Friday, June 17, 2011

Preston County Farm Finds New Uses for Family Land

I wrote this story in the fall of 2010, but I want to save it here.

The Davis Brothers farm has morphed from being a dairy operation to agritourism in three generations.

For The State Journal

MASONTOWN — Someday the Davis sisters will be running Davis Brothers Farm.

The Davis sisters — Julie Davis Mallow and Debbie Davis — are the daughters of Jim Davis, who still works the farm with his brother, Bill. Julie’s husband Jay Mallow and Debbie’s fiancĂ© Rob Crawford help, as do workers Robert Gamble and Mark Smith.

The Davis sisters are the third generation to work their family’s land in Preston County. While they are tied to the land, they are not set in their ways. They have had to adapt and innovate to keep the farm operating.

Their latest venture is into agritourism.

Read more ...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ramping Up: G-N Ramp Farm Is the Only One of Its Kind in U.S.

I have written about this dear and enterprising man before. Here's the latest version.

For The State Journal

Glen Facemire Jr. is a ramp man like his dad.

The elder Facemire dug the ramps that supplied the annual ramp feed in Richwood. That was many years ago when the event attracted far fewer than the 1,000-plus attendees it draws now. It requires about a ton of ramps — Allium Tricoccum, a member of the onion and garlic family — more than just one person could dig.

He raised his children on ramps.

“We would go back in the mountains,” Facemire Jr. remembered. “We would fish, and we would dig ramps. We would take a bunch of half-gallon and quart jars and a big tub. We would build a fire, and my mother would sterilize the jars and wilt the ramps. She’d put about a spoonful of salt to a half-gallon jar, and she would lightly tighten the lids and put the jars onto boil for 1 1/2 hours. When they were finished, they were ready to come home and put them in the cellar.”

(He wouldn’t advise home-canning ramps now for fear of botulism.)

“It wasn’t ‘Oh boy! We’ve got a delicacy here,’ ” he said. “It was just food, something to eat, one of the first foods to come up in the spring. It was good food and good for you.”

Read more ...

The farm’s website,, sells mature ramps for eating and seed and ramp bulbs for planting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jake Harriman’s Nuru International Seeks to End Extreme Poverty

Not exactly about local food either, but a local man is doing something to feed the world. I had the privilege of writing about him.

For The State Journal

Jake Harriman turned in his sword for a plowshare.

The 36-year-old Preston County native and former Marine saw that he could fight terrorism more effectively if he battled one of its chief causes: Extreme poverty.

While fighting in Iraq, he saw terrorists exploit poor people to do their bidding.

He left the service, where he was a decorated U.S. Marine Corps Recon Platoon Commander in the Iraq War, and enrolled at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2008 with a goal to build an organization that would address terrorism by ending extreme poverty. Armed with an MBA in nonprofit management and backed by classmates, professors and Silicon Valley investors, he co-founded the nonprofit Nuru International. He serves as its CEO, spending much of his time working the program in Kenya.

Read more ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Interest in Digging Ginsing Changes With Economy

No you can't eat it but it is a part of our Appalachian culture, and you can buy the juice from its berries.

Ginseng roots and flowers grow naturally in West Virginia. The number of people who dig wild roots to sell fluctuates based on a number of things — weather, a bad market and high employment.

For The State Journal

When Janet Hodge was a kid she couldn’t wait to get the list of which wild roots dealers were buying and how much they were paying.

Today, although Hodge has taught her children to recognize ginseng, black cohosh, bloodroot, goldenseal and more growing in the woods, they’re not interested in harvesting it — no matter how valuable it is.

“They know they can go out and dig X amount of pounds for X amount of dollars but they don’t want to,” Hodge said. “They know what these things look like. They know how to dig. But they’re not going to do it. There’s a lot of work involved. They’ll mow somebody’s yard before they go dig roots.”

Many of their peers don’t even recognize the perennial natural resources, she said.

