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Making snow angels is fun annual tradition

'Jim, are you ready to make snow angels?' I asked my husband. 'I think we're going to get at least an inch of snow today.'

Since we have gotten older, we have become more daring. Several years ago, we saw two characters who would be considered senior citizens in a movie, making snow angels. It looked like great fun.

The first time we did it, we hadn't laughed so hard in ages. We wondered if any of our neighbors had seen us, and if they would think we were senile. We were in our 60s at the time.

We decided we didn't care. So we have made it a tradition every year since.

Brownsburg, Ind.


Sister didn't last long outdoors

It had snowed all night, and it was still snowing when my sis and I awakened the next morning.

'No school today,' we shouted, and after breakfast my little sis, who was all of 6 years old, ran to get her outdoor clothes and go out to play.

But Mother objected. The temperatures were low, the wind was howling around the doors and windows, and the snow was about a foot deep on the ground. It was not a good time to go outdoors!

But little Jessie persisted, so out came the long underwear, the thick stockings, a warm dress, a heavy sweater, a coat, mittens, a cap, and a scarf over the cap and around her neck, covering her nose. At last she was ready. The front door opened, and out she went.

A few moments later, we heard a knock at the back door. A trip around the house, and playtime in the snow was over for our little sister!

Lawrence, Kan.


Loved playing Fox and Goose

When I was a girl growing up in Iowa, we often played in the fluffy or sometimes wet snowflakes.

Besides sledding over fence tops covered with frozen snow with neighborhood children, sometimes we had a great time going down a big hill on a bobsled. Eight or 10 of us piled on, and away we zipped. If we didn't lean on the curves, sometimes we spilled out onto the icy cold trail.

My favorite winter activity remains playing Fox and Goose. A huge circle was stomped out in the snow with pie-shaped lines leading to the middle, which was a safe place for the 'geese.' A 'fox' was chosen to be It and chased us around until one of us was caught before we reached safety. Then, that person became the fox.

When we moved to Texas, I was surprised that no one had ever heard of the game. During rare snowfalls, I can be seen stomping out a Fox-and-Goose pattern and running around in the lines by myself. It brings back memories of my youth.

Abilene, Texas


Appreciates beauty of winter at Niagara Falls

Today, the thing I like and appreciate most about the snow we get here in Niagara Falls is its beauty. And we do get a lot of it. I love the way it glistens on a sunny day, and the way it settles on the trees and bushes to make a picture-perfect scene.

But the winter is very cold, and as I get older, I seem to feel the cold more and more. Now in the winter, I'm content to look out my kitchen window and watch the children on the golf course mound having all kinds of fun in the snow.

When I was a child, nothing kept me from any winter activities. We had an especially big yard, and my sisters and I had so much fun making snowmen. We couldn't wait for the cold and the snow to come. There was an empty lot a couple of blocks away from our house that turned into a small skating rink in the winter. What fun we had there! My younger sister couldn't stand up straight on her skates, and she always looked like she was skating on the sides of her skates.

When my sisters and I got a little older, we would walk more than a mile to the Hyde Park skating rink. No matter how long we skated, or how much snow we had to trudge through getting home, I never felt the cold.

Later on, my favorite thing to do in the winter was to go to the falls area with my friends, camera in hand, and take photos. Dressed for the occasion, I never suffered the cold. The beauty of the falls and its surrounding area was magnificent. Sometimes the trees, sprayed with the mist of the falls, sparkled like jewels. I'm sure it's still the same there in the winter, but I haven't seen that sight in a long time.

The best part of those days I spent in winter was getting home and telling my mom about all the fun I'd had, and I did that over a cup of hot chocolate. My winter memories are still vivid in my mind, and it's nice recalling them even now.

Perhaps the best part of winter now, for me, is curling up on the sofa near the fireplace with a good book and some popcorn, and oh, yes, a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Easter memories

Easter symbolizes the start of spring, a new beginning. The Easter church service is a highlight of the season for many people.

What did you look forward to most on Easter? Did your family have any special Easter traditions? Maybe you had a new outfit to wear to church? Tell us your favorite Easter memories.

Send your letters to Kate Marchbanks, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265.

Healthy chicken dishes have the look and taste of gourmet

If you could find a carb-free, low-fat source of protein that was easy to prepare and delicious, would you eat it? A recent survey of people who said they were following a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, 62 percent said they were eating more chicken. Why?

Not only is it economical compared to other meats, chicken is also versatile. You can roast it, fry it, barbecue it, sauté it, microwave it, poach it, or even find it precooked, rotisserie or deli-style, ready to eat.

Whether you count carbohydrates, fat grams, calories, points, your hard-earned pennies, or your blessings, chicken is a simple, smart choice for healthy meals.

Here's a zesty version of the traditional grilled chicken sandwich.

Chicken Muffulettas

Olive Spread:
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups bottled pickled vegetables, drained
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, drained
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons parsley
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sandwiches:
4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 pieces French sourdough bread, about 6 inches each, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Olive Spread
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices provolone cheese

Combine all Olive Spread ingredients in a food processor. Chop by pulsing until consistency of cole slaw. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Prepare gas or charcoal grill, or preheat broiler. Place chicken breast halves between 2 pieces of waxed paper; pound gently to 1/4-inch thickness. Brush each side of chicken with vegetable oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until cooked throughout.

