Busy Days

This week has been busy, which is nothing unusual, and it will continue into this coming week. Due to the fact that we have many of our auxiliary members who, due to Covid are not ready to be out in public, we are shorthanded in our gift shop. Working in the shop is almost always interesting; especially on the days the visiting doctors are on hand. You get to meet people, try to help them find something to purchase or they just look around. At any rate, there is something going on.
In addition to keeping the gift shop open all the needed shifts, we are also selling tickets for our annual spring drawing and celebrating 100 years of having a hospital in our small town.
There is a special display at the local museum honoring the hospital and our auxiliary, with a display of a shadow box containing the pins and bars showing how many hours the ladies have worked over a period of time. At last count, there were over 70K hours. There are mannequins dressed in uniforms of different types that have been worn over time. I did not get to attend the opening Thursday evening, due to a previous commitment, but from what I understand, it was awesome! I remember that when my Mother first joined in the 80s, they wore white uniforms of the same type that nurses wore, including white caps and looked extremely professional. Those days are long gone, and now our uniform is much more casual.
Friday morning, we had a dedication ceremony of the oak tree that the auxiliary purchased and had planted at the hospital in memory of this 100th anniversary occasion, with a reception following and members serving the cookies, punch and coffee! Everyone seemed to enjoy getting to visit and work with one another and it was great seeing the different departments working together.
Tonight, Saturday, there will be a very large, very dressy dinner as part of the celebration that I will be able to attend, it sounds awesome and I am excited to get to go.
This week, we’re going to learn a little bit about a vegetable called “Jicama” or ‘yam bean’. Several years ago, at bunco, our hostess served Jicama on the beautiful vegetable tray that she brought. I had heard of it before, but hadn’t really tasted it. In taste, it reminds me of the water chestnuts that are used in Oriental cooking, which means crunchy and a little starchy tasting. In fact, the first place that I ever read about it was in my Sunset Mexican Cook Book with a publishing date of 1970! They also compare it to the water chestnut as well as to a potato. In fact they state “It tastes so much like fresh water chestnuts that Chinese cooks often use it as a substitute”. I would see it in the grocery store and wonder “what in the world is that”, but I never tried it.
Jicama, which is pronounced “hee-cama”, grows on vines, with underground tubers, just as potatoes do, and is native to the warm climates of Central America, as well as the Caribbean, the Andes Mountain region and Southern Asia. It is a member of the bean family. As well as its formal name of Jicama, it is called “Mexican water chestnut”, and also “Mexican yam bean”, with a genus name of Pachyrhizus erosus. The skin is nothing like the edible skin of a yam, but is considered an organic toxin, as are the vines and leaves. In fact, the name “rotenone” is the same as a chemical used to bring fish to the surface so a stock tank or pond can be cleaned out.
Jicama are sold in most grocery stores in the produce section and they are round, and shaped similar to a turnip, with a texture similar to either an apple or a turnip. There are several varieties, but the most common in our stores is the one mentioned above.
To use, wash the tuber just as you would a potato, cut off each end to make a flat surface and then peel. In the articles I found, one sounds as if you need a sturdy paring knife to peel it and the other sounds as if you can use your regular potato peeler.
It is a very versatile vegetable, as it can be used in stir-fries, salads, slaw, soup and with other vegetables or fruits, as well as meats and seafood. A favorite Mexican recipe is to have it cut into slices and served with chili powder, salt and lime juice. In fact, that recipe is in the Sunset Cook Book and will be further down in the column.
It is low in calories and an aid to weight loss programs, is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, and a powerful antioxidant. It also has a healthy amount of potassium and vitamins like folates, riboflavin, and thiamin among others. Also it has the minerals of magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese, so these weird looking vegetables seem to be pretty healthy. (What I noticed on the vegetable tray, they did not darken as a potato or apple would, and stayed nice and crisp).
As far as I can tell, most people cut the jicama into sticks as you would a potato to make French fries, sprinkle it with salt and nibble away. However, our hostess served it with dip and it was great. (I wonder how it would taste if it was dipped into salsa?). For more information, “Google” the word Jicama, and enjoy the articles.
The article that I have been working from also has the following recipe for a salad using jicama, and just recently, when I received my Food Network Magazine, The Tex/Mex Issue, there was a salad recipe in the magazine!
Jicama Salad
1¼ pounds jicama
4 radishes
1 sliced scallion
2 tablespoons each, chopped cilantro and mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons agave syrup
½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper

Peel Jicama and cut into thin matchsticks; cut the radishes into matchsticks, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, agave syrup, salt and cayenne in a large bowl, add the jicama, radishes, scallion, cilantro and mint. Toss together, season with additional salt if necessary.
Jicama Appetizer
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 to 2 pounds jicama, peeled
1 lime, cut into wedges

Blend salt and chili powder and place in a small bowl. Slice the jicama into ¼ to ½-inch thick slices and arrange on a serving tray with the bowl of seasoned salt and lime wedges. To eat, rub lime over jicama, and then dip in the salt. Serves 6 to 8. (The photo with the recipe shows that the jicama has been cut into quarters or so and then sliced).