“Those of us who dig and use it to supplement our income, we’re kind of like the last of a dying breed,” said Hodge, president of the West Virginia Trappers Association in Glenville, which hosts auctions of roots and furs every January and March.

Read more ...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saving to the Extreme: West Virginians Embrace Couponing

Using coupons is not a new concept, but there are some modern ways to make sure you get the best deals. I'm still learning how to do this.

For The State Journal

MORGANTOWN — Shalane Koon sticks to a $40 a week grocery budget and for six months last year lived off a stockpile of products she bought with coupons.

Stormy Matlick paid $1 for six body washes that will last her husband and son three months.

Koon and Matlick, both of Morgantown, will tell you their money-saving reality differs greatly from what you might see on TLC’s show, “Extreme Couponing.”

The cable program and the rising cost of goods are spurring consumers to use more coupons.

ABC News reported that coupon use has increased 30 percent since 2008, when the country plunged into an economic crisis. In 2010, shoppers saved $3.7 billion using coupons.

“My husband and I DVR ‘Extreme Couponing’ on TLC every week,” Koon said. “I love to see what people get for next to nothing. Pennies on the dollar, really. I can’t imagine purchasing that much at once. If I did, I’d have to donate most of it. I have a small stockpile of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, canned goods, pastas, cereal, shampoo, toothpaste, razors and body wash. Some of the people on that show look like they have a mini mart in their basement. I’m nowhere that extreme, but I do have a stockpile. It has helped us tremendously. We lived off of our stockpile from May 2010 to December 2010. I’m working on building it back up again.”

Read more ...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Product Review: Hershey's Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate

Photo by Cynthia McCloud

The new Hershey's Air Delights aerated milk chocolate bar is honey-combed with thousands of tiny pockets where air bubbles used to be. I can't figure out why they made such a thing. Is it to make you feel like you're eating a full-size chocolate bar but actually consuming less? I don't know. I do know what it's like to eat: It's soft, spongy to the bite. If I bit into it unaware that it's supposed to be like that, I would assume the chocolate had gone bad. It doesn't taste bad. It's just different. I prefer a creamier chocolate on the tongue than this chewy one. There are supposed to be Air Delight Kisses too but I haven't seen those.

Roundtable Meetings Gather Ideas for State Food Charter

Photo by Cynthia McCloud

Bethany Long (left) of Hometown Market in Buckhannon participates in a roundtable discussion on education and the local food system led by Chef Dale Hawkins/

Participants shared ideas about how the local food system should function and how policies and programs should contribute to and support it.

For The State Journal
PHILIPPI — Farmers, consumers, chefs and students brought their concerns for the local food system to the table May 4 at a roundtable meeting on West Virginia farms and food at Philip Barbour High School.

It was the first step to gather ideas that will form a state food charter, a vision for how the local food system should function and how policies and programs should contribute to and support it, said Savanna Lyons, West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition program manager.

“Roundtables are the opportunity to take a snapshot of what our challenges and issues and opportunities are in West Virginia to build a food economy,” Lyons said.

Everyone at the meeting had a chance to say what he or she would like to see improved or created to make the local food system work better.

Bob Jacobus, community development specialist with the Region VII Planning and Development Council, said West Virginia needs a way to store crops and extend its market season. He saw storage systems when he was growing up on a farm in Indiana.

Read more ...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunday dinner

What's for tomorrow's Sunday dinner, everyone?

I will be grilling with some Girl Scouts lakeside.

But usually I like something after church that's light so I can nap. If I'm having friends over after morning worship, I like things that are made ahead and just need assembled or serving so I don't keep hungry guests waiting. Those ideas include oven-barbecued ribs and scalloped potatoes or taco salad. Layered vanilla pudding, Nilla wafers and sliced bananas for dessert.

What are you having for Sunday dinner? Leave me the recipes if you would.

