Good works and good food from the VFW


When I first met with the men and women of Mason-Dixon VFW Post 7234 to write my first column about them two weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by the level of service they provide locally, statewide and nationwide.

Coastal Point • File photo    : The Mason Dixon VFW Post 7234 provided this weeks recipes.Coastal Point • File photo
The Mason Dixon VFW Post 7234 provided this weeks recipes.

For example, I was clueless about the National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Mich. Please go to the Web site to learn more than I can tell you in this column — www.vfwnationalhome.org. The idea for the home was first established in 1923, and the first residents entered in 1925. The original home was a simple frame farm house. Today it has grown to a campus with playgrounds, park areas and many buildings, including single-family homes, a community center, gymnasium, childcare facility, guest lodge and administrative offices.

The home welcomes military families with a single parent, or a parent with children of a deployed spouse, or military children with no parents who live in a residential program in individual homes staffed by house parents. According to Cammie, the lovely woman with whom I spoke, they currently have 107 permanent-resident children.

John Mitchell, the current VFW Post 7234 Delaware state chairman for the National Home for Children, said, “When we met in Reno, Nev., for the national convention, they passed the hat for donations and collected tens of thousands of dollars. All of the money went to veterans and their families.”

John explained that we all can help the National Home. Through the local VFW, you can become a life member (regular and auxiliary members). Non-members or individuals, businesses and/or organizations of good character can sign up for associate life membership, or join in a memorial life membership as an individual or an organization in memory of a deceased loved one.

John plans to pay his first visit to the National Home within the next two months.

According to John, all 50 states and some countries donate funds to the National Home. Some states even have their own houses, such as the New York House or the Illinois House, for example, which are completely funded by VFW posts in those states, from the ground up, all maintenance and upkeep and funding for the children’s needs.

You can also send donations directly to the National Home for Children, 3753 S. Waverly Road, Eaton Rapids, MI 48827; call 1-800-424-8360 for more information. For veterans and/or veterans’ families in need, Cammie recommended calling the Helpline (1-800-313-4200), where you can, “Be heard. Be helped,” or email help@VFWnationalhome.org.

The idea for the National Home was initiated when the Military Order of the Cootie (MOC) — an extension of the VFW — presented the concept to the VFW at its national convention in 1923.

Willie Ventro is the leader of Post 7234’s Order of the Cooties. The prerequisite for being a member of the MOC is to be a member in good standing of the VFW, having served as a post officer, either elected or appointed, or holding a position contributing to the VFW.

The Cooties visit hospitalized veterans with the motto “Keep them smiling in beds of white,” as well as contributing time and effort to the VFW in support of post activities and recruiting new members. They support the National Home for children through visits, contributions and special projects.

Willie told me that his Cooties spend many hours visiting local hospitals, the Veteran’s Home in Milford, nursing homes, at-home visits, Dover Air Force Base hospital, Fisher House, Wounded Warriors and the Dover Air Base mortuary. And each Easter, Halloween and Christmas, the Cooties sponsor parties for residents at the Stockley Center in Georgetown, Del.

Before I highlight some of the upcoming events at Post 7234, I again encourage those of you who are veterans of foreign wars to become active members of this post. They need you, and so do all of the veterans they visit! Please go to the Web site at www.vfw7234.com and download a membership form or call Howard Scofield, captain of the Honor Guard, at (302) 541-0527.

On the website, you will also find information on the requirements for joining the Ladies’ Auxiliary. And you can always pop in at the VFW at 29265 Marshy Hope Way in Ocean View (that’s at the end of Cedar Neck Road at Quillen’s Point on the Indian River Bay). The phone number is (302) 539-9981.

Before I get to the rest of the great recipes shared by the fine folks of Post 7234, I want to highlight upcoming events.

Both Friday-night and Saturday-night dinners and dancing are open to the public (check the Web site calendar for times and the names of the musical groups on the schedule). The only requirement is that you sign the registry as you come in the door.

And don’t forget All-You-Can-Eat Sunday Brunch, served from 8 a.m. until noon until the end of September, with Jim Fiske at the helm as breakfast head chef.

Other events include this weekend’s Rotary Club Crab Feast on Saturday, Sept. 15, beginning at 6:30 p.m.; and a POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony at the post on Friday, Sept. 21, beginning at 5 p.m.

Then there’s the power-packed Veteran’s Day weekend schedule of events, including a Bull Roast on Saturday, Nov. 10, (the Marine Corps birthday), from 3 to 7 p.m., with a jam-packed menu of beef, raw oysters, oyster stew, steamed shrimp, sausages and peppers, coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, draft beer and soda. Whew!

The cost is $27 per person, and tickets are available at the bar. Music and dancing follow the roast from 4 to 8 p.m. The following day, Sunday, Nov. 11, a Veteran’s Day ceremony will be held at the post beginning at 11 a.m.

Folks, there are so many opportunities to support our veterans through Post 7234 and/or the National Home for Children. I rarely use clichés (clichés are no-nos for writers), but sometimes only a cliché will do: We all need to step up to the plate to support our veterans and their families for choosing to serve to keep our country safe and free.

And now to the recipes…

I’ve never had good luck with London Broil; mine are too tough, even though I correctly cut across the grain. I think Carol Weber has discovered my problems — I don’t pierce the meat and I don’t let it marinate long enough to completely tenderize it. “When you put the steak into my Marinade for London Broil, refrigerate for several hours or several days — the longer the better,” she said.

