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At Home in Ohio

County Fair Fun

Connie Moore


While working at a county fair can be exhausting, an air of energy seemed to surround us each of the eight days we attended the Clark County Fair in Springfield, Ohio, in July. Covering numerous events for our local newspapers gave Doug and me a closer look at many beautiful projects. We also decided to try our hand at a few.

A Taste of the Unexpected cooking contest was right up my alley. I made deep chocolate brownies with barbecue sauce and red bean paste frosting. It won fourth place and cash.


The county pie contest is a big event each year. Pie crust must be made with lard. I’ve entered the contest for over 20 years and in the past have won or placed numerous times. This year I won the contest with a pecan pie. The best part about the whole thing is that the pies are auctioned off and proceeds go back into the building. My pie sold for $200. The highest bid ever given for a pie? $2,015. We here in Ohio take our pies seriously.


Our family recipe for Oatmeal/Pecan Picnic Cake won third place in the Any Dessert contest. Creamy frosting is always an eye-catcher.


Never having entered the Master Gardener area, Doug and I decided it was our year to try new things, specifically the Pick of the Garden Bouquet Contest. We gathered our bouquet the evening before, arranged it that morning, and won third place. We learned a lot from Master Gardener Becky Menozzi. We’ll try again next year for sure.

Most popular of all cooking contests was Anything Chocolate. We placed fifth with a chocolate red raspberry cake.


Of course, after every cooking contest, everyone gets to sample everything. What a way to enjoy the fair. I hope you can enjoy a day or two at your local county fair.

Bees, Bees, Bees

Connie Moore


Have you ever been "busy as a bee?” It’s doubtful; not to degrade your industriousness, but bees are, by most measurements, the hardest working creature alive. Just take a moment to consider some facts about bees.

1. Bees are the only insects that produce food consumed by humans.
2. They not only have six legs, two compound eyes with thousands of lenses, three single eyes, two pairs of wings, a nectar pouch and a stomach, but they also have 170 odorant receptors.
3. Their wings beat an outstanding 200 times per second.
4. They can fly 5-6 miles at up to 15 miles per hour.
5. If a bee flew around the world, it would only consume one ounce of honey.
6. During one collection trip on any given day, a bee will visit up to 100 flowers.
7. A bee’s brain is about the size of a sesame seed, yet it can differentiate and remember all flowers in its range, calculate distances, and communicate all that information with the other bees in its  hive.
8. They communicate all of the above by dancing.
9. They can sense an air pressure change so as to know if it is wise to go and forage or better to stay in the hive.

One of the most interesting honey cookbooks is the 2010 publication Honey, I’m Homemade, edited by May Berenbaum, published by University of Illinois. Packed with honey information and loads of recipes from around the world, the book is perfect for getting to know a sweet that we may take for granted.

From the office shelves here at the Moore household, here are a few of our favorite recipes.


Fruit Juice Dressing

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
2 teaspoons warmed honey

Combine all ingredients and whisk. Serve on fresh fruit. Any combination of juices will do; use your favorite. This dressing is also good on fresh salad greens. Recipe source: An Apple A Day, Loma Linda University, School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 1967

Honey Bee Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup honey
1 egg
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream butter, brown sugar, honey and egg. Sift together dry ingredients and beat into creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until just set and light brown on edges, 7-9 minutes. Let stand on cookie sheets about 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies. Recipe source: Alpha Bakery by Gold Medal Flour-General Mills, 1987.

Honey Butter

½ cup butter, room temp.
½ cup honey

Cream the butter well. Gradually beat in the honey. Mixture should be light and fluffy. Spread on hot biscuits, toast, graham crackers, pancakes, waffles. Recipe source: family recipe box.

Just Before Summer

author  grandpappy fishing


Blue sky, tender warm breezes.

Bird song high above, drifting down through shadows and out across water.

