Twenty Years Of Memories
As hard as it is for me to believe, in a few months I celebrate 20 years of writing the recipe page. Maybe this will be the year I get my picture on my weekly articles.
It all began when I sent two identical letters to the editor and family editor of The Post-Journal explaining my sadness at the inevitable upcoming ending of the article I had been reading since shortly after moving from Pennsylvania to Jamestown, when I was in ninth grade. It told how I was still using many of those early recipes and explained that I knew nothing about writing, but that I had connections in nearly every town in the readership and would like to try to save the page. I enclosed a copy of my story, complete with recipes. I received a reply a few days later from Brigetta Overcash, the family editor, requesting a telephone call.
After we connected I remember Mrs. Overcash asked if I expected to be paid. Heck, I was just looking to save the page. The late Jack Berger, who lived down the street from me and who had submitted many photos to the paper over the years, was sent to take my picture. When the article came out on May 2, 1998, I was surprised to find two other women, including the lady who had most recently been submitting an article about once per month, and another who edited cookbooks, sharing the page with me. There were short bios and one or two recipes with each picture. I learned that the three of us would be keeping the page going. I suddenly lost my confidence, because I was no match for a retired teacher and someone who had been writing and editing for years. If I recall correctly, each woman only submitted one or two articles after that.
I had actually been featured 20 years earlier by Carole Erickson, another former neighbor, who was The Post-Journal’s Randolph correspondent. At that time, as well as when I started writing in 1998, the article was located in the old Tempo Magazine and consisted of about six or seven paragraphs, a picture and five or six recipes. The featured subject, usually a woman, was almost always sitting at a table with three or four dishes of food before her. It told about her involvement with the PTA and her church, a job, if she was employed, the names of her family members and where her husband worked.
Brigetta was very kind and patient with me. In the beginning I was mailing the articles before she taught me how to email attachments. I was soon writing far more than would fit in that little corner of the page in the Tempo Magazine, because I have a passion for people, am not shy and those that I interview seem to open up to me. The article was moved to the second page of the Family Section and soon after that she announced she was giving me color, “because if the cooks go to all that bother of preparing the food, they should have color.”
My first husband passed away in 1999, after a long illness. Three years later I remarried and the next year my husband became the pastor of a small church. I was unable to keep the page going every week between my full-time job at Randolph Academy and the many responsibilities we encountered at the church. It was at this time I lost one week per month to Dr. Kohl’s astronomy page.
A few years later, after Mrs. Overcash left the paper, color was taken away and I was back to where I had started with black and white pictures. I had many short-term family editors and the color on my page appeared sporadically for the next several years. About a year after Scott Shelters became the city editor, the recipe page was moved to the front two pages of Section C, giving me color on both pages every week. After Scott left the pages of the article were split, with color no longer present on the second page.
I started to feature small businesses after noticing one that appeared to be struggling. I naturally have a heart for mom and pops, because I grew up above my mother’s grocery store and next to my father’s gas station in a small town in Pennsylvania. I confess, I didn’t think The Post-Journal would allow it, but have only had two or three paragraphs edited out since I began this habit about 12 years ago. It may be because all of these people have a story, that goes beyond struggling to keep their head above water.
Even though all of the people I have interviewed have enriched my life, some have left lasting memories. One example is the single dad and 8-year-old daughter I visited 13 years ago after coming upon them in an aisle in Aldi, where they were obviously shopping for specific recipe ingredients. The father told me he was a single dad who could connect with his son through sports, but needed something with which to relate with his young daughter. When she began bringing home recipes she had copied from cookbooks in the school library, he knew what he needed to do.
One of the people who tugged at my heartstrings was a very sweet elderly woman who kept herself as neat as a pin, was living alone in an immaculate house in the country and dealt with a serious ongoing health issue. We hit it off from the start and she called my home frequently thereafter. She mentioned her desire to publish a cookbook every time we spoke. One night I drove 30 minutes to see her after receiving a call requesting a visit. Even though I was still working full-time and had many responsibilities connected to being the wife of a pastor of a small church, I was compelled to tell her I would help her put together that book when the subject came up again as it always had. Thankfully, her family took the reins after they heard we had formulated a plan and she was blessed to see her dream come true just a few months before her death. I shed tears at the funeral home, regretting we hadn’t met years before.
