Youthview: Giving Back At the Holidays

Allison Ervin, Youthview blogger, and granddaughter of Lehman's founder, Jay Lehman.

Allison Ervin, Youthview blogger, and granddaughter of Lehman’s founder, Jay Lehman.

The holidays are a time for giving back, and there are tons of fun and creative ways to be generous during the Christmas season.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to make someone’s Christmas a lot better. My family and I like to fill a shoe box with things that we think kids would like, and then wrap it up in cute wrapping paper and donate it.

With all the sweets we enjoy over the season, it’s easy to forget that some folks may be going hungry. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen is very rewarding. Bringing homemade cookies or any baked good to a local nursing home will make everyone: you and the residents and staff, smile.

Continue reading

There’s Still Time! May We Suggest…

Yes, it's our catalog cover. And it's true: there's still time!

Yes, it’s our catalog cover. And it’s true: there’s still time!

Haven’t quite gotten all the Christmas shopping done yet? Don’t worry: there’s still time to beat Santa to the punch!

Lehman’s last day to order for standard (less expensive!) ground shipping is December 18 at noon. And if you still aren’t quite ready, you can order as late as noon on December 23, add the fee for expedited shipping and rest assured that your gift will arrive on time.

Visit Lehmans.com for your last-minute shopping!

Torte-Style Cakes Made Easy With Layer Cake Slicer

Non-stick steel and aluminum cake slicing set.

The Layer Cake Slicer makes it easy to do fancy torte-style cakes. At Lehman’s in Kidron, or at Lehmans.com.

I’ve made a lot of cakes in my time. When I was 9, my homemade, iced chocolate cake took top honors in my cousin’s Girl Scout baking contest. (My cousin says she’s not a baker.) From the time I was young, I helped Mom make and ice wedding cakes, birthday cakes, cakes for every occasion. And the hardest thing to do was to make torte cakes. They were frustrating, and never were as pretty as I wanted them to be.

But now, I can do it easily with the new Layer Cake Slicer!

Continue reading

Real Mince Pies Recipe – Straight from England

My younger sister spent a year of her college career as an exchange student to Leeds, England. There she learned many life lessons, including how to make these mini pies, which are now a Christmas tradition in her household (and which I am lucky enough to devour when we visit her). You can find lots of mince pies recipes online; however, most cheat and use either store-bought pastry or filling, or both. This recipe is the real deal, complete with British terminology, which we’ve translated for you in italics. This is at least a one-day process. Like all things authentic, it can’t be rushed. Enjoy making homemade mince pies … and then enjoy eating them even more!

Traditional Homemade British Mince Piesshoulder bowl set

Mince (Consider making ½ this recipe–they are SO rich!)

225g/8oz vegetarian suet (or smaller amount of Crisco)

225g/8oz apples, peeled, cored and chopped

125g/4oz candied peel, chopped or orange peel

225g/8oz white raisins

225g/8oz regular raisins

225g/8oz currants

175g/6oz natural sugar

1 tsp mixed/allspice

1 orange, zest and juice

60ml/2-4fl oz brandy

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl until well-combined. When you have the mince mixture finished, chill at least 24 hours before assembling the pies. You can also can the mice filling, following instructions for canning low-acid fruits or pie fillings.

Pastry (My sister doubles this, typically, for the mince recipe above.)

The classic flour sifter: available in stainless steel too, at Lehmans.com and Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

The classic flour sifter: in stainless steel, at Lehmans.com and Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

200g/7oz plain flour, sifted

40g/1½oz natural sugar

75g/2¾oz ground almonds

125g/4½oz unsalted butter, diced

1 large free-range egg, beaten

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand, 1-2 dices at a time. When the butter is worked in, gently stir in the egg.

Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill for an hour or so. It’s more like a shortbread type crust than a typical American pie crust. You can also swap in your favorite pie crust recipe.

Glaze
1/4 cup milk

Assemble the pies
Before building the pies, take the mince out of the refrigerator, and stir to even distribute any liquid in the mixture. If using canned mince, open can, put into a bowl and stir.

My sister uses a mini-cupcake pan for her mince pies, because made in standard muffin pans, the pies do get large! It’s important that you know the pan heats evenly, like the recycled steel Muffin Pan at Lehman’s, should you use a larger pan.

Preheat the oven to 400° (UK Gas 6).

Donut and Biscuit Cutter at Lehmans.com

When cutting dough circles, a Donut and Biscuit Cutter can be helpful. At Lehman’s in Kidron, and Lehmans.com.

