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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Holidays

  

   The December month of holidays is run somewhat like a production: the children's plays, a visit with Santa, making your list of gifts so as not to forget anyone, making sure all the lights on the tree work, long lines at the checkouts, holiday cards, and don't forget the wrapping paper and tape! I'm tired just writing this. It all goes by so fast doesn't it?

   My husband Mike and I are finished with all of the above drama and are moving on to baking Christmas cookies to put in the freezer until we need them. We put up our Christmas trees the weekend before Thanksgiving this year to get a little more enjoyment out of them. We have a tree in the kitchen where I put dried oranges and small pine cones on it with white lights. At night the oranges look so bright against the lights. This tree we usually leave up most of the winter months.

By Dana Hyland-Horner | Photographs by Mike Horner

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   We have several small trees we put throughout the house, and this year I have collected a few bottle brush trees. The history of the Christmas tree started in Germany when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes for the celebration of the birth of Christ. The first decorations were roses made of colored paper, and sliced and strung apples and cranberries. In later years the trees were adorned with small candles and beautiful glass ornaments. An angel or star was then placed on top to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem. In some countries the Christmas tree is sometimes called the "Yule-tree".

   Lou Hoover was the first President's wife to decorate a tree in the white House but in 1961, Jackie Kennedy created the themed trees that still carry on holiday tradition today.

   The first artificial trees were actually made of goose feathers and spiky pine branches, some of the feathers were dyed green. My husband is a Native American Indian so we have always had feathers and a star on the top of our tree.

   So many traditions are carried on year to year. December 18th is the first night of Hanukkah for our Jewish friends and family. This holiday is celebrated in many ways. One tradition is lighting a candle on the Menorah each night. Other traditions include daily readings of scripture, recitation of Psalms, and singing of a special hymn. Another tradition is the Dreidel; a pointed, four-sided top normally made of wood or plastic, which is made to spin and played during Hanukkah. The meaning of the Dreidel is to celebrate "a great miracle happened there", a historical reference to the small amount of oil—enough for one day, which burned for eight days in the Temple of Jerusalem.

   Another celebration in the United States is Kwanzaa that honors African heritage in African-American culture. Kwanzaa is observed from December 26th to January 1st. It is celebrated by gift giving and a large feast. A Kwanzaa feast usually includes Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, jollof rice, collard greens and okra. Traditional African clothing is worn throughout the holiday. 

   Now, on to making holiday cookies! The first Christmas cookie tradition goes back to the Monasteries of the middle ages where monks had access to sugar and spices we now associate with Christmas cookies like cloves, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.

   For the average American household at the beginning of the 20th century, sugar was a luxury, iceboxes were used to keep food cold and the baking was on a coal or wood burning stove. After the depression ended in the 1930s sugar cookies took America by storm and today the sugar cookie is the most popular Christmas cookie, followed by chocolate chip and gingerbread men...and women. The sugar cookies are my favorite along with a good cup of coffee. This year we plan on making several new cookies that I found in the best cookbook ever, The Betty Crocker Cookbook that every new bride receives at her wedding shower. This tradition still proves true today. Here are a few new recipes for you and your family to try during this holiday season.

 

French Apple Cookies

2 cups flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup raw chopped apple

Mix in order given and drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

 

Farmhouse Shortbread 

1/2 cup butter

6 Tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar; gradually add flour and salt. Press into an 11" round cake pan; prick the edges with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 17-20 minutes until golden. Cut into wedges. Makes 1 dozen. Sprinkle with colored sugar while warm.

 

Hanukkah Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Icing Recipe

2 egg whites at room temperature

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

4 cups confectioners sugar

1 tbsp. or more of warm water

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg, and vanilla and lemon zest for another 2 minutes until combined well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until combined. Do not over mix. Cover, and chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake cookies for 7-10 minutes. Let cool then ice cookies with an icing mix as directed.

 

Kwanzaa Benne Wafers

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. pure vanilla

1 large egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and egg. Then add flour and mix until smooth. Stir in sesame seeds. Drop by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake the wafers for 8-10 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before storing in a container.

   It's not too late to get that Christmas tree or holiday wreath and roping. Lifewise Academy, located in Pleasant Hill behind 115 N. Main St., still has fresh cut greens and all proceeds and donations go to the school. Lowes in Troy and Menards in Tipp City still have trees and greenery left. Fulton Farm is giving their Christmas trees a growth season this year and will be closed. Plus, you can get all of your unique ornament needs at The Apple Tree Gallery located at 405 N. Main St. in downtown Piqua.

 

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

How lovely are thy branches.... Mike and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

 

Until next time....

More from Dana...

By Dana Hyland-Horner

Thanksgiving Traditions and Recipes

   Thanksgiving is this week and I think most of us are wondering how it got here so fast. For many of us, Thanksgiving is one of the few chances we have where we can all gather with family and share a delicious meal together, get caught up on family gossip, but most of all just feel so blessed on so many levels.

   Most families have their own family traditions for this day. Ours is usually get up, turn the parade on, my husband Mike puts the turkey in the oven, and I get started on all of the sides. Each member of our family has one certain thing they love for me to make, and that wish is usually granted on this day only.

 

   When we sit down all together at the table, we pray, and then ask each person what they are thankful for. It could be unusual, crafty, athletic, funny, but always from the heart. I am always thankful that we can all be together. After dinner for our family it's usually a card game of PIT which can get brutal at times, and then a nice walk to reflect on the day. Some families take this day to celebrate the upcoming holiday season by exchanging Hanukkah gifts or ornaments for the Christmas tree, watch a holiday movie together or get the cookie recipes out and decide who will make which cookies for Christmas.

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   If you have travelers coming in, make them a small basket filled with bottled water, crackers, cheese, candies and a small note thanking them for making the trip and put it in the room where they will be sleeping.

 

   Creating memories is the most important thing to do with your family on this day. One year, for us the men in the family took over the duties of cleanup. They did the dishes, ran the sweeper, and took down the table all while we ladies had coffee and a relaxing after meal conversation. Now, mind you.....that only happened one time, but ohhhh what a wonderful memory!

 

   Now we come to what to do with the leftovers? When you wake up from that post Thanksgiving nap, you may have a lot of food to take care of. Don't panic! I tell my kids to bring Tupperware with them and they can pick and choose what they can take home for the next day. It works out great and then we usually don't have a lot to deal with. I'm going to break down a few things that our family does with those precious leftovers.

 

Turkey- Debone all of the remaining meat and put in a container for several other meals. Take some of the bones and add celery, onions and some herbs and boil for a delicious stock that can be used later for soup or gravy.

Mashed potatoes- We usually add minced onions, a small amount of flour and make potato cakes. This can be used as a breakfast side for later days. 

Corn- Add a can of green beans to your leftover corn and you have succotash.

Dressing- Add the remaining gravy and some leftover turkey meat and bake as a casserole. This is so good weeks later. You can also make a Turkey Pot Pie with all of these leftovers.

 

Cranberry sauce- I make homemade, but I do like the kind from the can. You can add the cranberry sauce to a round of Brie cheese for an elegant New Year's Eve appetizer.

 

Rolls- I usually never have rolls left over because that is my favorite food item at Thanksgiving: a cold turkey/dressing sandwich with a dab of cranberry sauce. But if you do, chop up your rolls into cubes and save for croutons. Add some butter to your skillet and lightly brown them. I add a little garlic powder to them as well. Delicious on salad.

 

   Thanksgiving is so rich in history that it is celebrated in Canada as well as in the United States. The English Colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of Thanksgiving as part of their religion. Our day of celebrating began in 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians came together to enjoy a peaceful harvest feast. There are only two surviving documents that reference the original Thanksgiving Harvest meal. They describe a feast of deer meat, wildfowl, cod and bass and the Native Americans brought a variety of corn that was eaten as cornbread and porridge. There was plenty to go around and that is why they called it a "feast". Whatever you do for Thanksgiving as a celebration, remember to always tell your family members how much you love them, and it's always ok to go back for that second helping without guilt.  Enjoy these leftover recipes. Mike and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Potato Pancakes

4 cups mashed potatoes

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 onion finely chopped

2 tsp. Baking powder

flour

Combine all ingredients and mix well. The flour may be added if needed so potatoes can be shaped. After they are shaped like a pancake, drop gently into hot oil (we prefer bacon grease) and fry until golden brown.

 

Turkey Barbecue

4 cups chopped, leftover turkey

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup green pepper, chopped

3/4 cup catsup

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Cook onion, celery, and pepper in butter until soft. Add remaining ingredients except turkey and cook for 5 minutes. Add turkey. Heat thoroughly.

