Lending A Hand…”What anyone else would do”

Just one more reason I admire my father:

We recently received a lovely, handwritten note from a gentleman named Mr. James.  It was addressed to my brother, Galen, president of Lehman’s.  Mr. James wanted us to know how much he appreciated the road side assistance given to him by a kind person in Holmes County in late December of 2011.  He said the “the man heard my woe [of a dead battery] and offered to jump my car.  He did this quite quickly and effectively and we were on our way back to New Jersey.”  He continued with this telling comment, “I didn’t get his name, but he gave me a Lehman’s catalog.”

The man, of course, was my father, Jay Lehman (founder).  He never expected any thanks, was just doing, as he says, “what anyone else would do — lend a helping hand.”


Dutch Oven Week

I had a Lehman’s gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so when I found myself with a half hour to kill in Kidron last week, I stopped by the store to purchase this beauty — the Lodge Pro-Logic 7-quart cast iron Dutch oven. And thus began Dutch oven week at the Amstutz house.

I’d been eying these Dutch ovens ever since last summer, when I covered the National Dutch Oven Gathering in Wooster for a local newspaper. The attendees were serious Dutch oven enthusiasts, having traveled from all over the country just to camp out at our county fairgrounds and cook. A few even had fully equipped chuck wagons to go along with their pots. I was amazed at the variety of foods they managed to prepare in their cast iron cookware.

So anyway, I brought my new pot home and (since it was preseasoned and ready to go) promptly tried it out. I plopped in a whole 5-lb chicken (it fit with room to spare), filled the pot about half-full of water, and let it simmer on the stovetop. I then deboned the chicken and added it back to the broth with some onions, celery, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and a bag of noodles for a yummy batch of chicken and noodles. Six thumbs up for the Dutch oven’s trial run. So far so good. Continue reading

What to DO when you’re snowed in…

The trick is to enjoy the “NOT Doing!”

It’s not safe to venture out anywhere. Okay, work probably can get you on email or your cell phone, but you will still have some spare hours that would have been taken up with meetings, conference calls or those water cooler mini-meetings that seem to eat huge chunks of workday time.

The thing is, as any self-employed person knows, you don’t need eight hours to get your work tasks done. When you are left to your own devices and spurn displacement activities like Facebook or computer solitaire, you can probably clear the decks in half the time. And still have a lunch hour left over.

So even if you do have to tend to some work tasks, you have probably gained anywhere from four to six leisure hours, depending upon how long is your commute time.

Don’t waste this precious gift on TV or web trawling. It’s only on Day 14 of being snowed in that you will really appreciate Facebook Friend contact. (Trust me, I have it on great authority from a Leitrim friend who was proudly housebound for one day shy of a month Dec 2009/Jan 2010. And Charlie’s hot tip for being snowed in was to have a big supply of rainwater to draw on. (“I can survive being shut in for a long time, but not having my hot evening bath was a trial.”) Continue reading

New and Hot for 2012: Almond Butter!

OK, we’ve all made some healthy resolutions for 2012 (at least, I hope we have). One of the easiest ways to improve your health is to improve your diet. And that means paying attention to what’s going into your pantry, and eventually into your mouth (and your spouse’s mouth, and your childrens’ mouths, etc.).

Natural Almond Butter

Natural Almond Butter

With two little ones in my family, peanut butter is an absolute staple. Peanut butter and jelly toast for breakfast, peanut butter on graham crackers for after-school snack, peanut butter-oatmeal cookies for bedtime snack – you get the idea. My 3-year-old has even been known to eat a big spoonful of it plain, right out of the jar (hmmm…something I used to do in college…must be genetic).

But this year, I’m seriously thinking about shaking up their (our) peanut butter world with a new, healthier alternative: almond butter.

