Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Apple Cake Recipe

Many of you will remember that delish apple cake that Sandy made us last meeting.  Here is the recipe for all.

Apple Cake

2 eggs

2 c sugar

½ c veg oil

1 tsp vanilla

2 c flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp soda

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

4 c diced apples

1 c walnuts

Beat egg well, add sugar, oil, vanilla and salt. Add dry ingredients. Add apples and nuts. (Mixture gets softer after apple addition)

Bake at 350° in greased pan.

9×13 pan for 45 min.

Bundt cake pan for 45 min.

2        bread pans for 40 min.


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Where has the year gone?  In less than  a week we will be having our annual recognition banquet, which unfortunately I am unable to attend.  Therefore, I would like to make a few recognitions  of my own, based on what I have observed this year.  Lot of people have worked hard, and these are my personal picks.  I hope I am not embarrassing  or offending anyone – but the following members I am sure you will agree are particularly deserving of our recognition and thanks for their efforts and valuable contribution to the club.

  1. Naida Albin – The Work & Learn Crew:   Her tireless efforts along with my regulars, the Milan gang and Mark Havekost, are the reason we were able to restore the gardens to what they should be.  A consumate gardener and workaholic, she tends at least three other local gardens that I know of in addition to her own, and is very supportive of any MG activity.   A very modest person, I do not want to embarrass her further by listing her numerous other achievements.
  2. Sue Ryan – Blogmeister:   The reason that you are able to read this – is because of the efforts of this one person in setting up and maintaining our blog, from conception to where it is now! Sue’s talents as a photographer and an uplifting script writer have given our fledgling venture a polished, professional look – and a much needed voice for the association.  Did I mention this is all done after 10 hour work shifts and numerous stints weeding the office  garden?  She has put in hundreds of hours into making this happen because she is totally committed to making this blog a success, and something we can all be proud of.
  3. Linda Welch – Most Involved MG:  It is no exaggeration to say Linda is everywhere there is activity in the club.  From single-handedly renovating our previous projects in the Veterans Park, planting the new sundial beds, weeding the office garden and being a cheerful booster for the club.  Most of you know her from her garden design presentations and numerous photographs of her lovely garden and plant choices in the blog –  where she is a founding editor and frequent contributor.
  4. Sharon Diefenthaler – Best Community Outreach:   Being a MG is all about community outreach.  Sharon is fortunate in that she has been able to incorporate this mission statement into her ISD program at Matthes’ greenhouse.  All of her students graduate as Junior MGs and the work ethic and skills they learn as being part of her program, will prepare them for being productive citizens.  She is an active participant in the IHM community gardens,  Bedford Library gardens and with her students, in Mercy Memorial greenhouse and gardens.
  5. Carol Koesel – Best Project:   Thanks to Carol, we finally were able to have a raised bed veggie garden as a teaching tool in our demo garden.  This feature was long overdue!  Skillfully using a 3 x 4 seed bag,  Carol planted a mini- garden that yielded a surprising array and quantity of vegetables, all of which were grown in our own compost…Mel Bartholomew would definitely approve!  I certainly appreciate her garden knowledge and deft touch in maintaining the Memorial Garden, which she helped design and install.
  6. Lenore Wood – Most Under-appreciated Worker:   Lenore is the Rodney Dangerfield of the association.  She is the one who toils away maintaining the beds at Fairview Hospital, her church and when time permits, she comes and weeds our garden. Lenore works alone and is publicity shy, so many of you have little idea what this woman accomplishes.  Her dedication to community outreach is something the association should acknowledge and embrace.
  7. Karen Hehl – Best Photography Submission:  A lot of you know Karen’s handiwork from past garden tours.  Come fall, she is a regular feature around the office garden weeding and clipping. What I didn’t realize was just how accomplished a photographer she really is.  Her photos of the pepper arrangement are of professional quality and would not be out of place in the pages of Gourmet magazine.  Both Sue and I are unanimous in this choice of her outstanding FotoFriday submission.
  8. Sandy O’Connell – Most  Informative Newsletter Article:   Most of you know this garrulous upstate New Yorker as a hardworking, weed-pulling terror with her designer weeding hoe.  But she is also an accomplished writer as is shown in her past newsletter article on her visit to the home of pioneering naturalist, Gene Stratton-Porter.  Truly an  outstanding article with superb photographs that help make our newsletter one of the best in the region.
  9. Georgeann Brown – Best Food Presenter:   This is just another facet of the multi-talented persona of our longest serving MG.  In addition to being Jennie’s first graduate, GB has brought a wealth of experience and gardening knowledge to this club over the years, as well as holding every office and one of the originators of the W & L program!  Her interest in herbs was recently coupled with her passion for food in a most interesting and lively presentation on Sweet and Savory Herb cooking, that was extremely well received.
  10. Mary Ellen and Stella – Children’s Garden:   One of the true little gems in our exhibition garden, this area is lovingly planted and nurtured each year by Mary Ellen and Stella.  I just love the Japanese theme and the choice of plantings that always seem to be doing something different throughout the year.  I was lucky enough to snap a few photos of some children enjoying the gardens…which says it all!
  11. Sharon, Winnie & Karen – Best Team Presentation:    The award for the best tag-team presentation has to go to this trio! In spite of an advertising snafu, they managed to draw in 10 members of the public in addition to a full house of MGs for a lively and interesting Herbs, Senses class.  The room smelled terrific with all the herbs and freshly baked bread and they managed to compliment each other very well in getting their message out…by working as a team…a novel idea!
  12. Chris Edolls – Most Informative Presentation:   In addition to being our treasurer, Chris is an accomplished apiarist.  Anyone who comes to give a class in a white jump suit and bee-keeper’s garb…automatically gets my attention and respect!.  Her presentation on bee-keeping was extremely well done and very informative.  I think we all went away with a new appreciation of what these interesting little pollinators do in our gardens. Chris is also a regular presenter on garden topics at the Ida Public Library.
  13. Jeff Nicita – Best Garden Tour:   A most accomplished gardener, Jeff was kind enough to offer his gardens this summer for a private tour.  Jeff has an eye for garden layout as well as a large repository of plant knowledge. Linda did an excellent article on the tour, and her photos say it all about his talent’s as a landscaper.  We are lucky to have Jeff as a member even though he lives in Wayne County and could just as easily belong to their association.
      A special recognition should go to Pete Wallace, another out of the area MG who was in my class of 2009…for his hard work and financial contributions to make our latest public project a reality.  Next spring,  the sundial will be unveiled in the Veterans Park for all to see and enjoy.  Jennie Stanger also was a major contributor as well as coordinator for this project, and deserves our thanks.
     There are I am sure others I have omitted, but also deserving of your recognition…Gail Keane with her labors at the Conservation District plant sale; Chris Kosal with her involvement at the YMCA,  Dorsch Library gardens and website committee; Jessie Green and Debi Beier for their preparing plant labels for the gardens and activities in the Bedford garden tours, and the committee members who produce the newsletter and handle everything from promotions to booking speakers.
      Kudos also to Paul for maintaining the association on an even keel during these troublesome times with MSUE.  Keeping a MG association  going requires commitment from all – not just a few.  Everyone has to reach inside themselves and see how they can contribute more to support the obligation this entails.  To do otherwise may well jeopardise the survival of the club as a MG association.
      Let’s plan on making next year an even more productive one as we face the challenges of the extension office closing.

