Monday, March 09, 2009

The Promise of Spring

There is no winter harsh enough to withhold the promise of spring.
Karen Kaiser Clarke

I was born a gardener with dirt under my fingernails. It was passed on from my grandparents. Some of my siblings and cousins did not receive this gift. Others acquired this passion, and the next generation is popping up with its own set of gardeners.

Each child has put time in my garden. From their hours spent digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting, I can tell which ones were born with this love. I do believe that each one has made discoveries in the little garden of mine, and were amazed and awed. It might be a cocoon or butterfly, a baby rabbit nibbling at lettuce, the first radish or a hidden bunch of strawberries, or, for the boys, a garden snake. Aah!!! Once a possum even took residence in my tool shed.

No matter what is going on in my life, I am at peace in my garden. The sense of time vanishes. Only when the sun begins to set, do I realize that I've been meandering too long in my piece of heaven. Shh - I've been known to take a flashlight out. I would go out, say, to get a tomato for dinner, stop to pull a couple of weeds, and before I knew it, I couldn't see which tomatoes were red. God put out the lights!

This past weekend made me yearn to explore my garden. I'm even thinking of what I could plant now. Is it safe? Has winter past? Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and even maybe lettuce if I dare. I don't know, but what I do know is that no matter how harsh the winter, spring will always come. It gives me hope in everything. No matter how bad things get, good things will come around. It's a promise He gave us.

I am anxiously awaiting spring!

Easy Recipe

I found this recipe years ago in a cookbook my sister Judy spent hours at typewriter, banging away because home computers did not exist. It was our church's cookbook. If I want to please my nieces and nephews, all I have to do is make this recipe. I think they all love it!

Crescent Chicken Squares

3 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. butter, softened OR add more cream cheese
2 c. cooked, cubed chicken
1 Tbsp. chopped onion or green onions
2 Tbsp. Milk
8 oz. can refrigerated crescent rolls (or 2 cans for smaller squares)
Salt and pepper, if desired (I usually don't add any)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, blend cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add chicken, onions, and milk, and mix well. Separate crescent rolls into 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal. Spoon about 1/2 cup (less if making smaller squares) into center of each rectangle. Pull 4 corners to top and twist slightly to seal edges. If desired, brush top with melted butter. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Money Savings Tip

Plan your meals by the sale paper. If you are like me, and I have to admit, if something finds its way to the back of my freezer, I'll never find it. So, I usually shop for 1 to 2 weeks. I guarantee that what we eat today was on sale a week or two ago. Very rarely do I buy meat that isn't on sale, and I think I've never bought steak for full price, that is, when we can afford steak.

I do have one exception. The vegetables usually stay where I put them. Since we freeze many of the items from our garden, this is a very good thing. But the darn veggies do move around on my husband, especially the corn. (Side note - we canned or froze enough vegetables to hold us through the winter, and into the spring. Yeah!!)

Now, if you are one of those super organized people, and/or the stuff cooperates and stays where you put it, then you have the luxury of buying meat on sale, and planning your meals according to what's in the freezer.

Time Savings Tip

I have to mention this because I've told you how my nieces and nephews have helped in the garden. Canning is a lot of work, and I usually recruit who I can to pick, wash, peel, chop, and can the vegetables. One way I can guarantee help is making tomato sauce. Got me, but they all love smooshing the tomatoes in the juicer what-cha-ma-call-it.

Part of the fun of gardening is in the harvest, and call in the gang to help. A couple of years ago, the phone rang. I answered it and proceeded to watch my nieces chattering, and canning all by themselves, without my instruction. One put the stuff in the jar, one took the air bubbles out, and the other wiped off the top, put the seal on, and put it in the canner. What a picture!

Wow! I think I taught them something that they will remember forever. Now, if they all will can is the question, but, if they do, I am certain that another will be by their side, talking and laughing, chopping and filling jars.

So, my point is, recruit helpers in the kitchen! Children love to help, especially if they can lick the spoon afterwards.

Spring is coming! The robins are here!

Aunt Janet

P.S. Happy 21st Birthday, Jeremy! I remember when you first made your appearance in our family. You were dressed in a tiny red suit, and you had a head full of curly hair! I fell in love with you immediately!

Happy Birthday, Mandie! I won't tell the world how old you are, but I think you're still alot younger than me. I love you!

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