Big fish, little fish, one or more,

A perfect day to soak up everything outdoors while we


Jenns big fish IMG3386




When all is said and done, let me end my days fishing, out where life is in constant motion and nature signs me to sleep.


   Connie Moore


Our answering machine message is “You’ve reached the Moore household. We’re out in the garden; leave your name and number. We’ll get back with you when lettuce and carrots are thinned, tomatoes are planted, and a row of corn is sowed. Enjoy your day.” Beep.

Warm Chocolate Sauce
1 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon real vanilla
2 tablespoons water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat until thoroughly melted and blended together, stirring often. Serve warm as a dip for berries, chips, or over ice cream. It's very good drizzled on graham crackers, too. When strawberries come on, you can dip them in this warm sauce.

Easy Jam Bars
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1 cup flour
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons apple juice (can use water)
1 jar (10 ounce) fruit preserves or jam (about one cup)

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat an 8 or 9-inch square pan or a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, and baking soda together with a fork. Mix well. Add oil and juice, stirring until all is moistened. Set aside ½ cup of crumb mixture and pour the rest into prepared pan. Press to form a crust layer. Spread preserves over top and sprinkle on reserved crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool in pan. Cut into bars or wedges. For easy cleanup, line pan with foil and spray foil. When baked, lift foil out onto cutting board. These are good breakfast bars to eat with fresh fruit.

Rhubarb Jam
5 cups rhubarb, cut fine
3 cups sugar
1 small package strawberry Jello

Mix fruit and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Next day, bring to a boil in a non-reactive pan. Boil 15 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the Jello. Mix well. Pour into sterilized jelly jars. Cool, then cover with lids and refrigerate. This is a refrigerator jam that can also be frozen in small containers. Makes 3-4 small jars.

Broccoli Salad
1 medium head broccoli, washed, drained, cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
1 small can water chestnuts, drained, chopped
1 ½ cups raisins
1 cup chopped celery
½ pound bacon, cooked, crumbled
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon vinegar
½ cup sugar

In large bowl, mix broccoli, onion, water chestnuts, raisins, and celery. Mix in all but 3 tablespoons of the crumbled bacon. Mix mayo, vinegar and sugar, blending it well. Pour over veggies and toss well. Cover and chill overnight in fridge. Before serving, toss and top with reserved crumbled bacon.

Spring Sandwich Filling
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, chopped
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced green onions

Make sure spinach is washed thoroughly and drained. Cut into shreds and place in mixing bowl. Add eggs, celery, onions, and seasonings. Use enough mayo to make a spreadable filling. For kids, cut sandwiches in shapes. For adults, well, we like the crusts cut off.

Scalloped Asparagus
4 cups cooked asparagus
1 cup shredded cheese
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Salt & pepper
2 cups white sauce (see note)

In buttered baking dish, lay asparagus spears or cut into pieces if desired. Sprinkle half the cheese over all. Spread on chopped eggs. Spread rest of cheese on. Season with salt and pepper. Pour white sauce (NOTE: today we use a jar of classic Alfredo sauce over all.) Top with paprika. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Some recipes do not use the hard-cooked eggs. For a main dish, the eggs add the protein. For a side vegetable dish, they are not needed — it’s up to you.


Between The Pages

Connie Moore


On numerous occasions, I’ve said that there is much to found in a community cookbook. Wonderful recipes to be sure, but hidden between the lines and pages are gems that surpass usual bookmarks and cook’s notes.

Every year, just before the spring and fall community garage sales in our area, I glean cookbooks off my shelves to sale. I usually get nowhere fast; I end up reading each book or at least leafing through the pages. Some I know I will never part with. Such was the case this week when, tucked in between two for-sale volumes, was a small thin one from the 1960s.

A yellowed newspaper clipping was between "Beef Liver with Tomatoes" and "Baked Cream Chicken" Titled "The Class of 1922," it was a reunion photograph of Clark County’s Olive Branch High School. Some of the last names were familiar.

