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Tree Planting

By on May 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

My doorbell rings even though the hour is still early. Coffee sits on my dining room table with the newspaper spread out in front of me reading about folks I know and those I don’t. I scramble to the door knowing who is there before I answer. Most of my friends just walk on in, so it has to be the kids from Angola Middle School. I hear their laughter and chattering before I even get to the door. And there they are. They are smiling from ear to ear, and so am I! It is Arbor Day in Angola, and they are here to plant my free tree from the City. “The tree is around back, I’ll meet you there,” I say, and all twenty students take off running to the backyard. I hurry to grab my jacket and meet them there in the early morning light with my camera tucked into my pocket. I think this is my fifth year to be the recipient of a free tree from the Angola Tree Board. The announcement always comes in the water bill, and the first 100 folks to call gets the trees. This year I called early enough to get the pink dogwood. I love this gift from my city even if it is getting a bit crowded in my yard. Mr. Hottell’s students all chatter at once. “Ooohhh…I love your house…I love your yard…I love your garden.” I smile at them thinking all the while how nice it is that this group of enthusiastic students appreciate this old house and the beauty it resonates. They gather together for a photo to capture the moment. They think it is just a picture of a bunch of kids planting a tree, but it is so much more than that. The photo captures such sweet joy and hope on their faces in the morning light. The students dig the hole while Mr. Hottell cuts off the burlap as the rest of us talk. I tell them about the other trees, and they listen with fascination. “This service berry tree is from the city. Students planted it a few years ago. The folk lore says that when this tree blooms it...

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Caruso’s Coconut Cream Pie

By on Apr 26, 2017 in Recipes, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Continuing a tradition that began more than 40 years ago, Caruso’s serves genuine Italian cuisine in a family-friendly atmosphere. In 1976, Joe and Barb Caruso purchased the popular Doc Caccomo’s Pizzeria and realized their dream of owning a restaurant. Joe was the cook, with Barb working in the dining room as a waitress and hostess. As their children grew, they performed various jobs in the restaurant. Today, three of the Caruso children own and operate the restaurant on County Road 200 West in Angola. In fact, two of them recently earned degrees in Culinary Arts. Some of their children, now the third generation of Caruso’s, also work at the restaurant. Caruso’s in one of eight restaurants featured in the Northern Indiana Lakes Country Foodie Trail, compiled by the editors of Midwest Living. Serving old traditional Italian recipes as well as the latest trends, Caruso’s is a favorite among residents and visitors. The recently opened full-service dine-in bar serves specialty appetizers such as salmon dip, smoked mussels and Rosemary spiced nuts. Wines from Napa, Argentina, France and Australia are served along with locally-grown Satek Winery wines. Pizza is a favorite at Caruso’s and the recipe has remained the same for 40 plus years: house-made crust, traditional pizza sauce, quality meats, fresh vegetables and a custom mozzarella blend. You can also create your own pizza with traditional toppings plus pineapple, meatballs or garlic mashed potatoes. Torpedoughs, stuffed with fresh vegetables, meats, sauces and cheese, are baked to a golden brown. The breadsticks, basted with house-roasted garlic butter sauce, are a great start to any meal. Dinner choices include classic spaghetti, traditional lasagna, stuffed shells, fettuccini clam sauce and shrimp pasta. Top off your meal with a slice of coconut or banana cream pie, cannoli, lemon blueberry mascarpone cake or a spumoni sundae. A gluten-free menu is available and Caruso’s strives to use the freshest ingredients from local farm-to-table vendors. All menu items are free of MSG and high-fructose corn syrup. For more information,  http://www.carusos-restaurant.com Caruso’s Coconut Cream Pie 2 cups milk 3/4 cup cream of coconut 1/4 cup corn starch 1/8 tsp. salt 3 eggs, separated 1 tsp. vanilla 1 tbsp. butter 1 1/4 cup coconut Combine milk, cream of coconut,...

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April in Steuben County

By on Apr 26, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It is April in Steuben County, and that means many things. The lakers begin returning, the robins build nests, and there is poetry on the square every day! It started as a whim last year as it was the 400th year anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. It was reported that a Poetess was reading Shakespeare in Atlanta every day to celebrate. Not wanting to be behind the city of Atlanta, the folks in Angola decided to take also take on the celebration. Every day at 4:00 the sonnets were read on the square in town. It was a huge undertaking, and yes, I was glad when it was over. However, the good folks of Angola couldn’t forget or let it go. Wherever I went there were comments. “You are doing poetry again this year, aren’t you?” “What poet will you be reading this year?” I brushed the comments off with a shrug and a bit of a laugh. No, never again. I had already decided. But then February came, and the days were a bit gray and dreary, and it seemed as if the only cheery news would be coming from poetry. And then it happened, I announced Poetry on the Square, much as a town crier would call out into the night. It happened before I could even stop it! So every day in April there are poets and poetry on the square. The group has doubled in size from last year. Every day a new poet is showcased, but folks don’t even pay attention to that as everyone brings their favorite poems to share. Guests from out of town show up with poetry in their back pocket beaming as they walk up toward us. The poetry has ranged from Dickinson to Longfellow to Dr. Seuss to an obscure Canadian poet connecting centuries and countries. Even real poets show up as did Loren Niemi of Minneapolis and Michael Czernecki from upstate New York. (How did they hear about us?) Truth be told, I love this part of my day. My alarm is set for 3:25 every afternoon in case I would forget, but how could I? I bike on down to the square and greet everyone. Most...

