Back to the Future Party

We have seen the future, and it is NOW.

In 1988, Spielberg released a classic movie, “Back to the Future” starring Michael J. Fox.  Marty, from 1988, travels back in time in a Delorian time machine to the year 1955.  I was a child of the fifties and enjoy the bittersweet reminder of those post-war days.  I can sing the first verse of “Davey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.”

Kelly and I

Kelly and I

In “Back to the Future II,” Marty travels forward in time to the year 2015.  Fans make the connection that although twenty-seven years into the future seemed a lifetime away at the time, we are there.  No, we do not have hover boards, hover cars, or clothes that dry themselves and shrink to fit–but the huge flat-screen T.V. was spot on!

Our daughter Kelly came up with the idea of celebrating both her and her brother’s March birthdays with a Back to the Future party. We made posters with catch phrases such as “Save the Clock Tower, “Enchantment Under the Sea Dance,” and “Flux Capacitor–1.21 gigawatts.”


Kelly made this banner from internet posters she downloaded, just for the party.  They were strung on heavy jute.  We also baked a 9×13 chocolate cake decorated like the California license plate on the back of the Delorian.

Delorian License Plate

Delorian License Plate

The birthday Guys---Kelly and brother Dirk

The birthday Guys—Kelly and brother Dirk

Dirk’s favorite cake is chocolate.  I baked “The Best Chocolate Cake” FROM “My Baking Addiction,” and it truly was outstanding with buttercream frosting.

Kelly and husband Adam in front of the dinner tables, loaded with fifties' memorabilia.

Kelly and husband Adam in front of the dinner tables, loaded with fifties’ memorabilia.

Kelly and husband Adam pose in front of the table.  We decorated with fifties’ candy and memorabilia.  The Cracker Barrel Restaurants are a good source of vintage candies like Necco, Sugar Daddy, Turkish Taffy, Hershey Bars, and Cracker Jack.  They also have 6-packs of bottled Coke.  The menu was from the 1955 segment.  Marty has an uncomfortable dinner with his teenage mother and young grandparents:  “Well Marty, I hope you like meatloaf.”  And mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and chocolate cake and ice cream of course.  We watched the first movie together on Friday night to get in the mood.

My husband and I ordered Save the Clock Tower T-shirts for our birthday kids from SNORG.  Too much fun!

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Wild Spring Salad



Spring has arrived in Central Illinois and the weeds are beginning to sprout in my garden plots.  However many of these weeds are actually wild herbs that are a tasty spring addition to a romaine tossed salad.  The only difference between a weed and an herb is that an herb is a weed that has gained respectability by becoming useful.

A quick turn about my garden revealed that lush spring salad herbs were sprouting in my empty potato  bed.  I quickly collected a basket of tender new growth. Spring is the best time to enjoy wild salad herbs–when they are young and tender.

Several wild mustards grow in Illinois–Winter Cress, Pepper Grass, Shepherds Purse, White Mustard.  They add a peppery taste similar to radish in salads.



Sour dock is the herb that sprouts tall green seed heads in late spring.  This seed head then turns nutty brown by late summer.  The seeds can be ground into a flour similar to buckwheat.  Sour dock is in the sorrel family; the early leaves have a pleasant tart and lemony flavor.



Chickweed is more difficult to identify in spring if the small star-like white flower has not yet bloomed.  It is a tender and lush salad herb.



Although dandelion likes to invade our lawns, it has many redeeming qualities besides being a tasty salad herb.  The root can be roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute.  The flowers are also edible; many prefer them dipped in batter and deep-fried.  Dandelion flower wine is also popular.



Creeping Charlie is in the mint family which explains why it is so invasive in my back yard.  I try to pull it from my garden in early spring when the trailing roots come up more easily from moist soil.  Try a little chopped in salads if you enjoy a slightly minty taste.

IM008183While out in the garden I added some fresh sprouts of garlic chives to the salad mix.



Garlic Mustard is another of the wild mustards that grow in our area.  It adds a distinctly garlic flavor.  However it is not welcome in Illinois and is labeled a destructive plant because of its invasive nature.  Garlic Mustard casts many seeds and quickly takes over the forest floor, choking out other native plants.  Now that I know it is coming up near my burn pile, I will eradicate it.  I did not yet find any Lambs Quarters rearing its head above the meadow grass.  Lambs Quarters is also known as wild Spinach.  Chicory is another spring lettuce in the same family as Radicchio.  The Chicory root is another substitute for coffee; identify it from its translucent blue flowers in early summer.  Plantain, a very common “weed,” can also be cut for salad.  If outside and you are stung by a bee, crush the leaves of plantain and apply to the sting. The histamine in the leaves will take away the pain.