Further on in the book, an ad for Swans Down Cake Flour was found. Along with that yellowed clipping was a recipe for No-Knead Coffee Cake and a handwritten recipe for Rhubarb Crunch.

swans down cake flour ad

A small piece of paper floated out from between the page with Fudge Cake and the page with Pound Cake. On it, the following unidentified poem:

Your Name

You got it from your father,
It was all he had to give.
So it’s yours to use and cherish
For as long as you may live.

If you lose the watch he gave you,
It can always be replaced,
But a black mark on your name,
Can never be erased.

So make sure you guard it wisely,
After all is said and done
You’ll be glad the name is spotless
When you give it to your son.

Whether son or daughter, the recipes were passed on in the form of a community cookbook that holds so much more than cookies and casseroles. Perhaps you have such a cookbook, stuffed with friends and family, bits of newspaper with names and dates and photographs of a whole generation of wise adults, mothers and fathers who passed on a name ... and a heritage.

grandpa and grandma

Rhubarb Crunch


• 4 cups diced rhubarb
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1-1/2 cups flour
• 1/3 cup butter
• 1/3 cup shortening


1. Toss rhubarb with sugar and 3 tablespoons flour. Place in 2 quart casserole.

2. Mix together brown sugar, oats, and flour. Cut butter and shortening in as for pie dough. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb.

3. Bake in preheated, 375 degree F oven for about 40-45 minutes.

4. Serve warm with ice cream.

Apple-Walnut Cake


• 2/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 egg
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 2 cups peeled, diced apples
• 1-1/2 cups flour


1. Mix together oil, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add baking soda and egg. Mix well. Add walnuts and apples.

2. Lastly, stir in flour until batter forms.

3. Pour into greased 9x9 pan or deep dish pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until done, tested with toothpick.

4. Can be frosted when cooled or eaten with ice cream, whipped topping, or hard sauce.

Very Rich Bars


• 1 cup unsalted butter
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon real vanilla
• Dash of salt
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• One 6-ounce bag chocolate chips


1. Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Press into a greased pan (13x9).

2. Bake at 350 degrees F for about a half-hour, or until set.

3. Immediately upon removing from oven, pour chocolate chips over the top and let them melt. Use knife to spread the melted chocolate. Cool.

4. Cut into bars.

These bars are good with dark chocolate chips or a combination of chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Spring: Then and Now

Connie Moore


A garden journal entry for March 20, 2017: “A blasting red sky is upon the land. It is beautiful and yet bodes ill for the rest of the day. You know — red sky in morning, sailors take warning. The only thing left to write about today is rain — all day.”

That’s the funny thing about garden journals. They either tell a long story or a very short one. A lot could be read between the lines, but, for some days, it’s best not to look too close. After all, just as March can come in like a lamb or lion, so can spring itself. This year it was a lion of rain. Still, that is a good thing. We need it. (Again, another saying that never goes out of style.)

But enough about March. We are clearly into April and fine days of sun, clouds, growing things, and bird songs every morning to bring us to our senses and out into our gardens.


Twenty years ago, in her first spring at her new home, my mother didn’t need any urging to walk her lines and get busy gardening. She told me on more than one occasion that it seemed she had waited her whole life for this yard, this opportunity to plant as she wanted to, to dig, to cultivate, to watch things grow. Her whole day could be in that yard if she chose. And she did choose to spend many days just that way. Often I would come to visit only to find her out back, ready to have me pull up a chair and either talk while she kept working or, more than likely, help with whatever she had going on at that moment. I grew to love that yard and all her plantings and bloomings and garden rows of vegetables. She packed a lot into her space.

In that first April alone, Mom planted phlox, lily-of-the-valley, apple trees, rhubarb, bleeding heart, gooseberry bushes, onions, peas, potatoes, beets, marigolds, cauliflower, peppers, and cabbage. That was in between days of heavy frost, cold so cold that she couldn’t be out, and “rain so cold it felt like snow.”

