Country Cooking – January 1

Happy New Year! It’s still 2019 as I write this but with family coming for the weekend I shall have to stay home and get ready for our Christmas gathering on Saturday. With Christmas Day in the middle of the week, it is difficult to get everyone together at that time. James said this is the first year since they have been married they will actually be in their own home on that day. They will leave shortly after to get here for the Iowa and Minnesota gatherings. The forecasts for weather for our area seem to be quite promising with just a hint of snow and above normal temperatures. 

From time to time I have decided to quote Robert in the book he compiled for the family. Often times we wish we had asked our parents about their life and how it was when they were growing up and that got him to put it in writing. Oh, the changes that have happened in our life such as television, trips to the moon, computers, telephone communication, and the list could go on and on. Robert wrote, “early memories of childhood were all quite pleasant. We were well taken care of by our parents, plenty to eat, good clothes, warm house (downstairs), we knew we were loved and were taught what was right and what was wrong. Some of the things that stand out in my mind where the cold winter mornings getting out of bed upstairs where it would be freezing, grabbing our clothes and heading downstairs to sit in front of the oven of the cookstove. Mother had already been up for probably an hour or more so she could have it warm for us when we came down. 

One morning when I was quite young, probably 3 or 4, I came downstairs and finding no one in the house I got scared, so in my pajamas and no shoes, I went outside over the snowbanks to the barn where everyone was milking the cows. I was returned to the house in a short period of time. I was born a farmer,  and at the age of 5 I was given my first cow to milk, which made me really happy, and in my heart, I never did quit farming”. 

From time to time I will continue his story and hope it brings back many memories for others and will be good conversation starters.

We don’t know what the new year will be for each of us but we will take it one day at a time. Granddaughter Riley and her fiance` have announced their plans for a wedding in August. A grand nephew will also be married in 2020. We hope and trust you will have a good year and the weather will cooperate better than the previous year even though we can’t do a thing about it but accept what comes. Wishing you all a happy and blessed new year.

Lasagna Soup 


1 pound bulk Italian sausage

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup diced carrots

2 cups sliced button mushrooms

2 tablespoons minced garlic


4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, chopped (14.5 oz.)

1 can tomato sauce (10.75 oz)

1 cup dry mafalda pasta (substitute penne or campanelle pasta)

2 cups chopped fresh spinach


1 cup diced provolone or fresh mozzarella cheese

Shredded Parmesan

Thinly sliced fresh basil

Brown sausage in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; saute` 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and garlic; saute` 3  minutes more.

Add broth, tomatoes, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook according to package directions, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1  minute. Divide provolone among serving bowls, then ladle soup over to melt. Garnish each serving with Parmesan and basil. Makes 8 servings 

Spiced Parmesan Twists


2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

1 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Unroll: 1 tube refrigerated bread-stick dough 

  1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Unroll dough onto lightly floured surface (do not separate into breadsticks yet). Brush dough with oil and sprinkle Parmesan mixture evenly over the top. Separate dough at perforations; grasp both ends of each piece and gently stretch to 10-12 inches long. Twist each piece into a spiral and arrange on prepared baking sheet 1/2-inch apart. Bake twist until golden, about 15 minutes; let cool on a rack 3 minutes before serving. Makes 12 twists.

Fruited Punch

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

3 cups strong brewed tea

3 cups orange juice, chilled

3 cups unsweetened pineapple juice, chilled

1/2 cup lemon juice, chilled

3 cups thinly sliced fresh or frozen strawberries

1 bottle (2 liters) ginger ale, chilled

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 3-4  minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a punch bowl, combine the tea, juices and sugar mixture. Stir in strawberries. Just before serving, stir in ginger ale. Makes 26 servings (3/4 cup each).

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