School memories and lessons learned in the classroom long outlast the walls of any school structure.
We had our small town's annual school alumni banquet dinner on Saturday honoring the students from a school that had been demolished.
We paid tribute to the graduates who attended from the classes of 1939, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003 and of course, our new graduates of 2013, who now attend neighboring North Judson-San Pierre High School. Since I graduated from the class of 1988, this year marks 25 years since my high school days.
The "table talk" is always my favorite part of each year's dinner. It ranges from chatting about the weather to swapping recipes and sharing stories from the school hallways of long ago.
My parents, who were seated just down the table from me across from our neighboring farm friends the Scamerhorns, chatted about a pesky raccoon who has been causing mayhem in the chicken coop at our farm. But it's not chickens or eggs he's after. This masked intruder likes the pan of dry cat food left out for the barn cats. My dad can always tell it is the raccoon at work, since he leaves the watering dishes filled with floating cat food. (Raccoons like to wash their meals before enjoying a menu.)
But as dad was telling our farm friends, this raccoon also upset trays of young tomato plants my dad has been carefully tending to on the bright, sunny window ledges of the connecting feed room of our chicken coop. My dad has been working especially hard to grow special seeds given to us by the Daly Sisters, Peggy and Mary, two devoted retired teachers who we see at church each week.
These "special" tomato seeds promise to grow heart-shaped tomatoes, that is, as long as we can keep the nosy raccoon at bay long enough to get them planted.
Our school's alumni dinner on Saturday also included a reunion of the Hine Family brothers, with Bill and wife Ganna Hine traveling from Lowell to attend, his brother Larry Hine and wife Pat coming from Crown Point, and their other brother Ray Hine and wife Linda of Franklin, Ind. also there, with their sister Jeanette Wobith, who is the glue that keeps this event going year after year.
Ganna Hine shared a wonderful recipe and sample for a delicious cranberry-nut bread, which I enjoyed with my parents served with Sunday morning coffee and spread out newspapers. And today, it's shared here for Times readers to also enjoy.
Also, one last reminder about Friday's free From the Farm Spring Cooking Show at 2 p.m. at St. James Manor, 1251 E. Richton Road, in Crete that I'm hosting with my parents. Since the event filled up so quickly with seating for 100, an additional 30 chairs have been added. In addition to recipes, cooking tips and prizes, complimentary spring themed refreshments will be served. But you must call to RSVP at (708) 672-6700 by noon on Thursday for your seat. See you there!
Mrs. Ganna Hine's Cranberry Nut Bread
3 cups fresh cranberries (from produce section)
1 cup chopped walnuts
4 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups orange juice
4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
DIRECTIONS: Coat 3, 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Set aside. Chop three cups of fresh cranberries and add to 1 cup of chopped walnuts and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine the beaten eggs with orange juice, oil, orange peel and slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing to combine to make a batter. Fold in the prepared berries and nuts and pour into the prepared loaf pans. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour and test with a toothpick to make sure loaves have baked evenly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes and remove from pans. Allow to completely cool for 1 to 2 hours and wrap in wax paper and then foil. Loaves freeze nicely. Makes 3 loaves.