Spring arrives March 19th!

According to the calendars, the first day of spring is this coming Thursday! According to the scenery alongside the roads, the leaves on the trees, and the temperatures it’s already here in full swing, in fact, on a couple of days, the afternoon temperature was in the 80s.

As I go back and forth to town, I’ve noticed lots of bluebonnets, wild phlox and Indian paintbrush, with its beautiful scarlet flowers, blooming as well as broom weed. Many of the huisache trees are a golden yellow from their blooms and when I drove to Devine a couple of weeks ago, the white brush, guajillo and black brush was in full bloom.

There are no leaves on the pecan tree that is out behind one of the barns, nor there any on the sycamore that is in my brother’s yard. Mountain Laurel is in full bloom and the live oak trees are shedding their dark leaves and beautiful pale green ones are taking their place. This means all the flowers won’t be quite as pretty for Easter photos as we probably like. My field has only a few wine cups blooming right now and a good crop of grass. We were having a few showers, so the last couple of times I had my grass cut, I didn’t bother with the field, I just had him cut inside the fence and driveway, now, the field is going to need mowing also. Every time he cuts for me, all I see is $$$ going down the drain! It was sprinkling when I left to go to Mass this morning at 6:15, and when we came out of church, it was raining enough that we didn’t stand around and talk!

Of course, all that’s on TV right now is the corona virus. It surprised me that we had Mass at all, as everything is pretty much closed down here in Yoakum. By now all of you have seen and heard that there is a case of the virus in Lavaca County. One of the restaurants, (it is closed for two weeks), where the man ate is here in Yoakum and he was diagnosed at our hospital and sent to Austin where the diagnosis was confirmed. (I am just like several others on face book, if this man was feeling so badly that he went to an emergency room, why was he eating out, either before or after. He visited the one restaurant two days after he had gone to ER the first time, and the other one a couple of days later before he went to ER again).

It just happened that I was at the hospital, visiting with the lady who was on duty that day, when our CEO came in and asked us to quit selling our fundraiser tickets in the lobby where the doctors’ offices are located, for safety, until further notice, with the added note that if the hospital went on restricted visitors, we would also close the gift shop. Well, after discussing it with our Auxiliary president, who was all for closing immediately, she decided to go ahead and close the gift shop that day, so the other lady who was on duty and I shut it down. We found out the next morning about this patient who had been in ER the week before, so we closed just in time. There are so many of us who work in the gift shop that are in their 70s and above that we are more vulnerable than younger ladies. We have cancelled a couple of other get-togethers as well, and are being encouraged to self-quarantine and stay at home. I went to the store yesterday, as there were no fresh vegetables in the house, so I got what I needed and came back home. The shelves are very picked- over, but there were plenty of fresh vegetables to use for salads, as well as plenty of fresh fruit. There wasn’t much milk, those shelves were pretty bare, but there were plenty of biscuits, crescent rolls, butter and eggs. Also, there wasn’t a shortage of cheese nor lunchmeats and when I got to the frozen foods; there wasn’t a real shortage there either. There were plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as prepared meals and everything else. Now, we’re not even going to go into what cleaning supplies and all that stuff was left, as there wasn’t any.

Are you ready for your meatless recipes for this week? The first mac/cheese recipe is the one my mother-in-law used for many years. The second is an “almost” for that wonderful mac/cheese that Luby’s restaurants used to serve and the final one is for a very different salad.

Macaroni au Gratin

1 pkg. (7 or 8-oz.) elbow macaroni

1 recipe white sauce

1½ cups shredded American cheese, divided usage

2 tbs. butter or margarine

3 tbs. butter or margarine

3 tbs. flour

1½ cups milk

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain well, rinse with cool water and drain again, set aside. While the macaroni is cooking:

In a sauce pan, blend 3 tbs. butter or margarine and 3 tbs. flour in a saucepan, cook 2 to 3 minutes, gradually whisk in 1½ cups milk, cook and stir constantly until the mixture boils, cook an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble:

Place a layer of the cooked macaroni into a sprayed casserole dish, top with 1/4th of the white sauce and 1/4th of the cheese, repeat layers, finishing with cheese, dot with 2 tbs. butter or margarine. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese on top is lightly browned.

Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese

(Makes 6 servings)

2 cups dry elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

1¼ cups boiling water

3 cups (12-oz) American cheese, divided use

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 350ºF. Cook macaroni 1 to 2 minutes longer than instructions on package, so pasta is soft, but not mushy, drain.

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry milk, flour and butter. Whisking constantly, gradually add boiling water; add 1-cup cheese and continue whisking until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Fold in macaroni, 1 more cup of cheese and salt.

Transfer to a lightly greased 11×17-inch casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake 25-30 minutes or until sauce in center of casserole is thick and creamy.

Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly over top. Return to oven until cheese melts.
The following is something I served at my bunco club at some point in time and all the ladies at said it was good and since they ate over ½ of the bowl of the salad, I guess they liked it. My daughter and my sister both said the recipe was a keeper. My sister said the taste of it cold reminds her of leftover macaroni and cheese!

These tuna salad recipes both call for a size can of tuna that is no longer common…you may have to buy 3 cans of the 5-oz size to make either one, or maybe you can find a size at your store that isn’t available at mine.

Macaroni and Cheese Salad

1 lb. elbow macaroni

1 jar (15-oz) Alfredo sauce

2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

(I used plain mild cheddar as I didn’t know if the group I was serving would like the extra sharp)

½ cup light mayo (all I had was regular mayo so I used it)

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

½ tsp. minced fresh basil

Prepare macaroni as package directs. Rinse under cold water; drain well and place in salad bowl.
In food processor, puree Alfredo sauce, shredded cheese and mayo until smooth and pour over macaroni, toss together to coat.

To serve, fold in tomatoes and basil.

These tuna salad recipes both call for a size can of tuna that is no longer common…you may have to buy 3 cans of the 5-oz size to make either one, or maybe you can find a size at your store that isn’t available at mine.

Tuna Salad

1 or 2 cans (7-oz size) tuna (solid pack tastes best, but chunk is fine)

1/3 to ½ cup pickle relish (I use sweet relish or sweet/dill but I know some of you think dill is the only way to go, so use what you want!)

1/3 to ½ cup finely chopped celery

1 hard cooked egg (if desired)

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion (if desired)


Mix all together and add enough mayonnaise so you can spread it on bread. Make sandwiches or eat it with crackers.

Here is another one that is a little different than the above:

Classic Tuna Salad

2 cans, (6-oz each), solid pack white tuna in water

2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 small rib celery, minced (about ¼ cup)

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 tablespoons minced dill or sweet pickles

½ small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Drain tuna in colander and shred with fingers until no clumps remain and texture is fine and even. Transfer tuna to a medium bowl and mix in lemon juice, salt, pepper, celery, onion, pickles, garlic and parsley until evenly blended. Fold in mayonnaise and mustard until tuna is evenly moistened. Can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.

Shrimp Salad

1 lb. cooked, peeled & deveined shrimp (buy the ready-to-use shrimp at the grocery store

½ cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup diced celery

¼ cup finely diced onion (cut the onion into a small dish or cup with water in it and let stand for about 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and use).

2 teaspoons Old Bay® Seasoning

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cut shrimp in half (crosswise) mix with remaining ingredients and chill. Serve on a bed of lettuce or as a spread for sandwiches or crackers