Late Bloomer

Boggstown Cabaret

Jauneta StoutWhat is greater: anticipation of an event, the event, or the memory of the experience?

If we are talking about my recent visit to Boggstown Cabaret, they were equally remarkable. I have enjoyed their entertainment and food many times over the years, so just thinking of the fun we would have was exciting.

Boggstown Cabaret is in an 1800s building that was originally built for a Redman’s Lodge. The village is southeast of Indianapolis.

Location may be everything in real estate, but not in entertainment. Despite being in the “Boonies,” this venue is booked for months ahead. The performers also appear in theatre in Nashville, Indiana.

Fun at the Cabaret

The event lived up to its promise, though things have changed. Years ago they had banjo players, twin pianos, and Ragtime music.

Today, Dan Tuttle, pianist — par excellence — still plays Ragtime, but the current venue includes all kinds of music. Besides the pianist, the cast includes a drummer, a female singer, and then there is Russell Moss. This professional has a storied background in Hollywood, television, night clubs, and the stage. He sings, acts, does comedy, but his best performance involves audience participation. He is a master.

When a gentleman from a neighboring table trotted up to the stage with his cane to dance with “Andy,” the female vocalist, I thought it was a set up. But no, this was a senior citizen having fun, willing to be laughed at. And laugh we did. That was just the first of the encounters. The audience — all over 50 years of age, except for two teenagers — loved it. Moss knows how to play to the audience, and play he does. The Elvis-Presley set with Moss in heavy black wig couldn’t be topped.

Days after our trip, I still laugh out loud just remembering the fun. Strains of “King of the Road” and “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” run through my head. Vegas and Branson are probably wonderful, however I’m thankful for Boggstown.

Find some music and comedy in your neighborhood!



Indiana's Bicentennial Torch Relay

Jauneta StoutLuke Haas was one of over 2000 people who carried the torch for Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration. He represented Union County High School, celebrating the 200th birthday of Indiana.

He remarked, “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The community interest and publicity were amazing.

“Family and friends cheered me as I sprinted the .8 of a mile. I was proud and happy to do it. The torch was light for its size considering it held cameras and fuel.”

Luke, a high school junior, is a busy young man. He participates in basketball, track, science club, 4-H, and the academic honors program.

Running across Indiana

The torch relay began September 9th at Corydon, the state’s first capital, and will end on October 15th on the Statehouse Grounds in Indianapolis. It will travel in each of the state’s 92 counties. Participants will use all modes of travel that might have been used in the 200-year period: horses and wagons, walking, antique automobiles, race cars, tractors, and others.

Let’s bake a cake for the Hoosier State at the crossroads of America!

Indianas 200th year celebration

The Joys of Autumn

Jauneta StoutI was smitten with the love of dried flower bouquets many years ago when we visited historic Williamsburg, VA. Huge floral arrangements served as centerpieces in the beautiful old houses. How did they do it? I bought one of their books on the subject, and from there it was all uphill.

I learned about silica gel, wiring flower stems, and all the varieties needed for such bouquets. I've never come close to those magnificent bouquets, but what fun I’ve had along the way.

After just a few sessions with silica gel, I knew air-drying was a better method for me. Raising the flowers was the first step. At first, I raised my own plants through trial and error. My staples were cockscomb, statice, gomphrena, and strawflower. I started out slow, and through the years I advanced to buying plants wholesale. Buying wholesale means you have more than you want, but you get the best plants and the colors you want. Some Septembers there were bushel baskets of globe amaranth to be stripped, bundled, and hung for drying. Rubber bands and paper clips are the best method, and hanging in an attic or closet is good. When we visited a wholesaler in Ohio, we noted he had ropes hanging in the barn. Each rope was covered with flowers, drying in the warm air. I tried the garage, but the window let in too much light. The potting shed didn’t work too well, either. The walk-in attic was just right, though, and all the closets were soon full.

The question becomes, what do you do with all of those flowers? For a few years I sold buckets of fresh flowers to a restaurant. I attended craft shows; I did well in some and not so well in others. I made wreaths and arrangements, however it became obvious at the apple festival that buyers were happier with just a bunch of flowers for three dollars. The big heads of cockscombs were favorites.

After a foot injury, my flower hobby took a nosedive. It went from the mountain to the plateau. But at this stage of life I like the plateau and enjoy bringing flowers in all summer and hanging the bundles on hooks in the utility room. Within a few days, they can be moved to a dry basement so that more bunches can be dried. Autumn is the time for the pleasant task of putting things together, for myself or for gifts. (No more craft shows, thank goodness.)