 

Cranberry Salad

1-3oz.package raspberry Jello

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 pound cranberries

3 apples

2 oranges or 1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 cup sugar

Dissolve gelatin in hot water, then add cold water. Cool mixture and set aside. Wash and grind cranberries. Pare and chop apples into small chunks. Stir together the ground cranberries, chopped apples and oranges ( I prefer pineapple), pecans and sugar.

Add to a slightly thickened gelatin mixture; then pour into a mold and chill until the salad is firm and holds its shape. Unmold on salad greens.

 

Succotash

1 package (10 ounces) frozen green beans

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup diced red pepper

10 ounces of leftover Thanksgiving corn

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp thyme leaves

1/4 tsp black pepper

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Cook the green beans as directed on the package, drain and set aside. Melt butter in a large skillet and add onion, red pepper and cook until tender. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until heated through.

 

Turkey Prep:

Start thawing frozen turkey slowly 3 days before dinner. We cover the bird with butter and the juice from 2 large oranges, chopped thyme, sage and chives. Inside the bird we put onions, celery, sage and the chopped up oranges. This makes for a delicious gravy when cooked.  Enjoy!

We would love to hear from you on your thoughts and feedback from the articles and recipes. Contact us at: homeandawaywithdana@gmail.com

 

Until next time....

By Dana Hyland-Horner | Photographs by Mike Horner

Are All Squash Created Equal?

   When going to the grocery store I find so many people buying squash to decorate for fall, not knowing that you can eat all the squash as well. Each one is so delicious in its own way. I'm going to break down some of the differences for you so you can enjoy this fall treat in more ways than one.

  

   There is a difference between squashes and gourds. Squashes are grown and harvested to eat, while gourds tend to be cultivated for decorative purposes, with only a few you can consume. To start, the two differ in their blooms. Squash bloom during the day and are bright orange, whereas some gourds such as Lagenaria bloom only at night and produce white flowers. Some of the most popular gourds that we can decorate with are bottle gourds, snake gourds, sponge gourds, and apple gourds. There are a few edible gourds that we are familiar with such as acorn squash, watermelon, field pumpkin, and butternut squash.

 
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   We usually view one of the most common squash that we eat as a vegetable: the spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is actually in the fruit group because, botanically speaking, fruits contain seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant. And, since all types of squash have seeds and come from the flowering parts of the plants, all types of squash are then considered fruit.

 

   A favorite of my husband Mike and I, to eat is the Delicata squash. It is very similar to a large zucchini and has a bright yellow color with long stripes down the side. The skin is very thin and when roasted with honey, brown sugar and butter it tastes similar to a sweet potato. The acorn squash is shaped like its namesake and has a green and sometimes orange flesh. These can be prepared by cutting in half, scooping out the seeds and some flesh. Then, stuff them with a pan fried sausage or chicken mixture with onions and garlic and top with parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown in a 350 degree oven. To test to see if done, insert a knife in the flesh of the squash, if it slides in easily, it's time to eat! It makes for a pretty fall presentation on the plate as well if you have company over for dinner.

 

   Butternut squash, which is another favorite of ours, is a winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It is a tan-yellow color with a fleshy pulp and contains seeds in the blossom end. You can use this squash in so many ways. You can cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and fill with brown sugar and butter for a side dish. Or we cut them up in small cubes for soups or stews. The skin is quite tough but if you pierce it a couple of places and put it in the microwave for a few minutes, it makes it very easy to peel. If you roast it and add cinnamon and maple syrup, it can be considered a dessert.

 

   Kabocha squash is a new variety for us in the Midwest this year. It is a winter-type Japanese variety similar to a pumpkin in texture. It has a bright orange flesh when roasted, and is known for its especially sweet flavor. It's great for mashing and pureeing for soups. Japanese squash is high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, also found in yellow, orange, and green leafy fruits and vegetables such as carrots, spinach and kale. 

 

   When we all use the colorful small gourds to decorate our tables in bowls and baskets, we have to remember that even though we can't eat them, as the skin is very hard, they are used in many other ways. Gourds are believed to be the earliest plant domesticated by man, in Africa, where they were used as bowls and bottles. The rattling dried seeds inside them enabled gourds to be used as percussion instruments; even today, gourds are used as resonating chambers on certain stringed instruments and drums, especially in the Caribbean. Gourds also make beautiful birdhouses. The most popular type of birdhouse gourd is the kettle gourd, also known as the martin gourd. These gourds are pear shaped and range anywhere from 6" in diameter all the way up to 12" in diameter. They attract several cavity nesters such as bluebirds, swallows, woodpeckers, screech owls and wrens. Gourd birdhouses usually last 5-10 years.

 

   As you can see, all squash are not created equal. They all have their different tastes, smells and uses. This fall venture out of the box and try some of the wonderful variety of squashes that are available to us in Miami County. Here are a few of our squash recipes for you to try.

 

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

1 large spaghetti squash (cut in half)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Stuffing

16 oz. spicy Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (Herbs from Provence)

10 oz. fresh spinach

1 large apple, cored and chopped in cubes

4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds and the fiber.

Drizzle olive oil over the cut sides and inside of the squash along with salt and pepper. Place the halves on the prepared baking sheet cut side down. Roast for 40 minutes on the middle rack in the oven. Check the squash by piercing the flesh and if the knife goes through easily, it is done. Remove from the oven. 

 

Making the Stuffing

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add sausage and cook until done. Drain the excess fat. Add seasoning to the sausage and stir to combine. Add fresh spinach in batches to the sausage and cook until it wilts. Add chopped apples and mix with the sausage and spinach mixture. Add mixture to the squash halves along with both cheeses. Bake the stuffed spaghetti squash at 400 degrees for 15 more minutes until the cheese melts.  *This was delicious.

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Roasted Acorn Squash

1 large acorn squash

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for garnish

1-3 tbsp. dried herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, sage or a mix of all)

1 Tbsp. butter or ghee, melted

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip, and scoop out the seeds. Then, cut each squash half into 1/2-inch thick moon-shape slices. In a bowl combine the parmesan, herbs, melted butter, garlic powder, salt and black pepper; toss until well mixed.

Spread the acorn pieces out on the baking sheet and spread mixture over each piece. Bake until tender for about 25 minutes. Garnish with remaining parmesan cheese and herbs. This is a great side dish for grilled steak or chicken. 

 

Kabocha Soup

Cut this squash up into pieces and roast until tender then add:

2 cups chicken stock/broth

1/2 onion

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tsp salt 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients together with the squash in a blender and blend until smooth. Reheat in a pan and garnish with fresh parsley.

 

Until next time...

Fall Leaves: Uses and Beauty

   The leaves are starting to fall fast which means grabbing a rake and starting the task of making that leaf pile to be picked up and bagged, but first the children and dogs have to run through it several times to complete that fall ritual.

 

   As gardeners, we know that a happy harvest requires hearty helpings of good organic matter, and leaves are an excellent source. Leaves are packed with wonderful minerals that trees draw up from deep in the soil. When this is added to your garden, leaves feed earthworms and microbes. They are a great source of carbon to balance the nitrogen in your compost pile. They also provide good insulation to new plants that you may have just planted in the spring.

 

   Shredded leaves make good mulch for your flower garden. It beds down perennials for the winter and newly planted bulbs for the upcoming spring. The shredding process breaks leaves into smaller pieces and prevents them from forming a thick mat that blocks air and water from reaching the soil. If you don't have a shredder just pile your leaves up and run over them with a lawn mower several times. Once shredded leaves can be tilled into clay or sandy soils to lighten their texture. Don't forget to put some around newly planted fruit trees to protect the tender roots through the cold months. Adding mulched leaves to your compost pile helps to balance the food scraps and other materials that are usually high in nitrogen.

 

   Have you ever wondered why leaves change colors in the fall? As summer fades into fall, the days start getting shorter and there is less sunlight. This is a signal for the leaves to prepare for winter and to stop making chlorophyll. When this process happens, the green color of leaves start to fade and the reds, oranges, and yellows become visible. In our area the maple and oak trees tend to start changing colors first, then the red maples which are beautiful this year come next.

 
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   My husband Mike and I have an oak tree in our backyard, and the squirrels are losing their minds trying to get all the acorns picked up and stored for the upcoming winter. Mike opened the grill up this afternoon only to find a squirrel had been putting nuts under the grate for safe keeping. He is going to be surprised when he starts looking for them. The fall color season in Ohio starts in the middle of September and lasts for about 6 weeks. Grab your sweatshirt and camera, go to one of Miami County's many beautiful parks and take some pictures, gather some leaves and take them home to make some crafts with your children. One that is easy to do and so pretty when you are finished is to take a paper plate and cut out the center, leaving a ring. Gather the leaves you have collected in different colors and staple them to the outside of the ring. As you are doing this, tell your children which tree the leaf came from. They are all different in shapes and sizes, so this will make a great indoor project to get them interested in the fall months.