Times flying by

This month, so far has been a busy one. Like always the first week of the month was full of meetings, both in the day time and also in the evenings. I only missed one, so that’s pretty good. It was one of those things; I just didn’t feel like getting dressed and going out that evening. Last week Tuesday, we had our monthly Auxiliary meeting, after that, several of us went to our work shop and began working on tray favors for Father’s Day. As usual, it was a great group and we got a lot done, and when finished, we had lunch and it was my afternoon to work in our Gift Shop which was not busy at all. Since we’re having all sorts of interesting things going on with celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Hospital, I was asked if I minded stuffing envelopes, so I spent the rest of the afternoon doing just that, as well as part of Wednesday morning finishing up. When I got home and was cleaning house and doing laundry, my washer quit, so the blanket I was washing went to my sweet sister to finish getting clean, and being the honey she is, it came home Thursday, washed, dried and folded. The washer repairman came, as did a plumber and it was all straightened out. Saturday, my daughter and her little granddaughter came to visit me, brought me beautiful cards, plants and a wind chime. We had lunch and then went outdoors and played with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, (always bubbles at Granny’s house), and then went across the pasture to my brother’s stock pond (tank!) to go fishing, lots of giggles and laughter as two small catfish were caught and then back home for ice cream…this little great-granddaughter runs true to form…loves her ice cream, just like her late Papaw and all of her cousins! It was a totally awesome day for me and I think also for her. She has grown so much in the past three or four months, and chatters like a little magpie.
This coming week will be busy also, as Thursday evening, there is a big program at our museum to celebrate 100 years of Healthcare in Yoakum, with live music, etc. Friday morning, the 13th we will be dedicating an oak tree that the Auxiliary has donated and planted in celebration of the anniversary. It will be a great program, with various speakers and City dignitaries being present. The hospital employees will be wearing special yellow t-shirts and all Auxiliary members are supposed to be present wearing our dress uniforms, with our pink jackets, white blouses, white pants and shoes. I think it will be pretty awesome! Afterwards, we will be serving cookies, punch and coffee, inside, by the gift shop. My only hope is that the weather will cooperate and be as beautiful as it has been all weekend.
Sunday was a beautiful Mother’s Day, I went to early church as usual and came home, my friend came by bringing treats, and so, we had several different types of kolaches and doughnuts for breakfast and then got busy with a lot of book work pertaining to the 100th anniversary. She left; I heated up some leftovers for my lunch and then had a nice, long, nap! Now it’s time to get to work.
It’s a little late to tell you much about Mother’s Day celebrations, because last week, I was so concentrated on Cinco de Mayo, that I didn’t realize that this Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it’s much earlier than usual this year. I hope as many as possible of you had a truly beautiful Mother’s Day with your loved ones. I’ve talked to several of my children, and received cards from several of the others, and of course that wonderful visit with that little great-granddaughter on Saturday.
Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year and had its beginnings in Grafton, W. VA., and in the churches in Philadelphia the first time on May 10, 1908.
This day, set aside for our Mothers, was started in response to a suggestion by Miss Anna Jarvis. By 1911, there was not a state in the nation that did not observe Mother’s Day. Leaflets were printed in ten different languages for use in various countries.
In 1913, by a unanimous vote, The House of Representatives passed a resolution commending the observance of Mother’s Day and calling upon the President, his Cabinet, the Senators and Representatives and all officials of the Federal Government to wear a white carnation on the second Sunday of the month to observe Mother’s Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson, issued a proclamation officially designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, and also directed that the U. S. Flag should be displayed on all public buildings on that day.
Since that time, it has become a custom to wear white flowers (usually carnations) if your mother is deceased and red flowers if she is still living.
It will soon be time to start thinking about salads and other lighter foods, so today here are a couple of really delicious chicken salads.
Light Chicken Salad
3 or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped*
2/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Enough light mayonnaise to moisten
Cook chicken breasts in water seasoned with salt and a small amount of onion and celery, cool until you can handle the meat, remove skin and bones and cut into small pieces.
Wash the apple, and cut it up, and add to the chicken, add remaining ingredients along with enough light mayonnaise to moisten. Serve with crackers, Melba toast or bread rounds. Cut the apple into small pieces and place them in some 7UP to keep them from darkening. Lightly Spicy Chicken Salad 3 cups cooked, diced chicken, 4 sliced green onions, including tops ½ cup diced green bell pepper
1 avocado diced and tossed with lemon juice to prevent discoloration
½ cup bottled chili sauce (Hunt’s, DelMonte)**
4 tablespoons mild picante sauce
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
Combine chicken, onions, bell pepper and avocado in mixing bowl. Combine chili sauce, picante sauce, dry mustard, black pepper and chili powder in a bowl and mix well. Pour over chicken mixture until coated thoroughly. Serve with tortilla chips. Garnish with additional avocados if desired.*Instead of all green bell pepper, you could use a combination, of bell pepper and mild fresh jalapeño peppers, this would make for a spicy dish. **This is found in the aisle with the ketchup and the store brand (if they have one) is OK also.

