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Saying goodbye to the Putnam Herald

Oct. 19, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Good morning! Sit down, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and take a breather.

Five years ago I wrote those words for the first time. Tonight I type them for the last time, as I bid a fond farewell to those of you who have been my faithful readers, and, in fact, to Putnam County.

Cooking has been a hobby for me for my entire life. Classic cars have, as well. After half a decade, I wanted a change, and when given the opportunity to play with cars for a living, I took it. I will be relocating out of state, and so it is time for cooking to once again become something I do for fun.

Writing for the Putnam Herald was my first job - not my first real job, but my first paid employment, period. I joined at 18, while a junior in high school, and have been working ever since, with brief occasional breaks as I studied and taught my way through a degree in English education at Glenville State College. Eventually I branched out from food writing to cover local events, but my heart remained in the kitchen -- testing recipes and reporting back to you on the results.

Along the way I was inspired by many people. I would like to thank Anne Byrn and Ann Hodgman, my favorite cookbook writers and ladies whose work I greatly admire and use on a near-daily basis. I would like to thank the designer of the KitchenAid stand mixer, my favorite piece of kitchen equipment. I would like to thank my family, who should probably be credited before the stand mixer guy, now that I think of it: Mom, Dad (your friendly local photographer and movie reviewer), Granny, and my aunts and uncles.

I met the most interesting people in this job. There was Mary Nease, the Merry Baker, who I have followed through three different locations for her wonderful cinnamon rolls. There was the Village Inn, the now-closed Milton establishment that, in my opinion, deserved a lot more business than it ever got. There was the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, where my great-grandmother bought bread, and whose owners invited me into the hottest kitchen of my life to see the big ovens at work. There were so many of you who passed through my life.

I was able to introduce readers to my own favorite out-of-state restaurants, too. If you haven't yet been to Schmidt's in Columbus, Ohio, for bratwurst and cream puffs, or to the Blue Gate in Shipshewana, Indiana, for fried chicken, then I feel very sorry that your life has been so incomplete.

I have never accepted a free meal in exchange for a review, because I took this job seriously. I wanted to be an honest writer who was also interesting, and funny, and whose recipes worked for my readers so that they could make their family and friends happy, as I have done my best to do the same for mine.

In the final analysis, as I finish writing what has been a challenging column, I want to say that I hope your cooking continues to make you happy. Like so many things in life, food is only a means to connect people to one another, and in the end, the people are what matters.

Thanks for reading, and I will see you down the road.

Chris Summers can be contacted at cordhaven@hotmail.com.