Hello from Cent…

Hello from Central Ohio,

I have put a temporary hold on my postings for DOWN THE RURAL ROAD. I am working on a new project, a book actually, that has engulfed me in it’s creation. It is a fictional story but will include many facts. In Fayette County, Ohio there is a children’s home. Let me clarify. There WAS a children’s home. This home was established in 1895 in the rural farming community where I spent most of my life and raised my family. In a nearby Madison County, where I  was born and raised, I passed by this children’s home many many times on the way to town with my parents. It sat back a long, dusty lane where there were three huge brick buildings. These buildings housed the main dining room, and the boy’s and girl’s dormitories There were beautiful old oak trees on either side of the quarter of a mile lane, surrounded by acreas of farm land. Here, children who had no family to take care of them lived their daily lives in a safe harbour outside of town. During my research I have located a lady who was an actual resident of this home in 1941. She is working with me, not only giving me details and stories to enhance my book, but a true insight into what  life was like at the Home. Pictures, of then and now, are included and the story is based on the lives of three children whose parents lives’ were taken by a terrible accident. They are shunned by relatives and taken to the home in early 1940. Mary 14, John 10, and Tobey 4, arrive, adjust, and tell their story about the feelings that run rampant and the ups and downs of a life that only few could imagine. A good story, NOT a negative one, and one that will tempt your imagination, stir your your heart, and challenge your awareness of natural blessings.

It may take some time, but trust me, I am giving it my all. So much that some evenings when I have finished for the day, I feel like the children are calling my name and begging me to write more, or come visit them, when I know fully well that a ride back tha old dusty lane will only bring me to a place absent of their being and an old  worn down building that  will only echo sounds of silence.



Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Clotheslines and Corn Relish

 Let me tell you something about sheets and pillowcases that have been
 hung on the line to dry. If you have never climbed into a bed with
 fresh crispy clean sheets or laid your head on a pillow case that has
 been kissed by the sun and hugged by the wind, you are indeed missing
 out on one of the greatest pleasures in life.. I put it right up there
 with the taste of a big bowl of chocolate ice cream on a hot day in
 August … minus all of the calories! When I was growing up we never had
 a clothes dryer so, usually on a Monday, the washer would be rolled
out into the middle of the kitchen floor, clothes would be washed and
 then carried outside in a basket to be hung on a line to dry.First
 you took a wet cloth and wiped down the line( in case bugs and birds
 had been there first) and then you hung each piece with a wooden
 clothespin, one by one; with the shirts always by the tails and the
 socks by their toes. A sunny day, paired with a gentle breeze blowing,
 made a great one for drying clothes. This was done in the winter as
 well as the summer, although I can remember a time or two when shirts
 and skirts hung to dry in a spare room when something to wear was
 needed.Once my mother brought a pair of my dad’s trousers in from the
 clothesline on a cold winter’s day and stood them straight up in the
 middle of the kitchen floor. The frozen stiff trousers standing on
 their own made me and my sisters laugh. The disadvantages of hanging
 clothes were many, but the advantages were to be had as well.
 The same can be said for cooking food on the grill. There is the
 troublesome task of hauling everything outside and getting the
 charcoal ready ( that is if you are like me and prefer the charcoal
 grills), but the taste of food cooked on an outside grill has that
 distinct taste of freshness and summertime. But summer wasn’t
exclusive for grilling a good steak. Many a time my husband threw some
 steaks on the grill after trotting through the snow to our outside
 grill. And Oh, how the taste of that steak was worth it! I recently
 read an article about a unique method of cooking up a big batch of
 sweet corn to take to a reunion or serve a crowd of people at a
 barbeque. Basically, fill a large, clean cooler with loads of corn on
 the cob and pour two kettles-full of boiling water over the corn, then
 close the top. I have checked at least 6 different references, and
 although they all attest to the fact that this corn is indeed tender
 and juicy, they disagree on the timing.Some say one hour for 20
 ears,others say two hours for 12. The one fact that all find amazing
 is that the corn will stay good in the cooler(left covered) for at
 least 5-6 hours. I have not tried this yet, but plan to experiment
 this summer. Possibly there are some of you who are campers that have
 already tried this method. I’m really hoping it works, because
 having two or three large pots of boiling water and corn on the stove
at one time is not easy or fun. It has been years since I made a batch
 of my homemade corn relish, so using this “cooler system” of cooking
 the corn may be a very good reason to add it once again to my table.
 Although it’s a little early to be thinking of pulling husks off
 of sweet, succulent ears of corn, it’s never too early to plan ahead.
 Here’s your clip-and-save recipe.
 Homemade Corn Relish ( makes 5-6 pints)
( Blanche ears of sweet corn in boiling water for 5 min. Cool, cut off
 10 cups of sweet corn
 1 cup chopped green pepper
 1 cup chopped red pepper
 1 cup chopped onion
 1 cup chopped celery
 1 Tablespoon salt
 1 ½ cups sugar
 2 ½ Tablespoons whole mustard seed
 1 teaspoon celery seed
 ½ teaspoon turmeric
 2 ½ cups white vinegar
 2 cups water
 Combine all ingredients in large pan and boil for 15 minutes.
 Put in mason jars and put on lid. Cool to room temperature and then
refrigerate.Thanks to the vinegar in this recipe you can store this
 In the refrigerator,much like any jar of store bought pickles, for
 several weeks.
 If you lack refrigerator space, process the jars in a
 boiling water bath for 15 minutes
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Strong Cup Of Coffee