Assemble sandwich by opening bread and drizzling each half with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup Olive Spread on bottom of each sandwich; top with grilled chicken, 1 slice of Swiss cheese and 1 slice of provolone cheese. Yields 4 servings.

This elegant dish will impress family and friends.

Lemon Artichoke Chicken


- National Chicken Council/U.S. Poultry and Egg Association
ELEGANT: Lemon Artichoke Chicken will please even the most discerning tastes.

6 tablespoons flour, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cups chicken stock OR broth
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a shallow dish, combine 4 tablespoons flour and black pepper. Dredge chicken breast halves in mixture.

In a large skillet over high heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add green onions; sauté over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add chicken to pan; cook, turning once, until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Add chicken stock and apple juice to pan, stirring to scrape bits off bottom. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 6 minutes.

In a small bowl, knead together remaining flour and butter. Whisk into sauce and stir until thickened. Stir in lemon juice, artichoke hearts and salt.

Add chicken and cook, covered, until heated through, about 7 minutes. Just before serving, add capers and chopped parsley to chicken. Yields 4 servings.

A combination of fresh Southwestern flavors adds a little kick to grilled chicken breasts.

Southwestern Chicken Breasts

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
4 boneless chicken breast halves
8 slices cheddar cheese
Salsa

In a 9-inch square baking pan, stir together oil, lime juice, chilies and garlic. Add chicken breasts; marinate, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour, turning every 30 minutes.

Prepare grill. Remove chicken from marinade; drain. Grill chicken for 10 minutes; turn. Continue grilling until thoroughly cooked, about another 10 to 12 minutes. Top each chicken breast with 2 slices cheese. Cover and grill until cheese begins to melt. Serve with salsa. Yields 4 servings.

This colorful dish is full of healthy ingredients.

Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, julienned (about 1 cup)
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned (about 1 cup)
4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 pound spinach leaves
1/4 pound watercress
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add red and yellow peppers; cook over medium-low heat until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate to cool.

Cut slit in underside of each chicken breast half, creating a pocket. Stuff peppers into slits. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large, ovenproof sauté pan, warm remaining canola oil over medium-­high heat. Add chicken and sear for 2 minutes. Place pan in oven; cook for 8 minutes, then turn and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

While chicken is cooking in oven, place chicken stock and bouillon cube in a deep saucepan; bring to a simmer. Add spinach leaves and watercress, stirring and tossing well until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove greens from pan, reserving stock. Drain greens on paper towels. Boil stock and cook until liquid is reduced and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon butter.

Remove chicken from oven, place pan over burner on medium heat and add remaining butter, garlic, lemon zest and thyme. Baste chicken with butter sauce for 30 seconds; remove pan from heat.

To serve, place spinach and watercress leaves in the center of four bowls or plates. Top each with a chicken breast half. Spoon sauce over greens. Yields 4 servings.

Together with God

It seemed to snow more when I was a child. We had massive snowfalls then, enough to make tunnels through the mounds of cold from one snow fort to another. If the snowballs were pounding down on us, we could slip out of our fort, go through the tunnel and come up behind our attackers for a surprise.

We also had another snow pleasure that is rarer for us as adults: the snow day. A day at home just because it snowed. Ah, those were the days. It's funny, isn't it, how everything changes whether we want it to or not? That's life. That's what we live for - the change, the growth, the experiences, and the chance to do it better next time. Change is not limited to just the things around us; we also transform. We grow and learn, and hopefully we become better people.

Even the snow changes. Once, there was plenty to go around for snow forts and tunnels. Now, I'm lucky if there's enough snow to make an angel.

Father, thank You for the childhood memories of our lives that help us muddle through the changes of our lives. Help us to accept the changes, and guide us to the next change. Give us courage to meet life head on. Amen.

- D. Susan Rutz

A Letter From Kate

Dear Readers,

When I was young, there were no sweeter words than 'snow day.' That meant that the schools were closed, and it also meant a day filled with all kinds of possibilities for my sister and me. We could go outside and play in the newly fallen snow, go sledding or build snowmen, or we could stay indoors and put together puzzles or play with dolls. Either way, it was a much more enjoyable day than one spent at school.

It was exciting to get bundled up to go outside to play. Several layers of clothing were topped off by a hat, scarf, mittens and boots. It was not so easy to move in all that clothing, but the bulky layers were necessary. After an hour or so of sledding or making snow angels, we were ready to go indoors. Our layers of clothing were all wet by then, and I particularly hated the feeling of snow inside my boots. Once the wet clothes were replaced by dry ones, it still took a while to warm up.

My sister and I were sometimes able to enjoy the snow with our Uncle Jack's family. I remember one weekend we visited them and spent the day riding our sleds down the steep hills at their farm. My dad and uncle got in on the fun, too, and we children loved watching them go down the hill together on a sled.

As an adult, I still enjoy snow days, in a different way. I love to watch the fluffy snowflakes fall, but I'd rather stay inside with a cozy blanket and a good movie.

Love,
Kate Marchbanks