Real Cooking

Have you noticed? The bugs are back. Ahh, it’s Kansas in the summer and the nightly battles have begun.

Out here in the country, when the sun begins to set, we prepare ourselves for attack. The first line of defense is to turn out every light possible. Maybe, we rationalize, if they think no one is home, the squadrons of mosquitoes and June bugs will fly by passing over us on their nightly maneuvers and train their sensory detection devices on some other unsuspecting location.

But invariably, sometime during the night, someone flips on a light and almost instantaneously seemingly hundreds of tiny bodies are being flung against the screen in a suicidal attempt to enter our premises. And they buzz and crawl and flutter making a racket that interrupts conversations and drowns out the nightly news.

Leaving on a light on the porch or garage really invites trouble. And heaven forbid that someone needs to enter or exit the house. The rest of a pleasant evening at home is spent in skirmishes with dive bombing flutters and kamikaze mosquitoes.

And what are those things that look like skeeters on steroids? Are they truly oversized, giant mosquitoes or some other type of flying beast? I’m not sure what they are but they freak me out.

But not as much as June bugs. Those things are way too crunchy and their little prickly legs are just down right creepy.

As much as those insects annoy me, it’s the mosquitoes that give me pause. When we were in St. Louis last summer, the news was filled with cautions about certain types of mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus that they were carrying.

I take that type of warning seriously. One of my childhood friends lost a sister to encephalitis caused by a mosquito bite. Karen was only 19 when she died.

And my nephew, Chris, came back from a trip to the jungles of Belize with a case of malaria. He had been unexpectedly sent down to do some research there before he had adequate time to take all of the quinine pills his doctor had prescribed for him.

Apparently there wasn’t enough quinine in his system to guard against the mosquito-transmitted disease. He will live with the disease, hopefully in a dormant stage, for the rest of his life.

Just this week, my sister-in-law (Chris’ step-mom), sent me an e-mail containing a number of “home-made” recipes and ideas for bug repellents that don’t use insecticides. I thought I’d pass them along to you. Some were new to me.

So, remembering that these are not guaranteed to work….

n Use Bounce fabric softener sheets, just wipe on and go. Great to use for babies.

Bob, a fisherman, takes one vitamin B-1 (Thiamin Hydrochloride 100 mg.) tablet a day from the first of April until the end of October. The odor the tablet emits from the user’s skin repels mosquitoes, flies and gnats. Humans cannot smell the odor, but apparently bugs can.

National Public Radio reports that if you eat bananas, the mosquitoes will like you, so stop eating bananas during the summer.

One woodsman swears that the best insect repellent one can use is Vick’s Vaporub.

Plant marigolds around the yard. The flowers give off a smell that bugs do not like.

A group of Marines say that the best repellent that they have found is Avon’s Skin-So-Soft bath oil mixed about half and half with rubbing alcohol.

Mix your own repellent:

20 drops Eucalyptus oil

20 drops Cedarwood oil

10 drops Tea Tree oil

10 drops Geranium oil

2 oz. carrier oil (such as Jojoba)

Mix together in a 4-oz. container. Apply as needed.

And finally…clear, real vanilla. This type of pure vanilla is generally sold in Mexico but can be found in some health food stores. The types of clear vanilla sold in grocery stores contain mostly alcohol and are not the same. When using the pure vanilla, mix it half-and-half with water.

Hmmm, I wonder if I washed all of the windows, screens and doors with pure vanilla….

Probably not that practical. But here’s another tip I found when researching the subject of getting insects to quit bugging you. Insects are attracted to white light. So replace outside lights, like porch lights, with bulbs that emit an amber or pink glow.

And if you are entertaining outside, go one step further. String white twinkle lights or white tube lights in bushes or trees in the outlying perimeters of your yard. Use pink or amber lights closer to the house or use citronella candles to light your seating areas.

The bugs will be drawn to the white lights away from you and and your guests. An added advantage is that the soft pink light is much more flattering than the harsh white light of your average light bulb.

And when you’re covered from head to toe with Vick’s Vaporub to fend off the bloodsucker’s that come in the night, you need all of the help you can get to make yourself more attractive.

Just a little friendly advice.

* * *

I searched the Internet trying to find a suitable recipe for this week’s column and came up with an entire Web site for you to try, Click on the section marked as “kitchen.” One of the recipes listed as Beetle Hats caught my attention and elicited happy boyhood memories from my husband.

I contemplated making the fried bologna dish for Keith’s Father’s Day celebration dinner, but remembered that Main Street Café in Durham was hosting one of its wonderful prime rib dinner nights on Thursday, June 12, in honor of Father’s Day.

When I think about succulent prime rib with all the trimmings nestled up to a steaming baked potato and topped off with a luscious dessert, bologna doesn’t sound so exciting.

I’ll make sure to get our reservations in early so manager Lisa Redger can make room for us to dine as a family. I like the idea of officially celebrating on Thursday and then leaving Sunday afternoon free for Keith to spend doing something that he likes-fishing with the kids, golfing or just taking a nap.

And possibly eating fried bologna.

Beetle Hats

Bologna slices

Mashed potatoes

American cheese slices

Fry bologna until the edges curl up. Put a scoop of mashed potatoes into each bologna cup. Top with American cheese and place under broiler until cheese melts. (Keith says to put this all on top of a piece of white sandwich bread).

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