America’s cookies rely on winter wheat grown in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wheat grown in Ohio is a mainstay for Oreos and Chips Ahoy. Sure, other states grow the wheat that makes artisan breads and premium pastas. But Ohio’s soft red winter wheat is the type needed for pastries, cookies, saltines, cake, brownies and pretzels. Brad Moffitt, director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, talked about America’s crops in general and Ohio’s wheat in detail at a recent Bowling Green Kiwanis Club meeting. “We are the top soft red winter wheat state,” Moffitt said. Six main types of wheat are grown in the U.S., with the differing soil types and growing seasons determining which type grows best in which areas. Though corn and soybeans are currently more profitable, farmers realize it’s good to keep wheat in the soil rotation, Moffitt said. More than 590,000 acres in Ohio were planted in soft red winter wheat in 2016. Moffitt described himself as “a farm boy from Urbana,” growing up with crops, cattle and hogs. He then went into a career in education, before “getting back in agriculture, where I belong.” His current job consists of working on research, market development, promotion and education. Moffitt talked with the Kiwanians about agriculture remaining the largest industry in Ohio, and about America’s role in feeding the world. “Our farmers are more than capable of feeding the U.S. and the world,” he said. “We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again.” Estimates suggest that 9.7 billion people will need to be fed by the year 2050. “American farmers have met the challenge before,” he said, describing farmers as industrious and ingenious. The problem isn’t growing the food, Moffitt said. The real problem is transportation infrastructure, storage, refrigeration and processing. “We can produce the food – getting it there is another problem,” he said. The world’s demands for food have not only grown, but they also have changed. More “middle class” people means more demand for meat protein. “They want some of the things we take for granted in this country,” Moffitt said. “When you move into the middle class, you want to eat a little bit better.” More meat demand means more corn, wheat and soybean needed for livestock consumption, he added. Nearly half of the wheat grown in the U.S. ends up in 125 other countries, Moffitt said. Common destinations include Mexico, South America, northern Asia, China and Europe. “Fifty percent of the U.S. wheat crop ends up on a boat and shipped to other countries,” he said. That keeps the ports in Toledo busy, since that is the only place in Ohio where grain can be loaded into vessels, according to Moffitt. Farmers are not only industrious, they are also business savvy. “We are very passionate about NAFTA not being messed up,” he said. Ohio wheat…

BG Council committee chews on food truck information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents are hungry for food trucks in the city. And Phil Barone thinks he has a menu that might please their palates. Barone, who has owned Rosie’s Italian Grille in Toledo for 36 years, has a food truck that serves customers in Perrysburg and Toledo. “To be honest about it, I’ve been looking in Bowling Green,” said Barone, who is a BGSU alumnus. But Bowling Green’s food truck rules are too restrictive, he told city officials Saturday during a work session examining the city’s food truck ordinance. No food vendors are allowed on public property – unlike other communities where food trucks can set up in parking lots or in street parking spots. The city of Toledo first balked at changing its ordinance, Barone said. “I got a lot of flack. The restaurants didn’t like us there,” he said. But the food trucks have transformed St. Clair Street every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during lunch time. Now instead of just a handful of people venturing out to eat on St. Clair, the food trucks draw about 1,500 during lunchtime. “People come out like ants. It’s fun to watch,” Barone said. Barone heads up a food truck association which has 11 members. Their menus offer items like grilled baby lamb chops, lobster mac and cheese, cauliflower crust pizza, Cuban food, steamed mussel salad, perch, cappuccino, and ice cream. “Food trucks aren’t just serving corn dogs,” Barone said. The committee examining Bowling Green’s food truck rules – made up of council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino – has heard from citizens wanting food truck options, from local business owners concerned about the impact on their livelihoods, and from prospective food truck owners who would like to set up their mobile shops here. “I’m hearing from a lot of people,” Rowland said. “The citizens say ‘Yes, we want them.’” Some downtown businesses also would like to see food trucks. “We need interesting things to bring people downtown,” Rowland said they have expressed to her. But brick and mortar restaurants, and the Downtown BG organization have voiced concerns about the mobile vendors taking business from existing restaurants and creating litter problems. So the committee has been looking for common ground. “I firmly believe there is an intersection,” where all can co-exist, Herald said. Barone may have given them that common ground on Saturday. Food truck operations are serious businesses, that want to offer citizens dining options and want to be part of the community, he said. They are sometimes accused by other businesses of “cherry-picking,” but that is not true, Barone said. “We don’t want to just pull in and not be part of what you’re doing,” he said. “They are your future restaurateurs. It’s a smart way to see if…