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   While heading into the colder months, there is so much to do to prepare your garden for the spring. We have pulled up all of the tomato and cucumber plants and left the jalapeno plants as they are still producing. We cut sage for drying, and in a few days we will cut and dry our chives and basil. I have re-potted a basil plant and a rosemary plant to bring in the house for the winter. The parsley plant is a new one this year so it will just come up again next year like a perennial. The lavender is on its second blooming of the season so I cut some of it to bring in the house to dry. It smells so good. Our herb garden is close to the house so I can cut and use thyme until the first snow. 

 

   Right now is the time to plant garlic to be harvested in the spring. Don't forget if you love bulb plants in the spring, it's time to get them in the ground as well, like tulips and daffodils. Fall is a busy time, but take the time to just take a ride or walk and enjoy Ohio and its beauty.

Here are a few fall recipes to enjoy.

 

Pumpkin Soup

1/4 cup butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp. ground coriander

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1 3/4 cup (16-oz. can) Libby's solid pack pumpkin

1 cup half-and-half

Sour cream and chives-optional

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Sauté garlic and onion until soft. Add curry powder, salt, coriander and red pepper; cook for 1 minute. Add broth; boil gently uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and half-and-half; cook for 5 minutes. Pour into a blender container. Cover and blend until creamy. Serve warm or reheat to desired temperature. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped chives. Serves 4

 

Winter Goulash

1 can (10oz.) tomato soup

1 can (10oz.) peas

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. browned ground beef

1 to 1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni

Cook macaroni. Mix all ingredients well in a large skillet.  This is simple and easy!

 

Zucchini Casserole (End of Season)

2 1/2 cups zucchini, diced

1 cup carrots, grated course

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 package seasoned stuffing

Cook carrots and onions; add zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Drain. Put in a casserole dish. Mix sour cream, cream of chicken soup and dressing and add to the casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Easy Pumpkin Cake

1 box spice cake mix

2 cups pumpkin

1 egg

Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until well blended. Spray a 13x9-inch pan with Pam. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. When cool, spread with caramel icing or cool whip.

 

Until Next time ....

Apple Picking Time

   Fall is here. This means getting those hooded sweatshirts out, looking for your leather boots, and buying most everything pumpkin. This year try something different and take your family apple picking. 

   Apple picking is a great way to get the family out in this cool fall air while picking delicious apples. You just might be surprised how calming it is to be out in the orchard looking for the perfect ones. My husband Mike and I have been several times and there is nothing better than fresh apple pie. We make several to put in the freezer. When company comes we always have something on hand to serve. They freeze very well. I also like to purchase a gallon of apple

By Dana Hyland-Horner | Photographs by Mike Horner

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cider. My family loves it at Thanksgiving warm on the stove with fresh apples, orange slices, a clove and a little cinnamon in a warm mug while waiting for dinner to be served. It makes the house smell so good as well.

 

   Apple picking brings families together. From families on a multigenerational outing to maybe a couple’s first date. It's so sweet to see a child take his first bite of a freshly picked apple with the juice running down his face. Take a picture, frame it and every year in the fall display it and see how they change from year to year.

 

   Some orchards will have apples already picked and ready to go for you. There are so many varieties of apples that are good for different recipes. Some are only good for applesauce, some just for eating, and of course those for baking. Apple butter is another favorite of ours. Both of our families used to make apple butter outside in large copper kettles over an open fire. It takes quite a while to cook down, but it sure is good when it's done.

 

   Every apple orchard will offer different types of apples so you might want to do a little research before you go to make sure it's the variety that your family will like, or maybe step outside of the box and try new and different ones. To pick an apple, gently lift the apple up toward its stem and twist. If it is ripe, it will fall right into your hand. Apples on the outside of the tree ripen first. That's where you should start. Always make sure to pick ripe apples because they do not continue to ripen after they are picked. They can sit out on your counter in a bowl for a few days if you plan to eat them right away, but after that it's best to keep them in the refrigerator's crisper drawer to keep them fresh and not spoiled. Look them over every few days for nicks or bruises. Remember...One bad apple really does spoil the whole bunch.

 

   This year we made apple dumplings, something we have never made before. They turned out delicious. Happy picking!

 

How to know your apples:

HONEYCRISP: Very popular apples the last few years, our favorite. Crisp, juicy with a sweet-tart flavor. When cooked remains semi-firm. Great for a pie as it doesn't cook down too much. It is also ideal for topping baked goods such as pastries or pancakes.

GRANNY SMITH: Known for its bright green color and tart flavor. This apple is good for cakes, muffins and cookies. And yes, there really was a Granny Smith that had an Apple Orchard in the 1800s.

 

McINTOSH: This is a great apple for making applesauce as it breaks down perfect. This apple is one that we probably all have seen or used in lunch boxes. It has a tart bite and a fruity aroma.

 

FUGI: This apple has a full flavor and has a firm, crisp texture. Developed in Japan in the 1930s it is great paired with cheddar cheese and crackers.

 

GALA: This apple is more sweet than tart. It has a thin skin that can be left on when cooking. It is delicious when used for applesauce.

 

GOLDEN DELICIOUS: This apple is great in both sweet and savory recipes. It retains much of its texture when cooked. It has a mellow sweetness and is great just eating by itself.

 

APPLE DUMPLINGS

(Sauce)

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup butter

Combine sugar, water and spices. Cook for 3 minutes. Add butter. Pare 5-6 apples (we used Honeycrisp). Cut into 1/8th's and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

(Pastry)

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter

1/3 cup milk

Sift flour and salt. Cut in butter. Add milk. Mix and press together. Roll 1/4 inch thick. Cut into six 6" squares. Place apples in the center of each square. Dot with butter. Fold corners and pinch together. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

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APPLE TORTE

1 Can (1 lb. 2 oz.) apples

1 package (6 1/2 oz.) Jiffy cake mix

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pour apples in a buttered 9x9-inch cake pan. Sprinkle cake mix over apples. Melt butter and pour over cake mix, then spread pecans over all. Bake for 45 minutes.

 

APPLE DELIGHT SALAD

8 unpeeled apples, diced

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup broken walnuts

1 cup miniature marshmallows 

Stir the above ingredients gently.

(Dressing)

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup water

1 tsp. vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup rich milk or cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Blend cornstarch into water. Stir in other ingredients over low heat until all are dissolved. Bring to a boiling point.

Cool and pour over the apple mixture. Chill. Garnish with fresh parsley.

 

Until next time....

 

A Road Trip to German Village: Sausages, Fudge, Cream Puffs and Other German Delights

   There are so many places close to us that deserve a road trip. One of those places is German Village located in Columbus, Ohio. My husband Mike and I had never been there and were so surprised by how pretty of an area it is; with cobblestone streets and old, beautiful brick homes and gardens. As was typical in 1800s neighborhoods, one-of-a-kind locally owned boutiques, specialty stores and restaurants dot this beautiful area.

   We started our day with a visit to The Book Loft, one of the nation's largest book stores featuring 32 rooms of bargain books where I lost my mind!  We were there for about an hour, but I could have spent hours more. I bought several Christmas gifts and several for myself. If you love to read this is a "must" visit that you need to experience.

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

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   Our next stop was the famous Schmidt's Sausage Haus for lunch. In 1886 German immigrant J. Fred Schmidt opened a small meat packing plant just to the south of where the restaurant is located today. Competition and other businesses forced him to close in 1965, but two years later the family transformed an old livery stable into one of the region's most popular restaurants. One of the foods they are known for is the "Bahama Mama", a hickory-smoked sausage with spices stuffed in an old world, natural casing. The staff, all dressed in German attire, said another favorite and popular item is the German potato salad, which we got, and I have to say they were right. It had a vinegar based dressing. Then, have you heard the saying "to die for"? Needless to say that is exactly what the German Cream Puffs were. It is a half-pound, award winning combination of special whipped filling in a lightly baked pastry shell. We were so full from lunch, we brought ours home and had them with coffee later in the evening. I believe this is a good reason to make repeat visits to German Village.

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   Our next stop was The Red Stable, a unique gift shop that features art and so many German Nutcrackers, OSU collectibles, beer steins and everything OHIO. The upstairs was full of local art and they also have a large patio filled with plants and outdoor chimes, flags, and face pots. The staff was very friendly and full of information for us.