It all reminds me of the year 1885. The Springfield Globe newspaper reported that the week before and week of April 9th began pleasant days of spring work for farmers in Clark County. Then, just six days later, the report came that “the spring work and gardening received quite a check by the thermometer being away below freezing.” It turned out to be one of those off-and-on planting seasons.

In April of 1999, Mom’s garden was late in coming. Although a cabbage butterfly checked out her yard on the 2nd day of the month, it was not until the 25th that the neighbor man could come in to till the garden. It had rained the whole month. In one long day the soil was tilled and planted with all the usual veggies plus kohlrabi, a dozen tomato plants, morning glories, and half a row of dill/cilantro.


The year 2005 brought typical April weather. Violets and crab apple trees bloomed from plenty of warm sun. On Friday the 22nd, thunderstorms moved through with a temperature of 72 degrees, but by the next day snow was falling the entire morning at 32 degrees. Then rain. The next day, the same mix of snow and rain. By the time Monday came around, my mom's journal indicated her frustrations with notes of “decided not to waste time — cleaned” and “cleaned out freezer — might as well be cold in here too.” Perhaps if Mom had been raised to read the signs of weather from birds, she might not have experienced as many frustrating days.

In April of 1887, the Springfield Daily Republic reported the following experience from the Chicago Herald: “'Have you noticed the amount of waddin’ the sparrers are puttin’ inter their nests this year? That’s a sure indication that it’s goin’ to be a cold spring. The last time I seen the sparrers luggin’ bedquilts and mufflers to their nests there were only three seasons in the year. It was winter until July, then there three months of spring, and then it was winter again. All the garden truck that was planted didn’t come up until the follerin’ year, when the fruit trees bore two crops.'

'That was some time ago, wasn’t it?' asked his companion.

'Yes, several years ago — nigh onto forty, I reckon.'

'Then there’s been more winters than summers in this country, eh?'

'No’p; ‘bout fourteen years after that, I noticed that the sparrers built two nests instead of one.

'The nests were joined together by little avenoos of dried grass. The she-sparrows would hatch a brood in one nest and then walk through the avenoo to the other nest and go to hatchin’ again, while the he-bird would tend the youngsters in the first nest. The season was so long that the sparrers hatched from May to May, and that’s the reason why we’ve got so many sparrers terday.'

'Then there was no winter that year?' questioned the companion.

'Not a flake,' replied the old man. 'People died of summer complaint all that year.'”

Well, maybe it was a tall tale, but the fact remains that spring in retrospect can be entertaining and educational. No two are ever the same. Perhaps that’s the way it should be. Variety and challenge is what life is made of.


No matter what the weather, the family needs to eat. Here are a couple of simple but substantial recipes:

2-Ingredient Bar B Q Beans


• 1 or 2 cans (28 oz.) Bush’s Best Baked Beans (onion flavor)
• 1/3 to 1/2 cup Montgomery Inn Barbecue Sauce


Use one can of beans for 2 people or 2 cans for 3 or more.

1. After opening the can, gently drain off some of the liquid accumulated on top. Place beans in 2-quart baking dish.

2. Stir in the barbecue sauce. Do not cover.

3. Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. Reduce temp to somewhere in the 200s so that the beans slow bake until the rest of the meal is ready. You can take the dish out if you want to, or leave it in the oven (turned off) if you are running late with other dishes.

Sausage Casserole


• 1 pound sausage
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 small green pepper, seeded, chopped
• 1 cup corn
• 2 cups chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
• 1 can cream of mushroom soup
• Seasoning to taste<
• 1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked macaroni
• 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs or crushed croutons


1. In large skillet, brown sausage (chopping as it cooks to break it up) and onions. Drain off grease.

2. Add green pepper, corn, tomatoes, soup. Stir to blend well. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder.

3. Heat to boiling, then remove from heat.

4. In large casserole dish, pour half the sausage mixture. Cover with the cooked macaroni. Pour remaining meat mixture over top. You can also just stir the mac into the meat mixture and pour into casserole. Top with buttered bread crumbs, crushed seasoned croutons, or your favorite topping. Yes, cheese goes well with this dish!

