Monthly Archives: July 2008

Fresh Tomatoes, A Sure Sign of August

It’s time to turn the calendar page to August; the month of back-to-school sales, heat, humidity, and red ripe tomatoes!

I have the first of my crop lined on my counter waiting to be eaten. As the season progresses I’ll be picking and canning every other day or so.

There will tomatoes covering my counters, overflowing to the table, and piled in boxes.

Then I will pull out my stock pots and canners and replace the tomatoes with jars and jars of homemade spaghetti sauce, ketchup, and salsa.

But all that will come later, this is just the beginning. These first tomatoes are meant to be eaten fresh and enjoyed by palates who are tired of those tasteless ones from the store.

These first few will star in BLT’s and perk up lettuce salads. They will be cut up with peppers and onions into fresh salsa, chopped up and added to spaghetti, and eaten fresh right off the vine while the juice drips down our chins.

Yes, we’ll savor these first of the season tomatoes, forgetting for a moment all the work that they will soon bring!

Duck Tape Shoes

At a recent Youth Group camping trip, my oldest children were quite impressed with the shoes one of their buddies was wearing.

At least, I think you could call them shoes.

He had taken a pair of ankle socks, turned them inside out and covered the inside with duct tape. Then he turned them right side out and covered the outside with duck tape.

He claims they are water proof and very comfortable, but did admit they didn’t work well on gravel. (It ripped up the tape.)

I’m afraid the mother in me thinks they don’t have much support or traction.

But, I will admit that I think they are pretty cool looking and will definitely attract attention.

And yes, I let my kids make a pair, too.

Why? Because around here we all know that,” Silence is golden, but duct tape is silver.”

Rural Community

Rural America.

To some it may seem isolated and lonely. The midwife who delivered my Angel Girl had to drive several miles on gravel and turn several times to find us.

Her comment was, “This may not be the end of the world, but I think I can see it from here!”

But what those people don’t see is the real community that exists in a rural area.

For example, I ran errands yesterday with my sister-in-law from Chicago.

We stopped at the REC to pay our bill and I was greeted by name. The same thing happened at the bank a few minutes later.

A stop at Dollar General included a chat with the check-out gal and our visit to local thrift store not only yielded us some great buys, but also visits with 2 neighbors.

Our last stop of the trip was the grocery store where not only did the check-out gal know me, she punched my card for my sister-in-law’s purchases (she figured we were related) and then offered to carry out our bags. That’s small town service at its best.

My sister-in-law was impressed.

I don’t blame her. It impressed us, too. We were so impressed that we moved here.

Now we’re planting our roots deep and doing all we can to keep the feeling of community alive.

What a heritage!

Need a Substitute? Sweetened Condensed Milk

Isn’t it frustrating to run out of an ingredient when you’re in the middle of baking? Especially when your 15 miles from the nearest grocery store!

Here’s a thrifty substitute for sweetened condensed milk that will work in a pinch.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

Combine in a blender:

1/2 cup warm water
1 cup and 2 Tablespoons non-fat dry milk
3/4 cup sugar

Process in the blender until smooth. It will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

This equals one 14 oz. can.

Crock Pot Pizza

With a hot and steamy forecast and a house full of company, I needed some quick and tasty meal ideas that wouldn’t add any extra heat to the house.

My solution? My beloved crock pot.

(Seriously, I love my crock pots, especially in the summer months!)

Tonight’s menu includes an old family favorite, crock pot pizza. It’s an easy, no fuss layered noodle dish that is a favorite with both kids and adults.

Crock Pot Pizza

1 (12 oz.) package noodles (rotini or elbow macaroni works well) cooked and drained.
24 oz. of pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce
1 pound of ground meat (hamburger or sausage), browned and drained
2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cup cheddar cheese
1 package pepperoni

Spray crock pot liner lightly with cooking spray. Then start layering beginning with one third of the noodles, then one third of the sauce, followed by a third of the meat, both cheeses and pepperoni.

Repeat the layers 2 more times.

Cook on high 30 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook for another 1 hour or until the cheese is melted.

I made mine ahead in the early morning when it was still cool and put it in the refrigerator (I have a removable crock pot liner) until I need it in the late afternoon.

Then I will just put it on to heat and later I will serve it to my table full of hungry children. A no fuss, no muss pizza favorite without the heat of an oven. Yum!