What's for Dinner: Roasted Marinated Vegetables

I have to brag on my child, and maybe myself. It's a good feeling when the almost-8-year-old says, "What's for dinner? Roasted vegetables? Oooh! With hominy?! Yes!" I discovered this recipe when I was pregnant for her in a cookbook titled "Eating For Pregnancy". When she was old enough to eat baby food, I cooked this and pureed it and fed it to her. She has always loved fruits and vegetables, choosing them over other foods sometimes, and I've been grateful we haven't had to struggle to get her to eat them.


from "Eating for Pregnancy: An Essential Guide to Nutrition with Recipes for the Whole Family" by Catherine Jones with Rose Ann Hudson

Note: You can grill these also; I have yet to try it, but when I do I'll use my Pampered Chef Grill Basket!

1 medium red bell pepper, washed, cored, seeded, and quartered
1 medium (about 8 ounces) purple eggplant, washed and cut into 1/2-inch slices (see Cooking Tip below)
2 medium (about 8 ounces) zucchini, washed and cut into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal
8 ounces large button mushrooms or other large mushrooms, such as shiitake or portobello, washed and stems trimmed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, preferably Vidalia, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can hominy, drained (Cynthia's addition)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

If roasting preheat the oven to 475.

Place the bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms in a large roasting pan (or a very large bowl if grilling) Add the oregano, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup olive oil, then gently toss until all the vegetables are well coated. Allow the vegetables to marinate at room temperature for 10-120 minutes.

Roast the vegetables for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring them after 15 minutes of cooking. The vegetables are done when the eggplant and bell peppers are soft.

Alternatively, you can grill the vegetables over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Turn and move the vegetables around to promote even cooking and to avoid scorching.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes, or until light golden. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the canned tomatoes and hominy and cook just until heated; set aside.

Combine the cooked vegetables with the tomato mixture and fresh herbs. The recipe says to dice the cooked vegetables small. I never do. Serve over rice.

Cooking tip for eggplant: Removing the moisture from the eggplant with salt is an optional step that requires 20 minutes to 1 hour. The advantage of this is it should remove any bitterness and not absorb as much oil. Place the sliced eggplant in a colander on a large plate with a rim, sprinkle it with 2 teaspoons salt, and toss gently. Allow the eggplant to stand for at least 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Rinse the eggplant quickly under cold water , then spread it out on a double thickness of paper towels. Cover with more paper towels and press firmly to extract as much water as possible.

C.J. Maggie’s Owners Know Recipe for Success

Photo courtesy of C.J. Maggie's American Grill

I discovered C.J. Maggie's American Grill when I was a freshman at W.Va. Wesleyan College in 1995. I loved the Easy Elmer (a ham sandwich) and the Bagwan's Grilled Vegetables sandwich, things that are no longer on the menu. Still on the menu are the 40 Miles of Bad Road Nachoes that my friends and I would share and still have leftovers.

Here is a story I had the pleasure of writing this spring when The State Journal named C.J. Maggie's one of its 55 Good Things in West Virginia.

CJ Rylands
photo courtesy of the Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival

C.J. and Jeannie Rylands founded the restaurant chain.

By CYNTHIA McCLOUD For The State Journal
BUCKHANNON — Restaurateurs C.J. and Jeannie Rylands have the recipe for downtown revitalization.

The business model they use when scouting locations for new C.J. Maggie’s American Grill franchises has gotten them named one of the 55 Good Things in West Virginia.

“The business plan that works for us is to go to the geographic center of a historic urban commercial district and acquire a distressed property,” C.J. Rylands said. “Through all our own efforts, meaning we do all the work ourselves, we spend a number of years massaging every square inch of the building several times.”

To read the rest of the story, go here.

Have you eaten at C.J. Maggie's? What do you like to order?

For a menu and locations, visit

Friday, June 10, 2011

What's For Dinner: Italian Sweet Chicken Sausage Patties

We like this "burger" recipe from "365: No Repeats" by Rachael Ray. I'm posting for my friend Elisha. I thought I had included this here in the past but I couldn't find it.