Two Foxes mixologist Hilary Packard in the mix for whiskey cocktail honors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hilary Packard worked her way through Southern Illinois University Carbondale as bartender. Once she graduated with a degree in math and physics she thought she’d work in an office or a lab putting her knowledge to use. Instead she found, she drawn back to bartending. So now Packard puts her calculating abilities to work as a mixologist. She’s the general manager of Two Foxes, a gastropub in downtown Bowling Green. She’s been concocting seasonal cocktails for the bar since early June. “I’m still using the same skill set,” she said, “logic and problem solving and critical thinking.” Now she’s decided to put her skills to the test against some of her peers from top markets in the country. On Monday she’ll travel to Columbus to take part in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience. She’s one of 10 mixologists from the region selected to compete. At stake for the regional winners is an “immersive three-day experience” to the Woodford distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, and beyond that a trip to New York to compete with about 40 other winning mixologists from the United States and Canada. And, of course, there’s the “street cred” that comes with matching her skills with large market mixologists. Packard learned about the event through “It seemed like a really good opportunity to showcase my skills with whiskey,” she said. She had to submit her recipes for her ideal version of the classic Manhattan and a cocktail of her own creation. Each had to use a Woodford bourbon, at least one, the basic Woodford Reserve. Packard used that in the Manhattan. For her custom drink, she used Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. This was not a matter of just pulling stuff off the shelves and mixing it.  One of the advantages mixologists in cities have is greater access to ingredients. In creating these blends, Packard made her own ingredients from scratch. That meant for her The Tokyo Throwback Manhattan blending her own vermouth. The drink is a tribute to Japan and more broadly Asia. While the increase in consumption of whiskey has been modest in the States, about 2 to 3 percent, the demand in Japan has skyrocketed. This has meant growth in the amount distilled. So all whiskey aficionados like herself benefit. So for her vermouth, she started with plum wine. Then she infused the wine with wormwood, lavender, cardamom, and other aromatic herbs. She used a blackstrap molasses, and then a blend of brandy and sherry to bring it up to proof. She had homemade bitters on hand. “I have a Frankenstein fridge,” she said. “I have all kinds of weird stuff.” And she even made her own cherries marinated in Japanese whiskey. For the Winter Fox she made her own simple syrup scented with lavender from Pemberville and honey…