Watching old westerns is something that  I really enjoy. Although I do realize that I am probably in the minority, I can’t quite handle the reality shows that seem to monopolize television today.Chaos, strife, and people making complete idiots of themselves are things I have tried to avoid in my adult life as much as possible. Besides, if I want to see fighting relatives or public displays of bad behavior,  I can simply observe that from a parked car on any public street and avoid having to watch numerous commercials disrupting them
.Anyway, let’s get back to the cowboys.
 Recently on two different shows I noticed that the cowboys talked about chicory when handling the coffee pot on the campfire. Chicory, to me,is that purple weed that grows in abundance along the roadside in the summer, so I decided to look it up and found that this indeed is the same chicory. The root of the chicory plant is long and thick and when dried , then roasted and ground, makes a substitute for coffee. After researching further, I discovered that it is much more soluble in water than coffee grounds thus using much less per pot of coffee.That makes sense, and explains why the cowboys would use it since it was readily available and cheap to prepare. But every article that I read on it, with the exception of one, reported that it is very strong. VERY. That wouldn’t do for me as I normally fill my cup with ¾ coffee and ¼ water. I do like my coffee black though and do not need the sugar, or any of those flavored creams that assure you of an experience beyond your wildest imagination. And I should drink decaf, but I usually order regular.One thing that I have done for my wellbeing however is that I now limit myself to 2 (sometimes 3) morning cups.. I used to drink all day long, right up until bedtime. Now as I am getting older I have figured out that it does interrupt my sleep so my beverage of choice is water for the rest of the day. But coffee has been a wonderful social binder. Have you ever heard anyone ask another to go grab a glass of juice? Two friends love to meet at a local restaurant for a “quick” cup of coffee. And right after a guest arrives, don’t you normally hang up their coat and say, “Would you like a cup of coffee?” Yes I would.
The earliest credible evidence of “drinking coffee’ was found around the middle of the 15th century. What in the world did they do before then? I cannot imagine a morning without heading to the kitchen first thing to make a pot of coffee. It’s like automatic. No thought process needed. Many times I don’t even remember going downstairs to go through this ritual of putting in the filter, weighing out 3 tablespoons of grounds, and pouring the water in the reservoir. I just hear the 5 beeps telling me to “come and get it,” and then I am a happy girl.
Coffee can be used for a few other things besides brewing. Adding just a few coffee grounds into your brown gravy will give it a darker rich look, and many chefs add a few coffee crystals to their homemade chocolate desserts testifying that it brings out the deep flavor of the chocolate even more. Personally I do not think chocolate needs much help, but that’s just me.
The following recipe is an old one from my files. On the card it simply says Coffee Muffins. I’ll update that to be more modern. How about a cup of coffee? Yes, I think I will.
Espresso Muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder (or instant coffee)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini-chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tins with papers or grease liberally.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso or instant coffee, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix milk, butter, egg, and vanilla until combined. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture only until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes for standard muffins, 10 to 12 minutes for mini-muffins. Cappuccino muffins freeze well. Yield: 12 muffins or about 48 mini-muffins
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


