Youthview: Loving Traditional Family Thanksgivings

Alli Ervin, Youthview blogger.

Alli Ervin, Youthview blogger.

Last year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time in several years – I enjoyed the holiday more than I ever had before and that’s saying something because it’s one of my favorite occasions. It makes me feel warm and loved to have family (I am talking aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole gang, ranging in age from four years old to 84 years old) at our home.

I love helping my mom prepare the food and put out seasonal decorations. We live in a woods so tree branches, leaves and pine cones, artfully arranged in a large glass bowl, add great fall touches. I always get to choose which music we are going to play and what drinks to serve (a simple one is grape juice and 7-Up, garnished with orange slices) and, when everything is ready and the house smells like turkey and stuffing, we wait for the doorbell to ring.

The turkey is always a centerpiece of my family's traditional meal.

The turkey is always a centerpiece of my family’s traditional meal.

I have such a big, fun family and I love it when we’re all together*. The food is always amazing, especially at Thanksgiving. My mom and I often bake bread together, which is what she used to do with her mother. Our Thanksgiving menu is very traditional – we briefly discussed doing something different (how about a baked potato bar?) but the outcry was heard for miles. Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, seven-layer salad, fresh bread, and more pies that you can count. My mom made deviled eggs last Thanksgiving (that’s one of her specialties) and forgot to get them out until after the meal. We enjoyed a round of appetizers after dessert and had a good laugh.

Even though it’s more work, hosting the holidays at your house is a great experience. It’s all about being with family and friends so if the cooking stresses you out, make it a pot luck carry in, or even call ahead and order something. Enjoy a meal and then, afterwards, (at least in my family), the men retire to watch football and yell at their favorite teams and the women do a craft (we had a fun one this year – more on that in the next blog).

No many how many times I get asked what grade I am; how I am doing at school or how tall I am (I grew 5 inches over the past year and am 5’8”, by the way) it’s always so much fun when my family is all together.

*Editor’s note: Allison’s grandfather is Jay Lehman, founder; her uncle is Galen Lehman, president; and her mother is Glenda Lehman Ervin, vice president.

Seasonal Storms Readiness Primer

This article originally ran in summer 2012. There are useful tips for year-round storm preparation, though, and I hope that you’ll use them and be ready for incoming winter weather. — Karen Johnson, Editor, Country Life

From our preparedness/homesteading blogger Kathy Harrison! In stock now.

From our preparedness/homesteading blogger Kathy Harrison! In stock now.

Like most young boys, I often dreamed of living without modern creature comforts. In my ideal world I would use candles for my light, cook over an open flame, and eat canned goods and jerky.

Eventually I got my wish- about five years ago during an exceptionally bad winter when the power lines came down. For five days my family endured frigid temperatures with no phone service or electricity. The grocery and hardware stores in the nearby towns were in the same shape, leaving everyone to find their own way to survive. Continue reading

Pickle Your Fall Vegetables With A Lacto-Fermented Process

recycled paper cutting board

Durable! Our employees swear by our Epicurean® Cutting Board. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at Lehmans.com.

I have always made a lot of pickles. We eat something pickled nearly every day. Pickled beans and beets are our favorites with carrots and cauliflower nearly as popular. We like bread and butter pickles too. Lately, I have been making a lot more lacto-fermented pickles than traditional canned pickles in brine. We can make a ½ gallon of pickles and eat them over the course of a few weeks and then just make up another crispy batch.

The process is really simple too. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board and some ½ gallon jars. Almost any vegetable can be fermented although a few things don’t appeal to me. I have tried pickled greens and found them, well; odd is all I can say about them. Continue reading

Lehman’s: When You Want to Think Out of The Big Box

Glenda Lehman Ervin

Looking forward to the holiday season, I know I’ll be spending a lot more time at our store in Kidron. One of my favorite parts of being there is giving store tours. I love the face-to-face interaction with customers. I enjoy answering questions and pointing out unusual “nooks and crannies” stories about our store.

