It’s hard to believe that August is almost over. As its last days swing past, it comes to mind that summer is quickly sliding away. Labor Day is often considered its “last hurrah;” that holiday is this coming weekend.
To be truthful, I am not sad to see summer depart. For some reason, my allergies have been horrible this year. I think much of it has to do with the fact that I am surrounded by corn. Some of the first allergy tests I endured revealed that I am allergic to corn plants. I knew that I needed to wear long sleeves if I picked corn; if I didn’t, my arms would be covered with red streaks and itch like crazy. The allergist informed me that my allergy was to all parts of the plant – pollen, leaves, and stalks. The only thing that I don’t have problems with is the corn itself; thankfully, I can eat it just fine!
A couple of years after we moved to the country, my late husband and I planted a couple of rows of corn in our garden; they ran north to south. It was doing quite well until a storm came through from the west and blew the tall corn plants over. Bob and I put on rubber boots, pulled them back up, and used our feet to press the ground around them so they would stand upright again.
Our solution worked for a couple of weeks – the corn was growing normally and beginning to tassel. Then another storm came through; it had lots of gusty wind as well. This time, the plants were not only blown down, but the stalks also broke off about a foot above the ground. That was the last time we ever grew corn, especially after discovering my allergy to the plants.
In years past, I have either had corn in the fields on both sides of my property and soybeans across the road or soybeans on both sides and corn across the road. However, this year there are no soybeans in any of the fields surrounding me. After the corn began pollinating, I have quite a struggle when I work outside, especially if I don’t wear a mask. I can honestly say that I am hoping for an early harvest this year.
Steering my train of thought back to Labor Day, I came up with recipes to prepare for those last-of-summer gatherings. Macaroni Salad is a new version that I tried this past weekend. It was quite tasty but had way too much celery seed. I cut the amount when I typed in the recipe. The rest of the dishes are ones we enjoyed in the past but well worth repeating.
1 (16-ounce) package macaroni or other small pasta (I used gemelli)
4 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (I used 1 teaspoon onion powder)
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped sweet pickle (I used sweet pickle relish)
2 carrots, grated
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain; rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, dry mustard, sweet pickle juice, and celery seed. Season with salt and black pepper.
In a large bowl, combine drained pasta, celery, onion, olives, sweet pickles, carrots, green pepper, and chopped eggs. Stir in dressing, and mix well. Refrigerate before serving.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup pitted and chopped Northwest fresh sweet cherries
3 chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Hot Cherry Orange Relish (recipe below), optional
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
4 large lettuce leaves
Combine ground beef, cherries, onions, basil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, mix well. Form meat into 4 patties. Grill patties over medium heat about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time, for medium doneness or cook to desired degree of doneness. Toast hamburger buns over grill if desired. Place lettuce leaf on bottom half of hamburger bun, beef patty on lettuce and top with relish.
Makes 4 servings.
Hot Cherry Orange Relish
Combine 1 cup chopped Northwest fresh sweet cherries, 1 chopped peeled orange, 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion and 1 chopped pickled jalapeno pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
1 (16-ounce) package frozen Fordhook lima beans
1-1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped (may use 2 medium)
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons real bacon bits, divided
Combine lima beans and water, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup liquid (reserve 1/2 cup if you like more sauce).
Heat canola oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion and celery in hot oil until tender. Stir in beans, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, reserved liquid, and 1/4 cup bacon bits. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole; sprinkle with remaining bacon bits. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees, for 25 minutes.
“Working for Peanuts” Pie
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Fold in whipped topping; spoon into crust. Sprinkle with peanuts. Chill 8 hours. Yield: one 9-inch pie.
Caramel Pecan Dream Bars
1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup butter, softened
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup Heath Bits O’Brickle baking chips
Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. In large bowl, combine cake mix, butter, and egg. Mix at highest speed until crumbly and press into pan. In a small bowl, beat milk, egg, and vanilla until blended; stir in pecans and chips. Pour over base in pan. Spread to cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. Center may appear loose but will set upon cooling. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Yield: 36 bars.