Spring, or maybe not quite yet

According to the calendar, spring officially begins March 20th! At the time I am writing this, it really looks like a spring day. Friday afternoon when I came home from town, I came what is considered the back way because you don’t have to go through town to get back to my home. At the crossroad, about two miles or so from my home, the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush were blooming profusely. These were the first that I had seen so far this year in anywhere near what could be considered profusion. Maybe I’m just not going to the right places! The Arizona Ash trees and elm trees around my home are beginning to leaf out, and the Anaqua trees are totally white with blossoms, however, the mesquites and huisaches aren’t showing even a little bit of green. This past week we saw some bad weather, with your area getting a lot worse than mine did. I have a few small limbs down, mostly off the old Arizona Ash trees in my front yard, and lots of small sticks from the same two trees. From what my daughter has told me, the wind in your area was over 60 MPH or more. It was not that bad here, just enough to keep me awake and going from window to window to check on things, not that it did any good! And there wasn’t enough rain to measure.
As far as I know, no one to my knowledge, has seen Purple Martins flying around and I haven’t had any “mud birds” or bridge swallow trying to build their nest on top of the light on my patio nor on my front porch. I guess we can consider that spring is here…unless the weather changes and we get a late freeze, which can happen, after all, we live in Texas; and Easter, even in April can be cold, wet and messy. (My birthday is in April, and I have seen it pretty cold around that time.
Now, how about a little weather lore and some old adages?
If you find no dew on the grass early in the morning, it will rain within 24 hours. Over a period of time, this has been proven true more times than not. My uncle told me about it many years ago, but, of course, sometimes you have to be outside before sunrise to check it! And many times, I just slide my hand over the gate, just to see!
An old saying states; “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning, red sky at night, sailors delight,” which is another prediction for stormy weather.
Lots of pink or white blooming thistles in the fields are an indication of an impending drought, and since I didn’t come to Devine in February, I didn’t get to check the acres of them that grow each year between Floresville and Pleasanton. “Turkey track” clouds in the sky forecast rain within three days.
Purple sage blooming predicts rain. And last but not least, according to folklore, sighting a “Scissortail” swallow, is said to be a truly sure sign that spring has arrived. The mesquite trees and other trees can freeze back, but when you see one of these birds, spring is truly here. Weird as it sounds, this old adage does seem to be true. I watched it several years, especially since moving to this area and the temperature has never gotten down to freezing.
Here are a couple more meatless dishes for you to try, for the ones of you who are on “meatless” Fridays!
Chiles Rellenos
1 large can whole California green chiles*
2 eggs, beaten well
Monterey Jack cheese, cut into pieces ½ inch square, and 1-inch shorter than the peppers you are going to stuff.
Drain canned chilies and pat dry. If they have any seeds and pith, remove them. Stuff each chili with a piece of the cheese. Lap one side of the pepper over the other to close. Roll very generously in flour, dip into the beaten egg and then back into the flour, repeating twice. (You want to coat them just as if you were frying chicken). Deep fry in heavy skillet until brown on one side turn over gently and brown the other side. Serve either plain or topped with enchilada sauce, or a ranchero sauce and sprinkled with cheese. (The sauce for the Cheese enchiladas, that was in last weeks’ paper works well with this! *If you are interested in using fresh chiles, you will need the large green Ancho chiles, and will have to check on-line, as to how to prepare them for this dish. This is the “I’m in a hurry for dinner” version.
The following dish is really delicious and works well with the easy-peel shrimp that you can purchase at most HEB stores. Over time, I have found their seafood to be really fresh and good in most recipes. The good thing about this dish is that you can use the small to medium shrimp that are not as pricey as the large or jumbo shrimp are.
Shrimp Pasta Primavera
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup green or red bell pepper cut into strips
½ cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
½ cup margarine
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese, cut into cubes, and at room temperature
¾ cup milk
2 cups, small to medium, peeled, de-veined shrimp (tails also removed)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package spiral macaroni (7-oz or 8-oz), cooked according to package directions and drained well
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Sauté onions and bell pepper in ½ cup margarine, add cream cheese cubes to pan, along with milk; cook and stir until cream cheese is melted. Stir in shrimp and Parmesan cheese and cook until shrimp are pink and done. Cook and drain macaroni, toss with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, add to cream cheese/shrimp mixture and stir together. Serve hot, along with salad and hot rolls or bread.
Now, to get ahead of the game, here are some desserts, if you would like to try something you haven’t made in a while for your Easter dinner, or make it now, if you didn’t give desserts up for Lent
Lemon Meringue Pie
(1 baked 9-inch pie shell)
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
3 eggs separated
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
¼ cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon extract
6 tablespoons sugar
Combine sugar, salt, flour and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in water with a wire whisk and cook over moderate heat until mixture becomes thick and clear, stirring frequently. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl; add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks. Stir yolks into the hot mixture, and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. (If you want this filling to be a prettier yellow color, add a few drops of yellow food coloring). Remove from heat and blend in butter, lemon juice, zest (if used), and extract. Pour into baked pastry shell. Cool slightly, and top with meringue made by beating egg whites with 6 tablespoons sugar until stiff enough to hold in peaks. Begin beating the egg whites and add sugar one tablespoon at a time until you have your stiff peaks. Brown in hot oven 425ºF about 5 minutes, cool thoroughly before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.