Wow! At last! Everything Christmas in my house has been taken down, out, removed and packed. I took the last few things, including my Nativity set, some table coverings (one of which never got put away last year), even a Christmas afghan made by my friend, and now all are stored!
Winter has set in with a vengeance, with the nights being in the mid to low 30s and the days in the low to mid 40s. The skies are cloudy and gray and most of us feel just like the world looks outside. My cousin calls it the “winter blahs” and they truly are. In fact the weekend is supposed to be colder than it is now, but that is to be expected, because guess what? It’s stock show time! And we all know what kind of weather usually falls around stock show. We have all gone to the show barns in cold, wet and even sleety weather to watch the goings-on, in San Antonio as well as our local show.
Yesterday around lunch time, after I made a quick trip to town to get some pipe wrap, I checked all my faucets to be sure they were well wrapped, and did that little chore. I left faucets on in a small stream to be sure they didn’t freeze, turned the water off in my back bathroom and hopefully, even if it gets colder tonight, I won’t have a problem. There’s nothing like having a really bad problem one year to make you really careful the next!
The following poem concerns snow. It is written by an 11-year-old young man. His great-uncle Bill (Mr. Avocado) Schneider of Devine sent it to me thinking I might enjoy it. I think it is really great for someone that young. I used this in a column about 10 years ago and thought it was timely for the weather we’re having now. Hopefully the family doesn’t mind it being reprinted and that it reminds them of a precious time that is past!
By Jake Sykora
O, it covers vast fields in a white haze
O, it gleams in the sunlight which captures your gaze
O, it can fall in any amount
O, it has many flakes, therefore impossible to count
O, it can be on windows, in a mountain drift
O, it is so beautiful when it should have a rift
O, it can leave the tips of green gasping for life
O, it can form icicles as sharp as a knife
O, it acts like a blanket on the earth
O, it is like a still snowy surf
O, it is so fascinating, Snow
I don’t have any recipes that call for snow, but maybe it’s time for something cooked all day in your slow cooker. It makes the house smell great, especially if it contains some onions and/or garlic, and once it is in the cooker, you can forget about it until it is time for dinner. I don’t use mine as frequently as I would like to because I don’t cook that much food at a time for myself, but when it is time to come to Devine, sometimes family members get a treat of some bean soup or a pot of carne guisada or even just a pot of beans. I really like the following recipe and usually buy the Cajun variety, as I enjoy the heat of the seasonings. Also, it’s great if you have a ham bone left over from your holiday cooking. It goes great in this pot of soup!
5 to 6 quart slow cooker
1 package (20 oz.) 15-bean soup mix (it is handled at most grocery stores in the dried bean section of the store and comes in at least two varieties, Cajun and Ham)
1/2 pound smoked link sausage, beef or pork, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (14 1/2 to 16 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
Wash and pick over dried bean mixture, removing any debris. Add all ingredients except tomatoes to slow cooker and stir to mix. Turn cooker on high and cook on this setting for about 8 to 10 hours or until beans are tender. Add tomatoes and seasoning packet, cook on high an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
A bowl of this soup in this dreary, cold weather we are having is simply wonderful.
Since I don’t usually watch it anyway I haven’t kept up with when Super Bowl Sunday is, but if you’re planning on having any kind of party, here’s one of my favorite dips. It’s really good, and as the recipe states, it can be served either hot or at room temperature. The directions inside the parenthesis are for half the recipe. Sometimes you don’t want a really large amount, and the 4 oz. is half a package of cream cheese.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened (4 oz.)
2 cans/12.05 oz. chunk chicken breast, drained (1 can)*
1 cup Buffalo Wing sauce (1/2 cup)
1 cup prepared ranch dressing (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)**
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, add wing sauce and ranch dressing and mix until well combined. Add the chicken and beat until combined. Stir in shredded cheese and spread in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Can also be heated in the microwave. Basically, you are cooking until the cheese is melted. Once it is baked, it can be served either hot or cold. Serve with crackers, bread rounds, veggies, or chips.
*I used approximately 2 cups finely chopped, baked, leg/thigh quarters
**Mild or medium cheddar, Kraft Mexican cheddar jack, or jalapeno jack and mild cheddar cheese can be used instead of sharp cheddar