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The Hangout’s Cod Cakes

Posted by on 3:22 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Although the name has changed, the traditional laid-back atmosphere at The Hangout Bar and Grill on Snow Lake remains. The former Dave’s Lake Shack has new owners who will continue offering popular menu items as well as live music Wednesday and Friday evenings. Local favorites Island Vibe and Jim Weber are slated to perform throughout the summer. The Hangout, located at 1865 W. State Road 120, can be reached by car or boat. The restaurant’s theme is “much more than bar food” and is open six days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Only breakfast is served on Sunday. Build your own omelet or choose from corned beef hash, eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy or apple flavored pancakes for a filling breakfast. Appetizers-including pickle fries-complement any meal, while wings, soups and salads offer traditional hearty fare. The Hangout is decorated with lake memorabilia and is the perfect place to savor fish and chips or a butterfly shrimp basket. Enjoy sitting on the big patio in the summer with a thick burger or a variety of Mexican dishes. The Hangout’s cod cakes are a crowd favorite you can enjoy at home: 1 small onion, chopped 8 sprigs parsley, chopped 2 cups mashed potatoes 2 beaten eggs 3 T melted butter 1 lb. steamed and flaked cod 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs 1/3 cup light olive oil salt and pepper Mix onion, parsley, butter, potatoes and eggs. Break cod apart into flakes and mix with the above. Shape the mixture into patties. Coat with bread crumbs. Pour oil into a skillet and heat until it sizzles. Add patties and fry for four to five minutes on each side until golden...

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Tree Planting

Posted by on 3:12 pm 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 is time to bury the dead.” The students look at me wide-eyed as if I am making this up. I laugh at them and tell them not to worry, there are no dead folks in my garage. I point out the flowering redbud which is still pretty in purple and tell them students planted that one too. Once the tree is planted they take turns stomping the dirt down around it and ask for water to give it a good drink. I point them in the direction of my rain barrel. It was great fun watching them get water from the barrel. It is my opportunity to point out other environmental factors in my yard. “And there is my clothesline and my bike. I go without a car at least three days a week,” I tell them. I point out the herb garden, vegetable garden, and the berry patch. One girl tells a story of a pine tree her folks planted when she was a baby. They moved away so she doesn’t know how big it is now. I smile...

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Caruso’s Coconut Cream Pie

Posted by on 3:00 pm in 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, corn starch and salt.  Stir to dissolve corn starch.  Cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil 2-3 minutes or until thick.  Remove from heat.  Slowly add beaten egg yolks, stirring as quickly as possible.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes on medium heat.  Add butter and vanilla, then coconut.  Spread in pie shell of your choice and chill.  Caruso’s serves theirs with whipped cream on top and a sprig of fresh...

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April in Steuben County

Posted by on 2:40 pm 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 are local folks, but everyone is invited. If you happen to be in town any day this month, come on by. We read Monday through Friday at 4:00 in front of the beautiful Brokaw Movie House. You don’t have a poem to share? It doesn’t matter; just come listen! We would love to meet you. My only problem is now what do I do about next year? Do I spend my winter hibernating so no one will find me or do we just keep going? Perhaps Mayor Hickman will declare one day in April to be Poetry Day in Steuben County. I imagine the day to be full of poetry in every classroom, in every business, in every meeting. Perhaps that is too much to hope for, but then again whoever thought that poetry would become a vital part of our downtown during the month of April? Happy poetry month! Michael Czernecki, New York, reading his own selections. A group picture following a day of poetry.       Joe Hysong, a local businessman, reading “Do Not Go Gentle Into...

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Ropchan Wildflowers

Posted by on 1:06 pm 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 about the violets!  ...

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New Year’s Good Luck

Posted by on 9:22 pm 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 animals claim state citizenship? I guess if there are Maryland Crabs and Texas Longhorns, why not Indiana badgers and foxes? Anyway, the Center has those and more. Plus there are several nature based games to keep little ones happy. It’s open year round, but can be an especially good way to spend a snowy winter afternoon. Best of all, it’s free. There is admission to get into the park on the weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) during toboggan season. I believe it’s $7 for in state cars and $9 for out of state. Pokagon accepts the Indiana Parks pass (good at all state parks) which, I highly recommend if your family enjoys the outdoors. Oh, one more thing about the birds…the people of Scandinavia have a nice tradition to bring good luck throughout the coming new year. On Christmas Day they sprinkle seed on their doorsteps. Legend has it that if you take care of the birds during the winter, they will take care of you throughout the year! Erika Celeste is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, print,...

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Steuben 2016

Posted by on 11:24 pm 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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Oh Christmas Trees!

