Columns

Mon
06
Nov

Pumpkin spice—oh, that’s nice

                With Thanksgiving only weeks away, I’ve been busy formulating recipes to make for our big family feast. Whenever I can find an occasion to contribute one of my original dishes, I jump at the chance. By doing so, I get unbiased opinions as to whether or not the taste-testers liked my food creations.

                One of my favorite events to try out new recipes happens to be at the quarterly meetings of the Edom Historical Society. While I’m currently holding the offices of both secretary and treasurer, I recently volunteered to provide all of the refreshments for our March, June, and September meetings.

I also contribute to the smorgasbord of delightful appetizers and snacks at our Christmas party each year. For this occasion, all of our members bring one or more dishes. After a brief meeting of business, we talk, laugh, eat, and thoroughly enjoy our time together.

Mon
06
Nov

We couldn’t have done it without you

Included within this week’s paper is a special Veterans Day section that the Van Zandt Newspapers staff has worked tirelessly on for a number of months.

Yes, it really does take months to put together a piece like this. In fact, it took about two months for the entire piece to make it into the hands of our proofreaders, publisher and me, the editor, to be marked all over and crossed out, respelled, reorganized and basically done all over again.

It’s a time-consuming process, with everyone pulling their weight to put out not only five newspapers a week, but also a 20-page special section. Here is the part where I thank the volunteers that have helped us bring this piece together.

Sandra Jones- You were a lifesaver, and I am so thankful for the friendship that has blossomed. You are always welcome in our newsroom. It’s people like you that still give newspapers hope.

Mon
30
Oct

The Inspired Cook

Halloween creeps closer and closer with each passing day.

                Are you throwing a themed party this year? Do you have children and/or grandchildren for whom you want to make special treats and eats?

                Unfortunately for me, all of my better half Charles’s and my children are grown, and our grandchildren don’t live close to us. Therefore, I just really don’t participate in this holiday anymore.

                I can hear an audible gasp from many of you reading this. No, I’m not one of those people who don’t turn on their porch lights to deter trick-or-treaters. Actually, we live in the country and don’t get any.

                When my daughters, Ashley and Tracie, were young, I never hosted a Halloween party or made special foods for them. Two primary events persuaded my reasoning for this decision.

Mon
23
Oct

VZC wraps fiscal year

Well, we’ve made it through the fiscal year but not in really good shape. Road and Bridge (R&B) is in good shape but the general fund is suffering a little.

The county tax revenue for fiscal year 2017-‘18 with the 2017 rate of .585847 is projected to increase by $999,952.

This increase is just under the 8 percent that would trigger the rollback process. Of the $999,952, $145,076 will go to debt service and $159,820 will go to the special R&B tax.

This leaves $695,056 going to maintenance and operation. Of that, approximately 20 percent goes to R&B. This puts approximately $556,044 going to the general fund.

The only problem is the general fund expenses for fiscal year 2017-‘18 are projected to increase by $630,044. That puts the general fund $74,000 short.

Mon
23
Oct

Dumb Tips for Hunters

Some folks think that going hunting means setting up camp on a Friday night, popping a few cans of beer, telling tall tales late into the night, and getting up at daybreak to go hunting.

In that spirit, I’ve assembled some dumb tips for hunters that will make your hunting experience more, let’s say, interesting.

Use the largest buckshot you can get when hunting doves. Unlike birdshot, you won’t hit many doves. But the ones you hit, you’ll hit, and you’ll know because you’ll see the explosion of feathers.

Some folks in Texas use dogs to hunt hogs. Borrow their dogs to go flush doves. All dogs like to chase animals, so what’s the difference?

Don’t worry about losing dogs when you go hunting. Dogs are smart. They all know the way to go home.

If you carry a pistol to shoot snakes, carry it in your pants pocket. Don’t worry about snagging the hammer on your pants when you pull it out. When it fires, that will scare the snake.

Mon
23
Oct

The Inspired Cook

Craving hearty casseroles

I don’t know about you, but when the weather turns cooler in the fall, I crave hearty casseroles. You know the type that’s practically a meal in itself. Not only are these dishes easy to prepare, but also they eliminate a lot of meal planning, which can sometimes causes mental stress especially if there are picky eaters in your family.

With these casseroles, there’s no need to rack your brain about what sides to prepare that would complement your entrée. All you really need is a green salad or maybe a piece of cornbread or a roll, and you’re done.

Today I’m sharing two of my original recipes inspired by my love of hearty casseroles and the cooler weather of fall. While formulating these dishes, I incorporated my substitute recipes, which I shared with you during the last few weeks.

Mon
16
Oct

The Inspired Cook

Corn-Muffin Mix Substitute Ready in a Jiffy

                Oh, no! It happened again!

For the umpteenth time, I found myself without a necessary ingredient for a recipe, an event I’m sure many of you also have faced. In my case, most of these elusive ingredients seem to fall into one particular category, which I like to refer to as products of convenience.

This time, my not having a box of corn muffin mix created a great deal of inconvenience for me. This predicament inspired me to discover a way to prevent this from ever happening again.

So, I conducted a bit of online research for homemade copycat recipes. During my research, I located eight sites listing the same recipe. There could be more, but I stopped searching after that. With so many, who knows who actually created the original recipe?

Mon
09
Oct

The Inspired Cook

Corn-Muffin Mix Substitute Ready in a Jiffy

                Oh, no! It happened again!

For the umpteenth time, I found myself without a necessary ingredient for a recipe, an event I’m sure many of you also have faced. In my case, most of these elusive ingredients seem to fall into one particular category, which I like to refer to as products of convenience.

This time, my not having a box of corn muffin mix created a great deal of inconvenience for me. This predicament inspired me to discover a way to prevent this from ever happening again.

So, I conducted a bit of online research for homemade copycat recipes. During my research, I located eight sites listing the same recipe. There could be more, but I stopped searching after that. With so many, who knows who actually created the original recipe?

Mon
09
Oct

A Dime on Ice Prevents Food Poisoning

How can you tell if your refrigerator or freezer defrosted by accident during a power failure, then repowered and refroze?

 

This is important because you can get food poisoning if some of your frozen food reaches 40° Fahrenheit or above for more than two hours. If this happened and your food refroze, you need to know!

 

Most modern freezers don’t have walls of ice caused by condensation, which would form ice sheets if they melted.

 

A simple way to know that defrosting occurred is to freeze ice in a small cup, then put a dime on top of the ice.

 

If your freezer defrosts, the ice in the small cup will melt. The dime will fall to the bottom of the cup.

 

Even if your freezer restarts and refreezes, the dime stays at the bottom of the cup. If the dime is not on top of the ice, you are going to have to discard some of your frozen food to prevent food poisoning.

 

Mon
02
Oct

The “Cadillac Tax” on employer-sponsored health insurance will harm working-class Texans

Remember when President Obama said that passage of the Affordable Care Act would save middle class families $2,500 a year on their health insurance premiums?  Obama claimed much of that savings would come from taxing so-called “Cadillac Plans” that gave the rich “overly generous” benefits, and using that windfall to help fund Obamacare. 
Well, as we’ve seen, premiums have skyrocketed around the country, only nominally more people are insured, and it has become clear that “Cadillac Plan” is a misnomer and aren’t only the purview of the rich and generously insured. The same middle-class Americans Obama claimed the ACA would help are the very people who will end up being hit by the 40 percent tax on employer-sponsored health care coverage.

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