Community Connection
Blogs » Community Connection
By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
Ginny Tonkin loves traveling off the beaten path, learning about new cultures through food, and everything outdoors. She recently spent eight months teaching English in Vietnam, and loves swapping travel stories.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-464-5589


Posts tagged "holiday"
Posted: December 20th, 2011
Play Santa for friends, family, and the community by supporting local charity.

Play Santa for friends, family, and the community by supporting local charity.

Need an end-of-the-year gift for that hard-to-shop-for, yet delightful aunt, awkward second cousin, business associate, or friendly church acquaintance? Give a unique gift that they’ll appreciate and that will benefit the community: Donate to a local charity in the giftee’s name.

Amy Woods, Executive Director of the United Way of Western Crawford County said gifting donations to local charities in the name of friends and colleagues is one great way to reach the community.

“I like to say, ‘Give the gift that keeps on giving,’” said Woods. “The United Way touches one out of three in the region through our partnerships agencies.”

“Just send us the name, and we’ll take care of the rest,” said Captain Robin Holmes of the Salvation Army of Meadville. The organization will accept donations made in honor or memory of an individual, and send a card to the recipient to let them know of their new gift.

Local charities acknowledge it’s been a tough year for many, and they appreciate any type of contribution.

“I appreciate all the donation and support from the community. This has been a really hard year, and they (the community) have really stepped up,” said Terry Wig of the Titusville Area United Way. “I really applaud any donation whether it’s to the United Way, other local charities, volunteering, donating hats, gloves, coats, or whatever. It’s appreciated.

Wig warns against donation scams that look like the real thing.

“There are a lot of people who raise money for non-charitable purposes (pretending to be otherwise),” said Wig. She says these scams pop up most frequently around the holidays or times of natural disaster when people are feeling inclined to donate.

She suggests calling a local charity directly, and asking them the best (and most secure) way to donate.

You can also check online: Find them on the commonwealth’s Bureau of Charitable Organizations database. Also check out the national equivalent,

“There’s nothing better than an informed donor.”

Woods said that although the holidays are a great time to give to local charities, it’s not the time of year when local organizations are most in need.

“February and March are when area charities struggle the most,” she said, after the spirit of the holidays fade.

Her suggestion? Start a donation drive in your office off-season to drive engagement.

“It’s great to get your own business to mobilize. It’s an easy way to get a lot of people to mobilize,” said Woods.

Submit your own articles here on

Find this article in the December 23 print issue of 

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: November 30th, 2011

Creative baking remains a hobby of mine; I love seeing people light up when trying new kinds of dishes. But when looking for a dessert to whip up for the holidays, I wasn’t sure if I was disgusted or delighted with a new discovery: the cherpumple.

What is a cherpumple? Stacked three layers high, a cherpumple is a Frankenstein’s monster of a dessert: three kinds of pie are baked into cake layers, staked, and slathered frosting.

The cherpumple first made waves when author/comedian Charles Phoenix debuted the caloric confection for Thanksgiving in 2009. He wanted to satisfy the desires of his family, who’d been slivering off slices of each pie to get a taste of each for dessert.

His dilemma solved? The cherpumple. He took a cherry, apple, and pumpkin pie, baked them in different flavors of cake mixes, and sealed them together with mounds of cream cheese frosting.

Sound good to you? It’s been met with rapture and revulsion, and I’m not sure where I stand on this delightfully decadent issue.

This seems on par with the Krispy Kreme donut burgers sold at state and county fairs—America’s weakness to terrifyingly caloric food. Just because it’s sold as food, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to eat it.

But…if you’re game, need a signature holiday dish, or can’t decide between cherry or pumpkin pie, your dilemma is solved: make a cherpumple.

