By DAWN FRANCK
Special to the
January has passed and February is upon us. With winter more than half way over but the coldest part firmly rooted this year over Central Pennsylvania, the spring thaw is something everyone is looking forward to.
Hopefully everyone has been following through with their New Year's resolutions.
With the Pennsylvania Farm Show behind us, I have to give my sister Shawna a shout out for raising the Reserve Champion Middle Weight Crossbred Market Hog at the show.
Although she didn't take overall Reserve, she did a phenomenal job with her project.
Also, my "sister" dairy princess, Michala Kuhlman from Rome, was awarded her Keystone Degree and the Pennsy-lvania FFA Star Farmer at our winter convention.
There is only one star farmer a year per state so my heart is filled with pride for her as well.
This winter hasn't been as kind as last year was and with all the snow days we've had, I'm afraid we might be making days up during our summer vacation.
The days off have been fun though and my brother, sister and I have enjoyed spending that time together.
During one of those days off, when it was just too miserable to be outside enjoying the hill in front of our house on the sled, I was watching television when a commercial about milk came on with the beautiful Salma Hayek.
It made me think, why do I drink three or more servings of milk a day? Was it because of the marketing with celebrities or happy cows from Califo-rnia?
No, even though the cow commercials are pretty funny.
Was it because of my dairy farming heritage? Well, I must admit, that has something to do with it but it wasn't the reason. About that time, Mom got up and went to the kitchen.
With that familiar sound of the refrigerator door gently shutting and Mom sitting back down in her chair with a glass of milk, it dawned on me.
She is the reason I drink milk and eat dairy products.
My whole life, all 17 years of it, my mother has been my role model and taught me what I need to know.
From washing my hair to teaching me responsibility and getting homework done on time to making healthy choices, she has shown me the way.
Studies show that children will follow their parents lead. And with the decline in children drinking milk and getting the calcium they need to grow and stay strong, it's important for parents to be good role models.
Some parents are concerned that giving their children flavored milk such as chocolate milk isn't good for them, and is high in sugar and calories.
Any flavored milk has the same nine essential nutrients as white milk. And chocolate milk has half the sugar that soda or fruit juices have.
Comparing soda and juices to milk may also have your family reaching for milk more often. An 8 oz. serving of fat free milk fortified with vitamin D is 80 calories and provides us with the nine essential nutrients our bodies need to grow.
The same 8 oz. of soda is 100 calories and will only give us 3 percent of the phosphorus we need, compared to 20 percent with milk.
Fruit juices have about 120 calories and about 2 percent of the potassium we need where milk gives us 11 percent.
So in the end I find myself asking, "Am I turning into my mother?" I can only hope so!
During the month of January, we celebrate my mother, grandmother, uncle John, aunt Billie Jean and cousin Megan's birthdays.
One of our favorite cakes is chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.
While you can make whatever chocolate cake you want, this is the peanut butter frosting you've been waiting your entire life to try, and my great grandmother had the recipe all this time!
Peanut Butter Icing
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup crisco
Pinch of salt
3/4cup and 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
In a saucepan over medium low heat, heat milk and corn starch until it bubbles and becomes thick. Stir constantly with a whip. Let cool (you can put it in the refrigerator to help cool it quicker.) Add the remaining ingredients and mix until completely blended. Spread over a 9x13 cake or 2 9-inch round cakes.
During the winter, when days are short and time seems to pass by too quickly, my mother makes a lot of casseroles. This is one of our favorites. It works great as a meal but can also be a side dish at a potluck dinner.
Scalloped Potato and Ham Casserole
4cups thinly sliced potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2cups milk
1jar hot mustard
Arrange potatoes on the bottom of a casserole. Put onions on top. Sprinkle with flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add ham and 1 teaspoon of hot mustard. Continue to add layers as above. Scald 1 1/2 cups of milk and pour over the layers. Top with more ham and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 F for 2 hours.
Franck, 17, is a junior at Mifflinburg Area High School and the SUN Area Dairy Princess serving Montour, Snyder, Union and Northumberland co-unties.
She may be reached at life@ sungazette.com.
Her column is published on the first Wednesday of each month.