Kim Hone-McMahan

While we are busy with holiday celebrations, there’s a family that continues to need our help and blessings.

A fundraiser for the young daughter and fiancee of fallen Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Firehouse Grille and Pub, 10 Tallmadge Circle, Tallmadge.

The event, which costs $25, will include a buffet, silent auction and music by the band Buck Naked. All of the proceeds will go to Winebrenner’s fiancee, Tiffany Miller, and his preschool-aged daughter, Charlee.

The patrolman was shot on Nov. 16 at an East Akron pub following an earlier dispute there. Winebrenner, 32, was off duty and unarmed. Witnesses said the brave man was attempting to intercede and defuse the situation when he was killed.

Please consider donating items or services (which are tax deductible) for a silent auction. For more information, call 330-633-7111.

For the children

Every child deserves a loving home, so perhaps you can start your new year with that in mind. Here are ways you can help.

• Summit County Children Services is sponsoring its first free Foster Care and Adoption Information Meeting of 2015 at 6 p.m. Jan. 7 at the agency, 264 S. Arlington St., Akron.

As of the end of November, 43 children in agency custody were waiting to be adopted. Of those, 42 were age 12 and older.

For information or to make reservations, call 330-379-2055.

• Pathway Caring for Children will begin training sessions for new foster parents on Jan. 21 at its Brecksville office, 10010 Brecksville Road.

Licensure requires 43 hours of preliminary training on intense subject matter such as behavior management and the impact of abuse.

Once licensed, families must complete 60 training hours every two years and stay up to date on the seemingly ever-changing legalities.

Pathway Caring for Children provides foster parent recruitment, training, foster-to-adopt and post-adoption counseling, support and respite. It also offers services for healthy families including mental health counseling and case management.

For the time, more information or to sign up, call Patricia Lott at 330-818-0444.

Kudos

More than 1,000 underprivileged children in Canton woke up last week with a Christmas surprise, thanks to nonprofit organization Elves & More of Northeast Ohio, and several local businesses including trucking company Con-way Freight.

Bicycles and an assortment of toddler gifts were distributed this year, the ninth consecutive year that Elves & More and Con-way Freight have teamed up to play Santa Claus for local children. Santa’s “sleigh,” in the form of 16 Con-way tractor trailers, and nearly 100 volunteers delivered the gifts to two locations in Canton. In addition to the new bikes, tricycles were provided for younger children and gift boxes for infants.

Thank you.

Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or [email protected]. Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kim.honemcmahan.

Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

It’s the end of the calendar year. And you know what that means — lists.

So here’s my list of the top 11 Ohio beer stories for 2014, as voted on and ranked by me:

1. Growing, growing

There appears to be no slowing down when it comes to breweries opening in Ohio. At least 25 breweries launched operations in 2014. The state welcomed, among them, Platform in Cleveland, Old Firehouse in Williamsburg, Butcher and the Brewer in Cleveland, Warped Wing in Dayton and Land-Grant in Columbus. In other words, the growth is spread out all over the state. Proving that Ohio is still viewed nationally as a hot spot for beer, even Hofbrauhaus opened brewpubs in Cleveland and Columbus. Ohio is now one of 13 states with more than 100 breweries.

2. Expansion

It’s not just new breweries popping up. Established ones are enjoying phenomenal growth. Great Lakes in Cleveland, Thirsty Dog in Akron, Jackie O’s in Athens, Columbus in Columbus, Maumee Bay in Toledo, Lager Heads in Medina and Dayton in Dayton were among the operations that either underwent or announced major expansion projects. Fat Head’s also opened a brewpub in Portland, Ore.

3. Nanos everywhere

Nearly half the breweries that opened this year were nanobreweries. Those include Aqueduct in Akron, Cleveland in Cleveland, Phoenix in Mansfield and Zaftig in Columbus. Small remains big beer news.

4. More festivals

It seems that you could attend a beer festival every weekend in Ohio if you wanted to. Festivals — from brewery-focused gatherings to mega events — are everywhere.

The state welcomed plenty of new ones in 2014, including the Beer at the Pier and Cleveland Winter Beerfest in Cleveland, Brewfest Waterfront District in Lorain, River Valley Beer Fest in Portsmouth, Grandview Craft Beer Alliance Summer Session in Columbus, Ballpark Festival of Beers in Akron and Holiday Craft Beer Extravaganza in Cincinnati.

5. Awards

Ohio breweries continue to pile up awards at respected beer festivals.

Four breweries took home medals at the World Beer Cup:

• Columbus: Uncle Rusty, gold.

• Fat Head’s: Head Hunter IPA, silver, and Bonehead, silver.

• Thirsty Dog: Barrel-aged Siberian Night Imperial Stout, bronze.

• Willoughby: Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter, gold.

Meanwhile, four breweries also took home awards at the Great American Beer Festival:

• Columbus: Creeper, gold, and Bodhi, bronze.

