April is almost here

Have you noticed that the month of March is almost over? That means that one-fourth of the year has already gone by! Time is certainly flying this year, and in some ways March seems to be lasting a long time. Maybe it seems that way to me because I have been extra busy, but then again maybe not, or maybe it’s because February was so short! And yet another thing, Easter is very late this year, usually by this time in March it is over and done with. One thing for sure, we can’t slow it down!
By the time you’re reading this, my monthly trip to Devine will have begun and I will be somewhere in either Medina or Frio County! This trip, my daughters have planned a little road trip for me and since my birthday is around the corner that will probably enter into the plans also. My other daughter is planning to be at my home for the weekend of my birthday so that means I will get to have, as her boss put it, “12 days of birthday”, which, of course is not a bad thing. Sam used to say “I’ve never seen a bunch of women celebrate their birthdays longer than my daughter’s and wife”. It’s all in perspective and depends on what day of the week your birthday falls. Weekend, at least three days, middle of the week, you might get more days, at least a week! My Granddaughter used to take me to the Strawberry Festival every year for my birthday, as they were close together. We always had a wonderful time, sometimes with half dozen of us or more and other times just her and I.
Here is a little information about April Fool’s Day. I just went into Yahoo and found more information than I really wanted or needed, but since Saturday is April 1, I thought maybe you would like to know how, where or when it started.
Do you remember as a child playing April Fool’s tricks on your friends, or having them pull some trick on you? The San Antonio papers always had some sort of story that you read and thought, “Wow, when did that happen”, and then you got to the end of the story and found it was all a joke.
On asking for April Fool’s Day, origin, I was given over one thousand sites that I could gather information from. Of course, I only checked out two or three and this one that I am using came closest to information that I used several years ago. Believe it or not, they even have a list of 100 hoaxes that are so famous that they have a site of their own.
The actual origin of April Fool’s Day is not really clear. No one seems to know exactly where, when or why the celebration began. References to ‘All Fool’s Day’, which is what it was first called appeared in Europe during the late Middle Ages. It seems to have been celebrated mostly by people who did not keep clear records of what they did. One thing is clear; the tradition of a day devoted to foolery has ancient roots.
In ancient times, many festivals included celebrations of foolery and trickery. The Saturnalia, a Roman winter festival was observed at the end of December and it was the most important of these. It mainly involved dancing, drinking, and general merrymaking. Gifts were exchanged; slaves were allowed to pretend that they ruled their masters, and a mock king, reigned for the day. By the fourth century AD the Saturnalia had transformed into a Jan 1 New Year’s Day celebration, many of its traditions began to be incorporated into the observance of Christmas.
The Romans had a celebration; there was a celebration in India and the Northern Europeans observed a festival to honor Lud, a Celtic god of humor. It is also connected to the Druids.
Though April 1st appears to have been anciently observed in Great Britain as a general festival, it was apparently not until the beginning of the 18th century that the making of April-fools was a common custom. In Scotland the custom was known as “hunting the gowk,” i.e. the cuckoo, and April-fools were called “April-gowks,” since cuckoo is a derisive term in most places.
So, you see, you can almost make up your own version of how and when April Fool’s Day started!
Here is a recipe for a new dessert that a friend gave me. She served it at our pokeno group. It has the basic texture of the standard Sheet Cake but doesn’t have the cinnamon.
4-Can Chocolate Cake
1 can (16-oz) Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
1 syrup can oil
1 syrup can flour
1 syrup can sugar
1 cup coconut (small can)*
1 cup chopped pecans
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350º.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Pour into a 9×13-inch pan, lightly greased and floured or sprayed with Bakers’ Joy®. Bake for 45 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Frost cake while warm.
½ stick butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar
Chopped pecans, optional
Bring butter, cocoa and milk to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar until spreading consistency. Add vanilla and spread on warm cake, sprinkle chopped pecans over frosting if desired.
This shrimp salad is delicious. I have no clue where it came from, but I’ve been making it for several years!
Cajun Style Shrimp Salad
Read all instructions before making.
1 pouch (4-oz) Zatarain’s® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil*
1 lb. ready to use frozen, tiny shrimp (or you can use 1 to 1½ lbs fresh, peeled and deveined small shrimp)
1 cup uncooked white rice
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
½ cup chopped green olives
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup frozen petit green peas
1 cup mayonnaise (do not use salad dressing)
Add 1 to 2** tablespoons of the crawfish, shrimp and crab boil to 4 cups of water, bring to boil and add the frozen shrimp and leave water over low heat for about 30 to 45 seconds, just long enough for the shrimp to completely thaw and absorb the flavor of the mixture. (If you used fresh shrimp, bring mixture to a boil, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are done.) Remove shrimp from liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour uncooked rice into mixture and bring to a boil, cooking (and stirring if necessary) until rice is done, and drain well and rinse with hot water if desired. Add shrimp and peas to rice and set aside to cool to room temperature. Chop onion, olives and celery, add mayonnaise and stir to mix well; add to shrimp/rice/pea mixture and stir to mix. Chill thoroughly before serving. *Instead of this, I used the powdered type of shrimp and crab boil. Using this type, you don’t have pieces of whole spices in your rice. **The amount you use will determine how spicy your salad is. If you like really spicy, use the full 2 Tbs., if not just use 1 Tbs. (I used just 1 Tbs. and found everyone liked it just fine).
Shrimp Etouffee
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1½ cups finely chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups diced shrimp
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ chopped green onion
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Melt butter in a large saucepan, remove from heat and stir in flour until smooth. Return to heat and cook and stir for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in onions, garlic and celery and cook about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste to stock and stir into flour. Add tomatoes, shrimp, parsley and seasonings, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Serve with rice.