April is slowly slipping away, after rolling up her rain clouds and stowing them away. Hot sunshine takes the place of days of rainy weather, and is most welcome. The trees are sporting new green coats, while dogwood trees abound with their pristine white.There is an old legend about the dogwood tree, which always comes to mind when we see these lovely trees clothed in their white beauty.
LEGEND OF THE DOGWOOD TREE
In Jesus time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size, and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven
For the cross of Christ, its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress of this use of their wood,
Christ made a promise which still holds good;
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so . . .
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see,
As blood stains the petals marked in brown
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of my agony.
Of course, this is just a fable, but even so, it is a good reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross of Calvary. Not just at Eastertime should we be aware of this, but all the yearlong. The dogwood blossoms remind us.
This has been a bountiful mushroom season. The morels are mostly gone now, but we have enjoyed an abundance of them this year. In case there are a few ramps floating around, I found a recipe that looks delicious. I aim to try it as soon as I can capture some more ramps.
CHICKEN WITH WILD RAMPS AND CREAM
5-6 wild ramps
1 clove garlic, diced
3-4 pounds deboned and cubed raw chicken
Dash of nutmeg
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream
Clean the ramps well, then slice lengthwise and saute with the garlic in oil. Cook until transparent but not brown. Add cubed chicken; cook gently about 15 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream and garnish with a sprig of wild mint, if you like.
As one seasonal wild food fades, there is always something to take its place. Poke greens are in season now, and it is best when picked about 6” tall. I like to parboil them in a lot of water, then pour off the water and cook in fresh water. Lift greens from the water and place in skillet with bacon grease. Matthew says to add a beef bouillon cube and salt and pepper to taste.
It will soon be time for lamb’s quarter greens, one of my favorites. It tastes a lot like spinach, and is easy to prepare. It takes a lot of these greens, as they shrink when cooked. Wash well, and put in heavy skillet with the water that clings to them. Add salt, and cover with a heavy lid.These will cook tender in a few minutes.
While I am on a recipe roll, I’ve had a request from Cousin Tony for pickled cabbage. This is not your usual sauerkraut recipe, but the cabbage is pickled in vinegar. He knows to chop the cabbage coarsely, layer it with one half cup of canning salt, and let it set at room temperature for 24 hours. Then it is rinsed in cool water and drained for six hours. (Utensils should be ceramic, glass or enamel.) This recipe is for 12 pounds of cabbage, which makes five quarts or ten pints of pickled cabbage.
Make a brine of eight cups red wine vinegar, ½ cup of pickling salt, one cup brown sugar, two cinnamon sticks, ½ cup mustard seed, and ¼ cup each of the following: whole cloves, mace, whole allspice, whole peppercorns and celery seed. Heat for five minutes, fill jars with cabbage and pour brine over. Process for 20 minutes in hot water bath.
There is probably a more simple recipe, I hope. Shucks, before I’d go to all this trouble, I’d haul out the old stone jar and make sauerkraut. All you have to do is add salt to the chopped or shredded cabbage and wait for it to ferment. I think Grandmaw had the right idea!
Something kept making a thumping noise in the computer room, and I investigated to find out what it was. It came from outside the window, in the vicinity of my lavender azalea bush, which is in full bloom. While I watched, a songbird flew into the window. I thought at first it was a purple finch, but later realized it was a female cardinal. I have seen a male cardinal fight his reflection in a shiny hubcap (thinking his image was a rival) but I can’t figure this out. She is still at it, and I raised the window to see if she wanted in. She looked me straight in the eye, and flew up in the Rose of Sharon bush. I think she is trying to tell me something. (The bird feeder is not empty!)
I’ve been asked for an update on Rosalie, my Jack Russell baby. We are making progress, but slowly. She loves to sit on my lap, or lie behind me on the computer chair. I was rocking her to sleep (which she loves) when Criss came in and saw me. “You’re ruining that pup!” he said. A few days later, I saw him rocking her and whistling “Jesus Loves Me!” I didn’t say a word.
It reminds me of how Grandpa O’Dell used to rock the babies. Mom had her babies less than two years apart, and as soon as a new one came, he would drop the old baby! He would rock the baby for a couple of hours, and when he laid it down, of course it would wake up and cry. Then he would say, “That baby is sp’ilt!” Well, I wonder who spoiled her!
Back to Rosalie—we are not having a lot of success with house-breaking her. I think she is trying though. The other day she brought me in a full roll of toilet tissue! She knows the meaning of a few words such as: “Stop! No! Peepee! Come here! Out?” She is exactly what I needed!
“Happiness is a warm puppy.”—Charles M. Schulz