BGSU trustees vote to increase room & board charges

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees approved increases in room and board Friday. These were the first fee actions taken under the Falcon Guarantee program, so for incoming first-year students these are the charges that they will pay during their undergraduate careers. The average increase will be 2.3 percent, but the actual amount varies depending on the residence hall and room. Chief Financial Officer Sheri Stoll said that the state asks the university to report the cost of its standard double room. Such a room will cost $2,865 next year, up $75, or 2.7 percent. Room rates vary from $2,210, up $40, or 1.8 percent for an economy triple in a tier 2 residences  (Conklin, Offenhauer, Founders)  to $4,120, up  $90, or 2.2 percent in a tier 3 hall (Centennial, Falcon Heights, Greek units.) Stoll said that in considering room rates the university has to balance “competing issues.” It must be cognizant of how much local rental prices are, and Bowling Green has some of the lowest real estate prices. But it must also make sure it’s bringing in enough money to support the programs offered by residence life. Also, Stoll said, the university has to take in enough revenue to maintain the buildings to make sure that “we are able to keep residence halls that students are going to want to come and live in.” The trustees also approved 3-percent increases in meal plans. The plans will now range in price from $1,719 for a Bronze Plan to $2,220 for a Gold Plan. Also, the Community Plan, formerly known as the Commuter Plan, will increase to $325 from $315, a 3.2 percent increase. The name of the plan was changed to reflect that it is used by faculty, staff, and community members as well as commuting students. That plan gives card holders 55 meals. The new board rates will hold for the class of 2022 for their next four years. Students in the classes 2020 and 2021 could be subject to future increases. However most of those students as upper classmen would be living off-campus. Stoll said the expectations of students must be taken into consideration. “Our students aren’t just looking for food,” she said. “Students are clearly looking for experience.” Stoll said that the cost of food has been steady with no large increases. “We are seeing areas where there could be some upticks.” She added: “We’re just one wet or dry summer way from higher food prices.” Even with these increases BGSU remains the fifth least expensive among state institutions, and less expensive than the other four corner schools. The trustees also increased pass through fees. Though the state has frozen fees, it allows universities to increase fees paid by students to third parties. These fees are still billed…

Scholar reflects on the role food played in the fight for racial justice

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like any army, those who struggled for freedom during the Civil Rights movement marched on their stomachs. Food became an early symbol of the movement when five black college students took seats at a Woolworth lunch counter and waited in vain to be served while white onlookers pelted them with invective. Food scholar Jessica Harris has looked at the menus of the lunch counters where the protests spread and noted that the bill of fare was hot dogs, hamburgers, grill cheese – typical “American” food. Harris was the keynote speaker for the Beyond the Dream presentation Wednesday evening at Kobacker Hall in the Bowling Green State University campus. Her talk “Feeding the Resistance: Deacon’s Chicken and Free Breakfasts” culminated an evening in which the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated in music, words, and art. The program opened with Joseph Schwantner’s “New Morning for a New World: Daybreak of Freedom” performed by the Bowling Green Philharmonia conducted by Emily Freeman Brown. The programmatic piece offered orchestral swells and whispers to accompany a text read by Uzee Brown, a BGSU gradate and now chair of the music department at Dr. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College. The text was drawn from various speeches and essays by Dr. King. The music was anxious and on edge as Brown recounted the oppression of African Americans. “There comes a time when people get tired,” he intoned, “… tired of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression.” There were brilliant brass calls to action as the text described the struggle for freedom. “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood,” Brown read. The piece ended reflecting on the future when “we will emerge … into the bright and glowing daybreak of freedom and justice for all God’s children.” The orchestra concluded quietly as the musicians hummed a simple, resonant harmony. An abstract animated film by Heejoo Kim with music by Evan Williams, a BGSU graduate, and poetry by student Bea Fields scrawled across the screen was shown. Then Harris spoke. In her 40-minute presentation, she rooted the Civil Rights Movement to the post-World War II period, when whites saw the beacon of hope while blacks in the south faced segregation and blacks in the north were left behind by white flight in deteriorating neighborhoods. The various elements of the movement for black liberation had their own kitchen ways. The church based movement in the south had church ladies who vied to serve Dr. King the tastiest traditional southern dishes. Activists met around kitchen tables laden with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, freshly cooked – not canned or frozen – greens, okra, and an assortment of pies, including sweet potato, and various fruit cobblers….

