Saturday, April 28, 2012

Packed house at SSCC laughs, learns at Homemakers Show

By GARY ABERNATHY
Salt Editor

Drew Hastings and Bob Lambert.
A packed house of more than 500 was entertained and enlightened Friday night at The Times-Gazette's Homemakers Show, enjoying catered food, tons of prize giveaways and lots of laughter as local celebrities and business owners demonstrated their culinary talents.

When attendees began arriving at 4:30 p.m. they were greeted by booths and displays from local vendors and a variety of food choices.

By 6:30 p.m., the audience had filed into the main auditorium at SSCC, which was packed wall to wall as co-hosts Leslie Ramsey of WVNU and Sharon Hughes of The Times-Gazette greeted the crowd.

The proprietors of TwentyFour Exchange began the evening's cooking demonstrations, showing how to make "Batter Up" chocolate chip cookies, and the audience laughed as Ann Morris mostly unsuccessfully attempted to walk her daughters Amy Robinson and Jo Sanborn through the process, while Robinson's daughter, Scarlett, rounded the bases for each successful step completed.

Next up were Real Living Classic Real Estate's Jenny Cameron, Brigette Waggoner and Melissa Riffee, who demonstrated how to make eggplant parmesan - and the recipe eventually went well even considering Cameron's unique version of grated cheese.

Last came Bob Lambert and Drew Hastings, and the audience roared as Lambert did his best to complete the recipe in spite of Hastings' futile efforts to understand or help in the process.

Local singer Tanner Ayres entertained the audience with two numbers and demonstrated why he has been asked to perform as an opening act at the Festival of the Bells.

Times-Gazette advertising director Mickey Parrott said she was thrilled with the show and appreciated the support from sponsors, attendees and Southern State, and thanked ad reps Sharon Hughes, Chuck Miller and Tracie Guisinger for making the show a success.

Among this year's sponsors and participants were Kroger, Walmart, Rent-2-Own, WVNU radio, The Laurels, Community Care Hospice, 31 Purses by Bobby Jean Howard, Tastefully Simple by Jessica Bailey, Brad's Garden Center , Eat Restaurant, Highland District Hospital , Merchants National Bank, Phillips Insurance, Premier Design Jewelry by Stacie McKee, Tupperware by Tiffany Barnett , State Farm Insurance/ Amatha Farrens, US Bank, Modern Woodmen/ Angela Fleak, Seniors Helping Seniors, Highland County Hearing Aid Center, the Highland County Homeless Shelter and Our Daily Bread.

The homeless shelter collected nonperishable food items brought by many of those who attended.

Split-Man Productions handled the sound and lighting for Friday's event.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cast iron for momma's home cooking


Sheryl Sollars: Welcome to my kitchen
A couple of weeks ago I talked about things that I could not get along without in my kitchen. After I read it, I realized I left out one of the things that would be at the top of my list, a cast iron skillet or kettle. Growing up it was very common to see an iron tea kettle, iron dutch oven and a cast iron skillet all on my Mom’s stove. Now you have to remember, during my younger years she only had a coal oil stove to cook on and regular cookware did not cook well on this type of stove. When she moved to Wilmington and had a new stove, she changed over to aluminum pans but kept her cast iron skillet and dutch oven for regular use. I will never forget some of her recipes that she used her cast iron cookware with and those included pineapple upside down cake, cornbread and chicken paprika in her dutch oven.

Bare cast-iron vessels have been used for cooking for hundreds of years and were treasured as kitchen items because of their durability along with their ability to retain heat, thus improving the quality of cooking meals. Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the middle of the 19th century, meals were cooked in the hearth or fireplace, and cooking pots and pans were designed for use in the hearth. This meant that all cooking vessels had to be designed to be suspended on, or in, a fireplace. Cast iron pots were made with handles to allow them to be hung over a fire or with legs so that they could stand up in the fireplace. In addition to dutch ovens, which were developed with the onset of the Industrial revolution, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan, called a spider, had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire and were used in place of what we today call a skillet. Cooking pots and pans with legless. Flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular. This period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet.

BRANDS
Cast iron cookware was especially popular among homemakers and housekeepers during the first half of the 20th century. Most American households had at least one cast iron cooking pan and such brands as Griswold and Wagner ware were especially popular. Although both of these companies folded in the late 1950s and the brands are now owned by the American Culinary Corporation, Wagner and Griswold cast iron pots and pans from this era continue to see daily use among many households in the present day. They are also highly sought after by antique collectors and dealers and can cost well over $50 for an average skillet in nice condition. The Lodge Manufacturing company is currently the only major manufacturer of cast iron cookware in the United States and can be found in good hardware stores and gourmet food stores. Some pieces can currently be found in Cracker Barrel stores. Fancier and more expensive lines of enameled cast iron cookware are made in European and Asian countries.

Cast iron fell out of favor in the 1960s and 1970s, as Teflon-coated non-stick cookware was introduced to the public and quickly became the item of choice in many kitchens. Today, a large selection of cookware can be purchased from kitchen suppliers, of which cast iron comprises only a small fraction. However, the durability and reliability of cast iron as a cooking tool has ensured its survival. Cast iron cookware is still recommended by most cooks and chefs as an essential part of any kitchen. That includes many here in Clinton and surrounding counties I am sure.

Most bare cast iron pots and pans are cast as a single piece of metal in order to provide even distribution of heat. Cast iron can withstand and maintain very high cooking temperatures which makes it a common choice for searing or frying; and its excellent heat diffusion and retention makes it a good option for long-cooking stews or braised dishes. This quality allows most bare cast iron pans to serve as dual-purpose stove top fryers and oven baking dishes. Many recipes still suggest the use of a cast iron skillet or pot, especially so that the dish can be initially seared or fried on the stove top, then transferred into the oven, pan and all to finish baking. Cast iron should be heated to the desired temperature very slowly as it is a slow conductor of heat and can form hot spots too quickly. However, it has excellent heat retention properties and the entire pan can eventually become extremely hot, including the iron handle or handles, so take precautions with hot pad holders.

SEASONED OR NON-SEASONED
Although most cast-iron cookware now list that they are preseasoned but, in my opinion, I still suggest you season it even further. Because this coating is done at the manufacturer it only lasts a short time. Cast iron cookware is very porous and by seasoning it you fill those pores and create a natural non-stick finish. Seasoning is very easy but takes time and patience. Wash the piece you are planning on seasoning in soapy water and completely dry before seasoning. Using solid vegetable shortening works best but liquid oil can be used. Scoop or pour some shortening onto two or three folded paper towels and rub over the inside, bottom and sides of the cookware. Let sit 10 minutes and repeat. Place it in the oven upside down, preset at 350 degrees. for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and then let the cookware completely cool. Place aluminum foil over the entire area under the utensil to catch any drippings. If the cookware is not preseasoned then this step should be done twice more before using. Do not wash between seasoning.

Immediately after the item has been used, pour out any remaining oil and fill pan with very hot water. Let sit 15 minutes and then pour out and wipe good with paper towel. If there is any remaining debris, lightly scratch off with a plastic scratcher and lightly wipe out with oiled paper towel. When frying things such as fried potatoes, my favorite thing for a cast iron skillet, just wipe clean with paper towels and store in oven. I like to re-season lightly after two or three usages, depending on what they were. To re-season, wipe inside and sides only with a paper towel that has been dipped in oil and wipe out. Place on a warm burner for 15 minutes. Carefully wipe out with a second dry towel. Unless the pot or skillet is very dirty it is best not to use soap as it will eventually break down the seasoned base.

