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OC Cuisine blog connects community through recipes and food

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2016 at 7:06 pm

Cherise Oakley shares family recipes around the county, including ‘Lorraine’s Roadkill Cabbage Casserole’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Cherise Oakley made this dish, Hardenbrook family ham loaf, with Kathy (Hardenbrook) Scroger and Mary Ellen (Hardenbrook) Seaman. It is one of 17 family recipes highlighted so far in Oakley’s blog, “Orleans County Cuisine.”

Photos by Tom Rivers: Cherise Oakley made this dish, Hardenbrook family ham loaf, with Kathy (Hardenbrook) Scroger and Mary Ellen (Hardenbrook) Seaman. It is one of 17 family recipes highlighted so far in Oakley’s blog, “Orleans County Cuisine.”

KENDALL – Cherise Oakley wants to help build a stronger community in Orleans County, and she thinks family recipes are a leading ingredient to enriching relationships.

Oakley started a blog, Orleans County Cuisine, in September and is up to 17 features on cherished family recipes including the Hardenbrook ham loaf, the Cooper family’s collard greens and smoked turkey butt, and the Grabowski’s pierogis.

Oakley met with Kathy Scroger and Mary Ellen Seaman last month to make the ham loaf. They used the kitchen at the Morton Baptist Church.

Oakley shares the recipe on her blog, with some cooking tips and background on the dish. She does it for the 17 entries so far.

“There is nothing better to bring people together than food,” said Oakley, 42, of Kendall.

Many of the recipes have been closely guarded by families for generations. But Oakley is finding families want to share them – with the community.

Mary Ellen Seaman and Kathy Scroger work together on making the Hardenbrook family ham loaf at the Morton Baptist Church.

Mary Ellen Seaman, left, and Kathy Scroger work together on making the Hardenbrook family ham loaf at the Morton Baptist Church.

The Hardenbrook ham loaf has been a Christmas breakfast tradition for that family for more than 70 years.

Mary Ellen (Hardenbrook) Seaman and Kathy (Hardenbrook) Scroger shared the dish with Oakley and her readers. Click here to see it.

Scroger and Seaman are cousins. (Oakley also is related to them.) The cousins also usually make the ham loaf around Thanksgiving and deliver the meals to the VA in Batavia.

“I want to share some of the stories and some of the history,” Oakley said about the recipes. “We learn about life in Orleans County and some of the folklore.”

She is developing deeper relationships already with the families willing to share their treasured recipes.

The ham loaf has been a Hardenbrook Christmas tradition for more than 70 years.

The ham loaf has been a Hardenbrook Christmas tradition for more than 70 years.

Oakley, the daughter of Charlie Nesbitt and the late Dema (Sam) C. Daley, had a family connection to the Hardenbrooks. Now she has a shared experience in the kitchen, making the ham loaf with Scroger and Seaman. Oakley also had the ladies write out the recipe in their own hand-writing.

Oakley wants to highlight local foods and use local ingredients as much as possible. She highlights Bannister Beef (Exselsior Farms) in Kent, B & C Christ Farms in Kent where she is a member of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and Miller’s Bulk Food & Bakery in Medina, where she buys many spices and Polish sausage. (For the Hardenbrook ham loaf, she bought the ground ham and pork from the Alabama Holley Farm Market.

“This has helped me to eat more sustainably and fresher,” Oakley said about the blog and the push for local ingredients.

Provided photo: Vickie (Cooper) Elsenheimer showed Cherise Oakley how to make collard greens with smoked turkey butt.

Provided photo: Vickie (Cooper) Elsenheimer showed Cherise Oakley how to make collard greens with smoked turkey butt.

One of her entries has a whimsical title, “Lorraine’s Roadkill Cabbage Casserole.”

Her mother-in-law, Lorraine Oakley, is well known among friends and family for retrieving cabbage that falls from trucks that hits bumps on the road around Orleans County.

Lorraine will create cabbage casseroles with Polish sausage, ground beef, chopped cabbage, one diced red pepper,  one diced yellow onion and other ingredients. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Oakley works at the College at Brockport as a secretary in the English department. She is also a graduate student studying creative writing. Her blog started  as part of an independent study on professional blogging.

The blog is a chance to hone her writing skills, and learn more about her family and the agricultural bounty in Orleans County.

“This blog is a rediscovery of my extended farming family throughout the county, the land, and above all, the food that keeps us all together,” she writes on her blog.

“Join me as I investigate all that Orleans County has to offer. Let’s explore it all, from the quaint roadside stands where you drop your quarters in the box for fresh sweet corn, to the well-established farm markets where you pick up homemade jams, my favorite sweet heat pickles and beautiful produce.”

Anyone with a family recipe to share and contact Oakley through her blog.

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