When blue statice fails, I can rely on feverfew. No cockscomb this year, sadly, but the variegated grass dries beautifully and adds a soft, green look. The annual poppy seed head is lovely, as is the green (before it turns to silver) money plant. Timing is important. Artemesia must be cut just when the seed heads develop.

Baby’s breath is great fresh, but dried it shrivels up to nothing. Pearly everlasting takes its place as a small, white flower. Lavender is perfect in a fresh bouquet, but lacks something when dried. However, blue larkspur dries beautifully, and is a good substitute.

There are techniques to be learned for making wreaths, and there are all kinds. A few good books, some supplies, and you are ready to create. I never cared much for a glue gun, but it has its place. When I have wired my little bunches of flowers on the wreath form and the last bunch with its stems seems awkward, I reach for the glue gun.

Then there is the glycerin process. I have had some success with glycerin. One year when visiting in Florida, I admired the large magnolia leaves. All the Christmas magazines displayed magnolia leaves as part of holiday decor. Northern magnolia leaves are smaller — at least, that was my experience. But they work. Magnolia leaves turn a lovely shade of brown when processed, but are so pliable and supple. Then I discovered floral dye, just a little bit of green dye, plus a surfactant produced beauties. (Nobody said this was a cheap hobby.) The beech tree limbs from my back yard were also good in glycerin. I could process branches with leaves in a few days. The method varies. I used 1 part glycerin, 2 parts hot water, combine, then cool. The leaves will go fast; branches take longer.

From an old ledger, I noted that autumn’s bright leaves may be preserved also. The writer's method was to press the leaves with a warm iron, then soak them in a bath of 1 part glycerin to 9 parts water. When soaked, dry between blotters, and they will remain flexible indefinitely.

I enjoy a vase of fresh flowers on my kitchen table, but when summer is over then a glass of dried blue statice and white strawflowers lasts for weeks before I tire of it.

Also, I look forward to decorating with my glycerined material!

Drying flower bouquet
Photo by Fotolia/laurha

People Who Love People

Jauneta StoutWhen does a stone sculpture become just a pile of rocks? The answer is when the weeder woman makes the dahlia bed into a rock garden. Sigh, there is a lesson to be learned here.

In case you are stuck in the recipe mode, blackberries are at their peak. My long-ago planted, thorn-less berries are still producing. Here is my favorite, easy, berry cobbler recipe. It is also wonderful made with peaches.

Blackberry Cobbler

For the filling:

• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup water or fruit juice
• 2 tablespoon butter
• 3 to 4 cups of blackberries
• 1 tablespoons cornstarch
• Nutmeg or cinnamon

For the topping:

• 1 cup flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 3 tablespoons Crisco
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup milk

1. Cook all filling ingredients in a heavy skillet until thick (my blackberries are very juicy and so don’t need extra juice.)

2. Pour in a casserole dish.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients, and spoon onto top of berries.

4. Sprinkle with sugar.

5. Bake at 400 degrees F until lightly brown.

Never mind solarization, recipes, and gardens. It is the people in life that make it worthwhile. (Well, solarization has its place. By the way, my solarization blog missed an important step. After smoothing the soil, you need to water to a depth of 12 inches before you cover with plastic.)

Recently I attended a baby shower, and I was captivated by the people. Especially the little people. The little tyke with bobbed haircut, straight from the 30’s. The darling little boy who helped unwrap the packages: diapers, plush elephants, and rabbits. The eight-week-old baby with her hair band in place. The hungry child crying for her bottle. The child who lived at the home, sharing her playroom.

Three mommas-to-be, stomachs bulging. The young mothers with children in tow. Lots of them.

The great grandmother, attractive with short, stylish, grey hair. I’ll bet she had stories to tell.

The honoree, beautiful and full of life, ah-hum.

Life is good.

Until next time.

kids on jungle gym
Photo by Fotolia/Shmel

Some Like It Hot

Jauneta StoutExtra high temperatures this summer have made watering the potted flowers a chore. However, the sun is necessary for our well being, the growth of all our plants, and all life. Then I read about one more asset: solarization.

A garden without weeds, disease or insects? No way.