Since cast iron skillets are seasoned to form a non-stick finish they can double as baking dishes. Cornbread in particular is a food item that is best prepared in a cast iron skillet. The iron pan is heated beforehand in the oven. The ingredients are combined in the heated pan and then placed directly into the oven for fast baking. This differs from many other cooking utensils which may be damaged by the excessive temperatures of 400 °F (204 °C) or more.

Today’s recipes include two fruit desserts that I used to make using my cast iron skillet. The first is from the Sharon Church Cookbook and is my Grandmother Jenkins’ recipe.

SKILLET PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
This is one of the oldest desserts known to man and cooking it in a cast iron skillet is the only way to make it gooey and good. This recipe is for a large iron skillet.

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 – 20 ounce can pineapple slices, drained, 1/2 cup juice reserved
2 eggs, separated
1 – 1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 maraschino cherries
5 tablespoons butter
1-1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Sift flour, salt and baking powder. In large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored; gradually add sugar and beat until sugar has dissolved. Alternately, beat in flour mixture with egg mixture and pineapple juice, until all have been incorporated. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; gently fold into cake batter. Set aside.

Place skillet on hot burner and add 5 tablespoons of butter; let melt. Add brown sugar and stir until it comes to a full boil. Boil 1 minute.

Remove from burner and arrange pineapple slices and cherries in brown sugar sauce. Pour batter over pineapple mix and place in oven which has been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving plate. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

CHERRY CLAFOUTI
The batter for this traditional French dessert is somewhere between a cake and a custard. It most resembles a thick crepe and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare in a blender. Adapted from a recipe in “You Can Trust A Skinny Cook,” by Allison Fishman, this gorgeous dessert can be made, baked, cooled and ready to eat in one hour. The cherries used in this recipe can be found in the frozen section of the grocery store or you can use canned ones.* This dessert can be made using Stevia to reduce the sugar for diabetics.

1-1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar or Stevia
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup flour
12 to 16 ounces packages frozen (thawed) or canned (drained) dark sweet cherries, pitted
Confectioners’ sugar

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously coat 10-inch cast iron skillet with the butter.

2) Process the eggs, milk, orange juice, salt, sugar (or Stevia) and vanilla in a blender until well blended. Add the flour and process until smooth and well blended.

3) Scatter the cherries in the prepared skillet and carefully pour the batter over them. Bake until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Cool. Lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

*If you are making this for a diabetic, using the frozen cherries will give you less sugar count.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Sheryl Sollars has been a resident of Clinton County most of her life. She spent a few years living in Ocala, Fla., where she opened and operated “Creations by Sheryl” a gourmet food and gift shop. During her time in Florida, she also wrote a weekly food column for three local papers. She is an accomplished cook and homemaker and contributes her “Welcome to my Kitchen” each week out of the love she has of sharing her thoughts, messages and recipes with her readers. Feel free to contact her with a question or suggestion for her column by emailing her at:
ssollars44@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let's stay in touch

By PAMELA STRICKER

“Mom, I hope my letter finds you well. I find myself almost having anxiety attacks when I think of all the family time that I have missed…”

My son, John, wrote that in a letter I received from him a few years ago. How precious are his words to me and how I cherish the letters I have collected over the years from loved ones and friends. Yes, I save them and revisit them from time to time, reminding me of what we have been through together, even though sometimes many miles apart from each other.

Today, John is more likely to send a text or call me to stay in touch. And I am grateful he stays in touch, but there’s something much more lasting when the message is handwritten.

And you have to be careful with those text messages. More than once I hit the send button too quickly and off it went to the wrong person. I had one recently from my cousin, Patti Jo, in North Carolina. Here’s how it went…

PJ: “ hey, I’m looking to start cleaning houses. If you hear of anyhone looking for someone, will you let me know please?”

Me: “In Ohio?? Mom needs someone!”

PJ: “Lol!! I don’t know if I could drive that far. :D”

Me: “She pays well and she still cooks real good!”

PJ:  “Ok… maybe lol”

PJ: “Does your mom live in Ohio now?”

Me: “This is your cousin Pam. Did you think I was someone else?”

PJ: This is Patti Jo! Did you think I was your cousin?”

Turned out Patti Jo had sent it to the wrong Pam. We sure had a good laugh over that one and, truth is, we had a fun connection we would probably have otherwise not had. So there is value in our digital communication.

I have recipes I have saved and refer back to that were handwritten by my many of my relatives and friends over the years. I can imagine the day we prepared a certain recipe together and they wrote it out for me. I love looking back at some of the personal touches added in the recipes. In the middle of her recipe for Raisin Cookies, Grandma Mills wrote “Pam, I usually mix them up and put them in the refrigerator overnight before I roll them out for cookies. Easier to handle.” Just notes like that make me feel like she is still watching over me as I throw the ingredients together, hoping I can measure up to her reputation as a great cook.

It’s just not the same when I prop my iPad up on the counter and search for something to fix for dinner tonight.

So, it was thoughts like this that inspired our theme for this spring edition of Salt: “Staying in Touch”.  We have changed the way we communicate so much and I think we have lost some of the value we had when we could walk out to the mailbox and discover a letter from a friend or loved one. Maybe, just maybe, we need to embrace the future, but not let go of the past.

I can sit down with a cup of tea and pull out letters from people like my dad who is no longer living, and take in, once again, the encouragement and support he offered at a time in my life when I was feeling pretty hopeless. I don’t do that with text messages, emails or Facebook. How about you?

Here’s one of the recipes that Mom prepares often. She first remembers Grandma Mills fixing it. The recipe is in an old cookbook she still has that was published by the Ladies’ Aide Society of Satterfield’s Chapel Christian Union Church (just outside West Union). This is a nice springtime salad and always a big hit.

PINEAPPLE SALAD
1 large can pineapple in chunks
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
Lump of butter
¾ cup nuts (we usually use walnuts)
24 marshmallows
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour

Empty the can of pineapple with juice into a saucepan on the stove and let it come to a boil. In a separate bowl, add sugar, flour, butter, eggs and salt. Beat until creamy. Slowly add the creamy mixture to the pineapple and stir as you add. Boil about a minute. Then let it cool. Then add the nuts and marshmallows. (We like to use the big marshmallows and cut them into quarters with scissors. That way the marshmallow absorbs more of the flavor.)

Speaking of recipes, you don’t want to miss the Homemaker’s Show in Hillsboro on April 27. Tickets are $5 and go on sale at The Times-Gazette office on April 2. And save the date of October 16 for The Salt Marketplace and Cook Show at Roberts Centre in Wilmington. These are great times to get together with all of you and we have lots of goodies and recipes to share with all of you. Hope you can make it.

In the meantime… please pass the salt.


Pamela is the publisher of Salt, the publisher of the Wilmington News Journal and the publisher of the southwest group of papers for Ohio Community Media.

Front porch profile: Betty Campbell

Betty Campbell, of Brown County, is a Ripley historian.

What is your favorite movie?
It's a tie between To Kill a Mockingbird and Casablanca..

Where is the most interesting place you've traveled?
Monticello.

What is your favorite Elvis Presley song?
I'll Remember You.

What character from a book would you be?
That one is hard to narrow down.

Cats or dogs?
Cats.

What quote best defines how you live your life?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Winter, spring, summer or fall?
Fall.

Regular or decaf?
Decaf.

What is the thing you love most about your community?
That there is such a sense of community within Ripley.

