Fran, The Country Cousin

fran As long as I can remember, plants have spoken to me. Even as a very young child I would go on solo botanical expeditions through the woods and fields that surrounded our northern Ohio home. I dragged along a cardboard box and a shovel and brought home blue-eyed grass, trout lilies, and bluets to plant around the foundation of our new house. I don’t think many of those transplants survived, but those early expeditions were the start of a lifelong love affair with plants and gardening. I still have a few dried flowers I pressed between pink tissue in the early ’60’s, proof of my early horticultural beginnings. I believe that I was born with a gardener’s soul. I have spent just about my entire life with my fingers in the soil, worrying my gardens into being.

Cooking, on the other hand, came to me  because our mother thought my sister and I needed to practice so that when we had homes of our own we would be proficient in the kitchen.  She  encouraged us to search through cookbooks and magazines and choose recipes we wanted to try. During bi-weekly grocery shopping trips she would buy what we needed for our chosen recipes. Success or failure didn’t matter. We ate it all and cooking became a passion for both of us.

Gardening and cooking  have always been a part of my life.  During my 60 odd years I became a graduate of Bluffton University (Bluffton College back in my day),  spent time as a special education home ec teacher (which was, as I soon discovered, not my gift), worked as a home economist, mothered two children –  Nick and Allison – both grown now, cooked with a gourmet caterer, become a Master Gardener, and  worked as a garden center employee and hardware store salesman. I studied at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute,  spent 5 years as an Ohio State University Extension horticultural program assistant, and wrote garden columns for the Wellington Enterprise.  I have taught gardening classes since 1985 and began food preservation classes  about 10 years ago. I am a passionate organic food gardener and home food preserver. I believed in the importance of local food way before it became popular.

This year Greg and I will celebrate 41 years of marriage.  He is, without a doubt, the most patient man I know and the love of my life. We share our days with three rescued and much loved pets – Gabby, a half black lab/ half hound sweetheart, two  cats  –  ZuZu – an 18 pound big boned boy, and Gracie May Tinklepants – a blue-eyed Siamese mix/ holy terror.  In the coop we have a flock of six French Black Copper Marin hens and three Barred Rock hens.

We live in a rural area in Zone 5 northern Ohio. Our 30 some acres includes a large organic vegetable garden, a garden of small fruit, a young orchard, an herb garden, Greg’s dahlia garden, a few perennial beds, two hoop houses, a 10 acre wood lot, and acres of bean/corn fields. The gardens are my passion and they fill my days with work and joy.

The Kitchen Cousins blog is my new modus operandi. Through it I hope to encourage you to GROW – at least part of what you eat  – COOK – what you grow or buy locally – and best of all – SHARE – your successes with those you  – LOVE.

Hey from the farm,


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