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Vickie's This and That

March 3, 2017 - Good afternoon, the weather was gorgeous Thursday with all the nice sunshine. The wind was a little cool but other than that it is a wonderful day. March brings with it the promise of gardening and warm, sunning days. I think East Texas can say “Spring is here!” There is usually a cool spell near Easter but I truly hope we don’t see any cold weather again for the year. I think the prediction for the rest of the week is sunny with showers Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the high 50’s and low 60’s. Perfect for this time of the year.

Take the opportunity to drive around the county and see nature at its best. This time of the year is just beautiful with nature proudly showing off all its colors.

If you haven’t planned your spring garden yet now is the time to start. There is nothing better than garden-fresh vegetables and you will be amazed at the flavors, so difference from what is in the grocery stores. Now is the time to get the tomatoes, squash, peppers, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, and zucchini in the ground. Oh, don’t forget the potatoes. I get so excited this time of the year but I promise I am not planting a big garden, just basic stuff.

Recipes:

Tea Cakes recipe was shared by Merle Howard (They were great!)

Tea Cakes

½ cup buttermilk – let set to room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Baking powders
Pinch of salt
1 ¾ cup sugar – I add about 2 Tablespoons more to measuring cup
1 cup of real butter
2 eggs
4 cups of flour

Instructions: Mix the buttermilk, soda baking, baking powders, and salt and let stand and rise. Blend the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time to butter/sugar blend. Begin to add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the butter/sugar mixture. Start and end with flour. Mix well and pour into container and let stand in refrigerator for a couple of hours.

To cook, preheat oven at 350 degrees. Spoon some of the cookie mix onto floured surface. At this point you want to level and flatten the dough some. Kneading is not necessary but you may want to use the rolling pin to level.

Cut out cookies and bake. You will adjust your cooking time to the size of the cookie. Set timer for about 9 ½ minutes and see what you think. The tops should not be brown but you should see a little browning at the edge. For crisper cookies let the tops brown slightly.

Crock Pot Meatloaf

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 C milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 slices bread, crumbled or torn into small pieces
1/2 C diced onion
1 envelope dry Ranch Dressing mix
1/2 C ketchup

Directions: Mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Allow to soften (about 20 minutes). Combine this mixture with ground beef, onion, ranch pack, and ketchup. Mound in a greased crockpot. Cover the top of the mixture with additional ketchup. Put the cover on and turn crockpot on high for 15 minutes, then reduce to low and cook for 7 hours.

Parmesan Upside Down Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
7 red potatoes, washed and cut in half
2-3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
garlic powder
sea salt or preferred salt

1). Preheat oven to 400F. Melt butter in the bottom of a 9×13 glass pan. 2). Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and seasonings over butter. Place potatoes cut side down and sprinkle more seasonings on top of potatoes. 3). Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

January 28, 2017 - Hello, I know it was been a while since I have written Vickie’s This and That. Life gets busy and I must admit I have just gotten lazy in my golden years. (That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it for now). I am now a great-grandmother 5 times, 2 girls and 3 boys. I always thought that nothing could beat being a “grandmother” but I now believe being a “great” is even better. Of course, the babies just get cuter, sweeter, prettier, and smarter each generation. 

The weather this winter has been so different. Christmas was in the 70’s and then the two days of 15-degree mornings follow. And living in East Texas after these cold morning it was again 70-degrees. It looks like out winter cold will be all within a week’s time. February is nearly here and our coldest temperatures are usually in that month. I guess I will just have to wait and see if that happens this year.

Tips:

When removing a cake from a pan, it may be easier to use two wire racks, placing one upside down on the top of the cake, and flipping the whole thing over, eliminating any worry of dropping the cake.


Baking Powder: Expiration is 12 to 18 months or expiration date listed on container. Be sure to store in a tightly covered container in a dry place. To test to see if baking powder is good mix 1 teaspoon baking powder with 1/3 cup hot water. If it foams vigorously, it still has rising power.

Gardening isn’t far off. Now is the time to get your gardening spot ready. I am not planting a large garden this year. I promised my children this ---- and they said “Sure, Mom, you have said this before and it never happens.” I am going to fool them for a change; however, I do see several rows of green beans in my future. And a few tomatoes, peppers, squash, cabbage, broccoli, and potatoes. Wait a minute, I am getting carried away again. 

Recipes:

Tuna Fish Casserole
2 cans of tuna fish, drained
1/4 cup diced onions
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
8 oz package of egg noodles
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can drained English/green peas
1/2 - 1 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)

Cook noodles per package directions; drain and rinse with hot water. In 3 quarts baking dish, mix tuna, onions, mushroom soup, English peas and 1/2 cup of cheese together. Add cooked noodles and stir well to blend. (if casserole looks dry, can add a little milk). Top casserole with remaining cheese and bake uncovered in 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Can also top with bread crumbs if desired.

Incredible Baked Meatballs
1 lb lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup panko or bread crumbs
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh basil (I just used dried as I don't always have fresh, just smash it a little in your hand before adding)

Mix all ingredients with hands. Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Great to use with spaghetti or egg noodles topping with favorite sauce.

September 5, 2016 - Good evening, I heard through the grapevine that many have been missing Vickie's This and That. I have just been lazy. That is the only excuse I have. Life has been busy and I have just been enjoying each day basically doing nothin'. I planned to do 'This and That' this spring but I got so discouraged by my garden; my heart just wasn't in it.

I did plant, replant, and replanted again. The rain just came and came. It seemed that every time I said the word "garden" more rain fell. I finally just let it go and boy it didn't take long for the weeds to get waist high.

I did find a patch of purple hulls peas that was free; you just had to pick them yourself. I did pick them on 2 separate occasions with the help of my youngens'. I was able to can 34 quarts. 

It was funny to see Sean, Kevin, J.J. and Scott picking peas as the grass was high and with stickers too boot. They finally appreciated all the hoeing and plowing done in my garden. I never liked a grassy garden as I wanted to see what I was picking and where my feet were stepping. I never wanted any unpleasant surprises, especially the crawly kind. 

Next, I brought some pinto beans and put up 19 quarts. Then bless the Lord, I found a wonderful company whose vegetables were fresh and flash frozen but most of all in great condition. I ended up canning 16 quarts of cream peas and 20 quarts of zipper peas. My stash is good for another year and I have already been enjoying the fruits of my labor.

One thing I did discover this year is my health/strength isn't the same as it was two years ago. I think a big garden is out of the question. It was more a chore and not a pleasure working the garden as it usually is. To the joy of my children, I think, I have planted my last big garden. Next spring it will be only cabbage, string beans, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. They are not nearly as hard to work.

I am trying to get the grown grandchildren interested in canning their veggies. I want them to know how as so many of that generation doesn't have a clue. I don't want the art to be lost. As for now, I will probably not be sharing any of my gardening tips and I will go back to posting recipes. Be sure to let me know if this is working.

Peach Cake
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoon of fat (Crisco)
1/2 milk

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in fat with knife. Mixing with knife, slowly add milk. Spread mixture in greased shallow pan. Cover with peaches

Peaches
2 cup of peaches
1 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Mix ingredients and spread on soft dough. Bake 20 minutes in moderate oven (350degree) until set. Cut in squares and serve fresh. Cream or hard sauce can be served with this dessert. (This is an old recipe from the 30's).

Surprise Drop Cakes
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 2/3 cups of flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup crushed pineapple

Cream butter and sugar together. Add milk, extracts, salt, flour, and baking powder. Blend well; then add eggs beating 2 minutes. Half fill greased muffin pan Insert teaspoon of pineapple to each muffin tin space. Bake in moderate (350 degree) oven for 15 minutes. (From the 30's also)

March 19, 2015 - Good morning, at least it isn’t raining right now. The weather is cloudy and it is windy. If we are lucky and don’t have any more rain today, with this wind my garden may just dry out. I checked it yesterday and it doesn’t look good. I may be able to save the cabbage and onions. Everything else is watered logged. When it is dry enough to plow, I will probably just start over.

Oh, the life of a farmer! Farmers have to be willing to start over and deal with what Mother Nature hands us.

Green Beans

Tip of the Week:

How to Make Bigger Cakes from Mixes: Add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. baking powder to the boxed mix.
Dust the holder or platter with a bit of confectioner’s sugar before placing the cake on it, this will help keep it from sticking to the bottom.

Next best days for planting above ground crops, especially peas, beans, cucumbers, and squash will be March 26th-28th and April 5th-7th.

Some of the most popular pole beans are 'Kentucky Wonder', 'Blue Lake', and 'Scarlet Runner'. 'Early Contender', 'Blue Lake 274', and 'White Half Runner' are very popular bush green beans.
Bush beans (whether you call them string beans, snap beans, or green beans) don't mind being crowded.

Try not to grow beans in the same garden bed two years in a row as they are susceptible to several soil-borne diseases and rotating your crops will help prevent a build-up of these diseases.

To plant the beans, dig out a shallow trench in the middle of the row with the edge of the hoe, mix in your fertilizer, stirring to blend into soil then drop seeds 3-4 inches apart and lightly cover with about 1 inch of soil. I like Kentucky Wonder Bush and Early Contenders Bush. Beans should be ready to harvest in about 57-60 days.

Until next week!! I would enjoy hearing from anyone else on gardening tips or your favorite recipes. Email tips to info@shelbycountytoday.com (Attn: Vickie's This and That.)

This week's recipe: Tator Tot Casserole

2 lbs. extra lean ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 16oz Sour Cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or more!)
1 pack frozen tatter tots

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 inch pan. Layer the beef on the bottom of the pan, set aside. In a med mixing bowl add sour cream and mushroom soup and mix well. Then layer the mixture on top of the beef, then add cheese. Top with tatter tots. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer, adding extra cheese here if desired. Once cheese is melted you will have one fabulous meal. This is an all-time favorite.

(Most of the recipes I will be sharing are recipes from the 40s,50s, & 60s that were my mother's)

Good morning, I hope everyone is having a nice day. I am so ready for this weather to be either hot or cold. Hot one day and cooler the next just isn’t working for me. Ok, Mother Nature, make up your mind; it is December so cold weather would be the correct choice. A little snow around Christmas would be perfect as Christmas is only 3 weeks away.

November has ended and December has begun for the year 2014. Our day of Thanksgiving is over but may we always be thankful for the blessing God has given us. The sun comes up, clouds gather, wind blows, flowers grow and wilt, people come into our lives, people may stay for a while and then leave. These are just some of the things we take for granted.

Life is high gear for most everyone but me. I am still in slow motion. While I was having back problems, I was using a walker and my grandson, Austin, told me I needed a sticker. When I ask him what kind of sticker, he said handicap because I was on a walker and I would be able to park closer to the stores. That boy is trying to make me old before my time (I think old age may have just caught up with me).

Until next week!! I would enjoy hearing from anyone else on gardening tips or your favorite recipes. Email tips to info@shelbycountytoday.com(Attn: Vickie's This and That.)

Good morning, I have enjoyed the cooler weather this week. Now we just need a little rain to go with it. Fall is definitely here and I am very glad. Sorry "This and That" is a day late but I just couldn't seem to get around to it yesterday. Granddaughter has not been feeling well this week so I have been giving her lots of TLC . I cooked her 2 pots of homemade potato soup. My mother did this for me and it always made me feel better.

I hope everyone enjoyed the fajita luncheon, Doo Dah parade, and chicken cooking contest Wednesday. Congratulations to all the winners. I was lazy and didn't make them this year. First time in a long time that I haven't participated. The Poultry Festival is upon us before we knew it. See you there.

Last week I shared how to prepare vegetables by freezing them. I did this method for many years but I now prefer canning to freezing. Canning is more labor intensive but I think in the long run - well worth it. This week I will share how to preserve/freeze some vegetables that you may not know you can freeze.

Freezing Vegetables Continued:

Potatoes: Irish - Select new potatoes directly from the garden, peel/scape and wash. Blanch for 3 to 5 minutes, cool then package, seal and freeze. For French Fries - wash and peel mature potatoes. Cut into 1/3 inch by 3/8 inch strips. Rinse in cold water; dry thoroughly. Deep fry in hot fat (360 degrees) for about 5 minutes until tender but not brown. Drain and cool. Package, seal and freeze. To serve, heat in a 475 degree oven until golden brown.

Cabbage - frozen cabbage is suitable for use only as a cooked vegetable. Select fresh, solid heads. Trim coarse outer leaves and cut into medium to coarse shreds or thin wedges. Water blanch for 1 1/2 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving some head space. Seal and freeze.

Green onions - green onions may be chopped and frozen without blanching but they will not be crisp. I use them in dressing, casseroles, and soups.

Sweet potatoes - baked. Wash, trim and heat potatoes in oven at 350 degrees without peeling until slightly soft. Cool, remove peel and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Place in plastic bags and freeze. To eat, bake in a 350 degree oven until heated and soft, leaving potatoes wrapped in foil. To use potatoes for casseroles or pies, cook until almost tender and let cool at room temperature. Mash sweet potatoes (to keep from darkening add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for each quart of mashed sweet potatoes). Pack into containers, seal and freeze.

Some vegetables that are easy to freeze: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, peas, peppers, spinach, squash, corn.

Until next week!! I would enjoy hearing from anyone else on gardening tips or your favorite recipes. Email tips to info@shelbycountytoday.com (Attn: Vickie's This and That.)

*****
Most of the recipes I will be sharing are recipes from the 40's,50's, & 60's that were my mother's.

This week's recipe:

Incredible Baked Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup panko or bread crumbs
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh basil (I used 1/2 tsp of dried as I don't always have fresh)

Mix all ingredients with hands. Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Great to use with spaghetti or egg noodles.

Start pasta by boiling water. For a quicker boil, simply cover the pot. (Use about six quarts of water for up to one pound of pasta.) Salting the water just before adding the pasta enhances the flavor of the pasta and also helps it absorb sauce. When pasta is done, rinse it only if you're not saucing and serving it immediately, otherwise the starch that clings to the strands (giving it good taste and texture) will be lost.