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As a grand finale to our association meeting October 15th, fellow member Georgeann Brown (MG class of 1992) educated, entertained, and fed us during her excellent food demonstration, “Savory and Sweet Herbal Cooking.” Assisted by her sous chef, Frank Deutsch (MG class of 2009), Georgeann prepared three dishes prepared with herbs easily grown in any SE Michigan herb garden, Sundried Tomato Tapenade; Polenta Rounds with Pesto, and Sundried Tomatoes and Parmesan (she substituted kalamata olives for the tomatoes for variety), and Lavender Infused Mascarpone in Chocolate Cups.

Georgeann has been an active member of Maumee Valley Herb Society for over 15 years and works in the herb garden at Toledo Botanical Gardens. She maintains an extensive culinary herb garden of her own, which is an essential part of her company, un coup de main. Georgeann teaches the art of cooking in small classes in her home, where students learn how to choose and use the freshest seasonal ingredients. She obviously is an expert in the culinary arts – the recipes she prepared were outstanding!

Georgeann was as entertaining as she was informative, with frequent bursts of laughter from the audience punctuating her demonstration. The demonstration was fast paced – Frank was quick on his toes to make sure everything went in and out of the oven and was beautifully presented in quick succession. The results were absolutely delectable!

I tried to take notes, but by the end of the session I came away with a few “words to live by” rather than a bunch of isolated rules and instructions.