What is one of the funniest things a kid has said to you?
I give a lot of tours at the Rankin House in the off season. I was doing a tour with fourth-graders and I thought I was really getting through to them. About a week later, I get all these thank you notes back from them. They all pretty much say the same thing, just thanking me for the tour. This one little girl thanked me like the others and then wrote: “And I really liked your hair.” I thought maybe I didn't do a very good job of getting through afterall if she was so focused on my hair.

By LORA ABERNATHY

The need for speed vs. the art of writing

By GARY ABERNATHY

As someone who has spent most of his life working in the communication business, this edition of Salt is of particular interest.

Our entire planet is communicating at a pace that is almost frightening. Thanks to the Internet, an event that is happening halfway around the world can be posted online for millions of viewers to see or read instantaneously. There are obvious benefits to such a rapid flow of information, but there are also drawbacks. While we are all communicating faster, we are losing the very art of communicating – and make no mistake, good communicating is an art form.

Through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, people are communicating instantly and often with multiple people at once. Sentences have been reduced to an endless string of acronyms, spelling is almost inconsequential, and punctuation is usually nonexistent.

But perhaps more importantly, the expressiveness contained in good writing has become a casualty of instant communication. The warmth, emotion, love or yearning found in long and thoughtful – and usually handwritten – letters or notes is virtually impossible within the 140 character limit of Twitter or the short bursts of innocuous comments and posts found on Facebook.

Even email – a relatively new mode of communicating that already seems almost outdated – seems to contain a ponderous amount of reading if the text extends for more than a paragraph or two.

At age 56, I sometimes find myself longing for my youth. But I can say without reservation that I am glad I was young before the Internet devoured us. I grew up writing stories and letters by hand, before eventually graduating to a manual typewriter. I am grateful to have learned how to write, how to communicate, by putting emotions, ideas or dreams onto paper. Writing - crafted slowly and thoughtfully with each word or sentence carefully considered – can be cathartic, invigorating and fulfilling. I recommend it.

I hope you enjoy the features and stories in this edition of Salt about the evolving nature of how we communicate, and consider whether efficiency necessarily equates to progress.

Gary is publisher of The Times-Gazette in Hillsboro.

Journaling is for the journey

By LORA ABERNATHY

Abernathy, second from right, poses with friends in Prague,
Czech Republic, in 1999.
Even reading the word “journaling” sounds like an adventure.

Indeed, the journals I have kept over the years reveal a life lived, one of taking chances, of character exploration. Many entries have served as prayers.

Over my adult life, I have kept a few journals, penning my way through my day's headlines, hoping that doing so would immediately yield an epiphany that would bring about knowledge of myself for which I was desperately searching.

Sometimes it did.

The summer immediately following my graduation from Marshall University, I traveled to Slovakia with dozens of other students from across the country with Campus Crusade for Christ. We spent seven weeks overseas, and in between our work at the English camps, we would take the train and travel to Poland or the Czech Republic or other parts of the Slovak countryside.

I created a journal just for this trip. I still keep it nearby.

June 19, 1999: Sitting here at one of the airports in London waiting to board for Budapest... The trip to London went well... I switched seats with Rhett so that I could sit by the window...

June 30, 1999: Well, I'm sitting here on my bed at the student hotel Piast getting ready to go to Auschwitz.

July 13, 1999: I went to the posta (post office) and potraviny (grocery store) earlier... The top stories on SKY are: Louise Arbour visits Pristina; 7 people were killed in Atlanta; 22 people were killed in Romania where a dam busted … something about a peace bill between the IRA and Parliament; a new bill may go in to effect which allows “psychopaths” to be admitted before they commit crimes in Britain.

July 22, 1999: OK, so, I just spent my entire day in Prague. Wow, what a beautiful city!


July 29, 1999: Here in Slovakia, I have to rely on God to get toilet paper, whereas in America, there is a very high probability that I will not need God for such a task.
After the trip, I took my thoughts back to my regular journal.

Jan. 8, 2000: Well, Melody is moving to Minnesota in a few days and my job with Rhone Poulenc ends at the end of January. Yes, it's definitely a time to trust God.

March 5, 2000: Dear Heavenly Father: I just want to thank You for my life. I know I complain a lot because I'm not getting what I think I need, but I've got You and You have certainly blessed my life with so much.

Oct. 18, 2000: Yesterday, my dad died. I look at pictures taken that I hold in my hands and they provoke tears of horrid disbelief.


From being awe-inspired by where I was, to coping with tragedy, because I took a few moments every few days to jot something down about what was happening in my life, I have these opportunities to relive these journeys for a second time, or a third time. It can be insightful to look over old posts, to realize how far your journey has taken you.

Today, my triathlon blog (www.theironmountaineer.blogspot.com) serves as my journal. It's not a private account, although you could certainly set up your blog to be completely private.

June 28, 2008: First triathlon race report: The wind was blowing quite a bit and I thought for sure the water would be freezing. It actually was not bad at all. This would be the least of my worries...

Oct. 15, 2008: I ran my longest run yet yesterday morning: 4 miles.

Oct. 18, 2010: I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles) Sunday, a challenge I assumed I would undertake someday as I've crept into the welcoming world of triathlons and endurance running. I had no idea that it would be so much fun, though!


Though my thoughts revolve around triathlon training or racing primarily, I'm able to find a way to weave in topics about virtually anything. Triathlon is the excuse, life is the meaning.

There is, however, a noticeable distinction between the format of a hard-back journal and an on-screen blog. My blog is always honest, but it has been edited, revised for a public audience. The writings in my journals are no truer, but they are certainly rawer.

Snapshots of thoughts frozen in time, a journal of any kind can serve as a reminder of what truths you chose to reveal and, in essence, become a source of inspiration for change and for reflection – even many years later.

Lora, of Hillsboro, is the health and wellness editor for Salt and the southwest group online editor for Ohio Community Media.

Spring forecast: sunshine

By STEPHANIE HARDWICK STOKES

Yellow is this season’s popular new hue, and it is warming up rooms, accessories and fabrics of all styles.

VINTAGE
A bedroom in this 1850s restored home exudes charm. The lily of the valley wallpaper makes a delightful place to be whether you are tucked away warm and dry sipping a cup of tea during a spring shower or you are feeling the spring breeze kiss your cheeks and ruffle the antique linens.

A bathroom in the same home takes on a deeper, more golden feel with its flax faux finish on the walls. Look closely for the antique pitchfork towel holder, butter churn handle turned toilet paper holder and Victorian dresser made into a sink vanity.

TRADITIONAL
Yellow debuts its buttery tones on simply painted walls in my own living room.

As a designer I like so many different styles and colors, it is difficult to choose what I want to live with on a daily basis.  Each new job I do for a client, gets me so involved in the style and color scheme that is selected that I start wondering if I should incorporate that look into my own home.  My husband does not find this constant flux of ideas too amusing!

One late spring day, I took my Sherwin Williams paint fan deck outside, sat down on the ground next to a patch of my favorite seasonal bulbs which were blooming and started matching colors to parts of the blooms I loved.

I finally settled on the subtle, yet nice warm shade of butter. It is not abrasive, nor is it too lemony or sweet either. The sun makes it come alive in the morning, but as the day goes on it mellows out with more complex undertones. The subtleness causes it to come across almost as a neutral.

MODERN
These are three brand new contemporary fabrics introduced for the spring line. So new, they were not yet on pieces of furniture to photograph for you!

Geometrics have taken on a softer line as the colors almost blur one into the next. The scale is oversized.

Birds are an extremely strong design motif in all spheres.

The linen has a gorgeous raised diamond embroidery. Texture, texture and more texture is imperative.


