Country Cooking – March 11

With the nice weather, we are having it summons us to do some spring cleaning. Granted it isn’t the same as years ago when we stripped the rooms and really got down to the bare bones so it could be cleaned from top to bottom. Nowadays we are more inclined to do what is necessary for the moment and put off a thorough cleaning for a “rainy day” and eventually claim it as done. Over the years I have started several collections and now it is time to re-circulate them to others. Most of the grandkids aren’t very interested in any of it as they have enough of their own and the various articles don’t have any meaning for them. In the last few years, I have reminded my family that they should take back any gifts they have given us over the years. Okay, but that surely doesn’t take care of the collections that I have purchased items to add to them. For instance, I still have my play dishes only one plate had broken so I found one at an antique store except it was the wrong color. That led to starting another set. You would be surprised how much I have had to pay to complete the second and third sets. They aren’t to play with anymore as we did as young children. 

When does one become a hoarder instead of a collector? A real collector will store the pieces in an orderly fashion as a hoarder probably doesn’t have any knowledge of what they have. My dad had a collection of dogs that have now been distributed to the grandchildren. Our mother didn’t have any collections that I’m aware of but there were certainly a lot of African violets in the window sills and the large plant stand that looked like a bunk bed.

I don’t think I planned to be a collector but it just seemed to happen. Somewhere I got a brass bell and that evolved into finding several more as they didn’t take up much room. Same way with teaspoons as a remembrance of traveling to different places. A variety of birds to decorate the Christmas tree, and of course, pieces commemorating our Swedish and Dutch heritage. Auctions, rummage sales, antique stores, thrift stores, e-bay, etc. are good places to add to your collections. It does become a habit and might be difficult to walk away from what may or may not be a good deal. Now it is time to start eliminating and for the past couple of Christmases cookbooks, Santa Clauses and other memorabilia have been distributed to family members. It is interesting to watch them as they often exchange what they received with someone else. Most young families aren’t interested in so-called trinkets as they move too many times. Hopefully, these small gifts will help them remember good times at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. 

Tuna Salad Wrap

1 can (5 ounces) light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked

1 celery rib, finely chopped

1/4 fat-free mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 whole-wheat tortillas (8 inches), room temperature

1/2 cup shredded lettuce

1 small carrot, shredded

4 slices tomato

2 slices red onion, separated into rings

1 hard-cooked egg, sliced

In a small bowl, combine the tuna, celery, mayonnaise, and pepper. Spoon tuna mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top with lettuce, carrot, tomato, onion, and egg. Roll up tightly; secure with toothpicks. Serves 2

Lemon Herbed Salmon

2-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, melted, divided

1 salmon fillet (3 to 4 pounds)

Combine bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, thyme, lemon peel, and salt; mix well. Add 4 tablespoons butter and toss lightly to coat; set aside.

Pat salmon dry. Place skin side down in a greased baking dish. Brush with the remaining butter; cover with crumb mixture. Bake at 350º for 20 to 25 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Makes 8 servings.

Mini Cheesecakes

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1 cup whipping cream

2 cups blueberries

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325º. Mix graham crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar and butter until blended; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crusts.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Beat whipping cream with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; spread onto cheesecakes. Top with blueberries and zest. Variation: Garnish with strawberry jam and halved fresh strawberries or other fresh fruit. 

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