1. Remove chilled pastry from refrigerator.Roll out the pastry to a uniform thinness (approximately 1/4″) on a well-floured surface. As dough warms, it will become difficult to handle. Chill again if needed.

2. Cut large and small rounds of pastry. Large rounds must be big enough to line the pan wells, level with the tops of the wells, as they will become the bottom crust for the mince pies. Smaller rounds will top the pies.

3. Place mince onto the bottom crust, leaving margins for sealing.

4. Top with the smaller piece. Press the edges of the pastry pieces together to seal.

5. Make a small slit in the top of each pie, then brush lightly with milk.

Nonstick Oven Liner at Lehmans.com

A Nonstick Oven Liner from makes holiday baking so much easier. At Lehman’s in KIdron or at Lehmans.com.

Because the crust has so much butter in it, it can bubble over the pan. You may want to line your oven with something like Lehman’s Nonstick Oven Liner. My sister says it can get a bit messy during baking, so she always lines the oven.

Bake the pies for 20-ish minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack. Serve warm.

Want to compare? My sister suggests this link for a reference. She’s used it when needed and liked it.

Do You Know the Mustard Man?

The Mustard Man Mustards at Lehmans.com

Mustard Man Tim Campbell, in his trademark yellow.

Do you know the Mustard Man® Mustards? If you don’t, you can get to know him right here at Lehman’s!

It’s the first holiday season that we’ve featured this locally-made product, and it’s certainly adding a sparkle to our foods lineup both at Lehman’s in Kidron, in our catalogs, and on our website, Lehmans.com.

Tim Campbell, aka “The Mustard Man,” is a guy with a mission. From his small manufacturing kitchen near Canton, Ohio, he’s spreading the word about real mustard!

“Everything is derived from a recipe that the German side of my family has used for generations. We put it on sausage links, mostly, in the beginning. I’d take it to tailgates, house parties, whatever. And people kept saying, ‘Wow, this is great, you really should sell it.” Continue reading

The Timeless Beauty of Cast Iron

Most of the pans in my cupboard are cast iron.  There are skillets deep and shallow, large and small.  There are dutch ovens and biscuit pans.  Pie and bread pans.  Even the tea kettle is cast iron.  It’s one of those tiny Japanese tea pots, but it’s cast iron!

Durable and pre-seasoned, this cast iron pie pan will last a lifetime - and beyond.

Durable and pre-seasoned, this cast iron pie pan will last a lifetime – and beyond.

The pots and pans get a lot of work at my house and they just keep getting better. Just about every kind of pan comes in cast iron.
Since we live off the grid, we conserve our electricity.  Because of this, there are certain appliances that we just can’t have. We don’t use anything that is really high wattage or has an electric heating element.  This includes microwave ovens and toasters or toaster ovens.  They aren’t missed.  I think food prepared in a microwave tastes strange.  The cast iron griddle makes much better toast than any toaster.
Cast iron pans can be used anywhere.  They are used for baking in the oven and on top of the stove. Often I cook inside my wood stove. I prepare an entire meal in a small dutch oven and put it right on the coals.  Everything cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the pan.  During the summer, I cook in a pit outside and I just lower the dutch oven into the pit of hot coals and it works like a crock pot. Slow cooking without the electricity. The black cast iron is solar oven friendly, too. I’ve baked pies, breads and other foods in cast iron, using the solar oven.
I’ve heard people say that cast iron is too heavy.  Yes, it is heavy, but using it keeps my upper body in good shape.  I use those arm muscles more regularly because I have to lift cast iron pots every day.  I find that is an advantage living out here.  We need to stay in shape.cast iron pizza pan
When I left the city, I gave away glass pans, silverstone pans, and others.  I had a few cast iron pieces and I knew they would be the right choice here.  It was a good decision.  They are more useful and easier to care for than any pans I have owned.
Once they’re seasoned, they are pretty much non stick.  If something does stick, I just put a little salt in it and scrub it around with a cloth.  The abrasive salt cleans up the mess without taking off the coating.  For general cleaning, just a dab of dish washing liquid and some water works well.   They get a quick wash and rinse, not staying in water for long and then dried right away.  If the coating needs a little boost, a very light coat of oil and about 5 minutes on top of the stove on high heat fixes it.
We have a friend who lives in town.  He seems to know when I’m baking something sweet.  Somehow he manages to show up just when it comes out of the oven.  I’ve started baking very large cakes and pies in my 10 inch skillet.  I turn the cakes out onto a 14 inch cast iron pizza pan lined with parchment.  It makes a good serving tray and the lid for my wok fits perfectly for a cover.  Yesterday, it was peach upside down cake.  Good, easy and big enough to share!
Peach Upside Down Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet
Dry ingredients:
2 1/2 C Flour- (see above)
4 tsp. Baking Powder

Love cast iron cooking? Looking for some new recipes? Here are more than 550, all from our loyal customers!