Everybody has a story and I have met some very interesting people. Some of my featured cooks have had some very unique hobbies and traditions. One lady set up and decorated thirteen Christmas trees in her large, very tastefully decorated home. There was a group of four girlfriends, along with their families, who had been having a progressive dinner for twenty years when I met them. Another woman collected the tiny white pebbles she found along the roadside while taking daily walks. Then there was the lady who added pet cremains, on request, when making glass beads.
In order to make it easier for one very busy woman, who was providing maple syrup recipes during a very hectic season, I suggested her picture could be taken with a plate of pancakes or waffles beside a pitcher of syrup. To my surprise, she not only had the suggested pancakes ready, but had prepared nine more dishes and boiled syrup for jack wax for the picture.
Some have shared original recipes, but most contributed favorite recipes they have acquired from friends and family members over the years. One older gentleman actually handed me a cookbook where he had marked the recipes I should copy. Since then when I set up an interview I try to remember to tell the person I cannot accept recipes directly from cookbooks or the Internet. They must alter them to make them their own. I also try to remember to convey that recipes for cheesy potatoes are not welcome on my page and as soon as I forget, someone tries to slip one in. I swear every cook in Western New York makes cheesy potatoes! I made it a rule about five years ago to no longer accept hand-written recipes, unless they were coming from someone with no computer skills with no one to help.
I have been known to pray with some who were going through hard times and I have prayed for several after I left, unbeknownst to them. I have invited a few of the interviewees to my home for holidays, knowing they had no family in the area.
It is my goal to write an article that is pleasing to the subject and their loved ones. One elderly man really wanted to make this happen by calling me nearly 20 times before the article ran, beginning with a message waiting on my answering machine when I got home from his interview.
There have been a few who wanted to be featured, but couldn’t get past having their picture taken. I have had to turn down others when they asked to be featured the next year or even sooner.
The first time I wrote about myself was when I remarried in 2002, running a four-part wedding series, telling about the wedding and featuring the jeweler, bridal shop owner and the owners of the bed and breakfast where we spent a night of our weeklong honeymoon. I featured my husband, Fred Rowland, on our first anniversary and later that same year shared my annual Aunts’ Day, when I invited all four of my mother’s surviving sisters to a day of food and pampering. In February 2004, I wrote about the kindnesses I was bestowed after breaking my ankle, sharing recipes of some of the dishes we received. Later I wrote about why I had been absent from the page most of the year, due to responsibilities at my husband’s church. I popped back on the page two years ago when we were about to go out of state for Thanksgiving and I had no interview for a Christmas article. Since it has been my tradition from the beginning to run Christmas stories starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving until Christmas and because I had done a bit of baking, I made a last-minute decision to feature my own traditions. After this, I went on an 11-month unplanned hiatus, because I wasn’t motivated and had only been getting feedback from my neighbors, the people at church and those I bumped into at the supermarket. Had it not been for my annual Christmas interviews, I may have never returned. The break must have energized me and it helped when I started hearing more from the readers, telling me they had missed the page and was glad it was back. I made sure I had articles to cover the eight and a half weeks we traveled that year and wrote an 11-installment series on our adventures while traveling on historic Route 66. Both the newspaper and I got a lot of positive feedback on the series.
Twenty years later, I still attend East Randolph United Methodist Church, although I was away for seven years while my husband pastored Steamburg United Methodist Church. I no longer have a dog, have gotten rid of or packed up all of my collections, have permits to carry concealed in every state where allowed. I have a 10-year addiction to my iPhone, of which I am not proud. I am proud that I lead a somewhat healthier lifestyle than I did 20 years ago and have a passion for and teach classes about essential oils (not all are created equal).
As I mentioned earlier, the last twenty years have seen the death of my first husband, at which time I filled his position on the Town of Randolph Board and continued to do so for 16 years. A son, two daughters-in-law and my daughter’s husband were added over those years, as well as, eight grandchildren. An addition and a total remodel of our home, retirement from my job as food service director and three surgeries happened over those years and in that time my husband and I have traveled many thousands of miles by car, train, plane and ship. I have been blessed beyond imagination.
In the coming year, I will be revisiting some of the people I interviewed over the last twenty years. Sadly, some are gone. Others are living totally different lives and it will be fun to check in on them.
I admit I still have no idea what I am doing, but the talented people at The Post-Journal make something out of what I send each week and for this I am extremely grateful. I am even more grateful to the people who say “yes” when I call and then type recipes, prepare food and give me a couple of hours of their time for an interview and pictures. I am very thankful to the readers, who not only read my ramblings, but as I have only recently learned, actually contact the P-J when my articles are absent, giving me “clout” according to Eric Tichy.