A celebration to begin May

This past week was a fun week for me, other than on Monday when I ran my battery down by forgetting to turn out my lights, when I got to the hospital. It was raining a little when I left home but became a downpour during the afternoon. When I got off at 5:00 and went out to my car, I got pretty wet, and then, if possible, I got wetter still while trying to help get it jump-started. Thank goodness for a kind woman who had a daughter in ER and was waiting to see her and get information, as well as one of our auxiliary members who was helping also, I made it home! It continued raining most of the night but since my gauge broke during the ice storm, I don’t have a clue as to how much we had. In one area, I was told there was over six inches! Tuesday was an uneventful day, and Wednesday, I left my house early in the morning to head to Devine and Castroville. It was an awesome visit, and a wonderful luncheon with a friend, Thursday was a busy day also, as was Friday. Saturday, I headed back home and had a really nice trip, a little rain, but not pouring down, traffic not bad…yes, an OK trip for me. Now, it’s time to get back to the grind!
May is a month with more holidays/celebrations than many of our other months. First, we have May Day on May 1. It is not celebrated in our country as much as it is in other countries. In many places, it is celebrated with a show of military arms. In others, it is celebrated with parties, May poles and May baskets.
The second celebration, Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration in much of the world, especially ones with a strong Hispanic culture, and last, but no means least, we will celebrate Mother’s Day on the third Sunday of this month, and to end the month, we will have Memorial Day, which basically begins the summer season of holidays.
In San Antonio, there are sure to be some parties celebrating this day of victory for a small, ill-equipped militia, under the direction of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin in 1862. His small group of about 3500 defeated a much better equipped and trained French troop of over 4500 in the battle of Puebla. This “Batalla de Puebla” came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism.
The following is taken, in part, from an article entitled, “Cinco de Mayo” by Esmeralda Pulido that I found on the Internet
It was on this day in 1862, that the Mexican army, for the first time, defeated the most feared French army of Napoleon III. He had been planning to take unconditional control over Mexico. Napoleon III observed how the Spaniards had controlled the land in colonial times and how they lost it. He had also seen the northern part of Mexico was later of great interest to the United States Emancipation plan. It was through the treaty of Guadalupe Hildago that Mexico lost one half of its territory. The government was split, headed by Zuloaga and another headed by Benito Juarez. Under these conditions, Napoleon III wanted the land even more. He, therefore, sent the Austrian, Ferdinand Maximilian, to take control (under Napoleon IIIs orders) as Emperor of Mexico.
Mexico was not willing to have any more colonizing and ruling from other Empires settling in the land. It was a time to fight back and be respected. All their gold and silver was under the Spanish power when they had first colonized the land.
President Juarez decreed that no man between the ages of 20 and 60 would be excused from taking up arms. He was determined not to lose his people’s land. He made it clear to the citizens that any traitors would be taken prisoner, and have his possessions confiscated by the State. He guaranteed to protect the lives and property of French citizens who lived in Mexico.
The French proclaimed General Almonte as president of the Republic of Mexico. No all of the citizens of Mexico accepted him as President. Those who were loyal to their country still depended on their only president, Benito Juarez.
Juarez sent a warning to Napoleon III, who later denied receiving it. In it, Juarez indicated that the citizens did not want a monarchy and did not want to be controlled by the French Empire. He also warned Napoleon III that if the nation’s sovereignty were attacked, the citizens would resist, and sooner or later freedom and justice would win. Napoleon took all of this as a joke because he did not recall his army back to France, but continued his aggression into Mexico City. On April 12, 1862, President Juarez had no other choice but to make his nation aware of the French invasion. He asked the people to support the Mexican army in the impending battle and to defend their independence. He reminded them that, in war, everyone suffered, but no type of misfortune was greater than the loss of freedom.
General Ignacio Zaragoza was appointed to gather forces at Puebla to defend Mexico City. Zaragoza and Juarez, as well as the French, knew that the only way to Mexico City was through Puebla. If the French were able to gain control of Puebla, Mexico would be in their hands. General Lorencez was put in charge of taking Puebla. IN many instances he was informed that the citizens of Mexico were willing to accept the French in their land and that there was not going to be any combat at all once he reached Puebla. Lorencez had no idea that the inhabitants of Puebla were actually waiting for him.