Posted by on 11:28 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There’s still time to get a fresh cut Christmas Tree before Santa arrives. This year why not make it an Norman Rockwell experience? After all what could be more idyllic than cutting your own tree as soft white snowflakes peacefully flutter to the ground around you? Booth’s Tree Farm in Orland, Indiana offers a unique experience among u-cut Christmas Tree experiences.  Casey and Prince, a trusty team of horses, happily haul families and their trees in an old fashioned wagon to and from the neatly planted rows of trees. Bill Booth partnered with his father in the early 60s on the tree farm, which they originally started near Miller Poultry. Nearly three decades later he moved it up the road a mile or two to it’s current location. Every spring he and his wife Bonnie plant 4 varieties of pine tree on their 40-acre farm. And every Christmas they sell upwards of 5,000! Don’t have your own saw? No problem, Booth’s has a steady supply on hand. Not sure how to cut your own tree? The helpful staff will show you how it’s done. Rather get a fresh tree, but don’t want to cut it yourself? They can take care of you there too, with a large selection of pre-cut trees. They also have plenty of fresh wreaths and greens for hanging. Once a tree has been selected and Casey and Prince have hauled it back, the modern equipment takes over. All trees are shaken for free. Whether it’s snow, needles, or a little something else from the great outdoors, the shaker gets almost everything free. Wrapping the tree is only $1. Inside the warming house, customers can thaw out with hot chocolate, coffee, and other holiday treats. For more information visit Booth’s Tree Farm on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Boothstreefarm/about/. Or just head on over to 5555 N State Road 327 in Orland, Indiana. They’ll be open every day up to Christmas Eve. 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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Sleigh Ride (or the Next Thing to It)

Posted by on 11:22 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride and soon Miss Fanny Bright was seated by my side… Angola doesn’t have any sleighs for the public to rent this year, but we do have the next best thing toboggans! That’s right it’s toboggan season at Pokagon State Park. Talk about a great way to spend a snowy day with family or friends! The quarter mile track is one of the best rides around and is sure to get your heart pumping. The refrigerated run was built in the 1930s as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps project and has been a staple at the park ever since. I have fond memories of not only riding it in the winter as a kid but also hiking it and hanging out in the shade of the tower during the summer as a teenager. So I didn’t think twice about having my 6 year old climb the 30-foot tower for this vlog. To his great delight, we’ve walked the path of the run several times in summer. The plan was to take a few rides down it after I finished filming. We watched the first group of riders—with a boy about the same age—board their toboggan atop the wooden rollers that help propel the sled down the incline. My son’s eyes grew wide as workers pushed the riders over the 90-foot vertical drop. “Mama, mama, let’s get down right now.” At first I thought he wanted to go down, but then I saw he’d gone gray. “Mama, I’m going to puke.” That’s when I think we both learned he has a major fear of heights. I’d always enjoyed the 30-second ride with wind whipping through my hair at 40 plus miles an hour. Every kid I’d ever met had too. Exhilarating and rush are some of the best words to describe the heart-pounding fun. Back on the ground everything was good again. Color returned to his cheeks as he watched with excitement as the sleds raced by. In fact, I had to pull him inside about 15 minutes later because his lips were turning blue. He wouldn’t go until I promised that he would have an even better view from inside the window-lined walls of the warming house. So even though we enjoy the run in different ways, it’s still a great experience for both of us. As I understand it, it’s also a great place to work. Both my brother-in-law and oldest son have worked there. In fact, my son called it, “the best job I ever had”—keeping in mind he was 19 at the time. The only downside is that once you get to the end of the track, you do have to carry your sled the quarter mile back. And if you want to go again, up dozens of stairs to the launch pad. As a tired mother lugging her sled said the other day when I was there, “no wonder they rent by the hour.” So here’s what you need to know if you want to try it out. First, don’t worry about the weather. I’ve been there when it was 40 degrees out the day after Christmas and it was running thanks to the refrigeration unit. But I’ve also been on days when it...

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Magical Night

Posted by on 6:54 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Angola, Indiana looks like it’s straight out of the movies about picturesque small towns. A lot of us do know each other. We have a perfect little courthouse and plenty of quaint shops. But one night of the year is just a bit more magical than others. It’s become tradition for families to gather on the night after Thanksgiving on the town circle. The monument, Columbia, plays host to lights that form a giant Christmas tree. A calliope is wheeled out to play holiday tunes, and various elves and Dickens like characters mingle with excited children as the hour approaches. As everyone waits with baited breath, the scream of a fire truck siren cuts through the night. The crowd jostles to get a good view of eight reindeer pulling Santa and Mrs. Claus’ sleigh. Two police cars, lights flashing, follow behind guarding the celebrities as they make their way into town. As tradition goes, they always circle the mound three times before getting out to greet the kids of Steuben County. Santa often knows them by name, and shouts out such things as, “there’s little Mikey,” and “has Dickey been good this year?” Excited children crowd around him as he laughs and pats them on the head or shakes their hands. But the excitement’s far from over. Though Santa has held court in many shops around the circle over the years, his latest hangout has been The Brokaw Theater. The line to see Santa often wraps around a block or more. But it’s a hot ticket and most kids are willing to wait. It is Santa after all. Who else are they going to share their deepest Christmas wishes with? Once they reach the inner sanctum of the Theater, elves serve hot chocolate and cookies to warm them up. Inside the dark warm doors, Santa and Mrs. Claus make their way to place of honor—two thrones on a small stage in one of the theaters. On the screen above them, old Christmas movies play to keep the long line of children happy while they wait for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap. When good little boys and girls finally reach the lively old elf’s lap, he always asks the tireless question, “What do you want for Christmas?” He’s very diplomatic with his answers. For instance when one child asked for a pony, he told her that they needed a lot of space, but he’d be happy to listen to another wish. He also let another child asking for a long list of electronics, that all those things would be very expensive, and he didn’t know if he could manage the entire list. Unlike many places that commercialize Kris Kringle’s visits, it’s still a throw back here to another time. Parents are free to take photos of their children sitting on Santa’s lap, but there are no photographers selling high priced Polaroids. I don’t even think there’s a fee to see the jolly old elf! 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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