I’m Back

I’m back.

If you didn’t notice, I slipped out the back door of Bearing Drift about seven weeks ago to work with my state senator, Emmett Hanger, on his victorious June 11 primary campaign.

During my absence Melissa Kenney, who is Bearing Drift’s managing editor, took over the day-to-day operations, and I cannot thank her enough for the time and dedication she put into making sure the trains were on time. Thank you, Missy.

After winning the primary 57-43 percent, Senator Emmett Hanger is the Republican nominee for the 24th Senate District going into November’s general election.

It wasn’t my first rodeo with him but, like last time when we worked together, it was an honor to once again be part of the team. Congratulations to our Virginia gentleman for running an above-board campaign and working circles around the rest of us.

As to Bearing Drift … it’s good to be back.

See also Emmett Hanger Had the Third Larger Turnout in Primary 2019.

Originally published June 17, 2019, at BearingDrift.com.

Emmett Hanger Had Third Largest Voter Turnout for Primary 2019

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24th District) campaigns at polls during the June 11 primary.

On Monday’s radio show, as he analyzed the previous week’s primary races, host and former House of Delegates member Chris Saxman gave his hot take on the 24th Senate District race between incumbent Republican Senator Emmett Hanger and his challenger, Libertarian Tina Freitas.

Here’s the transcript (listen to the podcast here) of that section of the show (starting around 43:00).

Chris Saxman: “We had Senator Emmett Hanger on a couple of times as well as his opponent Tina Freitas, and down the stretch, Sen. Hanger definitely won … won by 15 points. Most people thought it was a toss-up, inside two points, potential upset by Freitas. And Hanger puts it away by 15 points.”

Al the Engineer: “What happened there?”

Chris Saxman: “I’m glad you asked.

“This is why polling and analytics matter. Six weeks out, Hanger’s pollster says, ‘Look, you’re doing pretty well, but here’s some weaknesses and if she gets funded, these weaknesses could catch up with you.’

“They came back three weeks later, did another poll before Memorial Day, and went to him and said, ‘If you don’t change the direction of your campaign, you will lose. Here are the numbers.’

“And he didn’t want to go on a full attack — this is not his personality; he’s not a negative campaign guy — but they said, ‘You have to do some sharp contrasts, and here are the messages you want to do that with. If you don’t do this, you’ll lose.’

“He obviously did it. He ran up the numbers back in Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Rockingham. She won on the eastern side of the district, over to Culpeper. On the western side, which is where Emmett Hanger’s from, he ran up huge margins and was able to put that one away. So that was a big win for Sen. Emmett Hanger.

“He also starts, in my estimation, too late running for reelection and his organization. He said, ‘Look, I campaign by working just as hard for my constituents.’ That’s great if this is the 1980s or 1990s and they want to see you. But with the digital aspect of a campaign and people grinding it out unseen, they don’t have to put out these massive campaigns to take you out.

“The Hanger campaign said, in … 2015, 12,000 voters voted in that primary in a three-way. On the day of the election [this year], the campaign manager or consultant or operative said they were thinking it would be about 16,000 votes. That was their estimate. Tina Freitas got 8,200. Now with 16,000, and she gets 8,200, who wins? She does.

“Well, guess what happened? 19,000 showed up! Three-thousand-plus more showed up than they were expecting. That’s a lot. That’s a substantial number turnout.

“So whatever Emmett Hanger’s team did, organizationally and in the campaign, whatever they were doing — digital, messaging, bulk mail, whatever — it worked. They turned out more people than anyone was expecting.”

It all came down to voter turnout in a June primary where voter apathy is a very real thing. #TeamHanger never let up. Sen. Hanger pulled in the third most votes in the Commonwealth.

Congratulations once again to Senator Hanger for his convincing win.

You may also be interested in If It’s Monday, Chris Saxman Is On the Radio.

Talking With Emmett … about Gun Rights

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Talking with Emmett … about gun rights….

