RSSPhilip Potempa

FROM the FARM: Honey always a welcome sweet ingredient

FROM the FARM: Honey always a welcome sweet ingredient
October 22, 2014 12:00 am  • 

I've always been fascinated by bees.

In the past 25 years, I've written many stories about the beekeeping trade.

Honeybees are hard workers. There's a reason for the biblical reference with Moses and "land flowing of milk and honey."

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FROM the FARM: Peach crisp a fall favorite

FROM the FARM: Peach crisp a fall favorite
October 15, 2014 12:00 am  • 

One of the last of our peach trees at our family farm grew by accident, but produced plenty of fruit.

When my Auntie Lilly had apple cores, peach pits, potato peelings and other leftovers from fruits and vegetables, she'd toss them out near the mostly buried wall of the outside root cellar, which was far from the house.

And it was from these cast-offs, a sturdy peach tree grew with surprising good yields.

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FROM the FARM: Join me Monday at Valpo library event

FROM the FARM: Join me Monday at Valpo library event
October 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

I've always been proud of our Indiana libraries and their connection to history.

In our little farming town of North Judson, our library was constructed in 1921 as one of the last of the "Carnegie Libraries," and over the years, it has served as our town's  U.S. Post Office, a wartime bomb shelter and even a kindergarten classroom.

In 1997, our residents of Starke County gathered together on a rainy Sunday afternoon to celebrate a much needed $1.5 million renovation and expansion of this Carnegie library.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: 'Price is Right - LIVE!' back at Star Plaza in 2015

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: 'Price is Right - LIVE!' back at Star Plaza in 2015

For two previous successful visits, the live touring stage show version of the CBS game show staple "The Price Is Right" has played to near capacity audiences at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.

The perennial popularity of the television series of price tag guessing is what inspired a live audience traveling stage version launched a dozen years ago.

After Star Plaza runs in October 2012 and again April 2013, "The Price Is Right - LIVE!" is inviting audiences to "come on down" for prizes and excitement when fun and games return to the theater for another round in February.

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FROM the FARM: Delicious vinegar pie an old-fashioned find

FROM the FARM: Delicious vinegar pie an old-fashioned find
October 01, 2014 12:00 am  • 

As promised last week, I'm sharing the final two winning recipes and photos from last month's Ninth Annual Pie Contest at Downtown Hammond's popular Bizarre Bazaar. Last week, I featured the winners for best savory pie and the overall grand prize winner.

This week, I'm excited to highlight a 50-year-old family heirloom recipe that captured the judges' honors for "most creative use of an ingredient," as well as the winner for the pie that sported the most flaky crust.

Denise Jean of Hammond entered her favorite dessert specialty, a very old recipe for Old Fashioned Vinegar Pie with Marshmallow Meringue. Much like the recipe for my Auntie Lilly's "Mock Apple Pie" that is published in my original 2004 "From the Farm" cookbook, this vinegar pie recipe was also popular during World War II with groceries were scarce. (The "Mock Apple Pie" recipe uses round butter-flavored party crackers for the filling in place of apple slices.) Since lemons and lemon juice were not always readily available in kitchens and pantries, vinegar pie was very similar to lemon meringue pie, only it uses lemon extract and vinegar to create the tempting, tart filling.

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FROM the FARM: Easy chicken pot pie recipe welcomes fall

FROM the FARM: Easy chicken pot pie recipe welcomes fall
September 24, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Autumn officially began on Monday, welcoming a favorite season for baking.

Last weekend's Ninth annual Pie Contest at Downtown Hammond's popular Bizarre Bazaar on Saturday provided a perfect mix of delicate crust and filled-to-the-brim favorite creations.

Joining me for judging duties were Chef Terry Zych of Ivy Tech and Eloise Valadez, my columnist colleague from The Times.

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FROM the FARM: Hammond pie contest 'mint' to be

FROM the FARM: Hammond pie contest 'mint' to be
September 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

This Saturday is the Ninth annual Pie Contest at Downtown Hammond's popular Bizarre Bazaar.

I'll be returning once again to judge.

The entry fee is $5 per pie (limit of two pies) when registered in advance with cash, check or money order or $10 per pie (limit two pies) on the day of the contest (cash only). The event is at Harrison Park on Hohman Avenue, with registration starting at 9:30 a.m. and judging from 11 a.m. to noon. Winners will be announced at 12:15 p.m.at the main stage.

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FROM the FARM: Watermelon pie an easy, unusual recipe

FROM the FARM: Watermelon pie an easy, unusual recipe
September 10, 2014 2:00 am  • 

Before pumpkins begin making an appearance, the month of September is prime time for watermelons.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I joined my parents for a visit to the Valparaiso home of reader Evelyn LaHaie to share some of our tomatoes and green beans from the farm.

She surprised us by serving her favorite recipe for an easy, delicious, crust-less watermelon pie.

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FROM the FARM: Redenbacher popcorn remains a family favorite

FROM the FARM: Redenbacher popcorn remains a family favorite
September 03, 2014 2:00 am  • 

The late Orville Redenbacher happily wore the crown of "Popcorn King," and each year, made a return trek to Valparaiso to participate in the parade and festival created in his honor.

Even though he died at age 88 in September 1995, the parade and festival live on, along with the familiar brand he created bearing his name while boasting a secret hybrid "popping corn" he helped develop.

This weekend marks the 36th annual Popcorn Festival in Valparaiso. Meeting Orville and his grandson Gary Redenbacher each year in Valparaiso to interview the duo famous for the brand's TV commercial campaign, still rank as one of my favorite first interviews as a newspaper reporter.

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FROM the FARM: WGN Radio celebrates 90 years as farmer favorite

FROM the FARM: WGN Radio celebrates 90 years as farmer favorite

Among the items on the wooden "Lazy Susan" in the middle of the table in our farm kitchen, there's a serving jar for jams and preserves with an antique jelly spoon that was a promotional item from Chicago's WLS Radio. Its engraved handle reads: "WLS: The Voice of Agriculture."

WLS AM in Chicago launched on April 12, 1924, started and owned by Sears-Roebuck and Company in the new communication medium to target the lucrative farming market and continue their relationship with the farmers.

The station's call letters stand for "World's Largest Store" and according to the WLS website: "Sears president Julius Rosenwald started the radio station in conjunction with Sears-Roebuck Agricultural Foundation, designed to be a clearinghouse for information and assistance through its Farm and Home Service Departments since Midwest farmers had been particularly hard hit with the deflation of 1920-21."

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