TIPS ON PAINTING YELLOW WALLS
There is a reason yellow is used on many traffic warning signs and on school buses. It catches your attention and a little goes a long way!

If you decide to follow the trend and paint your walls yellow, remember
that all shades of this sunny color go on much brighter than you expect. The more mass (wall space) you have, the stronger the color will appear. With yellow, I recommend going two shades lighter on a paint strip than the color you think you want.

Yellow also changes with the light more than other colors.  This is true of morning light versus evening light as well as the direction of your light, Easterly versus Northern. A simple tool to help you decide - buy a sample of the color you think you want. Paint a poster board and tape it to your wall to observe how the shade of yellow will look in your home and with your lighting. This can save much work and heartache. It can also give you the confidence to move forward with a great change. Still unsure, call an interior designer to select your paint for you.

FIVE WAYS TO FRESHEN YOUR ACCESSORIES FOR SPRING
1. Try hanging decorative plates you may have tucked away in your china cabinet. The Spode plates hung on either side of the Chippendale mirror visually expand the width of the wall grouping but are also a pleasant reminder of my trip to England.

2. Create a centerpiece of lemons or other seasonal citrus. The look and smell are both refreshing.

3. Mix in a piece of art in a different style. Over my fireplace a square piece of contemporary art is flanked by traditional lion statuary lamps.  The colors in the art tie in the other design elements in the room, but the medium and style are a departure from the other art. 

4. Change out candle colors. I like to emphasize various design components of the room as the seasons metamorphous. The bronzes of fall and the reds of winter, give way to a bolder burst of yellow in my candles and other accessories as spring approaches.

5. Remove old, tired greenery and introduce fresh succulents. If you are using silk greens, now is the time to spring clean them. Rinsing them with warm water or spraying them with silk cleaner can make them look like new.

Stephanie is an officer of the executive board of the Dayton Society of Interior Designers. Her work has been featured in the Dayton Daily News, the Cincinnati Enquirer and in various Designer Show houses. She resides in Clinton County, and works throughout southwest Ohio. She may be contacted at Hardwick Designs (937) 383-4832 or hardwickdesigns@yahoo.com.

The mind and body connection

By LORA ABERNATHY

It’s a classic Catch 22 - ignoring mental health issues could make you sick, and being sick could lead to mental health issues, according to local experts.

Health care providers emphasize the inextricable link between our mental and physical well being. According to Jasen Garrison, L.S.W., the clinic director of the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center in Hillsboro, “The two can't be separated.”

Michelle Dodds, C.N.P., with Adena Family Medicine in Greenfield, agrees, saying,“I believe patients need to be treated holistically. If you don't treat every aspect of that, you're leaving something untreated and not treating the whole person.”

Bob Stinson, Psy.D., a clinical and forensic psychologist from Westerville, says, “Some of the consequences of mental health problems can lead to physical problems. If you're depressed, you're not eating healthy and not exercising and then you get into a cycle. Then you gain weight and you're not sleeping right, which leads to self image issues which make your depression worse.”

Garrison added that if an individual is depressed and has a cold, for example, it could get worse. “But we see the opposite of that,” he said. “We'll see young folks who will have an episode. We'll find out that they've had a cold or some sort of physical ailment that served as trigger for that episode.”

“I've seen many patients come in with chest pain or stomach problems, and after running a complete workup, it comes down to depression or anxiety which is causing their physical symptoms,” Dodds said.

Depression is the number one diagnosis in primary care, Dodds said. “If you look statistically over the course of a week, you would have more people diagnosed with depression than any other chronic health condition.”

One issue people often dismiss is stress, which Stinson said can suppress the person's immune system and they eventually could have a “worse course” for chronic illness.

Garrison said that a presenting problem with which he deals frequently is someone with an adjustment disorder. People have “an adjustment to a physical disability whether that means someone has had a severe break and can't work for several months or has been diagnosed with COPD or heart disease,” he said.

Michael Chopin, of Greenfield, knows firsthand about adjusting to a serious injury.

When Chopin removed a fallen tree limb on the property he managed after Hurricane Ike had blown through Ohio in September 2008, that decision would lead him to years of regret … but also to an opportunity of self-discovery he may not have otherwise had.

Chopin was the caretaker at an apartment complex in Riverside when the storm came through. A tree limb on his property had fallen in the road, impeding emergency traffic. He was motivated by a concern for the general public, and also a sense of responsibility as caretaker of the property.

“I was limited in my access to tools such as a chainsaw to make the work easier and thus jerked, pulled and rolled it out of the road,” he said. “What I didn't realize is that I also jerked and pulled myself, injuring my lower back. I spent what seems like ages alone and isolated worrying if I would ever get any better and have a 'normal' life again.”

The upside for Chopin is that enrolling in group therapy encouraged him to do more things on his own, “to go and get it done and not so much rely on other people to do it.”

Because the mental and physical parts of who we are overlap, the cooperation between an individual's mental health care provider and primary care doctor is important.

“We're moving in the right direction in terms of coordinating health care, but for so long the primary care doctor would say, ‘Get mental health treatment,’ and vice versa,” Stinson said. “We need coordinated care where the two are working together. We're moving in that direction. We're not there yet, but it's extremely important we get there.”

“The cooperation is absolutely vital,” Garrison said. “The thyroid plays a role in mood so that one of the first things we do when people come in if they're meeting criteria for mood disorder, is have them go see their primary care doctor and have a complete workup.”

Garrison puts a final emphasis on how important the mental and physical connection is by saying that almost every single diagnosis in the DSM IV (the diagnostic manual used by mental health care professionals) has this qualifier: “Due to a medical condition.”

Chopin said, “I may never fully heal from that injury, but at least I have learned how to lift” – the physical application – “and when to lift” – the mental choice.

Lora, of Hillsboro, is the health and wellness editor for Salt and the southwest group online editor for Ohio Community Media. She trains and competes in triathlons and blogs about those experiences at theironmountaineer.blogspot.com.

Pinterest picks

By LORI HOLCOMB

Pinterest one of the newest social media websites. It is a sort of virtual bulletin board of you; your likes, ideas and creative whims. Once you set up a profile on Pinterest, you can collect and organize all the goodies you might happen to find online that you want to remember for a later date, a future project, etc. Gone are the days of adding websites to your “favorites” then having to sift through that ridiculous list to find the one you need… or just remembering that you saved it there in the first place. Once your profile is set up and you have download the ‘Pin It’ button to your internet tool bar, you just ‘Pin’ the link to your website of interest, complete with picture, to the category or bulletin ‘board’ you choose.

On my profile, for example, I created individual ‘boards’ for DIY, Crafts, In the Kitchen, Products I Love, Things My Kiddos Would Love and for Gardening, to name a few. Now, when I am perusing online for craft ideas, home décor inspiration or just a recipe for dinner, if I find one I like, I can just click the “Pin It” button in my tool bar and it is added to my Pinterest profile. Then, when I need the information, like say when I get home to cook dinner, I just pull up my Pinterest page on my laptop or, better yet, the Pinterest app on my iPhone, and Viola!, there it is, right at my fingertips.

For all you that still aren’t convinced, you can just explore Pinterest, too. Think of it as the Cliff’s Notes for inspiration on the web. On the main Pinterest page, you can view everyone’s pins either as one mass group in the Everything section, or sorted for your convenience under subcategories like Art, Home Décor, Fashion, Recipes, Holidays, History, Geek, Science & Nature, Cars & Motorcycles, and many more. Some of the more creative uses for Pinterest I have seen are teachers sharing ideas for use in the classroom and moms sharing kiddo project ideas for gifts, holidays or cooking. It’s not limited to teachers and moms, though. Any creative outlet you might enjoy is represented on Pinterest, with a good amount of like minded followers sharing ideas, projects and inspiration. It’s everything I love, all in one place, ripe for the picking. And just as it should be with any social media, you can follow your friends, and even your Facebook friends, and see what interesting finds they have collected.