“As a rural legislator, I have long been a leading advocate for the protection of 2nd Amendment rights. From consistently opposing legislation intended to chip away at gun owner rights, to patroning key legislation to afford statewide protection of this constitutional right, I am regarded as a leader in the Senate on this issue.

“I successfully patroned the important, overarching preemption legislation that prohibits localities from going farther than state law allows with gun restrictions. I also successfully patroned the concealed carry allowance in restaurants that serve alcohol for those legally permitted to carry concealed with the caveat that they don’t drink while carrying in the restaurant. And I have patroned legislation to protect the personal information of gun owners from public disclosure. I have an A rating by the NRA and am proud to be endorsed by them consistently over the years. I am also proud to be co-chair of the Sportsman Caucus in the General Assembly.

“As for ‘Constitutional carry’ (which is really allowing anyone to carry concealed without a permit and the appropriate training and screening), I do not believe our current application process to carry a concealed weapon is flawed. I am not hearing reports of long lines, unnecessary denials of the application, or any complaint that would justify changing a process that is working to ensure responsible owners are able to carry concealed weapons legally. I do believe because of my in-depth work in the mental health arena that this simple process helps to weed out someone who may have a mental health concern or a behavorial or criminal issue that would make it inappropriate to carry (like a domestic abuser or known drug dealer who hasn’t been charged and found guilty). The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has gone on record supporting my position as a safety issue for citizens and their deputies. If they pull someone over with a legal permit, they know that person has gone thru the process to carry concealed, if there is no permit they will know there has been no cursory check of their credentials. I do not think we need to change a system that is working for legal concealed carry.

“Again, I fully support the Second Amendment but just as with the First Amendment basic common sense comes into play. Just as the First Amendment doesn’t permit you to yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater, the Second Amendment doesn’t prevent us from having some simple steps to ensure the rights of gun owners while providing a layer of protection from those who may be mentally impaired or otherwise not be eligible to legally carry a concealed weapon. And this doesn’t impact open carry at all which remains legal, so again for me common sense wins out.

“I will continue to support the protection of our Second Amendment Rights. In a world today where so many are working to curtail or end our gun rights, I believe my stance of common sense legislation to ensure the protection of those Second Amendment rights is a good place to be.”

Read more at www.EmmettHanger.com.

See also Talking with Emmett … about Social issues.

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Talking With Emmett … about Social Issues

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Talking with Senator Emmett Hanger … about Social issues:

“Social issues, and in particular, matters of faith, are areas where I cannot compromise. I am and always have been a strong Pro-Life Christian. I believe the dignity of life should be protected and honored from conception until natural death. Much has been in the news this session regarding abortion and simply put, I remain an ardent Pro-Lifer and my record, dating all the way back to my early work for our very first “parental consent” laws, demonstrates my commitment to my beliefs and values for human life. Some people have tried to say that my support of expanding access to Medicaid for our lower income Virginians compromises my position and that cannot be further from the truth. Providing quality health care for Virginians ensures all life is valued, rather than valuing only the lives of those who can pay for healthcare.

“I cannot in good conscience support any proposition that allows someone to make a decision about whether someone else should live or die, no matter how early in the womb or late in life, which is based on some supposed issue of choice or personal convenience.

“In addition, I want to clarify misinformation out there about state dollars allocated for preventing unwanted pregnancies. If we can prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place, then we can obviously decrease the abortion rate. To argue otherwise is frankly out of touch with where we are today as a society. Specifically, any TANF monies directed by the state to Planned Parenthood are the same that we provided to Free Clinics, hospitals, and health centers for Long-Acting Contraceptive Devices (LARCs) to be used to prevent pregnancies. This funding was specifically geared to assist low-income Virginians who otherwise may not have access to, or money for, contraception. And to be clear, Medicaid expansion doesn’t increase the abortion rate because that is federal money restricted by the Hyde Amendment so for anyone to say my work to expand health care services to our working poor is a pro-abortion effort then they are completely off base and have a lack of knowledge of how the state and federal programs work.