1.  Use what’s fresh, locally-grown and in season whenever possible.

2.  Don’t fret when you need to use prepared food items or substitute another ingredient when no fresh, in season ingredient is available. (example – store-bought pesto when your basil is finished for the year).

3.  The answer to the question, “Can I substitute Kraft cream cheese for Mascarpone?”  is an emphatic, “NO!”.

Georgeann, and her company un coup de main, teaches classes and has a hugely successful catering business in influential homes because of her innovative food and stunning presentations. Look for her at www.georgeannbrown.com .

Here are the recipes Georgeann made and was gracious to give us –

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It was my turn to bring refreshments for today’s meeting.  Since Georgeann was doing a presentation on herbs,

I thought I’d include my favorite:  Cilantro

This also is an incentive to use our website’s Blog to get the recipe.

It’s easy and refreshing.

Chop 6 Roma tomatoes, 1 medium red onion, 2 avocadoes and cilantro into a bowl.

Squeeze the juice of two limes over the mixture, add salt to taste.  Mix it up and serve

with Scoops, over chicken or as a salsa for a great Mexican dish.  Enjoy.

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If you need another reason to attend this Saturday’s general meeting, it’s Georgeann’s taste tempting class on Savory & Sweet Herbal Cooking.  Learn quick and simple ways to incorporate the herbs from your garden into elegant, but easy to prepare dishes that are guaranteed to please.


Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade with Crostini

Polenta rounds with Pesto, Kalmata olives and Parmesan

Lavender infused Mascarpone in Dessert cups


Long time Master Gardener Georgeann Brown is the owner of  un coup de main Cooking School in Dundee and past president of the Maumee Valley Herbal Society.

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I knew something was up as soon as I turned into the parking lot last Monday night.  The air was filled with the aromas of freshly baked herbal bread right out of the oven.  The closer I got to the front door, the stronger the aromas of drying lavender, thyme, bergamot, mint and rosemary were competing with one another to draw me in.  I stopped and noticed something was odd about the potted bayleaf…somebody had given it a rather severe haircut and about one quarter of its leaves had been harvested to serve a higher purpose.

Sharon and Winnie with their herb garden

What I am talking about is the Herbs, Senses workshop Winnie Webb, Sharon Diefenthaler and Karen Morris were hosting in the conference room.  With myself on the door, this session drew 24 people which is a very impressive turnout when you consider the original MEN advertisement listed a local pizza parlor as the reservations phone number!

Aroma therapy 101

These ladies really outdid themselves with the vast array of plants and props they set up to transform our rather bland conference room into a haven of tranquility and some of the most deliciously soothing aromas I have ever experienced.  Each table had a fragrant herbal arrangement, the front presenters tables were groaning under pots of freshly dug rosemary, lavender, geraniums,  mints, oreganos, chives, parsley and cilantro.  The side tables were strewn with sachets, soaps, candles and an entire section from Franks arts and crafts.  The show stopper was one of Linda Welch’s vertical garden pieces planted with herbs…what a novel, space saving idea!

Vertical herb garden

Herb drying rack

The kitchen counter displayed the herbal breads, gooey lavender brownies, herbed hot buttered popcorn and a rather interesting Vernors punch with bergamot, honey, bruised mint and wafer thin dried lemon slices.

Assorted herb breads

Sharon and Winnie shared with everyone their experiences with herbs and how pleasantly mood altering and uplifting the aromas can be to our weary psyches. Karen was spritzing the arms of the unsuspecting with a lavender oil based concoction that smelled terrific, while Sharon was showing how the woody stems of rosemary could be used for kebabs and Winnie demonstrated some basic herb drying methods with a homemade wooden rack.  Karen and Sharon explained how to make spice bags, bouquet garnis and a tasty herb mix called “herbes de Provence”

Herbes de Provence

Rolling basil for freezer storage

Frozen herbsicles

Sharon told the group of her experiences visiting a special greenhouse that grows herbs and flowers organically as part of a patient rehabilitation program. I am also reminded of her own program with the ISD at Matthis’ greenhouse and how the kids all “fight” to work in the herb house when we are taking cuttings and transplanting.  This is positive effect of aroma therapy!!

The herbal products and ideas table

The presentation ended with Sharon and Winnie talking about how easy and inexpensive it is to incorporate herbs and their aromas into just about any household use.  As a guy, even I found that part interesting!

Good work ladies…your efforts were much appreciated. Everyone left full of herb bread and with an assortment of dried herbs, bags of bayleaves and sachets…and a greater appreciation of the benefits  herbs can have on our senses.

