The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Judy Kunkle: Hickory nuts

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Pignut, bitternut and mockernut. Shellbark and shagbark.

Several species of hickory tree grow in this part of the country, but there’s one that’s prized above the others for its fruit: the shagbark.

judymike Ask Judy Kunkle, who lives west of Harrison Lake. She’s collected a large quantity of nuts from the woods behind her house, and she’s ready for some good eating.

“I really like hickory nuts,” she said. “It’s my favorite nut.”

Judy knows her status as a hickory nut fan puts her in a minority, but it can’t be the taste of the nut that causes its low popularity. More likely, it’s just unfamiliarity with the nut and the work required to harvest it.

Hickory nuts aren’t an item you’ll find in a grocery store. Either you collect them yourself or find someone like Judy who offers them for sale. She advertised hickory nuts recently and didn’t get much response. Those who did call never showed up to make the purchase.

“I guess they thought I was charging too much or else they wanted them already shelled,” she said.

She did have one satisfied customer from a year ago who came back this fall for more.

In some areas of the United States, hickory nuts had a long tradition as a special part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Now it’s rare to encounter someone who knows the rich, sweet taste of the nut.

“It’s something that elderly people seem to know more about,” Judy said.

The nuts fall in September and October and are collected before they all disappear by way of squirrels.

The fruit is dried for a week or so before the husks are removed. Judy gets the job done by placing a nut on rock with a slight depression and striking it with a hammer. It’s easy to see where she does her work—the low spot on the rock is stained dark brown from the husks.

Then  comes the thick shell.

Some people believe that every nut has a “door” that if struck, will open the thick shell. Hit just the right spot and the shell fractures cleanly to allow easy access to the nutmeat within. Hit the wrong spot and it shatters into little pieces, making the harvest almost impossible.

Judy isn’t denying the “sweet spot” theory, but she doesn’t have a reason to look for it, either.

“I’ve never had much luck with a hammer,” she said.

Instead, she simply places a nut in a vice and twists the handle to crack it open. She ends up with large pieces of nut most every time.

closeup Judy hasn’t done a lot of cooking with hickory nuts, with one exception: hickory nut cake. She adds hickories to the batter and loves the result. Her husband, Gene, sprinkles crushed hickories on ice cream.

Judy has also used hickories in banana bread and has substituted them for peanuts to make brittle. One thing she really wants to try is hickory nut pie.

This was a good year for hickory nuts, she said—the trees generally produce a heavy crop every other year—and there was also a heavy fall of black walnuts.

Judy still has hickories for sale, but don’t look for an advertisement for walnut meats. To her thinking, they just aren’t worth the bother.

“They’re too hard to crack,” she said.

And besides, it’s shagbark hickory that produces the king of nuts. There’s no better nut that grows in this area of the country.

• Have a hankering for roasted hickories? You’re probably too late to collect your own. Call Judy at 419/237- 2311.

- Nov. 9, 2005 

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