Columns

Thu
15
Jun

The Inspired Cook

This little piggy ate roast beef

                Imprisoned for several days by rainy weather, my better half, Charles, recently requested one of his favorite meals, roast beef, for dinner. Since he rarely asks for anything special, I was happy to oblige.

                Reading between the lines, I instinctively realized what he really craved was a gut-busting meal, not one of the many low-caloric, low-carbohydrate ones I’d been serving him lately. So, I cooked a classic comfort meal, chockfull of calories and carbohydrates, without a green vegetable in sight.

Sat
10
Jun

Mama needs a timeout, too

Timeout is really a wonderful thing. As a mother of a 2-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl, timeout makes an appearance every so often — even if timeout is actually a time for this mama to chill out and take a breather.

Yes, I am a firm believer in a good time out session and a swat on the backend when things start to get out of control.  Some parents frown upon such behavior, calling it atrocious or even barbaric, but I grew up in the generation when Granny would say “Go get a switch, you’re getting it now!”  And boy, let me tell you I got it! One memory sticks out of when I played beauty shop with my Granny’s fluffy Pomeranian and he had a “new do,” for weeks. I don’t think I sat comfortably for weeks following that stunt.  

Thu
01
Jun

Take it slow with Crock-Pots

Lately while formulating recipes, I’ve been thinking outside the box about things to cook inside a crock—a Crock-Pot®, that is. To be technically accurate, I should say slow cooker as Crock-Pot® is a trademarked name brand and not a common name. In other words, a Crock-Pot® is a slow cooker, but not every slow cooker is a Crock-Pot®.

Although the Crock-Pot® was the first slow cooker, its inventor, Irving Naxon, originally called his device the Naxon Beanery. After a four-year wait, Naxon received his patent for his invention in 1940, according to CNET Magazine.

During his childhood, Naxon’s mother told him stories about how she helped prepare her family’s cholent, a thick bean stew traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath. Since the Sabbath is the day of rest, observant Jews are forbidden to work.

Thu
01
Jun

Dealing with flash flooding

Flash flooding happens because heavy rain saturates the ground. The ground cannot absorb any more water, so the water runs – rushes! – toward the lowest spots. Heavy rain can produce flash flooding immediately, which is why it is called “flash” flooding. Sometimes flash floods can occur later.

One problem with flash floods is that the water is dirty, and you can’t see how deep the water is. Water running at 9 miles an hour – and not very deep – is fast enough to knock you off your feet if you try to wade through it. Then you tumble downstream, and you could drown.

In the Army, to check the water depth, an officer commands some private to wade out into the flood. The officer will need a good idea of the depth of the water and its speed before trying to cross the flooded area with any Army vehicles.

Civilians don’t do that. They just drive into the water.

Stop! Don’t drive your car into deep water!

Thu
11
May

The Inspired Cook

Happy Mother’s Day! In honor of my late mother, Johnnie Kirkwood Koonce, I’m dedicating this column to her, the best mom ever.

 A stay-at-home mom during my childhood, my mom planned her menus for the week according to three basic criteria: what she fancied, what we requested, or what her budget would allow. She was a fabulous cook and her repertoire of dishes comprised all types of food. Her Mexican dishes were out of this world! In fact, everything she prepared was scrumptious.

She loved to try new recipes, particularly ones for desserts, and my dad, sister Beckie, and I didn’t mind in the least being her guinea pigs. At times, her kitchen overflowed with an assortment of sweets, neatly stored in the latest Tupperware containers of the day.

Thu
11
May

The depth of a mother’s love

I would like to share with you a true story of a mother's love, the story of a woman who lived in Van Zandt County in 1904. Her story is recorded on a microfilm of a county newspaper. Her name was Mrs. George Osborn, and except for a tragic accident, she would be completely forgotten by this time by all except maybe some family members.

One Sunday evening in 1904 Mr. and Mrs. Osborn and their infant child were returning from church in a wagon. Suddenly the team bolted. Mrs. Osborn was thrown over the front of the wagon, her clothing catching on a part of it. She was dragged over 100 yards, the story says. Her clothing was stripped from her body and she sustained injuries from which she died the next evening.

While being dragged on the ground, Mrs. Osborn managed to hold the baby in her arms so that it received no serious injury.

Wed
03
May

The Inspired Cook

Going Bananas

Just the other day, I spotted two very ripe bananas lounging, or should I say collapsed, over several oranges in my fruit bowl. I swear I just bought those a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of any banana entering my home is automatically shortened to a New York minute.

Those over-ripened bananas inspired to create a new recipe. But what should I make? Instantly, banana bread popped into my head.

                Ah, the proverbial banana bread—the last hurrah for bananas clinging to life!

                Although a county fair-winning recipe, a cookbook find, resides in my recipe box, I opted to create a new one to spice things up a bit. So, I surveyed my pantry items for possible ingredients.

                All of a sudden, I knew what I wanted to make when my eyes landed on a can of fruit cocktail: banana bread that tasted like fruit salad.

Mon
01
May

Camping out in an emergency

If there’s an emergency, disaster, or just a major power outage, one amazing thing happens. All the motels fill up and have no vacancies. This seems to happen immediately.

If all the motels are full, what can you do if your house is uninhabitable? You could hit the road and keep going until you did find a motel vacancy. Another option might be camping out in your own backyard. If you were living next to your home, your presence would help prevent others from ransacking it during the disaster.

The ideal camping situation would be tents, cots, and sleeping bags. However, you could build a makeshift shelter with a tarp and some rope. Painter’s polyethylene plastic on the ground under the tarp can keep you and your blankets dry. This can be quite comfortable in warm weather. In rain, you just seal the front and the edges.

Wed
19
Apr

The Inspired Cook

Leftover Easter ham dilemma solved

Happy Easter weekend, readers! I hope your day hop along at a steady pace and is filled

with fun, fellowship, and fabulous food.

After your Sunday feasts, many of you may be faced with a bunch of leftover ham and clueless as what to do with it. Anticipating your dilemma, I prepared today’s column especially for you. Trying to think outside the box, I created a chili made with ham, something I never had eaten and wasn’t quite sure I would like. I reasoned that if I adore ham, beans, and chili seasonings, then why wouldn’t I like this chili? And, guess what. Charles, my better half, and I really liked it a lot!

FYI: If you omit the ham, this would make a delicious vegetarian chili recipe.

Spicy Ham and Three-Bean Chili

Ingredients:

                1 c. yellow onion, finely chopped

                1 1/2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Mon
17
Apr

Summer activities set at GS Library

At just 11 days into our GoFundMe campaign we hit the halfway mark on our fundraising goal.  You have kept us busy sending out thank you acknowledgments and we are very grateful for that.  We feel confident in saying that at this point we can easily make it through the summer.  Which means it’s time to start planning for the summer activities at the library. 

This year’s summer reading theme is ‘Build a Better World’ and we want to encourage those who visit the library this summer to do little things to help make our world better.  Our programs and events will focus on the things we can do to make a difference in our world and here in our community. 

An important summer library activity will be appealing to our local elected officials as they do their budget workshops this summer.  It’s important that they know how valuable the library is to people throughout the city of Grand Saline and Van Zandt County. 

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