Living here in southwest Minnesota, the summers are very short compared to the colder times of the year. I try to make the most of every warm, sunny day; even if it means I'll be mowing our lawn.
Many chores, and especially hobbies, can wait for winter. Since I spend less time outdoors when it's cold, I seem to get much more accomplished during the chilly weather.
I'm not one to sit on the sofa and do nothing. While watching television, I will browse through a magazine (during the many commercials) or work on a cross-stitch project. Or, I'll turn off the set and do some reading - have a number of books on the shelf that I have yet to read.
The closets in the house get a thorough cleaning. I also clean the inside of the curio cabinet ... this takes awhile. Where does that dust come from!
Cleaning the kitchen cabinets (inside and out) is considered a great accomplishment. Sorting all the recipe clippings I've managed to accumulate is an even greater challenge.
A person shouldn't work all the time. I enjoy writing letters and even a poem every now and then, but only after the latest blanket of snow has been cleared off the sidewalk. A cup of hot chocolate is my reward.
During the winter months, I often bake cookies, quick breads, casseroles, etc. Also make soups and stews to simmer on the stove top or in the slow cooker. I try many recipes I've never made before. Those that produce tasty results are shared with you in this column.
Winter is a beautiful time of year. As a youngster, I had fun playing in the snow and going ice skating. The cold weather didn't bother me that much, but I'm older now and I don't like being chilled to the bone. I prefer to enjoy the glistening snow from inside the house. I venture outdoors only when necessary.
There are so many indoor activities to keep me busy - ranging from everyday chores to craft projects. There's no chance I'll become bored!
Easy to prepare
WILD RICE HOT DISH
1-lb. ground beef
1/2 cup (or more) chopped onion
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 scant cup uncooked wild rice, washed
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 cup diced celery
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 can chicken rice soup
1 can (14 oz) bean sprouts, drained
1 can (4 oz) mushrooms, drained
2 soup cans water (may need more)
Brown ground beef with onion. Drain off fat. Combine with remaining ingredients. Bake in a small roaster which has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. The roaster should be covered and baked in a 350 oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Check casserole after about an hour. If seems too dry, add more water.
Note: I added 1/2 cup more of (hot) water.
Will remind you of a Reuben sandwich
EASY REUBEN SOUP
4 cans chicken broth (14.5-oz each)
4 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 to 1-lb. fully cooked Kielbasa or Polish sausage, halved and cut into 1-in. slices
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 dashes black pepper
2-1/2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
In a large saucepan (3 qt. size), combine the first seven ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 min. or until cabbage is tender. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles as pkg. directs. Add noodles to soup near end of cooking time. Top each serving of soup with some Swiss cheese. Yield: 2-1/2 qts.
Notes: When reheating leftover soup, may add water or milk to achieve a thinner consistency as soup tends to thicken upon standing. To reduce the amount of salt and fat, may use reduced sodium broth, reduced fat turkey kielbasa and reduced fat cheese.
Needs no frosting
GERMAN APPLE CAKE
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. cinnamon
4 cups finely chopped peeled apples
1 cup (or less) chopped walnuts
Beat together eggs, oil and vanilla. Gradually beat in sugar until thick and creamy. Add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir until well blended. Fold in apples and walnuts. Bake in a greased 9 x 13 pan at 350 for about 45 min.
Note: A moist cake - develops a macaroon-like top as it bakes.
A favorite with the kids
COCONUT CHIP BARS
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks margarine, softened (1 cup)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats (uncooked)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Spread in ungreased 9 x 13-in. pan. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 min.
3/4 cup chocolate chips
After removing bars from oven immediately scatter chocolate chips on bars. Allow chips to melt; spread.
Food for thought: Junk is the stuff we throw out; stuff is the junk we keep.