 

   Our last stop before heading home was to Schmidt's Fudge Haus, a one-of-a-kind chocolate adventure. In addition to a number of homemade delectables the shop offers a large quantity of German trinkets and novelty items. William, our clerk, gave us so much information on not only the candy shoppe but on some local history. They not only have the best fudge, they also have chocolate covered bear paws, chocolate covered pretzels, German waffles and of course Buckeyes.

 

   While this was a fun adventure, you don't have to go out of Miami County to create your own Oktoberfest. Build a bonfire in your backyard, put on some polka music and head over to Haren's Market in Troy for some of their homemade sausages. They offer over 30 pork/beef sausages in pork casing as well as chicken sausages. We have tried many of them on the grill and our favorites are cherry, pineapple and pineapple bacon sausage. They also offer pumpkin items, apples, and a wide variety of deli items, cheeses and baked goods. You can order and take your breakfast or lunch up to the second floor and watch Troy come alive through the large windows. 

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   Sunset Meat Market in Piqua is another great source to pick up your festive fall items. They make their own brats in-house as well as sausages. They are a family owned business that offers everything from assorted meat packs to delicious cheeses and homemade deli salads. During football season, brats are a popular tailgating option, some of their best sellers are cheddar brats, chili cheese brats, and don't forget the chicken wings. They also offer submarines and other cold meat sandwiches that are made ready to go. 

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   Last but not least, stop by Moeller Brew Barn in Troy to pick up a 6-pack of their own brew "Oktoberfest” beer to go with your Oktoberfest celebration. Some of the most popular craft beers they offer are Blackberry Prairie Wheat, Honey Wagon and Wally Post.

 

   Enjoy these beautiful fall days with food and drink and make your own celebration. Here are a few German recipes to try. "Sprechen Sie Deutsch"

 

Apple Strudel

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter

5 cups apples, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. tapioca

2/3 tsp. cinnamon

Cut flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and butter together with two knives or a pastry cutter. Place crumb mixture on bottom and sides of 8" or 9" square pan reserving some for the top. Mix apples, sugar, tapioca, and cinnamon and spread over the crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top and bake for 25 minutes more. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

Sausage and Apple Casserole

1 1/2 pound link sausage cut in small pieces or 1 1/2 pound bulk sausage in small balls

4 medium apples, peeled and sliced

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

Fry sausage, saving drippings. Combine salt, flour and sugar. Arrange sausage, apples and potatoes in layers in a casserole. Sprinkle some flour mixture over each layer. Top with a layer of sausage drippings. Cover tightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

 

German Potato Puffs

1 cup mashed potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Shortening

Combine all ingredients except shortening and mix well. Deep fry until golden brown in hot shortening using 1 tsp. of potato mixture for each puff.

SPOT IT

Unscramble these words out of the article. See how fast you can do it!

 

OHELAOTCC        NREAMG       KBECUYE 

 

German Village: 588 S. 3rd Street Columbus, Ohio

Harens Market: 2 E. Main Street Troy, Ohio

Sunset Meat Market: 1125 Covington Ave. Piqua, Ohio

Moeller Brew Barn: 214 W. Main St. Troy, Ohio

 

What's Old is New Again: The Hunt for Antiques and Vintage Finds

 

   Years ago, the only time you heard about antiques was when your grandparents, or parents, cleaned out their attic. Now, antique stores, thrift shops and vintage stores are all the rage.

   The hunt for something old and collectible is what some people will travel far and wide to achieve. There is nothing quite like the thrill of the ‘antiques and collectibles hunt’ and finding that fresh, unique piece to complete your home decor's budding collection. In some cases you might be looking for that one-of-a-kind piece that will make your collection complete.

   My husband Mike and I collect several vintage items, such as old biscuit cutters with wooden handles, old crocks, vintage linens and pewter pieces. These items are getting harder to find and when we do, you would think we just hit the lottery! We take it out of the bag and look at it all the way home. Then we sit it on the kitchen counter and admire our find. It's the little things, right?

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

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Above: Items from Dana's antique collection including old biscuit cutters, crocks, pewter pieces and vintage linens.

   When it comes to the difference between vintage and antique items, an antique must be at least 100 years old. Terms like collectible, vintage, and retro are used to categorize items that aren't currently mass produced. There are some items that you need to stay away from such as ivory, or anything made from elephant or walrus ivory. It is illegal to sell many ivory antique pieces. Eagle feathers are usually illegal to sell as well, or antiques with eagle feathers incorporated in them. There are also some very specific laws related to buying and selling Native American artifacts.

   We say keep the hunt simple and fun. 

   Before the days of plastic and Pyrex, most American homes used crocks, and they are making a resurgence with avid vintage collectors around the world. We have several that belonged in our families. Mike has one that was used when he was growing up. It was an everyday bowl used to mix up biscuit and bread dough. I have several from my grandparents. One we now use to keep onions in, and potatoes in another.

   We have so many nice shops in Miami County to visit when looking for that one special item to complete your collection such as Expressions of the Home, which is located in downtown Troy. Owner Diana Scheib says her shop covers both antique and vintage as well as "found items". Diana says her best sellers are one-of-a-kind items and her many green plants. She has been in business in Troy for 23 years and loves helping her customers find that one piece that will make their home collection complete.

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Top left clockwise: Exterior and interior of Expressions of the Home, Midwest Memories and Crossroads Estate Sales.

   Another newer business in Troy is Crossroads Estate Sales where you can also find wonderful items for your collection. The owner unloads trucks full of items from estate sales on Sundays. They clean and sort on Mondays and open on Tuesdays. Every week there is something new and different to sort through.

   A favorite place of ours is Midwest Memories Antiques located in downtown Tipp City. It is a 10,000 sq. ft. vendor mall featuring unique presentations of antiques, vintage finds and items for your home. We always say, "Let’s run in for a minute and see what they have", and 3 hours later we are on our way home. Our son collects small vintage toys like race cars, and we seem to always find one there for him. They have become popular in the last several years and are harder to come by, so having a place like this is a win-win for us.

   West Milton has several unique antique stores that you could take a day and visit like Treasure Chest, Olde Red Barn and Village Peddler. I recently saw at one of these stores several old postcards that were in a frame for display. You could also do this with old comic books or posters from concerts. A friend of mine collects old church cookbooks and handwritten recipe cards, while another collects Beatrix Potter children’s books, which I love too. Beatrix Potter's books owed much of their success to her own drawings, which were used to illustrate them.

   Recently, Mike and I found a beautiful Pewter piece at the Apple Tree Gallery in Piqua, which we had been hunting for. There are several other antique stores in Piqua that make for a day's adventure like Vintage Antiques and The Mercantile.

   So you see, no matter what you collect or what you are on the hunt for, you can most likely find it in Miami County. Here are a few recipes from a Vintage Cookbook. Enjoy!

 

Apple Dumplings

6 medium apples, peeled and cored

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups water

1/3 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup butter

favorite pie crust recipe

   Roll out dough and cut into 6-inch squares. Place an apple on each and bring dough up around the apple to cover completely. Moisten top edges with water and fasten securely on top of apple. Place in a greased baking pan. Combine the brown sugar, water and spices in a pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Pour over dumplings. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, basting occasionally.

 

Pot Pie (Big Noodles)

2 cups flour

3 eggs

2 Tbsp. liquid shortening

1 tsp. salt

1/2 egg shell of water

   Mix all ingredients until it clings together. Knead dough 4 or 5 times, and then divide in half. Roll out on floured area, turning over dough several times, and making sure it's floured each time. Make as thick or as thin as you like noodles, then cut into squares and cook in boiling broth until tender. Serves 4-6 people.

 

Marinated Tomatoes

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 clove garlic

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley

1 Tbsp. fresh basil

   Arrange tomatoes in large shallow dish. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly and shake well. Pour over tomato slices. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

 

   FYI: Most ceramic plates, bowls and crocks have an unglazed rim around the very bottom, where the piece was in contact with the floor of the kiln. The unglazed ceramic is harder than metal and can be used just like a sharpening stone. This is how many ‘old timers’ sharpened their kitchen knives.

 

Expressions of the Home | 6 South Market St., Troy | 937-332-9227

Crossroads Estate Sales | 113-115 E. Main St., Troy | 937-272-7849

Midwest Memories Antiques | 24 W. Main St., Tipp City | 937-669-0316

Apple Tree Gallery | 405 N. Main St., Piqua | 937-773-1801

Treasure Chest | 47 N. Miami St., West Milton | 937-698-1800

 

Until next time....

 

Local Bakery Delights

 

   When it's time for a celebration, cake or sweet treats are usually on the menu. For years, my husband and I have usually gone to local grocery stores to pick out themed cakes or cupcakes to bring to such events as birthdays, weddings or family get-togethers.

