May is a time for change in many ways. The leaves are green, the rain from April has brought out beautiful flowers, children are exploring the insects that have emerged from their long winter nap and recently born livestock run in the pastures of farms as you drive by. It is truly a sight to behold.
There also is a change in the world of a dairy promoter too. May is a month of pageants, coronations and new royalty.
It is a month of new beginnings and dreams realized. The SUN Area Dairy coronation will start off with Ag/Dairy Days held at the Middlecreek Valley Antique Association's Spring Show on May 17 with a Celebrity Milking Contest.
We have 10 local personalities including state representatives Lynda Schlegel Culver and Fred Keller, football coaches Dave Hess and Jason Dressler from rivaling schools Selinsgrove and Mifflinburg, Aubry and Kyle Alexander from the Alexander family dealerships and even some fair presidents battling it out for the fastest time.
Additionally, there will be a dairy poster display contest open to anyone who wishes to enter.
For more information about the poster display contest, contact email@example.com or visit our Facebook page, S.U.N. Area Dairy Princess Promotion.
On May 18, we have fun for the entire family planned with activities right up until the coronation of the new SUN Area Dairy Princess at 7 p.m.
After the coronation, there will be milk punch and cheese served at a reception to meet the new team.
On May 19, we have a free ice cream sundae at 1 p.m. and all weekend there will be tractor pulls, vendors with a variety of goods and plenty of great food.
Change isn't easy though and with a new Princess coming in to represent our region, it is time for me to pass along my pen and paper to her as well.
With a heavy heart (and hand), this will be my last column. When I began writing this column almost 2 years ago, I knew a day would come where it would have to pass it to someone else but that day always seemed so far in the distance much like your first day of kindergarten. Your parents tell you someday you'll graduate but to you that's an eternity away. But it comes so much sooner than we realize it will.
Your new columnist is more than qualified to represent the dairy industry. Ashley Wetzel grew up on Marbareil Farms in Snyder County where she and her family milk 95 dairy cows and have 90 head they will introduce into the herd.
Wetzel is a senior at Selinsgrove High School where she is active in track, band and FFA. She also serves as an officer on the SUN Area FFA team. She is active in church and has helped on many mission trips. She has served the SUN Area Dairy Promotion team for 10 years starting as a Dairy Miss and has worked her way to the top honor as Princess this year.
Wetzel has become one of those treasured friends that you don't expect to meet when you attend different high schools but the kind you hope will be there for the rest of your life.
She has a great sense of humor and a smile that shows her sincerity and kindness. So, while this is a change that isn't easy, it is one that I'm happy to pass to such a dear friend and I wish her only the best as she starts this new chapter in her life.
There also are people I need to thank along the way. Thank you to the Sun-Gazette for giving me such an incredible opportunity to share my passion for the dairy industry with readers.
You have given me a chance to reach out to so many people and share my message.
Of course, there are two editors that I have had while writing for the paper. I can't thank Julie Reppert and Dana Borick-Brigandi enough for their guidance, encouraging words and patience with deadlines. I truly am blessed to have had such wonderful mentors. Although I have to write reports in school all the time, writing a monthly column isn't as easy as it would seem, even with subject matter you love!
I thank my family for their love and support. Without their encouragement to always do my best and do what I love, I'm not sure I would be the person I am today.
To the dairy farmers, who wake up early and put in a hard day's work, who are good stewards of the land and care about the health and well-being of their herd I applaud you for your dedication to providing us with a nutritious, wholesome product.
And last but certainly not least, the readers. Thank you for following the column, sending in comments and encouraging me to continue writing.
I hope you have enjoyed some of my family's recipes as much as I have loved sharing them with you. Each one holds a special memory to me and I hope they create those same lasting memories for you at your dinner table as well.
Mom and I were talking recently about how to show people you really care. She told me it's not the big or expensive things that matter it is the little things we do for each other that count.
