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Monday, February 20, 2017

The Purpose of This Vintage Press

This past weekend Mike and I took a short trip to an auction in a neighboring state.  I was intrigued with this press and thought I might know what it was, but I was wrong.  The auctioneer who was selling it was also wrong when he put it up for sale at the auction.  He stated that it was a cider or fruit press.  I looked at it and thought that it might be a cheese press but remarked to Mike that there was no way to determine the weight at which the cheese was being pressed with this design. Had I been able to convince myself it was not a cheese press, I most likely would not have bid on it.   Upon a closer inspection after buying it, I knew the press was something other than a fruit or cheese press and began to research the company that manufactured it.  Immediately information surfaced for A I Root Company in Medina Ohio, a company started in 1869 that still manufactures candles to this day. 

"Hmmmmm" I mused.  "A press for candles?"  Something just didn't seem right about that.  So, I continued to research. 

I found a web site with the history of the founder, Mr. Amos Ives Root.  It seems that Mr. Root was a jewelry maker at the time when bees swarmed his place of business.  One of his employees (so the story goes) was asked to catch the swarm for him.  Thus began Mr. Root's interest in beekeeping.  (It is reported that his wife chastised him for paying the employee a day's wages in order to catch what she considered a good for nothing pesk.  Whether this part of the story is true or not, we do not know but we do know that Amos kept bees as a hobby as far back as his early twenties)   Amos Root was a brilliant entrepreneur whose interest in bees led him to manufacturing bee keeping equipment during the late 1800's, a time when beekeeping was of great economic importance to many communities.  His company shipped out four railroad cars of bee equipment a day.  It makes perfect since that Amos Root, a brilliant entrepreneur, began using beeswax to make candles. and while the company discontinued producing bee equipment in the early part of the 20th century, the candle business run by Amos Root's great, great grandson survives and thrives to this day.

In addition to his innovations in beekeeping equipment and candle making, Mr. Root wrote a book that is still currently published called THE ABC's of BEEKEEPING and he was founder of  "Gleanings in Bee Culture" a periodical for beekeepers still in circulation.   

More information on Amos Ives Root can be found here, here, and here

And that press?  It's a wax press used to extract honey from the honeycomb. 

If that was your guess, then you're answer was SWEET!

Photo Courtesy of AI Root Candle Company.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.
~Mary Oliver~
excerpted from American Primitive

Meatball Stew

Over twenty years ago, I somehow ended up with a small recipe book distributed by Campbell's soup.  I was just a young mother at the time and was looking for inexpensive and easy recipes to feed my two kids.  One of the meals I tried from the Campbell's "Creative Cooking with Soup" recipe book was called Meatball Stew.  Despite its unlikely name, my children loved it and it became a stand by meal as they were growing up.  The original recipe was written so that one could vary the ingredients for a slightly different soup.  I will provide the original recipe and the variations, after which I will give you my version, as I don't use the processed soups.  To me, all recipes are simply suggestion.  Each recipe gives me the basis of a meal that I can make my own  So, be creative and find ways to make this soup yours.

Meatball Stew

1 Pound of Ground Beef
Crumbs (Choose ONE of the following suggestions from Campbell's:  1/2 cup soft, fresh, bread crumbs, or 1/4 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs, or 1/4 cup finely crushed saltines or 1/4 cup quick cooking oats.)
1/4 teaspoon Herb of your choice (Choose ONE from the following suggestions:  Summer Savory Leaves, Basil Leaves, Oregano Leaves, or Thyme Leaves)
1 Egg
1 Clove Garlic Minced
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Can Condensed Soup (Choose one of the following suggestions:  French Onion, Tomato Bisque, Vegetable Beef, or Spanish Style Vegetable)
1/4 Cup Water
3 Medium Potatoes cut and quartered
Vegetable (Choose One of the following: Three Medium Carrots cut in chunks, 1 1/2 Cups Celery cut in chunks approximately 1/2 inch thick, 1 1/2 Cups cut Green Beans, or 3 Medium parsnips peeled and cut into one inch chunks)
1 Medium Onion cut into thin wedges
1 Tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

In medium bowl, combine ground beef, crumbs of choice, herb of choice, egg and garlic.  Mix thoroughly.  Shape into approximately 20 meatballs.

In skillet over medium heat, in hot oil, cook meatballs until brown on all sides.  Drain fat.

Combine soup and water and pour into a pot with meatballs, potatoes, vegetable of choice and onion. Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover, simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, adding more water if needed.  Garnish with parsley.  Makes four servings.

T Cupp's Version of Meatball Stew

1 Pound of Ground Beef
1/2 cup of soft bread crumbs
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Sometimes I use a small amount of grated onion or bell pepper in the meatballs for added flavor.  Original recipe calls for garlic.

In a medium bowl, combine ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Shape into approximately 20 meatballs.  Use a small bit of coconut oil to grease skillet and cook meatballs until brown on all sides.  (The oil keeps the meatballs from sticking while they cook.)  Pour off fat.

Instead of using the processed Campbell's soup, I use one quart of my homemade beef broth. In a medium sized pot,  pour beef broth over meatballs, add three medium potatoes cubed, three medium carrots cut into 1 inch chunks, approximately 1/2 cup of celery cut into 1/2 inch slices, and 1 medium onion cut into thin wedges.

Cover.  Simmer approximately 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Garnish with parsley.  Makes four servings.

This also makes a great meal for the slow cooker.  Simply make your meatballs and then throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning and it will be ready for supper at the end of the day.  Pairs well with a pan of cornbread!