   Times are changing, though, and small independently owned bakeries are making a comeback. We have returned to the nostalgia of childhood when going into a local bakery on a Saturday or Sunday morning to get that sweet treat, or when a bride wants to sample all of the cakes before making that most important choice for her wedding. We can't forget the child's birthday party that has to have a themed cake.

   When going into one of our local bakeries, we get that personal touch of having the owner or chef assist us in our decisions, including at these four bakeries in Miami County...

Sweet Adaline's in Tipp City
  Adam Berning, owner and pastry chef at Sweet Adaline's, a full-service bakery in Tipp City, says that using only the freshest ingredients makes all the difference. He uses fresh cream, butter, eggs and fruits that are currently in season.

 

   He graduated from the Culinary School of America in New York and had always wanted to open a bakery and pastry shop in Tipp City. He grew up in Tipp and wanted to give back. He has worked in some of the finest bakeries and country clubs, but knew his hometown would benefit from having a great bakery. All of the recipes he has written through the years are original, and everything in the shop is made from scratch. He is very involved with non-profits in Miami County and hopes to service more of them in the future.
 

Sweet Dreams Cake Shoppe in Troy

   Troy baker, Catherine McKenna Peoples, who recently opened her own bakery, Sweet Dreams Cake Shoppe, specializes in beautiful cakes and cupcakes using her own recipe of buttercream and fondant.

 

   She started out by baking a cake at home for her small child. She said she knew she could do it as she has a degree in art: add some frosting to that and a beautiful cake was made. Quickly, by word of mouth her love of baking became a home-based business. She needed more space though, so she bought a business in Troy and it is growing by leaps and bounds. It's a family affair as she has 5 children. Two of her girls come in and work with her, which gives her time to create and decorate her cakes and cupcakes. Besides cakes, she bakes pies, sugar cookies and bar cookies.

 

   Catherine moved here from the Columbus area and loves the small town feel of Troy to raise her family. She looks forward to serving Miami County with her cakes and sweets.
 

   Small town, family owned bakeries have been around since the 1800s when families immigrated to the United States from countries like Italy, Holland and Germany. Many made a living by baking and selling their own family recipes of cakes and breads. Some of these bakeries are still thriving and have been passed down from generation to generation. The recipes are a closely guarded secret in some families still today.

   The first open-air market for baked goods was established in Paris, France and since then bakeries have become a common place to purchase goods and to socialize.

Dobo's Delights Bake Shoppe in Piqua

   Dobo's Delights Bake Shoppe located in Piqua is a full-service Hungarian bakery that has been in business around 45 years and is owned by Cindy Dobo. The bakery is especially known for its Dobos Torte, which is a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. Another popular item is salt-rising bread, similar to sourdough bread. The Hungarian Sampler, Fluffo and Zserbo (all sweet treats) can be shipped all over the country. Dobo's is also known for its beautifully decorated wedding cakes of all designs.

Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company in Troy

   Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company, located on the Square in downtown Troy, creates artisan breads and pastries daily and is also delivered nationwide. They are a café as well and serve high-quality sandwiches, soups and salads all from locally sourced ingredients. A list of their featured breads include, New York Rye, Rustic Olive, Raisin-Walnut, Cranberry Poppyseed, 7-grain, Rustic Italian, and baguettes. Those are just a few of the many breads they make daily.

 

   Miami County has so many bakeries and cafes that offer a different specialty to choose from. The next time you need a cake or a sweet treat, visit one of our local bakeries and support small businesses. They will thank you and you will be happy you did!

By Dana Hyland-Horner

Sweet Adaline's Bakery

29 E. Main St. Tipp City, Ohio   

937-669-BAKE | WEBSITE

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Dobo's Delights Bake Shoppe

417 N. Main St. Piqua, Ohio

937-773-7923 | WEBSITE

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Sweet Dreams Cake Shoppe

50 S. Dorset Road Troy, Ohio

937-238-2699 | WEBSITE

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Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Co.

317-Public Square SW Troy, Ohio

937-339-8100 | WEBSITE

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Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Co. images from Facebook

Pauline's Rolls (My Mom)

1 pkg. yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups warm water

1 egg

7 cups flour

3 Tbsp. melted shortening

Mix in order given. Let rise till double in size. Knead. Make out into 3 dozen rolls. Let rise. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

 

Meringues (Cookie)

4 egg whites

1 tsp vinegar

1 cup sugar (add slowly)

Combine ingredients. Spoon out on an upside down cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. (You can add a tsp. of strawberry flavoring as well)

 

Until next time....

Strawberry Cake

1 box white Cake mix

1 box Strawberry Jello mix (small)

1 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

4 eggs

1 cup mashed sweetened strawberries (not drained)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.

 

Frosting

I pound of confectioner’s sugar

1 stick of softened butter

1/2 cup mashed strawberries (drained) Very important that they are drained!

If the frosting is too thick, add berries until it is the right consistency.

 

Keeping Fit & Healthy

 

   How life slows down once retirement starts. Mike and I decided we wouldn't be couch potatoes when this day came. He had always worked out in a gym, but I was never really interested. You know I would go kicking and screaming, bracing myself in the doorway, until one day when we got home and I actually felt good, with a ton of energy. I knew right then that it had to be all of the movement of the different muscles and good breathing during the workout. We then decided a good fit for us would be joining our local Troy YMCA. They offer so many different classes in different ranges of activity.

   We have taken different classes at the Y, but for our age group the Silver Sneakers program was just what we needed to stay fit and healthy. We signed up for the Cardio Class 3 years ago and still take it 3 times a week. It is 45 minutes of non-stop workout with weights, balls, resistance bands, a little yoga breathing and balance techniques. When this class is finished we go to the gym. Mike lifts weights and I walk on the treadmill, or do some rowing on the rowing machine. I am a diabetic and this program has kept my daily numbers as well as my A1C numbers right where they need to be. Along with this we have changed our eating habits as well. It’s hard to be this age and find things to keep you healthy. Silver Sneakers has also provided us the opportunity to make lifelong friends.

   The YMCA was founded in London in 1844 by George Williams and 11 of his friends. They were concerned about the lack of healthy activities among young men that worked in all of the local factories. He felt they needed someplace to just let off some steam in a safe environment with spiritual support and physical fitness. The first YMCA in the United States opened on December 29, 1851, in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded by Captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan for the same reason, as he felt the seamen coming off of many months at sea needed a place to re-group and get fit for their next venture out at sea. Today, the nations 2,400 YMCAs are the largest not-for-profit community service organizations in America.

   We are lucky to have two YMCAs in Miami County. The Piqua branch, which started in 1892, is currently building a new facility to be completed in 2024. Between the two you will be able to find any fitness and health class you need. Currently in our class "The Classic" we completed 100 squats as well as wall push ups and sit ups, weight training and balance techniques all in 45 minutes. Other classes include:

Cardio Fit - This heart healthy aerobics class focuses on building upper body and core strength while increasing your cardio vascular endurance.

Circuit - Offers standing low impact moves that alternate with standing upper body strength. 

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

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Splash - Provides a fun environment using a splash-board to increase movement and intensity options during shallow water exercises. This class is safe for those that do not know how to swim.

Yoga - This chair and standing class works on strengthening the muscles, stretching the muscles to increase range of motion and increase balance. Breath work is done during this class to decrease stress without the strain on your joints.

Enerchi - Builds strength and balance while doing Tai Chi and Qigong principal movements. This class improves physical and mental well-being. In a guided flow participants learn the foundations of weight transfer, rhythmic movements along with awareness and focused breathing. 

As you can see there are many classes that you can choose from if you are interested. With the winter months fast approaching, it’s nice to get out and get a little exercise in a great controlled environment. For class times and classes call: 

Piqua Branch (937) 773-9622

Troy Robinson Branch (937) 440-9622

Or visit  www.miamicountyymca.net for The Fall Program Guide

 

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bites

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds

  • 1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If too dry, add more peanut butter or if too watery add more oats. Refrigerate the mixture for 15-30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and scoop the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls and place on wax paper.

Servings-24

For nut allergies: Sunflower seed butter can be used as a substitution to peanut butter.

Summer Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 2 cans of black beans (drained)

  • 1 lime (juiced)

  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)

  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

  • 2 cups frozen corn (thawed), or remove cooked corn from the cob that has been cooled.

Combine black beans, corn and red pepper in a bowl. Add olive oil and lime juice and stir to coat.

Season with garlic powder, cumin and black pepper and mix well.

Can serve as a salad or as a healthy snack with nacho chips.

*Recipes provided by YMCA Instructors

 

Keep Healthy and Fit with us!

Until next time....

 

Appalachian Cooking and Life

 

   People ask my husband and I all the time, "where are you from?" Although we don't hear our accents anymore, obviously we still have them, Mike more than me for some reason. In this Home and Away we will tell you a little about ourselves.

