It’s That Time Again, Part 2: 200 Gallons!

Your bird friends will love our red lantern bird feeder - and it looks great in your yard!

Your bird friends will love our red lantern bird feeder – and it looks great in your yard!

It was cold again this morning as dawn was breaking — a nippy 20 degrees. Even with the cold, there was a newness in the air. Maybe it was because the birds were singing and calling lustily, as if awakening to love. The Cardinals were particularly noisy, along with a few other species. I could have closed my eyes and imagined myself in the rain forest, with tropical birds serenading the loves of their lives. This year I am intentionally tuning in to the birds. It’s a real treat.The forecast for today was forties and sunshine. This will make the sap run. The sunshine is a key ingredient. Forty degrees and overcast, the sap will run some. Forty degrees and sunshine, and it will be a good day. Can’t wait until late afternoon when it’s time to check the buckets and find out how it ran. Continue reading

It’s That Time Again, Part 1: Sap’s Running

Editor’s Note: Welcome to new blogger Dave Ross! Dave lives and works in Kidron, just a stone’s throw from Lehman’s store on the square. We think you’ll enjoy his reflections about life in our little village. This week, he’s been busy gathering sap, boiling and canning syrup for an annual church mission meal featuring homemade maple syrup.

At last!  It’s beginning to feel like spring.  The signs are everywhere.  We waited a long sugar mapletime for this.  Old man winter held a tight grip for too long.   I’m seeing birds on my walks that I haven’t seen for a while.  Bluebirds, Red Wing Blackbirds, Kill Deer, Robins.  And they seem to be happy about the nicer weather too.  They’re expressing their delight with beautiful trilling melodies and cheerful bird songs.  It’s a sound we get so used to that we most often tune it out.  This time of year, it’s very welcome sound — a sure sign of spring.  Take a walk and listen.  Brings cheer to the heart.

Little yellow flowers are beginning to open in the ditch part way up the Zuercher Road hill, and Mrs. A showed me her blooming crocuses.  So happy for wonderful neighbors like them.  They’re letting me tap their four very large Sugar Maples this year, and those trees are putting out large amounts of clear, sweet sap.   Continue reading

Old-Fashioned Easter Feast Menu

If visions of Easter hams danced through your head all winter long, yet you can’t shake easter tablethe idea of some succulent leg of lamb, we have the perfect menu for you. Let both the ham and the lamb be stars, served with fresh, colorful springtime side dishes. Round out your feast with some freshly baked breads and Easter-themed sweet treats. I have a large family of hungry eaters, so these recipes are sized for 12 people. You can easily adapt them to your family’s size.

Easter Feast Menu:
Classic Leg of Lamb
Mommy’s Special Ham
Make-Ahead Penne Primavera
Salad of Many Colors
Parsley Buttered Potatoes
Traditional Harvard Beets
Special Green Beans
Lamb Cake

Continue reading

Air-Drying Laundry, Sans Clothesline

I’m going to make a confession here. I don’t have a clothesline.flexible bucket laundry

You heard me right. I could have one, but the only location that puts it close to the house would also block my view of the backyard and the bird feeders. I love my view and I love my birds. I could put a free standing line in the far back yard but I know myself well enough to know that I am not going to want to carry a basket full of heavy, wet blue jeans across a slippery path in the dead of an icy winter. For that matter, I won’t want to carry a heavy basket that far in the summer … so it’s no clothesline for me. Still, I don’t want to use my electric dryer unless it’s a real emergency, meaning we are all down with the flu or some other thing too awful to contemplate. Continue reading

5 Easy and Adorable Easter Crafts

When I think of Easter, I think of pastel colors, the gathering of extended family that I love but don’t get to see very often, good food, sweet treats, and of course, the resurrection of Jesus Christ,.

Classic Easter activities include going to church in the morning and then gathering with egg personloved ones for a delicious meal and hunting for Easter eggs, but if you want this Easter to be a little different, there are lots of non-traditional things to do.

