Egg Celery Sandwich

Everyone has a favorite egg salad recipe and a couple of others to fall back on. Here is yet another one.

4 hard-cooked eggs
2 dill pickles, chopped
1 Tbsp vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/4 c diced celery
1 Tbsp minced onion
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise

After separating the egg yolks and whites, chop the egg whites. Combine with celery, pickles and onion. Mash the egg yolks. Add vinegar. Combine this mixture with the first mixture. Moisten with mayonnaise to a spreading consistency. Season to taste. Use as a filling between two slices of your favorite bread.

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This One’s For You, David

A man died and went to Heaven. Upon reaching the pearly gates, the man asked St. Peter, “I know I was good during my life, and I really appreciate being brought to Heaven, but I’m really curious. What does hell look like?”

St. Peter thought about it for a moment and finally said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you see what hell is like before you officially enter into Heaven. Come with me.”

St. Peter led the man to an elevator and said, “Take this elevator to the very bottom floor. When the doors to the elevator open you will see what hell looks like, but whatever you do, do not get out of the elevator.”

“Thank you,” the man replied as he entered the elevator and pushed the button for the lowest floor.

After what seemed like an eternity waiting in the elevator, the doors opened and the man peered out. Before him was a vast lifeless frozen wasteland. All the man could see were huge mountains of ice through blankets of snow. Remembering St. Peter’s instructions, the man quickly pressed the button for the top floor. The doors closed and the man was transported back to the top floor.

After returning to Heaven the man approached St. Peter and said, “I’m ready to enter Heaven now, but before I do I have one more question.”

St. Peter replied, “Go ahead.”

The man asked, “I thought hell would be fire and brimstone, but instead all I saw was snow and ice. Is that what hell is really like?”

St. Peter thought about his question for a second and finally answered, “Snow and ice, huh? I guess the Vikings finally won the Super Bowl.”

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Pruning Shrubs and Hedges

Whenever my Dad was asked when the best time to trim shrubs or hedges was, he had a stock answer. “Whenever the saw is sharp,” he would say. Little did he know that there is a definite time of year when shrubs and hedges should be pruned. His advice probably contributed to the reason our neighborhood had the poorest looking ‘greenery’ in Northwest Iowa. If Dad were still with us and read that last statement, I know he would say, “Was it really that bad?” Some ‘Iowegians’ never did catch on! After the folks moved into town and had a nursery do the landscaping around the new house, he never trimmed the shrubs and hedges himself. One day a total stranger, a lady, stopped by when they were sitting on the deck and suggested that he trim the plants. He never told us what his response to her was, but he vowed never to trim them after that. The Pickle Queen and I finally took pitty on the neighborhood and trimmed them every year after that. It took a few years to get them looking presentable. Enough memories, on to the topic.

Pruning flowering trees and shrubs at the wrong time of year can result in little flowering that year.

Spring flowering trees and shrubs develop flower buds for the following year on the current year’s summer growth. If you heavily prune these plants in late winter, you will remove most of the flower buds which will result in little or no flowering. Instead, prune these spring flowering trees and shrubs after the flowers have faded in late spring for the best flower display the following year.

Late summer or early fall flowering trees and shrubs flower from buds that are formed on the current season’s growth. The best time to prune these trees and shrubs is during late winter or in the spring.

Pruning during the fall or midwinter season, will leave open wounds that will lose moisture causing dieback which will require more pruning in the spring to remove the dead stubs. Pruning cuts made during the spring, just before or during active growth will seal over quickly forming a callus, preventing both moisture loss and dieback.

Be sure to make your cuts on young shoots about 1/4 inch above a bud or twig. Cutting to far out will leave a stub while cutting closer can damage the remaining buds. Before making the cut, observe the direction that the bud is pointing. This is the direction that the shoot, which becomes a branch, will grow. If it looks as if the branch will eventually interfere with another branch, choose a different bud to cut above. Like a Christmas tree, if a wide space needs to be filled, prune at buds (branches) pointing outward. If the tree or shrub needs to be narrower, prune at buds (branches) pointing toward the center of the plant.

Sharpen your saw or snipers and prune away. If you screw up this year, don’t do it the same way next year. When I was still getting my hair cut, I always carried a stocking cap with me when I went to the hair cutting shop, just in case. I haven’t seen a stocking cap big enough to cover a shrub or hedge, so as Dad often said, “Watch a little bit out!”

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Asparagus Croquettes

With asparagus season in full swing, you may be looking for another recipe using asparagus. Here’s one you may enjoy.

1-1/2 cups cooked or canned asparagus
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp water
1/2 c cracker crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c milk, scalded
3 Tbsp butter
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

Combine milk, flour, butter and salt. Cook over hot water until thick and smooth. Add asparagus and chopped eggs. Mix quickly and lightly. Chill thoroughly. Form in balls or rolls. Roll lightly in cracker crumbs. Dip in egg which has been diluted with water. Roll in cracker crumbs. Fry in deep fat at 390 degrees until browned. Drain on paper towelling.

