Please pass the salt.

After last Sunday, spending time and working at the church picnic, my week was pretty quiet. Monday was my pokeno day and it was fun, our hostess served a homemade pumpkin cake that was absolutely delicious! We’ve seen a shortage of players recently, due to the fact that several have dropped out and not been permanently replaced. However, we still had a great time.
This coming week is going to be a little busier, since I have family coming in on two different days! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some work done cleaning out a couple of storage buildings. Since I don’t have a pickup, it’s hard for me to do anything that requires stuff to be hauled off, and just maybe, we can accomplish that since they’re coming in on a weekday and staying over!
Now, let’s talk about salt, it’s something we all use frequently, sometimes too much and too frequently. When you order food in a restaurant or order take-out, do you taste the food and then add salt, or do you just grab the saltshaker and start sprinkling, think about it?
We have used salt all our lives, from everything from brushing our teeth to mixing rock salt with ice to make ice cream, to sprinkling it in and on our food; we’ve made play-dough for our kids or grandkids, and in some places spread it on the roads and sidewalks to prevent icy buildup during snow and ice storms, all without giving it much thought as to where it comes from or what we would do without it. It is almost as important in our lives as is honey!
The human body incorporates a certain percentage of salt, which plays a critical role in controlling and regulating the water content of living tissues and cells. Long before the chemistry of salt was understood, people were aware of its importance for the maintenance of life and health. Origins of salt manufacture and the salt trade appear to date back to the most primitive stages of human civilization. In Roman times, salt was used to pay the soldiers. In fact, this is where we get the word salary for payment of wages. We have all heard the old expression “not worth his salt”.
In many parts of the world, rock salt occurs in massive underground deposits, while saline lakes and salt flats on sites of former salt lake beds provide plentiful salt supplies in some countries. In some warm or tropical coastal areas, with low humidity, salt is often extracted from seawater through natural evaporation.
Sodium is widely distributed as the mineral halite. This is common salt or sodium chloride. Beds of halite in Germany have reached a depth of over 4,000 feet. Poland is said to have deposits which are 50 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 1,200 feet thick. The leading producer of salt is the United States. There are also salt mines in the Chinese People’s Republic, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. It has been estimated that the oceans contain enough salt to cover the earth to a depth of 400 feet.
The United Salt Corporation was incorporated on March 29, 1928. Magnolia Oil Company when drilling for oil on the Warren Ranch in 1906 discovered the Salt dome in Hockley, Texas. This dome is about 2.5 miles wide and is estimated to be about 5 miles deep. The salt was reached in 1930 and mining was begun in 1932 at 1,500 feet below the surface of the earth.
Another mine belonging to United Salt Corporation is located near Houston, Texas in Fort Bend County. it is the Blue Ridge facility and the salt there is nearer to the surface than at Hockley. Brine wells are used to extract the salt in brine form. It is then crystallized by the use of evaporators. Once this step is completed, the salt is dried for further processing. This salt is a high purity salt that is used in food processing and for human consumption.
Their other mine, in Carlsbad, New Mexico, was acquired in 1962. The salt there is harvested on a 2,600 acre salt lake. It is gathered from the surface of the lake after the sun has evaporated the water from the brine. The salt is then washed three times before it is produced into a variety of solar salt products. Originally, the salt at Carlsbad was primarily used for deicing roads in Western Texas and New Mexico. Today, much of the salt harvested is used in water conditioning.
Salt is very important in cooking. It is necessary to the rising process when baking. In a cookbook that came with a bread maker, it stresses the importance of not cutting back on the salt called for in the recipes or omitting it completely. In cookie recipes, one teaspoon of salt is generally called for, this can be safely decreased by half. In cake recipes, I usually use exactly what is called for. In a sauce, (such as spaghetti sauce or enchilada sauce), if you are using tomato sauce or canned tomatoes, you really need to taste and see if it is necessary to add salt. Sometimes the ingredients you use have salt in them and you don’t really need any extra. A good example of this is soy sauce, unless you purchase one labeled, low sodium, it is pretty salty. A small amount of salt added to vegetables while they are cooking enhances their flavor. Many people are now on low sodium diets. You gradually learn to eat vegetables and meats with or without salt or at least without added salt. You can purchase canned salt-free vegetables in your local grocery store. Of course, they are more expensive than regular vegetables. By now, what with regularly reading labels, you will have noticed, I am sure, how the more they remove from something, the more you have to pay for it, (i.e. salt free, caffeine free, fat free, sugar free!).
Since we’re still having warm weather, here is a taco salad you might enjoy.
Texas Taco Salad
1 pound ground beef
1 can (15-oz) Ranch Style beans, drained and rinsed
8 cups shredded lettuce
2 tomatoes, cut into small dice
3 avocados, peeled, diced, and dipped in lemon juice to prevent darkening
1 bunch green onions, sliced, including tops
1 bottle (8-oz size) Catalina style dressing
1 package shredded Cheddar cheese (1 to 1½ cups)
1 bag (8-oz size) corn chips
Brown meat, drain well on paper towels, cool slightly and set aside. Rinse and drain beans. Combine meat, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, onions, and cheese in large bowl. Pour dressing over all and toss to coat lightly. Stir in chips just before serving.
Here is a delicious sugar-free dessert to try for summertime!
Diabetics Delight
1 box yellow cake mix
12 oz. diet soda (Sprite Zero® or your choice)
1 can crushed pineapple (16-oz size) (divided use)
1 large tub Cool Whip®, sugar free
1 large box of sugar-free vanilla instant pudding
Empty cake mix into large bowl, add diet soda and mix well. Then add one-half (½) can of crushed pineapple and stir well. Pour into 9×12 pan that you have lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake as directed on package. While the cake is baking, mix the Cool Whip®, the remaining crushed pineapple and the pudding together and stir well. Chill thoroughly. When the cake has finished baking and has cooled, spread the Cool Whip® mixture over the top. Cut into squares to serve. Makes 12 to 15 servings.
Glaze Cheesecake Puffs
2 packages cream cheese, 8-oz each at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling
1 box vanilla wafers
Muffin tins and liners (20 to 24)
Preheat oven to 375º*. Thoroughly beat together cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Line muffin tins with liners and place 1 vanilla wafer into each liner; fill ¾ full with cheese mixture and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool thoroughly. Spread pie filling on top of each one, dividing evenly among the cakes. Makes 20 to 24. *If your vanilla wafers seem to be browning too much, turn the temp down to 350º. Blueberry pie filling could be used for these instead of cherry.