The only downfall? I think I may have a (self diagnosed, of course) Pinterest Addiction or PA, as I call it. For someone like me who oozes creativity on a normal day, Pinterest kicks that into overdrive. I know my husband is already NOT a fan. Because of the efficiency of the information and free flowing exchange of ideas on Pinterest, I find myself lying awake at night, thinking about all of the crafts I can make, recipes I just have to try and, my husband’s particular favorite, my new plan for completely redecorating our house, top to bottom. And don’t get me started on the new garden plan for this growing season or the pumpkin and gourd patch for the kiddos to grow for the fall. Did you know you could grow loofas? Oh, and to go with the loofas, I think I saw a salt scrub that I can make in cute little Mason Jars for Christmas gifts. You get the idea.

Obsessive behaviors and kidding aside, Pinterest is great. I find myself constantly challenged to try something new or think about something in a new way. There are great shortcuts for housekeeping and everyday life, as well as some great inspirational quotes and thoughts to you can use to smooth things over with your spouse when you repaint the whole living room, dining room and kitchen on a Pinterest induced creative jolt.

If you haven’t had the time, check it out. I know you’ll love it!

Wife to James and proud mom of Conner and Madilyn (Madie), Lori is the circulation director for the Wilmington News Journal and Food Editor for SALT Magazine. She is passionate about her family, her work, and her community.

Telegraph, telephone and tell-a-Edna

By KAY FRANCES

Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone and the first words transmitted were:

“Can you hear me now?”

Ha, ha. Just kidding. Actually, his first words were: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you."

And so it began. Communication has never been the same.

If Mr. Bell had invented texting, the first message would’ve likely been: “W-dawg. How kewl is this? I want to c u.”

I’m not so old that I can remember when you picked up the phone and told the operator, “Mabel, get me the sheriff.” But I am old enough to remember when all telephones were black and tethered to the wall. Yes, that’s right younger folks; you couldn’t walk and talk or even drive while talking.

You just sat there. Inches from the wall, talking on the ONE family phone. Like it wasn’t bad enough that you had to share the one phone with your entire family, you had to share the phone line with all of your neighbors. This was incorrectly called a “party line” because it was anything but a party. You always had that one nosy neighbor. You could hear her click on:

“Edna, I can hear you breathing.”

“No, I’m not.”

I remember one time, Edna was doing some remodeling and as she listened in on your call, you could hear the “tap, tap, tap” of the hammers in the background. There was no doubt who the eavesdropper was:

“Edna, I can hear the hammering.”

“No, you can’t.”

I can also remember rotary dial phones. I hated when I had to dial a number with lots of eights and nines. Seems it took forever. If you tried to rush the dial, you usually just ended up breaking it.

Now I have a “smart” phone. Mostly, it’s a smart aleck phone as it mocks me with all it can do that I can’t. There’s an “app” for this and an “app” for that. The apps are mostly for things I have no interest in. As soon as they come up with an app that will do the dishes and fold the laundry, they’ll get my attention.

However, I will say that now that I have a smart phone, I’m never bored. Okay, I only use it to play solitaire, but you can wile away a lot of hours in line at the post office playing solitaire.
I was playing a game in the waiting room at the doctor’s office recently and I was (almost) sad when they finally called my name and I hadn’t finished my game. Recently, my solitaire game told me, “Congratulations! You’ve now played 1,000 games! Tell your friends!” Oh, sure. Like I need my friends knowing I have no life.

Back in the olden days, our main methods of communication were the telephone, telegraph, a hand-written letter or two tin cans connected with string. Hollering out the window worked, too. If you lived in the country, you might use the occasional smoke signal. 

Mostly, we communicated by (gasp!) sitting face-to-face and talking. There were no texts, tweets, Facebook, cell phones, laptops, tablets, computers or smart phones.

There was, however, something called “pay phones.” They were all over the place, usually housed in “booths.” You put in a dime and could make a local call. That is, if you could get near it. There was usually a line of people and some poor guy who was in trouble with his girlfriend, hogging the phone. If you had to make a long distance call and had a 55-gallon drum full of loose change, you could call anywhere in the U.S. and talk for 3-minutes. You spent most of that call hurriedly explaining that you only had three minutes:

“It’s me. I only have three minutes.”

“Hey! So nice to hear from you!”

“I only have three minutes!”

“So, how have you been?”

“No time for niceties! I only have three minutes!!”

Long distance was so expensive that you essentially used it to send private, coded messages to your family. For example: I would give the operator my parents’ phone number then ask that she request that they accept charges. My parents would say, “Kay who?? Of course not!” (wink, wink). It was our private signal that I was on my way home from college. We really thought we were pulling one over on the operator, but looking back, she was probably totally onto us since she likely spent half her day with these fake charge-reversal requests.

I remember when they came up with push-button phones. We got my dad one for Father’s Day. Every time we got Mom or Dad the latest gadget, they looked at us like we had parked the space shuttle in the living room. And of course, they never worked. Microwaves didn’t cook, VCR’s didn’t tape, answering machines didn’t answer. And naturally, this new push-button phone didn’t work. (It was never “operator error” of course.)

I examined Dad’s phone and determined that it was not set on “pulse” OR “tone.” I calmly explained that he needed it to be set to “pulse or tone.” This frustrated him even further as he wailed, “What on earth is a pulsertone??”

I don’t know what old Edna (rest her soul) would think of all of today’s contraptions. I can imagine she’d be all excited with the new cell phone that her kids gave her and call everyone she knows:
“Can you hear me now?”

“Yes, Edna, I can hear you.”

“No, you can’t.”

Well, this article must come to an end. My smart phone wants a massage and a cool beverage. Plus, I’m three games of solitaire away from 2,000.

Kay Frances is known as “America’s Funniest Stressbuster.” She gives humorous keynote presentations and stress management workshops all over the United States. She is the author of “The Funny Thing about Stress; A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life.” To order the book or find out more about Kay, visit www.KayFrances.com. Or drive by her house and holler.

An old dog keeps learning new tricks

By GARY ABERNATHY

As a 56-year-old journalist who took a 15-year detour into the world of politics, adjusting to the Internet and social media world has been a long and sometimes painful process.

I always loved to write. As a child, I pounded away on an old manual typewriter, churning out short stories - usually a take on the old monster movies or science fiction adventures that were shown on the Shock Theater programs popular on television in the 1960s and ‘70s. When my parents bought me an electric typewriter, allowing me to craft words at the speed of light, I thought that must be the epitome of progress and modern technology.

Fast forward to 1983, when I started in the newspaper business. There on my desk sat a huge desktop computer. The blinking curser on the monitor whispered, “Here I am. Create something.” Learning how to save stories, slug

them correctly, and transmit them to their next destination seemed like a giant leap into the approaching 21st century.

Through the years I have worked at three newspapers (one of them twice), with advanced technology awaiting my arrival at each stop. Pagination was a big step – building newspaper pages on a computer screen became quite the luxury as opposed to years of building them by hand with slivers of paper made sticky by wax machines so they would adhere to the grid pages.

Next came the biggest change of all, the advent of the Internet and, eventually, the emergence of social networking sites like My Space, soon to be dwarfed by the popularity of Facebook and Twitter. But while those developments were happening, I was on a long sabbatical from the newspaper business, working in politics.