“I work to protect all life and am Pro-Life. This issue is part of my core beliefs and principals. I will always support and vote to protect the unborn in the same vein that I dedicate much time to ensuring the health and care of the disabled and elderly. Every life is precious and a gift from God. It is our responsibility as leaders in the General Assembly and in our communities to protect and cherish human life.

“As a Christian, I believe my life, though pitted by errors and shortcomings, should be patterned after the example of Christ. I try to guide my decisions based on biblical instruction including the Ten Commandments and I believe strongly our form of representative democracy cannot survive, at least in a manner that is efficient and affordable, unless the majority of our citizens are ‘Godly’ people and are willing and capable of assuming their role as responsible citizens in a free society.

“I have patroned and supported restrictions on abortions long before it became a dominant ‘Republican’ theme. I continue to maintain that while the state and faith-based communities should provide support and a safety-net for those in dire circumstances, it remains the ultimate responsibility of the individual to provide for themselves and the welfare of their family.”

Read more at EmmettHanger.com.

See also Talking with Emmett … about Gun Rights.

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Chesterfield’s Joan Girone Shattered the Glass Ceiling for 1970s Young Women

It was 1976 and the board of supervisors in Chesterfield County, Virginia, was a male refuge. Joan Girone changed that.

Shattering the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman elected to the board, she became a role model and trailblazer at the age of 48 for many women who grew up in Chesterfield and were just beginning to find their way. They were watching, listening, and observing even though they may not have realize it at the time. All these years later, I see Mrs. Girone’s fingerprints on many of my Republican beliefs.

She was progressive for the GOP, especially at that time, and they were fortunate she carried their banner in her groundbreaking journey to open doors for women. At the time, Chesterfield was just beginning to grow and expand with newcomers relocating as businesses moved into the area. The result was the beginning of change in county leadership.

From reporter Bridget Balch with the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“It set a new vision for Chesterfield County,” said former state Sen. John Watkins, a friend and political ally of Mrs. Girone’s. “Before, it was easy to say that many county governments were good old boys running local government, and she proved that that wasn’t necessarily the way it was going to work from then on.”

She went on to serve three terms before retiring from the board in 1987. During that time she was vice chairman from 1976 through 1980.

Why she didn’t move further up the political ladder is a bit of a surprise. When she ran as an Independent for Virginia state senate in the 1980s, challenging the incumbent Republican senator and bucking the local Republican hierarchy, she was shunned by some within the party and her political career never regained momentum. From the RTD:

Though a strident Republican, when Mrs. Girone ran for state senate in 1987, she challenged a Republican incumbent, state Sen. Robert Russell, as an independent. She said that the local party’s nomination process was rigged against her, and her candidacy exposed a rift in the local party. She also split with the Republican leadership, saying they were too right-wing for her more mainstream approach to politics.

Able to see the political winds of change seemingly before the GOP itself, Mrs. Girone was asked in 2012 about the shifts when county voters did not turn out as strongly in the once reliably red Chesterfield:

“I don’t think the Republican Party is going to survive much longer if they keep on this far-right track, which is endorsed by the tea party,” said Joan Girone, who in 1975 as a Republican became the first woman elected to the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. “It’s a rigid adherence to certain things and an unwillingness to compromise at all.”

Girone, now an independent, described the Republican Party of today as “exclusive” and a group that is not recognizing the growth of minority groups in Chesterfield.

She considered it an example of “politics at its finest” when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and Obama, a Democrat, recently worked together in the wake of massive storm damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“That’s what the Republicans seem to have forgotten — you are sent there to work solutions for the common good of all the people,” Girone said. “You can keep your own philosophy … but you have to compromise and give and take to reach a goal of what is best for all of the people.” [emphasis added]

As a public servant, she got it, listening and working with her constituents, holding “First Monday” events to listen to their concerns, and active in the community before, during, and long after her time on the board. She was instrumental in the change that resulted in the school board being elected by voters instead of appointed by supervisors.

In 2015 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Chesterfield County.

Earlier this week Joan Girone passed away at the age of 91, six months after the loss of her husband Joe. She left a legacy in the county but, perhaps more importantly, she left a legacy for unknown numbers of women who learned leadership, community involvement, constituent dedication, and a never-give-up attitude from this pioneer in the Richmond area women’s movement.

