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Blueberry Cream Pie

Summer is a time for blueberries. Just like last summer, when I went on a berry-buying binge when each little container was selling for only 99¢, I made sure to stock up on blueberries this year, leading to the need to use some that I hadn’t used from the year before to make room in my freezer.

This blueberry cream pie recipe from www.LittleIndiana.com was exactly what I was looking for.

Of course, I only planned to make one of these, but thanks to some sleep deprivation the day before and a complete lack of attention to what I was doing, I ended up with two.

The recipe didn’t specify the size of the pie crust, so because I was planning to double the recipe in one pie crust, I bought a package of two deep-dish pie crusts instead of the regular size. However, when I dropped the three cups of blueberries required in the recipe into the crust, I saw there wasn’t enough room to put six cups of blueberries and the necessary cream and was very glad I had purchased deep-dish crusts.

“I don’t need to double the recipe, then,” I told myself and then proceeded to absentmindedly double the cream portion. I realized my mistake too late and pulled the other pie crust from the freezer and added three more cups of well-drained frozen blueberries to that, pouring half of the cream mixture over the berries in each pan. It would seem like I’d be bringing treats to work the next day.

I took the first pie to a church function and, to my dismay, the pie did not have enough time to set and oozed when it was cut into. The one that sat in the refrigerator overnight set beautifully and made it much easier to serve.

The recipe called for baking this pie for between 35 and 42 minutes, but it took much longer than that, something the writer and owner of LittleIndiana.com, Jessica Nunemaker, said would probably happen. It was easily an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half before the top was golden brown and it didn’t jiggle too much. It will still …   More

NASCAR is unpredictable

Sports are such a fickle thing. If you are a Hamilton you love football. But you also follow NASCAR and when it’s basketball season, you follow the Kentucky Wildcats. This is just the way it is.

To add more zest to the existing exhilaration of the game or race, Bailey, Duane and I have entered our share of contests. This family competition makes the NASCAR season more interesting and the NCAA Final Four is an all out free for all.

Usually bragging rights are all that are on the line but sometimes a dollar or two might be involved. Prior to this year’s NASCAR season, the three of us entered a contest that has a little more than bragging rights on the line.

At this point in the season, let’s just say that we are fighting for bragging rights only. The only chance we have of winning any money is if one of us finishes last and we get our entry fee back.

Bailey is probably the most competitive as he knows each week who our drivers are and when they get into trouble he is elated and he lets us know it. The only exception is when Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is his favorite driver, doesn’t live up to expectations and if he has the same driver as Duane or me.

I also play along with the Morgan’s Market Leader Publishing Company Chase for the Championship contest. Working at the paper, I obviously can’t win but some of my co-workers also play along so we have a “friendly” competition. This little side contest is public knowledge since I write the weekly column that follows the contest.

I was feeling pretty good about myself because I had picked two winners in a row, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick then the bottom fell out when my favorite driver, Earnhardt, let me down. I’m still ahead of my competition, Rhonda and Josh, but with Rhonda, who is the NASCAR aficionado I need to stay way ahead if I plan on beating her.

I can’t count Josh out either. Racing is not his sport of choice but he has a favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, and with his …   More

Easy turkey burgers

I’ve said this before, but I grew up in a house with a chef who leaned toward the carnivorous side. My father can make a prime rib that will melt in your mouth — I never knew what that phrase really meant until I had his prime rib — burgers that wouldn’t go dry if you tried, pork tenderloin that will remain one of my favorites until the day I die, tender lamb chops and don’t get me started on his grilled herb chicken.

One thing we never did much of was turkey. When I was in college, interning at The Muncie Star Press, I was on the paper’s Relay For Life team. We had several internal fundraisers, including a cook-off with each of us picking a healthy ingredient from a list the lifestyle writer had found and making something with that ingredient. I chose ground turkey because, hey, it can’t be much different from ground beef, right? Turkey meatballs sounded easy enough.

Turns out, the texture of the raw turkey was all different and, having never worked with it before, the meatballs ended up very dense and dry and, as per the typical course with turkey, lacking flavor. There were a lot of breadcrumbs involved and needless to say, the winner was someone else.

Since then, unless using it as just ground turkey, like for chili or things like that, I’ve shied away from using turkey as a beef replacement, especially when I’m able to take home several pounds of ground beef purchased from a local farmer every time I go up to my parents’ house.

After seeing some ground turkey on manager’s special at JayC, I figured I’d give it a second chance and I’m glad I did.

With regular beef burgers, you can add some seasonings and just form them into patties and throw them on a skillet or grill. With turkey, you’ll need some more reenforcements to keep your patties from going to hell in a handbasket.

These turkey burgers from Never Enough Thyme calls for grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute Swiss if you balk at the cost of Gruyere or …   More

Nomination for Presidency

To address one of the many senior year cliches, and confirming it, I want to be nominated for everything. Minimum is nomination and if I were to earn the title, I would be elated. However, because I have two jobs, I have a hard time making room for clubs to be nominated head of. So, the clubs that I am a part of are O. W. L. and DND with Mr. Carter. That being said, I’m only active in O. W. L. at the moment.