When I returned to the ranks of the ink-stained wretches last year, I was confronted with a new world. I was not entirely unfamiliar with it – I had made extensive use of online technology for politics and campaigns – but it was an adjustment to adapt to the new realities of journalism and the Internet.

Today, most newspapers have websites where many or most of the top stories of the day are posted. Some newspapers charge a fee to access their sites, others do not. The tug-of-war between giving away for free the same information that print readers are charged a price for is an evolving business model with which each newspaper wrestles.

Accompanying most newspaper websites is a feature allowing readers to post comments on the editorial content of the day, a development over which this old dog frets the most.

Throughout the history of the newspaper business, letters to the editor were the means by which readers voiced their thoughts and opinions. Most newspapers had strict guidelines for such letters. Each one had to be signed by the writer, and contain a complete ­address, as well as a phone number for verification – and we always called to verify.

Today’s younger generation has grown up with the Internet and expects to be able to comment from their smart phones or other handheld devices at the drop of a hat. They often do so using screen names rather than their real names. And they see no reason why just about anything they say should not be posted online for potentially millions of Internet users to see.

As someone who came of age in the business being taught that no unsigned opinion ever sees the light of day in a newspaper, I still have a hard time adjusting to the posting of comments by often-anonymous posters.
Because of my insistence on it, our newspaper in Hillsboro has a stricter policy than many papers in regard to online comments, but I know that many of my younger colleagues don’t really understand why.

They have grown up in the age of websites devoted to gossip, and the ability of anyone with computer access to have their own website dedicated to any and every subject under the sun. The Internet has allowed everyone to be a publisher.

In a way, this development is a great leap for the First Amendment and democracy in general. But it also allows everyone to be their own editor, and too often no editing at all is done. Increasingly, it’s becoming more difficult to separate news from gossip, fact from fiction, or substance from fluff. The vetting process that once existed is increasingly being lost in the Wild, Wild West of the Internet.


But before you conclude that I’m just an old fuddy-duddy out of touch with the modern world, there are things about the Internet that I appreciate.

For one, it’s exciting to be able to produce a breaking news story and post it online immediately. It was often frustrating back in the day to have a major story ready to break, and spend hours or even days worrying that a competitor, especially of the radio and TV variety, might break it before the next edition of the newspaper hit the stands. Today, thanks to the Internet, posting a breaking news story online requires only as much time as it takes for our speedy little fingers to type it.

The emergence of online video technology has also been a boon to newspapers. Recently, a major fire engulged a former lumberyard in Hillsboro. Within an hour of the fire’s outbreak, we posted raw video of the event in progress, which in turn was watched by thousands of online viewers even as the blaze was still burning.   

And the next step is even more exciting and immediate – live broadcasting. Technology has progressed to the point where newspapers can now offer as-it-happens meetings, sports, and other events through live online broadcasts that further blur the lines between the mediums.

What probably bothered me most about the Internet version of our newspaper was the fear that it would hasten the departure of our traditional print product. But so far, the opposite has been true. Since we made the firm decision to devote the time and resources necessary to make our website a first-rate, current and informative product, our circulation numbers for our print edition have actually begun to rise.

My conclusion is that by improving one part of our brand, we increased the value of the overall brand in general. Rather than diminishing our print edition by giving some news away for free on the Internet, we have instead enhanced our entire product in the minds of our readers by making our website top-notch, and it has been reflected in print sales as well.

So, this old dog continues to learn new tricks. A lesson I try to remember is that the world is changing and technology is roaring down the track whether I want it to or not. When given a choice, it’s better to drive the train than to get run over by it.

Gary Abernathy is publisher of The Times-Gazette in Hillsboro. ­

On a further note...

By BEVERLY DRAPALIK

My mom was a perfectionist who erased the tablet several times because my pencil “crossed” the red or blue line.  Remember those tablets?  I’ve heard they have all but disappeared from the classroom.  Schools everywhere have abandoned penmanship as part of the curriculum because other disciplines are the subject of testing.  Also, we have access to computers that produce uniform, readable copy and also correct spelling and punctuation.

Yes, computers are exceptionally useful.  Teachers can now read essays in half the time, students who are proficient in keyboarding can produce mountains of copy, and editing is easily accomplished with a click of the mouse.  No one in his right mind would argue that typewriters and correction fluid or tape is better than Microsoft Word!  No one, except writers such as Maya Angelou.  She is known for writing on a yellow legal pad.  How many of us would actually use legal pads day after day?­

Guilt has begun to set in because the other day I encouraged my students to use all of the “bells and whistles” on their computers.  I told them that spell check and grammar check could help their grades, and that the “smiley faces and LOL’s” should be in personal texts.  I have also talked with students about the strange habit of texting a friend in the next dorm room in order to go to the dining hall together.  What happened to hanging in a friend’s doorway or flopping onto the bed for a face-to-face conversation?  In a world of hyper-communication, I can understand why typing is their choice, but not all work needs to be neatly typed.  Writing on standardized tests must be legible; addresses on envelopes must be readable; forms for employment must be perfect.  Sooner or later, students will be required to write legibly. 

Education has been affected, but our personal lives have changed, too:  when we communicate by typing, we lose an extension of ourselves and our friends. Getting a Christmas card in the mail with handwritten memories and news has a huge excitement factor now.  The last card I received with a single-spaced, typed letter about my friend’s life during 2011 was greeted with, “Oh no, I’m not sure I want to hear about another swim meet!”  That next card with a handwritten memory of twenty years ago, however, brought a smile to my face.  I also smile when my husband asks for ingredients for his Christmas Houska, a special Polish bread.  I retrieve the handwritten recipe, complete with brown spots created by butter, written by his mom.  As I cruise the other recipes, I find my mom’s handwriting, a great aunt’s handwriting, and suddenly I am visiting memories.

So, with memories in mind, I will resolve to take extra time to write more by hand.  I’ve saved notes from former students and parents, so I know the power that handwritten notes have.  I’ve saved Hallmark cards, written by my mom and dad.  Their love is declared in a few special handwritten words.   I’ll be cutting the signature pages from the cards and making a collage in the back of a shadowbox that will hold his watch face and her jewelry.  Today, instead of typing twenty memori­es on a separate page for enclosure, I’ve chosen to write three memories in a sympathy card to my Aunt Wilma. 

Through the years I’ve made many mistakes.  One of the worst decisions was to buy that coffee mug for a teacher.  I’ve even baked for a teacher.  Yes, I bent to peer pressure and store merchandise.  I should have spent money on beautiful pens and stationery to create my heartfelt, handwritten note to her.  She could have saved it very easily!

Beverly Drapalik lives in Wilmington with her husband, Jeff. They also live with a dog, a cat, a parrot, chickens and bees. She teaches English at Wilmington College.

Waste not, want not

By MARSHA MUNDY

GEORGETOWN – An idea that was born out of a desire to share leftovers has become a long-standing tradition at Georgetown United Methodist Church in Brown County.

“When I moved out here from the city, I noticed that we were having church dinners at least once a month for one reason or another,” said Barry Horstmeier, a member of GUMC. “It was a nice experience because we’d never had church dinners at my previous church. I also noticed that we always had food left over and I suggested to the pastor that we put a sign out front to invite others to join us.”

At first, Horstmeier’s suggestion wasn’t taken seriously, but he didn’t give up on the idea and finally the pastor agreed, but said that they should serve the meal on the last Saturday of each month because many folks run out of funds at the end of the month. He also suggested that they serve the meal at lunch time.