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Is It Raining?

Last Saturday was a rainy day. It wasn’t a constant rain, but one of those days that whenever you thought you could go outside and do something, it would start once again with the rain drops dampening your urge to be somewhat productive. I would say it was something like the day this experience happened to me.

It was this time of year and I was out visiting quite a few students in the western part of the state. As I would be out ‘West River’, as we called it, for an extended time, I got a room in an extended stay hotel. It had rained off and on all day long but I had excellent farm visits with two students. I pulled into the hotel around six, went to my suite and made phone calls to confirm my visits for the next day. Not wanting to get wet while walking to a nearby restaurant for supper, I opened the patio door and stuck my hand out to check for raindrops. As I did so, a glass eye fell into my hand.

I stepped out and looked up to see where the glass eye came from just in time to see a young woman looking down.

“Is this yours?” I asked.

“Yes it is, could you bring it up?” she asked. Not wanting to just toss it up and have here miss catching it, I agreed.

The woman, who was very attractive, was very thankful and offered me a drink. As it was starting to sprinkle again, I agreed thinking that the rain would stop soon as it had been doing all day.

Shortly after she fixed us both drinks, she said, “I’m about to have dinner. There’s plenty, would you like to join me?”

Not wanting to be standoffish and seeing that the rain had picked up, I accepted her offer and we both enjoyed a lovely meal. As the evening was drawing to a close the young woman said, “I’ve had a marvelous evening. Would you like to stay the night?”

I hesitated, then said, “Do you act like this with every man who you meet?”

“No,” she replied, “only those that catch my eye.”

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Transporting Plants

This is the time of year when many people are purchasing and planting trees and shrubs  in their lawns and gardens. Whether these trees and shrubs are fruiting or flowering species, transporting these plants from nursery to point of planting is mainly common sense. I’ve seen trees doubled over in the trunk of a car, tied to the roof of a van, hanging out the back of a livestock trailer and standing upright in the bed of a pickup. It’s not the tree/shrub that needs the common sense, it’s the person transporting said tree/shrub. Here are but a few things to keep in mind.

  • Before purchasing, think about how you are going to get it home.
  • When lifting woody plants, lift by the root ball, not the trunk.
  • Handle the root ball carefully (do not drop). You do not want the roots to separate from the soil which would reduce water uptake.
  • Keep the plants steady in your vehicle on the way home. Tie loosely if necessary.
  • If transporting in an open truck, water the plants prior to loading and group together tightly at the front of the bed next to the cab.
  • Drive slowly if transporting in an open-bed truck to prevent windburned foliage.
  • Secure a tarp over or around plants if possible when transporting in an open-bed truck.
  • If transporting inside your vehicle, protect the interior with a tarp, plastic or paper.
  • As my mother would say, use the common sense you were born with.

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Lamb Shaped Cake

Spring is lambing season, so why not have a lamb shaped cake at any spring ‘doings’ or for an Easter dessert. You see these needed  two pieced cake molds in kitchen stores, antique shops or some general merchandise outlets. Some of these molds are made of cast iron while others are made from aluminum or other light weight material. You pour the cake batter into the front (face) side of the mold while it’s laying face down, place the back half of the mold over the filled front half and then place the closed mold into the oven to bake.

You can use many different materials to decorate the lamb cake with. A black jelly bean for the nose, red hots or Cheerios for the eyes, thin rope licorice for the mouth, shredded coconut for the wool and place the lamb on a bed of green dyed coconut grass on the serving plate. If so inclined, tie a pretty ribbon around its neck and/or sprinkle black raisins (lamb droppings) around the tail of the lamb. You could also place colored jelly beans around the lamb on the ‘green grass’ for kids to pick at during the meal. Use your imagination on decorating this cake.

Any ‘dense’ cake recipe will probably work for you. If you use a cake recipe that bakes light and fluffy, you will have trouble removing the cake from the mold. If you don’t have a good recipe, here’s one for you to use.

2 c sifted flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c sugar
3 beaten egg whites
1/2 c shortening
3/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Sift all the dry ingredients together. Stir the shortening in a mixing bowl to soften. Mix the softened shortening into the dry ingredients. Add milk and vanilla and mix for several minutes to blend. Fold in beaten egg whites and beat for one minute. Grease the lamb mold then sprinkle with flour. Fill the half of the mold with the lamb’s face. Insert a toothpick in the nose cavity for reinforcement. Put two toothpicks in the lamb’s neck for strength. Cover with other half of mold being sure it is closed tightly. Place on cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 370 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. When cake is baked, let it cool a little before you take the top off. Frost with white icing and coconut and decorate. Warning: If you are going to use this as a ‘smash cake’, don’t use the toothpicks as support. Take your chance that it’ll hold together until the child is unleashed on it.

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