Egg People
One activity we always enjoy is to make “egg people.” Take raw eggs and carefully chop the tops off (use the eggs to make breakfast). Rinse the empty egg shells and set aside to dry. Put potting soil and a scattering of seeds (rye seeds work well because they grow so quickly) into each egg. Draw a face on the egg, or use googly eyes. Once the grass grows, your egg person will have a full head of green hair. You can style it or cut it! These always turn out so cute and are super fun to make. Continue reading

Stretch Your Food $ With a Well-Planned Pantry

Whether your pantry area is a designated cabinet or a separate room, having it properly organized can make it much easier to  keep track of what you have on hand to make

Our Italian Hermetic Glass Canisters are great for storing food on the counter, in the pantry or in the refrigerator. At and our  store in Kidron.

Our Italian Hermetic Glass Canisters are great for storing food on the counter, in the pantry or in the refrigerator. At and our store in Kidron.

meals or do your shopping.

In our home I plan meals by a weekly menu where possible.  I try to keep staples in the pantry and purchase fresh foods as needed. By keeping my pantry organized similar to the way a store shelf is, I can know at a glance whether I have the items I need to make the meals I have planned.  This allows me to put the needed items on my shopping list and save extra trips to the store. It also keeps me from over-buying items I already have.

Here are some hints to help you get started (many I picked up from my Mom and how she organized her pantry):

  • Be realistic in the number of a single item that you need to keep on hand, be it canned goods or varieties of grains and pastas. I have found ten is usually a good standard to use for my family. Your ideal number will be based on the size of your family.
  • Rotate the oldest items to the front and put the newest to the back.
  • Pay attention to expiration dates. Many foods can turn toxic when past their expiration dates. Even home-canned goods should have a date put on them when placing them in storage.
  • Place breakable, heavy jars and cans on lower shelves to help avoid dropping them when removing them. (However, if you have little ones that could get into your cupboards, put these jars out of their reach.)
  • Canned foods and other jarred foods should also be stored out of small children’s reach to avoid breakage and injury.
  • Store dry goods such as pasta, rice and flour in clear, tightly lidded containers,
    Our specially designed canisters take out the air and save the flavor. At and in our store in Kidron.

    Our specially designed canisters take out the air and save the flavor. At and in our store in Kidron.

    preferably those with an air-tight seal – thus avoiding moisture and insects.

  • Avoid dented or damaged cans; they can allow bacteria in and cause spoilage to the food inside. Look over ‘bargain’ items carefully. Remember, a good bargain at the store is not worth food poisoning to your family!
  • Store nuts, flours and cornmeal in the freezer to prevent them from going rancid before they’re used up. Before using, let set on your countertop to reach room temperature.

With today’s busy schedules, planning and getting healthy meals on the table is a challenge. Organizing your pantry can make it faster and easier – and save on your food budget, too!

The Real St. Paddy’s Day Food


Editor’s Note: Blogger Bee Smith hails from the U.S., but she’s lived on the Emerald Isle for many years. This post was originally published in 2011.

Living in Ireland, I view with some bemusement the way St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the States.  For in St. Patrick’s Ireland there is nary a green-dyed beer to found. It would be thought sacrilege to taint a worthy brew that way! Continue reading

Heirloom Recipes for Pi Day

Homemade pie. Really, who doesn’t love it?! Celebrate Pi Day (that’s 3/14!) with these unique, mouthwatering pies from keep calm and bake a pieLehman’s staff. We did a quick office poll, and these two family favorites stood out from the rest.

Grandma RaymondMattie’s Cottage Pie
From Michael, Lehman’s Web Developer:

Michael has an Amish background, so he shared the origin of the interesting one word Amish nickname  in the pie’s title. The Amish have large families and a somewhat limited pool of first names, so they put a husband and wife’s name together to differentiate people. Michael says, “We actually used that quite a bit in my dad’s family. We have 3 Amanda Millers, my sister, my dad’s sister and also one of my dad’s sister-in-laws. So growing up, it used to be DaveManda, Mark’s Mom (or Sister ‘manda), and Little ‘Manda, although we don’t use those names as much anymore.”