Mrs. Girone’s life will be celebrated this afternoon, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 2:00 at Bon Air Methodist Church.

For more about Joan Girone:

-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Joan Girone, first woman elected to Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, dies at 91
-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Election shows distinct shifts in Chesterfield voting habits

A son … ‘daring and loving and strong and kind’

??????????“I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.” — Maya Angelou

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Matt! I have to indulge a bit today since it’s my son’s birthday.

In this picture he was four years old as he held his six-month-old sister. He was my little buddy who arrived three weeks early on a February day … a cheerful first born of a first born of a first born who was the first grandchild and only grandson.

Thoughtful and introspective, and a source of joy since the day he arrived, this tiny six-pound baby became a little blond curly-headed boy who loved baseball and soccer, and grew into a kind, loving, industrious young man who is now almost six feet tall.

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A Valentine’s Day Message To My Children

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A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.”

— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Happy New Year 2019 from LynnRMitchell.com

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As 2018 comes to a close, it is a time to reflect on family and friends and those who have special meaning in our lives. While I’m still writing and posting photos at LynnRMitchell.com, my responsibilities as editor-in-chief at BearingDrift.com have kept me very busy.

Here’s to a great 2019 and many more years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more.

From LynnRMitchell.com to you … Happy New Year!

Welcoming 2019 at Bearing Drift

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[Since most of my time these days is spent at Bearing Drift, I’m sharing the New Year’s Day post for 2019.]

Hello, 2019! Goodbye, 2018.

It’s that time of year when it’s out with the old and in with the new. Here at Bearing Drift, it’s a time to look back at the past year, thank those who have built our foundation, offer extra thanks to our writers and background support, express gratitude for our readers, and start out with a clean slate in 2019.

Bearing Drift turns 15 this year — definitely a milestone for our group of writers and contributors who share their opinions, observations, and knowledge about the political world around us. With our concentration primarily on Virginia, we sometimes branch out to national and world politics when they affect us here in the Commonwealth.

Bearing Drift’s New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to continue to provide quality articles to our readers. We will strive to present new content on a regular basis, and we hope our readers will continue to support us and add their voices to the discussion.

As the new year begins, we want to take a moment to recognize those who make Bearing Drift the remarkable organization that it is and their contributions:

Melissa Kenney is our Advertising Director and Managing Editor. She sells ads, shares her expertise, and also digs into the site to troubleshoot technical issues that may arise.

Jason Kenney is our Webmaster. For an organization like ours, that is just about the most important person in the operation. He troubleshoots issues we may have and is practically on call at all hours of the day and night.

Susan Sili is our resident “hostess with the mostest” who covers the General Assembly during session, shares entertaining tips, and writes historical pieces about Virginia.

Brian Schoeneman is our editor-in-chief emeritus and occasional contributor who is always there to provide support and feedback.

Rick Sincere, who is well known in the writing world and contributes to a number of publications, is our radio personality since taking on “The Score” nine months ago. He not only pens articles for Bearing Drift but also provides photos when attending candidate events.

Stephen Spiker rejoined Bearing Drift in 2018. Experienced in polls, policy, and campaigns, he is a solid writer and numbers cruncher.

Norm Leahy, who has served as editor-in-chief in the past, writes for Real Clear Investigations and provides a weekly column at the Washington Post that he shares with us.

Cole Trower provides coverage of the Hampton Roads area as well as opinion and information about candidates and campaigns. He has served in grassroots leadership and worked numerous campaigns.

D.J. McGuire, a former long-time contributor, returned in 2018 after a two-year absence. A former candidate for public office, his experience is in foreign affairs and financial issues as well as Virginia politics.

Craig Storrs Jr. brings a wide array of experiences to his writing including working with elected officials, running campaigns, and grassroots leadership.

Matt Hall is our goodwill ambassador, writing articles as well as conducting interviews of candidates and elected officials.