And yes, they do pay me!
Even though the primary reason my husband and I use Young Living Essential Oils and oil-infused supplements is for a healthier and chemical-free lifestyle, today I am sharing recipes I serve at the classes I teach and some which I have made for my family. It is important that only oils meant for ingesting are used in recipes. Also, when essential oils are heated beyond appropriate temperatures, as in cooked or baked food, they are added to enhance flavor, but lose benefits. Oils used in recipes that are not cooked will not be affected.
As one can see, it has taken many people sharing their stories and recipes to keep this page going for over 50 years. If you want to help keep the momentum going, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. With the help of the great team at the Post- Journal, we’ll tell your story.
Citrus Fruit Dip
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
7 oz jar marshmallow cream
2-4 drops Young Living Orange, Tangerine, Citrus Fresh, Lemon or Lime Vitality Oil
Orange sections, pitted cherries, kiwi slices, pineapples chunks, any berries and
banana and apple slices (to prevent discoloration dip in a 50/50 mixture of lemon juice and water, blotting with a paper towel to remove excess moisture)
Beat cream cheese and marshmallow cream until combined. Add oil, starting with 2 drops, until desired flavor is reached. Serve with fruit.
1 c butter, softened
3 c powdered sugar
2 T heavy cream
5 drops Young Living Peppermint Vitality Oil
Combine butter and powdered sugar on medium speed in large mixing bowl. Beat in cream until thoroughly combined. Add 2 drops oil. Taste. Add more oil, a drop at a time, tasting between additions, until frosting is flavored to your liking. May beat in a few drops of green food coloring.
Easy Spicy Applesauce
Apples, the more varieties the better. (I use Cortland, Gala, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Pink Lady and Red Delicious. Sweeter apples, make sweeter applesauce.)
1/3 c cider or apple juice
Young Living Cinnamon Bark Vitality Oil
Peel, core and slice enough apples to fill your largest slow cooker. Add cider. Cook on high setting, stirring after 45 minutes, pushing the firmer apples toward the bottom. Stir again after 20-30 minutes. Mash with potato masher when all apples are soft, leaving applesauce as chunky as you like. Turn off slow cooker. Let cool about 30 minutes before adding oil or it can be stirred in when serving. Serve warm or cold. Chill or freeze leftovers.
3 c whole cranberries
§ c orange juice
§ c sugar
§ c toasted pecans, chopped
Young Living Nutmeg Vitality Essential Oil
Young Living Clove Vitality Essential Oil
Young Living Cinnamon Bark Vitality Essential Oil
3-4 drops Young Living Orange Vitality Essential Oil
Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar in a medium size pot and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat, maintaining boil while stirring, and cook until cranberries pop and sauce thickens. Set aside to cool. Stir in nuts. One at a time, remove orifice insert in top of first three oils, dip clean toothpick into oil and swirl into sauce. Add 3-4 drops of orange oil. Combine and chill.
§ c olive oil
¢ c low-sodium soy sauce
1 ¢ tsp ground mustard
1 T honey
3 drops Young Living Lime Vitality Oil
1 toothpick swirl Young Living Black Pepper Vitality Oil (a drop is too much)
Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill. Use to marinate or baste chicken.
Spiced Pumpkin Creamer
1/3 c pumpkin puree
2 c almond milk
1 drop Young Living Clove Vitality Oil
1 drop Young Living Ginger Vitality Oil
1 drop Young Living Cinnamon Bark Vitality Oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blend in blender until smooth. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to seven days. Shake before use.
Lavender Honey Lemonade
Juice of 6 lemons
Juice of 1 lime
¢ c honey
1-2 drops Young Living Lavender Vitality essential oil
10 c ice water
NingXia Red Creamsicles
1 c Young Living NingXia Red whole-body nutrient- infused drink
1 c vanilla yogurt
1 c fresh strawberries
Combine in blender. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid.
Healthy Spicy Peanut Butter Balls
1 c oatmeal
¢ c peanut butter
1/3 c honey
1/3 c ground flax seed
1/3 c miniature chocolate chips
dash vanilla extract
2 drops Young Living Thieves Vitality Oil
Combine ingredients. Roll mixture into walnut-size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill until firm.
Orange Citrus Green Tea
1 cup hot green tea
1 drop Young Living Orange Vitality Oil
1 drop Young Living Citrus Fresh Vitality Oil
Stir oils and honey into tea. May serve over ice for iced tea.