According to Michael, the following recipe was always the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner (along with pumpkin pie, of course).

Grandma RaymondMattie’s Cottage Pie
(Makes 4 pies)

This recipe is just for the pie filling. Prepare four raw pie shells beforehand.cottage pies

Bottom (Karo) Filling:
1 cup sugar
2 cups dark karo syrup
2 cups water
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Mix the ingredients for the bottom in blender for 1 minute. Divide evenly into four parts and pour into pie shells.

Assemble the pie top:pieceofpie
2 cups sugar
1 egg
½ cup Crisco
1 cup sour cream
3 cups flour

Mix ingredients by hand. Using a spoon, drop spoonfuls of the mixture on top of the karo filling in the pie shells.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 50 minutes until the center is firm.

The two layers blend during the baking process, but you wind up with a firm, almost cake-like upper portion and a thin layer of liquid at the bottom, right above the pie crust.


Sour Cream Raisin Pie with Meringue Topping
From Andi, Lehman’s Data Analyst:

This pie probably hails from Iowa, where Andi’s mom first tasted it at a sorority function before she started school at Iowa State University. Andi says, “My mom makes her Iowa Pie Crust and Dad makes the filling. In our family, it’s called David and Pepa’s Sour Cream Raisin Pie because when my son David (who just turned 17!) was a toddler, he helped my dad, who he calls Pepa, make the pie.”

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Get perfectly crisp, evenly browned crusts every time! Handmade by one of America's oldest pottery companies.

Get perfectly crisp, evenly browned crusts every time! Handmade by one of America’s oldest pottery companies.

Pie filling:
1.5  cup raisins
1.5 cup brown sugar
1.5 cup sour cream
3 egg yolks
3 T. water
3 T flour
1 t. vanilla

1 baked pie shell

Heat raisins, sugar, and sour cream to boiling – stir to keep from burning.

Beat egg yolks with water; add flour. Mix well until smooth.
Gradually add to raisin mixture, stirring constantly until it returns to a boil.
Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Pour into baked pie shell.
Add meringue.

4 egg whites
1 t. cream of tartar
4 t. sugar

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat until stiff enough to hold a peak. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Top pie, sealing edges with meringue.

Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Bon appetit, pie lovers! Find lots of cool pie tools here – some hail from our moms’ and grandmoms’ day!

Sweet Syrup from Your Own Backyard!

0901A couple of years ago I got fired up about making my own maple syrup. It was late winter then, and I was not prepared for my venture into syrup making at that point. But the following year I was ready. And I was fortunate enough to get me some of that sweet, golden nectar.

Yes indeed, there was some work involved, but the results far outweigh the effort. I was in it not to sell bottles of syrup, but to just make enough for my family and even a few friends to enjoy.

With just a few maple trees, you too can have your own sugary sweetness. It doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment; in fact, about the most expensive thing you will need is time. Continue reading

4 Ways to Get Organized for Spring Cleaning

Believe it or not, spring IS coming – sooner than you think! Imagine – in just a couple of months we’ll all be throwing open the windows, shaking out the rugs and giving the whole house a breath of fresh air. Now’s the time to take stock of spring cleaning supplies and add some new ones to your arsenal.

1. The Right Brush Makes It Easy

Lamb's wool contains natural lanolin and generates static electricity to produce a "dust magnet". Extendable duster is specifically made to clean hard-to-reach ceiling fans.

Lamb’s wool contains natural lanolin and generates static electricity to produce a “dust magnet”. Extendable duster is specifically made to clean hard-to-reach ceiling fans.

Difficult cleaning jobs require just the right tool to make the job quick, easy and effective. Hard-to-reach places? Tight spaces? This spring, really clean your ceiling fans, dryer vents, refrigerator coils and small items like teakettles, baby bottles and sink drains. We have a brush for every job.

For dusting electronics and collectibles, we recommend natural lamb’s wool and ostrich feather dusters. Both contain thousands of soft fibers that act as a magnet for dust but won’t scratch your valuables.  Continue reading