As I write this, temperatures are forecast to plummet to 18 degrees tonight. Visions are dancing in my head, but not of sweet and pretty things.
All I can think of is my poor Meyer lemons, the fledgling lime bush and the blood orange tree, whose leaves already have turned brown and crisp despite being covered during the earlier cold snap this month. Woe to the wannabe citrus growers in the Lowcountry who have been spoiled by the warm winters of recent years.
So, is the citrus salvageable?
I called Tony Bertauski, horticulture instructor at Trident Technical College and gardening columnist for The Post and Courier.
Tony has covered this subject in the past, but it's always a good to have a quick refresher.
Tony says not to throw in the trowel just yet. "Wait until spring; you really don't know what branches will recover."
You can remove the unsightly leaves if you wish, but don't break out the pruners. When the weather warms, the buds (hopefully) will start breaking on branches that are not dead; anything else you can prune back then.
"It becomes pretty obvious what tissue is alive and what is not," Tony says.
Lynn Glazar of Summerville sent a couple of ideas for Super Bowl fare.
Not-Your-Usual Sloppy Joe
1 loaf of a good rye bread
1 bottle of Thousand Island dressing
2 pounds sliced roast beef
1 to 2 pounds sliced Swiss cheese
1/2 to 1 pound coleslaw
Toothpicks and pickles for serving
To assemble sandwiches, put some dressing on one slice of bread. Add 3 slices roast beef, 1 or 2 slices of swiss cheese and top with some coleslaw and another slice of bread. Put 3 toothpicks through sandwich, spacing out evenly, so when you cut, you are cutting 3 pieces.
Place sandwiches on platter and serve with pickles.
Lynn's note: "You can also use sliced turkey; those are called Sloppy Toms."
She also shares this tried-and-true recipe for a party favorite.
1 (12-ounce) jar grape jelly or can of cranberry sauce.
1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce such as Heinz
1 or 2 bags of frozen cooked meatballs, cocktail size; or make your own.
Put jelly and or cranberry sauce in a pot or slow cooker. Add chili sauce and heat through, then add meatballs. Heat everything through again and serve.
Note: Takes longer if using frozen meatballs.
Melts in your mouth
Kathy Plair recently was looking for an old recipe for butter mints to serve at a baby shower.
She wrote, "I remember my grandmother serving these pastel colored mints that melted in your mouth. I found a substitute called cream cheese mints consisting of that and powdered sugar, with a hint of mint flavoring, but these were not the same as the butter mints that I recall. They were not made of cream cheese and didn't tend to soften up so much as these did. Someone suggested that I may find a recipe in an old church cookbook, but I've not had any luck yet. Anyone have this recipe?"
Well, this resonated with a lot of people, me included. I don't have the recipe, but I certainly have the memory of butter mints being a fixture among the nibbles for a special occasion as I grew up.
(Caution, some of these candy recipes require some skill.)
A number of recipes were along the lines of this one contributed by Tracy Roberts in West Ashley.
"I, too, remember these, mostly at ladies luncheons or weddings, or bridal/baby showers, from growing up in a small town in southwest Virginia! I'm sure my grandmother made them back in the day ... I couldn't find a recipe of hers, but I did go to one of her cookbooks, compiled by the Wise County Extension Homemakers and Friends (In Wise, Va.) circa 1986.
"Found a recipe for party mints that doesn't call for cream cheese, and I'm thinking it's pretty close to what Kathy was hoping for. I'm sure you can change the flavoring to suit your taste, and of course the color. Here you go:
Yield: 50 candies
3/4 stick butter
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
7 drops oil of peppermint (or to taste)
11/3 tablespoons of milk
6 to 7 drops of food coloring
Combine butter, sugar, and oil of peppermint. Mix milk and food coloring. Add to butter mixture. Mix with hand beater. Roll out in long thin rolls. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces when slightly dry. Dry completely.
From Joyce Davis of Charleston: "Back in the '70s, I made pulled cream mints quite often. It is necessary to have a marble slab (which is cold) to cool the mint mixture quickly. Do not make them when it is humid!"
Pulled Cream Mints
Makes 2 pounds
1 cup water
1 stick butter or margarine (use some to grease the marble well)
1/2 teaspoon salt
31/2 cups sugar
Oil of peppermint
Red or green food coloring
Bring water, butter and salt to a full boil over high heat. Gradually pour sugar into the center of the boiling water so that the sugar does not touch the side of the boiler. Bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium high. Using a candy thermometer cook until 270 degrees. Pour out onto the greased marble slab. Drop 24 drops of oil of peppermint across the top and 18 drops of red or 20 drops of green food coloring - either color but not both.
It will be very hot. As soon as you can touch it, start folding from the edges into the center until cool enough to pick up.
Start pulling and twisting and pull until creamy and it loses its shine. Cut with scissors and put in separate pieces on wax paper. Store in air-tight container.
Here is one of two recipes sent by Adah D. Brewer of Pinopolis.
She notes that the recipes appeared in the "South Carolina Cook Book" by the S.C. Council of Farm Women State Home Demonstration Office, 1953. "My mother preferred the uncooked version (below). May be what Kathy Plair is looking for."
Makes about 60 mints
1/4 cup coffee cream (see cook's note)
4 teaspoons butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 to 8 drops oil of peppermint
4 cups powdered sugar
Vegetable coloring of desired color and shade
Cook's note: Coffee cream has at least 18 percent butterfat but is considered a "light" cream.
Heat cream in top of double boiler; melt butter in cream. Remove from heat, add salt and desired mint flavoring. Add sugar gradually, stirring until well-blended. Place in bowl sprinkled with powdered sugar. Add coloring and knead until smooth and creamy and coloring is thoroughly blended. Cut out very small portions, roll in balls between palms of hands, about the size of marbles.
Place on well-oiled baking sheet or platter. Press flat to size of a quarter.
Jean Townsend of Johns Island writes, "Watching my Grandmother Townsend make delicious mints is one of my favorite childhood memories. I don't know if the following was her recipe, but I've had it for a long time. The mints were delicious and she used food coloring to make the most delicate pink, yellow, and green mints."
Should make 72 (1-inch) mints:
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound confectioners' sugar
Blend corn syrup, butter, extract and salt. Add sugar. Mix with spoon and hands until smooth. Divide into thirds. Knead 1 drop food coloring into each third. Shape into small balls, let sit for a while then flatten with a fork on waxed paper. Let dry several hours and then place in containers.
Note: "I seem to recall her placing a pecan half on each mint."
Also thanks to Harriet Little of Summerville, Patty Coggins of Ladson, Jane Freeman and Sylvia Strickland of Goose Creek, Ann Holland, Patrice McClellan, Lyn Smith of Charleston, and Marie-Louise Ramsdale of Sullivan's Island.
Who's got the recipe?
Frances Butler of Johns Island is looking for a recipe for the Pizza Soup served by the Liberty Cafe that was once located in Avondale, west of the Ashley.