Grandma’s Apron: Nostalgia Lives At New Year’s Eve

Our friends at the Antique Stove Association published this in their newsletter some time back, and for me, at least, it certainly captures the spirit of the holidays that I want to pass along in my family. Do you remember Grandma’s apron?

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year from all of us at Lehman’s and Country Life!

Grandma’s Apron
I don’t think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. Continue reading

Ham Salad Spread Retro Fave At New Year’s Parties!

grider, meat grinder, food grinder

Mom used the small ChopRite Model 5 for years. I have it now, and it’s still working brilliantly.

OK, so you’re ready to head into the big night. You have an idea of what you want to do, and most of the food is settled. But why not add a retro twist to the proceedings? It’ll be simple and fun.

Cracker spreads are always on the New Year’s Eve buffet. And I don’t know about you, but I really have a problem going to the grocery deli and dropping $3 to $8 a pound for something I’m able to make with 20 minutes and a little gumption.

Take ham salad, for instance. We always had it at parties growing up, because our family was huge. Really, really big. It was a staple on the snack table, paired with crackers, and right next to the seasoned cereal mix, locally made potato chips, and the really small bowl of chocolates from the shop that’s been downtown forever. Continue reading

One Good Life

Earlier this year, blogger Kathy Harrison sent this peice in…but because the thoughts are so apropos to the season, I’ve held it until this week. So you’ll see references to spring (which is 87 days away!), and gardening. But what I’d like you to focus on is the wealth of community, and thanks for abundance and a good life. It’s what my co-workers and I at Lehman’s wish for you in the coming year.

—Karen Johnson, Editor, Lehman’s Country Life

I have a very good life. I write about in books and in blogs and in letters to friends. I sometimes get replies that congratulate my on my good fortune. And I am truly fortunate in many ways. I’m healthy. I live in a place untouched by war or horrible poverty. Our climate is good for growing things and we have no water worries. Our soil is excellent and we have plenty of native pollinators. For the blessings, I am truly grateful.

Stainless Steel Cheese Press

This super-efficient Stainless Steel Cheese Press is available at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

However, much of my life is blessed, not with good fortune but with the joy of hard work. Take this week’s adventures in cheese-making. It began with the gift of extra raw milk. I am very lucky to live in a place that does not outlaw the sale of raw milk. But that gift comes with the necessity of keeping up the pressure on state and local government to support local farmers. Continue reading

Christmas With Plain Folk


“What do the Amish do for Christmas?” “How do Mennonites celebrate Christmas?” This is a question we hear over and over again at our Kidron store and often, on our phone lines. You may be surprised to discover that, at bottom, the Amish and Mennonites celebrate just like the rest of us–but maybe a little more quietly.

Celesta, one of our telephone customer service representatives since 2009, shared some details about her family’s Christmas celebrations. In fact, this Christmas is a special one for her, as she and her husband Henry were married in October, and will be celebrating their first Christmas together. “This year, we decorated my first Christmas tree. It was very fun!” she said. A member of the Mennonite Church, Celesta describes her more traditional upbringing and her family’s Christmas activities. Continue reading

The Perfect Holiday Gingerbread

Three Tiered Baking Rack

If you have bunches of batches to bake, you’ll want the Three Tiered Backing Rack from or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am not a fan of the big HURRAH!!! I think the wonder and magic of the holidays, especially the Christmas holiday, has been hijacked by consumerism and the wish to outdo friends, neighbors and even family with the biggest splash. Simple Christmas candles are put aside in favor of garish displays. A few lovingly chosen gifts are dwarfed by the drama of electronics and brightly colored plastic junk. The quiet evening at home is hard to find. As hard as I try, I too have fallen prey to some of this. Still, I make a real effort to keep the small traditions that make the season warm and cozy rather than rushed and harried. One of those traditions is the Christmas cookie. Continue reading

Those Grapes With The Funny Names Are Delicious

When I first moved to the South and heard somebody talking about “Scuppernongs” and “Muscadines”, I immediately assumed the funny words I was hearing were the product of the foreign-to-me accent I still wasn’t accustomed to. What are they trying to say? I wondered. It wasn’t until much later, when I actually saw the words written somewhere, that I realized these were the actual names of a variety of grapes native to the Southeast US.

The weather’s been mild where we are, in the upper South, so we’re just finishing our Scuppernong and Muscadine harvest. They’re not hard to grow.

One of the first fruits we planted here on our homestead were Scuppernong grapes. We love them because they are particularly hardy, and grow well in our poor red clay soil. Scuppernongs are actually the “white grape” of the Muscadine family. Muscadines are typically a very deep shade of purple. Continue reading

Quick Ginger Ale Makes Up Perfectly For Holiday Parties

Reader AK Shuman shared her recipe for a ‘quick’ ginger ale with Country Life recently.
“There are only a few ingredients, and  there’s no corn syrup at all. It’s simple to make, and it’s ready in no time.”

AK, thanks for the recipe–anything that comes together easily this time of year is always a good idea.

Proganics Flat Grater

Convenient Flat Grater stores anywhere! In stock now at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

1 1/2 ounces finely grated fresh ginger
6 ounces sugar
7 1/2 cups filtered water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the ginger, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the water into a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to steep for 1 hour.

Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing down with the back of a metal spoon to get all of the juice out of the ginger pieces. Chill quickly by placing the bowl into an ice bath and stirring the syrup; or place the in the refrigerator, uncovered, until at least room temperature, 68 to 72 degrees F.

Stainless Steel Funnel with filter pin

A must for any kitchen, you can find an affordable Stainless Steel Funnel with filter at or at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Using a funnel, pour the syrup into a clean 2-liter plastic bottle and add the yeast, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups of water. Screw the cap onto the bottle, and gently roll the bottle between your hands to combine ingredients. Leave the bottle at room temperature for 48 hours.

Open and check for desired amount of carbonation. It is important that once you achieve your desired amount of carbonation that you refrigerate the ginger ale. This will stop the yeast working. If you don’t refrigerate it, it will explode. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, opening the bottle at least once a day to let out excess carbonation.

Easy To Make “Marshmallow Fudge” Is Christmas Tradition!

On Lehman’s Facebook page last week, there was quite the shout-out for Fantasy Fudge, the fudge made with chocolate chips, marshmallow creme and butter. I’m pleased to share my version of the recipe with you!

I’ve been making it for so long that I have the recipe memorized, and can rattle it off at will. The best thing is that it sets up quickly, so even if you’re invited to a last-minute party, you can whip it up on short notice–even the morning of a bash.

The index card that has been in the family for years is stained and battered, but it’s in Mom’s handwriting, so why mess with a good thing? And if you don’t have your own ancient and honorable index card, grab one, and copy the recipe below. It won’t take long for this to be a family favorite. Continue reading

Hunting Expert Shares Electric-Free Deer Camp Setup

Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game

Process deer and other game yourself, and save the fees! In stock now at and Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

As I ease up the quarter mile long driveway toward the cabin sitting on the ridge, I realize the old home place is full of memories and traditions. Yeah, this time of year is about stocking the freezer with good meat for the coming winter. But it’s also about reliving traditions, or starting new ones for future generations.

 My siblings and parents are scattered across our Midwest state, but in November the men and boys, and occasionally the women or girls, gather in to the old farmhouse to share the opening of deer season together. We eat good food, relax around the woodstove in the front room, and hunt the old fields and woodlots which grandpa cleared and worked starting nearly a century ago. One portion of the land has been in the family longer than that. Continue reading