A brief description of O. W. L., includes the name “Harry Potter.” O. W. L. stands for Organization of Wizarding Leisure and is Salem High School’s very own Harry Potter fan club. We do the whole works from talking about the series to watching the movies, from making butter beer(a cream soda) to playing quidditch. If it was mentioned in the books, or movies, we do it.

DISCLAIMER: We’re not affiliated with witchcraft. I promise. We’ve had plenty of parents and students think we either a. bird watch or b. practice witchcraft. We, as a club, do neither of those things.

Back to my main topic, this is the only club that I participate in whole heartedly. Having been in O. W. L. since my freshman year, I had gained title of prefect (4 vice presidents), and this year strived to earn the title of Head Girl (2 co-presidents, one male and one female, titled “Head Boy” and “Head Girl”).

After a struggle to earn the title of prefect last year, I would do anything to avoid another conflict. Last year, I had lost a friend over a title that I would’ve much rather have given to them, and the controversy was overbearing, so this year, I was prepared to give the title up.

Thankfully, I was elected Head Girl without a problem and have been enjoying the club since. As a powerhungry senior, I can cross that off my list.

However, if there are any classmates reading this, I wouldn’t mind being nominated for Prom Queen...   More

Greek Chicken Skewers

Summer may be over outside, but that doesn’t mean it has to end in the kitchen.

Greek seasonings, and indeed the whole Mediterranean diet, has been regarded as one of the better regional diets for years.

These simple Marinated Greek Chicken Skewers from A Hint of Honey are just one example of the flavors from that region. Along with being tasty, this recipe is pretty versatile — once they’re done, they can be eaten like kabobs, served on salad or in pita as a sandwich.

Start by making your marinade — mixing olive oil, minced garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper and coating your chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces, for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. In another bowl, stir more olive oil and lemon juice, which you will use to baste the chicken while it cooks.

If you have a grill, heat it to medium, or you can use a baking sheet in a 300ºF oven, which is what I did. One day, I will have a grill but until that day comes, my oven will have to suffice.

Once the chicken is done marinating, line them up on the skewers (remember to soak wooden ones in water for 20 minutes so they don’t burn), alternating between the chicken, onion and bell peppers. Turn and baste with the lemon-oil mixture as the chicken just cooks through.

I served this with a Greek green bean salad and wild rice, but this could just as easily be served up with some tzatziki sauce or hummus and call it a day.

I can tell you this recipe actually works well as leftovers. I used the chicken (not the peppers because they don’t reheat very well) over salad the next day.   More

You won’t miss the gluten in these brownies

In general, people have a fondness for categorization. There’s the people who roll the toilet paper under and those who want it over. There’s people who pull strips from the string cheese and those who just take bites (these people are wrong). There’s those who organize their computer desktops and email inboxes and those who thrive on chaos. People who read hardcopy books and those who prefer e-readers. People who put ketchup all over their fries and those who put it in a little puddle on the side for dipping. Fork people and chopsticks people. Cakey brownies and fudgey brownies.

Good news for you people out there who fall into that last category because if these brownies were any fudgier, they would actually be, well, fudge. This is also good news to those of you who have had to kick gluten to the curb. There isn’t a dash of flour, of any kind, in these babies.

These Flourless Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies from Creme de la Crumb are surprisingly easy to throw together. Simply melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and regular butter together until melted and smooth and combine with eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and bake.

You can choose to do the drizzle thing if you want, by mixing chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter, but believe me these are plenty rich.

To make them a little less so, leave the cocoa powder out (or the chocolate chips, I suppose, but I haven’t tried that). While making these for a second time (I forgot to take a picture of the first batch before bringing them to my church’s VBS this summer), I left out the cocoa powder and these turned out well even without it. Somewhat less chocolatey and a little lighter in color, but the taste wasn’t affected much.

All in all, I’ve replaced my go-to recipe for brownies and very well may never buy boxed mix again. I’m in chocolate love.   More

And now, for something completely different …

There are lots of things I want to see and experience in my life. I don’t maintain a written bucket list as some people do, but I have a loose list in my head. Learning Tae Kwon Do was not on that list. Nope. Not even at the bottom.

Yet, in mid-February I found myself standing in the back row to the far left (the least experienced class member’s spot) wondering just what I’d gotten myself into as I listened to Chief Master Tom Crecelius bark out orders in Korean. I watched the black belts in the front row smoothly perform intricate movements and frantically tried to follow along, without much success.

Late last year, Hays decided he wanted to learn Tae Kwon Do. From a friend we’ve made at the Crawford County Public Library, we learned of the Ohio Valley Tae Kwon Do School. It came highly recommended, although I had no basis for judging a good school from a poor one. The main selling point for me was that it’s just two miles from our home.