Volunteers stepping up to serve on MLK holiday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Martin Luther King Jr, Day is a holiday for people to step up and serve their community. Though the city’s King tribute scheduled Friday had to be canceled because of the winter storm, volunteers were out Saturday morning going door to door for the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service “Can” vass Food Drive. Now coordinated by the Brown Bag Food Project, the drive helps stock the shelves for a number of area food pantries. (See related story Amy Jeffers, a Brown Bag board member, said as of the noon shift, 75 people had signed in. Groups of volunteers headed out into the northwest quadrant of the city to collect food stuffs. “We’ll move on from there,” Jeffers said. The table in the middle of Grounds for Thought, headquarters for the food drive, was filling up with spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables and more. “It’s been nice and steady,” she said. “It’s really starting to grow. … They’re really filling the bags.” The drive will extend throughout the city through Sunday. The cold weather is slowing progress some, but Jeffers said the amount collected is the same or more than last year. Jeffers has worked every drive since it started in response to President Obama’s call for to service. Anyone interested in donating can drop of food, hygiene products or monetary gifts at the shop at 174 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green. Volunteers will be out from noon to 5 pm. Sunday, but the tables will be set up in the morning for anyone who wants to drop something off. The volunteers are both community members and students. “We get a lot of BGSU students” including a contingent from the women’s swim team Molly Wells, a journalism major was on hand, helping to sort food as it came in. She heard about the drive through her sorority, Sigma Kappa. She also knew about the food drive through a fellow journalism student’s story. “My family has always been very big into volunteering,” Wells said. “My dad volunteers at a soup kitchen downtown Toledo. … I’ve grown up with it. It’s part of my family values. … It’s not only good way to get out and experience new things, it’s a good thing to do. I don’t even think twice of it.” She’ll be back Sunday to continue helping. She missed the signup for Monday’s campus Day of Service, but she’s hoping she can find a way to help. She’s participated in the Day of Service the past three years. “This gives a new spin to what you can do with your time,” Wells said. “It carries a message of what you can do every weekend, every month.” On Monday, more than 800 students will participate in Day of Service projects….

Finding the recipe to cure food inspection issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though the Wood County Health District has the power to shut down restaurants, the preferred outcome is that food establishments clean up their acts instead. When health sanitarians come across restaurants with serious issues, many of the violations are corrected on the spot. To make sure the problems have been solved, repeat inspections are often conducted. “It’s based on the severity of the violations,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. Inspectors are sticklers for food temperatures and other issues that can lead to public health risks. The sanitarians’ biggest tool is education. But if that doesn’t clear up the problems, then restaurant owners can be called in for administrative hearings at the health district office. If the violations are serious enough, an injunction or restraining order can be issued. “Ben has the right to order immediate closure,” Glore said of Ben Batey, the county health commissioner. “Our expectation is the food license holders are responsible for knowing the rules,” Glore said. “We hold that license owner responsible for training people.” But before any license is yanked, the sanitarians will make multiple attempts to educate the owner and those in the kitchen. Sometimes there are language and cultural barriers involved. The health district has learned that the biggest cultural gap appears to occur with some Asian restaurants. “We offer handouts in Mandarin Chinese,” Glore said of the educational materials. “That’s the language that seems to be the biggest barrier.” The Wood County Health District has not had to hold an administrative hearing on a local restaurant since 2015, involving Charlie’s in Perrysburg. Glore said that restaurant agreed to a “last chance agreement” and has been doing well. But sanitarians are always on the lookout for restaurants that have ongoing critical violations. “We have a couple on our radar right now,” Glore said. The intent isn’t to shut places down, but clean them up, she stressed. In Bowling Green, one of the food establishments with the most critical violations recently is the Old Town Buffet at 1216 N. Main St. On Nov. 30, Old Town Buffet was found to have seven critical and 15 non-critical violations. The critical violations included: –          Raw shrimp was stored under raw chicken, and mozzarella sticks were under raw chicken – which risks cross contamination. –          Foods were not being held at proper temperatures in the cooler. –          Foods were sitting out at room temperature, like the eggs and bok choy. –          Foods being held in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours were not properly date marked. –          The concentration of the chlorine sanitizing solution did not meet minimum requirements. –          Equipment surfaces and utensils were dirty, including a build-up on food containers, scoops, counters, cutting boards and other equipment. –         …

