• Editor’s Column: ‘Pumpkin spice and everything nice‘

    America, we are obsessed with pumpkins, and for good reason.
    Pumpkins are easily the most distinguishable sign of the fall season. They are the go-to for fall decorations, fall scents, and of course fall food. Around mid- to late September, the “pumpkin spice” flavored commodities start filling the shelves, to the point where the trend has grown big enough to have its own hate group.
    And of course, a sizeable group of us anxiously wait for the day that pumpkin spice lattes are finally on the menu at our local coffee shop.

  • Chez J. Zane: ‘An ode to the pumpkin‘

    Hard to believe that pumpkin time is here again. The orange orb is surely the harbinger of the autumnal season. The pumpkin, to many, is mainly used for decor; however, its culinary value must not be overlooked. Pumpkin is low in calories and high in fiber and Vitamin A. The calorie content goes up greatly related to ingredients added to make the tasty treats of the fall season.
    Pumpkins, like other squash, are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence is pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C. was found in Mexico.

  • Editor’s Column: ‘The art of preservation‘

    Fall decorations are the best because, no joke, half of what you need can probably be found in your own back yard (or the nearest park if you don’t have a yard). When I’m feeling crafty, I spend a lot of time in the fall gathering supplies for DIY projects like acorns, pinecones, sticks, leaves, and stones.

  • Editor’s Column: ‘All the fall things‘

    *Steps into a clearing on a cool fall morning and breathes in the fresh breeze*
    *Pulls out microphone as the upbeat music starts*
    *Singing* All the fall things; Pumpkin spice drinks; It’s cold but I know; Three months until snow.
    … Did I ever mention to you guys that I kind of, sort of, have a teensy-weensy obsession with fall?
    *COUGH* Anyway…

  • Guest column: ‘BRDC Wilderness Camp’

    Blue Ridge Discovery Center finished off the summer camp season by heading up the mountain to explore the habitats of Mount Rogers. Unfortunately, the camp coincided with a massive system that brought three days of solid rain. Our first task was to build a shelter, so we slipped on rain gear and laid out 16-foot wooden poles, lashing and marking the corners of our shelter. A short time later we proudly huddled under our canvas tarp out of the rain.

  • Guest column: 'American Tunis: the sheep of the south'

    Ronald and Joy Jones of Fries maintain a small flock of Tunis sheep, and this spring, the ladies of Blue Ridge Fiberworks used wool from Ronald’s sheep to produce a line of fine yarn for a couple area yarn shops. While this enterprise is only in the beginning stages, the ladies are enthusiastic about the potential for spinning and selling yarns from the heritage sheep of the south: the American Tunis.                         

  • Editor’s Column: ‘Making good marks (and removing bad ones)’

    Now that school is back in session, I’m sure everyone has been on that familiar trip to Walmart or Target or wherever your preferred choice is for the annual school supply run.

  • Editor’s Column: ‘Timeline for tidying’

    Happy fall, y’all!
    Yes, I know it’s not technically fall yet, but I’m not ashamed to say that I was ringing in autumn with bells on when the clock struck midnight Sept. 1. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve had about as much summer as a person can take; especially the super-hot mess we got this year.

  • Chez J. Zane: ‘Sizzling squash recipes‘

    This week, I want to give Declaration readers information on the yellow summer crook-neck or straight-neck squash. The yellow squash has a medium size and smooth, yellow skin. Its flesh is dense, pale yellow and layered with soft, edible seeds. As its name suggests, its shape is curved and its slim neck widens at the base. A straight-neck variety is also common.

  • Chez J. Zane: ‘Sweet zucchini recipes’

    Continuing knowledge of the courgette (zucchini):
    To prepare and cook the zucchini, the peel may be left on or one may choose to thinly peel it, leaving a bright green layer covering the creamy, ivory flesh. The squash may be sliced (thin or thick) or cut into wedges, sticks, or finely julienned. Zucchini can be steamed, braised, pan- or deep-fried, or incorporated into batters and baked. You can also stuff, coat in sauces (tomato) or cook au gratin. Zucchini lends itself to all methods of cooking.