Resting in a hollow limb just beyond my kitchen window, a red-bellied woodpecker feeds her young. It's been several weeks now and any day they should be leaving the nest to make it on their own.
When birds leave the nest they are gone for good; children leave only to return again and again.
Do mother birds suffer from empty-nest syndrome after their young fly away?
I've never known the feelings of empty-nest syndrome. We had an empty nest for two months back in 1982 and it was wonderful.
Now the grandchildren come to stay for a day or two then depart, and another one, two or three arrive immediately to replace them.
I think my distress is called "full-house syndrome" as family and houseguests continue to come and go.
Again this summer I'm the sole innkeeper-chefmaid of our country inn and feeding the crowds takes plenty of pre-planning and cook-ahead dishes. Here are some that the youngsters enjoy and they're so easy on a hot, summer day.
PUDDING ICE CREAM
1 pkg. (4 serving) chocolate fudge pudding mix (cooking kind)
2 cups milk
2 cups whipping cream
Combine pudding mix, sugar and milk. Cook as directed on package. Cover with waxed paper; chill. Then beat until creamy; blend in whipped cream. Freeze 1 hour in shallow baking dish. Spoon into mixing bowl and beat until smooth, but not completely melted. Pour back into baking dish and freeze until firm. Makes 1 quart.
Chill 1 2/3 cups Pet milk (tall can) in ice tray until almost frozen at edges. Put ice-milk into small bowl, chilled, and using chilled beaters, whip with electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add 2/3 cup sugar and 1 envelope of your favorite Kool-Aid flavor dry mix. Whip until stiff. Freeze in 1 quart tray.LEMON SHERBET
Combine 1 quart milk and 2 cups sugar in a saucepan; heat just to the boiling point. Cool slightly. Pour into two freezing trays. Place in freezing compartment until mixture freezes to a slush in the center. Meanwhile, grate the peel of 1 lemon and squeeze the juice from 3 lemons. Turn partially frozen milk mixture in large bowl. Add lemon juice and grated peel; beat with an electric mixer. Return to freezing tray and freeze until firm. Makes 12 refreshing servings.
The bluebirds came to inspect the new home with a lake view that my son attached to an elm tree. They evidently liked it and began moving in within hours after its installation. We've spotted several pairs of the beauties in our yard lately. Is there possibly a chance of overpopulation of the species?
Woodpeckers have nested in two locations in our yard and bam swallows have built a mud and straw home in our pontoon boat. All boat rides have been postponed until the big arrival.
Mouming doves, jays, robins, and squirrels continue their feud in the surrounding oaks and hickories-whether territorial squabbles or battles over food, we'll never know.
Mid-summer with its high humidity and soaring temperatures drives everyone into the house and the monster called central air-conditioning is very welcome.
Outdoor activities are postponed until late in the day. After supper the swimmers and fishermen gather at the boat dock to do their own thing.
I prefer staying in the cool house and stirring up something for tomorrow's meals as I keep one eye out my kitchen window.
Later, as the moon rises over the lake, we all gather on the deck to finish off the homemade ice cream and listen to a symphony composed by Mother Nature, a medley of songs presented by bullfrogs, whipporwills and katydids.
Homemade ice cream is a favorite of everyone and we make it almost daily with variations, to top off simple meals of cold cuts, salads and plenty of iced tea and lemonade. Here are some frozen desserts to greet your guests and make your family feel special. This one is a bit of extra trouble, but the raves will make it worth the extra effort.
For crust, combine vanilla wafers, peanuts, sugar and butter. Set aside half of mixture for topping. Press remaining half into bottom of foil-lined 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.
For ice cream layer, soften 3 cups of ice cream; spread over frozen crust; return to freezer. For peanut butter filling, beat cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter until fluffy. Add milk gradually, beating until fluffy; fold in whipped cream. Spread over frozen ice cream; return to freezer until filling is firm. Spread 3 more cups of softened ice cream over filling. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs, patting crumbs lightly into ice cream. Cover with foil; freeze. Unmold just before serving; peel off foil. Slice to serve. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and watch your guests drool!
This one is also a favorite, made early in the day for an evening dessert.
18 Oreo cookies (small pkg.)
1/4 cup plus
1 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 small can evaporated milk
1 quart vanilla ice cream 1 cup cream, whipped and sweetened to taste
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Crush cookies and add 1/4cup melted butter and mix well. Press into 9-inch pan and chill. Melt chocolate over hot water and stir in remaining butter and the sugar. Add milk slowly. Cook over hot water until thick. Then chill. Place ice cream in crust and freeze. Cover with fudge mixture. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with nuts and freeze. Serves 12.