In January 2006 the church served their first free community lunch.

“We had about 25 to 30 people come when we first started,” said Nancy Miller. “There were just a few of us then who did all the work. I think there were about 12 of us.”

Current pastor Reverend Zedda Myers says that she is proud of her congregation.

“The fact that the program has gone on so long makes me proud to be part of this church,” Myers said. “It takes a lot of commitment on behalf of the people to continue this type of outreach.”

With a core group of 22 people helping, the church now serves an average of 75 meals each month.
“Our core group meets once a year to decide the menus for the coming year,” said Myers. “We have sign-up sheets available for members of the congregation which include everything from setting the tables to cleaning up afterward and preparing baked goods.”

The menus are simple meals geared to serving large crowds, such as turkey and noodles served over biscuits; lasagna, salad and garlic bread; sloppy Joes and cole slaw; and chili soup and crackers.
According to Myers, 40 to 50 percent of the congregation is involved in one way or another.

“We now have enough folks helping that no one has to stay all day and go home totally exhausted,” said Myer. “If someone can only help with set-up, then that’s what they do and if someone has to leave early, they know that they can.”

Miller noted that the volunteers have been working together so long that they know all the different jobs, and just do whatever needs to be done.

The church kitchen isn’t equipped to do all the food preparation on site, but there are two dedicated people who coordinate all the food preparation once it arrives at the church from the donors.
Those who come to the monthly lunches are treated as guests.

“Our tables are set with real silverware and we serve the plates to the people who come,” said Janet “Flossie” McElroy. “A drink table is set up so they can serve themselves, but we bring everything else to them.”

Although the tough economic times have brought many folks to the meal, it seems to be the fellowship that keeps them coming back.

“We have a nice cross-section of people who come,” said Myers. “There are groups of seniors who enjoy the social time with their friends and many folks who live alone just want to visit with other people. The news of this meal has spread by word-of-mouth and it has truly turned into a community event.”

Church members also say that they were the first church in the area to offer free community meals.
“Since we’ve had so much success with our lunch, we’ve noticed that a lot of other churches around here have started doing the same thing,” said Miller. “But we were the first to do it.”

Each year the group serves a full-course Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day.

“There are a lot of people who have no family and we provide a meal and fellowship for them on Thanksgiving Day,” said Miller. “Many of us have changed our own family Thanksgiving meals to the weekend before or after the holiday so that we can be here to serve. Our families understand how important this is to us.”

Horstmeier commented about the importance of having the pastor available during the meal.
“Having Rev. Myers here serving as a hostess is a real benefit,” he said. “Many of the people who come here have problems in their life and it gives them a chance to talk to her.”

“I enjoy going around to visit with everyone when they come and always introduce myself as the pastor of the church,” said Myers. “I’ve had many people ask for prayer and many who just need to talk about things going on in their lives. It’s a good opportunity to share the love of God. We’ve noticed that often the people who come want to help in some way and often they ask for recipes.”
The church also offers a food and toiletries pantry which is open twice a month.

“Whenever someone comes to the pantry I let them know about the community lunch and many times they will come just because I invited them,” said Myers.

Funding for the meal comes from donations and the mission giving of the congregation.
“The community lunch is one way that I’ve found to keep the people of the church focused,” said Myers. “We’ve found our focus through the pantry and serving the lunches and we’re sticking with it.”

Leftovers? Yes, some months there is enough food to send home with those who dine last.

Marsha Mundy is News Editor for the News Democrat in Georgetown.

Slow-cooked supper

By LORI HOLCOMB

One of the first kitchen items I received as a new bride was a slow cooker; better known to most as a Crockpot. A wise woman in our family must have known that one day that little electric pot would be a life-saver.

Before we had children, the Crockpot served one purpose. Roast beef. That was it.

I’d salt and pepper a roast and lay it atop some coarsely chopped carrots, celery and potatoes, add a cup of water and in 8 hours, we’d have a meal. When it was done, I’d take the drippings and bring them to a boil on the stove, add a touch of corn starch slurry and a dash more salt and we’d also have a nice, brown gravy. Simple, delicious and my husband was a happy man.

Little did I know that I was really missing out!

A Crockpot can cook anything. From roasts and chicken to worldly cuisines and yes, even dessert and freshly baked bread, the humble Crockpot is this busy mama’s best ally in the kitchen. If you’re web savvy, you can find blog after blog of Crockpot recipes and ideas. There are even several sites that show you how shop for and prep a month’s worth of meals in one day, freeze them in gallon zipper bags and then cook them in the Crockpot. Amazing, don’t you think?

Although the one month plan isn’t for me, I do love my Crockpot and its seemingly endless number of uses that make feeding my family a breeze.  Here are a few interesting recipes I thought you’d enjoy. If you haven’t used your Crockpot lately, dust it off and give one of these a try.

Here’s to a blessed and delicious, time-saving dinner, from my kitchen to yours. Enjoy!

For the recipes, pick up a copy of the March 2012 edition of Salt.

Today’s students can’t imagine life without Facebook

By Beverly Drapalik

Let’s face it.  Most of us reading and enjoying SALT are baby boomers, well-acquainted with stationery, pens and stamps.  Snail mail is still OK with us!  However, some of us have become lax with snail mail since we have become so technologically “savvy.”

I never thought I’d become nonchalant about going to my mailbox every day.  The mailperson probably thinks I’m out of town three out of four days a week, and he’s working some muscles trying to stuff junk mail into the box by the third day.

Yes, I have become used to my daily e-mails even though most of them are advertisements.  I have become accustomed to incorporating technology within my classrooms.  I have enjoyed—truly enjoyed—keeping grades on the computer instead of in paper grade books. 

I love being in the kitchen, multi-tasking while I cook, answer e-mails and look up recipes.  I have not entered the new world of the text, Facebook and Twittering.  I CAN text, I just don’t choose that world unless I need to reply to my doctor who is on the cutting edge of appointment reminders! Losing time in the day is one factor in my choice, even if Pinterest.com is the most interesting site since Martha Stewart!

Students at Wilmington College are constantly on the Internet or the newest phones.  They aren’t sure they can live without technological correspondence, but they also recognize some problems it poses.
Olivia Taylor thinks, “Technology is our biggest love affair, but also our worst enemy.”  She loves to “keep up with friends and family,” but she also recognizes a problem. 

“People do probably get on Facebook way too much, allowing it to consume their time … It’s a distraction more than anything else,” she says.

Other students have suggested that writing essays and homework in general takes twice the time because their Facebook account is always open.

Quentin Steverson praises Facebook. “Facebook came in handy when I planned my graduation party,” he notes.

Quentin had no need of addresses and phone numbers.  He took care of his party with a click of a button.  So much for handwritten invitations!  He says that texting and Twitter are so much a part of students’ lives that the “world would go crazy” without these conveniences.

The quick reply to a text is what helps Emily Noskowiak the most.  She can get a reply to a text “within a few minutes.”  She has gotten many “directions through a text.”  She is careful to say she pulls to the side of the road to read directions on the way to a friend’s house. 

She has also used texting before she drives to the grocery store; she asks housemates what they would like her to buy.  Then, while in the store, she gets “responses of what each would want.”  This makes it “easier to get exactly what everyone wants without a fuss.” 

Even though technology is a student’s biggest “love affair,” this whole new world can be challenging.  We shutter when thinking about cyber-bullying, sexting, and legal battles.  These crucial matters make other challenges, like “loss of service for a few moments,” quite frivolous. 