 

   We grew up at the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains, south of Portsmouth, Ohio in a small country farming community called Franklin Furnace, where families were close and friends were even closer. Mike was one of 13 and I was the baby of the family with 2 older sisters. Life on the beautiful Ohio River was quiet and easy. You know the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child", well that's how it was for us.

   Mothers in our community back then raised all of us. Mike recalls many moms in the evenings standing outside chatting and comparing notes on what the kids were doing. If one got in trouble most likely there were several more involved. They were like the FBI and always found out exactly what the truth was. When it was time for supper, whoever you were playing with at the time also came in to eat, usually beans and cornbread, poke greens or freshly picked dandelion greens like the ones you see in your yard today. We didn't eat the yellow flowers then, but have recently learned that they can be eaten as well. Ramps were another hidden jewel back then that you would hunt just like morel mushrooms. They have a taste similar to green onions or chives. Absolutely nothing went to waste, if you had beans left over you made bean cakes the next day by adding a little onion and flour, patted out into cakes and fried in bacon grease. Leftover cornbread was put in a glass with milk, like cereal. Mike still loves it to today.

   Blackberry picking back then was a big event. Every family had their own special place to pick as they were plentiful along the river. If you happened to venture over into another field, you got told loudly to just keep on moving. It is so hard to believe now that we would pick buckets of blackberries that would then be cleaned and turned into jam, jelly or pies for the winter months. Of course most families also had grape arbors that we kids would invade when we could get away with it. These too were picked and cleaned for jelly and some even for wine.

   My sister Patty would tell me stories such as our grandma would always bake her an August birthday cake and decorate it with flowers out of her garden like petunias, marigolds and other blooming flowers. Today it is well known that many varieties of flowers are edible. I had a January birthday so my cake was just plain icing! 

   Cast iron skillets were the kitchen implements of choice. They never, ever went into the dishwater. When you were done cooking you cleaned them out and re-oiled them for the next use. If you happened to burn something in one, it was a two-week process of scraping out the old and deep cleaning and re-oiling. It was a process. We still have one we use for our cornbread and nothing tastes better than a steak in butter with herbs fried in a black iron skillet.

   My Dad was an Associated Press Photographer that worked out of WSAZ T.V. in Huntington, W.Va. and The Goodyear Atomic Energy Plant in Piketon, Ohio. He also took all of the school pictures for years in Scioto County. He was a large man and quick to get to the story. He was first to get the Marshall University plane crash (We Are Marshall), The Silver Bridge that fell across the Ohio River full of Christmas shoppers, and the F5 Tornado that devastated Wheelersburg, Ohio. I think that is where I got my love for the media and a story. Now that you know a little about us, we hope you will continue to read and enjoy our stories in My Miami County and This Local Life Magazine.

 

Fried Corn

  • 12 ears fresh corn, shucked

  • 4 cups water, room temperature

  • 2 Tbsp self rising flour

  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 3 Tbsp. bacon drippings

  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter

To begin, completely rinse and cut the kernels from the cobs of corn and add to a large bowl. Then add to water.

Next stir flour, sugar, salt and pepper into corn and water mixture. Make sure it is completely dissolved into the water.

In a cast iron skillet, add bacon drippings and butter and heat over medium high heat. Once the butter has completely melted, pour corn mixture into the hot skillet and continuously stir.

Turn the heat down to medium. Cook approximately 12-15 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and it has all thickened looking like creamed corn, then serve.

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

Cornbread

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  • 3/4 cups melted shortening

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal

  • 3/4 cups flour

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat eggs, add milk and shortening. Sift remaining ingredients together, add to egg mixture, and beat well. Pour into a greased iron skillet and bake in a hot oven until the bread shrinks from the side of the skillet, about 20 minutes.

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Fried Corn

  • 12 ears fresh corn, shucked

  • 4 cups water, room temperature

  • 2 Tbsp self rising flour

  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 3 Tbsp. bacon drippings

  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter

To begin, completely rinse and cut the kernels from the cobs of corn and add to a large bowl. Then add to water.

Next stir flour, sugar, salt and pepper into corn and water mixture. Make sure it is completely dissolved into the water.

In a cast iron skillet, add bacon drippings and butter and heat over medium high heat. Once the butter has completely melted, pour corn mixture into the hot skillet and continuously stir.

Turn the heat down to medium. Cook approximately 12-15 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and it has all thickened looking like creamed corn, then serve.

Cucumbers and Onions

  • 2 large cucumbers

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 Tbsp. sugar

  • 1 tsp. sea salt

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Slice cucumbers and onion into half moon slices and put into a bowl.

In a Mason jar or small bowl whisk together the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture over the cucumbers and onions and toss lightly. Keep in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

I usually triple this recipe as it goes quickly in my family.

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Edible Flowers

  • Honeysuckle

  • Lavender

  • Violets

  • Roses

  • daisies

  • Lilac

  • Sunflowers

  • Marigolds

  • Squash Blossoms

  • Clover

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Lavender, sunflower and clover

Canning and Freezing

 

   It seems like we just planted our garden yesterday! Where has the time gone? It's time to get out the tried and true recipes that we have used for years, wash those jars, buy new lids and get our fruits and vegetables put up for the winter.

 

   There is nothing better than Bread and Butter pickles or Freezer Slaw in the winter months (see recipes below). My husband, Mike, always makes homemade salsa that goes quickly when the family hears it's finished. Canned goods also make great gifts. Just get a basket and fill it with jars of pickles, fruit jam and jellies, crackers and a couple of cute kitchen towels.

 

   When I was a young girl, I remember my family making a large camp-style fire outside and sitting for hours shucking corn and breaking beans to can and freeze. I still today love to sit and break beans and think of all the fun conversations I would have with my family as we got ready to take care of our garden produce.

 

   There are several ways you can preserve your fruits and vegetables, but Mike and I prefer to use the "hot bath" method , then after we pull the jars out of the boiling water, we listen for the lids to "ping," let them cool, then put them in the pantry.

 

   For the freezer, we put up corn and freezer slaw. We have already put up rhubarb-strawberry jam, rhubarb compote, and bags of cubed rhubarb for breads and pies. Peaches are now ready and will be made into jelly and pies. Then it will be time for a nap!

 

   My favorite jar to use in canning is the Mason jar, which was patented in 1858 by John Landis Mason. The jar's mouth has a screw thread on its outer perimeter to accept  a metal ring or band for a much tighter seal. The blue Mason jars were produced until 1937 using sand from around Lake Michigan. It was that sand that gave the glass a blue hue. Today, they seem to be quite the collectors item, when you can find them.

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

 
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   Our small Victory garden will provide us with all that we need to get us through the winter months. Not long ago someone asked me why I call it our Victory garden. My "Mamaw" told me that during the world wars the public was encouraged to grow gardens of planted vegetables to ensure a good food supply for civilians and troops when they came home from war. That has always stuck in my head and now we do it to honor those from the past. A Victory garden can be a very large garden or as small as a window box garden. The National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. has a re-created World War II -era garden featuring vegetable and flower species available for gardeners through the 1940's.

 

   With this being said, we cannot forget the farmers of all of our communities that go out every day to provide us with local produce fresh from their gardens. They are facing many struggles like climate change, soil erosion, changing tastes of consumers and trying to stay resilient against global economic factors. When you see a farm tractor or combine trying to get to their fields, give them all the road room they need to get there. Remember they are doing this for us.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 4 quarts cucumbers, sliced thin

  • 3 medium onions, sliced thin

  • 2 green peppers , chopped

  • 1/2 cup salt

  • ice cubes

SYRUP

  • 3 cups vinegar

  • 5 cups sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed

  • 2Tbsp. mustard seed

Combine cucumbers, onions,peppers, and salt. Cover with ice cubes and let stand for 3 hours. Drain well.

Combine all syrup ingredients in a large pan. Add pickle mixture. Bring to a boil. Place in jars and seal.

Hot Bath until boiling around jars. Set out to cool.

Freezer Slaw

  • 1 large head cabbage, shredded

  • 1 large green pepper

  • 3/4 cup chopped onion

  • 2 carrots, shredded

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp. celery seed

Combine cabbage, green pepper, onion, and carrots in

a large boil. Mix boiling water and salt together in a bowl

and pour over cabbage ,mixture. Set aside for salt to

draw out extra water, about an hour. Drain well. 

Mix sugar,1 cup water, cider vinegar and celery seed in

a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until sugar is

dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool

completely.

Pour cooled sugar-vinegar mixture over drained cabbage mixture in a large bowl and toss until slaw is well mixed. Spoon slaw into resealable plastic bags and freeze.

