By Edna Shaffer, Local columnist
---- — My door has been revolving with out-of-town daughters this past month. Vicki, the eldest, came for 10 days, with lots of garden goodies packed in her car. As she exited, Sarah, the youngest, entered. She is holding down the fort until her upstate New York sister, Cathy, arrives this weekend. My local gal, Molly, pops in and out during this time, conflicted between visiting with her sisters and tending the home fires. If we all could be in two places at once, we would never be apart!
The visits already were scheduled for the month; however, we had no idea how important they would be. Yesterday I returned to the Breast Health Clinic to discuss the results of last week's biopsies. The news was not what we had expected or hoped to hear, and I will be facing more cancer surgeries in the near future.
The reasons I am sharing this private information with you are twofold. First, with no known history of maternal breast cancer, we were lulled into a sense of false security. Thankfully, I adhered to regular screenings and implore you all to do the same. Please keep your mammograms current because early detection IS the key to survival. Secondly, through the years so many of you have become my family. Your correspondence and prayers have carried me through many difficult times. Please send prayers and positive thoughts as I begin this journey.
My four daughters have diverse cooking styles that are an expression of their distinct personalities and the years separating their birth order. Vicki had two children before Sarah came along (25 years between their birth days), while Cathy and Molly are sandwiched in the middle with only three years between them. Although they approach dinner from four different corners, the end result is always a killer meal.
Their largest challenge this past month has been using up the bounty of fresh produce arriving with them as well as that from my dear friends, before the fruit flies have their way with it. Last week we took advantage of the break in humidity to can tomatoes and freeze peaches. This leaves much room for creativity with what we cannot preserve.
Here are a couple of recipes we have yet to grow tired of. The rice salad is a family favorite introduced by Vicki, and the vegetable pie is a very delicious and different way to use up any leftover tomatoes.
Yellow Garden Rice Salad
1 pkg. yellow rice (Mexican food or pilaf section, usually in shiny, golden packaging)
1 10-oz. pkg. baby peas, thaw slightly by rinsing
1 bunch thinly sliced green onions
1 small jar green olives
1 can black olives
1 finely chopped red bell pepper
2 finely sliced carrots
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
8 oz. bottle of Italian dressing
Cook rice according to package directions but with ¼ c. less liquid so rice is firmer. Cool before making salad.
Blend all together in large bowl and toss with dressing. Always tastes best on the second day!
4 medium large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
10 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ c. chopped green onions
9-inch prebaked deep dish pie shell
1 c. grated mozzarella cheese
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 c. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Place tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for at least 15 minutes. Layer tomatoes, basil and onion in pie shell (2 layers) and season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cut as a pie and serve warm.
Parting shot: "So you're feeling pressured? Without pressure, there would be no diamonds."
Edna Shaffer is a local mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who writes about cooking from the perspective of an older adult. She can be reached at email@example.com. For more Grandma's Kitchen columns by Edna Shaffer, log on to record-eagle.com/ednashaffer.