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Ropchan Wildflowers

By on Apr 18, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

With all the rain this week it might not seem like there are many wildflowers out in Northern Indiana Lakes Country yet.  However, you just need to know where to look!  One of the best places to see the first signs of spring is Ropchan Wildlife Refuge on State Road 827 near Orland.  It is not only a great place to snap some pictures of wildflowers, but in my case get my son home from college to go for a walk with the family dog. Some of the prettiest Hoosier wildflowers are known as Liverleaf or Liverworts.  Don’t let their unappealing name fool you though!  These tiny woodland flowers (about the size of violets) come in an array of colors from white to blue and purple.  These flowers have six petals and yellow pistols that, as my grandmother would say, make a nice little “tussy mussy.”  You can find them on the main path the leads into the Refuge. From there several paths merge and diverge – all equally filled with tiny spring flowers.  There are a great deal of bluebells – which I used to confuse with violets (everything comes back to violets with me) and plenty of forsythia too.  Phlox in pink, blue and white are beginning to dot the area, as well as a cool little flower sometimes called a wood poppy that comes in yellow.  It sort of reminds me of a tiny buttercup.  And those with a keen eye might also spot some wild geraniums sometimes called Cranesbills.  They are often bright or hot pink, but really do not look much like our garden variety geraniums. Two of my favorite Indiana spring wildflowers are Spring Beauties and Jacob’s Ladder.  Spring Beauties are often a hot pink flower with a delicate darker pink line striping the length of the petals.  Jacob’s Ladder are more of a bell-shaped purpley-blue or pink, with a white interior. The trails are easy to walk (reasonably flat/no hills) and perfect for any age – though a bit muddy from the rain. Definitely bring boots!  For a preview of the flowers click on the video and, as the song says, remember that the rain brings violets.  It is, after all, always...

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New Year’s Good Luck

By on Dec 27, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Birds have often been associated with Christmas from the goose on the holiday table to the dove of peace. And who could forget the Twelve Days of Christmas carol? Did you know the song is actually an ancient code? From 1558to 1829 Catholics were forbidden from openly practicing in England. So the song was created as an easy way to help children remember key points. Two turtle doves stood for the two books of the Bible, tree French hens stood for faith, hope, and love, and the four calling birds are the gospels Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. But what about that partridge? He represents Christ because the bird is willing to sacrifice its life to protect its young. While you might not be able to see all the birds of Christmas at Pokagon’s Nature Center, there certainly are plenty to see. The staff makes sure to keep several feeders and baths of fresh water full. The free food always draws a crowd from blue jays and morning doves to house finches, gold finches, chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers just to name a few. The cozy nature center provides a warm place for visitors to watch all the action through a large one-way window. There’s a viewing platform and plenty of binoculars for even closer viewing. A bird chart on the wall helps watchers identify the various species that show up for a snack or maybe a bath. Speakers inside the center bring the birdcalls and songs indoors for a full nature experience. It’s not uncommon to see 20 or more birds gathered in front of the viewing window. But when the squirrels show up, all bets are off. The birds often scatter, taking refuge in the higher branches of surrounding trees. If birds aren’t your thing, the Center also has several turtles indigenous to Indiana, as well as snakes and sometimes a mud puppy! In the past there was also an active beehive with glass sides, so visitors could easily spot the queen. But the hive got sick and so it was taken out. I’ve heard they plan to try again when the weather gets warmer. There are also several taxidermy exhibits of other indigenous Hoosier animals. Can...

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Steuben 2016

By on Dec 23, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It certainly has been a year in 101 Lakes Country. Like many place during this season I thought it would be fun to a take a look back at the vlogs of the past year. So instead of writing any more about what I’ve already written about all year. I put my review into a poem. Please enjoy the video that goes along with it and Happy New Year. In spring the artisanal well was running swell Muddy shoes visited McClues and Woodland Bog full of moss and logs A stop by three state lines was sublime The farmer’s Market started with vendors wholehearted Pokagon was the space to rejuvenate a race And we remembered those who served to preserve   By summer there were vows by the lake Camping at daybreak Enough SUPs to create a wake There were parties at the Sandbar And a boat show with plenty of guitar Not to mention Orland made us who we are A museum for slaves on the run Fields of bison having fun And trout fishing in the sun   When Fall arrived there was chainsaw art The Bicentennial that gave us our start Sea planes and Ridenour Farm games Hay rides, giant slides, and pumpkin covered hillsides It was wasn’t far to go for some apples from Stroh We watched the Chapman’s crew brew And Outlet shopped till we were blue   Winter arrived with a toboggan ride U-cut Christmas trees brought plenty of pride Santa was seen of the square And winter birds took a moment to share   Erika Celeste is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, print, television, and marketing. She owns and operates New Moon Media Group where she’s written several documentaries and books.  ...

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