Scholar Jessica Harris to discuss role of food in Civil Rights movement

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Jessica B. Harris, a preeminent scholar of the food of the African Diaspora, will serve as keynote speaker for Bowling Green State University’s “Beyond ‘The Dream’” 2018 series of events. Harris’ presentation, “Deacon’s Chicken and Free Breakfasts: Food and the Civil Rights Movement,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. for this free event, which is open to the public. A book signing will immediately follow the program, which will include an orchestra performance and a School of Art visual presentation. Harris is one of a handful of African Americans who have achieved prominence in the culinary world. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University, teaches English at Queens College and lectures internationally. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Essence and The New York Times. She has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America and recently helped the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture to conceptualize its cafeteria. Heejoo Kim, an assistant professor of digital arts whose projects focus on social issues, will give a presentation. The Bowling Green Philharmonia will perform Joseph Schwantner’s “New Morning for the World: ‘Daybreak of Freedom,’” written to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BGSU alumnus Dr. Uzee Brown, chair of the Department of Music at Morehouse College, will narrate the piece. “Beyond ‘The Dream’” will feature a series of events through April, including the 29th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Jan. 12. The event will feature keynote speakers Dr. Harold Brown, who was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails, a group of African American men, and Dr. Marsha Bordner, president emeritus at Terra State Community College. Brown and Bordner co-wrote a memoir of Brown’s life, “Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman,” released in August 2017. A book signing will follow this 1 p.m. event at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center, 530 W. Poe Road. A complete list of events is available at Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in these events by contacting Accessibility Services at or 419-372-8495 prior to the events.

Not In Our Town digests concerns about area hunger

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not In Our Town monthly meetings normally focus on standing up against hatred and discrimination. On Thursday, the members talked about standing up for those who are hungry. A recent survey showed that college campuses across the nation are seeing a great deal of “food insecurity.” “We should think of how we’re going to meet that need,” said Christy Lunceford, campus chair of the Not In Our Town Bowling Green organization. “I don’t think the initiatives are meeting the need right now.” While most of that hunger may be faced by students, faculty and staff members aren’t immune, Lunceford said. “We need to keep that on our radar,” she said. An open forum on hunger problems is being planned, she added. “If a student says, ‘I don’t have food for the weekend,’ what do we do,” Lunceford said. The problem reaches beyond college campuses, said Heather Sayler, a member of Not In Our Town. “Let’s be honest. That happens at our city schools.” Sometimes the barrier is not distance but attitudinal. Some BGSU students whose driver’s licenses don’t reflect their residency here in Bowling Green, are turned away for not having the right paperwork, said Katie Stygles, of NIOT. “Sometimes students are treated in negative ways,” Stygles said. “That’s setting up a barrier for students.” Sayler, who also volunteers with the food pantry at First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green, said she has heard similar concerns voiced by senior citizens about other pantry locations. Across Wood County, more people are turning to food pantries to help feed their families. Some food banks offer food once a month, others whenever needed. Some require proof of need, others ask for nothing. Sayler said there are many food programs available. Often the problem is a lack of awareness. So last year, people representing food pantries throughout Wood County gathered at the United Way office in Bowling Green to collect information on all the grassroots efforts to help the hungry. Information was recorded on how often food is available, how much food is given per person, and how families qualify at each operation. The details have been updated in the county’s “211” help telephone system, so when people call for help they are directed to the place most able to assist. A list of the food pantries in Wood County and the surrounding area can be found at:;;0;;N;0;0;Family%20Support%20and%20Parenting;Military%20Family%20Support;54;Food%20Pantries~ The website lists 18 sites in Wood County, plus gives details such as who qualifies, the type of documentation needed, the pantry location and hours, and how often someone can pick up food. In addition to bags of groceries, many of the sites offer such help as free meals, laundry and shower services, clothing, kitchenware, toiletries and baby items. Others provide car care, used furniture or…

Vegan Toledo hosts discussion of ‘How Not to Die’