5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to one hour.

Just Eat It

Connie Moore


In December of last year, the Clark County Library got in a new DVD called Just Eat It. Always on the lookout for new culinary information, we ordered it and waited until our turn came up on March 8th to pick it up. Turns out it is a popular documentary on food waste, food growing and processing, and a 6-month experiment by a couple who decided to see just exactly what is out there being wasted.

Every part of this DVD, including the plastic case, is of interest. The film is a winner of over nine major Film Festival Awards; online sources make that number 20 if you count it being a finalist and runner-up. Reviews say it is “Powerful” and “Shocking ... thought-provoking ... inspired.”

The top comment by Variety tells you “Hugely entertaining ... will leave audiences gobsmacked.” So what is that last word? Online definitions for modern slang say it is of British origin, taking the words "gob" — mouth — and a verb — "smack" — and blending them to mean “being utterly astonished or stunned.”

That pretty much sums up how we felt after watching the 73-minute version. The movie case asked the question, “We all love food, so how could we possibly be throwing nearly half of it in the trash?” Well, to be honest, we thought that figure was awfully high.

Tristram Stewart began the journey with a look at the corporate image of a perfect banana. There are guidelines for harvesting and selling bananas that have nothing to do with pesticides, variety, or locations. The literal hill of unwanted bananas is astounding each time they are harvested. Onto peaches, which are graded not only for size but for perfection, hence 20 to 70 percent of all harvested graded peaches (tons and tons) go to garbage dumps. (Only so much can be given to local food banks, which don’t have the capacity or infrastructure to dispense it.) Celery, our beloved crunchy vegetable, is next to see vast waste.

Interspersed in all the photography, facts, and graphs was the story of Jen and Grant, who undertook a six-month journey into a food waste exposé that found them searching out their sustenance from culled produce and foods in farmer markets, stores, and behind stores (dumpsters).

They did not eat garbage, half-eaten foods from restaurant plates, or anything that was expired or opened. The exception to that was when they gleaned from a refrigerator and cupboards of a relative who was in the process of moving. They checked all packages for sell by/best by dates. They also went online to check for recalls on foods that they found entire dumpsters devoted to, such as tofu, chocolate bars, and packaged meals.

An eye-opening find was a dumpster outside a studio where a pizza chain had finished food photography just a day before. The photographer called them; the foods had been in the fridge and freezer until that very morning. Filling the metal box were bags of dough, meats, cheeses, veggies, and sauces. It appeared to us that a thousand pizzas lay in waiting for someone to assemble them.

One thing we had never thought about was that wasting food in this country is not taboo. We have laws to fine people for littering or not recycling, but wasting food is normal.

food to be eaten or wasted?

With two months left in their experiment, Jen and Grant found themselves with kitchen counters, cupboards, a fridge, and a freezer overflowing with perfectly good food. They invited friends in to glean. Those friends were amazed that the amount of food Jen and Grant described to them could actually be found.

Another amazing find was an entire dumpster devoted to eggs. Not outdated, not cracked, just dozens upon dozens of eggs with due dates two weeks away.

In the end, Jen and Grant said they were happy they found food, but sad and upset that so much was being wasted. They also spent time weighing, logging, and estimating costs of all food they brought into the house during this six months.

The film is geared for all ages; there is a farmer, chefs, a scientist, and others, who when interviewed add much weight to this serious subject. The DVD includes a classroom version (50 minutes) and resource materials. We highly recommend this film as a learning tool for schools and families. It takes one to a whole different world within our world. One that grows food that people will waste and not blink an eye at. A world where 40 percent of all food grown is not eaten.

If I can be quite frank with you and dare to use slang — you will be gobsmacked.

For more online info, go to

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