MADISON COUNTY —
I have wanted for some time to visit and interview people and food establishments here in Madison County and surrounding areas that you may have not gotten a chance to visit. \
I chose the Dinner Bell in Berea for my column this week.
The owner and I had the most interesting chat the other day. I would like to share with you some facts about this establishment. It has been in Berea about 27 years. The present owner is Bob Stewart, who brings an interesting background he brings to this restaurant.
Stewart graduated from Berea College with a degree in hotel/restaurant management. He worked under the legendary Richard Hougen, long-time manager of Boone Tavern and author of a series of “Look No Futher” cookbooks.
Stewart later followed Hougen as Boone Tavern manager for several years. His efforts helped get Boone Tavern added to the historical register in Kentucky.
Upon leaving Boone Tavern, Stewart was co-owner and manager of Halls on the River before taking moving on to owner-operator of the Dinner Bell in Berea. At one time, he also owned and operated a restaurant in the Mount Vernon area. It burned down a few years ago, and Stewart decided not to rebuild and to concentrate on running the Dinner Bell.
Bob and I talked about several concerns he has about things which may affect his business. The alcohol referendum is one. He will not be putting any alcohol into the restaurant, even if the referendum passes. Stewart wants to keep his business as it is because he caters primarily to families. And, serving alcohol in his restaurant would also be just too costly.
He plans on changing some of his menus in the spring, adding several new selections.
However, his biggest concern is the rising cost of food. The Dinner Bell has not raised its prices in two years, but some prices will have to rise when the new menu comes out.
I do admire Stewart for buying food from area farmers. He believes we should buy our food locally, especially when farmers in our area grow such high quality produce. Plus, buying locally ensures freshness.
During this off-season, Bob said he really misses having tomatoes fresh off the vine.
He has shared three recipes that he serves quite often in the restaurant. I hope you enjoy them.
SMOTHERED SWISS STEAK
Four cube beef steaks coated in flour and browned on both sides
1 green bell pepper-chopped
1 small onion-chopped
Cook in a small amount of oil until onions and peppers are tender.
(I added 1 small can of diced tomatoes after the onions and peppers were soft.)
Add 1 1/2 quarts of water and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of beef base.
Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of cornstarch that has been mixed with a small amount of water to the vegetable mixture. This should thicken the broth. If the mixture is not thick enough add more cornstarch to the right thickness.
This is a great recipe to put over the cube steak. I am going to try it again with a sauce over my meatloaf.
1 small cabbage head-chopped
Small amount of bacon grease
1 small onion-chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Several strips of crisp bacon
1/2 cup each of chopped green peppers and one chopped tomato chopped.
Fry cabbage in bacon grease until soft, add other vegetables and simmer till soft and done. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You will have the choice of adding the peppers and tomatoes. I have tried both ways and love just the onions and cabbage.
Speaking of bacon grease, I really do need to have rehab on my brain. I have one of those fancy coffee makers that you use the small cups in. I use mine mostly to make a glass of iced tea. When I make the tea, I run the tea into a pint jar and then pour the hot tea over ice in a large class.
The day I cooked off the bacon for this dish was the day I had check out brainwise. I had some bacon that I knew was high in fat so I cooked off the entire package to save the bacon grease. I placed it in a pint jar to keep for other dishes.
Now I know that this is not the healthiest part of my diet, but I grew up with a grease can on top of the stove, and those great green beans that it went into … yum yum.
As I was working in my kitchen, I noticed a pint jar that I thought I forgot to use up all my tea. So guess who poured the grease into the tea and ice? Have you ever tried ice tea with a pint of bacon grease in a large glass? This had to be a sign from God that the bacon grease had to go.
I did have about one tablespoon of grease left in the pan so that is what I fried my cabbage in. I guess I will just have to go down to the Dinner Bell and eat the fried cabbage sometime.
CORNBREAD PANCAKE STYLE
1 cup of yellow corn meal with 1 cup of flour
When you make this always use half and half of flour and cornmeal.