When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator.

 

Until next time.

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Peace and Tranquility at The Quarry Farm in Putnam County

CONSERVATION: prevention of wasteful use of a resource

  On a recent "Away" adventure, my husband, Mike, and I decided to visit a very well known nature preserve and conservation farm in Putnam County, Ohio. The Quarry Farm, which has spurred my interest for several years, is maintained by Steve and Anne Coburn-Griffis and family.

   In the late 19th and early 20th century several small quarries along Riley Creek near Bluffton were in operation and used for flagstone and lime burning. The business operated in the floodplain southeast of the mouth of Cranberry Run where it enters Riley Creek. The quarrying operation hit multiple springs, which forced the business to relocate upstream. Everett Seitz and his family lived in a house on the upland north of the flooded quarry pit. After a fire in the 1940s claimed Everett's house his brother, Carl, bought 50 acres that encompassed the old quarry and two homesteads. The waters of the old quarry and Cranberry Run became popular fishing spots. In the early 1970s, Gerald and Laura (Seitz) Coburn bought the Quarry Farm (as the Seitz family had so named it) and began restoring the stream's riparian corridor, floodplain and woodland and maintained it as a retreat and nature preserve. Today, family members and friends continue to operate The Quarry Farm.

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

 
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   Several distinct habitats at the farm have flourished and provide homes for native mammals, reptiles, amphibians and plants, as well as native and migratory birds and insects. There are so many things to look at that you would need a full day to take it all in. I loved the pollinator garden with all of the plants that bring bees, butterflies, and dragonflies to that area, and there were many. Another attraction for me and my husband was the old log cabin (c. 1853) on the property that you could go in and be taken back to how folks lived in that time. It was brought up piece-by-piece from West Virginia in 1996. They call it "The Red Fox Cabin," and it is used for educational workshops and school tours.

   The farm is also known for its animal rescue/sanctuary for abused and neglected animals. They provide a peaceful place for birds and mammals as they heal. We got to meet several of these animals, such as goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, donkeys, a fox named Quinn, and an albino red rat snake by the name of Tyree (also known as a corn snake). Tyree and I came eye-to-eye. He stuck out his tongue and I stood very still and just smiled! I am a country girl from southern Ohio that when you saw a snake down by the Ohio River, you ran for a hoe! I have become more calm in my older years about this issue. I'll just smile and educate myself.

 

   We have raised rabbits, goats and chickens, so going to this farm was very peaceful for me, and my husband. It's a beautiful place with around 3 miles of hiking paths that lead to a creek and marsh. While we were there we were introduced to Deb Weston, an expert birder who works for the farm doing bird hikes and bird counts. She said the farm has around 137 species of birds, with the most rare find being the yellow-billed cuckoo. I was excited to talk to her and look at her beautiful pictures she has taken of the many birds. I have several bird feeders and houses in my back yard and love watching them. Our newest bird house Mike put up a few days ago is for attracting bluebirds. We are hoping for the best.

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   A topic of interest to me is bees and what is happening to them. They are on a slow decline across the world. Bee populations are declining due to habitat loss, pollution, and the use of pesticides, among other factors. The Quarry Farm has hives where you can watch the bees in the process of making honey. You can help bees out at home by placing 1 tablespoon of water with 1 tablespoon of sugar until they are dissolved. Place in a shallow dish near your garden or on your outside table so that the bees can get a drink as they sometimes fly miles and miles to get to a hive.

   The Quarry Farm is located at 14321 Road 7L in Pandora, Ohio. The farm is closed to hunting and is currently open by appointment or during public events. If you would like to receive their newsletter, send them an email at thequarryfarm@gmail.com. This is a one-tank gas trip you will enjoy and if you have small children, this farm is the place to visit.

FUN BEE FACTS:

1. Bees beat their wings 11,400 times in one minute, that is why they are so loud.

2. Only female bees can sting. Male bees don't have stingers.

3. Bees communicate through a series of dance moves.

4. A hive of bees will fly over 55,000 miles to make 1 pound of honey.

5. 1 bee has 5 eyes!

 

Honey Cornbread Recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Add cream, oil and honey; beat well. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour into a greased 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

 

Peanut Butter Honey Fudge Recipe

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk such as hemp milk or unflavored coconut milk 

  • 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter

  • 3 tablespoons raw organic honey

  • 11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Brush an 8X8 baking pan with a little olive oil. Put sugar and milk in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring often and turn the heat off. Slowly add the peanut butter and honey and stir well. Add vanilla extract and stir until the ingredients are mixed. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight for a harder texture.

 

Closer to Home: The new wildlife observation area is now open to visitors at Troy's Monarch Butterfly Habitat, north of Treasure Island Park. This is a wonderful addition for birdwatchers and butterfly enthusiasts as they have feeders and plants to draw in several species. A gazebo as well as a birdfeeder station have been built so visitors can enjoy both birds and butterflies in their own habitats along the Great Miami River.

 

Until next time...

 

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar: A Pair Made in Heaven

   Growing up in southern Ohio our families used many methods of oils for baking and frying. One I remember the most was that big can of lard. Great for frying chicken, pork chops, and even putting a dab on a burn when needed. The most important form of grease was and still is bacon drippings. Oh yes!  Every household had a can, tin, or Ball jar in the refrigerator with that liquid gold. You didn't waste a drop of it, ever!

   After frying bacon, you carefully poured it into your container to then use it to flavor most anything from green beans, fried potatoes, eggs, biscuits and the list goes on and on. My personal favorite was and still is, wilted lettuce. If you have never had it, it is worth a try, you will not be disappointed. 

   My husband and I have one of those containers in our refrigerator, a small tin container marked GREASE on it. When we moved from Wheelersburg, Ohio to Troy, that container rode in the front of our truck with us, so we would not spill a drop. Mike uses bacon grease to flavor his cornbread, collard greens  and many other food items. But, isn't it funny how things change in a blink of an eye?

 

   A few weeks ago we attended a class at the Troy Library hosted by a local store called The Olive Oasis (7 N. Main St. in Troy) and we were mind-blown! The store owner, Chelsea Demmitt, who has owned the store since 2018, put on a remarkable demonstration on olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

 

   I believe in today's world we are all trying to be a little more healthy and conscious of what we are putting in our bodies. Olive oil has so many health benefits, including those for heart disease, blood pressure, and diabetes. The Mediterranean Diet has been a large success due to the fact that it uses EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). It lowers inflammation, protects "bad" LDL cholesterol from oxidation and improves the lining of your blood vessels which could prevent blood clotting. This was all we needed to hear to make a change in our oil selections. 

By Dana Hyland-Horner
Photographs by Mike Horner

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 The quality of their olive oil is determined by the freshness of the fruit which in the fall comes from mills in Chile, Australia and Argentina and in the spring the oils come from Italy, Spain, Greece and California. They are committed to have the oils freshly pressed and shipped to the store. Chelsea said, " You want to consume it as fresh as possible to preserve the taste, aroma and health benefits."

 

   Their balsamic vinegars mixed with the oils produce wonderful dressing for salads, meat, fruit and vegetables. You can go to the store and sample all of the oils and vinegars and I promise you, you will be mind-blown, too! They are simply delicious. We got to sample a fruit salad that she made using a pairing of Coconut White Balsamic+Persian Lime oil. It was light and made you wonder what that taste was. I had to go back and get a second cup of it. Shoot, I really wanted to take the whole bowl home with me!

Here are just a few of the pairings they have put together:

  • Traditional Balsamic + Tuscan Herb Oil

  • Raspberry Balsamic + Garlic Oil

  • Dark Chocolate Balsamic + Blood Orange Oil

  • Mango White Balsamic + Persian Lime Oil

  • Elderberry Balsamic + Lime Oil

  • Plum White Balsamic + Ginger and Black Garlic Oil

  • Traditional Balsamic + Olive Wood Smoked Oil

  • The list is just to long to put them in this article, go in the store and try them all out with a small piece of crusty bread provided by Bakehouse Bread Company.

Creative ways to use their products:

  • Cook scrambled eggs in various infused oils (Garlic would be my choice)

  • Make salad dressings by combining and Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar

  • Dip crusty bread in Herb-Infused Oils

  • Cut up potatoes, toss in your favorite Oil and bake

  • Add fruity Balsamics or Olive Oils to plain Yogurt

  • Use the Espresso or Chocolate Vinegar over baked Asparagus or Brussel Sprouts

   Now back to the black grease tin in our refrigerator, it will always be there, but now it has company, a tall bottle of healthy olive oil.