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/3 palm full
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tender sun-dried tomatoes
10-12 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, plus some to drizzle
2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 crusty kaiser rolls, split
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 deli-cut slices of Provolone cheese

Mix chicken with half of the garlic, fennel seeds and grill seasoning. Pile the sun-dried tomatoes on top of each other in small stacks, then slice into thin strips. Coarsely chop the thin strips and add to the bowl. Stack the basil leaves together, then roll them up into a log. Shred the basil by thinly slicing the log (this makes a chiffonade.) Add the basil to the bowl. Drizzle EVOO over the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and form 4 patties, 3/4 inch thick. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side in the preheated skillet.

Heat a second skillet over medium-high heat and preheat the broiler, placing the top rack at least 6 inches from the heat.

To the hot skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO (twice around the pan), then the peppers and onions. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, about 6-7 minutes.

Toast the rolls on a broiler pan under the hot broiler. Place the remaining garlic and the butter in a small dish and microwave for 15 seconds on High to melt the butter. Brush the toasted roll tops with garlic butter and reserve. Leave the bun bottoms on the broiler pan.

Place the patties on the bun bottoms, then top with the peppers and onions and sliced Provolone cheese. Place the chicken sandwiches under the broiler again for 30 seconds to 1 minute to melt the cheese. Set the buttered tops in place and serve.

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing ...

Summer makes me think of camp and camp songs and games.

Remember Going on a Picnic? In that memory game, each player had to say "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing ..." and then fill in the name of a food that starts with a letter of the alphabet starting at A and so on. Before giving their answer for the next letter they had to remember all the foods that had already been named.

In my version, I really am going on a picnic! And I want to know what you like to take on a picnic and any tips you have for taking food into the wild. You do not have to begin with the letter A.


Girl Scout Cookie Giveaway

I have some leftover boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Now before you get too excited, I don't have any Samoas or Thin Mints. I DO have Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs and Lemon Chalet Cremes if you prefer that kind.

Now through Monday, June 13, if you follow my blog or make a new comment on a post, I will enter your name in a drawing to win a box of Girl Scout Cookies of your choice. The winner's name will be drawn by our resident Girl Scout.

Please do not offer to buy my cookies -- the organization frowns on Internet selling. These cookies are extras that I purchased and this is for fun and to get more visits to my blog.

Enter more than once as long as you have something worthwhile to say.

There will be plenty of chances to participate, including new posts, throughout the weekend. Good luck!

Here is a link to a Girl Scout Council's site that lists lots of recipes if you'd like to cook with your cookies instead of just eat them: Recipes using Girl Scout Cookies

Marshmallow goodness

When I was a kid marshmallows came in three flavors: plain, toasted coconut and fruity (Kraft calls them FunMallows).

A couple of years ago I found Caramel & Vanilla Swirl and I wrote about it here.

This winter I saw extra-large marshmallows and square flat marshmallows sized to fit perfectly on graham crackers and chocolate bars for s'mores. Kraft calls them StackerMallows.

This spring the flavors of marshmallows have exploded like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man when zapped by The Ghostbusters (now that's telling my age!)

In addition to plain, mixed fruit, strawberry and caramel marshmallows, there are chocolate royale, chocolate-vanilla swirl and chocolate mint varieties. A label on a shelf indicated Pina Colada should be stocked there but it wasn't. Stay Puft marshmallows have been licensed as a "Ghostbusters" collectible and sold as CAFFEINATED MARSHMALLOWS!

Kraft Foods, maker of Jet-Puffed Marshmallows says the new flavors will be around for a limited time. I hope they are rolled out seasonally. That would mean there's a good chance at Christmastime I'll see the French vanilla snowmen and gingerbread flavored marshmallows again. The gingerbread were our favorite!
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