Submitted by VEGAN TOLEDO Vegan Toledo will present a book discussion of New York Times bestseller “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, M.D. at Gathering Volumes Bookstore, 196 E South Boundary St, Perrysburg, on Thursday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will include free food samples as well as drawings for food baskets, T-shirts and books. The book offers a detailed account of how our American lifestyle can cause preventable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It gives practical advice about not only what foods to avoid, but many positive suggestions about delicious foods that are particularly useful in protecting our health and promoting longevity. Attendees may have read the book, or they may participate even if they are just considering reading it in the future and wish to learn more about it. “This is an eye-opening, evidence-based book,” shared Mike Zickar of Vegan Toledo. “We are excited to partner with Gathering Volumes to bring this important discussion to our community. We all struggle with our food choices and we’ve found this book to offer clear and manageable strategies to help lead to a longer and healthier life.” “Our motto at Vegan Toledo is you don’t have to ‘be’ vegan to eat vegan,” shared Rachel Zickar of Vegan Toledo. “For many of us, it’s more effective to take small steps over time toward a healthier lifestyle. This book is a great way to start, or continue, that journey. Folks with all kinds of eating habits are welcome to join this discussion. We will all do better with the support of others as we strive to become healthier together.” Vegan Toledo, founded by Rachel and Mike Zickar, is an organization dedicated to healthy lifestyle choices as well as making it easier for travelers and residents to find vegan options in the area via their web site,, as well as through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Volunteers needed to help MLK Day of Service food drive extend its reach

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Martin Luther King Day of Service “Can”vas Food Drive hopes to extend its reach. Now in its 10th year, organizer Amy Jo Holland, of the Brown Bag Food Project, said she’d like to reach the homes throughout town. That means putting out a call for volunteers, about 300 is what she thinks will be needed. The food drive will be held Saturday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 14, noon to 4 p.m. Last year, Holland said, the canvassers covered the north side of the city and some of the south. “We hope this year we can cover it all.” Volunteer sign up is just getting underway. The organizers have started reaching out to groups at Bowling Green State University as well as community groups. Holland is well aware of people’s reluctance to commit, but is confident as the date nears community members will enlist. Some volunteers will hang back at the collection site, Grounds for Thought, and help sort the food that comes. That means setting aside items beyond their sell-by dates. As long as they are not too old, some pantries can still use those. Most of the volunteers will join small teams of canvassers going door-to-door through Bowling Green neighborhoods collecting non-perishable food and others necessities. Especially needed are peanut and jelly, tuna, and canned meats. They are also collecting hygiene items, baby formula, wipes, and diapers, and pet food. This year seven food shelters will share in the bounty. Those benefiting are: Brown Bag Food Project, the Christian Food Pantry, and pantries operated by St. Aloysius, St. Thomas More, St. Mark’s Lutheran, Broken Chains, and First United Methodist Church. Each received about 30 boxes of food last year. “For us it’ll maintain us through May,” Holland said of Brown Bag. It certainly will not meet all the food needs of the 300 people a month Brown Bag helps, but it’ll provide an essential core of the food deliveries, and means the project will have to buy less to meet the need. The food drive was started in 2009 in the wake of the election of Barack Obama. Some of his supporters wanted to sustain the energy of the campaign through community service. Brown Bag decided to continue it several years ago. Brown Bag has its niche. It provides short-term emergency food supplies with the minimum of paperwork. Other pantries have other niches, so it’s natural for them to work together. “There are people they get that we don’t get,” Holland said. “The ultimate goal is to make sure people are getting fed.”