1 cup of buttermilk
Mix all ingredients together well.
Drop on grill or skillet as a pancake-type item. Cook on both sides till light brown.
This is served with any meal at the Dinner Bell. I noticed they always serve soup beans and onion slice with this.
I want to thank Bob for sharing his recipes and thoughts on running a very successful business. With Bob Stewart in charge, I understand why the Dinner Bell has been so successful. Mr. Hougan’s training certainly paid off for him.
He also has very good employees,some of who have been working at the Dinner Bell for 17 years or longer. Carol McCallum has been a cook there for more than 19 years.
Arritta Morris is a graduate of EKU with a bachelorﾕs degree in nutrition and a masterﾕs degree in counseling. She is certified as a food service specialist by the School and Community Nutrition Association.
MADISON COUNTY —
- Lifestyles & Community
Burning bridges and the importance of relationships
“Congratulations on your new job!” You tell a co-worker who announced she would be leaving in a couple of weeks. “Where are you going?” You ask her.
“I’ve landed a job that will put this place to shame! I am so excited about leaving here. This is going to be a great chance to advance my career,” the co-worker tells you.
Ensuring children develop a habit brushing their teeth
“Are you sure you brushed your teeth?” the father asked his son. His son solemnly nodded. His father said, “Let me smell your breath.” The son obligingly opened his mouth. Finally, the father said, “I need to check and see if your toothbrush is wet.”
This type of exchange happens in many households as children often do not brush their teeth, even when told to do so. This nightly inquisition can occur less frequently if parents establish a habit in their children to brush their teeth.
Saturated fat consumption leads to abdominal fat
New research from Uppsala University shows that eating more saturated fat in the diet causes an increase in the amount of fat stored in the abdominal area in comparison with extra consumption of polyunsaturated fat.
County’s oldest consignment sale begins today
The Little Ones’ Consignment Sale, Madison County’s oldest semi-annual sale of its kind, is open to the public 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today (Friday) and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the multi-ministry center behind United Methodist Church, West Main Street, Richmond. Marked items are half price on Saturday.
There’s more to do at the Village Trough
“I wish there was more to do here.”
Do you ever find yourself saying this sentence as you sit there bored out of your mind? Have you heard others ask it?
Well, there is something more to do now that Village Trough in Berea is staging shows with local and regional talent and preparing to open as a full dining and entertainment venue.
Let’s have a Mardi Gras party in Kentucky
It’s the time of year when the people in New Orleans celebrate a festival called Mardi Gras. Many states now do the same. Some call it “Fat Tuesday” which I have never understood till I went to New Orleans (five times) and saw all of the excitement for myself.
Beat the winter blues with meatballs
When it’s this cold outside it’s nice to warm up with some good comfort food.
I can think of few things more wonderful than the smell of simmering meatballs coming from the kitchen while I cuddle with my two young children, and a few good books, on a brisk winter day.
Taste test Thursday
The sun is shining, but the chill has returned, so I hope you made the most of the warm, sunny weather this weekend.
The spring greens are being as tentative as the warm temperatures, but there is talk of lettuce being harvested and a continued trickle of kale, pea shoots, miner’s lettuce and spinach. To make room for the spring harvests, winter squash and sweet potatoes have been marked down to $1/pound and pumpkins are only 50 cents/pound.
Buttercups in grazed pastures
One of the signs that spring has arrived is when the yellow flowers of buttercup begin to appear, but it’s during the winter months that the vegetative growth of buttercup takes place.
As a cool season weed, this plant often flourishes in overgrazed pasture fields with poor stands of desirable forages. In fact, many fields that have dense buttercup populations are fields heavily grazed by animals during the fall through the early spring months.
Make a difference this summer, volunteer at 4-H Camp
On June 30 more than 200 Madison County kids will load a bus headed for four days and three nights of fun at 4-H Summer Camp.
Campers will have a chance to hike, swim, dance and spend time learning about the environment, their friends and themselves.
And we need your help to make it possible!
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