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At New West KnifeWorks, we strive to make tools that are as “beautiful as they are useful”. On a recent visit to my parents home in Westerville, Ohio-- I realized the extent to which our company’s aesthetic, was influenced by my Mom. Carol “Cookie” Milligan-- is a great beautifier of her surroundings, and a constant ambassador of good living.
During the quarantine, Mom has been spending a lot of time in the garden. Amidst the chaos of the year 2020, she preserves an oasis of natural beauty and healthful living. On a recent visit, I was struck with admiration by her good-humored, relentless resilience in the face of adversity, and the green thumb which she applies in her garden (and figuratively in other areas of her life as well.)
It is great to see the garden of her dreams finally come to fruition.
Growing up, we were always set to various chores around the yard- gathering eggs stashed by our modest collection of chickens, feeding the horses (and shoveling their manure), mowing the yard, etc. My brother Corey, founder of New West KnifeWorks, often turned our chores into small money-making ventures. We sold our small collection of brown eggs to neighbors and even turned the loathed manure-shoveling into a small fertilizing operation for some local gardeners who bolstered our weekly allowance in exchange for burlap bags of horse flops.
My favorite chore was helping in mom’s garden. I always remember her keeping herbs- and with all the wildlife around, it required constant vigilance- from groundhogs, squirrels, deer, chickens, the neighbor’s dogs, and our most formidable adversary of all, the dreaded Japanese Beetle. My mom’s Dad, Leo, was a machinist who, as a hobby, loved to grow roses. And it was my mom’s job to fend off the beetles, by scraping them from the leaves into a mason jar with a little gasoline or turpentine in it. I inherited that job as a kid, squatting in the summer sun amidst the basil and sage stalks, learning to identify a medley of fragrances. Mom was a great teacher of tastes. She always encouraged whatever kids came for a playdate to bite into the leaves in the herb patch.
These days, her herb patch has gone, literally, to another level. After decades of battling critters, and most recently, two ornery adopted puppies, my Dad built her this unique, raised herb box in the front yard. Not only does it keep out the animals, she also doesn’t need to lean over to gather and garden.
Take a virtual tour of her dreamy herb garden in the video below.
One of the many pleasures for the pallet of a trip home is Mom’s eggs, especially in the summertime, when she can step outside to pluck a bunch of chives and other herbs to spice things up. Mom and I share a proclivity for loading up our scrambled eggs WITH GREENS. I find eating salad tedious at times-- and prefer sauteeing my greens. With a little garlic and olive oil, or better yet, bacon grease, I can slurp down a bunch of spinach in the time it takes to labor through a couple forkfuls of salad. Once I have my eggs and greens out of the way in the morning, I feel super-charged and morally justified to eat more of Cookie’s cookies in the afternoon!
Here’s how Mom does eggs. I’m not going to give specific proportions, because eggs should always be made to taste. But if you read on, you will learn a few tips from Mom to play with.
- Michael Milligan