Andrew Hull is on hiatus preparing to enter law school but is able to add the occasional article. Well-rounded in working campaigns, his quick wit and knowledge of the political scene endeared him to readers.

M.D. Russ brings years of experience with a military and business background, weighing in on a variety of issues.

Matt Walton offers perspective from the Richmond area, utilizing his experience working campaigns and running for public office.

Jay McConville brings his experience in grassroots leadership and running for public office to his writing.

-Rollin Reisinger has written strategically in the past but has been working campaigns in recent months.

-Steven Brodie Tucker is our newest contributor. His thoughtful and fact-filled writing has already captured an audience with BD readers.

Jim Bacon, editor-in-chief and founder of Bacon’s Rebellion, is one of our content partners, sharing his writing on economics, energy, and other issues of importance to Virginians.

Rob Schilling has his own radio show and is a former Charlottesville councilman. Another content partner, he writes about topical issues.

Mike Thompson is president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy, sharing articles about issues that concern the citizens of the Commonwealth.

-And me, Lynn R. Mitchell — editor-in-chief, photo chaser, and multi-tasker.

Here’s expecting even greater things for Bearing Drift in the coming year so stay with us to see where we  go in 2019.

From all of us to all of you … Happy New Year!

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Forgotten Cookies … a Christmas Favorite

A new batch of Forgotten Cookies is in the oven for their overnight sleep which reminded me of this post originally published in December 2008. In the morning we will open the oven and find another Christmas favorite. Shhh … cookies sleeping.

Special memories of the children I worked with at Richmond Children’s Hospital come to mind when baking Forgotten Cookies, a recipe that was passed along by a nurse who worked with me at that hospital years ago.

At Christmas, all the staff members brought goodies to share as we went about our work, and one year she brought these yummy meringue cookies that had an almond flavor with pecans and chocolate chips inside. They melted in your mouth.

When I asked what they were, she said they were called Forgotten Cookies because you put them in the oven at night, turn off the oven … and forget them until the next morning. They are favorites of family and friends, and are gluten free for those on special diets. Enjoy!

Forgotten Cookies

2 egg whites (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add flavorings; mix well. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonsful onto aluminum foil-lined cookie sheets coated with non-stick spray. Place in a 350-degree oven; immediately turn off oven. Let stand 8-10 hours or overnight. (Do not open oven.) Store in airtight container.

Yield: 5 dozen

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Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Christmas Fudge


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It’s that time of year to enjoy the season with family and decorations and cookie baking and candy making and everything else that goes with the holidays. Last week I made the first batch of fudge for a gathering of colleagues and thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to make their own. It’s one of the easiest of the candies I make.

The recipe was passed along by a dear, dear friend many years ago and, though she is no longer with us, I think of her every time I make up a batch of this Christmas fudge that leaves the house smelling like a chocolate factory. Enjoy!

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Here’s what you’ll need: 3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips; 1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks); 3 Tablespoons vanilla; 4 1/2 cups sugar; 1 13-oz can evaporated milk. The complete recipe is at the end of this post. Here are step-by-step photos from today.

fudge-2Put chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla in large bowl. Set aside. (Optional: This is the point where two cups of chopped pecans are added, if wanted.)

fudge-3In at large saucepan, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and continue cooking for 10 minutes, adjusting heat to keep it at a rolling boil.

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Remove from stove and pour over chocolate chips, stirring until chips and butter are melted and well mixed.

fudge-8Pour into lightly greased pan and quickly spread it evenly.

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fudge-11Let it set five or six hours, then cut into squares and store in air-tight container. Yield: 5 pounds.

Fudge

3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
3 Tablespoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

In a large bowl, put chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla, and set aside. In large saucepan, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and pour over chocolate chips. Stir until chips and butter are melted and well mixed. Pour into lightly greased pan and let it set 5-6 hours. Cut into squares.

