Tomorrow is Memorial Day here in the States and I want to take this opportunity to thank all who are serving or have served. On Memorial Day, my thoughts always go to my father, who served in World War II. He never talked of his time in the war except to jokingly recall of the incident when his ship was torpedoed and he volunteered to don diving equipment and go down in the deep ocean waters to weld a make-do repair back on. He always joked that he was the only one too stupid (his words, not mine) to know any better. It wasn't until after he died that I discovered all the heroic things he did in the war. Lately, I've been pondering what he would think of all the goings-on that have been happening lately. I have a feeling I'd be bailing him out of jail a lot. Ha! Makes me sort of glad that he's not here to see what a mess we've made of of the freedoms he fought so valiantly to defend. But mostly, I think of all the things I'd like to share with him. I know he'd love our little cottage and would be thrilled to be able to go fishing with Ran. Whenever he visited I was always sure to bake him something special. He could eat half of one of my pies in one sitting! I learned to bake at an early age and one of my duties was to bake goodies for his lunch pail. So in his honor, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie.
1 C. sugar
1/4 C. flour
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
2 C. strawberries, sliced
2. C. rhubarb, diced
1 9" pie shell
1/2 C. flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/3 C. butter, softened
Combine first four ingredients. Fold in the strawberries and rhubarb. Put into the pie shell.
Combine the streusel ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40 minutes.
This year everyone decided that the like rhubarb, so I'm making sure to can some up.
How to Can Rhubarb
Wash stalks and cut into 1/2" pieces. removing any strings or tough pieces (young springtime stalks are the best) In a large pot add 1/2 C sugar for every quart of rhubarb. Let stand covered, until juice appears. Heat gently to boiling. Immediately pack into hot jars. leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims and adjust lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes for pints or quarts
We are also beginning to harvest the first of our asparagus. Here's a quick recipe for a simple little casserole:
1 1.2 lb. fresh asparagus, boiled until tender
1/4 C. butter
1C. cracker crumbs (we like our homemade ones made from cauliflower flour)
1/2 C. toasted almonds (optional but good)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or 1C, of the white sauce, I write frequently about)
4 rashers bacon, fried and crumbled
Combine butter and cracker crumbs. Pat half into a 8 inch buttered pan. Combine almonds, asparagus, and the soup. Pour over the cracker crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top, then sprinkle the bacon over that. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Memorial Day weekend is when we plant our garden. It's slow going this year because the back plots are very wet. We are hoping and praying that the potatoes that we planted earlier in the season are not rotting in the ground. Such is the trials of a gardener! That's why it's important to reserve some of your canned goods for the next season, you just never know when a crop will fail. It looks like our poor peach tree didn't survive the winter. It was such a dependable little tree, it certainly lived up to its name "Reliance", it's going to be sad to cut it down. I'm glad I canned so many peach preserves last year!
While Ran is busy putting in the vegetable garden, I've been busy getting the flowerbeds weeded. Sometimes I regret the folly of planting so many flowers. If I had to do it all over again, I think I'd just plant huge banks of tiger lilies, but oh well! I have the flowers now, so weeding will just be part of my life until, I'm too old to do it. On the other hand, one of the most enjoyable garden tasks is planning the urns plantings. This year I found some unusual plants called "toothache plant". Some might think that are rather ugly ducklings but they reminded me of the flowers in crewel embroidery.
And you can see from this picture, I love my crewel embroidery!
After a very long winter, it seems that springtime arrives and so do so many chores. It's easy for all those little things that need to be done fall by the wayside. I've found that if you make a list and just make an effort to cross three of them off each day, things don't pile up. For me one of the "chores" this week was to defrost and can all the bacon that was in the freezer. Canning bacon is one of those "guerilla " methods of canning that isn't "Ball Blue Book approved", but something I've been doing for years, so I won't explain how to do it. When I pulled all the bacon out, I told Ran that now we had room for all the fish he will catch, "so get out there and catch some". It was less than an hour later that our neighbor, Ed, dropped off several pounds of frozen cod that came from his sister's restaurant. She has been closed down because of you-know-what and needed to get rid of stuff before it goes bad. The Lord works in mysterious ways! He also gave us several dozen eggs. What a blessing to have nice neighbors!
I also use the checking-off-the- list method for cleaning up the pantry. Each week I take five ingredients that are unusual (why did I buy that?) and are reaching their expiration date and challenge myself to use them up. It results in some strange meals sometimes, but we also discover a lot of new and fun flavors. Keeps things interesting. Since I had just purchased a couple dozen eggs before Ed gave us several more, I tried pickling them this week. The guys love them! Who knew?
This is also the time of the year that we take our remaining onions and dehydrate them. We never waste anything and I hate buying onions. We use this dried onions from May until September, when we harvest our next crop. I also fill in with chives, Egyptian Walking onions, and spring's green onions. We also dried all our remaining garlic and ground it into garlic powder. What a smelly undertaking that is!
Well, I guess I've rambled on here long enough. I hope that you all have a lovely weekend ahead and again, thank you veterans and those serving presently. So that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house!