Fort Wayne – Melissa Carmichael, 43, was ready for a change this summer.
A nurse for 21 years, the Huntington woman said the changes in health care were going to be just added stress, so when opportunity knocked at Purviance House in Huntington, she was ready to answer.
I’m a people person, and Mrs. (Jean) Gernand was looking for someone to do a tea a couple of days a week, Carmichael says. My aunt told her about me being a people person and that I enjoy cooking. I met with her and we talked and it worked out.
Honey Bee’s Tea, which began in August, was named for Carmichael’s first name, which means honey bee.
Recipe ideas for the teas come from Carmichael’s cookbook collection as well as other sources.
I have several (cookbooks) at my house. My favorite is from a church group. It’s a United Brethren church cookbook. That one’s mom’s (Ethel Mygrant). I also have a binder full of recipes. I write stuff beside the recipe. My husband, Robert, calls them cheat notes,’ she says.
Whether she’s cooking at home for her husband and sons, Clayton, 19, and John, 16, or at the tea room, Carmichael makes sure to have healthy options.
We just try to use fresh. My grandmothers had huge gardens, my mother has a garden. We have a garden. In the summer, it’s watermelon and strawberries.
Now that we’re into winter, I’ll use sliced oranges, grapes and pineapple. I’ll figure out a cutesy way to use them. We froze a lot of apples and we had baked apples, she says.
Q. What one word describes your cooking style?
A. Probably eclectic, because I love so many foods – Mexican, Korean, Italian, Chinese. It’s all good.
Q. What’s your favorite food?
A. Mother’s chicken and dumplings. And if I could, it would include her cornbread, but that’s two starches.
Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?
A. Oh, I have so many. Just one? Tomatoes are my absolute favorite. But I love Brussels sprouts.
Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?
A. Probably my spatula because I can scrape out every little nook and cranny. We don’t throw food out. If I have leftovers here, I’ll take it down to the soup kitchen.
Q. Who would you consider your cooking idol?
A. Oh, that would have to be my mother because she can scratch anything together and make it wonderful!
My dad died at 53, and I remember in my senior year in high school, I went to school for half the day, went to one job and then on to another job to help pay for the bills. I would think, What are we going to eat? Mom would say, Don’t worry about it. I have plenty here. It was always good.
2 cups cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
Paprika, as desired
In a bowl, combine cream, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg; beat well. Cover bottom of pie shell with cheese. Pour egg mixture on top of cheese, sprinkle with paprika. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 35 minutes or until egg mixture is set. Makes 6 servings.
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
6 large potatoes, cubed
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Sauté carrots, onion and celery in butter. Cook potatoes in water until they are almost done. Add vegetables to potatoes, and add all other ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups fruit
Mix flour, sugar, milk and oil. Pour into greased 9-by-9-inch baking pan. Place fruit on top of mixture. (If fruit is dry, add 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch to fruit before putting into pan.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 servings.