Love cast iron cooking? Looking for some new recipes? Here are more than 550, all from our loyal customers!

1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
Wet ingredients:
4 eggs OR 8 egg whites OR 1 C. egg substitute- your choice-  it all works the same.
2 tsp vanilla-  remember, Gluten Free people-  check it to make sure!
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. honey
2/3 C. mayonnaise-  You can use any kind.  If you are on a diet, use reduced calorie.  If a vegan, use vegan.  Whatever works for you.
1 1/3 C. plain yogurt-  Any kind will do.  I like homemade greek yogurt, low fat.  Use what you like.  Soy yogurt works, too.  So does goat.
For the topping:
About a cup of brown sugar
Canned or fresh peaches, drained.
You can add pecans, cherries or just about anything else if you like to the topping.  You can also substitute.  Get creative here.  Make it your own!
DIrections:
Use a 10 inch skillet- oven at 350.
Oil the skillet with the oil of your choosing.  I usually use canola.   Spread out the brown sugar to coat the skillet. Be generous.  Spread the peaches (slices or halves work) on the brown sugar.
Mix the dry ingredients.  I stir them with a fork to make sure they get all mixed up.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs up really well.  Frothy and foamy is good.
Add the other wet ingredients and beat them really well.
Add the flour mix 1/2 cup at a time, mixing slowly, until it’s all mixed in.
Pour the batter over the peaches in the skillet and bake for about 45 minutes.  It’s done when the top is brown, the sides start to pull away from the pan and you stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
Turn it onto a very large plate about 5 minutes out of the oven,  If you wait any longer, it will stick and make a big mess.  Sooner is better.
Serve hot or cold with yogurt, whipped cream, ice cream or plain.
Enjoy.
PS- You can cut this recipe in 1/2 and bake it in an 8 inch cake pan.  Just watch the time.  It should be more like 30 minutes.  I’ve never done it, but that sounds about right.

 

Lehman’s Hacks: Christmas Canning Jar Craft!

Beeswax tealights, Ball® canning jars

Lit with tealights, the jars really sparkle! Find tealights and jars at Lehmans.com.

The first thing we did was look at Pinterest.

In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

After all, we’re writers and editors here at Country Life, not semi-professional crafters.

But we had a great time making our “disco ball jars” as writer Sarah christened the project, and we hope you will too.

Continue reading

Four Grandmothers Gingerbread Cookies

Last December I finally tried my hand at one of the most coveted recipes within the gingerbread cookiespages of my Great-Grandmother Miriam’s recipe book: her soft ginger cookies. She made them annually when I was a child; we looked forward to them so much that she even wrote, “the kids like these” in the recipe (the entire thing is handwritten, another aspect of the treasure).

Blessed with a quiet afternoon to myself (the baby napping and the other two at school), I set about mixing up the dough in my trusty KitchenAid mixer, which was a wedding gift from Grandma Ruth. As I got out my rolling pin and cookie cutters, it suddenly dawned on me that my cookie baking was accompanied by not one, not two, not

These bowls will last a lifetime and become family heirlooms to pass down from generation to generation - and that's the kind of quality that can't be bought in a big department store.

These bowls will last a lifetime and become family heirlooms to pass down from generation to generation – and that’s the kind of quality that can’t be bought in a big department store.

even three, but FOUR of my grandmothers.

Two greats, and two grands: Great-Grandma Miriam’s handwritten recipe, Great-Grandma Jane’s wooden rolling pin, the mixer from Grandma Ruth, and my collection of antique cookie cutters from Grandma Toody (whose real name is also Ruth, but that’s another post). Sadly, the two “greats” have passed on, but my two grandmothers are still with us. What a gift it was to make these cookies with all of them “present” with me!

Here’s Great-Grandma Miriam’s recipe, word for word:

Soft Ginger Cookies

3/4 c. molasses

1/2 c. melted shortening (don’t substitute butter)recipe

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. strong vinegar

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 cups flour

1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 c. buttermilk

Mix all ingredients together in the order given. Then stir in 2 more cups flour. Roll out thick and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Cut out in desired shapes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.

