Denny and I hosted Easter for the Hartstack family with 38 in attendance. It's really nice to all be together as this is about the only time this happens each year. Everyone knows where they are going on Easter if at all possible. The young moms spearhead the egg hunt. The little ones love finding the colorful eggs. Bet city kids don't have Easter eggs on the wheels of the tractor! :)
I made10# of hamballs and everyone else brought the rest. It works out well. My daughter-in-law and I fix a couple other dishes and serve lemonade and tea and coffee with our dessert. I also LOVE to fix the tables and make them springy and pretty. It's just a great day...one that I truly look forward to each year.
I use my Mom's recipe for the ham balls. I have my recipe as well as Denny's mother's but I really think my Mom's recipe is the best!
5# ham loaf (our Fareway sells it already mixed with the beef and pork)
¾ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 ½ c. milk
1 tsp. Accent (can use Cavenders or Lowry’s or omit)
3 ½ - 4 c. crackers, crushed
salt as needed (taste when you turn and if they need salt, salt them)
1 ½ c. water
2 ½ c. brown sugar
1 ¼ c. vinegar
2 ½ T. dry mustard
Make 1/2 again as much sauce so if they start to cook dry, you’ll have sauce to add. I form the balls by using my ice cream scoop which works great. That makes a 1/3 c. ham ball. Put them in the pan touching each other. For the sauce combine all the ingredients and heat to boiling. Pour sauce over the ham balls, cover LOOSELY with foil, and bake at 350* for 1 hour. Turn over, check to see if they need salt…then recover and bake another 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes. During the last hour, add the extra sauce if needed. (makes 54 ham balls in 2-9x13 pans)
Last month we had our dear Aunt Jeanne's memorial service in Cozad. We got to see family and friends and that was very enjoyable. We shared lots of fun memories of Aunt Jeanne. She was a wonderful woman and we all miss her very much.
After this we started anticipating our granddaughter's high school graduation.
Eighteen years ago today we were two months from meeting our granddaughter...our first grandchild. July 10, 1995, Ciera Mae was born. She was a beautiful little girl. When she was a little girl we did it all. We went to the lake and the Zoo, to the parks and to the circus. We made castings of animal tracks down the dirt road and went fishing. We had dance night on Saturday nights. Denny (grandpa) and Ciera would dress up and then the music would start. Ciera loved Grease and at age 4 knew every word to every song on the CD.
We had picnics and took walks. She'd have 'school' around the dining room table and Travis, Denny and I would be the students. Teacher Ciera would pass out our assignments. She would instruct us. She was a 'no-nonsense' teacher so we worked hard to please her. We hopefully would do the work correctly and then would be proud to see a star on our papers.
Since our entire family loves to cook we would often try to involve her in the preparation of our meals. I especially wanted her to 'inherit' that trait...that love for cooking so I hope she will enjoy it as much as we do.
It's been 17+ years of love for this girl. Let's jump ahead to today. Last Sunday she received her high school diploma from Shenandoah High School at the commencement ceremonies. I got teary on the first song sung by the chorus but composed myself and enjoyed the ceremony immensely. At the end I did well up again thinking of the adventures ahead for not only our girl but for all those young adults. I couldn't help but wonder where each of them would be in five years, ten years and beyond. I pray they all have a good, healthy, happy life in whatever they do.
Now it's time to get back on the farm. The garden is in and the flowers are planted. We have lots of perennials so I only plant two planters of annuals. The first night they were attacked by a raccoon. All the plants were laying on the patio. Second night the same thing. For the last 3 nights we have baited a live trap with marshmallows..and yes, thankfully the cats have not been attracted to the marshmallows. The first night the cage was still set but the bait was gone. Night #2 the trap was sprung and the bait was gone. Night #3 the cage was sprung but the marshmallows were gone. Whatever is happening, they are leaving the planters alone. Tonight we may rig up one of Denny's trail cameras to see how Houdini Howie is getting those marshmallows!
I have been working on recipes for the Iowa State Fair competition and have ten entries in mind. I haven't really started trying them in my 'test kitchen' yet with the exception of one salad which was NOT a keeper let alone a State Fair winner!
By the way, last year I was fortunate enough to win first place in the Cookie's BBQ competition. I was judged by the owner of the company, Speed "The Sauceman" Herrig. They have my recipe (and the picture they asked me to submit from my very own kitchen...also showing our family cookbook in the background!) on their website. I have pasted it below for you to view!
I also have been organizing menus and recipes for some upcoming events. The first will be a week long visit from my mother. I like to fix things while she's here that are different than what she fixes for herself at home. I also have been thinking of what foods I will make for Girls Weekend in September.
We have a really busy couple months. There are 2 weddings, the County Fair, a trip to Ryan and Keri's in Denver, a visit from Brodie for several days, tickets to the College World Series as well as to the PGA Senior Open, and then it'll be time for the Iowa State Fair!
Farm planting has had its ups and downs...more ups than downs. We have received lots of needed rainfall and in between they got all the corn planted and some of the beans. It has been rainy for nearly a week now but today they are hopefully going to be back at it! The break is nice in the fact that they can rest and get rejuvenated before starting back up. Rain is predicted for the next 4-5 days after today so today they will run long and hard!