All of this bounty is full of vitamins and minerals and was free for the picking.  Pioneers would enjoy fresh greens in the spring after a long winter of only canned vegetables.  The first spring salad was often referred to as a healthy tonic to fortify the body.

My grandmother would make a very simple dressing for spring greens by blending apple cider vinegar with sugar to taste and then adding cream.  The vinegar would sour the cream creating a tasty sour cream dressing.  Another variation was to blend hot bacon drippings with vinegar and sugar.

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TIMELESS, Second Edition, Back in Print on Amazon

Writing is an outlet and a joy for me.  TIMELESS – A Door County Love Story was originally published by a company in Minneapolis but I wanted to make it more accessible by publishing it on Amazon.  After a little sprucing up and the addition of a new recipe in the story line, I have released TIMELESS in its Second Edition printing.

This novel is probably my favorite of the Door County love story series.  It combines characters from the bittersweet period of WWII with their modern day counterparts.  Landscape designer Laurel Masterson and history professor Dr. Richard Alimonde find themselves strangely connected and caught up in a secret love story from the past that threatens their own future together.  Only God can resolve the sorrow of lives already lived.  Only He can create a destiny Laurel and Richard can share forever, a love that is Timeless.

Find TIMELESS by Sharon L. Clemens at $9.00 in soft cover; 2.99 in e-book Kindle format.

Timeless--A Door County Love Story

Timeless–A Door County Love Story

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Easter Dinner, Homestyle

Six dear ones are coming for Easter dinner.  I have put together a fairly simple menu:  honey glazed ham, sweet potato casserole, gourmet’ mac & cheese, Seven Layer Salad, and fresh fruit salad [watermelon, raspberries and strawberries].

Instead of a heavy cheesecake or pies, this year I baked those shortbread thumbprint cookies with fondant filling.  Chocolate Chip cookies are also on the list for those who want a more substantial cookie.


Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

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Tomato Sprouts

Hale and Hardy

Hale and Hardy

Our son wasn’t thrilled about the idea of babysitting my indoor plants while we were in Florida for 10 days but he did an outstanding job.  I came home to find my tomato sprouts are over 6 inches high and screaming “Plant me,” “Plant me.”

Sorry guys…no going in the cold ground until Mothers’ Day.  We cannot be sure Jack Frost won’t pay another visit.


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Country Peach Cobbler

Fresh peaches are in the super markets. After a long winter I crave fresh fruit desserts.  How about this for Easter dinner–with vanilla bean ice cream.

One to serve and one to freeze for another day.

One to serve and one to freeze for another day.



  • 4 large ripe peaches
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tb. butter

Cobbler Cake:

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Filling:  Peel and slice peaches. Arrange in bottom of a greased 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan. Sprinkle 1 cup sugar evenly over peaches. Dot with the 3 tb. of butter.
  3. Beat cake ingredients all together until light and creamy.
  4. Pour batter over fruit and spread evenly with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set.  Cool on a wire rack.
  6. Serve hot or cold with ice cream in a pottery bowl.




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Corned Beef & Cabbage Boiled Dinner


April is traditionally the time we celebrate the Irish in the family with a hearty Corned Beef & Cabbage Boiled Dinner.  This meal is also referred to as New England Boiled Dinner.  Some recipes add green peas to the dish [fresh or frozen].  With or without, it is fabulous.

I prepare the dish on a Saturday for Sunday dinner. Finish the dish except for adding the cabbage, cool it and then refrigerate overnight.  This also blends the flavors of the corned beef with the vegetables. On Sunday an hour before serving, bring the pot back to a low boil and add the cabbage.  Cook until cabbage is tender.

You may wish to try an Irish Soda Bread recipe with this meal.  Find a recipe for Irish Soda Bread with Apples and Currants at

  • 3-4 lbs. corned beef [depending upon the number of people]
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • pinch hot red pepper flakes
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered or halved
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and cut length-wise
  • 6 wedges cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups [10 oz. pkg.] frozen peas, optional

IM008159 IM008161

  1. In a large stock pot, cover corned beef with water.  Add bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard seed and hot pepper flakes. Cover and simmer over low heat 3 to 3 1/2 hours until tender.
  2. Add potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer 15 to 30 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add cabbage wedges and peas. Cook 15 minutes longer until vegetables are tender.
  4. Cut meat in pieces. Serve some of the broth along with the meat and vegetables.

NOTE:  Corned beef is often sold with its own seasoning packet which may be used in place of the bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard seed and pepper flakes above.  Consult the directions on the beef package for alternate cooking times.





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