In times past, today we would have been celebrating the birthday of The Father of Our Country, George Washington, rather than having celebrated it on this past Monday, as a holiday, that is now called Presidents Day and celebrates the birthday of both Lincoln and Washington. Isn’t it odd how things have changed over time? In some places, on Monday, the parents were off work, and their children had school. This makes it hard to celebrate a family three-day weekend, doesn’t it? Banks were closed and most of the city and county offices, so if you forgot to go to the bank, you were out of luck trying to go through the drive-thru before you went to work. Luckily for me, with all that I knew was going to be going on, I made an extra trip to town Friday afternoon and got money for my weekend.
The nation has always celebrated the 22nd of February as the birth date of George Washington, the nation’s first president. But, did you know this was an untruth? He was not in actuality the first president? There was an article recently in the newspaper that told the story of the preceding men who were actually presidents before him.
My weekend was a wonderful and busy one. We celebrated my daughter’s recent retirement and a welcome home for her son and family, who have been stationed in Japan for the past three years, this weekend and had a great time. My daughter, and, since the party was in the San Marcos/Wimberley area, my daughter and her husband came in from Galveston on Friday evening so we could go together. The weather even more or less cooperated, and the drive was very pleasant. And while it was not a bright sunny day, the kiddos were able to spend some of their time outdoors and play, even though they had a table with all sorts of activities set up for them inside. It was an awesome weekend and I enjoyed myself thoroughly, especially since I got to meet my youngest great-grandson while I was there. We had a good crowd and not only were some of my daughters friends attending, who had worked with her in the past, but also a couple of her friends that went to school with her in Devine in junior high.
The catered BBQ dinner was fantastic, and almost everyone who came brought some sort of side dish. In fact, we had food coming and going the entire day. When the party was over, we stayed and helped package food, load cars, visit some more with folks who got there later in the evening and just have a wonderful finish to an awesome day. Six of my ten grandchildren were there, as well as two step-grandchildren who came in from out of state, and there were over half of my thirteen great-grandchildren, so I got lots of hugs and kisses from everyone. It was about 10:30 p.m. when we got back to my home and we put the leftovers that we had brought home in the fridge and freezer and managed to get to bed before midnight!
Sunday morning, dawned with some patches of fog, then cleared up and became a beautiful sunny day. My daughter and I spent part of the morning at the computer as she was trying to get some things printed out for me, and then I couldn’t get into email without changing my password. It was a mess that had us both confused. I finally succeeded in changing it, and when I finally got into email, there was a message to me that I needed to change it. Go figure. Some days I wish computers and cell phones were at the bottom of the ocean.
We all love our first morning cup/glass/bottle of caffeine; even a lot of non-coffee drinkers usually drink something with caffeine in the morning. Think about it! Do you drink a cup of hot tea, a glass of iced tea, a cup of hot cocoa, a coke or other soda from the drive thru? Yep, you’re drinking some caffeine, aren’t you? Unless it is a clear soda (and not all of them are caffeine free), or it has ‘caffeine free’ written on the label, you’re getting a little jolt of caffeine? (Some of my friends in Devine didn’t drink coffee, but we went to “The Spot” or later on to Dairy Queen where we had cokes or tea. Back then, we all loved chocolate cokes, doesn’t sound too good, but, oh, my goodness, they were delicious!
As we know, for thousands of years, people have enjoyed foods and beverages containing caffeine. Even though it has been proven to be safe, however, common myths about the health effects of caffeine are persistent. Extensive scientific research regarding the potential health effects of caffeine has been conducted. The overwhelming scientific evidence on caffeine demonstrates that moderate daily caffeine consumption (about 300 milligrams per day) is safe.
As with almost everything in the human diet, moderation is the key. Here are a couple of questions to test your caffeine knowledge:
MYTH: Caffeine causes dehydration. FACT: although caffeine is a mild diuretic, so is water. A diuretic is something that causes an increase in urinary output. However, research demonstrates that caffeine, in moderation does not negatively affect hydration in those who are accustomed to consuming caffeine. The National Academy of Sciences stated that caffeine-containing beverages can contribute to an individual’s total hydration (daily total water intake) as do other beverages such as milk and juice.
MYTH: Caffeine is addictive. FACT: Moderate caffeine consumption is safe and caffeine should not be classified with addictive substances. People who say they are “addicted” to caffeine tend to use the term loosely; similar to saying they are “addicted” to running, work or television as an important or enjoyable part of their routine. Some caffeine-sensitive individuals may experience mild, temporary effects, including headache, restlessness and irritability, when their daily intake is quickly and substantially altered. Medical experts agree that any discomfort caused by the abrupt cessation of caffeine consumption can be avoided by progressively decreasing intake over a few days.
Now, since we are basically in the middle of winter, there could be some cold days, and we might want to make some soups or stews, so here are several of my favorites to try.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
2½ to 3 pound boneless chuck or rump roast, well trimmed
5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
1 package McCormick® Slow Cookers Savory Pot Roast Seasoning
1 cup water
Season meat, brown in a small amount of oil or shortening in a skillet and then place vegetables in slow cooker, place roast on top; mix seasoning packet and water until blended. Pour over roast and vegetables. Cover. Cook 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter. Stir sauce before serving. For best results, do not remove cover during cooking time. Makes 8 servings.
2 pounds boneless stew meat, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces (or 2 pounds round steak cut into bite-size pieces, or if you have venison ham steaks trim and use, or 2 pounds bonless chuck roast trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces)
Salt and pepper to season the cut up meat
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
*1 can (16-ounce) tomatoes, cut or broken into pieces (If you use the newer crushed tomatoes, you may have to add about ½ cup water in addition)
1½ to 2 teaspoons ground cumin (cominos)
Additional seasonings to taste, if necessary
Brown the cut up meat in a small amount of shortening or oil in a skillet or pot. Add the onions, peppers and garlic, and cook about 5 or 10 minutes. Pour into the slow cooker, add the tomatoes and stir to mix. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Add the cumin and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, or until the meat is very tender. Serve in or with flour tortillas, rice and beans if desired. (This will not take as long to cook with the round steak or venison ham steak, as it will with the boneless stew meat or the chuck roast). *Since I have folks who don’t care for pieces of tomatoes, I have used an equal amount of tomato sauce.
Slow-cooked Pepper Steak
1½ to 2 pounds round steak cut into 3-in. x 1-in. strips
2 Tbs. oil
¼ cup soy sauce (can use low sodium)
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
4 fresh tomatoes peeled and cut into 8 wedges or 1 can (16-oz) undrained tomatoes, cut up into smaller pieces
2 large green bell peppers cut into strips
½ cup cold water
1 Tbs. cornstarch
Cut up the meat and brown in the oil, place in the slow cooker, add the soy sauce, onions, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and powdered ginger. Stir to mix. Cook 5 to 6 hours on low until meat is tender. Add the tomatoes and peppers and cook 1 hour longer. Mix water and cornstarch together and add to the liquid in the cooker. Cook on high until thickened. Serve over noodles or rice.