I just returned from a brisk morning walk. During the nice months of the year (April -November), I try to walk at least five days a week. Regardless of dark clouds or bright sun, I always wear a hat. If you've seen an old gal walking along the streets in Cottonwood, wearing a green hat that resembles one which would be worn on a safari, that's me.
My expeditions are not very adventurous - the only animals I encounter are small and domesticated. And all the natives are friendly.
Occasionally I stumble upon a small treasure. One day I found a shiny dime. Another day, a small rock shaped like a heart caught my eye.
I don't wear headphones. Instead, I listen to the sounds of life ... the train moving on the tracks, a noisy blue jay, laughter of children, barking dogs, the sound of a hammer hitting a nail, a siren.
As I walk, I admire the beautiful lawns and gardens. With each week that passes, the landscape changes. During the warm summer months, shrubs bloom and the flowers grow tall and are alive with color. Later, the blooms fade.
The leaves on the trees turn to shades of red, yellow, orange and brown. This is nature's way of reminding us that winter can't be far away.
Other changes take place also. A family moves into a vacant house, while another property now has a for sale sign in the yard.
Often during a walk my keen sense of smell kicks in. No one can ignore the scent of apple blossoms and lilacs in early summer. On a hot afternoon I've discovered roads being repaired. There's nothing quite like the odor of hot asphalt to make me walk a little faster.
Now and then I get a whiff of fried bacon, meat cooking on an outdoor grill, the smell of fresh baked cookies or a simmering pot of chili ... wonderful smells that leave me feeling hungry.
As I head for home, I'm thinking about what I can find to eat once I've walked in the door. At this rate, it would probably be wise to "stay the course" - so I'll continue to take in all the sounds, smells, and sights of small town life as I walk the streets. At least until the snow falls.
From Grandma's recipe box
DUMPLINGS WITH TOMATOES AND BACON
7 slices uncooked bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 T. butter
1 can(28-oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. cold butter
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 cup milk
In a deep 9 or 10 inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon. When cool, break strips of bacon into small pieces. In the same skillet, saute onions in butter until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and bacon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer while preparing dumplings.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add parsley. Stir in milk just until moistened. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto simmering tomato mixture. Cover and simmer for 20-25 min. or until a toothpick inserted into dumplings comes out clean. Serve immediately.
Notes: For best results do not remove cover until it is time to check the dumplings for doneness. I ended up with nine fluffy dumplings. They were done after simmering for 23 min. Home-canned tomatoes work great in this recipe; you'll need about 3-1/2 cups. Delicious served with roasted or grilled meats.
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses (mild)
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
1/8 tsp. pepper
Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup quick oats
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (recipe above)
1/4 tsp. onion salt
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
Combine the burger ingredients. Shape meat into six patties. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 min. on each side, basting with barbecue sauce (1/2 cup) during last 5 min. Serve on buns with desired toppings.
Garnish with cheddar cheese
1-lb. ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1 envelope mild chili seasoning mix
1 qt. canned tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, drain and rinse
1 (15-oz) can chili beans
1 (15-oz) can kidney beans, drain and rinse
1 clove garlic, crushed
2/3 cup bell peppers, green or red
1 sm. can mushrooms (stems and pieces)
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 T. brown sugar
Southwest seasoning, as desired
Brown beef, adding the onion, salt and pepper. Drain excess fat. Combine with remaining ingredients. Simmer 2 to 3 hours.
Note: I didn't have southwest seasoning, so added: 1/4 tsp. paprika, scant 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper and a pinch of ground oregano.
Food for Thought: No man can be wise on an empty stomach.