Enjoy fresh summer produce

Is there any doubt that summer is here and showing us how hot it can be? There are always breezes here on the hilltop, but they haven’t helped much in cooling the house. Even the air conditioners are having a difficult time keeping the air livable. Store these days in your memory so you can remember them next winter. Too bad we can’t capture some of the heat for then. The trees here help somewhat, but the recent storms have reduced some of the shade ability they had. We should buy stock in a tea company the way I have been making iced tea.

Molly, the barn cat, is back from the vet’s office. I really think she did not enjoy her visit, but she should appreciate being relived of having any more kittens. I had tried to get her to the vet for about two years, but every time I would make an appointment for her, she would disappear. I caught her this time by finding her kittens and brought them and her into the house for the duration. She has a week to be a “house cat” – until her stitches come out – and then she can run free if she wants to do so.

In the meantime, I have five adorable kittens who need good homes. They are so cute and we enjoy watching them play, but we don’t need to double our cat population. If you would be interested in giving one (or more) a home, or know anyone who might be, please contact me. They are litter-trained and eating adult cat food.

There are so many animals who have not been neutered /spayed that produce unwanted animals that so many have to be euthanized. Please, please, please neuter/spay your pets. There are so many really nice animals who need a home that there is no need for more to be born if we humans can do our part by helping in the over population of them. It is cruel to just turn them loose to fend for theirselves and there s a limit to how many friendly neighbors can take in and care for. We think there is a sign at the bottom of our hill that says to dump animals out there because of the number we and our neighbors have rescued.

One really nice thing that happened this past week was a visit from my cousin, Gene Lothes from Oklahoma City. We don’t get to see that part of the family very often – too many miles – so it was a treat and a pleasure.

Blackberry season is starting. Use the Quick Cobbler recipe I gave you a few weeks ago to make a dessert that is quick and easy. For the blackberry one, I like to add a bit of cinnamon and some lemon zest with some of the lemon juice, plus extra sugar if the berries are not real sweet. It makes a perfect country supper – just cobbler and milk. Who says one needs meat and vegetables for supper. Fresh peaches are available now, too, and some early varieties are even available locally. Peach Cobbler with a touch of almond extract and cinnamon is not hard to take, either. In case you didn’t get that Quick Cobbler recipe, I will repeat it today. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fruits or flavorings, either. A co-worker at Sears gave the recipe to me years ago and it has become one of my standbys for a quick and good dessert (comfort food. too).

I hope you took in the Interstate Fair at Mineral Wells this past week. Something for everyone and a good summertime treat. Forget that diet when you go to a fair – just enjoy that midway food. It wouldn’t dare to have calories in it. Watching the kids with their animals is a treat, even if you don’t have any of your own showing there this year.

We all complained about the rain before this past week. Now, we are having to haul out the hoses for some gardens. Guess we are never satisfied. Lots of farmers are having a difficult time getting summer crops harvested. The hot sun dries hay fast, but the rain on it before it is baled can be a big problem. One of the pleasant aromas of being in the country is the smell of new mown hay, especially in the evening.

When I was small, we had never heard of baling hay – it was taken to the haymow loose and pulled up and into the barn by a hayfork. The mowing with a horse drawn sickle bar mower was a lot slower than the tractors and mowers of today. Than it was raked and put into windrows and when good and dry, pitched – by pitchfork – onto the wagon and tramped down by one of the farm kids. Away to the barn. One horse, ridden by a farm kid, would furnish the power to pull the hayfork from into the wagon, and then up into the mow and dropped. If the hay was the least bit damp, the heat of the sun on the barn roof would cause it to ignite and a barn fire would cause a disaster. My first memory of “helping” Grandpa Semon was when I was about three. After that, I was a regular. It was fun to ride my horse, Prince, while he pulled the hayfork so I never considered it work. Different from today, but I am glad I have those memories.

After we moved to Waterford, Dad got a tractor and baler for the hay. Throwing those bales onto the wagon and stacking them was good exercise! I couldn’t do that now.

The last time I drove that tractor was when I ran over a few baskets of picked tomatoes when they were at a premium price and I got yelled at. That was when I decided the inside of the house was a better place for me. I am glad I grew up on a farm as it was a different way of life, and the memories are more enjoyable now than the work was then.

Go to the local farm markets to get fresh vegetables and fruits. They taste so much better than the shipped in ones do. Meet some of the people who grow the produce – they all have interesting stories to tell. Spend time in the swing under the shade tree – this warm weather will be only a memory in December. Keep the iced tea pitcher full; take care, and God Bless.

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One-half stick butter or margarine, melted in an 8-inch square baking dish

Three-fourths cup flour

Three-fourth cup sugar

Three-fourths cup milk

Two teaspoons baking powder

Two cups fruit

Three-fourths cup sugar (for the fruit)

Mix the flour, three-fourths cup sugar, and baking powder. Add milk and mix. Pour over melted butter in baking dish. Combine fruit and three-fourths cup sugar and spoon evenly over mixture in baking dish. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for about 25 or 30 minutes. If fruit is sour, you might want to increase the sugar on the fruit.

NOTE: Original recipe called for one stick butter or margarine, but I decreased amount to cut down on calories! Add flavorings to fruit to increase flavors. Example: cinnamon to berry or peach cobbler; almond, also, to peach and cherry; nutmeg to anything, same with lemon juice and zest. Just have fun with it and make it your way.

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(From Dottie, Mom’s next door neighbor in Cape Coral)

Two pounds carrots, sliced into coins and cooked

One small green pepper

One medium onion

One can tomato soup

One-half cup salad oil

Three-fourths cup vinegar

One cup sugar

One teaspoon dry mustard

One teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Add dash of salt and water to carrots and cook under tender crisp (do not overcook), drain and cool.

Chop green pepper and onion fine and put aside. Combine rest of ingredients and heat until sugar dissolves. In a large bowl, place layer of carrots, then pepper and onions, etc. Should be two layers. Pour warm sauce over all and marinate 10 to 12 hours. Will keep in refrigerator for some time.

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One cup sugar

Three tablespoons flour

Two tablespoons butter

Two tablespoons cornstarch

Two tablespoons orange juice

Mix flour, sugar and cornstarch. Add orange juice and butter. Cook over low heat until thick. Remove from heat.

Add: One tablespoon grated orange rind

One-fourth cup chopped pecans

Two cups sliced peaches

Pour into 9-inch pastry lined pan. Bake at preheated 450-degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325-degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream. Deep dish pie pan is best because filling bubbles up during baking.

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Two cups flour

Two teaspoons baking powder

One teaspoon salt

Two tablespoons shortening

One tablespoons sugar

Three-fourths cup milk

Combine ingredients to make a dough. Roll out one-helaf-inch thick. Dot with butter and cover with sliced peaches. Roll like a jelly roll and cut in six equal pieces. Place in pan and cover with syrup. Bake 35 minutes in preheated 375-degree oven.

SYRUP: One cup sugar

One tablespoon flour

One cup hot water

One-half teaspoon salt

One tablespoon butter

One teaspoon vanilla

Cook until syrup boils, then pour over rolls before baking.