It was all my driving that drove me to commit to learning this martial art along with Hays. As I observed Hays’ first couple classes, I noticed the adults were breathing heavily and sweating after completing a series of movements. My commute has put an end to my previous exercise routine and my body is showing the effects. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “I might as well get out there and exercise instead of sitting on my behind.”

And so I did. Or, I do.

Master Crecelius talks a lot about how there is no pressure to advance, one can go as far as he or she wishes and is willing to work for. Quite frankly, when I joined I could’ve cared less about what color belt I wore around my waist. I wasn’t in this to become a first degree black belt, much less a ninth (the highest) degree.

The problem is, I’ve always been a highly competitive sort. I want to win. I want to be the best. Learning to compete against myself instead of anyone (everyone?) else will probably be a lifelong process for me. I …   More

Celebrate Elvis

I’m a little too young (I like saying that) to remember the Elvis craze. He died in 1977 when I was only eleven. But it would be impossible to grow up without knowing someone who loved the man and the legend.

For me that person would be my Aunt Carolyn. It was from her that I learned about his movie career because on his birthday or anniversary of his death or maybe both she could be found in front of the television watching an Elvis movie marathon.

I consider his movies cheesy but you have to look at the times…also at the movie theatre was Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon movies, oftentimes being box-office smashes. Both genres featured good times and lots of singing. I have to admit that even though I don’t consider the Elvis movies cinema masterpieces, I enjoy watching them.

Many people remember the day Elvis died and how it affected them and their loved ones. Lots of tears were shed at his passing, which is kind of ironic since a lot of tears were shed also in his early years as girls fell in love with him.

Whereas the Beatles represented a wholesomeness, Elvis brought with him a little taste of bad boy with his flailing and gyrating. His elaborate lifestyle also gained him attention and that can be witnessed to this day by simply visiting Graceland. His appeal is one that spans the generations and shows no signs of waning.

This year, August 16, marks the 40th anniversary of his death and Leader Publishing Company has decided to commemorate this event with a special keepsake booklet. It features stories about Graceland and introduces the new guesthouse that you can stay in at Graceland; stories about his Army days; lavish wardrobe and family life. Photos of Elvis including family photos are also included.

The books will be on sale in our office for $5. There will be a limited supply so if you are an Elvis fan, better get your copy today.

If you have memories of Elvis, please feel free to share them on our Facebook page, …   More

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

You know, I never thought I’d like sun-dried tomatoes. I mean, I like the flavored Wheat Thins or Triscuits when I bought them, but the thought of what amounts to dried tomatoes with the texture of a fruit snack didn’t appeal.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to tomatoes everywhere. You are delicious dried and seasoned and stored in oil.

This Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Julia's Album is a meal that looks more complicated than it really is.

Start off sautéing your sun-dried tomatoes in some of the oil they come in (you can, I suppose, rehydrate the ones that come dry a little and sauteé in regular olive oil with some basil) until they’re nicely charred. Remove the tomatoes and add your chicken, which has been lightly seasoned with paprika, primarily for color, so if you don’t like the taste of paprika, go ahead and leave it out.

After cutting the tomatoes into smaller pieces, throw them back in and add half and half and mozzarella cheese and bring this to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir the mixture into a creamy sauce.

While all this is happening, cook the pasta, reserving some of the water to thin out the sauce if you need to. Add the pasta to the sauce and throw in the seasonings — basil, crushed red pepper flakes and, if you so choose, salt. Let this simmer for a few minutes to let the seasoning seep into the dish and serve immediately.   More

It's here

So it’s here…the day I turn 50. I’m not sure how it happened and I’m not sure I like it but I can do the math and it is true the big 5-0 is here. Other milestone birthdays have not bothered me but 50 really has me thinking (and feeling the aches and pains).

My childhood was great even though I had to use my imagination to combat boredom and the television had three local channels. With the bonus channels of 15 and 41 coming in most days, TV watching was limited but I always found something to watch.

My early days were spent watching Sesame Street, Zoom and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I knew Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans. And if I wanted to watch cartoons, I had to get up early on Saturday morning because at noon wrestling came on for the more “adult” viewers. I mean who of my generation doesn’t remember Bill Dundee and seeing masked wrestlers being hit with a folded chair or thrown out of the ring onto a table or the floor.

Anyway, I digress. I also grew up in the era of the variety shows, hosted by any number of celebrities from Dean Martin, Flip Wilson, Sony and Cher, to the classic Carol Burnett, who signed off weekly with the tune of “I’m so glad we had this time together.” There was singing, comedy skits and a lot of celebrity guest appearances.

I usually enjoyed these shows with my Mom and Dad. Although after watching Dean Martin as an adult I question my parents’ sensibility. Afterall, he did the entire show with a cigarette in his hand and a drink readily available. And his humor, well, it was mostly geared toward adults but I was too young to “get it.”

If you watched a TV series there was no Netflix or computer to turn to if you missed an episode. You set your alarm so you didn’t miss season finales because you might miss the summer rerun. And we had to sit through the commercials, no fast-forwarding through them on a DVD or DVR.

When I was a teenager, my friends who lived in town were lucky because they …   More

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