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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Cooling Off In and Outside the Kitchen

By Sherrie Norris

As I “watered down” the grandkids earlier this week, keeping them cooled off as they made their way down the slippery slide in the front yard —without a care in the world, I might add — I was taken back for just a little while to simpler times. I thought about the days of my own childhood summers that had moments of fun and frivolity, along with the not-so-easy or fun times of picking beans and peas from the garden.  We might’ve had a popsicle or piece of watermelon to cool us off during the day, and a Dixie cup full of Kool-Aid and a cookie or two.

I recalled the evenings sitting on the porch, mainly with my mama, granny, and younger sister, after the work was done, supper was over and the dishes were washed (by hand) and put away for another day.

We would eventually go to bed and not even bother to lock the front porch screen door, counting on the cool breezes to fan us through the night with no worries of intruders.Times were different, for sure. And that doesn’t seem so long ago, actually. 

Anyway, with the grands in and out of my house a few days a week  currently, this Nana always wants to make sure there are plenty of refreshing treats to keep them cool. Watermelon is always a necessity, especially for “the boy,” who could devour one all by himself in a day or maybe two. Hand-held pouches filled with (low-sugar) colored juices have replaced the Kool-aides of my day, and rarely do we have just a single pack of plain cookies in the pantry. We need several varieties of sweet treats, at least two choices of chips, and the list goes on. And 30 minutes after a “surprise snack” request, it’s time to eat again. Did I say I wouldn’t trade these summer days of my golden years for anything? 

I know I’m probably boring when I insist on putting away their “games” for a few minutes, walking into the living room with a book or paper, colored pencils and markers in hand. I love to  turn off the screens and encourage the kids to turn on their creative minds. Write. Draw. Play. And then, we’ll go back outdoors to slide. Sometimes it takes a bit of less-than-friendly persuasion, but once we’re “into the moment,” they actually seem to enjoy themselves. “Nana, can I have another popsicle? I want the red one, not the yellow one.” And “Yes, Lainey Ruth, of course you can.”

 “Nana, can I have more watermelon? Make sure it’s cut in a triangle like pizza.”  And what does Nana do? She serves “slices” of watermelon to her favorite grandson. Just as many as I think his little belly can hold. And I can’t wait to do it again the next day.

Note: It’s off to the garden for the next few weeks for ways to put that fresh produce to good use.

Happy summer, ya’ll!

Orange Pineapple Summer Treat  

6 oz. pkg. orange Jell-O

16 oz. can crushed pineapple (drain and save juice)

8 oz. cream cheese

12 oz. Cool Whip

In a blender, dissolve Jell-O in 2 cups boiling water; then add cream cheese by chunks in the blender and mix until cream cheese dissolves. Add 1 cup cold water and ½  cup pineapple juice.

Pour into a large glass bowl  and refrigerate for about 2 hours until chilled, but not gelled. Then, fold in pineapple and Cool Whip and put in a mold, large bowl or glass (baking) dish. Chill for several more hours until set.

Watermelon Pizza

1 round slice of watermelon, cut into 8 triangles

Cut-up fruit of choice

Coconut, optional

Decorate the “pizza” with your choice of fruit

Sprinkle with coconut to resemble grated cheese, if desired

Serve immediately.

Summer Fruit Skewers

 12 small-medium strawberries

12 orange slices, quartered

12 slices of kiwi, halved

12 blackberries

12 green grapes

12 red grapes

24 blueberries

12 wooden skewers

On each skewer, thread the strawberries, orange slices, kiwi, blackberries, grapes, and blueberries.

Arrange them on a platter and serve with a cream-cheese fruit dip, if desired.

Simple Fruit Dip

1 block of cream  cheese, softened

1 jar of marshmallow crème/fluff

Mix ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve with fruit.

Million Dollar Pies

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup lemon juice

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, well drained

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted and divided

1 cup chopped pecans, divided

1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed 

2 (9-inch) graham cracker crusts

 Maraschino cherries

In a large bowl, beat milk and lemon juice until blended. Stir in pineapple, ¾ cup coconut and 3/4  cup pecans; fold in whipped topping. Pour into crusts. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup coconut and ¼ cup pecans before serving. If desired, top with additional whipped topping and garnish with cherries.

Peach Crisp


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup margarine 

Mix together flour, oats, and sugar in large bowl. Stir in softened margarine with a fork to make a crumbly mixture. Set aside.


4 cups sliced peaches

1 cup sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

Combine peaches, sugar, flour and cinnamon; pour into baking dish. Stir to mix well. Sprinkle topping over peach mixture.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Watermelon Salad with Celery-Nut Dressing

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped

1 1/3 cups celery, thinly diced

3 cups watermelon balls, chilled

Bright green lettuce leaves

½ cup pecans chopped

Beat cream cheese with mayonnaise until smooth and fluffy. Fold into whipped cream; add celery. Arrange watermelon on salad greens and top with celery-cheese dressing. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.