Hearth & Home

Hearth and Home by Daphne Ross

Sticks and Stones, Mud and Moans

Just as I worked up the gumption to start picking up sticks in the yard at my shop, I awaken to a snow covered landscape. My energy for the gathering of Mother Nature's natural discards completely disappeared. No hot jolt cup of coffee, no tall boy can of ice cold caffeine, no protein packed energy bar could replace what was lost, my interest.

Fortunately the snow on my shop steps and front sidewalk had already melted by the time the open flag went out its first wave; that's a good thing. Ice melting products have been absent from the hardware store and the neighborhood grocery for some time now. The last surprise snowfall my only salt choice, a container of table salt picked off the baking products shelf.

Yard work like many other procrastinated projects cannot be saved for a rainy day, that's another energy buster, definitely not an energy booster. And the day my interest in yard clean-up peaked it quickly took a nose dive when that evening's weather forecast included wind and rain. I asked myself, and wouldn't you, "Why pick-up sticks today, more will break off overnight?"

I wish there was a creek bed near our home, one where beavers built their homes with sticks and branches. I think they would do a fine job picking up sticks and branches out of our yard, but alas wild beavers cannot be trained for domestic tasks.
However we do have plenty of active raccoons that roam our yard at dusk and overnight, perhaps they could at least put the sticks into one pile. It would be much easier on the homeowners; bending over multiple times, picking up here and there sticks too big for the mower to cut up.

About the stones, the ones that the snow plow pushes away when the snow is deep and the blade scrapes clean the frozen farm lane. Off to the side they accumulate, only a shovel and a strong man's arms and back can put the stones back where they belong, and void our quarter mile of mud holes.

Our lane recovery is a several step process, and right now travel in and out is a slow go for all of us, except the UPS man, he doesn't seem to care; his shocks are not his own.

And so it has been all my life, since I picked up that first stick to clear the yard of late fall and winter clutter, moaning at the task has always been loud and clear, I did not like picking up sticks, I do not like picking up sticks.

But I don't mow and to please my mower men, I will pick up sticks. And the ones at yard's edge just get thrown into the woods, where they really belong.

After spring cleaning the yard, a well-deserved meal is served. Send your good job recipes to; Hearth & Home, 5973 Blachleyville Rd., Wooster, Ohio, 44691. Emails are always welcome; thewritecook@sssnet.com

Stuffed Snack Sticks
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup dry mashed potato flakes
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Sesame seeds
Sea salt, coarse
24 mozzarella cheese sticks from dairy case
Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a small saucepan, heat milk until small bubbles form around edges; cool. In a large bowl, combine mashed potato flakes, sugar, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, salt and milk; cool until lukewarm. Add 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and dissolved yeast. Stir. Gradually add flour, stirring until stiff dough forms, adding more flour as needed. Dust surface with flour; knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours. When dough has risen to twice its original size, punch down and on floured surface roll the dough into two 14 x 12 inch rectangles. Cut in half crosswise, then cut each half into 6 strips. Brush strips with butter; sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Place a mozzarella stick on each strip. Moisten edges. Fold sides to center and seal to enclose the mozzarella stick completely. Place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Brush tops with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds, herbs and a pinch of sea salt. Let sticks rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, or until cooked through and cheese inside has melted. Pizza Sticks: Sprinkle chopped pepperoni over cheese sticks and spread inside of bread with pizza sauce before rolling up.

Ohio Mud Cake
1 cup butter
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups unsalted, chopped pecans
1 (10 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time; add vanilla. Sift together flour, salt and cocoa; slowly add to batter. Add peanuts. Bake for 30 minutes in 9 x 13 inch pan at 350 degrees. While cake is still warm, top with marshmallows. Frost with Ohio Mud Cake Frosting.
Ohio Mud Cake Frosting:
1 (16 ounce) box powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Sift together sugar, cocoa and salt. Pour melted butter and milk over dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, beat until dry ingredients are moistened. Add remaining ingredients; continue beating until frosting is smooth. Pour the icing over cake while it is still warm from the oven. Allow cake to cool before cutting into squares.

Stone Vegetable Soup
1/2 cup barley
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery including leaves, diced
4 cups chopped vegetables (any kind)
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
In a saucepan, combine barley and broth and heat until boiling; reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. In a large cook pot, saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic; saute for 2 minutes. Add vegetables and saute for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour in barley, broth, salt and 3 cups of water. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender. Add beans and simmer until heated through. Season to taste and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Restaurant Style Italian Bread Sticks
1 stick of butter
1 package of plain frozen breadsticks
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pizza seasoning
1/2 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
Thaw bread sticks. Sprinkle garlic salt, other seasonings, and cheese evenly on each bread stick. Bake at 450 degrees for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Melt butter and brush on bread sticks.

Low Calorie Stone Soup
1 tablespoons diet butter
1 small onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth, undiluted
2 (5 1/2 oz.) cans tomato juice
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 small cans tuna or salmon
Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook until soft but not brown. Add broth, tomato juice, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to soft boil. Add mixed vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add tuna or salmon. Serve hot.

Corn Sticks
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup shortening, melted
1 egg
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Sift flour; measure; add baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift again; add corn meal. Mix well. Combine egg, milk, and shortening. Pour into flour mixture and mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Do not beat. Pour into well- greased cork stick pans. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 12 corn sticks.

Sweet Sticks and Stones
1 package chocolate chips
3/4 cup cocktail peanuts
1 1/2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles
Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Stir in peanuts and noodles. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto wax paper; chill in refrigerator.

Batter-Fried Zucchini Sticks
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
1 pound zucchini, cut into 3 or 4 inch sticks
Additional flour (optional)
Oil for deep frying
Hollandaise Sauce:
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sift flour with baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Combine egg, milk, and 2 tablespoons oil. Slowly add to dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Pat zucchini sticks very dry; dredge lightly in flour. Dip pieces, one at a time, in batter. Fry in deep oil heated to 375 degree until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. To make sauce, beat egg yolks until thick and light colored. Mix in water and transfer to top of double boiler set over barely simmering water. Heat and stir 2 to 3 minutes until warm, not hot, and eggs have begun to thicken. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating continuously until well blended. Cook, beating 2 to 3 minutes until sauce thickens. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve immediately with zucchini sticks.

Quick Pick-Up Sticks and Stones
1 (6 ounce) package chocolate chips
1 (6 ounce) package butterscotch chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cups broken thin pretzel sticks
Melt chips in microwave. Add marshmallows and broken pretzel sticks. Stir and roll in small balls; chill.

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