Saturday, July 4, 2009

Swimming Pools, 'Tater Salad, and Fireworks

Hey all! Well today, Sr. put up the swimming pool. Now that we are not getting rained on every day, we thought we MIGHT be able to get out and enjoy it. It is just one of those 3 foot expandable pools, but Lil' Man won't be able to touch the bottom so it will seem big to him. I had mixed feelings about it - mostly because I haven't even owned a swimsuit in years. I really like our neighbors on one side, and I wouldn't want to scare the heck out of them or blind them with my white-ness. I guess they will just have to look away. :)

The pool went up nicely. They are really very easy to deal with. Ours hold 1000 gallons of water. We were waiting for it to fill up and, Sr. went out to check on it, as it was getting full. Of course, there is a small pin hole in the very bottom of the pool. We will see how much water is left tomorrow. It's not gushing, but still frustrating. As soon as we get that figured out, Lil Man will start "water therapy". Maybe it will wear his little hiney out and we can start getting to bed at a decent hour!

Tomorrow is the fireworks display at the Legion. My Mom and Dad live right across the street, so we all go over and hang out in their front yard to watch the fireworks. I am interested to see how Lil Man does with them this year. He is becoming more aware of his surroundings. In the past, they haven't seemed to bother him - or they have overwhelmed him to the point he just shuts down and goes to sleep. He was frightened by thunder a few weeks ago, so this should be interesting.

Since I do a lot of cooking for the holidays, I thought I would post two of the recipes that I am making for tomorrow. We aren't having a big party this year - just something to grab while we wait for the fireworks. (You have to get there REALLY early, or there is no parking available.)

So, the first recipe is a two part-er. The first part is for a mix that you can use for several different recipes. The recipe comes from this book. Most of the recipes in the book are bulk recipes that then get made into others.

MEAT SAUCE MIX: This yields five, 1 pint servings to be used in other recipes. Larger families might want to only divide in in half or use the whole thing. I use the whole thing for holidays and put the second part in the crock pot instead of a skillet.

4 medium onions, chopped (I use a bad of frozen, pre-chopped onions - saves time)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

2 cups finely chopped celery*

2 to 3 chopped carrots, optional*

5 lbs lean ground beef

5 teaspoons salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 (28 oz) bottle ketchup (I just use store brand or whatever is on sale)

6 drops hot pepper sauce, optional

1 large chopped green pepper, optional* (I also use a bag of frozen pre-chopped peppers if I don't have fresh)

*I put the celery, carrots, fresh green pepper, and fresh onions (if that is what I am using) in a food processor and chop VERY fine. I don't think anybody knows that there are celery and carrots in this recipe!

Spray large skillet (I use a chicken fryer or a dutch oven) with vegetable cooking spray and saute' onions, green peppers celery, carrots, and garlic until onions are golden. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool

Put into five 2 cup freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top. Cut through mixture several times to remove air pockets. Seal and label containers with date and contents. Freeze. Use within 3 months. Makes about 5 pints.

RANCHER'S SLOPPY JOES: This recipe is for using 1 of the 5 servings from above. If using the entire recipe for a crowd, multiply by 5. I will put those measurements in ( ). This recipe is great for busy nights. It can be ready in 10 -20 minutes, depending of if it was thawed ahead of time.

1 pint (5 pints) MEAT SAUCE MIX, thawed

1/4 cup (1 1/4 cup) packed brown sugar or equivalent brown sugar substitute (Splenda)

2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) white vinegar

1/2 cup (2 1/2 cups) ketchup

1 tablespoon (5 tablespoons) mustard

hamburger buns

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Mix well, cover and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until heated through. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes 6 servings.

For the entire recipe, I put everything in a crock pot at least 2 hours ahead of serving time. Put on low or medium setting and heat through. Stir occasionally. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes about 30 servings.

The other holiday recipe in our family in potato salad. My Grandma Krauel made the best potato salad. We have this at Christmas time too, with ham. It is best serves as cold as possible. This is another good sized recipe. If making just for a small family, I would at least cut it in half. There would still be enough for leftovers.


5 lbs potatoes, large diced

1 dozen hard boiled eggs, diced or sliced

4 stalks celery, sliced

2 medium onions, chopped (I use sweet yellow onions for this - your preference on how

"onion-y" you like it.)

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

2 cups Miracle Whip (do not use mayonnaise, but can use fat free, etc. Miracle Whip)

1/2 cup sweet pickle juice

1/4 cup sugar or equivalent sugar substitute (Splenda)

1 cup thinly sliced sweet pickles - optional

yellow food coloring

Peel, and dice potatoes all about the same size. Put in large dutch oven in cold water with a little salt. Wait until all potatoes are ready before cooking. Boil for about 25 -30 minutes. Start checking potatoes at about 20 minutes. You want a fork to go into them easily, but not to be cooked as you would for mashed potatoes. Those will be too mushy. Drain and cool. Put into large roster or plastic container in fridge.

Rinse pot and add cold water. Add 1 dozen eggs. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot cool - this way the yolks do not turn green around the outside. If you are in a hurry, you can put the entire pot in the sink and run cold water over all, until all of the eggs are cooled. Once eggs are cool, peel and slice or dice. I use an egg slicer - it makes it much easier. Add to potatoes.

Next add celery, onions, Miracle Whip, pickle juice, mustard, and sweet pickles. Add 1/8 cup sugar or Splenda. Mix well and taste. If the mix seems too bitter, continue adding sugar to taste. If the mixture seems "dry" , try adding Miracle Whip and mustard a couple of tablespoons full at a time, until you reach the right consistency. Add yellow food coloring until salad is a light lemon yellow.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Enjoy!

Well, it looks like the fireworks tonight are going to be washed out. Hope for a miracle; that the rain will go away. :)

Hope everybody has a Happy and Safe 4th of July! Feel free to leave your browser open to this page. I put a new playlist at the bottom full of patriotic music. :)


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