It bears repeating: Family mealtimes are always time well spent

Published 6:44 pm Thursday, December 27, 2007

By Staff
I don't know how many of you readers have access to the newspapers from our neighboring state of Indiana, but I can only hope that at least some of you happened to see the Nov. 11 issue, for it had quite a lengthy article on "Family Dinners."
In fact the event went one step further than I had, by stating that they thought it to be a critical weapon against substance abuse. I shall endeavor to keep my copy here in my correspondence file, for it was an informative article that gave insight as to how we can help our children help themselves.
In previous columns, I have repeatedly emphasized the nutritional aspect we can gain from home-cooked meals shared by family members as a means of curbing obesity and promoting family life.
I admit to having been ignorant as to how it could protect our children against risky behaviors that were mentioned in this article. When you consider that only one, out of every four families share a daily meal with one another … that's rather sad! Modern technology has done everything in its power to provide us with appliances that make meal preparation a breeze, and in half the time … so what's our excuse?
Family mealtime does not have to take place at just the table. Involve your family in the preparation and clean-up as well.
There are all types of chores involved in mealtime. Setting the table, measuring ingredients, peeling potatoes or other veggies; so this is where the family time can actually begin.
Discuss the events of the day while you are working together … was your husband successful at getting that contract signed? How did your son do on that math test? How did your daughter make out on that history assignment? Questions such as these keep you up-to-date on what your family members are doing and a line of communication open to one another. Being present when you are cooking a meal, shows them all how to navigate around the kitchen.
Believe me when I say that all too soon, years elapse, family members pass on and all you will have left are the memories. So by all means, make these memories as meaningful as possible!
Baked Sliced Potatoes
4 potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable oil or butter
1 teapsoon salt
dash pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sage
While your oven is preheating to 450 degrees, peel the potatoes and slice them about 1/8 inch thick. Now, immerse these slices into bowl of oil, salt and herbs. Toss this mix together, then place the prepared slices onto a greased 15 1/2 x 10 x 1 inch baking sheet. The slices should all overlap just slightly. Bake them, uncovered for 20 minutes. (Note: If you prefer them crispy, increase the time a bit.)
Timely trivia: During the time of our early settlers, corn was used for various purposes in addition to eating. Taxes were paid with it, games were played with it (using red and yellow kernels of corn) and balloting … one kernel indicated a favorable vote.
Homemaker's hint: When removing stains, if you have access to the back of the fabric, lay the front of the article of clothing onto a white towel; then work the stain remover in from the back of the garment.
Salisbury Steak with Sauce
1 1/2 pounds lean ground chuck
1 or 2 large onions, chopped
1/2 stick oleo
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Place 2 tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of water and all but just a couple of the tablespoons of onions into a large skillet. Keep the heat moderately low. Cover the pan and cook these onions for a good 8 to 10 minutes, do not allow to brown. Now, mix the meat, garlic, chives, parsley, salt, pepper and thyme, plus the reserved onions. Mix these ingredients well, then form them into patties. Now, heat the remaining two tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan over moderate heat until the butter becomes bubbly. Add the ground chuck patties to this and cook them for about four minutes on each side. Keep warm while you prepare the sauce. Stir the flour onto the already cooked onions and cook them for just one minute, then add the beef broth to this and boil for a good 4 to 5 minutes, continually stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Serve this over hot, cooked patties. (Note: This could be served over hot noodles or mashed potatoes if desired.)
Trivia: Did you know that in the days of our early Settlers, it was considered a crime to feed hogs corn? They were expected to survive by scavenging on the streets.
Homemaker's hint: Do you know that your water softener removes hard water minerals, stain producing iron and even lead? Do not depend on it to remove nitrates, radon or pesticides however.
*I'm going to offer you a challenge: See how many people you can make smile today!
Cheesy Asparagus
1 1/2 pound fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons butter
Wash asparagus, then break off the tough stem ends. Cook covered in one inch of salted water. This should take about 5 minutes to get the asparagus crisp tender. Drain well, lower the heat, add the butter and heat. Sprinkle the asparagus with the Parmesan, then place under the broiler only long enough to melt the cheese.
Homemaker's hint: If you're looking to buy the strongest, most absorbent paper towels, they will usually be the premium priced rolls. If you are going to use them primarily for absorption … these will do the job to your satisfaction.
*Your attitude is the determining factor in how successfully you can encourage friendships.
Weekend Bacon &Eggs
1/2 pound bacon
4 eggs
1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups cubed bread
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons dry mustard
salt as desired
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cook the bacon until it is crispy, then drain on paper towels. Place the baking dish with your butter into the oven, then add the bread cubes, which have been evenly sprinkled with the cheese, and toss well. Beat the eggs, together with the milk, mustard and salt; then pour this mixture over the bread and bake, covered for about 25 minutes. Always allow to stand, very briefly, before serving.
