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."
In the 12 years I've written this recipe column and three cookbooks, I don't believe I've ever featured any true Lebanese recipe specialties.
It could be I just haven't had a reader share such kitchen heritage for me to showcase.
In fact, the only Lebanese folks I've really ever known are a few famous faces, such as White House reporter Helen Thomas, who died a year ago at her home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 92, two weeks short of her 93rd birthday.
Today is my 44th birthday.
But rather than writing about my birthday party celebrations, today's column highlights this special day by sharing a wonderful reader story.
It's about a special birthday party memory in the region that included our own East Chicago actress claim-to-fame Betsy Palmer as one of the guests.
A few month ago, after I wrote about the 10th anniversary of my original "From the Farm" cookbook, readers started asking about the second cookbook installment published in 2007, which is also long out-of-print.
"More From the Farm: Family Recipes and Memories of a Lifetime" was written with some help from actor and singer Jim Nabors, which reader Olga Kwolek of Valparaiso recalled, as well as, "it has a yellow cover."
"I have been looking for your mom's recipe for her Hostess Mock Ho-Ho Cake, and I believe it's in that second cookbook," Kwolek told me.
Last Wednesday, I drove with my parents Chester and Peggy to Rensselaer, Ind. to attend our Green Family Reunion.
All of the cousins and extended family were eager to see "the Green Twins," which is my Mom and her twin sister Patty.
Hosted as a gathering at Brook Side Park along the Iroquois River, it was designed as a "simple supper" menu with hotdogs, hamburgers, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and broccoli salad with fresh watermelon and fireside s'mores for dessert. My mom's cousins, sisters Elsie Fae and Dixie Ann, retired registered nurses who live near one another in Rensselaer, prepared and arranged for all of the food served.
It was in 2011 when Gus Noble, president of the Chicago Scots organization, asked me to attend, for the first time, what is billed as the largest Scottish festival and Highland Games in the Midwest, which his group organizes each year.
And that year, the Chicago Scots' Games and Festival was celebrating the 25th anniversary during the weekend event which benefits the Scottish Home, the oldest 501(c)3 charity in Illinois.
The festival, known for its Celtic music, bagpipes, a "knobbly knees" contest, Highland Dance competitions, Heavy Athletics contests and haggis hurling, is held at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca, Ill. FYI: chicagoscots.org or (708) 447-5092
My family still recalls how so many readers joined us at Avalon Manor in Merrillville for a big Sunday dinner to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.
It seems like only yesterday.
Well on Saturday, my dad Chester turned 85. This time, he wanted a family barbecue to share the special day. My sister Pam hosted the gathering at her home in Mishawaka and we feasted on a variety of fresh steak cuts provided by my oldest sister Carol, courtesy of the bounty of beef she had butchered after the county fair showing. My mom provided a blend of fresh-picked simmered string-beans, speckled with yellow wax beans and bacon and onion for added color and flavor. Grilled zucchini, assorted salads, a zesty dill dip I made and other assorted specialties filled the serving table with choices.
Rittenhouse Senior Living can be proud of their kitchen staff and the creativity of the chefs who lead their teams.
Last month, Rittenhouse Senior Living properties in Portage, Valparaiso and Michigan City brought home the best response from judges and guests sweeping every category at the 2014 Taste of Care event at the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds in Valparaiso.
On June 19, Chef JoAnn Quade from Valparaiso won first place in the appetizer category for her BBQ Pork Mini Cupcakes featuring a cornbread muffin shell filled with sweet shredded pork and topped with a tangy cream cheese savory frosting. Chef Leland Andersen, of Michigan City, won first place in the entrée category for his Firecracker Shrimp, consisting of chili-rubbed Gulf shrimp over a white corn polenta cake and garnished with microgreens and a blueberry vinaigrette drizzle.
While at recent judging events in May and June, readers have asked me about my dad Chester's "new" strawberry patch at our family farm.
It was last June when I wrote a column about it and ran photos.
We've enjoyed plenty of red, ripe and ready berries from this patch for mom to make her strawberry-rhubarb pies and also plenty of crushed berries to serve over shortcake and ice cream. (I've included a photo from last month of some of my dad's fresh-picked strawberries).
Last October, I helped Prompt Ambulance Service and Elder Communities along with a hosting group of other local businesses who sponsored Lake County Taste of Care 2013.
This week, I'm back again to help with the Porter County version of this great way to give back to important causes. I've been asked once again to judge local chefs competing in a culinary competition that will allow guests to also taste the wonderful results and vote for a "People's Choice Award."
Best of all, this wonderful charity event is a fundraiser for Honor Flight Chicago, that terrific organization dedicated to flying our World War II Veterans to Washington D.C. for a day of honors to visit the memorials that stand in their honor. It also benefits Porter County Triad, a senior citizen advocacy group working in conjunction with the Porter County Sheriff's Department.
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