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December 17, Maple Syrup Day

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Maple syrup is an indigenous North American product

It’s all natural and naturally organic. It needs no additives. It’s much imitated, but as they say, rarely duplicated.

We are talking Maple Syrup. You’ll find a lot of look-alikes on your store shelves. The majority of syrups today are ‘maple flavored’ but pure Maple syrup is still an original North American product. Quebec produces 75 percent of the world’s total supply, with Vermont as the most active of 17 U.S. states.1211-112c

Maple syrup is not just made from the sap of the Sugar Maple; it actually is the sap of the tree.



Europeans in North America first learned to tap old Sugar Maple trees from native Americans. Although the origins of the ancient custom of tapping maples is unknown, European colonists were actively collecting maple sap in the 1600s. Maple sap cultivation got a boost with the passage of the 1764 Sugar Act that imposed high tariffs on imported sugar.

Nothing is added to the sap to make maple syrup. The sap is simply boiled down or evaporated until it becomes thick and sweet.

After sugar maple trees reach maturity in 30 years, they can be tapped every year. Many have been tapped for 100 years. Each tap produces 10-12 gallons of sap each spring. It takes 30-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Tapping maple trees does create a wound that the tree must spend energy to heal. Syrup producers have found that the smaller the tap, the easier it is for trees to heal over the wound in a single season. With modern maintenance and techniques trees thrive, even when tapped up to 70 years.

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6 tips for making homemade dumplings

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If you love dumplings and want to try your hand at making them at home, here are six tips to ensure everything goes according to plan.

1. Keep the dough warm. Whether you use homemade or store-bought dough, make sure you let it warm up to room temperature so that it’s easier to handle.

2. Cover the dough. Raw dumpling dough is susceptible to drying out. Consequently, it’s a good idea to cover the dumpling wrappers with a slightly damp towel to keep them moist and pliable.

3. Don’t overfill the dumplings. Each dumpling only needs about a teaspoon of filling. If you overfill your dumplings, they might burst open when cooked.


4. Seal the dumplings with water. Regardless of the folding technique you use, lightly wet your fingers and moisten the areas where you fold the dough so that the seams stick together.

5. Take your time when folding. Start with simple shapes and make sure to give yourself enough time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it perfect on the first try. How they taste is more important than how they look.

6. Freeze the dumplings separately. If you want to freeze your dumplings to enjoy them later, spread them out on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for about two hours before transferring them to an airtight container or bag to prevent them from sticking together.

Visit your local Asian food store or the international aisle of your regular supermarket to pick up everything you need.

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Walmart stocks up on this odd item before a storm

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Storm’s coming. We must run to the grocery store and stock up like it is the end of the world. Water. Bread. Pop-Tarts.

Pop-Tarts? Oh, yeah. Pop-Tarts are big during storms, particularly strawberry Pop-Tarts.

Walmart discovered early on that when a storm threatens, the sale of Pop-Tarts increases seven times the normal sales rate.

According to Reader’s Digest, Walmart studied shopping data after Hurricane Charley in 2003 to see if they could predict what shoppers would need in hurricanes.


At that time, Walmart marketers were shocked to find that strawberry Pop-Tarts were in demand. Then, ahead of Hurricane Frances in 2004, they filled shelves with the pastry. It sold out.

Exactly why Pop-Tarts are so popular in a storm probably relates to the fact that it’s shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration. The pastries are individually wrapped, so the remaining treats don’t get stale.

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Pressure cookers vs. slow cookers

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Are you looking for a small cooking appliance that can help simplify making meals? If so, here’s what you should know about pressure cookers and slow cookers.

Pressure cookers
These devices dramatically reduce cooking times using steam under high pressure. All you have to do is put all the ingredients into the pot and let the pressure cooker do the rest. In addition, some models are equipped with sautéing and steam functions.

When you’re pressed for time, pressure cookers can be used to prepare stews, soups, pasta dishes, and even cakes. However, their size is limited, making them unsuitable when cooking for large groups. In addition, you have to be mindful about adding the correct amount of liquid to ensure even cooking.

Slow cookers
These appliances come in a variety of sizes and can be used to make large meals. They’re easy to use and cook food slowly and evenly over several hours. Consequently, you can wake up or come home from work to a freshly cooked meal.


Slow cookers can be used to make stews, ribs, sauces, chicken, bread, and more. However, the food will need to be prepared beforehand.

To purchase your new cooking appliance, visit a kitchen supply store in your area.

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Blueberry buckle: A quick and easy anytime cake

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This sweet, tender cake comes together in minutes and can be eaten for dessert, as a breakfast coffee cake, or even a sweet snack. Fresh blueberries are perfect, but you can also use frozen berries — just bake for a few extra minutes to make sure the cake is done all the way through. The streusel topping adds some satisfying texture and contrast to the fluffy cake and soft blueberries.

For the cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest, more if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, plus about a tablespoon
1 tablespoon flour
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

For the topping:
5 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest together until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the whole milk to the butter mixture until just combined. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour until evenly coated before gently stirring the berries into the batter. Spread the batter into a greased 8×8 pan.


To make the topping, combine all ingredients and mash with a fork (using a sharp knife can also help) until it has a crumbly texture. Sprinkle the crumble over the batter in the pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean from the center of the cake.

