. Roll or shake in the flour until well coated. Fry in about 1-inch of oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until first side is brown, turn pieces and cook on other side until done. Serve hot or cold.
Baked Brisket
1 brisket (6-8 pounds)
1 bottle liquid smoke
Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (if desired)
Thoroughly season meat well on both sides. Place in a roasting pan and bake at 250ºF to 300ºF, uncovered, for 4 to 5 hours. Pour ½ bottle of liquid smoke over meat, turn meat over and pour remaining liquid smoke over meat. Cook, covered for an additional 1½ to 2 hours. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Be sure to slice across the grain of the meat. When the grain changes, give the brisket a one-quarter turn and continue slicing.
The following salad is very good. All of the vegetables should be diced to the size of the corn kernels.
Fiesta Corn Salad
1 can whole kernel corn, well drained
2 small tomatoes, diced (dice and place in colander so they drain some of the excess liquid off)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and diced
½ cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced avocado (optional)
Cilantro (optional)
1 bottle Fat-free Italian dressing
Combine all vegetables and stir together. Add enough dressing to lightly coat ingredients. Chill thoroughly. If desired add the diced avocado just before serving.
Jo’s Easy Baked Beans
3 cans (15½-oz) size pork and beans
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
3 or 4 strips thin-sliced bacon
Mix beans, soup mix, brown sugar and mustard together in a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with bacon slices. Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 45 minutes or until bacon is cooked and crisp.
Bar Cookies
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2¼ cups baking mix (i.e. Bisquick or Pioneer)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
In medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter on high for 40 to 60 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add baking mix and stir until well combined. Pour into lightly sprayed 13x9x2-inch pan. Sprinkle chips and nuts on top. Bake at 350ºF until bars are light golden brown and center is almost set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes 3 to 4 dozen depending on size.