This past week was my week to come to Devine for my monthly visiting and Bunco and it was a very entertaining trip! My daughter was having four of her grandchildren for most of the week. It was very interesting getting to know the two that live in north Texas that I had not seen since Christmas, as well as to see the other two. They are all such sweet and loveable children; ready to give hugs most of the time and generally very well behaved.
Wednesday lunchtime I went to Hondo to visit and have lunch with my son and then on to Castroville to see the youngest great-granddaughter that is in this part of the world. And, oh, my goodness what a difference a month makes. She is now walking and will tell you things, of course, most of them can’t yet be understood, but she truly tries, she is great at picking up all her books and giving them to you and gives kisses voluntarily. All of my grandchildren seem to be doing a good job raising their children to be polite and for the most part pretty obedient youngsters! (There are also two great-grandsons in New Zealand, a great-grandson and great-granddaughter, with another on the way in Japan.)
The weather in all the counties I go through to get to Devine is pretty much the same, hot and dry, with the only green you see in the irrigated fields. The cotton looks good and is probably almost ready to be harvested, and the corn and hay fields have been mowed with only stubble left in the field.
Springtime and summertime are both seasons filled with flowers, in the wild as well as in gardens. Right now, about all that is left in flower gardens is the ever-popular zinnia. I don’t really have a place to plant flowers, so I make do with something green that is in a pot and then I pray that the stupid cats don’t knock it down and break it! The zinnia is a flower that our grandmothers always had in their gardens along with marigolds with their sweet, spicy scent. Once in a while, they had “bachelor buttons” or strawflowers with the beautiful purple heads and sometimes phlox or cosmos. My son-in-law always has zinnias in his garden and they are always beautiful. Sometimes, they grow from the seeds from the previous year and sometimes, he plants them new, but they always are a wonderful show of color.
Zinnias now come in a variety of sizes, from the tiny button types to some which are nearly as large as a saucer. They also range from dwarf, which gets to be about 1 to 1½ feet tall, to other varieties that grow to be 2½ to 3 feet tall. They are gorgeous used in “arranged” arrangements, with greenery and other flowers, or just stuck in a vase or fruit jar. Zinnias are a wonderful summertime flower, because they require so little care and give such beautiful results.
They were named after J. G. Zinn, (1727-1759), a German botanist and zinnias are members of the family Compositae. There are over 16 species that are native to North and South America.
I found the following article, written by Jo Coppola and sent to the paper some time ago in my files.
“The lazy days of summer can become fun-filled and exciting when you introduce your children to flowers. And, armed with a couple of tricks of the trade and some original ideas for vases, even very young children can turn simple blossoms into beautiful arrangements.
Fresh vegetables and fruits can be turned into natural vases. To use a pepper, select any pepper that stands nice and straight and have an adult cut off the top. Next, remove the seeds and insert a wet piece of florist foam. Your child can begin arranging by pushing short flower stems into the florist foam. Put the top of the pepper that you cut off on a stick and insert the stick in the floral foam to make it part of the arrangement.
In the photo that was included with the article pink carnations, purple statice, yellow daisy mums, green leaves, a cluster of small yellow flowers and a spray of tiny daises, as well as the pepper top, with the smaller flowers to the outside to create balance.
Here are a few grilling safety tips that were in one of my columns quite some time ago.
1. Consider your environment. Will you be grilling in the back yard, at the campground or on a parking lot?
2. Be Prepared. In addition to food and beverages, have plenty of plastic cups, utensils, trash bags, paper towels and ice. Also make sure you have the critical grilling accessories you will need, such as a basting brush, long handled spatula and tongs.
3. Cook the entire meal on the grill. Wrap potatoes and vegetables in foil and place them on the grill with the rest of the meal. To save time, pre-cut meat and vegetables and store in plastic bags. Also don’t forget about fruit, vegetables and desserts. Almost any fruit or vegetable can be grilled with delicious results. (A magazine I subscribe to has recipes for grilling watermelon as well as peaches and pineapple!)
4. Keep the grill clean. To ensure top grilling performance, make sure to scrape off excess food with a spatula and scrub the remaining scraps off with a stiff wire brush.
5. Don’t stray away from your grill. Grilling demands your full attention; stay near the grill until your job is done. Prepare any items that will not be cooked on the grill prior to lighting.
6. Store and handle meat properly. Keep meat stored in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator and then store in an iced cooler until cooking time. To avoid bacteria, do not leave the meat at room temperature.
7. Grease the grill. To keep meat from sticking and pulling apart when turned over, use a bristle brush dipped in oil to lightly coat the cooking surface prior to placing on the grill.
8. Spice your grilling. Enhance the flavor of your tailgate creations by adding spice rubs. Avoid salting your meat, as salt tends to dray the juices out and can make the meat dry. I have found that most rubs that are on the market now, have some salt in them.
9. Cook food completely. Have an instant-read thermometer at hand while grilling to ensure meat is cooked from medium to well done.
10. Don’t forget the side of the grill, coffee, macaroni and cheese and any other item that needs heating can be placed there.
When I was a child and watched my grandfather and my uncles here in Yoakum make barbecue, they always made “sop” to baste the meat while it was cooking. Of course, they never measured anything; so the recipe has no real measurements, just use portions to make the amount. They also never used a brush to coat the meat. They would whittle a clean stick to have a small indentation and then would use a clean rag placed over it and tied in place to make a mop. (Now you can find mops in the grocery store, ready to use.)
Old Time “Sop” for basting meat
1 to 1½ cups water
¼ to ½ cup vinegar
¼ to ½ cup butter or cooking oil
Juice of ½ lemon, toss the peel into the pot after juicing
2 to 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix all together in pot, bring to boil and cook 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from heat, use with a mop or brush to baste the meat while it is cooking. Leave on the end of the grill to keep warm, so it is handy while you are cooking.
Have a happy weekend!