Heart of the Home


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A Letter From Kate

Dear Readers,

I enjoyed reading all the letters we received about camping for this issue. On a housekeeping note, I'd like to issue a request for submissions for Space Place. I've had a shortage of usable artwork over the last few months, and I'd like to ask for your help. I suspect that many of you will have grandchildren visiting over the summer months, and it's a perfect time to let them flex their creative muscles by drawing, painting, writing poetry, or expressing themselves in whatever form of art they enjoy.

Here are a few tips that will help your children's artwork appear in Space Place:

• Drawings done in crayon, marker or colored pencils reproduce best. Those done in watercolor paints, pencil or ballpoint pen don't look as good on our newsprint.

• White, unlined paper is also best for reproduction purposes.

• Seasonal drawings are always welcome! The holidays are still several months away, but children can be thinking about their favorite things about fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It's wonderful when parents and grandparents can spend time with children, sharing the activities they love best. These are the memories that children will cherish when they are older. They may not remember the gifts they received for every birthday, but they will remember the quality time they spent with the people who loved them.

Please understand that we will print as many drawings as we can in each issue. If your child's drawing isn't used right away, we may be saving it for a future issue. Thanks for your help!

Kate Marchbanks

Together with God

My husband and I raised foster children during 10 years of our marriage. One summer, we decided to take a cross-country trip to visit my husband's family. As a means of saving money, and to bond with our newest son, Michael, we decided to pull out the old tent and camp our way across.

Michael was 12 years old, and this was to be his first camping adventure. He was very excited. He helped my husband set the tent up in the backyard to air it out, and he even volunteered to sleep in it that night - to test it out. We worried that it might be too scary for him, even in the safety of the backyard, but he assured us he wanted to sleep in the great outdoors.

That night it rained. It poured. When we went out the next morning to wake Michael, we found him sleeping in three inches of water. The tent had a leak. We asked him why he hadn't moved out of the water, and he replied, pointing to the empty, dry area on the other side of the tent, 'That's where you guys sleep.' We asked him why he hadn't come in the house instead of lying there in water all night. He replied, 'And spoil the fun?'

Michael is 33 and a father of four children now. They all go camping quite often; only he has a motor home. Still, he recounts to his children about the night he slept in our backyard, in an old tent that leaked, and the best part is that he always smiles when he tells the story.

Father, thank You for those cherished memories that give us a sense of family, of home, of belonging, and of having fun. May there always be more memories of love than anything else. And, may Michael always have a dry place to sleep. Amen.

D. Susan Rutz


Couple explored the United States in RV

My husband and I enjoyed camping, but we did it in an RV. When my husband retired, he bought a pickup camper, with the idea of taking his fishermen friends on an overnight stay.

In between trips, I went along, and he was surprised to learn I enjoyed it so much. When we decided we were ready to take some longer trips, he traded the camper in on a larger RV. We made it a point to see all 48 continental United States and Alaska.

We thoroughly enjoyed camping, but after 18 years of it, age had caught up with us. It was time to call it quits and retire the camper.


Learned to be more careful while camping

I was camping out one night and going caving the next day with a group of people from a caving class I took. We had permission to camp near the cave, but there were no restrooms. So, just before crawling into my sleeping bag, I asked someone where to go, and they pointed toward the woods. I took my small flashlight and went off alone.

I went a ways, looked back and could still see the campfire, so I went a little farther. We had camped near a river, and I could hear it flowing. I could no longer see the fire, so I decided it was a good spot. I made my way back to camp and went to bed. The next day, I walked back that way again and was shocked to find that if I had taken a few more steps the night before, I would have fallen into the river.

I learned a lesson that day, and after that, I was more careful when I went camping.

Clarksdale, Mo.


Girls' July Fourth trip was a disaster

In 1943, I went on a camping trip with six of my girlfriends. We were all in our late teens, and we'd never been camping before. It was the Fourth of July, and we decided to go to a nearby lake.

We rented a tent, bought some groceries and headed off for a good time. When we got to the lake, the place was full of people, but we found a place to make camp. We looked at each other to see who knew how to set up the tent, but no one knew. We worked together, and finally we had a funny-looking tent.

Then we were ready for a boat ride. It was just a canoe with two paddles, and it was tied to a nearby tree. All but two of the girls were afraid to go, so another girl and I got in, but we only went as far as the rope went. So we gave up boat riding.

We walked back to the tent, only to find that it had collapsed. With much effort, we built a fire and fixed some food. But it turned out to be such a disaster, we just packed up and went home. So much for that Fourth of July!

Henderson, Neb.


Family heads for outdoors in rainy weather

As farmers, we work in the beautiful outdoors a lot and enjoy it, but we never seem to get to do anything fun except when it rains.

