Hearth & Home

Hearth and Home by Daphne Ross

Keeping your cool

The summer heat has returned to our middle-of-the-day landscape. Dairy cows cluster close in the shade of limited pasture trees, beef steers stand in slow flow creek beds, and birds shake a little splash on the edge of a cement barn trough. Even dawn and dusk are heated. I think we need a cooling spell of a steady, all night cold rain.

Low land spring peepers and their tree frog cousins are a little scratchy during their late night chirps and the crickets rub out a raspy tune. The evening breeze is not breezing, and yet a few-too-many yellowing leaves of our black walnut trees have rustled down to the ground. I would like to hear a gentle rain on the metal roof of our old farmhouse, chorused by joyful little critters of the night.

While at my shop in the village I can see many walkers and joggers rush past my place, they are heated but still keep up their paces. Dog walkers smile as they pass by, their four-legged family members just pant. The ones that truly happy-face smile are the babies; stroller pushed by their grandmas on a trip around the block. Bare baby piggies, little toes spread apart, they catch the cooling breeze. I would like that, too.

Ready-to-grab ice cold beverages keep the parched ones happy. The hard workers laboring in the sun and those wrenching it in open door garages, they need the best liquid of the land, and water of the well is by far the best. After the so-called spring water is drunk from a store-bought water bottle, we refill with better water, Plain Township's finest.

A cool shower rinse, a cold rain, a cool evening breeze, ice cubes jingling in a freezer frosted glass, a knock-you-down barn aisle fan, and an over-active air conditioner; all good to me. A large, gulped down iced coffee on my way to work and maybe a medium vanilla cone on my way home from work, yes before dinner; all good to me.

A good, goose-bump story, standing at an open refrigerator door at the grocery store (trying to choose which 10 for $4.00 yogurts I want to buy), and standing in the middle of the room at my friend's antique shop soaking up the cool from the AC floor vent; all good to me.

It's a good thing there is air conditioning in my vehicle, because sometimes windows down just blows in hot air. And for those that suffer from road rage, perhaps a frostbite button could be auto-activated to calm and chill over-heated attitudes; sounds good to me. You got to keep you cool.

Wanted: Back-to-School lunch box recipes; send your favorites to Hearth & Home, 5973 Blachleyville Rd., Wooster, OH, 44691. Emails are always welcome: thewritecook@sssnet.com

Stuffed Mushrooms
(Susan Miller, Millersburg)
1 pound white mushrooms
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons bacon bits
3 tablespoons cheddar cheese
Seasonings to taste
Parsley flakes
Take stems off mushrooms. Mix cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, bacon bits, shredded cheese and seasonings. Stuff mushrooms with mixture. Garnish with parsley flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. These can be made the day before and just need to heat them before serving.

Ranchero Super
(Susan Miller, Millersburg)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 (28 ounce) can baked beans
1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced green onions
Sour cream
Tortilla chips or wraps
Ina large skillet cooked beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in baked beans, corn, barbecue sauce, ketchup and mustard. Heat thoroughly. Sprinkle with cheese and cook until melted. Top with desired toppings. Serve with tortilla chips or eat it wrapped in a soft tortilla. Yummy!

Ice cream Sandwiches
(Susan Miller, Millersburg)
3 eggs
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip
Graham crackers
Separate eggs. Mix powdered sugar to yolks. Beat egg whites. Add vanilla, egg whites, and Cool Whip to yolk mixture. Mix altogether. Line a 9 x 13 inch plastic container with crackers. Put filling on and then top with another layer of crackers. Freeze and enjoy! (The Ohio State Extension Office does not recommend consuming uncooked eggs.)

Homemade Yogurt
(Susan Miller, Millersburg)
Heat 2 quarts milk to 190 degrees. Soak 1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin in a little bit of water, approximately 1/4 cup. Add to 190 degree milk. Beat well Let milk col to 140 degrees, then add 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set in room temperature (or in oven turned off) for 8 hours. Add 2 cups pie filling or 4 tablespoons Jell-O for flavoring. Beat well a few times after cooling in fridge. This is delicious eaten with granola!

Roasted Cauliflower
(Susan Miller, Millersburg)
1 small head cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Wash cauliflower and break into small florets. Pat dry. Mix oil and seasonings in a bowl or baggie. Add cauliflower to seasoned oil and marinate 15 to 20 minutes, flipping occasionally. Place cauliflower and oil in a lightly greased baking pan in a single layer. Roast uncovered at 450 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until veggies are tender crisp. Stir occasionally so veggies cook evenly.

Grilled Shrimp
16 jumbo shrimp, deveined in shell, raw
Olive oil
Coarse salt and pepper
2 lemons, halved
Preheat griddle or grill pan over high heat. Butterfly shrimp by slicing almost through lengthwise, but leave shell on shrimp, this will keep the shrimp tender while grilling over such high heat. Brush shrimp with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill 2 minutes on each side, until shells are hot pink and shrimp is opaque.  Place lemons on grill the last minute. The heat will release the juice from the lemons. To serve, squeeze grilled lemon wedges over shrimp.

Cool Cucumber Salsa
4 large cucumbers, diced
6 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
1 medium red onion diced
1 diced jalapeno
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 packet dry ranch dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinegar, ranch dressing, salt and pepper, and toss until well coated. Add a pinch of sugar.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp
8 extra-large shrimp, peeled
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 15 to 30 minutes
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, sliced thin
Spice Rub:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
Combine the ingredients for the marinade. Add the shrimp, cover, and chill for approximately 3 hours. Meanwhile, combine the spice rub ingredients and set aside. To cook: Remove the shrimp from the marinade, skewer onto bamboo skewers, and season with a pinch of the spice rub. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat and grill the shrimp for 2 1/2 minutes on each side.

Chicken with Cool Pineapple Salsa
For the salsa:
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup finely diced pineapple
1/3 cup finely diced, seeded English cucumber
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
For the chicken:
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
4 (5 ounce each) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pound to 1/2-inch thick
6 scallions, chopped
1/2 chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
For the salsa:
In a small bowl whisk together the honey and the lime juice. Combine the pineapple, cucumber, and mint in a medium bowl, pour the dressing over and toss to combine. Set aside.
For the chicken: Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through. Set chicken on plate; cover to keep warm. Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. Stir in the scallions, pepper, garlic, ginger, allspice, and thyme. Cook for 30 seconds over a medium heat. Add chicken broth and soy sauce; cook until liquid is reduced, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Put the chicken back in the pan and coat well with the sauce. Serve with the pineapple salsa

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