Recently a busload of visitors requested a tour (seriously, it was a busload, I am not using the vernacular as in a “busload of questions”).

Often, when I do a store tour, especially with a large group, I lose half the crowd as they wander through the antique barns that link to form our Kidron store. Sometimes, they’re lost in nostalgia, seeing all the antiques that my dad (and our founder) Jay has collected and and mounted on the walls. Some end up absorbed in a specific department, where they find the kitchen gadget, tool, or stove of their dreams. Some days, at the end of the tour, I look at the group and hardly recognize a single face because so many new shoppers have joined and so many originals are off shopping.

This day was no exception, but I retained about half the original group. As we were wandering through the pantry, which features a number of exclusive, locally-made, handcrafted items, one guest picked up a smallish basket and was rather surprised to see it retailed for just under $40. By the look on her face, I could see she was surprised. After all, I hear that you can pick up a little basket for less than ten bucks at Wal-Mart. (I’d guess, since I don’t shop there).

This handcrafted Amish-Made Desk Organizer is one of several quality baskets you’ll find at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, and online at Lehmans.com.

But when I flipped the basket over, she realized it was signed and dated by the local Amish craftsperson that made it. I mentioned that one of my favorite gifts is to find a basket with a special day, such as September 14, handwritten on the bottom. When you give the present to your mother-in-law, whose birthday is on September 14, it appears that it was made especially for them, on that day.

I then handed the basket to her and when she saw the fine, detailed work, and the sheer weight and substance of it, she understood why Lehman’s prices are not the same as one of the big boxes.

When you price compare, make sure you are comparing apples to apples, or in this case, baskets to baskets. If a chain store is ordering 250,000 of the same shape, size and color from off-shore, and Lehman’s is ordering them one at a time, from a local craftsperson, our lead times may longer, and our prices may higher…and our quality is levels above. You’ll pass a handmade Amish basket from Lehman’s down to your children and grandchildren, because it’ll last.

Our Kidron Store Snowmen Love Being Indoors!

Wooden snowmen at Lehman's in Kidron

Ready to set out in our Kidron store! You’ll see these charming fellows through the holiday season.

Planning seasonal decorations for our Kidron, Ohio retail store is a big job. With 35,000 square feet of space–and many of the merchandise rooms under high ceilings, our decorator has her work cut out for her! “I plan the decorating here for the seasons and holidays, so I’m always searching for ideas,” BJ Trader says.

“Christena Imhoff (one of the store managers) told me that we were going to use snowmen for the the store’s country Christmas decoration theme this year. It really takes larger items to be noticed in this large store!”

“I got the idea for our wooden snowmen from looking on Pinterest. We have a lot of old, unused wood here, so I asked Carl Croskey, who helps me a lot on these projects to round me up some. I drew two patterns. One was Dudley, and the other Al Heart. Carl cut them out, and I took them home and began to assemble the snowmen. There were many steps involved. They were sanded, and I double-coated with white on the bodies, the black hat and carrot nose. There’s a welcome sign on Dudley, and a Christmas tree on Al Heart. I hand painted the details and they were complete. We made 12 of Dudley, one for each department in the store, and 6 of Al Heart for various areas.”

decorations made from stove pipes

They’re in the shop right now, but you’ll see our Stovepipe Snowmen in the Stove Room soon!

The project took quite some time. After the research and getting the patterns cut out, BJ explained that the snowmen took 14 hours to build. “Each one is about 4 feet tall. And then I started on two snowmen especially for the Stove Room. I just completed Smokey and Little Joe at the end of October. They are made of stove pipe. Smokey is 7′ tall.

“Have you heard the old saying,”necessity is the mother of invention”. We had a budget of $200.00 for the snowmen, to decorate the entire store. So we looked at what we had and went to work.”

8 Things You Can Prep Now For The Holidays

Hardwood utensils, made in Ohio.

Choose your favorite hardwood spoon at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

We’re all looking at the calendar and wondering how the year can go so quickly. Now’s the time to take a moment and make sure you’re ready to entertain this holiday season. No matter if your style is simple or swanky, you can probably use most of these tips!

