Happy May! The month of new beginnings and nice weather (we hope). May is the month we plant our gardens, attend graduations, start up the grill for summer, make summer vacation plans and say to heck with what spring cleaning didn't get done. The flowers seem the prettiest this month for some reason. The most important event in many families this month is the graduation of a child. It might just be from kindergarten or it might be from college, but a graduation is sooo important to that child. For the little ones, they are starting to feel the change to being a real kid. For college graduates, it means some serious decisions and they are decisions that will determine their future in life. Serious business. They may have a job offer that they like, or they may be looking and there is nothing out there at this time. Do they stay in school for an advanced degree, go back to their parents' home and beg for their room back, see if McDonald's is hiring, or marry someone that has a job because none of the other options are available. That last decision is probably the worst one they could make, but some do it. If they have a stepparent and the relationship hasn't been all that great, the decision to move back home can be bad for everyone, too, and may not even be available. Even if one takes a low-paying job if it is available, there has to be somewhere to live and those jobs usually don't provide enough income to move into a place of one's own. Sometimes the choice of degree one gets isn't one needed in the current job market, and sometimes lack of finances prevents added schooling. Of course, I bleed khaki blood (or is it NATO green or camo now), so I think the military is a great solution as the best career anyone can have. Big decisions for young people.
It is the same for high school graduates. More education or training is the best, but sometimes that isn't what they want to do or think they can do. They want to be free - I'm 18 - But staying at home is better than moving out with nothing to sustain that move. Many young people jump into a relationship they aren't prepared to handle and that causes more heartache down the road and usually throws them into the welfare cycle where taxpayers end up paying for the young person's existence. If you have a graduate in your family, do have a celebration of some kind for them. This is one of those big moments in life!
The hummingbirds are appearing here on the hill. So are the yellow finches. Grandma Nichols always called them wild canneries. They were so much more plentiful when we were kids than they are now. In honor of the little hummers, the old fashioned cake named after them will be included today.
Everyone is trying to save money these days and one way to do it is to buy in quantity when items are on sale in the grocery. Then, to make it easy on yourself, do some cooking and freeze some extra dishes to have in a flash when you need them. Recently, I used a meatball mixture recipe I have and froze seven packages for instant dinners as well as taking a pot of them to a church dinner. It was rather intense work for a few hours but worth it in the convenience of having several dinners ready in minutes. I made up 12 pounds of ground chuck, but recommend doing less at a time as it was a huge mixture and a little hard to handle. Husband Norm even helped me! The ones you make yourself are better than the frozen ones you get in the grocery, too. The powdered brown gravy mix available at Sam's is just as good as homemade (I add a package of dry onion soup mix to it and sometimes mushrooms), a package of noodles, and a package of the homemade meatballs and you have a good meal in minutes (Meatball Stroganoff).
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, come to Lowell, Ohio, for their Springfest. See how country folks enjoy life and have some great home-cooked food provided by the churches and local organizations. It is on Ohio 60, about 20 miles north of Marietta.
Enjoy this beautiful month. Get your garden started, clean up the grill for use, get the Sun Tea jar out and get ready for summer. Love your enemies and drive them wild.
Three cups all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking soda
One-half teaspoon salt
Two cups sugar
One teaspoon ground cinnamon
Three eggs, beaten
Three-fourths cups vegetable oil
One-and-one-half teaspoon vanilla extract
One (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, not drained
One cup chopped pecans
One-and-three-fourths cup mashed bananas
Cream Cheese Frosting
One-half cup chopped pecans, toasted
Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl, then add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1-cup pecans, and bananas. Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 23-28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle toasted pecans over top.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
One-helf cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream butter and cheese. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
FRESH RHUBARB PIE
One-and-one-half to two cups sugar
Six tablespoons all-purpose flour
Four cups cut-up rhubarb
One-and-one-third tablespoons butter
Pastry for two crust pie
Mix together sugar, flour and rhubarb. Pour into pie shell. Dot with butter. Add top crust. Brush with an egg wash or cream or milk. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
Four pounds lean ground beef
Two eggs, slightly beaten
One cup dry bread crumbs
Three-fourth cup finely diced onion
Two teaspoons salt
One teaspoon celery salt
One teaspoon pepper
One-half teaspoon ground coriander
One can evaporated milk
Combine all ingredients and blend well. Shape into one-and one-half-inch meatballs and place on an ungreased baking sheet, with at least one-inch sides. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes - until browned. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to drain. When cooled, place in freezer bags, seal and label with date and contents.
NOTE: I take a small portion of the mixture, fry it and taste to check for seasonings before making the meatballs and freezing. Also, if you don't have breadcrumbs handy, use oatmeal. If you put it in a blender or food processor, you can make it into breadcrumb texture.
ALL-PURPOSE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE
Two tablespoons cornstarch
One-and-one-fourth cups pineapple juice
Two tablespoons white vinegar
One-third cup brown sugar, packed
One-fourth cup ketchup
One tablespoon soy sauce
In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and one-fourth cup pineapple juice and stir until smooth. Add rest of juice and other ingredients. Cook and stir until smooth and slightly thickened. Good with above meatballs.
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