Life on Regal-Hill: April 9, 2008

With the economy the way it is and all that are here at Regal-Hill I definitely plan to grow a bigger garden this year. I also plan to be prepared to can and freeze more than I sometimes do.
Since it takes less work and energy to freeze vegetables, I will probably freeze as much as I can, since the freezer is running anyway.
I need to decide what vegetables we prefer; I know that I tend to serve lots of green beans and peas. I haven’t grown peas in a long time. It seems like it would be a good vegetable to grow again this year. It is hard to buy good tasting peas, especially the frozen ones. The biggest problem will be getting help to put up a fence to support the plants when they get six inches high.
I am still using onions that we grew in the garden last year. Since I usually bought onion sets from Brookside, I will need to decide where to get them this year.
We still have potatoes. Actually we have three different varieties. I prefer German Butterballs, so I hope the neighbors will grow only those since I like their flavor, and they seem to be more versatile and have better keeping qualities. If not, I will try to grow my own since we seem to eat potatoes often. It is so nice not to have to buy them since they are expensive, lack good flavor and there seems to be considerable waste when preparing them for cooking.
The plan is to grow more tomatoes as well in the hopes of canning as many as I can, although we prefer to eat them raw as long as possible. If we don’t have a good crop I hope there will be someone who does and would be glad for me to buy at least a bushel from them.
Lettuce is always planted as early as possible; I found leaf lettuce to grow best here. I don’t buy lettuce unless it is on sale, and that is rare unless it is in a salad mix. I am not good at making more than one planting of lettuce so we can enjoy it longer.
Swiss chard or spinach, carrots and probably some beets will also be grown. Since asparagus is a perennial it shouldn’t have to be replanted for many years unless one wants to enlarge the asparagus bed so there is a bigger crop to harvest. Hopefully there will be a good crop this year, since I think this will be the third year we have had an asparagus bed.
I’ll admit that I tend to spend more time caring for the flowers than the vegetables and we can’t eat most of them. That needs to change. Whether I will change or not remains to be seen.
What some local farmer should do to help us locally would be to grow wheat and other grains for flour so that we wouldn’t have to pay the terrible transportation costs that cause the price of bread and desserts to rise so dramatically. Wouldn’t it be something to have a gristmill locally again? I believe at one time there was one on the Millbrook.
By growing our own vegetables and canning and freezing what we don’t eat fresh will not only be a good eating experience but also will fill us with all the good nutrition we need to keep healthy, enjoyment of gardening challenge and save us money in the process.
As many of you know, tax time is quickly approaching. For those who breathe a sigh of relief when they get their tax return sent in, why not have a party?
Some ideas for the party are, use tax forms and tax tables as place mats, a “money tree” centerpiece as the focal point, using play money and such recipes as CPA snack, Shrimp Po’ boys, Greenback Salad and Pay Dirt Cake.

CPA Snack
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
4-1/2 teaspoons Wor- cestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/4 cups pecan halves
2 cups whole cashews
1-1/2 cups whole almonds
In a large bowl, combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in pecans, cashews and almonds until coated. Transfer mixture to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.
Bake nuts at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring them every 10 minutes. Spread out on waxed paper to cool completely. Store nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: 6 cups
2004 Taste of Home Annual Recipes

Pay Dirt Cake
28 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3-1/3 cups cold milk
2 packages (3.4 ounces each) French vanilla pudding mix
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Foil-wrapped chocolate coins, optional
Line a 2-1/2 qt. clean new pail or container with plastic wrap or use a serving bowl; set aside. In a food processor or blender, process the cookies until finely crushed. Set aside 2 tablespoons of crumbs for topping.
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar. In a bowl, whisk the milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Add to cream cheese mixture; mix well. Fold in whipped topping.
Place half of the cookie crumbs in prepared container or bowl; top with half of the pudding mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate until serving. Top with foil coins if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Yield: 8-10 servings.
2004 Taste of Home Annual Recipes