Finnish coffee table staple has becomes our family’s holiday tradition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before I ever met my wife, Linda, I had tasted her Finnish sweet bread. At least, I was supposed to. She’d gone to the home of mutual friend, to bake the bread known as pulla. It was Christmas time, and that friend, Barbara, then my girlfriend, gave me a loaf as a gift. Two days later, she spotted that loaf still sitting on the shelf in my truck. I was right and properly scolded. A Christmas memory. I’m sure, though, that the bread still tasted wonderful toasted. That was the Christmas of 1973. Now it’s the Christmas of 2017, and Linda is still baking pulla. Lots of it. This year 32 loaves for family and friends near and far. For that matter, Barbara, still a close friend, bakes it as well, serving to her fellow cast members in the Christmas Revels held in Hanover, New Hampshire. For all that, Linda will point out: Pulla is not a Christmas treat. In Finland it is a year-round staple. There’s always a loaf in the bread box to serve with coffee. To serve coffee without pulla, is considered “bare coffee.” Noting “bare” about pulla, a white bread rich with milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and seasoned with cardamom. Growing up on the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is the upper peninsula of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she remembers her mother making throughout the year. Not always. It was a special treat. The bread was not called “pulla,” it was “nisu,” an archaic word for wheat. The Finnish spoken on the Keweenaw is rich with archaic words spoken by those like Linda’s grandparents who came to the Copper Country at the end of the 19th century. When Linda’s Aunt Gertrude traveled to Finland in the 1970s, she confused the Finns with her fluent Finnish. “Ma’am, when did you leave Finland?” they wondered. Linda doesn’t remember when she started to help making the bread. Age 6, maybe? She loved to punch down the dough after the first rising. Maybe she would help knead, or mix in flour. When she was older she would help remove the cardamom seeds from the pods. This is the secret of a good pulla. (After spending two years in Finland, Linda adopted that name, though on the Keweenaw it’s still known as nisu.) “Don’t skimp on the cardamom.” That’s the watchword. Linda uses the same recipe as her mother and her grandmother before her. This is the same recipe as appears in Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Finnish Cookbook. In discussing this all important matter of cardamom, Linda mentioned she uses a generous tablespoon, which is more than Ojakangas calls for. Checking the recipe, she found it’s a full three times as much as the single teaspoon in the recipe. This year on receiving his pulla shipment, her brother remarked…

Library’s Holiday Cookie Bake-Off is a winner for all involved

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A recipe that has traveled over the ocean and through the generations was the favorite bite Monday at the Holiday Cookie Bake-Off at the Wood County District Public Library. Jennie Whiteside won for her German Sour Cream Twists. The recipe, she said, has been passed down through many generations in her husband’s family. The winners were selected by a vote of the more than 60 people in attendance. Each attendee received six tickets to distribute as they choose, and each baker had a paper bag where the voters could deposit one or more ballots. Whiteside is living in Bowling Green while her son’s family is temporarily located here. He works for an engineering firm doing pipeline work. Whiteside said she’s been baking the cookies since 1979. The recipe has traveled with her family from Pennsylvania to South Dakota and now here. At first, the recipe she got wasn’t quite right. Then she figured out what was missing and has been making the winning recipe since. This is the first time, though, that she’s shared it outside the family. (See recipes below). Whiteside said her daughter-in-law, Jamie Whiteside, will be learning the recipe, so it will pass down to another generation. “It’s something to live up to,” Jamie Whiteside said. Her mother-in-law said part of the reason for participating in the bake-off was to show support for the library, which has done so much for her family since they’ve been in Bowling Green. “This has been a huge resource for us to get out of the house,” Jamie Whiteside said. The second-place winner was Janet Griffith, of Bowling Green. Though Griffith has been baking since she was a child, her Magic Peanut Butter Cookies are a recent addition to her repertoire. She found the recipe in the “Gooseberry Patch: Dinners on a Dime” last year. The cookies are gluten-free, but that wasn’t a concern for Griffith. She and her daughter wondered how so simple a recipe – one part peanut butter, one part sugar, one egg – would come out. Well, those attending the bake-off thought they came out just fine. Griffith was confident of the quality of the cookie though she wasn’t sure they were good enough to win a prize. Griffith is a former pre-K teacher. Last year she decided to start baking full time. She now works at the Carillon Place Dining Center at Bowling Green State University. Griffith took part because she participates in the library’s Page to Table cookbook club. The book club gives participants a chance to read cookbooks and then make recipes for all to share. Adding to the festive atmosphere of the bake-off were about a dozen piano students of Vicki Hoehner, and her daughter Bethany Hoehner playing seasonal tunes. Vicki Hoehner said the event was the…

