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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: For Labor Day This Year, Let’s Honor Those Who Show Up

By Sherrie Norris

Labor Day, always the first Monday in September, has long been honored as a day of rest for those who labor. 

In my opinion, this year there should be set aside for those who have continued to work during a very difficult time. Most in that category have worked hard and endured a lot of extra stress and unnecessary  hardships.

 I’ve heard — and seen with my own eyes — that many in the service industry, especially, have been overworked, under-appreciated and have had to endure unfair treatment from those they serve.

It’s been an interesting year-plus in the wake of the pandemic that has affected every corner of our world. It is sad to think that people who work hard in an effort to make an honest living for themselves and their families have had to face such ridicule, while the handouts keep coming for others who choose not to work.  I know there are many who cannot work, but would love to. This is not about those folks. It’s about those who can, but won’t. There’s a big difference.

Last year, and again even in recent days, we’ve seen how local businesses are being affected by the far-reaching arm of COVID-19; even when it felt “safe” to be out enjoying a meal in some of our restaurants again, we cannot because they have no help. They must open on limited schedules or not at all. It’s just not right. Signs are posted all over town, social media lights up daily with business owners begging people to come to work. It’s a sad world in which we are living these days, in more ways than one.

So, as Labor Day approaches, I implore you to honor those who have shown up for work this year. If you go out for a meal, make sure you tip your wait staff just a little more generously. If you are at a drive-through window, or at the grocery store, or any other place of business, be a bit more patient with that tired, flustered worker on the other side of the counter or window.

 If you are in line with a public servant, offer to pay for their meal; if you pass one on the street, throw up your hand with all five fingers and a smile. 

Times are tough for many of us, but the tough keep on keeping on. My husband, nearing 83 years of age, still works every day. His work ethic is beyond reproach. And if I can talk him into taking Labor Day off, and even if I can’t, I’ll gladly cook and prepare him a special meal. Because he deserves it. He showed up.

I am reminded of another dedicated worker, Lois Hodges, who we recently featured in High Country Magazine, and at 94 can hardly wait for Chick Fil A to open its dining room again — simply so she can go back to work. 

We all know those who labor and enjoy what they do.

Please join me in doing something special in the coming days for those who keep showing up, time after time.  Whether you cook at home or want to prepare a goody box to deliver, just don’t forget those who are making the effort.

Best Ham Rolls Ever

2 pkg.  Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls 

1 pkg.  deli sandwich ham 

12 slices Swiss cheese 

½ cup  butter, melted

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 

1 ½  tsp. Worcestershire sauce 

1 ½  tsp.  brown or Dijon mustard 

1 tsp.  onion powder 

Slice top from rolls and place bottoms in baking pan. Layer ham and cheese on rolls. Replace tops. Combine butter, poppy seeds, mustard, Worcestershire, and onion powder; mix well. Drizzle over rolls. Refrigerate until butter is firm or overnight. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 25- 30 minutes or until cheese melts. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Cheese Bites 

½ cup butter or margarine at room temperature

1 cup plain flour

2 cups grated medium or sharp flavor cheddar cheese

¼ tsp. ground Cayenne pepper

1 tsp. paprika/red pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Mix butter, pepper and flour. Add cheese and mix well.  Shape into small bite-size balls. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

Ham Biscuit Pull-A-parts 

1 (16.3 oz.) Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Biscuits 

1 egg

2 Tbsp. milk

3/4 cup diced ham 

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 11 x 7 or 12 x 8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat egg and milk with a wire whisk until smooth.

Separate dough into individual biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters. Gently stir biscuit pieces into egg mixture to coat evenly. Fold in ham, cheese, onions and granulated garlic. Spoon mixture into prepared dish, arrange biscuit pieces in a single layer.

Baked at 350 for 23 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. You can either cut into squares or just pull apart and serve.

Reese’s Squares 

1 ½  cups graham cracker crumbs 

About 3 cups powdered sugar 

1 ½  cups peanut butter 

1 cup butter, melted 

1 (12 oz.) bag milk chocolate chips 

Combine cracker crumbs, sugar and peanut butter in a bowl and mix well. Blend in melted butter until well combined. Press mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 inch pan .Melt chocolate chips in microwave or in double boiler, being careful not to scorch. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Chill until just set and cut into bars. Don’t let the topping get too hard, as it makes for difficult cutting.

Homemade Funnel Cakes

1 1/3 cups flour

¼  tsp. salt

½  tsp. baking soda

2 ½  Tbs. sugar

¾ tsp. baking powder

1 egg, beaten

3/4  cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Oil, for frying

Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Beat egg, milk, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients beating until smooth. Fill 8″ skillet with 1 inch oil and heat to 375 degrees. Cover funnel hole (or plastic sandwich bag with snipped corner) with finger and fill with about ¼ cup of batter. Hold funnel over skillet and remove finger, moving funnel around to form patterns with the batter. Fry until golden brown, about 1 or 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and continue frying another minute or two or until both sides are brown.

Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot.