I’m from a small town called Owensville, located in the boondocks of Cincinnati, OH. Or, as Ian affectionately calls it, Owenstown. Not to say Owenstown (ahem, Owensville) is unsophisticated, but it has a unique rural charm which is second to none. Don’t worry, I haven’t heard of a local climbing in their neighbor’s window and stealing one of their children.
Edwina’s insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.
It’s a two-light town with a Nascar-themed drive-through pit stop (for twelve-packs, of course), a shack off of Route 50 where the locals grab a pint and take a load off, county fairgrounds, countless farms, and people who are just livin’ for God and country. Just talkin’ about my hometown warms my heart. My parents still reside back in the woods with a few recent developments—dozens of chickens, an enormous garden, and a pond stocked with fish. I guess this is how empty nesters cope with their two daughters graduating from college, getting married, and beginning their adult lives. They’ve sent their baby chicks into the world but I should remind them, home is where the heart is. “Awe.”
This Easter, Ian, our pup, and I went to Cincinnati to spend some time with the family. Even though there are some bonafide cupcakeries in the Cincinnati area, I went a different route this time. A charming antique shop that sells primitive and unique boutique style home furnishings, flowers, and baked goods just opened up in my hometown. It’s run by my childhood best friend’s sister’s friend. This sounds like a soap opera, without incest. Even better, this little place sat right next door to where Lindsey, my childhood best friend, and I went to elementary school. Cue The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand. “Memories…”
On Easter weekend, my sister and I met Lindsey and her baby boy, Colten, at Apple Tree Cottage for what was sure to be a stroll down memory lane. While we perused the old-fashioned signs and country home décor, Colten ran around with a sucker in his mouth, courtesy of Lindsey’s sister’s friend, the owner. In the middle of the quaint store sat a table displaying a variety of homemade goods such as chocolate-covered strawberries, pies, and no bake cookies. Amidst the baked goods, a platter of carrot cupcakes shone in all of its magnificence. After speaking with the owner, I learned that she gets up early every morning to singlehandedly make all of these treats for the day, and she has kids. For those of you bakers (and mothers) out there, you can appreciate the time and effort.
I snagged two carrot cake cupcakes (my favorite) and placed them in the sturdy little baked goods box she gave me. This place just opened up a few weeks ago, they aren’t even a “cupcakery,” and they still have better boxes than several of the places I’ve visited. I cradled the box of gems close to my chest and scurried on home.
A bite of this cupcake reminded me of my grandma’s famous carrot cake. She’s the one who made carrot cake my favorite kind of cake. This cake was very moist and fresh. Each bite included slivers of carrots and subtle spice. The whipped cream cheese frosting was light and creamy and complemented the cake nicely. Overall, it was a delicious homebaked treat made from wholesome ingredients. I’d go back for another. One of the best parts—two of these cost me $1.80 (with 3% tax for using a debit card). I’m not even mad, that’s amazing. If you’re ever in Owensville and want to satisfy your sweet tooth, drive past the Dunkin Donuts and pull into Apple Tree Cottage. You can meet some nice folks, eat some homebaked goods, and even walk out with a jar of pure maple syrup. It’s places like these that remind me where I came from.
p.s., Along with the chickens, pond, and industrial-sized garden, my parents also tap their maple trees and boil the sap down to make pure maple syrup, or rather, pure deliciousness. Lately, they’ve been trying their hand at shagbark hickory syrup. Stay tuned for a recipe for Lemon Pecan Cupcakes made with shagbark hickory syrup and a link to buy my parents’ home-produced syrup.