This workshop is actually an excellent lead in to Georgann’s upcoming Culinary Herbs presentation  on October 15,  after the general meeting.  Be sure to read the blog for details and some of the recipes that were covered in the workshop.

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Tomato Time

Since tomato canning time is upon us, (well, getting late now) I wanted to share a story about canning tomato catsup (not ketchup! For some reason this is important to the story!) Over 40 years ago my former mother-in-law toured a Heinz factory with her Farm Bureau group, where they were shown the process for making catsup. There, a Heinz employee gave her a recipe for making catsup at home. Doris was never sure if the recipe was just one the woman knew, a “contraband” recipe she shouldn’t have given out, or a recipe Heinz gave to staff. At any rate, it was never a “public” recipe. She was very proud of that recipe, but I would never taste it because it “didn’t look right” to me. In other words, if it wasn’t the homogenous, syrupy stuff I grew up with, I didn’t want any part of it. After several years, I finally gave it a try. OH MY GOODNESS! It was fantastic!

After I grew older and began understanding the value in learning about cooking traditions, I yearned to try that recipe. I was worried – my former mother-in-law has dementia and I was afraid I’d lost the opportunity to get the recipe, if for nothing else but to pass on to my daughters. After searching awhile, my girls’ dad found the recipe. Doris was able to give me detailed instructions – and this year for the first time I made home-made catsup! I got my tomatoes from Charter Farm Produce on Ida Center Road. Here’s the recipe in Doris Ryan’s own words:

Doris Ryan’s Ketchup Recipe
Makes 5 quarts:

Day 1:

Cook .5 “heaped over” bushel of PEELED very ripe tomatoes (Doris advises no Roma tomatoes), 4 large sweet onions (Doris uses Spanish sweet or Vidalia), 4 large green bell peppers, and 6-8 banana peppers, until soft. You will know veggies are soft enough when the tomato “rinds” start coming out. Cook so as to have a nice steady boil.

Once soft, run mixture through a food mill for juice. Doris advises that your arm will get VERY tired but “you can’t hurry”. Let stand overnight.

Day 2:

Overnight the water and pulp will separate – take time to ladle out all the water you can get from the top. The more water you get out the better and easier it will be. Then, put juice and pulp in a large kettle and cook down to consistency you want. Doris advises 4-ish hours. Keep stirring often “because it will scorch or run over”. While it’s cooking add:

4 cups white sugar
1 quart apple vinegar
6 Tablespoons Barrel salt  – * NOT Iodized

While waiting for the juice to reach consistency, put the following in a cheese cloth sack:

2 Tablespoons black pepper
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
2/3 teaspoons cloves (ground or whole)
2/3 teaspoons allspice

After about 4 hours or whenever the consistency is right, add the sack of ingredients to the juice in the kettle. Cook down until juice thickens, stirring often (Doris says at least 4 hours more). Stir the sack around often. Doris says you know its time to take the sack out “when it’s thick and it tastes good”.

Ladle into quart jars and can by cold pack method for 20 minutes.

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Photo credit Sean McClellan The Independent Newspaper (734) 529-2688

Photo Credit Sean McClellan The Independent Newspaper (734) 529-2688

Deb (fellow MG) and Mark Chapman of Chapman Sheep Farm, along with Georgeann Brown (MG class ’92) grilled lamb kebabs/kabobs for all to sample at the Dundee Farmers’ Market on 8/27. Many were surprised by the delicious flavor of the marinated lean boneless leg of lamb chunks. A few market samplers were hesitant because of their remembrances of mutton (yikes!) but young American lamb is a tasty alternative to beef. The Chapman’s sell all cuts of lamb (frozen) at numerous farmers’ markets in our area. Their kebabs are already cut into cubes. If you need something special, call Chapman Sheep Farm, Deb’s e-mail address is in our membership list.

A quick marinade for kebabs (great for chops as well)

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

4 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of cayenne

¼ t freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¾ teaspoon orange zest

Olive oil for the grill

    1. ½ pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1½ -2 inch cubes

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic. Whisk in the spices, lemon juice and orange zest.

Toss the lamb cubes in the bowl with the marinade and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. Turn the meat several hours.

Heat the gas grill to medium-high. Lightly oil grill.

Skewer the lamb cubes, leaving about half-inch of space between each cube so they’ll cook all around. Grill turning the skewers to brown on all sides for a slight charring, until medium-rare, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the grill, let rest for a few minutes and serve.

Serves 4

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