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Sandy recovery continues in mountains

The leaves have fallen off the mulberry tree; one by one they drifted down to cover the ground with their autumn gold. They clung tightly to the tree through the wind and snow, but the frost last night sounded their death knell. The bright sun shines out of cloudless sky today with nary a cloud to mar its vast blue surface.

The landscape is calm and serene, and it is hard to imagine that the ground was so recently covered by several inches of snow. Up in the mountains, the snowfall was measured by feet and not inches, although most of us were affected by the Superstorm Sandy. Coming on the heels of the derecho we suffered a few months ago, it has taken a severe toll on our mountains and woodlands, as well as homes and businesses.

We were warned of course, but I wonder how many of us realized the storm was going to be as widespread and monstrous. We filled buckets and jugs with water, as we have our own well and when the power is off, we have no water. We are blessed to have natural gas for heat, and folks in the country are resourceful when it comes to survival.

It has been more an inconvenience than anything else, compared to the families on the East Coast who have lost everything -- family members destroyed homes and devastation that we cannot imagine. It makes me ashamed to complain when they are suffering terribly.

It was a little ironic, in a sense. We have planned a camping trip last week, as the mild autumn weather beckoned us to take the camper and spend a few days in the woods. Criss was going to squirrel hunt, while I roamed the woods and relaxed and read. Was it Robert Burns who quoted, "The best laid plans of mice and men do oft times go astray?"

We camped, anyway. Out came the Coleman lantern for light, the camp percolator for coffee, and the dishpans from the camper to wash dishes. We were blessed to have a neighbor with city water, so we got to carry water just like on a camping trip. Criss kept a generator going to preserve our food in the deep freezer, and we could cook on the stovetop, although the oven wouldn't work. All in all, we fared quite well.

We were without power for seven full days, and we are still without telephone service. The wire is flat on the ground in our back yard, waiting for a lineman. Of course we have no internet as we have no telephone, and that is why there was no column last week. I couldn't even call to tell them!

Life goes on; the Lord took care of us, and who knows what surprises are in store for us this winter? I think of how man has exalted himself in making many inventions and great strides in every field of endeavor. Yet, he has never learned to control the weather. This is God's province, and He is still the Lord of the Universe, the Master of the seas, and our Hope of deliverance.

***

We are still mulling over the chinquapin question, and have received more information on it. I think what I was calling a chinquapin was actually a hazel nut, but different from the ones we have here. The outside hull was fuzzy, and had a long tail on it. Hugh Schiefer of Exchange, Braxton County, called to discuss chinquapins, and said they once had several trees on the old farm.

We received an informative letter from Ramona of Hurricane, who sent a description from Audubon's Field Guide to North American Trees. These are called "Allegheny Chinkapins" and are described as bearing very spiny burrs. They bear a single, egg-shaped nut, shiny dark brown, and are edible. The tree can grow as high as 40 feet.

Now for the promised "Whoopie Pie" recipe -- we received two, and they are a little different. My cousin, Dollie Townsend of Pinch, says this filling recipe is the best she has ever used.

Very Good Whoopie Pies

1 stick of butter, softened

1cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon each baking powder and salt

1large egg

1teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1cup lowfat milk

2cups all purpose flour

TURN oven to 375 degrees. Coat baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat butter, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, and then cocoa powder until well blended. Slowly add milk. Stir in flour by hand. Drop tablespoons two-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake eight minutes, or until top springs back when pressed.

Filling

3/4 stick of butter, melted

1 cup plus two tablespoons sugar

1 cup plus two tablespoons marshmallow cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

WITH wooden spoon vigorously mix all ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread two teaspoons filling on flat side of cookie, top with another cookie.

This recipe, sent by Mrs. Vincent Epling of Scott Depot is a little simpler.

Whoopie Pies

1 box Devil's Food cake mix

3 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Coat three large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, oil, three tablespoons water and baking powder. Beat on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium for three minutes; batter will be thick. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared sheets, spacing about two inches apart, for total of 36 mounds. Let cookies stand on sheets for two minutes, then use a thin metal spatula to quickly transfer cakes to wire racks to cool.

While cakes are cooling, prepare filling. In a medium-size bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add confectioner's sugar, vanilla and 1 1/2 tablespoons water. Beat on low speed until blended, then on medium high until smooth. Spread a heaping tablespoon filling onto a cake. Sandwich with a second cake. Repeat.

Barren trees and fallen leaves

            By Eva Samples King

Cold winds may blow and chilling breeze

Will sweep the leaves from off the trees,

Leaving limbs so stark and bare

To face the snow and winter air.

The leaves will swirl and play around

Before they nestle on the ground.

The Mother Earth, from which they came,

Seems to welcome them again.

The trees seem loathe to let them go,

But Mother Nature planned it so.

The Great Creator placed them there

And nourished them with special care.

Their beauty fades and they decay

To soon return to earthly clay.

We too are like the leaves that fall

We too will hear the Maker call.

But we will live again some day,

And waken from our bed of clay.

I am now mailing out books for Christmas giving.  Books available are: "This Holler is my Home," "Homesick for the Hills" and "Laughter from the Hills." They are $15.33 each (which includes tax and postage) or three for $40. I will autograph them as you wish. Write to Alyce Faye Bragg, 2556 Ovapa Road, Ovapa, WV  25164, or email: alycefaye@citlink.net.


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