At Home in Ohio

Three Sisters and a Stranger

Connie MooreSometimes I wonder about me. It seems the older I get, the less I see clearly. I’m talking about in my mind’s eye. There in draws a blank sometimes that’s a bit scary.

Take for instance the Three Sisters garden plot I planted this spring. In many cultures, three crops were and are planted together: corn, beans and squash. Corn provides the structure for the beans to climb; squash spreads over the ground, preventing weed growth, and large squash leaves act as a canopy to hold moisture in the soil; and the beans provide nitrogen, which is good for all three plants. Together the three crops provide complex carbohydrates, all essential amino acids, and other nutrients. It’s a win-win way to garden.

In our Three Sisters garden, pole beans went in first, climbing on strings, which were anchored around them and up through the 6-foot high bird feeder. Planted at the north and south points of our circular bed they neatly divided the space in half for buttercup squash and sweet corn. 

Then, in mid-July, green shoots starting coming up in the corn half. At first we thought it was just corn that dawdled around, waiting for more water or more sun. It grew much like the rest of the corn, perhaps not quite as fast but certainly the same thick, round stalk, the same long, thin leaves, and later, the same tight ear of…wait…that ear was coming out of the top of the plant.


What could it be? We watched and contemplated for days. By then my brain had registered a stranger in the garden. We took photos to examine it in closer range. We called relatives, only to be told it was probably sorghum. What? Sorghum was the means to molasses. We planted no seeds marked sorghum or molasses or sweet, tasty anything. Where did this stranger come from?

The answer was staring us in the face. The bird feeder had become obscured by masses of green. It wasn’t until the beans came down and the birds found the feeder, hoping for a crop of their own seeds, that birdseed came blasting into my brain cells.


We made a list of seeds that made up the winter bird feed. No sorghum, but as we looked each one up on the life-saving entity called Google, we stopped abruptly at a photo of our stranger. Milo (which was on our birdseed list) is by other businesses called sorghum or grain sorghum or sorghum bi-color. It is a grass grain.

The size of a BB and red, it is an inexpensive way to bulk up bags of birdseed for a bigger profit. No wonder we had such large crowds of doves, grackles, starlings, brown-headed cowbirds, juncos, cardinals and the occasional raccoon. 


To be sure, this particular type of sorghum is not the type that sorghum molasses is made from. It is growing much shorter than the photos of sorghum stalks being squished to extract the liquid from which sorghum molasses is boiled down.

We won’t be eating these plants in any shape or form. They are definitely for the birds. And that’s OK. As they enjoy their own crop, we’ll be enjoying a purchased bottle of sorghum. And squash, corn and beans!

Sorghum Butter


• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 tablespoons sorghum


In small bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter and sorghum together until light and fluffy. Serve on hot biscuits, pancakes, toast, waffles. Refrigerate leftovers.

Glazed Apples


• 3 cups thick-sliced tart, crisp apples
• 3 tablespoons butter
• ½ cup sorghum
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• Dash of nutmeg


In large skillet, cook apples in butter until just tender. Stir often and cook over low-medium heat. Stir in sorghum, spices, and if a thin sauce is desired, a tablespoon of water. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. These are good with pork dishes or over ice cream or hot oatmeal.


Peach Salsa

Connie Moore


Last week vendors at our local farmers market still had locally grown yellow and a limited supply of white peaches. I hadn’t seen white peaches since I was a teenager. Said to have a milder flavor, they are still tasty. We canned peaches, ate fresh peaches, and baked a double peach-oat crisp.

For a sweet and spicy salsa, we combined fresh diced peaches with favorite red and yellow tomatoes, onion, garlic, a bit of jalapeno pepper, some green pepper, some fresh cilantro, and a spoonful of vinegar.


We didn’t measure but simply tasted as we put it together. Served with tortilla chips or mixed into a can of drained tuna, it was refreshing to say the least.


Sweet corn was still abundant. Picked fresh Thursday mornings, vendors indicated it will be around for a few more weeks. We froze corn, ate fresh corn on the cob, and cut it off the cob to fry in butter.

Lettuces, cabbage, onions, zucchini, and yellow squash are all still coming on strong in the gardens. If you’re tired of sandwiches, try wrapping the filling in large lettuce leaves. Cabbage is great steamed, fried, or shredded for coleslaw. Wrap a meat and rice filling in cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls — a great meal for the cooler weather creeping in on us. And of course, zucchini can be shredded and froze for later use in the all-popular zucchini bread.

Between the market produce and end of the year veggies from our gardens, we are eating fresh, wonderfully tasty dishes this week.

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.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me