The Cherpumple “Monster” Pie Cake

Adapted from:

-1 8″ frozen pumpkin pie
- 1 box spice cake mix
- 1 8″ frozen apple pie
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 8″ frozen cherry pie
- 1 box white cake mix
- eggs and oil according to the cake mix
- 3 tall tubs of cream-cheese frosting
- 3 8.5″ round cake pans

Bake pies according to instructions and cool to room temperature overnight. Mix cake batter according to instructions. For each layer pour about 1 1/3 cup of batter in the cake pan. Carefully de-tin the baked pie and place it face up on top of the batter in the cake pan. Push down lightly to release any trapped air. Pour enough batter on top to cover the pie. Bake according to box instructions. Cool and remove from pans then frost it like you mean it.

Have your own holiday traditions and events? Submit your articles on Follow @GoCrawfordCTY on twitter, and join the conversation.


Read this article in the Friday, December 2 issue of

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: November 23rd, 2011

Enjoy this vegan stuffing recipe from

Published in the 11/27 print edition of


Vegan Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing

Adapted from

Try this delicious vegan dish. Feel free to substitute ingredients if your company isn’t vegan. For example, if you’re craving a certain kind of bread—which isn’t always vegan—substitute your favorite loaf.

-5 cups stale or toasted vegan bread

-1-2 cups wild rice

-2 cups chopped celery

-1 cup chopped onion

-1 cup vegetable broth

- ¾ cup chopped cranberries

- ¾ cup chopped walnuts

-1 ½ tablespoons thyme

-1 tablespoon sage

-1 tsp rosemary

-salt and pepper to taste


Beforehand, fully cook the wild rice. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

In a large pan, heat up the margarine and sauté the onions, celery, and cranberries for about 15 minutes, or until soft and tender. Add in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, rice, walnuts, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Pour the hot mixture over the dry ingredients and mix. Grease a pan with margarine and pour mixture into pan. Dot the top with extra margarine and cover with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes or until the top is crispy. Serve and enjoy!


Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: November 23rd, 2011

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is dining with new friends and beloved family around a table laden with a delicious holiday feast. But what do you do when your daughter brings home her vegetarian boyfriend? What do you serve?

Thankfully, you don’t need to revamp your menu—there are easy ways to keep everyone satisfied at your holiday table.


1) Research your guests’ dietary needs

Your college-age daughter mentions she’s bringing her “ovo-lacto-pescatarian” boyfriend home for the holidays. What does that even mean? What if they’re vegan?

While your daughter and her boyfriend may know that ovo-lacto-pescatarian means a diet abstaining from animal meat products, while still consuming eggs, dairy, and shellfish products, you may not know—or what other dietary concerns they may have.

Solution: Background research is key before the big meal. Just ask. They’ll be happy to let you know about their dietary habits. It’ll also offer a unique way to get to know your guest better.


2) Vegetarian sides

You don’t need to throw out the turkey, but have a few dishes on hand that will allow your vegetarian guests to steer clear of any meat-laden dishes. Vegetarian sides often incorporate ingredients that add a flavorful, nutritional punch.

Solution: A hearty stuffing is invaluable for any diet. Make your stuffing vegetarian-friendly by using a vegetable based broth. Serve a tangy vegetarian stuffing with cranberries and beans that will have your guests asking for the recipe.


3) Offer guests bring a dish

Offering that the guest brings a dish is a great way to ensure they have something to eat, while easing the burden of your cooking schedule.

Solution: Decide what you’re least likely to have on the menu that’s veg-friendly, and have your guest whip up that dish. Vegetarians and vegan are often fabulous cooks, having to create unique, delicious, meatless recipes themselves.


4) Find recipes online.

A good dish starts with a good recipe. These websites offer great, flavorful dishes that will make you forget about the meat. boasts it’s the largest online collection of vegan recipes. This community has great user tips, so you don’t feel left alone in the kitchen. is a fabulous online community, hosting recipes from Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines. Although not veg-specific, search this site for scrumptious meals. includes a great vegetarian/vegan living section, including tips on egg replacer.

Submit your own recipes on to add to the recipe database. Share your wisdom with the Crawford Community by submitting articles to

Find this article in the 11/25 print edition of 

Posted in: Crawford County

Switch to our mobile site