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Archive for July, 2012

Dear Readers,

The highlight of a summer Sunday in my family was Sunday dinner.  (When I refer to “dinner”, I mean the mid-day meal because we called the evening meal “supper”.)  Sunday dinner was served at 11:30 AM, which meant that Mom attended the 5 AM Mass at St. Therese Church on Kentucky Street.  As soon as she returned from Mass, meal preparation was begun.  Crispy fried chicken was the favored main entree along with fresh green beans cooked for hours with a ham hock, and creamy mashed potatoes that were mashed by hand with an old metal potato masher.  (After Mom died, it was one of the treasures I retrieved from our family kitchen on Breckinridge Street.)  Summer meant fresh “combination” salad, which was a mixture of chopped fresh tomatoes, cukes and green pepper combined with mayo, salt and pepper.  It was cool and refreshing.  Mouth-watering homemade pies were offered for dessert.  In early summer, Mom baked strawberry and strawberry-custard pies.  During the months of July and August, peach and peach-custard pies graced the table.  One pie was not enough for the family as we craved the cold pie leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

After dinner, when the dishes were washed, hand-dried and put away, Mom would relax on the back porch swing to read the Sunday newspaper and Dad would retire to a pallet on the floor for a summer nap.

At least once a month, my Mom’s sister, Martha (Aunt Tubby) arrived for Sunday dinner in her light blue Studebaker sedan.  After dinner she would drive our family (we didn’t own a car) to Calvary Cemetery to visit the graves of Grandma and Grandpa Harris, where we offered a prayer for the repose of their souls.  My sister and I loved playing in the parked Studebaker, pretending we were driving.  We didn’t even mind the inferno-like temperature of the car as it sat in the summer sun.  A little sweat was a small price to pay for an afternoon of entertainment.

Some Sundays my Dad would take us to the “Broadway” picture show to see a couple of movies.  The theater was dark and cool with frosty air-conditioning.  Dad treated us to a large box of popcorn.  It was a great way to spend a hot Sunday afternoon.  We begged Mom to join us but she said she would rather stay home.  We felt sorry that she was missing a movie.  As kids, we didn’t realize that this was her only time all week she could spend without children and she was enjoying every minute of her afternoon alone!
If I could go back in time to relive just one of these summer Sundays, I would savor every second.  But since that isn’t possible, I’ll have to be content with these unforgettable memories!

Keep smilin’!

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Summer Orzo Salad

Dear Readers,

My daughter-in-law gave me this recipe which she copied from the internet.  I don’t know what site it was published on.  I tried it and enjoyed it very much.  The salad is light and refreshing; the perfect side dish for summer meals.  I think it might be the lemon juice that gives it such a fresh taste.  This recipe makes a large salad but it keeps well in the fridge.

Summer Orzo Salad

Dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Salad:

1 cup uncooked orzo

2 cups chopped tomato

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels

1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion

Combine dressing ingredients and put in empty jar; cover and shake.  Cook and drain orzo according to package directions.  Pour 1/2 of the dressing onto warm orzo.  Let cool; then add remaining dressing and tomato, basil, corn and red onion.  Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I can still remember the long lazy days of summer as a kid.  June, July, August – three whole months of no school seemed like an eternity to me.  It meant freedom from homework and studying for tests, sleeping late and endless mornings and afternoons of nothing but fun and play.  As a kid, I foolishly thought those summer days would last forever!

Here are a few special memories I’d like to share with you.

On Barret Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky next to the Altenheim (that’s German for home for the aged) was a large open field called O’Leary’s Field.  It was probably named after the owner.  Every summer the area overflowed with blooming violets.  My Mom allowed me to accompany the neighborhood kids to pick violets.  We arrived early in the morning while the field was still partially shaded from the hot summer sun.  I picked as many violets as each hand could hold and walked a block and a half home to present them to my Mom.  She welcomed the fruits of my labor with open arms and searched for drinking glasses to hold the blooms.  I was so proud of those small bouquets.  Violet-picking was a pleasant summer ritual; that is until the year the open field disappeared beneath a paved parking lot for a nearby church.  O’Leary’s Field was gone but not the memories of picking summer violets.

One of the best treats of summer was shedding my shoes to go barefoot.  The feeling of the grass tickling my toes was heavenly.  The grass was cool and refreshing; much different than running across the hot concrete sidewalk.  The grass in our backyard was studded with clover.  And with the clover came lots of small honeybees feasting on the nectar.  Sure enough at least once each summer I stepped on a bee and suffered a bee sting.  I would holler and cry and then run into the house to find Mom.  She tried to extract the stinger but it was usually too late.  My foot would turn red and begin to swell.  A paste of baking soda and water was applied to the area to draw out the stinger.  Then a bandage was applied.  A few hours later the horrible itching would start.  There was no Benadryl in our medicine cabinet.  I had to tough it out for a few days until the swelling and itching subsided.  Despite the inconvenience of a bee sting, I couldn’t wait to run barefoot again in the back yard.

My final summer memory is catching fireflies on a warm summer evening.  As soon as the sun went down and the fireflies appeared, my sister and I hurried to get our jars with holes poked in the lids.  They were the perfect place for the captured fireflies.  We usually only caught one or two of these insects and then decided to let them go.  It just didn’t seem right to imprison them.  They were so beautiful and so much a part of summer.  I haven’t seen a firefly in years.  I wonder if they are still around.  They were a very special part of my summers in the 50’s.

Keep smilin’!

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