Yield: 5 pounds

Options: Add 2 cups chopped pecans, maraschino cherries, or both, or be creative with other add-ins.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Wreaths Across America … Remembering America’s Fallen Heroes

Staunton National Cemetery (photo by Lynn R. Mitchell)

If you drive by a military cemetery today and see headstones decorated with fresh, handmade balsam Christmas wreaths accented with bright red bows, you will have witnessed the work of Wreaths Across America.

Across the nation and around the world, thousands of volunteers are continuing the twenty-six-year tradition that began in 1992 with 4,000 excess wreaths donated by Morrill Worcester, a tradition that continues each December. Hundreds of thousands of wreaths are reverently placed on military graves as a remembrance of those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Mr. Worcester’s quiet donation all those years ago of 4,000 wreaths for Arlington Cemetery has become an annual gift of love from this Maine wreath maker who recognized that freedom is not free. Because of his generosity and desire to remember those who sacrificed, he started a tradition that was fairly obscure for 12 years until a photo hit the internet in 2005 showing the Christmas wreaths on Arlington’s snow-covered graves.

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This is the 2005 photo that went viral and showed America how a local wreath company was quietly honoring our heroes.

As the photo circulated and spread the Worcester story, an anonymous person added a caption: “Rest easy, sleep well, my brothers. Know the line has held, your job is done. Rest easy, sleep well. Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held. Peace, peace, and farewell.”

Word spread quickly and wreath requests poured in for other military cemeteries around the country which led Mr. Worcester and his family to establish the non-profit Wreaths Across America with a mission to remember, honor, and teach.

What would drive this 65-year-old owner of the largest wreath producing company in the world to give away thousands of wreaths for the past 26 years?

Mr. Worcester recalled that when he was a 12-year-old newspaper carrier, he won a Bangor Daily News subscription-selling contest that sent him to the Nation’s Capital. The lines of white stones in Arlington Cemetery made an impression on him that never left.

Years later, Christmas 1992, the successful businessman’s Worcester Wreath Company had 4,000 surplus wreaths late in the season and nothing to do with them. Grateful that his success was due in large part to the sacrifice of American troops, and remembering the rows of white tombstones, he put in a call to his congressman and secured permission from Arlington Cemetery.

With a handful of volunteers, they drove a truck load of wreaths to Arlington and spent the next six hours distributing them on graves, a tradition continued quietly for years by a man who did not seek publicity. The 2005 photo changed all that and sealed his destiny.

Today thousands of volunteers will lay wreaths at American military cemeteries around the world. National Cemetery in Staunton has been a recipient for a number of years.

On each wreath will be a tag that reads: “Through the generosity and actions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, this wreath is donated and placed on the grave of a True American Hero. Wreaths Across America … we make it our business to NEVER FORGET.”

It’s once again a reminder that freedom is not free … and a reminder that Americans have not forgotten their fallen heroes. That is the legacy of Morrill Worcester and his Maine balsam Christmas wreaths.

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Toffee for Christmas

toffee-8Toffee for Christmas is a favorite with everyone. This is my most-requested candy recipe and I have gladly shared it with friends, family, and anyone else who has asked. I loved the toffee sold by Warfel’s Candy at the Dayton Farmers Market in Rockingham County so years ago began searching for a recipe that would duplicate it. Sure enough, I found exactly what I wanted in the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book (entire recipe is at the end of this post). I made a double batch yesterday so thought I would share it for those who would like to make some for their holiday festivities.

toffee-1First thing is to butter the sides of the sauce pan, then put butter in pan and melt over low heat.

toffee-2After the butter melts, add sugar, water, and corn syrup. It will have this bright yellow color. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixtures boils.

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Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and reduce heat to medium as candy continues to boil at a moderate, steady rate. As it cooks, the color will become golden-brown. Keep stirring, to prevent scorching, until thermometer registers 280 degrees F. Watch carefully and stir continuously at this point because it will burn easily.

toffee-4When the thermometer reaches 290, the candy mixture will be a deep golden-brown. Remove from burner and, working quickly because it sets up fast, spread onto a cookie sheet that has been covered in aluminum foil. You don’t need to butter the foil because the toffee will not stick to it.

toffee-6Let toffee set for a couple of minutes, and then cover with chocolate chips. Allow them to soften for 2 minutes, then spread evenly over candy.