First of all, I do not claim to be a doctor or nurse, or have all the answers, for that matter. This column is only my opinion. Now I will proceed.
I need to lose weight. There is no denying that fact. Extra weight is not a friend to any part of my body, from my vital organs to my muscles and bones, especially as I age. The next time you go to the grocery store, go to the baking aisle and pick up a 5 pound bag of sugar when you first get there. Don’t put it in your cart, but instead, clutch it in one of your arms and proceed to do your shopping. If you are in the store more than 20 minutes you will not be happy with that extra 5 pounds you are carrying around. So I ask you, “why would you want an extra 5, 10, 20 pounds or more, attached all day, every day, under your skin”? Please know that I am directing this question to myself as well. We have it in our power to lose those extra pounds and “lighten our load” the same as we do to taking the sugar back to the baking aisle and putting it back on the shelf.We may put back the sugar, but we won’t do what it takes to lose the weight. Feeling the effect of the bag of sugar under our arm is troublesome, yet we think it different somehow than having the pounds on our body, under our skin. It’s not. Weight is weight. Ever carry a ten pound bag of potatoes from your car to the house and think how heavy and bulky it was?How about ten extra pounds under the skin?
So why am I sitting here, more than 25 pounds overweight, writing a column about the importance of losing weight with a big glass of sweetened tea to my left and an unfinished chocolate chip cookie on my right?
Because I am a hypocrite. ( I looked the word up to see what Webster had to say about it.)
 Yep . I am a food hypocrite. But I don’t want to be.
I want to be a successful, heart-healthy person. My children and grandchildren will love me no matter how large I become. My former husband used to make me feel a little better by saying he liked a woman with “a little meat on her bones.” How many times have you larger- framed ladies heard that? I have an overweight friend who says she feels jollier when she is fatter.(I have yet to figure that one out). But the bottom line is, it is not healthy and it is not a laughing matter. Because of some health problems, I realize it makes it impossible for many to lose weight. I am not speaking of those situations. I am speaking of when we have a CHOICE.
When my grandfather was living we used to buy him candy and fat -filled treats because he liked them. We thought we were making him happy. We never realized what it was doing to his heart, or at least I didn’t. When I was raising my children and they did something wonderful, we celebrated with ice cream and cake. “Oh wonderful, you got on the honor roll. Let me mess up your cholesterol.” Thank goodness they are now smarter than I was then about food. Both of my adult children encourage their children to eat healthy. You would be hard pressed to find a supply of candy bars or a sugar- packed snack in their homes. Recently at a reunion I helped my two smallest grandchildren fix their plates. I asked them what they wanted and they both opted for a chicken leg and strawberries and grapes from a fruit plate one of my relatives had brought.. Me? I had everything else, including baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, some kind of wonderful looking salad with tons of cheese,  pasta and a pulled pork BBQ sandwich. Did I mention the sweetened tea and the double fudge brownies that I had before we all started packing things up to take home? OH YEAH.
Eating like a glutton at a family reunion does happen in everyday life. And when it does, we just need to return to healthier choices the very next day and get out the fruit, cottage cheese, and turkey burgers.If we fall off the wagon, we don’t have to Stay on the ground.GET back up on the wagon!  
Cutting back on fat and starches, including fruit in our diets with its natural sugar for energy, and portioning our food is a really good start, in my opinion. Different programs and methods work for different people. But we need to get on one of them….for our health’s sake.
I love food. So I have decided that I am going to eat my “normal” food but will cut back on my portions.I believe they call this moderation. My sister Janet, as long as I can remember, has eaten off of a saucer. She has whatever everyone else is having, but she eats it on a saucer instead of a regular dinner plate. And she only fills it up once. She is thin. Need I say more?
Somehow I feel like writing these facts and feelings down makes it more “real” to me. I am hoping that sharing this tidbit of my personal battle with food and overeating,( what I eat isn’t the problem, it is the OVEReating that is doing me in) just might be the support I need to tackle the war.If you think it makes sense, join me.
My daughter’s GO TO afternoon snack
Place a spoonful of lite whipped cream between two graham crackers( make several, you’re going to love them) 
Freeze in a baggie.
Viola! A healthier,delicious snack.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hobo Stew