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Tomato overflow? Can them for a taste of summer all year

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You’ll need a canning pot and rack, jar lifter tool, canning jars and lids, a large bowl for an ice bath, clean cloths or a new roll of paper towels, lemon juice, salt, kettle of boiling water.
Estimate about 3 large tomatoes per quart jar.

Blanch and skin tomatoes
Boil water in a large pot. Add a few tomatoes at a time and let them boil for a minute. Remove tomatoes. Place immediately a bowl of ice water. When cool, skins slide off.

Sterilize the jars and lids
Boil water in the canning pot. Put jars in canning rack. Boil empty jars for 10 minutes. Remove jars (empty of water). Allow to dry. Now, boil lids for 10 minutes.

Stuff the sterilized jars
Put two tablespoons of lemon juice from a bottle (not the fruit) in each jar. Pinch of salt. Cram tomatoes into jars. Cover tomatoes with boiling water from the teapot. Leave a half-inch headspace at the top. Wipe edges of jars clean, place lids and rims on the jars. Put jars in canning rack.


Boil the full jars
Put the rack of jars in boiling kettle. Make sure cans are underwater and tops are covered by one inch of water. Boil for 45 minutes. Add boiling water as needed to keep jars covered with water.

Rest jars
Remove jars. Set aside to dry and cool for 12 to 24 hours. You may hear popping noises as seals form.

Test lids
Do not turn the rim. After resting and cooling, press down in the middle of each lid. When sealed, there will be no give in the center. If unsealed, the lid will spring up. This jar is not safe for storage.

Store in a cool, dark place.

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Tomato and watermelon salad

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Are you looking for a refreshing appetizer to serve on a hot day? If so, this sweet and juicy salad is sure to delight your taste buds.

Start to finish: 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients
• 4 small Italian tomatoes, quartered
• 2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
• 1 cup red onion, minced
• 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
• 1 cup arugula
• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
• 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
• Juice of one lemon
• 1/2 cup cream of balsamic
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions


• In a large mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes, watermelon, red onion, feta, arugula, and mint. Divide the salad equally among 4 bowls.

• Drizzle each salad with a quarter of the olive oil, lemon juice, and cream of balsamic. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

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Upcoming Events

Sep
25
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10:00 am 3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
Sep 25 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
3rd Annual French & Indian War Weekend @ Abram's Delight
Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26, from 10 am to 5 pm. 18th Century Colonial encampments with historical interpretation of British, French and Native Americans on the Western frontier of the Virginia Colony during[...]
10:00 am National Public Lands Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Public Lands Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sep 25 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Public Lands Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. A blight decimated American Chestnut trees in North America in the 1920s. One hundred years later, Sky Meadows State Park has teamed up with the Virginia Chapter of the[...]
11:00 am Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sep 25 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Stop by the Friends of Sky Meadows Farmer’s Market for tasty preserved products, heirloom vegetables, eggs and more. Pick from seasonal vegetables grown in Sky Meadows’ authentic Kitchen Garden, July through September. Grab[...]
12:00 pm Honor Display: Warren County ens... @ Warren County Courthouse
Honor Display: Warren County ens... @ Warren County Courthouse
Sep 25 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Honor Display: Warren County enslaved @ Warren County Courthouse
WHAT: The local chapter of Coming to the Table is hosting a display on the Warren County Courthouse lawn to honor the more than 1,100 men, women, and children enslaved in the county at the onset[...]
Sep
26
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10:00 am 3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
Sep 26 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
3rd Annual French & Indian War Weekend @ Abram's Delight
Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26, from 10 am to 5 pm. 18th Century Colonial encampments with historical interpretation of British, French and Native Americans on the Western frontier of the Virginia Colony during[...]
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27
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2:00 pm Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
Sep 27 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
WARREN COALITION OFFERS FREE TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING IN SEPTEMBER Have you ever felt alone? Do you wonder why you react the way you do? Do you work with children? If you answered yes to any of[...]
Sep
28
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7:00 pm Community Parent Night @ Dominion Ridge Academy
Community Parent Night @ Dominion Ridge Academy
Sep 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Community Parent Night @ Dominion Ridge Academy
Dominion Ridge Academy is proud to host this free community event for parents featuring international speaker, author, and comedian Christopher O’Shaughnessy. Come enjoy an evening of laughter and inspiration as Chris addresses the themes of[...]
Oct
2
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4:00 pm Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
Oct 2 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
October 2, 2021 from 4pm-8pm All are welcome to attend the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest at Wakefield Country Day School. Loosen your Leiderhosen and get ready for Oktoberfest! This year, the Edelweiss Band is coming to[...]
Oct
14
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5:00 pm 6th Annual Wine Pull @ Front Royal Golf Club
6th Annual Wine Pull @ Front Royal Golf Club
Oct 14 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
6th Annual Wine Pull @ Front Royal Golf Club
Last year we did not get to hold our annual Wine Pull due to COVID. We are so excited that we are able to have this fun fundraising event this year, so be sure to[...]
Oct
30
Sat
1:00 pm Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Oct 30 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Fort Valley Museum Fall Craft Festival – Annual Fundraiser October 30 & 31, 2021 | Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday 2-5pm Come by and support the Fort Valley Museum at our annual Fall Craft Festival (formerly “Christmas[...]