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After spreading the chocolate, it will take a couple of hours for it to harden to the point where you can break the toffee into pieces. It’s just a random process … pick a corner and begin breaking it. If you want to add toasted pecans or almonds to the top, do it immediately after spreading the chocolate. I used to add the nuts but it is so good without them that now I just make the plain. The toffee stays fresh, if stored in an air-tight container, for several weeks and makes yummy gifts that are popular with just about everyone. Happy candy making, and Merry Christmas!

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Toffee Butter Crunch

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon light-colored corn syrup
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds, toasted (optional)

1. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Set aside.

2. Butter the sides of a 2-quart heavy saucepan. In saucepan melt butter; add sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils.

3. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 290 degrees F, soft-crack stage (about 15 minutes). Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil. Watch carefully after 280 degrees F to prevent scorching.

4. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Pour candy into the prepared pan, spreading quickly.

5. Let toffee stand about 2 minutes or until set, then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let stand 1-2 minutes. When chocolate has softened, spread over candy. Sprinkle with nuts (optional). Let stand until firm. When firm, use foil to lift it out of pan; break into pieces. Store tightly covered for up to 3 weeks.

Yield: 1.5 pounds

Note: Can easily be doubled. Do not triple the batch because candy will set up too fast.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Virginia Brunswick Stew Recipe

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Baby, it’s cold outside! On this chilly, snowy December Sunday with below-freezing temps, it’s a good time for a steaming bowl of Brunswick stew — hot and filling and yummy.

From the cookbook, Virginia Hospitality: A Book of Recipes From 200 Years of Gracious Entertaining, is the Brunswick stew recipe I have used for years. As with any cook, I have variations (in parentheses). Stew is best when the flavors are given time to meld together so I often make mine the day before it will be served. The recipe easily doubles and triples for larger groups.

Brunswick Stew
1 whole chicken, cut up (I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 ounces white shoepeg corn
10 ounces frozen small butterbeans
1 pound canned tomatoes
2 small potatoes, cubed (I double or triple that amount)
1/3 cup ketchup
2-3 Tablespoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon marjoram (I omit this)
2-3 Tablespoons butter

Place chicken in Dutch oven and add enough water to cover well. Add onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Boil until chicken comes off bones easily. Remove chicken to cool and add corn, butterbeans, tomatoes, potatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar; cook 2 hours or until tender. Remove chicken from bones or shred chicken breasts and add to vegetables along with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, marjoram, and butter. Serves 6-8.

Note: Vary amount of water for thick or soupy stew. Add a cube of chicken bouillon after the first or second serving.

Stay warm and safe, and enjoy!

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Update on Skyline Drive’s Closed Southern Section

An update Friday morning, December 7, 2018, from the National Park Service details the continued work clearing Skyline Drive’s southern portion after a devastating ice storm three weeks ago. Those of us who live at this end of the Drive will be happy when it reopens because the winter landscape has definitely taken over vistas in the Park. My camera and I are anxious to get up there.

Today’s update:

The Skyline Drive is now OPEN from Front Royal to Swift Run Entrance Station (Elkton).

Park crews are continuing to clear hazard trees and debris caused by the ice storm that hit 3 weeks ago in the south district of the Park.

The Skyline Drive is still CLOSED from Swift Run to Rockfish Gap, but crews have made steady progress towards clearing the estimated 100 down trees per mile. Once the road is completely cleared of trees, crews will assess any overhanging limbs and chip trees that have been dragged to the shoulder.

We appreciate your patience as we work as quickly and safely as possible to open up the Drive for public use. As always, the safety of the public, and of our staff, is our number one priority. Please call 540-999-3500 (select option 1, then option 1) for the most up-to-date closure information.

With that many trees down, there should be a firewood supply for years for campers in Shenandoah National Park. Many thanks to those working in the cold and hazardous conditions to again make the Park accessible.

 

Photos by the National Park Service / Shenandoah National Park

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

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