1. Serviceware: Inventory your serving spoons, meat forks, and related items. Do you have enough? Replace missing or add needed items now, before the rush!

2. Platters and trays: Once everyone’s seated at the table, how will you get the turkey or ham down the line? Make sure you have meat platters or trays, and big serving bowls, like our Stoneware Shoulder Bowls, for side dishes. Continue reading

Turn Clocks Back 1 Hour Tonight!

 

silver metal alarm clock

Daylight Savings Time Ends today! Remember to turn your clocks back one hour tonight at bedtime.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             No power needed! The Chrome Twin Bell Alarm Clock is easy to set, and is one of our favorites at Lehman’s.

What To Do With An Abundance of Apples?

Oh, what to do with an abundance of apples? It has been the year of fruit here in Massachusetts. The trees are weighted down with peaches, pears and apples. There are so many that I’m receiving whole cases as gifts from people who have more than they can eat or preserve. So what to do with this gift from the trees (and from desperate neighbors)?

First of all, if you have your apples in a root cellar or cold storage, you have time to process. It’s not like tomato season!

Lehmans Single Tub Fruit Press

Just getting started in fruit pressing? The Single Tub Fruit Press is an ideal starter press. At Lehmans.com, or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Options abound. I have already pressed 120 pounds into cider. Next up will be canning. I want to do sauce but I also want to do pie filling. On a cold winter’s day, I can get away with a pot of soup for supper as long as I have a hearty dessert. I do NOT have a family that considers a bowl of soup supper otherwise. If the filling is sitting in a jar the whole thing takes minutes as I keep rounds of pie dough in the freezer waiting for the night I need a great dessert or a pot luck contribution. So let’s make pie filling today.

Continue reading

Manage Your Homestead’s Food Supply Successfully

A LOT of just harvested garlic bulbs!

How do you process all this garlic? Dry some, crush some! Click for more info about Lehman’s super garlic press.

When you grow and raise a lot of food, one of the tricks to making it pay is managing the inventory. That means record keeping, not always my favorite thing but necessary if I am going to avoid waste.

Last month we harvested our garlic and it was phenomenal. I harvested 15o heads. That might seem like a lot but we are garlic lovers and I need enough to eat and to save for seed for next year. The biggest bulbs were pulled out immediately. The temptation is to eat those but that would leave me inferior seed. I put those heads away to plant in this month, and dry the rest to use throughout the year.

Continue reading

From College Kitchen to Our Dinner Table

French Press Coffee Maker

Lehman’s French Press Coffee Maker is great gift for your favorite student. It’s easy to use and easy to clean.

Ah, the college years. Did we even realize how good we had it? New friends, exciting (or not) courses, free time, parental units probably far away, little responsibility – at least compared to full adulthood/parenthood. College was where I learned to love coffee, where I found out I had a gift for making my roommates laugh…and also where I learned to cook!

After two years in the dorms, subsisting on cafeteria food (which, I must admit, was actually pretty good) and Ramen noodles cooked in hand-me-down hotpots, my girlfriends and I signed the lease on a townhouse close to campus, where we would live until graduation. It had a full kitchen, so one of the first routines we set up after we all moved in was the dinner schedule.

Breakfasts and lunches, we decided, were free-for-alls, but dinners would be sacred, in a way. We all came from good solid families where sitting down for nightly meals was the norm, and I’m sure we all (despite our burgeoning independence) longed for some of that stable “homey” feeling. So we each picked a night, and began to cook for each other.

Like most students, we were all living on a shoestring budget (I got paid $2 per typed page of notes I took for a Psych 101 class – imagine that!) so our meals were simple, hearty and shall we say, sometimes quite creative. And sure, during finals week we threw the cooking schedule out the window and ordered in pizza. But interestingly, some of the same recipes we each came to be known for, I use to this day. In fact, the following three are still some of my “go-to’s,” – 14 years, one husband, two jobs and three children later. Enjoy – and send some good thoughts to your college roomies as you cook them. I know I do! Continue reading