Marinade for London Broil

Ingredients:

? 1-1/2 to 2 pounds London broil steak

? 3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped

? 1 teaspoon salt

? 1/2 teaspoon pepper

? 1 teaspoon ground cloves or chili powder

? 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

? 1 cup vegetable oil

? 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Method for Marinade:

Mix well the garlic, salt, pepper, cloves or chili powder, thyme, oil and vinegar. Pierce the London broil steak all over with a fork so that the marinade will penetrate well. Place the steak into the marinade and refrigerate for several hours or several days — the longer the better — turning periodically. Grill the meat to desired temperature.

In my last column, I shared Pat Stokes’ recipe for German Schnitzel; her unusual Potato Salad would make a fine accompaniment.

Pat’s Potato Salad

Ingredients:

? 5 pounds potatoes

? 1 dozen eggs

? 1/2 pound bacon fried crisp (reserve bacon grease)

? 3 to 4 stalks celery, diced

? 1 medium onion, diced

? 1 small green bell pepper, diced

? Salt and pepper to taste

? 1 quart Kraft Real Mayonnaise

? Paprika

Method for Pat’s Potato Salad:

Scrub potatoes and cover them with water; add some salt and boil until fork-tender, about 30 minutes; drain and cool. Cover eggs with water, add some salt and boil until done, approximately 10 minutes of boiling; drain and cool. Fry bacon until very crisp, reserving all the bacon grease; drain on paper towels and cool.

Peel and dice the potatoes in quarter-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Peel and dice the eggs and add to the potatoes. Pour in the reserved bacon grease and mix thoroughly. Add celery, onion, green pepper, crumbled bacon and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Add the mayonnaise (you may need to add extra to make the salad nice and creamy). Mix well. Sprinkle with paprika. Chill. Yield: At least 10 servings.

Carol Weber shares her recipes for Crab Dip and Black-Bottom Cupcakes. I like the addition of curry powder in the Crab Dip and, when I make it, I may add a bit extra — curry lover that I am.

Crab Dip

Ingredients:

? 1 cup crab meat (lump or freshly caught)

? 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

? 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

? 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

? 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

? 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Method for Crab Dip:

Mix all ingredients and serve with crackers.

I’ll print the directions for Carol’s Black-Bottom Cupcakes in sections to make it easier to put these beauties together.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Mixture:

? 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

? 1 unbeaten egg

? 1/3 cup granulated sugar

? 1/8 teaspoon salt

? 1 package (6 ounces) Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Mix the cream cheese with the egg; add sugar and salt; beat well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Ingredients for Chocolate Batter:

? 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

? 1 cup granulated sugar

? 1/4 cup cocoa

? 1 teaspoon baking soda

? 1/2 teaspoon salt

? 1 cup water

? 1/3 cup vegetable oil

? 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

? 1 teaspoon vanilla

? Blanched almonds (optional)

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat until well combined.

Method for cupcakes:

Use paper muffin liners in a 12-muffin tin. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full with chocolate batter. Top each with a heaping teaspoon of the cream-cheese mixture. Sprinkle tops with a little sugar and some blanched almonds, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Yield: 12 muffins.

Karen Vitsorek shared her Crab Imperial recipe in the previous column. I couldn’t resist printing her Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cake. What’s not to love with all that chocolate!

Chocolate-Chocolate

Chip Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

? 1 package (18.25 ounces) devil’s food chocolate cake mix

? 1 package (6 ounces) instant chocolate pudding

? 1 cup sour cream

? 1 cup vegetable oil

? 4 eggs, beaten

? 1/2 cup warm water

? 1 package (6 ounces) chocolate chips

Method for Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cake:

In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, pudding, sour cream, oil, eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into a greased and floured non-stick 12-cup Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until the top is springy to the touch. Do not over-bake.

Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack. When cool, invert to remove the cake from the pan. Serve plain, or sprinkled with powdered sugar, or drizzle with your favorite icing. You can also serve the cake with vanilla or coffee ice cream.

Ruth Walsh’s recipe for Stromboli was a big hit in my previous column. I received several emails from women who plan to make them to surprise their football-loving husbands this season. Today, we have her recipe for Baked Ziti.

Baked Ziti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

? 2 pounds ricotta cheese

? 10 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)

? 1 box (16 ounces) ziti pasta

? 2 jars (16 ounces each) spaghetti sauce (Classico Sweet Basil)

? 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s Pizza Seasoning

Method for Baked Ziti:

Mix the ricotta cheese with 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese; reserve 2 ounces of mozzarella for topping the casserole. Cook ziti according to package directions for al dente; drain. Spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch casserole with Pam non-stick spray. Place some of the sauce on the bottom of the casserole. Then begin layering: cooked ziti, cheese combo, sauce; repeat. End with sauce on top, then add pizza seasoning and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Yield: 4-6 servings.

I love Broccoli Soup and Sharon Domanski’s Cream of Broccoli Soup doesn’t disappoint.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

? 1 cup water

? 1 package (10 ounces) frozen, chopped broccoli

? 2 cups milk

? 2 cups processed cheese, cubed (Velveeta and sharp cheddar)

? 2 chicken bouillon cubes

? 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

? 1 cup half-and-half

? Croutons for garnish

Method for Cream of Broccoli Soup:

Place one cup of water in a large saucepan; cook broccoli — do not drain. In a blender container, combine milk, cheese cubes, bouillon cubes and flour. Cover and process on grind setting. Add this mixture to the broccoli. Add half-and-half and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the soup is hot and thickened. Serve garnished with croutons. Yield: 6 servings.

(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)