This is what they claim for solarization. Here are the necessary steps:

1. Get rid of all growth in the spot you choose, large or small.
2. Work the ground.
3. Smooth and level surface of the soil.
4. Cover with black plastic sheeting or clear, not a blue tarp.
5. Fasten down edges of plastic so it is taunt against soil
6. Must have at least 6 hours of hot sun daily for 6-8 weeks.

Theoretically you should have sterilized soil ready for planting. What a boon that would be for raised beds.

Now if I can get out there and clear a spot while the sun is hot ...

Sunlit soil
Photo by Fotolia/lily

The Agony and Ecstasy of Cooking and Baking

Jauneta StoutWhat you do with what you’ve got applies to more than time, talent and money. It applies to recipes. Most cooks know the agony and the ecstasy of changing the recipe just a little bit. The trick, of course, is knowing when you must adhere faithfully and when you can improvise.

So, we come to potato salad. I envy you folks who have new potatoes and tomatoes just a few yards away in your well tended gardens. But, not all is lost. The local road side stand had both, just what I needed for a new recipe.

New Potato Salad

The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon pesto sauce. I have made pesto when basil was plentiful, but now it is limited to a space in the herb pot. So, eliminate that. Here is the recipe I found possible with what I had on hand. I found it to be in the ecstasy class.

8 medium new red potatoes
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup (more or less) mayonnaise
1/4 cup onion
1 rib celery, minced
1/2 cup (or more) rough chopped mixed herbs
1/2 cup chopped tomato

Cut unpeeled red potatoes in 1-inch pieces. Cook briefly in salted water. The trick is not to overcook them. They need to have some bite. Drain, add vinegar and salt, toss. Chill. While they are chilling prepare dressing by chopping celery, onions and herbs to a medium chop (food processor works good here) and add to mayo. When all is chilled, combine, add chopped tomatoes and enjoy! I used a combination of parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary. Be sure to remove the hard stems of herbs.

For Elizabeth, who wanted my sour dough bread recipe. This recipe is known as Akiko’s Sourdough Bread.

First you must have some sourdough starter. I do have recipes for making your own, but getting some from a friend is easier. To feed the sourdough use 1 cup warm water (microwave 1 minute), add 3/4 cup sugar, and 3 heaping tablespoons instant mashed potatoes . Stir until dissolved, then add to existing starter. Use all glass containers. Let sourdough mixture sit at room temperature least 8 hours. It should get nice and bubbly, then refrigerate. In a day or two, or up to a week, you can make the bread.

Measure 1-1/4 cups starter, set aside. Put remaining starter back in fridge.

In a very large non-metal bowl mix 1-1/2 cups warm water (microwave 1 minute), 1 tablespoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until dissolved, then add 1/2 cup canola oil. Add the starter and stir. Add 6 cups bread flour. Have an extra 1 cup flour ready for the board and as needed. Knead on floured board, turning and pressing with heel of hand until nice and elastic, about 5 minutes. Return to large, well oiled bowl, cover and let rise for from 8 to 10 hours. May leave overnight.

The next day, knead again, briefly. Divide dough into 3 loves and place in bread pans coated with shortening or coconut oil. Oil tops of loaves. With sharp knife make diagonal cuts in loaves. Let rise for 8 to 10 hours. (I have left it overnight.) Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. Butter tops of loaves and cool on wire rack.

Tip: One batch will act differently from the next. May rise more, need longer to rise. But all is delicious.

Starter can remain in fridge for a week or longer between feedings. There will be a difference in the taste of the bread the longer it is between feedings. This basic recipe is rather sweet.


Photo by Fotolia/arianhabich

Good Ole Days

Jauneta Stout1946 was a good year for Cora. World War II was over, the farm was paid for; she, her husband and grown daughter were in good health. They were highly thought of in the community because they were hard workers and good producers. They cared for an orchard, bees, a vegetable garden, all kinds of poultry, hogs and cattle.

Cora also kept good records. Here are excerpts from her ledger:

Mar. Sold wheat $641.00
April 14, Sold 72 dozen eggs at 27 cents a dozen $19.44
July 1, Sold cream 14.45
6 gallons cherries 4.50
4 quarts strawberries 2.00

A sample of her canning record: 17 quarts apples, 20 quarts blackberries, 4 gallon apple butter, 23 gallon meat fried down.

Next to the canning record was this note: "Went to the fair in Indianapolis on Wednesday. "

She recorded this information: "For moths in honey use carbon disulfide. Heat honey to 163 degrees for 3 minutes and it will not turn dark."

For a moment in time, life was good.


Photo by Fotolia/sola_sola