68 Ritz crackers (don't use any other brand)
Crush crackers very fine. Melt margarine and mix crackers, sugar
and margarine. Pat into a large glass baking dish.
Mix the above and spread over crust. Cover with a large container of Cool-Whip and return to freezer until serving tftne.
Old-fashioned ice cream made in a crank or electric freezer is always a welcomed treat and here's one that makes a gallon of the delicious dessert.
COUNTRY ICE CREAM
5 large eggs
In a large bowl beat eggs with a wire whisk until foamy. Beat in sugar, vanilla and salt until dissolved. Add milk and cream; stir until well mixed. Pour mixture into a 4-quart or larger ice-cream freezer can. Place dasher in freezer can and place can in bucket; attach motor or hand crank to the freezer can. Fill outside bucket half full of ice. Sprinkle with 1/4cup salt; repeat to within 1 inch below the can lid. Churn until ice cream is firm after pouring mixture into can. It will take 25-45 minutes. Remove the crank. Wipe can lid and remove. Remove the dasher. (Traditionally, everyone at our house fights over who gets to lick the dasher.) You can pack the ice cream into plastic containers for freezing in your freezer, if you prefer hard-frozen ice cream or eat the soft stuff immediately.
Jane Deveme of Vienna, Missouri requested a recipe for a Brownstone Front Cake which I finally located in an old cookbook, Pioneer Cookbook, by Eula Mae Stratton, written in 1969.
Jane said she remembered her great-grandmother making this in rural Massac County back in the forties, but no one in the family could locate the original recipe.
BROWNSTONE FRONT CAKE
Mix 6 tbsp. cocoa with 2 cups white sugar, adding 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted with 2 level tsps. baking soda and 1/8 tsp. salt. Then stir in 2 cups sour cream into which 4 eggs have been beaten. Mix and beat until very smooth and pour into a well buttered and floured cake pan (at least 8 x 15 inches) and bake in a moderate oven for about one hour, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. And with this Victorian-era cake, the following frosting is a must.
BURNT SUGAR FROSTING
Into an iron skillet place 1 cup granulated sugar and let heat over low blaze, stirring with a long handled spoon until sugar scorches and turns golden yellow when melted. It takes about 10 minutes. Add 2 tbsp. hot water and be careful not to get burned or let the syrup burn. Set aside to cool while you make an ordinary icing by placing in top of double boiler11/2 cups granulated sugar, 1 egg white, unbeaten, 1/3 cup cold water, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar and 1 tablespoon white syrup. While water is boiling rapidly in lower part of double boiler beat constantly with a rotary egg beater for exactly 7 minutes. Remember to keep a clean canvas glove handy for this operation to avoid bums while using the beater. Remove from heat at end of 7 minutes, add vanilla flavoring and the cooled burnt-sugar-syrup and continue to beat until reaches spreading stage. Pile onto the Brownstone Cake in swirls and garnish with gratings of chocolate or nutmeats. NOTE: Personally, I think the above sounds like too much work on a hot summer day!
Carlene Etherton of Champaign inquired about an old recipe for wild dewberry jam that her mother and grandmother made without using pectin. I found this one, using vinegar which makes the berries jell. I haven't tried it-let me know how it turns out. The recipe is from The Ozark Mountaineer Pioneer Cookbook.
WILD DEWBERRY JAM
Pick over and wash 1 quart of dewberries; place in a granite kettle; add a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. vinegar and 2 cups white sugar. Let boil until sugar has melted, then let come to a rolling boil and boil 10 minutes. When it begins to sputter and break into bubbles, push to back of stove (or lower heat), scrape down sides of kettle, and stir thoroughly so as to mash all berries into paste form. After sirnmering for 15 minutes, pour into glasses and top with a layer of melted paraffin.
And, from Collin Herstberger in Paducah, KY comes her great-grandmother's "receipt" for green tomato pie, similar, she says, to mincemeat.
GREEN TOMATO PIE
Wash 8 medium-sized green tomatoes, remove stems and chop fine, placing in a saucepan with enough water to cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tbsp. lemon juice (or vinegar), 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Melt 2 tbsp. butter and when cooled blend in a heaping tbsp. of cornstarch and add to the tomato mixture. Next add 1 cup seeded raisins, mix well and pour into a 10-inch pie tin that has been lined with a good crust. Criss-cross slices of crust over the top, crimping the edges to hold in the juice and bake in a hot (450) oven for about 25 minutes.
Have a favorite recipe to share with Springhouse readers or need a certain recipe? Write me at Crestwood Estates-Lake of Egypt, Route 5, Box 414, Marion, IL 62959 or call 618-995-2491.
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