JOPLIN, Mo. —
Saving the environment isn't a new idea -- it's recycled. I don't remember ever using paper plates when I was growing up, which meant we had dishes to do after every meal.
With no dishwasher, we relied on manual labor and a big squirt of Ivory dishwashing liquid in the kitchen sink to get the job done. We didn't use paper towels nearly as much as we do today either. Instead, we had a drawer full of dish cloths and towels that were used for everything from clean up and drying dishes to covering hot biscuits to keep them warm.
In the 1950s and '60s, melamine dinnerware was highly popular. They were usually your "everyday" dishes because of their durability. I remember owning a harvest gold set of Melmac plates. When dropped on the floor, a plate from that set would spin around on its bottom, whereas a china plate would break immediately. This lightweight dinnerware could bounce around and still come out in one piece.
With no microwave at the time, we didn't have to be concerned whether melamine was microwave safe. The main problem we had with melamine was that dishes would stain if they weren't cleaned as soon as possible after being used. Plates weren't as much of a problem as cups, which played host to coffee and tea. But these weren't the "good" dishes, so a few dark spots really didn't matter. We soon learned to give the cups a good rinse before sitting them in the sink.
While there has been melamine controversy regarding its addition to food, I discovered that the dinnerware is making a comeback on a recent visit to Joe Harding Sales and Service, which has moved from Seventh Street to 515 N. Range Line Road. I shopped around and found lots of everyday items at reasonable prices alongside some hard-to-find items, as well as the best selection of knives I've seen anywhere. I snagged from the discount shelf a cake mold for making Christmas stocking cakes and a silver gravy boat that I will use for gravy, syrup and salad dressing.
Then I happened upon the melamine row. Anna from Joe Harding told me that they had so many shoppers who were not restaurant owners interested in the dishes that they thought they were being bought for use at daycare facilities, but I think they are regular people seeking durable dinnerware for their family.
Once plain and somewhat limited in design choices, today's melamine dishes are trendy and colorful. There are trays and servers that weren't available 50 years ago that are pretty enough to display in glass-front cabinets. I picked a serving platter that I plan to use all the time that will remind me of the days of the dancing plates on the floor. Visit Joe Harding and you too might find a dining piece that will bring back memories or make your kitchen more modern.
My friend Lori Langerot and I recently celebrated her birthday with lunch at Minerva Candy Co. on Webb City's Main Street. As usual, we each picked a different sandwich so we could split them half and half. Both the Cuban and the chipotle club turned out to be excellent choices, and I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite. We couldn't leave without buying a bag of dark chocolate-covered peanuts to savor as the perfect ending to a memorable lunch.
My 8-year-old grandson, Atlas, is playing football this year. It makes me a nervous wreck. It seems so much more intense to me than when he played baseball because football is more of a contact sport. At least it's finally getting to be more like football weather, which brings tailgating to mind. Today's recipes are perfect for tailgating or just for everyday eating. The coleslaw recipe is a nice change of pace from potato salad. It comes from "Taste of Home Family Favorites." The pulled pork recipe from "America's Cookbook" makes great sandwiches, and the Chex mix recipe from "Home Cooking the Costco Way" is the perfect finger-food dessert. It's also a nice recipe to consider as holiday gift-giving approaches. Have a wonderful week and happy eating!
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, well drained
Combine first 4 ingredients. Place cabbage and pineapple in a large bowl; add dressing and toss. Chill. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Yields 8 servings.
1 (5- to 6-pound) pork shoulder
1 tablespoon each ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Pat meat dry and rub all over with rub mix. Place on rack in roasting pan. Pour 1 cup water into the pan. Cook at 250 degrees for about 90 minutes per pound, or until a thermometer reads 190 degrees. If water evaporates, add more until the meat is cooked. Remove from oven and cover until meat is cooled. Remove from pan and shred. Yields 4 servings.
Holiday caramel Chex mix
4 cups popped popcorn
2 cups each Chex corn and rice cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1/2 cup butter or margarine, cut up
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup white vanilla baking chips
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
In a large ungreased roasting pan, mix popcorn, cereal and nuts; set aside. In a saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Pour over the cereal mixture and stir to evenly coat. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up. Heat baking chips over low heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Add 3 cups of the cooled cereal mixture to the melted chips; toss gently until evenly coated. Spread on wax paper or foil and cool 30 minutes or until set. In a serving bowl, mix cereal mixtures and cranberries. Store in airtight container. Makes 18 servings (1/2 cup each).
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.