Students, especially, encounter another challenge in this new world when they recognize the use of Facebook by employers.  Students who interview for jobs must realize that potential employers have access to some information on Facebook and therefore must consider shutting down Facebook during the interview process.

This whole new world of communication can be life-saving as well as hideous - strong adjectives, but watching the news will heighten the paradox of technology for you. 

I prefer to dwell on the life-saving, wonderful aspects of technology.  So, maybe it’s time to start my Facebook account and look for people to help!  Thank you, students.

Beverly Drapalik lives in Wilmington with her husband, Jeff. They also live with a dog, a cat, a parrot, chickens and bees. She teaches English at Wilmington College.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Preserving recipes

By SHERYL SOLLARS

Many years ago, our ancestors stored their recipes in their head, never writing down anything.  They knew the measurements by heart and had no reason to document the ingredients.  Cookbooks were almost unheard of and measuring tools were non-existent. 

Unfortunately, many wonderful family recipes have been lost because they were never put in writing for preservation.

When my mother passed away a couple years ago, I inherited her “dark green metal” recipe file.  On it was a sticker with the date of 1949, just five years after I was born.  This is now one of my most treasured possessions. 

As I went through the recipes, I could remember her making each of them.  They were all favorites of mine, with the exception of her “Tuna and Pea Casserole”.   It was inexpensive to make and was one of my dad’s favorites so she made it often. No matter how many times she made it, it never got any better. I just couldn’t eat it. “Sorry, Mother.”

She, like many other cooks, had her own shorthand when writing out the directions.  I am not sure if that was for her convenience or so that no one would ever be able to steal her secrets.  This is a good reason for listing accurate ingredients and instructions when writing out your recipe.

To start a permanent file for yourself, begin with lined recipe cards, category separators and a recipe file that is big enough to hold a large amount of cards.  I prefer the 4x6 size cards (found in the office supply section) because they give you more room to write your instructions.

When writing out your recipe, be consistent with abbreviations.  I prefer to use the word “cup” rather than a “C”, “teaspoon” instead of “t.”, etc.  This way there is no question of the correct amount of the ingredients to be used. 

Remember, these cards will be handed down over time to your family members and they should be able to accurately read what you have written.  If you want a special file box you can find them
on-line under “recipe file”.

If you are someone who likes to cut out recipes from magazines, then I recommend you obtain 5x7-sized cards and a separate file to hold them. Cut out the recipe and use a glue stick to attach to the large card.  If a picture is available glue it to the back of the card. 

I suggest you use a cross reference system to keep track of these “cut out” recipes.  Here is how it works.

Place a blank card under each category in your main recipe file.  When you add a “cut and paste” recipe to your large file, list it on the corresponding blank card in your main file (you DO NOT need a separate card for each recipe, but rather use a separate line for each recipe).  Now when searching for a chicken dish, you will know what you have in both your main file as well as inyour large file.
Have you ever made a new recipe from one of your cookbooks and it turned out wonderful, but now that you want to make it again, you don’t know where to find it?  The answer is another cross reference system.  Here is an example of how that works. 

In your main recipe file, create a blank card for each category and write COOKBOOKS across the top of each one.  Then, if the recipe you want to reference is for meatloaf, on the blank card under meat write “Better Homes and Gardens -Meat Loaf- Page 232”.  When you are looking for a meatloaf recipe, you can locate exactly what cookbook and what page you can find it under.  Again, list each recipe on a separate line until that card is full before adding another card.

There are notebook style recipe files where you slide your card between pieces of plastic. The problem with these is that they don’t allow for as many recipes as a file.  If you use the 3x5 or 4x6 sized cards, plastic sleeves can be purchased to go over each recipe and will help preserve the writing which can get wet or dirty when in use.

When I went through my mother’s file, I found several “cut out” recipes that were torn, tattered and faded.  These are best preserved by laminating.  You can do several recipes with one sheet of laminating plastic. This will prevent them from fading and tearing further.  I suggest you make a copy of the original (for you and other family members) and glue it onto a recipe card.  Use this one when cooking, and put the laminated copy away for safe keeping.

Have you ever found a recipe in a magazine to only realize there was an even better one on the back page of this one? Not a problem.  Almost everyone who has a computer has a printer that has copying capabilities. You can make a copy of one side and use the original for the second copy.  Again use the “cut and paste” method and add them to your file.

Ever thought of creating a recipe file for your daughters, daughter-in-laws and granddaughters?  It is easy and they will love it. 

Using your copying machine again, make copies of each of your recipes.  Then using the “cut and paste” method, make recipe cards for each file.  Be sure to make little notes on each card to personalize your thoughts on each recipe.

Make sure you use a ball point pen to write out your recipes.  I used a marker style pen once and when the card got wet the whole recipe smeared.  Luckily, I knew it by heart so I recreated it from memory. 

I know how upset I am when I lose or misplace a recipe so I now treat my recipe files as important documents.

Remember, someday your grandchildren or great-grandchildren will be looking for their favorite recipe and you will want to make certain it is right where they can find it.  Remember that by preserving your recipes, you will be creating a memory book of your life in your kitchen.

Here are a couple of great recipes from my mother’s file:

LEMON JELL-O CAKE
This cake was a favorite of my mother’s and she made it often. The tartness of the lemon glaze is such a refreshing change from harsh, sweet icing.

1 small pkg. lemon Jell-o
¾ cup boiling water
1 pkg. lemon cake mix
¾ cup oil
4 eggs (add one at a time)

GLAZE:
2 cups sifted confectionary sugar
½ cup lemon juice (fresh is best)

Dissolve Jell-o in boiling water and cool.  In large mixing bowl, combine cooled Jell-o with cake mix, oil and eggs.  Beat until smooth.  Spray 9x11 glass baking dish with non-stick spray and pour in cake mixture.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  While cake is baking, mix sifted sugar with lemon juice making sure there are no lumps in the glaze.**  Cool baked cake 5 minutes and then carefully punch holes (using a table fork) over the entire cake. Pour lemon glaze slowly over the cake. Spread carefully as you go, being careful not to disturb cake.  Cool and store in refrigerator. **If lumps develop in glaze, heat  in microwave for a minute, stirring occasionally.

COCO-MINT PIE
1 ½ tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-half
1 cup evaporated milk (NOT condensed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
1-2 drops red coloring (optional)
2 egg whites
1 small bag milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine corn starch, sugar and salt and slowly blend in milks (a little at a time to avoid lumps).  Add extracts and coloring (if desired to create light pink color).  Beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold into milk mixture, making sure all is mixed well. Pour chocolate chips in bottom of pie shell.  Carefully pour mike mixture over chips.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, reducing heat immediately to 350º and bake 25-30 minutes longer. (A table knife should come out clean when it is inserted into filling 2 inches from crust edge.)  Cool and then refrigerate. NOTE: Be careful if adding coloring. Keep it light in color as it will darken while baking.  It should be pale pink in color. For alternate flavors, try Almond or Rum Extract (omit coloring).

CURRY VEGETABLE DIP
My mother was an avid bridge player, playing at least twice a week.  She had quite a list of snacks, but this was her favorite veggie dip recipe.  I love it and sometimes add a little half – half and use it for a wonderful salad dressing.

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard (dry is best)
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Combine mayonnaise with all of the seasonings.  Slowly add vinegar and mix thoroughly.  Store in refrigerator. NOTE: For salad dressing, add 1 teaspoon of half-half 1 teaspoon at a time until consistency of thick salad dressing.

Sheryl, a Wilmington native, is an accomplished cook, homemaker, and writer. She currently resides in Wilmington with her three sons and seven grandchildren.