• Fat Head’s: AlpenGlow, gold.

• JAFB Wooster: Wooster New Stout, silver.

• Listermann: Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter, bronze.

The Brew Kettle’s El Lupulo Libre also was named the winner of the Brewing News’ annual National Imperial IPA Competition and Thirsty Dog was named “USA Brewery of the Year” at the third annual New York International Beer Competition in New York City.

Oh, and don’t forget that Draft Magazine named Nano Brew Cleveland one of the best bars in America and Craftbeer.com honored the Lizardville Beer Store & Whiskey Bar in Bedford Heights as one of the best craft beer bars in the country.

6. Craft beer firsts

Hats off to Dayton. The community made national — and in one case international — news for breaking new ground in the craft beer industry. The country’s first strip club brewery, Pinups and Pints, opened in nearby Medway. Yes, you can sample a beer made in-house while ogling half-naked women. Then, Carillon Brewing Co. opened. It’s replicating the historical brewing process from the 1850s, complete with a wood-fired brewhouse. Just like Pinup and Pints, Carillon is the first of its kind in the nation.

7. Stone to Columbus?

This would have been much higher on the list but … well … it never happened. Columbus went bonkers over the possibility that Stone Brewing Co., the 10th-largest craft brewer in the United States, would soon call the community home. The Escondido, Calif.-based brewer announced plans to open a second brewery east of the Mississippi River and Columbus ended up being one of three finalists, with Richmond, Va., and Norfolk, Va., being the others. Ultimately, Stone chose Richmond.

8. Deschutes, SweetWater

Ohio continues to be a target for major craft brewers. Deschutes from Bend, Ore., the sixth-largest craft brewer in the U.S., and SweetWater from Atlanta, the 19th largest, both made their Ohio debuts. Meanwhile, Boulevard Brewing Co. from Kansas City, Mo., announced it will arrive in 2015.

9. Canning

Ohio craft brewers continue to turn to canning. Four String, Catawba Island, Fat Head’s, Millersburg and Warped Wing were among the brewers that released beers in cans.

10. Winery-breweries

Winery-breweries are an emerging trend in Ohio. Debonne Vineyards/Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison was the first many years ago, followed by Valley Vineyards/Cellar Dweller in Morrow and Merry Family Winery/Old Mill Craft Beer in Bidwell. Now, others are coming online. Maize Valley Winery outside of Hartville launched a nanobrewery in 2014. And several others have brewing permits pending before the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. Among them are Georgetown Vineyards in Cambridge, Lil Paws Winery in Lake Milton and Shawnee Springs Winery in Jackson Township.

11. Higher ABV?

Again, here’s a story that really didn’t happen but provided plenty of conversation. State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, once again tried to get his fellow lawmakers to boost the legal alcohol limit in beer in Ohio from 12 percent to 21 percent. The proposal fizzled again, not even receiving a committee hearing. No word on whether Ramos will reintroduce the bill for the next session.

Honorable mentions:

• The Ohio Craft Brewers Association launched On Tap magazine, providing some great insight into the growing industry. It also was a sign that craft brewers here will start more aggressively marketing the industry.

• Great Lakes announced that it is redesigning its logo and packaging. We’ll get to see the new designs in 2015.

• Jackie O’s Public House was damaged by a major fire in Athens, leading to an outpouring of support and fundraisers from other craft brewers around the state.

• Hoof Hearted Musk of the Minotaur won the inaugural King of Ohio IPA challenge, a blind tasting competition organized by beer bloggers around the state to find the best Ohio-made IPA.

• Rivertown Brewing Co. owner Jason Roeper bought out business partner Randy Schiltz and announced a rebranding and refocusing of the brewery on Belgian styles and sours.

• Cleveland investment firm the Riverside Co. announced it was investing in Uinta Brewing Co. of Salt Lake City.

• Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. announced it was considering moving out of Akron. Later, the brewery said it’s staying put for the time being.

• Elevator Brewing Co. in Columbus celebrated its 15th anniversary.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or [email protected]. Read his beer blog at http://www.ohio.com/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.

Q: One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions was a recipe known as Mamie Eisenhower’s Fudge. But it tastes too sweet to me now. A single batch has 4½ cups of sugar. Could I reduce the sugar by half or even more?

A: Sadly, reducing the sugar in candy isn’t that simple. Sugar isn’t just sweet. It provides bulk, structure, caramelization and crystallization. It even provides liquid when it melts.

In fact, in this old favorite recipe, the sugar isn’t the sweetest thing in the mix. It contains both marshmallow cream and German chocolate. Those make it easier than a true fudge, which can turn grainy if you aren’t precise with the temperatures. Both of them also help to reduce the sugar in the recipe, but they are very sweet themselves.

Rather than attempt to reduce the sugar, which could be very messy and frustrating, you’d be better off trying to find a different recipe that suits your taste today. Or just save that special fudge as a once-a-year treat.

