How DNA determines your driving habits

Tractor at store drive-thru

I have a confession to make: I drive like a city person.  People who live in cities tend to drive closer to the center line.  It makes sense because you need to take care when passing the cars parked along the sidewalk.  A door might fly open or someone might step out from behind a bumper.  The city can be hazardous!

People who learn to drive in the country tend to gravitate toward the shoulder.  This also makes sense because you need to leave plenty of room for hay wagons and tractors, especially if the tractor is pulling a rake or a tedder.  Farm equipment can indiscriminately drift into the oncoming lane so it’s best to give plenty of room.  The country can be hazardous!

John and Marlies in the tractor
Marlies is in the tractor booster seat so she can ride along with her dad.

My brother-in-law Gerald tried to convince me to change my errant ways, but I really believe that its part of my city bred DNA to be magnetically attracted to the center line.  I was headed to the farm the other day when Gerald met me on the road.  He was driving a tractor and I was weaving back and forth trying to avoid him but still hugging my beloved center line.  He pretended that he didn’t know me.

Part of country life that I enthusiastically embrace is shopping for produce from local farms.  Now is the season when the produce farms are in high gear and the bounty overflows.   If you can get fresh produce from a local farm, by all means do it.  One of my favorite places to go is Bob and Vivian Small’s farm just up the road from us.  They don’t have a very big variety and they are only open on Saturdays, but what they have is ripened on the plant and fresh picked.  They opened last Saturday so I made sure to stop by and picked up cucumbers for the salad listed below.

The cucumbers at Small’s Garden look beautiful!

Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

  • 2 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and basil in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over and toss well.  Serve immediately.

Cucumber Plant

Yogurt Gravy

One thing that is tricky when cooking with yogurt is sauces.  Yogurt adds a rich, luscious tang but can be frustrating if not added properly.  Yogurt will separate if heated too quickly or at too high a temperature so proper tempering is essential.  My favorite sauce is a yogurt gravy that I serve with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

Creamy Yogurt Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons pan drippings
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup Appel Farms yogurt at room temperature (or substitute plain greek yogurt)

Put 2 tablespoons drippings in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour. cook, stirring until golden.  Add water and bouillon cube.  Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Spoon 1/3 of the roux into the yogurt and whisk.  Pour the mixture into the pan and heat to serving temperature.

Lemon Roast Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small lemon wedge
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a small bowl, beat oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Brush entire chicken including cavety with the lemon marinade.  Place celery and lemon wedge in cavity.  Place chicken in a shallow baking pan.  Pour water into pan.  Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, baste chicken occasionally with pan drippings.  Chicken will be done when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 degrees F.  Serve with Creamy Gravy.
Recipe from Yogurt Cookery (another favorite book) published 1978 by Sophie Kay

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust.

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

Fruit and cheese are a perfect pairing.  This is a tried and true recipe to bring those lovely flavors together.  This pie is wonderful served at holidays or for a family treat, they will be begging for more!

Cheddar Cheese Crust

12 ounces (approximately 2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces Appel Farms sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces shortening (frozen in one ounce pieces)
4 ounces butter (frozen in one ounce pieces)
4 ounces cold water

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, cheddar, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the frozen shortening and toss them with the flour mixture.  Use your fingers to rub the shortening into the flour mixture.  Cut in the butter until you have created a mixture of almond and pea size pieces.  Drizzle the water over the flour mixture.  Mix with a fork.

Dump the mixture on the counter. Gather the crumbs into a mass of dough.  If the mixture is still dry, add more water a tablespoonful at a time, sprinkling it over the dough.

Gently knead the dough two or three times, just to combine.

Gather the dough into a circle and cut in half with a bench scraper. Form each half into a disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.


6 medium apples* peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse sugar crystals **optional**

Mix the sugars, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Place the apples in a large bowl with the sugar mixture and orange juice and toss gently.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 450.  Roll out one of the dough disks to make a bottom crust and place it in a 9 inch pie pan.  Pile the filling into the crust and arrange the apple slices so there are no large gaps.  Roll out the second disk for the top crust.  Lay it over the filling and cut off the excess crust around the edges.  Fold the crust over and crimp the edges.  Cut vent holes in the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Brush the crust with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.

Place the pie pan on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for approximately 45 minutes.  Tent the pie with foil to prevent the crust from overbrowning and bake until the filling is bubbly, about 45 more minutes.  Allow to cool for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

*I like to change up the filling with different local varieties.  Apples are not in season right now so we used 3 Golden Delicious and 3 Braeburn.