Wednesday, May 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dan Neman


Holiday marathon is off and running

We can’t fight it anymore: The Christmas season is almost upon us.

It’s true. Step outside — it’s cold, right? Or at least colder than it was in, say, July. And the trees have shed their leaves, virtually all of which landed in my yard. But the real harbinger of the season has to be the appearance of gingerbread houses everywhere you look (they’re over there, underneath the leaves).

Don’t get left out of the gingerfun. Sauder Village, in Archbold, is holding a class on how to make gingerbread houses on Nov. 24 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The class will be geared toward children accompanied by adults. Although the event is called Grandma & Me Gingerbread House Making, grandfathers and parents are also welcomed.

The instruction fee is $10, plus $20 for supplies per house.

Meanwhile, the historic village is holding another food-related class this month. On Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. they will demonstrate ways to take the “irk” out of turkey — that’s their joke, not mine. The class will discuss ways to roast moist and flavorful poultry, which they will demonstrate on chicken (not, you know, turkey), which the attendees will take home. The cost is $22, $20 for members, plus a $10 supply fee.

For reservations or information, call 800-590-9755 or visit

Ag uniformity

Did you know that 99 percent of all turkeys in the United States are commercial white turkeys? Have you noticed fewer types of plant seeds than there used to be?

Seth Teter of Our Ohio magazine and Buckeye Farm News has, and he is concerned about what he perceives as a loss of diversity in agriculture. In seven years of covering farming issues, Mr. Teter has come to recognize the problem and formulate ideas for getting farmers and consumers more interested in trying a wider variety of items.

On Thursday, he will share his ideas and expertise at a breakfast meeting at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation, just north of Bowling Green. The discussion (and meal) will be from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

The cost is $10 at the door, payable by cash or check. Walk-ins are welcome, but it wouldn’t hurt to reserve a seat at 419-535-6000, ext. 100.

The Agriculture Incubator Foundation is easy to miss. It is at 13737 Middleton Pike, which is State Rt. 582. It is 2.2 miles west of I-75 at the Luckey/Haskins exit (State Rt. 582).

Veritas, vinowise

This seems like as good a time as any to sit back, put up our feet, and have a sip or two of wine. Though a better time, come to think of it, might be Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., which is when the Walt Churchill’s Market at 3320 Briarfield Blvd. has its wine tastings.

This Saturday’s tasting will be devoted to Scheurebe, which this column had never heard of but which the store’s wine guy Austin Beeman calls “Riesling’s sluttier sister.” He goes on to call it “perhaps the most flamboyantly hedonistic white wine in the world. Explosively aromatic and seductive.” Like Riesling it is often a sweet wine, but it also has its dry moments. The tasting will span the spectrum, “from bone-dry Trocken to unctuously sweet Auslese.”

Nov. 24 will be customer appreciation day, with an as-yet-undisclosed tasting, plus big-time wine discounts.

For more information, call 419-794-4000.

Soup’s on

Thunder Burger and Bar is a trendy joint in Washington’s still-happening Georgetown district. Which means it is of little interest to anyone who is not, at any given moment, near the corner of 31st and M Streets in D.C.

However, the restaurant’s executive chef, Ryan Fichter, is worth noting these days because he has come out with five tips for making what he calls amazing fall soups. And we have to say, the tips are excellent:

• Start right. Use a stock. Water is too… watery. Homemade stock is best, but if you don’t have it on hand, use a store-bought variety that does not have MSG.

• Mind the pasta. Pasta is great in soups, but be sure to cook it separately first. Don’t try to cook it in the soup itself. It will make the soup a little gummy and, because it absorbs liquid, will throw off the proportions.

• Go fresh. Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients. If fresh ingredients are not available, choose frozen ingredients before opening a can.

• Cook well. By that he means to use the right kitchen tools. Slow cookers are fine, but if using a pot, choose one that is large and heavy.

• Serve right. A little garnish goes a long way. And don’t forget the carbs on the side: crackers, biscuits, muffins, bread, or breadsticks.

To get an idea of what Mr. Fichter considers an amazing fall soup, here is his recipe for Creamy Potato Soup:

Creamy Potato Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 small celery stalks, chopped

1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1½ pounds Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)

4 cups chicken stock

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice

1½ cups heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek; sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.

Add potatoes, chicken stock, allspice, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

With an immersion blender puree soup in blender until smooth. Add cream and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).

Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

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