(Sarah’s note: Dough will be sticky – use a generous amount of flour to roll out and cut out!)

P.S. These were RAGINGLY popular last Christmas. I made all star shapes and the cinnamon-sugar mixture gave them just the right hint of glitter. They don’t require icing, but if you really HAD to, you could do a nice butter cream or even cream cheese icing.

Upcycle Old Tshirts for Thoughtful Gift!

Children's Tshirts

Sure, they may outgrow them, but you can make cute quilts with them afterwards!

If you’re like the folks who work here at Lehman’s, you like to make things with your hands. And for the holidays, you really like to make gifts for those few people who make your life complete.

This year, you might need their cooperation, a few Tshirts, and some basic sewing skills. We love the idea of a quilt made from well-loved or outgrown Ts that aren’t really past their prime.

In fact, one of our own staff members, Elaine, created a beautiful, very warm comforter using the Lehman’s t-shirts she wore to work for years!

Elaine's "Lehman's Ts Quilt."

Elaine’s “Lehman’s Ts Quilt.”

See the tutorial here:

http://www.favequilts.com/T-Shirt-Quilts/Classic-Memories-T-Shirt-Quilt

Stock Up: Get the most from your big bird!

Get the most out of your holiday turkeys (or even chickens)- make some stock!turkey_019

We always get at least one extra turkey at Thanksgiving because the prices are so good. And when we did, we realized we still had a 23 pound bird in our freezer.

To make room for this year’s extra turkey, we had an early Thanksgiving feast. I really enjoyed this week of good eats. We had easy, tasty protein to add to our rice bowls, salads and sandwiches. We also could split the favorites of the classic meal into many different meals throughout the week.

As an added benefit I can freeze some so I have safe roasted turkey on the ready for my daughter, who has several food allergies. It’s great to pre-prep a quick snack or meal for her.

I like to cook my turkey in a roaster. I always make a large pot of stock from the neck and gizzards, liver and heart while the meat is roasting. I put the neck, the ‘innards’, fresh sage, garlic and a quartered onion to simmer in a large stockpot. I let it bubble away all afternoon and used it for gravy, basting and stuffing.

After I’d made gravy for our early turkey dinner, I canned the stock that was left and had Turkey stock 3five quarts of stock just from the stockpot.

Since it was such a large turkey for the four of us, John sliced it down, while I picked off all the usable meat for some turkey salad and other future dinners.

Then I took the bones and returned them to my now clean roaster with some more onions, garlic and this time a couple carrots and celery stalks. I filled the roaster with water and let it simmer all night through the next day.

It was some work to get the fat off the top, but I found that cheese cloth or a paper towel fatseparatoralong the top skimmed well. (A gravy separator will work well too.) From the simmered bones, I got another thirteen quarts of stock.

It only takes 25 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure to can stock. In years past I have frozen it and while it may be a bit quicker to freeze stock, I have had to dodge large frozen blocks of it falling out of the bulging freezer.

Then when I would go to use it I would need to defrost it and often the container it was may have been cracked from an escape attempt, and the whole thing was just a production.

With canned stock, it is just easy breezy ready to use. I just pop the top and go. It’s definitely worth the time invested to clean the jars and do the canning properly.

I also plan to make some vegetable stock with the veggies that tend to be on sale for the making of thanksgiving feasts. I also freeze any of the celery or carrots that aren’t crisp enough to eat or use the trimmings from other dishes over time.

It is super simple because you can just toss the cutting and leftover bits into a container and pull that out when you are ready to make veggie stock.

When you add the garlic and onions, don’t stress about peeling perfectly. I just pour mine through a strainer to get all the big chunks out. I leave the garlic whole, and quarter the onions.

So for much less than what the turkey stock alone would have been at the grocery store, I got gallons of turkey and veggie stock.

Plus we got a fresh roasted turkey, yummy turkey sandwiches, and all the other favoriteTurkey stock 1 leftovers.

I can season the stocks to taste when I am ready to use it and I know every ingredient. It doesn’t get more perfect or basic than that.

One recipe that I love to make with the stock and some frozen turkey is dumplings. Just google gluten free vegan chicken dumplings if you need to avoid wheat, milk or egg. We have to avoid those things, and searching for vegan recipes makes things simpler. I just don’t tell the vegan dumplings that they’re cooking up in my meaty turkey stock!

If you don’t have food limitations, make your favorite dumplings, and toss them into a pefect, homemade stock. Really in a rush? You want these pot pie noodles. They’re great, and locally made.