This pb cousin has been in the news lately, touted as one of 2012’s “hot health products” – a  wonderful alternative to our old friend peanut butter, because almonds contain lots of monosaturated fat (the good kind). They’re also high in Vitamin E, which is great for your skin and hair, especially in these dry winter months. Continue reading

Maple Syrup On My Mind

Editor’s Note: Bee Smith writes from Ireland, where she cooks and gardens organically. She’s lived in the British Isles for many years.

I am often asked if I miss living in the States. Well, I’ve made my home here and home is home! But there are few things that until the last few years have been hard to get and I do tend to stock up on on visits back Stateside.  I stock up on tinned (canned) pumpkin and maple syrup.

I also miss maple trees.  Regular readers of my posts have probably got the message that I am a certified tree hugger.  I love trees. We plant them on our land.  We photograph them.  We didn’t actually wassail the apple trees this year but it might happen yet.

But maple trees do not thrive here are our highly acidic soil.  This is a cause for sadness. Somehow a little Japanese acer in a pot doesn’t quite give me the jolt of nostalgic happiness that is delivered at the sight of a sugar maple. Continue reading

On the Hunt for Shed Antlers

Thanksgiving has come and gone, Christmas is behind us and a new year has begun. We’ve endured weeks of colder

Shed antlers will often be found tangled in brush. When they loosen from the deer's head they often snag on nearby foliage as he makes his daily rounds.

weather and the shortest day of the year. It’s a full three months until even a hint of warm spring days. What can a person, couple or family do to avoid a bout of cabin fever?

Consider a leisurely walk with a twist. January is THE month to put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes and appropriate layers (depending on the weather) and head for the nearest field edges or woodlot to look for treasures left behind by that big deer you kept seeing all fall.

The hobby is called “hunting sheds.” Anyone who can get to an area deer frequent can do it. Finding a discarded antler can be fun. Looking for them can be an ideal escape from the mundane winter blahs. And you can take your new treasure and make rustic décor, clothing items, or even snacks for the tiny animals in your yard. Continue reading

How to Make Basic Lye Soap

I have been a soap maker on and off for many years. I enjoy making lye soap of all kinds, and I have several books and recipes for this wonderful craft. Although I have lard, lye and all the necessary tools for making soap on hand, I have not made soap for years–until recently.

It is all due to my daughter, Joy. She wanted to learn to make soap. When she visited earlier in the year, she brought more lye and insisted I show her the process. I had forgotten how pleasant a task soapmaking is, and have included it in my schedule – I will now make soap more often!

Simple lye soap is simple to make. There are recipes all over, but the one I use is this:

  • One 12 oz. can of 100% lye
  • 21-1/2 oz. distilled water or rainwater
  • 5 lb., 7-1/3 oz. lard

It’s “easy as pie” to make soap with these three ingredients. You can change the liquid to add powdered milk, fresh cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk or any exotic milk you can get your hands on. You can adjust the lard to any kind of fat – vegetable oils, almond oil, shortening, coconut oil. Think of an oil, a fat, and you can use it. The recipe is very forgiving. Continue reading

The Family Meal: A Novel Idea in 2012?

Still looking for a resolution for 2012? You might be wanting to lose weight, get more sleep or spend less. While these are all worthy goals, there remains one that gives far more lasting benefits.

Consider taking meals together. Talking over current events, praying together, and enjoying each others’ presence over Continue reading

2011 Customer Favorites

It’s the start of the New Year here at Lehman’s too, and like most retail businesses, we hear the same question over and over: “What was your top seller last year?”

That question isn’t as easy to answer as you might think! We have three easy ways for all of you to shop with us: our website, our mail-order catalog and our retail store in Kidron, Ohio. Depending on what’s easiest for customers at the time they’re ready to make a purchase, they may use just one avenue, or a combination of all three. So picking one top item isn’t easy.

Consistently, though, we see recurring patterns. Sometimes, your favorite items are small enough to fit in an oversized envelope. Others are so big that they have to be freight-shipped. There’s one common theme, though: a preference for high-quality, well-made products.
Continue reading