Questions of the week — Readers ask about church event recipes, sales tax receipts, county roads

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The following questions were asked recently by inquiring readers:


Q: I am so enjoying your weekly installation of questions and answers. It’s entertaining and educational at the same time! I particularly love how you share recipes from old church cookbooks because we all know those are tried and true, in the true, authentic old school way. I also remember how in those cookbooks, the ladies would share recipes for large crowds – the ones they used for church breakfasts and funeral dinners. Could you see if there are any of those recipes, because they could be helpful for us “church ladies” today, when we do that type of work? Again, really appreciate it.

A: For this answer, we accessed the old St. John’s cookbook (from the rural Clearwater/Ewing area).

One recipe they used, which was written by Mrs. Margaret Funk, was for church breakfasts after Sunday Mass. This is for making scrambled eggs in an electric roaster.

It takes 16 dozen eggs, eight cups of butter, six quarts of milk and salt/pepper to taste.

Heat milk and butter, using low heat (300-350 degrees). When melted, add whipped eggs. Stir occasionally with pancake turner. Don’t overcook. Don’t stir too often. Serves 100 to 120 people.

We also found their recipe for making scalloped potatoes for funerals, provided by Margaret Shavlik. Her recipe says to peel, pare and cube 30 pounds of potatoes. Place in two electric roasters and cover with water. Bring to a good boil and cook partially. Stir without breaking the potatoes. Remove some of the water. Add ½ pound box of crushed soda crackers (sounds weird, but that’s what the recipe says) and ½ cup of onion (blend onion and water in blender, then measure). Also add one quart of cream to each roasted. Use the same water you have drained off to cover potatoes if cream doesn’t cover. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of salt to each roasted before they are done. Cook in the roaster at 325 degrees for about two hours.

Personally, this writer can testify to the success of each of these recipes, as she had both multiple times growing up as part of the St. John’s community.

Oh, and another often used for St. John’s funeral dinners – meatloaf for 150 people.

The ingredients are:

20 pounds of hamburger

7 ½ pounds of sausage

1 ½ pounds of crushed crackers

40 eggs

½ cup salt

3 tablespoons of pepper

1 ½ quarts of milk

1 quart of tomato juice

Ketchup, at least one large bottle

Onions, according to taste

Blend all the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees. If baked in 9×13-inch pans, the baking time is about one hour, but adjust time according to the pan size used.


Q: I was in the grocery store the other day and saw next to the avocados something called tomatillos. I was intrigued but didn’t buy them because I have no idea what to do with them. I will try them if you tell me what to do with them.

A: Tomatillos are not green tomatoes – they are a totally different variety. And they are wonderful.

Take the tomatillos, soak in water. Then remove the husks and wash the tomatillos until they aren’t as waxy feeling.

Then cut them in half and put in a saucepan. For ratio sake, use about 10.

Then wash and cut up two whole jalapenos – seeds and all. Throw them in the pot with the tomatillos.

Cut up and add a whole onion.

Add three whole cloves of garlic.

Next comes three whole tomatoes, cut into wedges.

Add a healthy amount of cilantro – if you like cilantro. If not, sprinkle in some dried cumin.

Next, a healthy amount of salt. This helps the vegetables sweat down and seasons the sauce in the end. Probably start with a full tablespoon and add more if needed later.

Dump in about a half-cup of water.

Turn the burner on high and keep stirring. The vegetables will quickly break down and the juices will be released. When that happens, turn down the burner and allow to simmer about 20 minutes.

Allow it to cool before placing it all (probably in batches) in a blender or a food processor. Puree until smooth.

Now you have a wonderful salsa/sauce. You could use it just as a green salsa. But one delicious use of this sauce is to add cooked beef or chicken, allow it to simmer, and serve with rice and/or tortillas.


Q: How long will the EPA project on Platte Avenue exist? It seems like that situation has been there forever.

A: This process will take more than a year. According to earlier information from the EPA, this phase of remediation is necessary in order to remove the contamination from the soil in the downtown area.

The EPA has been working in York for years, after two separate contamination plumes were discovered. They originated from chemicals used by dry cleaners decades ago.


Q: When the city issued bonds for the many street projects, did they lock that in before the interest rates went up?

A: Yes. That was the case. And the extremely low interest rates – at the time the bonds were issued – was part of the reason the administration and council said they were ready to tackle these projects at one time instead of over the course of seven or eight years. The interest rate at the time the bonds were issued was nearly existent. And since the bonds were issued, the interest rates skyrocketed – so the timing was right when it was approved.


Q: Why do the city’s sales tax receipts continue to set records? What spurred the jump in the first place?

A: First, York’s sales tax receipts are strong because of a strong economy and the influx of sales to visitors who stay and pass through here.

But, as explained by experts earlier this year, part of the increase can be attributed to the state’s requirement that online sales must be subject to sales tax. That is a recent change and the requirement for sales tax for items purchased online created an increase.


Q: How many miles of country roads do the county roads department have to maintain? I don’t think enough people appreciate the amount of road work the crew has to do, to take care of it all.

A: According to the county’s comprehensive plan, there are 1,100 miles of rural country roads in York County.


Q: I planted a whole bunch of different herbs in pots this year but I’m sorry to say they all died and I can’t figure out why.

A: According to numerous sources, including “The Gardener Report,” “the main reason for herbs dying is because of root rot which is caused by overwatering, slow draining soil and pots without drainage holes in the base. Herbs require well-draining soil and suffer root rot because of excess moisture around the roots which causes herbs to turn yellow, droop and die back.”





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