Brisk, cool air coming in through a bedroom window is welcomed by most on a sultry summer’s evening . However, The Ohio Edison Co., along with most energy-efficient consumers, might take a long gasp of breathe at the fact that I also love that brisk and cool air coming in through my window during a 38 degree, frosty January night. Its crispness I find  refreshing, and having my window ajar keeps me somewhat connected with the night sounds, such as that of a distant train making its way through town.
A few nights ago, ( after one of my usual 3- times- a- night jaunts to the bathroom), I snuggled back into my comfortable bed, and listened to a train whistle as the engineer pulled on the rope that controlled that familiar sound.It would be just one of the many trains that night that would journey through our little town of London, Ohio. According to Wikipedia, it is the older engines that had the pull type ropes, enabling each engineer to “personalize” the sound of his train by pulling the whistle in long or short intervals, as much or as little as he chose.Today many of those ropes have been changed to a mechanical switch, thus making the whistle sound the same each and every time. Some would argue that by modernizing it, they took away its personality. Maybe some don’t even notice.But this is not the case of the train which goes through London every evening around midnight.
 I’ve often thought about those late night whistles.Many times they are just short and quick, coming and going as quickly as the train itself. Then there are nights, such as the one a few nights ago, when the whistles are long and drawn out like the notes of an old and familiar melancholy tune, each whistle just a little different than the one before it. After a time, as I lay listening to the sound of the steel wheels rolling  down  the tracks becoming fainter and fainter, the conductor pulled one, last, long and whining  whistle as the train disappeared into the night.
There’s something to be said for“taking in”the many sounds around us. Famous motivational speaker, Dale Carnegie,  remarked,
‘Let us not get so busy or live so fast that we can’t listen to the music of the meadow or the symphony that glorifies the forest. Some things in the world are far more important than wealth; one of them is the ability to enjoy simple things.”
Simple things… like the night-time whistle of a train.
In the 1800’s hobos( homeless vagrants) began using trains as a means of “free” transportation getting from town to town. It was said they occasionally gathered and put their stolen vittles together, making a big batch of Hobo Stew.
Here’s a modern rendition of that classic.
Hobo Stew
In a crock pot layer in this order.
2  large potatoes, sliced
3 medium size carrots, sliced
1 ½-2 pounds of ground beef that has been sautéed with 1 small onion
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 #2  size can tomato sauce
1 large can of V-8 juice
Cook on low setting for 7-8 hours
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Winter’s Rest

Winters in the past have always been a dreaded time of the year for me, although as an enthusiastic gardener I realize that it is a time of rest for Mother Nature. She performs so majestically from the very first vibrant hints of spring by producing greening grass and small, tight buds bursting from our trees, indeed proclaiming that a time of rest was well received. But there is another thought to ponder about this situation. And that is the deserved  “break” for the gardener as well.
I do not have the garden availability that I had a few years ago to plant delicious, health giving vegetables and robust flowers And what once was a domain of “more than enough room” to plant anything and everything I so desired (and the energy to execute,) has now  become precious  limited space due to a downsizing move.
However, with the arrival of this colder season upon our heels, I can say that I have successfully planted my spring bulbs, brought in all of the garden “art” that will not survive the  clutches of old man winter, emptied my water fountain, and thrown away all dead growth from plants that have said their final goodbyes. But I do have a thing or two I need to finish before that first accumulation of snow.
But you know what they say. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings- (and she hasn’t even entered the building.)
Hence, planning for next year’s gardens begins, and the good news is this chore can be done comfortably from my easy chair.
So, I have started my winter journal and
Have decided to do a few things somewhat differently for next year.  In the flower bed in front of my entrance door I have placed a row of round Creek-bed rocks with a space in front of them where I will plant a row of red geraniums that will offer great color all season long. That will be my palette. Next spring I will search the nurseries for my very first Knock-Out rose. I have never cared much ofr roses( I realize that is quite odd), but after seeing a neighbor’s outstanding specimen last year, it’s something I have decided that I must have. Also,  I have some wonderful galvanized buckets that I have accumulated from friends and flea markets. I will expand my herb garden and feature one bucket of each of the herbs I use most in my cooking, where they will sit on my patio within easy reach.They are parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. ( Remember Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 hit song?) 
A few weeks ago in a popular gardening magazine I saw a picture of a vintage dresser that had been painted and “weatherized” with all four drawers pulled out,soil and fertilizer added, and  plants bursting in color from each one. ( Only a true flea market gardener would ever attempt that). The outcome was admittedly different, but certainly an eye catcher and quite pretty! This I may attempt.
Last year I was introduced to a stunning plant called Million Bells. Although it comes in a few different color selections, I ended up choosing the purple ones.They are reminiscent of petunias, as they are great for containers and trail beautifully, but the blooms are much smaller and delicate and have that added attraction that everyone wants to know what they are. Ask your nursery person for information or Google them on your computer and you will be amazed! This plant will definitely be a repeat in my plans for next year.
I have two white rockers on my secluded patio where I was known  to sit among my flowers and quietly read or just take in the sun. I just may change that to a small bistro table and chairs and enjoy more of my meals there, possibly inviting a special friend or two. Well, I seem to have a good start on planning my spring show. By changing things as well as adding more ideas through reading magazines and seed catalogs,  I certainly will be well on my way with my long winter agenda. The challenge will be fun.
Now…I think I heard someone clearing her voice…it must be time.
Baked Fish with Herbs
3-4 pounds of a white fish ( such as halibut or cod)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teasp. Thyme
1/2 teasp. Rosemary
Sprinkle the herbs on the fish. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 1-2 hours
Preheat oven to 350
Then place the fish In a lightly greased baking dish. Brush both sides with melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
Bake for 40 minutes basting at least once with melted butter halfway through baking time. Fish is done when thickest part flakes easily with tongs of a fork.
Serves 4-6
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Good Samaritan

