Spring is just around the corner. How do I know that? Because a friend I met downtown said so. We met coming out of the bank and exchanged remarks on the weather ' what else? ' it has dominated our lives these past three months. My remark was negative: "oh woe is me, how can I stand another day of this?" Her remark was on the positive side, "well January is over, February is a short month and will go quickly, and then spring will be just around the corner." It was the old, "looking at the glass half-full instead of half-empty," and it really did lift my spirits.But back to my beginning, I looked around my home and decided what it needed was a good old fashioned spring cleaning, starting with the carpets. Remember, it was what our grandmothers and mothers used to do every spring and even in my early housekeeping days. I remember my father remarking that this was the time men ran for a place to hide. When living in the big house before we had the hardwood floors done over with a magic covering I used to get down on my knees and clean the old wax off every floor. The modern world, with all its labour-saving devices, keeps our houses fairly easy to clean and we don't hear too much about spring cleaning.My cleaning mood, and I'm sure it will leave me as fast as it came, came from the last time I looked after coffee hour at our church, and when I looked around our huge kitchen I thought (not out loud in case I was given the job), "this place needs a good cleaning." Some others must have felt the same way as, on our last week's calendar, there was a call to arms and for all to come out and help clean the church kitchen, as the minister said, we all use it some time or other. So my guilty feelings, if weather, etc., allows, I'll try to be there, and my own house will have to wait.The next thing, and maybe even more needed, is to try and de-clutter my closets, drawers and home. The Inner Wheel, of which I am a member, plan to have a de-clutter sale in June so maybe that will help there.I bought a slow cooker a couple of years ago and haven't really made good use of it. When in Arizona I often used the one I had, it was great when I would go off hiking for the day, which was twice a week, and now I'm making soups and one-dish meals which are great in slow cookers. This week I have a couple to pass on. The first one I made up; it really turned out well and I had soup for days, in fact I even froze some. I had some corn still in the freezer that I had cut off fresh cobs last fall, plus some pieces of back ham and kept thinking I should use these up.Corn and Ham Soup1 package of chicken stock1 or 2 cups corn off the cob, or frozen niblets or can of creamed corn2 or 3 slices of ham, cubed2 cups minced cooking onion (less if you wish)1 small can tomato pastePlace all in slow cooker and add salt and pepper to taste.Put on low and cook all day or cook three to four hours the day before and another two hours the day of serving. I if you wish it to be a little thicker, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with enough water (or sherry) to make a paste.I later found a recipe that also had sliced carrots, celery, green pepper and 1/4 cup uncooked macaroni, making it a meal in one dish.French Canadian Split Pea SoupThis is a perfect recipe for a slow cooker. This is supposed to be the authentic recipe from a chef at the Chateau Frontenac via the Globe and Mail, many years ago.Soak 1 pound whole dried yellow peas (or split peas) with 1/2 tsp. baking soda in cold water for 12 hours or overnight. Rinse well. Place in large pot or slow cooker and cover with three quarts of cold water. Add 1/2 pound of salt pork or ham bones (great use for saved ham bone from a ham roast). Bring to a boil, skim well if needed. Add 1/2 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup diced turnip, 1 chopped onion, salt and ground pepper to taste. Simmer four hours or more. Made the day before and heat and simmer another hour the next day and it is even better. This was one dish my dad used to make and he would insist on it sitting even longer.Pumpkin SoupThis is best made in a slow cooker for about two hours, to keep from burning. Easily doubled.2 tbsp. chopped onion2 tbsp. chopped green pepper2 tbsp. butter2 cups milk1 cup canned pumpkin3/4 tsp. salt1/4 tsp. Worcester sauceSauté onion and green pepper in butter for about five minutes, do not brown, add rest of ingredients and cook slowly, stirring until smooth. Serve very hot but do not let boil. Serves six.The following is a real special soup, though I was trying to make soup from scratch to avoid all the salt in canned soup but Special Soup, found in an old cookbook while I was looking soup recipes, would also be great in a slow cooker as it wouldn't burn, just cook for a couple of hours on slow, and it could be served right from the pot of the slow cooker.Special Soup1 can of each: cream of mushroom soup, cream of tomato soup, and cream of green pea and 1 can of consommé.1 can crab4 soup tins of milk1/4 cup sherryHeat all ingredients except sherry, Heat to hot but do not boil. Add sherry just before serving.
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