 

How to make Wilted Lettuce
 

Wilted Lettuce

- 5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

- 1/4 cup bacon grease drippings (put the rest in your container)

- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

- 2 teaspoons sugar

- 2 green onion tops, sliced

- 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper

- 6-8 cups torn lettuce pieces or mixed greens

- 1 hard boiled egg, sliced

- Heat the dressing and pour over the lettuce

Serve with a pot of beans and cornbread....and wish you had more!

 

Until next time...

 

The Miracle of Tea 

   My love of tea came at a very young age, when I would walk to my grandparents house (an orchard away) and invite myself for supper. My Mamaw, as we called her, would have fried pork chops, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and the most delicious drink—iced tea!

   We would eat, clean up the dishes and take our iced tea to the front porch and sit in her swing and talk about life. I was 5 years old. It is the tea that I will always remember.

 

   In my adult life I have always had iced tea with every meal, and when I or my children got sick, it was always hot tea with honey that made us feel a little bit better. They are grown adults now and still have that love for sweet tea. I am now up to making two large pitchers when they come over, and there is never any left when they leave.

   Recently, on an "Away" adventure, my husband and I went to Charleston, South Carolina where there is a large tea plantation owned by the Bigelow family. We were able to tour the fields and factory where the tea was harvested and processed. This plantation is the only one in the United States that has the right conditions and soil to make a viable tea.

   We learned that the first cutting of the tea bushes make the best flavored tea. The tea bushes in Charleston are called Camellia Sinensis. Most of the teas that we in the U.S. consume are normally from Asian countries.

By Dana Hyland-Horner

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   Tea shops and gardens became popular in the 1800's. On Saturdays and Sundays ladies would gather in each others' gardens and have high tea. Today, it is still popular to take a break in the afternoon for a spot of tea in England, Ireland and Scotland.

"Made in America"
 

   America was the first country in history to come up with the tea bag; it was discovered by accident when a merchant decided rather than wrapping loose tea in foil to instead send it in gauze bags. Folks liked it so well that it became a staple in homes. America's second contribution to the tea world came at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, where the temperature was well over 100 degrees and vendors were not selling their famous tea. After careful thought they decided to put ice in the cups and it became a big hit. Today, 4700 years after the Chinese "invented" it, tea is the world's most popular beverage, after water.
 

The Golden Leaf Tea & Herb Company 
 

   The good news is that you don't have to go very far to get a good cup of tea in Miami County. One such place is The Golden Leaf Tea & Herb Company at 128 E. Main St. in downtown Tipp City. Owner Jayne Lewis can tell you everything you need to know about this wonderful beverage. She offers many blends and flavors of loose teas. She says black tea seems to be the most popular, followed by green tea. Her tea is all organic with no chemicals.

 

   Just the smell when you walk in makes you want a cup right then! Lewis uses local honey to sweeten her tea when purchased. During COVID, she offered DoorDash to get her special blends to folks that weren't feeling well. Again, there's nothing like a hot cup of tea when you are sick.

   The Golden Leaf Tea & Herb Company carries many items that you will need to make a good cup of tea, including several types of tea infusers, organic bags, and tea bag holders.

 

   My husband and I also had a good cup of tea at the Scottish Thistle in Piqua and Winans in Sidney where I had a Chai tea latte.

 

   Tea parties are now the new cocktail hour of years past. All you have to do is set out a couple of teapots of different blends, add a spread of snacks, such as tea sandwiches made of cream cheese with chives and garlic powder spread on a rye bread with a slice of cucumber, then just welcome the relaxing and reconnection of good family and friends. 

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How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea Using Loose Tea:

Step1: Use fresh, cold water. Bring to a rolling boil

Step 2: Measure1 teaspoon of tea per cup

Step3: Pour boiling water over the tea (Never put the tea into the hot water)

Step 4: Brew to desired strength. Approximately 2-6 minutes.

 

Herbal Tea is easy to make: put a handful of fresh herbs (about 1/4 cup) per cup of tea into a pot. Pour boiling water over the herbs, cover, and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and drink. I have found that mint and chamomile are the most popular of teas made from herbs.

   I enjoy drinking my hot tea out of a pretty porcelain cup and saucer. They say there is a difference of how the tea tastes when you use a cup that is thick-rimmed. I'm not sure of this as mine never lasts that long! 

   

   After visiting the Tea Plantation, my new favorite tea is Raspberry, hot or cold. There is nothing better than sitting outside in the shade with a cold glass of fresh tea listening to Jimmy Buffett singing, "Life is just a tire swing"

 

   Until next time....

 
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By Dana Hyland-Horner

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Spice Up Your Recipes with Your Own Herb Garden 
  Planting season is fast-approaching, which means it’s time to get seeds out and plans in place for harvesting and preparing them.

   My husband and I have a small victory garden with several tomato plants, cucumbers and a few hot pepper plants, but the garden we use most is our herb garden.

   We started it years ago in southern Ohio and have enjoyed our garden here in Troy. I have always used herbs and spices in cooking, but when you can go outside and pick fresh, it just changes the taste of the dish you’re making. It’s also a great food source for bees and butterflies.

   Gardeners have used herbs for centuries for various reasons from dying wool and fabric to making soap, ointments and potpourri. In our garden we have planted parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, chives and garlic chives. This year we are expanding our garden and planting lemon balm and peppermint, which needs a larger space, as they can take over an herb garden fast!

   There are really no rules on how to plant an herb garden. It can be a window box filled with vining herbs (such as the various thymes) or patio pots filled with certain cooking themes like pizza herbs. This might include basil, oregano, and chives. Throw them together with some pepperoni, sauce and cheese on a flatbread and you have a great meal.

   Sage is one of my favorites to grow and dry for our Thanksgiving dressing. I just bunch a picking of sage together and hang it upside down in a shady spot for about 3 weeks. They dry easily and can be crumbled up and put in spice jars for further use, such as around a baked chicken or in a vegetable soup.

   Another idea for harvesting some of your herbs is by using an ice tray. Fill the tray with butter and chopped herbs like chives, basil and rosemary, then freeze. When your steak comes off the grill, pop one of the cubes on top. You can thank me later, it’s delicious.

    I’m sure most of you have used the popular herb lavender, which means “to wash” in Latin. It can be found in shampoos, creams, jellies and potpourri. We have ours planted on both sides of our front walk and when it’s at its peak it is beautiful and smells divine. I recently learned that you can get a second flowering in the fall, which is when I pick, dry and give lavender as gifts.

   Another interesting fact that I have learned is that cilantro is the herb that produces coriander the spice.

 

   The Troy-Miami County Public Library (and other libraries in the region) has introduced a Seed Library this year in which they have taken an old card library cabinet and filled it with different seeds that you can check out just like a book and get your garden started. They also offer vegetable and flower seeds.     

   To get started with your herb garden, you will need well drained soil, raised beds or containers work great. You’ll also need a sunny location (at least 6 hours). Some herbs like a little afternoon shade. Most herbs do not require high levels of fertility. This is one area you can play around with and place herbs far enough apart to allow space to grow.  Here are a few of our favorite recipes using the herbs we grow, dry and freeze.

   My favorite thing to do in my herb garden is on a stressful day is run my hands over the plants to release their wonderful scents.

   Happy gardening all!

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Herb Butter Spread

2 sticks of butter, softened

1tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chives

1 tablespoon rosemary

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Place on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Twist ends and seal tight.

Freeze for at least an hour before use.

Slice into rounds and enjoy on steaks, chicken, pork chops or as a spread for French bread .
 

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Basil Pesto

 

2 cups fresh basil leaves

½ fresh parsley

½ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a blender or food processor, puree the basil, parsley, oil, garlic, salt and pepper

Add the nuts and cheese and process briefly until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.

Serve this over noodles of your choice.

Seasoned Salt

4 tablespoons parsley, dried and finely crushed

3 tablespoons sage, dried and crushed

2 tablespoons rosemary, dried and crushed

1 tablespoon thyme, dried and crushed

1 cup salt

 

Mix the Herbs and salt thoroughly and store in a large-holed shaker.
 

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As Medicine
Herbs can be good for what ails you too. When you have a cold, this herbal tea is very comforting.

1 part echinacea root

1 part peppermint leaves

1 part yarrow leaves

1 part lemon balm leaves

Put the echinacea in 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the rest of the herbs, stir well, cover, and steep 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and add honey and lemon if desire. Dill, which I just planted seeds for and are coming up quick seems to be the gem in the herb garden as you can plant them in your flower garden and vegetable garden also. It’s a host to the black swallowtail butterfly, so your are helping the butterfly population grow as well.

Dana Hyland-Horner, a resident of Troy, will be sharing her love of cooking, gardening and adventures in Miami County and other interesting places with her Home & Away feature on My Miami County.