She went on to explain that it also is important to pay it forward or do for others without an expectation of a return other than a possible smile or thank you.
My brother has been working on his Cub Scout Fun for the Family Award and Mom thought our conversation would tie nicely into one of the requirements for his award. So we made an Amish friendship bread starter and gave it to people on our street with a note and the directions to complete it.
I felt as though I had a Forrest Gump moment when we were done and the sense of pride my brother and I felt doing this for our neighbors.
Mom has a way of explaining things so I could understand. As you have all gotten to know my family over the months, I wish I could send you all a baggie of the starter but instead, the recipe to start it will have to do.
Amish friendship bread starter
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
Mix well and leave on your countertop for 5 days, stirring each day with a wooden spoon (do not use metal).
After the 5-day starter: Day 1: do nothing. Day 2, 3, 4: stir. Day 5: Add 1 cup of each: flour, sugar, milk. Days 6, 7, 8, 9: Stir. Day 10: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Mix well. Pour 1 cup into 3 separate containers.
Keep 1 for yourself and give away 2 with the recipe. (With each of these, the recipe starts with Day 1).
With what you have left, pour into large mixing bowl and add:
2/3 cup oil
2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Small box instant vanilla pudding
Use vanilla pudding for most breads (add banana, raisin, applesauce, berries, etc.) lemon pudding makes good lemon bread.
After you add your special ingredients, pour into 2 to 3 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.
We were at a family get-together and my great-aunt made this gem. It's easily transported to a picnic and it tastes great. Even your pickiest eater will be heading back for more. Who doesn't love a loaded potato?
Fully Loaded Potato Casserole
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 slices bacon, cooked, chopped, divided
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
Place potatoes in saucepan, and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Cook until tender, and then drain well. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Transfer potatoes back to the saucepan. Mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, salt and pepper.
Continue mashing until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and half the bacon. Spoon mixture evenly into a lightly oiled 3-quart casserole dish. Use a spatula or fork to make an irregular surface.
Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, bacon and green onions. Bake for 5 more minutes to melt cheese. Serve immediately.
With so many recipes left to share this last one was the hardest to select. It comes from my grandmother who learned the recipe from her grandmother.
Of course, it's been adapted over the years to accommodate for the changes in products available (my great, great-grandmother was born in 1888).
It's not a quick cake to bake but the end result is worth the effort you put forth. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.
Cheese cake supreme
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup butter
1 slightly beaten egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Combine flour, sugar and lemon peel. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolk and vanilla and blend thoroughly.
Put 1/3 of the dough on the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan (sides removed).
Bake in 400 degrees oven about 8 minutes or until golden. Cool and then attach side to bottom of pan, rub with butter and put remaining dough on sides to height of 1 3/4 inches.
5-8 ounce packages cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 or 5 eggs (to equal 1 cup)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
Let cream cheese stand to soften. Beat until creamy. Add vanilla and lemon peel. Mix sugar, flour and salt in gradually into the cream cheese.
Add eggs and yolks one at a time beating after each to blend. Gently stir in heavy cream.
Turn into crust lined pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking for another 55 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Loosen sides with a spatula after 1/2 hour. Remove sides at end of 1 hour. Allow to cool 2 hours longer. Glaze with strawberry or pineapple glaze.
2-3 cups of fresh strawberries or pineapple
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch.
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on your taste)
Crush 1 cup strawberries or pineapple. Add to water and cook 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch with sugar.
Stir into hot fruit mixture. Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
Cook until thick and clear. You can add red or yellow food coloring to make the color darker. Cool to room temperature.
Place remaining fruit on top of the cooled cheesecake. Pour glaze over fruit and chill about 2 hours.
Franck, 17, is a junior at Mifflinburg Area High School and the SUN Area Dairy Princess serving Montour, Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Franck's last column that has been published on the first Wednesday of each month.
Next month's column will be by Ashley Wetzel, incomming SUN Area Dairy Princess.