Library hosting Holiday Cookie Bake-Off

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY The Wood County District Public Library  invites home cooks and baking enthusiasts to bring their best recipes to the library for a community Holiday Cookie Bake-Off. “With the popularity of television shows such as the Great British Baking Show, we thought it would be fun to offer our local bakers an opportunity to get in on the action,” said Michele Raine, WCDPL Assistant Director.  “Winners get bragging right, a prize package, and their recipe is featured in ‘Cooks Corner’ in the Sentinel-Tribune.”  The event takes place in the library’s atrium on Monday, Dec. 18 at 7 pm.  Previous winning bakers are Char Rehklau and Isabella Nardone. “The winning recipe is determined by popular vote that night, so we need both tasters and bakers,” said Raine. To participate, bring at least two dozen cookies to the library.  “The last couple of years, some of the bakers have run out of cookies, so we feel like having at least 2 dozen is pretty important,” said Raine.  Bakers can bring more than one recipe, but should have 2 dozen of each cookie for the tasters.  After all the cookies have been tasted and the votes counted, Mrs. Claus will award the prize to the winning cookie. The event also features live music from students in Vicki Hoehner’s piano studio. For more information about the Holiday Cookie Bake-Off, please call the Wood County District Public Library’s Adult Services department at 419-352-5050.

Thanksgiving brings community together to feast

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is something sacred about Thanksgiving, with its roasted turkey and trimmings, family and friends. So when two local churches invite the community to Thanksgiving dinner, they want their guests to feel that warmth and welcome. “It’s not a charity dinner,” said Lynn Eck of Christ’s Church. “It’s a ‘let’s get together’ dinner. It’s just a way to give back to the community.” Tuesday’s feast was the 26th annual community Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Christ’s Church and Grace Brethren Church. It welcomes everyone to the table. “It looks like we’re prepared for dinner guests,” Eck said as she looked over the busy dining room in the Bowling Green Community Center. “That’s important. For a lot of people this is their Thanksgiving.” The menu featured the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls and pie. The feast is cooked in mass quantities – so heaping helpings could be dished out for at least 500 guests. That included 18 turkeys, 24 industrial-size cans of green beans, 44 dozen rolls and 36 pies and cakes. “Everything is doctored up a bit so it tastes like home,” Eck said. And as usual, the guests at the 26th annual dinner came hungry and thankful for the free feast. “Half of these people were here before we even started today,” Eck said. Among those feasting in the massive dining room were Daneaka Nelson and Christian Wilson. “It’s real good,” said Wilson, as she shook some Tabasco sauce – from the bottle she carries with her everywhere – onto her turkey. But it was more than the hot meal that made the dinner special. “I think it’s just gathering around family and going down memory lane, and eating a good home-cooked meal,” Nelson said. At another table, Ken Fletcher had finished his meal while Barb Bumpus, both of Bowling Green, was still working on her plate. “It’s getting together with people,” Fletcher said, as he greeted other guests walking past his table. “I drove taxi seven years in this town, so I know a lot of people.” In the kitchen, volunteer cooks were scrambling to keep up with the steady demand. The meal relies on a dedicated team of volunteers from both churches. “Some of them, I don’t even know their names, but I see them here every year,” Eck said. At one of the giant stoves in the back, Scott Dobransky and Chris Baker stirred up huge pots of broth for the potatoes, stuffing and gravy. “We have to work fast, because it goes fast,” Baker said. Their method was a mixture of following directions and just winging it. “Then you stir it till it looks good,” Dobransky said. Dobransky has been helping with the annual tradition for 20 years. “I like to help people. I’m glad…