Puebla had over 80,000 inhabitants and over 150 churches and was surrounded by a chain of five forts. Zaragoza had an army of about 6,000 men who were placed in the forts. The others were held in reserve in the city, where he had erected barricades in most of the streets.
He knew that at this time of the year, showers were to be expected frequently. The rains made the roads almost impossible to use, causing heavy cannons to get stuck on mountain roads. The hail storms would also make life miserable for the soldiers, and if there was an outbreak of disease, such as small pox or tyhoid fever, this would also wreak havoc. The Mexicans knew their territory, which gave them a great advantage, in spite of the fact that they were short on supplies and weapons.
On May3, 1862, Zaragoza arrived at Puebla and discussed with the citizens the possible tactics that the French would use. On May 4, Lorencez arrived at the village of Amozoc, a few miles north of Puebla. He did not know where to attack. Almonte advised him to attack from the west, and added that Puebla had never been taken from the north. Others advised Lorencez to attack from the north. The French army arrived near Puebla at 9:00 a.m., on May 5, 1862. Once there, Lorencez’s army was attacked by a small group of Mexicans. The French took a stand and realized that they were not going to be as welcome as they thought they would be. At 11:00 a.m., the battle of Cinco de Mayo began.
To get into the city of Puebla, the French army had to bring down the Fort of Guadalupe and also Fort Loreto, which was about half a mile away. For hours they kept advancing closer to the fort’s walls and did not seem to be doing any damage. After about an hour and a half of fighting, they had spent nearly half their ammunition, and the French infantry was sent in to capture the fort. They were under strong musket fire from the Mexicans in the fort, and from others sheltered by rising ground halfway between the two forts. The Mexican artillery in Fort Loreto was also turned on them.
Acting on orders from Zaragoza, Porfirio Diaz led a charge against the French infantry in front of the fort. That afternoon a heavy thunderstorm drenched the combatants, obscured visibility and made the ground slippery. Lorencez did not have a chance and he knew it. He was running out of weapons and losing soldiers. To save his army, he knew he had to retreat. At around 7:00 p.m., the French army retreated from Fort Guadalupe to a position at the foot of the hill and waited for a Mexican counter attack. The French erected their tents and spent the light listening to the Mexicans cheering and celebrating their victory by singing Mexican songs and the “Marseillaise”, which to the French was “our Marseillaise”. Lorencez waited for Zaragoza to make the next move, staying for two days in the city of Puebla. But, after seeing that Zaragoza was not coming, Napoleon’s army had to walk through the silent mountains, defeated, with 462 men and eight of their prisoners taken.
President Juarez decided to make the Battle of Puebla a holiday, along with Mexican Independence Day (September 16). The battle came to be known as the “Batalla de Puebla”, in which civilians of the poor Pueblo de Puebla defeated the great French army of Napoleon III.
The following recipe was originally from TABASCO and is for a snack which is similar to a quesadilla, but it is called Sincronizadas, and this seems to mean sandwich!
Sincronizadas
2 tablespoons TABASCO brand Green Pepper Sauce (divided use)
12 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (divided use)
Thin sliced cooked ham, cut into ½-inch strips
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
½ cup chopped (drained) tomato
¼ cup chopped cilantro.
Place six tortillas on flat surface. Spread about ½-teaspoon of TABASCO® Green Pepper sauce on each.
Equally sprinkle one-cup of the cheese over the tortillas. Layer on the ham strips, avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, cilantro and remaining cup of cheese.
Spread one side of remaining six tortillas with remaining TABASCO® and place sauce side down on layered tortillas, forming sandwiches (sincronizadas).
On a griddle or in a medium sized skillet, cook sincronizadas, one at a time over medium heat, until tortillas are crisp and lightly browned on each side, and cheese is melted. Remove to a platter, cut into wedges and serve with additional sauce if desired.

Time is flying by

So far the weather is holding with beautiful spring days, however, I still haven’t spotted a single scissor-tailed swallow! The “mud birds”, aka bridge swallows and several other names are flying around everywhere. We really need rain, but all the clouds that show up are blown away be the gusty winds, I have no clue what the wind speed is, but today seems more like “windy March” then “showery April” and it doesn’t seem to be dropping.

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