Food Facts: One cup of shredded cheese amounts to approximately four ounces.
Homemaker's hint: When you are together for family meals, avoid contentious conversations. Make pleasant conversation only … during mealtime. You should always relegate disciplinary on a "one-to-one" basis.
*You don't deserve a decent day's wages if you don't perform a decent day's work!
Spicy Ham Steak
1 pound fully cooked ham (1/2" thick)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/2 cup mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup crushed dried red pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over a moderately high heat for approximately one minute, then add the ham steak and cook, uncovered, for several minutes per side or until evenly browned. Combine the water, catsup, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper and sugar and add it to the skillet into the ham. Allow this to simmer, uncovered, for a good ten minutes, then serve hot.
Timely trivia: Did you know that pretzels were said to have originated in 610 AD, when an Italian monk rewarded the children who learned their prayers?
Homemaker's hint: Always bear in mind that although there are environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of either vegetables or surfactants derived from petroleum … there is no inherent environmental advantage to using one surfactant source over the other.
*It is not necessarily the circumstances that determine an individuals mood, it's the attitude that they take into various circumstances that will create their mood.
French Peas
2 cups shelled peas
1/2 medium sized head iceberg lettuce
1 yellow onion, peeled &chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Remove the core and outer leaves of the lettuce, then slice the head into thin shreds. Combine the butter, water, sugar and salt into a good sized saucepan. Cover it with the lettuce, then the chopped onions and top it with the peas. Sprinkle generously with the parsley; then place a lid on the pan and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to simmer and let it cook until tender. This should take possibly 10 minutes
Trivia: Peas have been found to contain a powerful compound that can help prevent healthy cells from becoming cancerous and they also contain special substances that will help reduce cholesterol as well as ease many symptoms of our common colds; so don't ever underestimate the power of those "beady little devils!"
Homemaker's Hint: Family mealtimes have a way of promoting a "bonding experience" that can benefit both the parents as well as the children. Why is it that so many of us just seem to seek this feeling on just the holidays?
*Kindness is like a magnet for once you receive it, you want to experience the feeling of giving it back.
Baked Bananas
4 bananas
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Turn your oven to 350 degrees and while preheating, peel the bananas, then slice them in half lengthwise. Place a single layer of them evenly into a greased 9x9x2 inch casserole dish and sprinkle them with brown sugar. Bake, uncovered for eight minutes, then turn them over and bake them for an additional seven minutes.
Homemaker's hint: I am told that the yard blowers that clean best are those with a round-end blower nozzle. They say that several hand-held models can equal the blowing power of the best backpacks.
Timely trivia: I would have to assume that Gibbons (or great apes) are never plagued with heartburn, ulcers or high blood pressure; considering the fact that bananas play such an important role in their diet.
*Cooperation can help us perform miracles.
Tuna Melts
2 – 6 1/2 or 7 ounce cans tuna, drained and flaked
4 English muffins
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced thin
4 tablespoons onions, grated
1/4 cup sweet green peppers, finely chopped
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
dash black pepper
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 pimento, cut into strips
Preheat your broiler and toast the muffins. Combine the tuna, onions, green pepper, mayo, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and mustard. Spread this liberally onto the eight muffin halves; top with the extra-sharp Cheddar cheese. Place these onto a broiler sheet placed four inches from the broiler for just 3 minutes or until the cheese melts and browns ever so lightly. (Note: You can top each of these halves with a strip of pimento if you desire and this melt is delicious served with a salad.)
Homemaker's Hint: If you are in the habit of using oven cleaners, never use them on the self-cleaning type of oven that offer continuous cleaning, self-cleaning oven finishes or on bare metal. They are only made for shiny porcelain coated surfaces or glass.
Hale &Hearty Texas Beef Stew
1 pound ground chuck
1 large peeled and chopped onion
1 – 1 pound can tomatoes, chopped with their juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in a good, heavy and large saucepan for about one minute over a moderate heat. Add the ground chuck, onions and garlic. Cook this, without a lid, for approximately 7 minutes or until the onions are nice and soft and the ground chuck has browned. Now, add tomatoes, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, raisins and salt. Cook covered on a low heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally. Add several tablespoons of water to thin it if necessary.
Homemaker's Hint: Did you know that an entire house or attic fan's louver as well as the screening, should be brushed and vacuumed at least once a season to keep the air flow at a maximum.
Timely trivia: It is truly important to the happiness and welfare of your family to initiate family meals. Even though the trend has become so lackadaisical, for way too long a period of time. We can turn this situation around if only we put forth the effort! The future of our forthcoming generation is worth it!
*Of all of today's recipes, not a single one exceeds 25 minutes of cooking time, and the preparation could be accomplished by a joint effort of family members!