One year, it had rained quite a bit, and we were not able to plant the crops, so we decided to go camping. We didn't have any equipment, but we loaded most of the bed covers we owned into the back of the grain truck. We put the sides up, and covered the top with a tarpaulin, which served as a portable tent. Coleman lanterns, flashlights, pans for cooking, paper ware and insulated coolers of food completed our supplies.

Our three children were about 8, 9 and 10 years old, and they were very excited. My parents went along, too, because my dad loved to fish. He and my husband soon had their lines baited and set. The rest of us braved the chiggers and briars along the riverbank, and made a campfire. We had hot dogs for supper, but were anticipating golden fried fish for breakfast because the men had caught several and had them on a line in the water.

We had barely gotten to sleep when something stirred in the underbrush. We listened while it began splashing in the water. It roused the entire crew. Dad and Grandpa rushed to the river to rescue the fish, but they were too late. A big raccoon lumbered away, licking its chops.

In the process of getting out of the truck and down the ladder, the men knocked over one of the unlit lanterns, and it spilled kerosene on some of the bed covers. We tried to snuggle under the covers that were not so smelly. Fog came up, and it got really cool. There wasn't much sleeping done by the seven individuals on that camping trip. We pulled camp at daylight, went home and cooked bacon and eggs on the electric stove while washing clothes in an automatic washer and drying them in a dryer.

We decided that our ancestors were a lot hardier than we were. However, we still go on picnics when it rains.

Walker, Mo.

First day of school

New clothes, riding the school bus and waving goodbye to mom are all parts of the first day of school. Whether we felt excited, nervous or even tearful, most of us remember our first day of school.

Did you look forward to the start of school? What do you remember most about your first day of school? Was one year more memorable than the others? Tell us your stories about the first day of school.

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


Cooking secrets and tools help ensure grilling perfection

Great grillers know that first of all, you need the right surface - clean grill grates that have been treated with a nonstick spray specially formulated for higher grilling temperatures. Then you need the right tools - long-handled grill tongs and a spatula - also treated with nonstick spray, so utensils don't stick to the food, either. The third secret is to use the correct grilling temperature - chicken and hamburgers over medium heat; steak and shellfish over higher heat.

If foods don't stick to your grill or utensils, cleanup will be easier, and you'll be ready to enjoy the thrill of the grill the next time!

You can make your own signature pizza featuring favorite grilled vegetables.

- PAM® for Grilling
YUMMY: Grilled Vegetable Pizzas are a delicious way to enjoy fresh, colorful veggies.

Grilled Vegetable Pizzas

Spray the grate of an outdoor grill and utensils with grilling spray. Heat grill to medium heat.

Grill vegetables until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and slice into smaller pieces for pizza topping.

Place dough on grill until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Move to cooler part of grill to keep warm.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce on each crust. Layer with cheese, vegetables and basil. Heat on grill until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Cut each pizza into fourths. Sprinkle with pepper blend, if desired. Yields 8 servings.

This flavorful grilled steak is smothered in marinated sautéed onions.

Marinated Steak and Onions

In a large, resealable, freezer-weight plastic bag, combine broth, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic. Add steak and onions; seal bag. Turn bag over to evenly coat steak with broth mixture. Refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight, to marinate, occasionally turning bag over.

Spray the grate of an outdoor grill or stovetop grill and utensils with grilling spray. Heat grill to medium heat. Remove steak from bag; pour marinade into a large skillet. Grill steak for 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness.

Bring marinade to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until onions are tender.

Place steak on a serving platter; top with onion sauce. Cut steak into 4 pieces to serve. Yields 4 servings.

This tender grilled chicken is glazed with a sweet-tangy blend of honey and lemon.

- PAM® for Grilling
TANGY: Honey Lemon Chicken is tender and flavorful.

Honey Lemon Chicken

Mix honey, lemon juice, rosemary and remaining salt in a small bowl until well-blended. Remove half of honey mixture; set aside for serving with cooked chicken.

Grill chicken for 10 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Cut chicken diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices to serve; top with reserved honey mixture. Yields 4 servings. Serve with Warm Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Warm Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Cut tomatoes into wedges. Slice cucumber into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spray vegetables generously with cooking spray.

Spray grill basket with grilling spray; place vegetables in basket. Grill until lightly browned, tossing occasionally, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with salad greens and Italian dressing.

These grilled mushrooms taste great topped with a savory tomato blend.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Spray cold grill grate and utensils with grilling spray. Heat grill to medium heat.

Combine tomatoes, garlic and basil in a medium bowl; blend well.

Grill mushrooms, smooth side up, for 5 minutes, or until browned. Turn mushroom caps over. Spoon tomato mixture into mushroom caps. Sprinkle with nuts and cheese. Grill for an additional 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Yields 6 servings.

*To toast nuts, spray a small, cold, ovenproof skillet with grilling spray. Heat skillet; add nuts. Toss until nuts are golden brown. Remove from heat.