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Gwyn Mellinger

Stories by Gwyn

Gardeners should plan for dry spell

As inconvenient as the recent snowfall may have been, heavy snow in winter is the best thing that can happen to an early-spring vegetable garden. Most of us in northeast Kansas received 6 to 8 inches of snow earlier this month. Those to the west and south got more, but even our half a foot of snow will go a long way toward compensating for lagging precipitation totals during the past year, particularly because the snow stayed on the ground awhile.

Kitchen & Garden: Persimmons fruitful in fall

While October frosts signal the official end of the gardening season, they also usher in persimmon season, an event that generally goes unnoticed by all but a few hearty foragers and backyard persimmon enthusiasts.

Pachamama's recipe featured in Bon Apetit magazine

For several years I have followed the monthly R.S.V.P. feature in Bon Apetit magazine, in which readers ask the magazine's editors to publish the recipe for some tasty dish that appears on a restaurant menu somewhere. It's free advertising for the restaurant, because the reader wouldn't be asking for the recipe if the meal hadn't made an impression. Surprisingly, many of the dishes that left customers hankering for the recipe are fairly basic and easy to prepare at home. I suspect, however, that this fact doesn't keep patrons from returning to the restaurant to have the chef do the cooking for them.

Kitchen & Garden: Wet soil gives gardener a sinking feeling

By Gwyn Mellinger Friday afternoon I wandered out to the garden and peered over the fence. The ground had begun drying out, just enough so the peaks in the tilled soil had turned the color of cardboard.

Winter pause gives gardener chance to dream

When I awoke the other morning my husband cheerfully announced that the weather forecast for Tuesday called for a high temperature near 60 degrees. My first thought was that this might be a good opportunity to run the tiller through my vegetable garden.

Don't let plants develop a thirst

By Gwyn Mellinger I was reminded, following the first big rain in our recent series of storms, of the importance of watering fruit and vegetables evenly throughout their growing period. That surge of precipitation hit just after small berries appeared on one of our cherry trees and produced a growth spurt powerful enough to split the skins on all the fruit on that tree.

Chocolate tart sure to win Valentine's heart

By Gwyn Mellinger Hey, Valentines and Valentine wannabes. You've got one week to figure out how to make an impression, and I'm here to help. I'm somewhat obligated to endorse the adage that the way to that certain someone's heart is through his or her stomach, and my own personal experience shows that chocolate is a pretty fool-safe means to that end

Untraditional burritos are pumped up with traditional fall flavors

By Gwyn Mellinger 'Tis the season to extol the virtues of the pumpkin and this week and next I'll be doing just that. We tend to see the pumpkin's value in just two ways: as carving material for jack-o'-lanterns and as pie filling. I have seen estimates that 99 percent of all pumpkins are sold for decoration, which suggests that most of the flesh produced by pumpkins is scooped out and pitched. Many of our ancestors would be shocked.

Rustic persimmons blend a bit of the past into timely fall food

By Gwyn Melllinger Within the next couple of weeks, now that we've started to get hard frosts, wild persimmons will be available for the gathering throughout the eastern Kansas countryside.

Acorn squash makes transition to fall dining

By Gwyn Mellinger One of the sure signs that fall is here is the appearance in supermarkets of winter squash, which gardeners in this region generally pick in September. One of the most popular of the winter squashes, and among the easiest to prepare, is acorn squash.

Good things come in small hard packages

We have a scraggly looking walnut tree in our front yard that has taken the brunt of who-knows-how-many Kansas thunderstorms over the years. Here on our hilltop, where a bolt of lightening can illuminate the inside of your house, a tree's existence is somewhat precarious.

Corn Pudding puts veggie on center stage

Kitchen & Garden

By Gwyn Mellinger We tend to think of corn as a summer novelty, to be eaten on the ear. At other times of the year, corn comes out of the can or freezer and plays a supporting role as a side dish or as an ingredient in a soup or stew. When it isn't fresh on the cob, slathered with butter, corn is rarely the focus of a meal.

Crisp apples come into their own despite summer heat

By Gwyn Mellinger Given the scorching hot summer we've just had and apparently will continue to have it's probably a miracle that we've had anything come off our apple trees but leaves. So far, we've managed to pick about half a dozen Golden Delicious apples and a couple of Reds, but there won't be many more from the look of things.

White chili is perfect food for football

Kitchen & Garden

Kitchen & Garden Gwyn Mellinger In a game of free associations, autumn and the start of a new school year mean football, and football suggests tailgating and Sunday afternoons in front of the television. It's also the season for eating chili.

Lentil salad eases labor on Labor Day

Kitchen & Garden

By Gwen Mellinger Kitchen & Garden Although school has already started, the upcoming Labor Day holiday will be the symbolic end of summer vacation and the last official occasion for picnics and barbecues before autumn begins in earnest.

Special occasions call for a special cake

Kitchen & Garden

By Gwyn Mellinger Journalism teacher at Baker University If you're looking for a birthday cake that is different enough to become a party memory but traditional enough to keep the honoree from feeling like a guinea pig, this Mocha Brownie Cake will fit the bill.

Grocers pepper Lawrence

By Gwyn Mellinger Journalism teacher at Baker University Am I the only person who's noticed that we consumers of food are being fought over, tooth and nail, by the supermarkets on the west side of Lawrence?

Mango markdown worth exploring

By Gwyn Mellinger Baker University Journailsm Teacher Late every summer the local grocers mark their mangoes down to 50 cents a piece. For all I know these are the same mangoes that were in the produce bins a couple of months ago, when they were rock hard and green, and it's simply time to move them out. In any case, the ones that have been on sale here lately are ripe and ready to eat.

Potato salad breaks the mold

By Gwyn Mellinger Baker University Journalism Teacher If you're like most people, you're a bit reluctant to try new variations on standard dishes. The tried and true doesn't yield easily to innovation, especially if we have fond memories of eating a particular dish, prepared a certain way, on special occasions.