Right before Christmas break when I was in junior high school, one of our teachers announced that a family in our area had fallen on some bad luck. I believe the father had been involved in an auto accident and would not be able to work for several months. There were a number of children in the family and the school would be taking up donations for the next week to help this family in need. Our homeroom teacher asked that we bring in canned goods and  anything extra that we might want to share and help this family with, especially since it was the holiday season. Our names would then  be put on a card and sent along with the donated items to the family.We also would then be recognized by our teacher for being a good Samaritan.
That evening as I shared this story with my father he sat and thought for a minute and then said that I could take a couple of cans of food to the school the next day, if that is what I wanted to do. I agreed, but wished it could be more, yet knowing that times were difficult for everyone, including our family. He never mentioned it again that evening but I couldn’t get the entire situation off of my mind. A couple of cans of food seemed so little to be sharing. But I took my cans of food the next day and they were added to all of the others that were being gathered in a huge box in the back of the classroom. I can remember as a young person feeling pretty good about myself and the fact  that I was a part of helping out someone in need. I was also very pleased that my name was going to be recognized by my home room teacher.
That evening when I went home things were pretty normal until after supper when my father told me to get my coat on, because  he and I were going to be taking a little ride. While I was getting bundled up he and my mother carried three large boxes full of groceries to the car and was placing them into the trunk. I saw not only canned food, but laundry detergent, milk, eggs and among other things, even packages of meat. My father talked very little as we drove along and soon I noticed the stop where our school bus picked up children on our route. This is where the family lived whose father had been in the accident. .As my father and I got out of the car, we retrieved  two of the boxes from the trunk and then approached the front door. It opened slightly and a lady appeared with three little boys standing close behind her. Dad spoke first.” Just brought you a few things if you think you could use them.,” he said to her. She took one of the boxes in her arms and dad sat down the other on a chair by the entrance. He then handed her an envelope, which she took, looked inside and then slid it into her pocket. While Dad was retrieving the third box from the car I watched her and  I’ll never forget the look on her face as she took the boxes one by one and took them into the house. I can’t explain it to you,only to say it was one of controlled happiness.“ What’s your name?” She asked my dad, as she shook his hand “ That’s not important,” Dad said. “ Just a neighbor.” And with that we walked back to the car.It happened exactly like that. No hugs,no details or pats on the back. Giving and receiving.Doing what needed to be done.
The story of the good Samaritan was told to me in church throughout my childhood years. It was a story of a traveler who was beaten,robbed and left to die along the side of the road. After others had looked at him and passed him by, the Samaritan stopped and gave the man aide. The dictionary defines a  good Samaritan as a person who compassionately helps someone else who is in distress with no thoughts of reward. My church had taught me the story but my father gave me the hands on experience. All things do not have to be about recognition. Sometimes things are just simply about helping someone who needs it.Peroid.
I know in this day and age, times are definitely tough with the slumping economy, lay-offs, and everyone tightening their belts just to live. Today, somewhere there is someone who could use some unsolicited help, be it in the form of a box of groceries, or just a few dollars in an envelope to help a Mom and Dad over the holidays, or maybe even an occasional  paid lunch at the senior citizens center for the new year. Although $3.25 seems to be a meager amount, it can mean the difference between someone being hungry, or not. There’s an elderly lady living on an alarming low income in a nearby town that a friend recently told me about. I think I’ll make a batch of my homemade vegetable soup and take her some containers of it to freeze. It’s a small start, but it is a start. Where are the good Samaritans?
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment