Easter Dinner Preperations

This year I invited a few family members to join us for Easter dinner. I usually invite the entire family, but there are so many people who are at odds with each other and are getting a reputation within the family for causing a scene, that this year that I decided a peaceful, pleasant dinner with less people would be a better approach. The people who showed their butts at the last two holiday dinners that I hosted were not invited to my Easter dinner. I’m sure they will find other places to go, instead.

Since it will be a smaller group for dinner, I can spend a little more money on the food and upgrade my menu. I’ll be shopping for the fresh foods tomorrow and I picked up the ham today. Since I can upgrade, I decided to buy a Honey Baked Ham instead of the usual half ham at the grocery store. I had never heard about Honey Baked hams until my sister had one at her house a few years ago. I could not believe how delicious that ham was! The Honey Baked people do it right!

I want to have scalloped potatoes and also my mother’s macaroni and cheese casserole. I need something green but can’t decide what to have. I might decide while at the store when I can see what is fresh and looks good. At the moment I am thinking about asparagus, but if I can find fresh green beans I might get those instead.

Usually I like to have pie for dessert, but several people have asked if I will bake my World Famous Coconut Cake. It is my mother-in-law’s special recipe that she made from scratch. I found a way to make it almost as delicious using a mix and adding pudding mix. Besides, it’s not the cake as much as it is the frosting with the fresh coconut. So if I can figure out how to have enough time to cake the cake, that will be dessert this year.

Happy Thanksgiving

Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful day of feasting and thankfulness. Maybe a parade in the morning and some football in the afternoon would be nice, too. Or get up extremely early and go deer hunting. Whichever way you choose to take advantage of the holiday, I hope it works out well for you and that you enjoy your day.

Homemade Jams and Jellies

One of the attractions at our local Farmer’s Market is the assortment of homemade jams and jellies made from the fruits grown locally. This area is not all that great for growing grapes, so grape jelly and grape jam are not usually found from local sources. We the farmer here do grow a lot of cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, plums, apples, peaches and pears. And once in a while we find some unusual fruits and berries, such as huckleberries and figs.

I used to help my grandmother when she made her homemade jams. She had a small orchard and small household garden on their farm. Every summer she would put up dozens of mason jars filled with fresh vegetables and fruits from her own gardens, and then store them in the cellar. Cleaning and cooking the strawberries and peaches were what my grandmother focused on, and I was responsible for ladling the hot jellies into the mason jars and putting on their lids. Then my mom would put the jars into the big canning pot to give them a hot bath and seal them tight.

This year I’ve been to two different Farmer’s Markets. One is in my own neighborhood but only open on Friday afternoons. The other market is downtown, and that is open 7 days a week. I do try to get to my local Farmer’s Market every week, and if I have a reason to go downtown and can plan some extra time around that errand, I will stop by the downtown Farmer’s Market and see if they have anything different to pick from.

Last time I was downtown, I found a farmer’s stall filled with an assortment of unusual jellies. I had no idea if anyone in my family would like to try their Toe Jam, but I was intrigued with the name and thought it would be an inexpensive joke or conversation piece to buy a jar and put it out on the breakfast table with our toast.

toe jam photo

Grilling Vegetables from the Garden

Our garden has been exploding with fresh vegetables. Every two days I am out there walking the rows and picking ripe vegetables. And every night I have been marinating the vegetables along with the meat and grilling them for dinner. Let me tell you, there is not much in the food chain that tastes are good as grilling fresh vegetables from your own garden!

The biggest producer in my garden this year has been the summer squash and the green peppers. I only planted 6 pepper plants, but each one is giving me one or two ripe peppers every two days. Finding creative ways to use 10-12 fresh green peppers is becoming very challenging. I have used so many already that now I am just giving away most of them to neighbors and friends.

Although I have never had much luck with tomato plants, I bought a one foot tall plant of grape tomatoes and put it in a container instead of in the ground. That plant has grown to over 6 feet tall and I get about a pint of grape tomatoes from it every two days! So I am also gifting the excess grape tomatoes to friends and neighbors.

Now that the green beans are coming in, I am harvesting enough green beans for two people to have for dinner every single night. I want to start grilling the beans, but I need to buy one of those metal baskets for the grill so the beans don’t fall through the grates and burn. Maybe this weekend I can pick up one of the baskets when we go shopping for groceries and our other Saturday errands.

The squash grills nicely and can be cut into many different shapes and sizes. My preference is to cut them in big chunks, marinate them in Italian dressing for 10 minutes, and then skewer then with chunks of onions and tomatoes. Place the skewers directly on the grill and turn them every 3-4 minutes until tender. Delicious!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mothers Day (free clip art)
Happy Mothers Day (free clip art)

Mother’s Day is usually low-key around our house. We try to take Mom out to lunch or dinner if she wants to go. Over the past few years, however, we have found that the restaurants are so crowded that we sometimes offer to cook dinner (and then do the dishes) instead! Mom seems to enjoy that much more than going out! She especially enjoys it when we ask her for one of her family-favorite recipes, and she can give us tips about how to prepare it. I think it makes her feel much more valued that way, and it is an experience that makes us all feel a lot closer!