Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend: Visit your local Farmers Market and your local Cemeteries

Spring flies by so quickly that it is hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is upon us already.  A lot of people will travel over this long holiday weekend.  If you are headed out of town, I encourage you to check out your destination’s local farmers market.  Be sure to report back--I always enjoy hearing about markets in other communities.  If you have guests coming to Zanesville this weekend be sure to bring them to our market to give them a taste of what our area has to offer.
            Memorial Day was created to honor veterans who died in Military service.  It is so nice to visit the cemetery and see the fresh American flags waving over the graves of our fallen heroes.  I have always enjoyed taking a trip to the cemetery in the spring.  You can’t argue the fact that cemeteries are peaceful places and there always seems to be the fragrance of an old-fashioned lilac wafting through the air.
            This past Sunday I traveled with my grandma, Jean Baughman, and my aunt, Mary Ann Ewart, to the old family plot in the cemetery down the road from where my grandma grew up near Moxahala, Ohio in Perry County.  It was time to do the annual cleanup around the headstones so they are ready for “Decoration Day” as grandma calls it.
            People often say to me, “You must have a green thumb.”  I usually shrug it off because I truly feel surprised when anything that I plant actually sprouts, let alone seeing it bloom or become something edible.  However, while working in the cemetery with my grandma and aunt, I realized that I have been handed down a legacy of the love of flowers and growing things from generations of women in my family. 
I brought home some peonies and iris that I had thinned from around the grave of my great-grandma, Julia Hankins.  Though I was just a kid when she died, I have wonderful memories or her flower gardens.  They say she could grow anything.  There is a holly tree that she brought home from a trip to California one time.  They said it would never live in this climate—it’s now taller than the house. 
And on another trip, when she passed some desert plants that were fenced off in order to protect them, she swatted at them with her four-pronged cane saying, “You can’t kill that stuff.  It will grow anywhere.”  That is the confidence of someone with a true green thumb; if anyone could have gotten that stuff to grow in Ohio, I’m sure it would have been my Grandma Julia. 
This is the season when my “Joy of Rhubarb” cookbook, by Theresa Millang, comes in handy.  The other day, a cousin asked, via Facebook, for a kid-friendly rhubarb recipe.  My sister replied “I’m still looking for an adult friendly one. Yuk.”  Here’s one from that cookbook that might satisfy both.

Rhubarb Honey Muffins
·         2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 egg, beaten
·         1 cup brown sugar, packed
·         2/3 cup vegetable oil
·         ½ cup honey
·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·         ¾ cup buttermilk
·         1 ½ cups fresh rhubarb, finely chopped
·         ½ cup pecans, chopped
·         1 tablespoon butter, mixed with ½ cup sugar until crumbly

Preheat oven to 350º.  Paper-line muffin pans.  In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.  In another bowl, stir egg, brown sugar, oil, honey, vanilla and buttermilk until blended; stir into flour mixture until moistened.  Fold in rhubarb and pecans.  Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Sprinkle tops with butter-sugar mixture.  Bake 25-35 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pan; cool on a rack.  Makes 24 muffins.

 Pictures from the cemetery trip: (Mom thinks it's morbid to take trips to the cemetery.  She won't go.  I enjoy it.  We even stopped at the "Six Mile Turn" on the way and got subs to have a picnic in the cemetery.  I used long dead cousin so-and-so's tombstone as a table.  We all decided he would have been okay with it. Haha!)
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This is Grandma Jean.  Here are a few odd family tales she recounted while we were there:  She is seated in front of the grave of her cousin Joe Podolinski who had his hand shot off in World War I.  Another grave is of her uncle Lawrence Trunko who died in 1919 at the age of eighteen.  He was born deaf and was killed one night while while walking home from Corning.  He fell asleep on the train track and didn't hear the train.  How tragic!  She told of her uncle Charlie Hudak who had a large indentation in his head from an unfortunate run-in with an axe.  (This is not how he died.)  Seems like life was pretty hard back then.

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Aunt Mary Ann in working around the grave of my great-grandparents, Julia and Earl Hankins.  To the left is the grave of deaf uncle Lawrence Trunko and in the rear is the grave of my great-great grandparents Julia and Karol Trunko.

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This is a yucca plant.  I hate yucca plants.  We have dug this thing up countless times and it just won't die!

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The yucca after I dug it and chopped it with a hatchet!  NEVER plant a yucca unless it is in a spot where you want it to remain forever!

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The supervisor--Grandma Jean!  Knitting as usual!  Age 91.

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Peonies and iris we thinned out and are taking home with us. 

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