A show of love: The world could use extra love. Craft a Valentine for residents and/or staff of Water’s Edge Senior Living in Hayward to warm their hearts. For your kind efforts, enjoy $1 off your order at Whistle Punk as a small thank you. Please prepare your lovely cards at home and drop them off at the shop now through Feb. 7. Let’s show our community, elders and health care workers some love!

Remember our Stone Lake Bakery: Whistle Punk has a fresh bakery each weekend. I saw Laura Gregory (the baker and famous gardener of the Meadow View vegetable stand) and she said that they always have cinnamon rolls. Last week’s special was peppermint chocolate cookies. Call (715) 957-0222 or check thewhistlepunk.com for the special. Some people have the gift of knowing how to use yeast in baking, and Laura is one of these gifted bakers.

Hello, old friend: Mary Nilssen sent me a lovely Christmas message. She said she is happy to be reading the column rather than writing it! Although she said she loved doing the column for the years that she did.

Ice walks revisited: So last Wednesday as I was waiting in line at the hardware store three young men were buying bait. They were talking about the truck that went through the ice on one lake and the snowmobile that went through the ice on another. Oh, my! And I had just suggested lake walks. I had checked on ice thickness with a local fisherman, but did not know that he is one of the ice daredevils, so to speak. So needless to say, do check with others on the thickness of ice when you are considering an ice walk. It is still a delight.

Pumpkin is delicious: I love pumpkin and I wonder why I make pumpkin pies and bars only in autumn? Well, part of the reason is it is a general taste that appears in the fall when pumpkins ripen. I remember at one spring fish fry at the Lions Hall when someone brought a huge sheet of pumpkin bars. Everyone chose one, and they were quickly gone. This was May, and I think people remembered just how much they liked pumpkin, anytime of the year. Luckily for us, we have Libby’s (or other brand name) with 100% pure pumpkin available at the store all the time. All natural, no preservatives. How could it be simpler?

Have you ever tried to grow pumpkins and make your own pie filling? Of course, I had to try and I learned my lesson. I was committed to this one year when I had my preschool. I was fortunate at the time, 30-some years ago, to have a copy of the “Cinderella” movie. We had a friend who worked for Disney at the time, and he shared this with us. So to watch “Cinderella” at school on a rainy afternoon rather than at the movie theater or the yearly showing on TV was a rare treat. And thus, I had to have the fairy godmother’s pumpkin vine in the backyard.

First, there is a knack to growing pumpkins. I don’t know what it is, but pumpkin growers always look amazed when you share your difficulties, for to them it is so easy. Well, there’s a secret that is yet to be shared.

And second, processing the big round pumpkins into pie filling is better left to Libby as far as I’m concerned. It is so much work: the pumpkin shell is like a rock, cut it, scrape out the seeds, bake for an hour, peel off the skin and finally mash. And when I tasted my homemade pumpkin pie, I couldn’t tell the difference. So now I enjoy the simplicity of opening a can of pumpkin, and am grateful for this luxury. But there’s always an adventure waiting for the hearty.

So here is a tried-and-true pumpkin bar recipe from Mary Kees’ mother-in-law, Theone. I asked Mary if there was a bit of info about Theone and here’s what she wrote: She had 10 kids, no money and always had to feed many quickly. She lived to be 102. Hence, her recipes are a treasure. I have her apple bar recipe also. She said sugar, cream, coffee and butter are the staff of life! Lowell’s mother taught art in Alma and was teacher of the year in Wisconsin two times I think.

And by the way, my mother-in-law’s name is Alma. Aren’t these interesting names, Theone and Alma?

Theone’s Pumpkin Bars

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

4 eggs

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. (I love this. As I am not a great baker, everything in a bowl is my cup of tea!)

2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Poke with toothpick in center to see if done.

For thinner bars, use a jelly roll pan; for thicker bars use a cake pan. For the frosting use a can of cream cheese frosting or your own recipe from scratch. (Watch for her apple bar recipe!)

Bishop’s Wife: Aren’t you happy when you share something you love and it is a discovery for others, a treasure to share and pass on? That’s how I feel about the movie “The Bishop’s Wife.” So Judy called me and said that she had never seen this movie and wanted to because of how I described it. She wondered if it was still available. We talked and the decision was that if she couldn’t get the VHS copy from the library, I would send her mine to borrow. She didn’t call, so she must have been able to locate it.

Then Bonnie, a dear friend, called and said she couldn’t remember if she had seen it, so she rented it from Amazon and she loved it, so much so that we have a New Year’s date to watch it together next year. Oh, how one’s heart is cheered.

Quote of the Week: “Keep Christmas in your heart.” —Father Greg Hopefl, last sentence of his Jan. 10 sermon.

Christine Maestri can be reached at(715) 865-4131 or chmaestri@gmail.com.

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