— Kathleen Purvis

Charlotte Observer

Dewi Nurcahyani 
and Robin McDowell

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia: A massive hunt for the 162 victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 resumed in the Java Sea on Wednesday, focusing on an area of the aqua-colored waters where the first bodies and debris were located a day earlier. But wind, strong currents and high surf hampered recovery efforts as distraught family members anxiously waited to identify their loved ones.

The first proof of the jet’s fate emerged Tuesday in an area not far from where it dropped off radar screens. Searchers found as many as six bodies and debris that included a life jacket, an emergency exit door and a suitcase about 10 miles from the plane’s last known coordinates.

On Wednesday, divers were deployed, but heavy rain and clouds grounded helicopters, said Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo.

The airliner’s disappearance halfway through a two-hour flight between Surabaya, Indonesia, and Singapore triggered an international search for the aircraft involving dozens of planes, ships and helicopters. It is still unclear what brought the plane down.

The plane needs to be located and its cockpit voice and flight data recorders, or black boxes, recovered before officials can start determining what caused the crash.

Images of the debris and a bloated body shown on Indonesian television sent a spasm of anguish through the room at the Surabaya airport where relatives awaited news.

The first sign of the jet turned up about 10 miles from its last known coordinates. Parts of the interior, including the oxygen tank, were brought to the nearest town, Pangkalan Bun. Another find included a bright blue plastic suitcase, completely unscratched.

“I know the plane has crashed, but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead,” said Ifan Joko, who lost seven family members, three of them children, as they traveled to Singapore to ring in the new year. “We still pray they are alive.”

Identification

First Adm. Sigit Setiayanta, commander of the Naval Aviation Center at Surabaya Air Force base, told reporters six corpses were spotted about 100 miles from Central Kalimantan province.

Rescue workers descended on ropes from a hovering helicopter to retrieve bodies. Efforts were hindered by 6-foot waves and strong winds, National Search and Rescue Director SB Supriyadi said.

The first body was later picked up by a navy ship. Officials said as many as six others followed, but they disagreed about the exact number.

Supriyadi was on the aircraft and saw what appeared to be more wreckage under the water, which was clear and a relatively shallow 65 to 100 feet.

When TV broadcast an image of a half-naked man floating in the water, a shirt partially covering his head, many of the family members screamed and wailed uncontrollably. One middle-aged man collapsed and had to be carried out on a stretcher.

Their horror was captured by cameras on the other side of windows into the waiting room. Officials later blacked out the glass.

About 125 family members were planning to travel Wednesday to Pangkalan Bun to start identifying their loved ones. Body bags and coffins have been prepared at three hospitals there. Dozens of elite military divers also joined the search.

Unsolved mysteries

Malaysia-based AirAsia’s loss comes on top of the still-unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March with 239 people aboard, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Nearly all the passengers and crew were Indonesians, who are frequent visitors to Singapore, particularly on holidays.

Haidar Fauzie, 60, said his youngest child and only daughter, Khairunnisa Haidar, was a flight attendant who had worked with AirAsia for two years.

On learning about the crash, he struggled to console his grieving wife. They last saw their child six weeks ago, when she returned home on holiday.

“From the start, we already knew the risks associated with being a stewardess,” Fauzie said. “She is beautiful and smart. It has always been her dream to fly. We couldn’t have stopped her.”

AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, the airline’s founder and public face and a constant presence in Indonesia since the tragedy started unfolding, said he planned to travel to the recovery site on Wednesday.

“I have apologized profusely for what they are going through,” he said of his contact with relatives. “I am the leader of this company, and I have to take responsibility. That is why I’m here. I’m not running away from my obligations.”

The jet’s last communication indicated the pilots were worried about bad weather. They sought permission to climb above threatening clouds but were denied because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the jet disappeared from the radar without issuing a distress signal.

Several countries rushed to Indonesia to help with search and recovery efforts.

EDMONTON, Alberta: Nine people, including seven adults and two young children, were found dead at three separate crime scenes in what Edmonton’s police chief on Tuesday called the city’s worst mass murder.

Chief Rod Knecht told a news conference the killings were the result of domestic violence. The victims included a middle-aged woman found Monday night by officers who were responding to a report of a man entering the south-side home, opening fire and fleeing.

Police were later called to a house in a quiet cul-de-sac in the northeast Monday to check on reports of a depressed, suicidal male earlier in the evening.

“The male was not located and there was no response, and nothing suspicious was noted at the residence.”

Knecht said police received new information after midnight that prompted officers to return to the house where they found the seven bodies. He didn’t say how the victims died or what prompted police to return.

“It is a tragic day for Edmonton,” he said. “This series of events are not believed to be random acts. … These events do not appear to be gang-related, but rather tragic incidents of domestic violence.”

The police chief didn’t give the ages of the two children, other than to say they were very young. The adult victims were all middle-aged.

Neighbor Moe Assiff said he saw officers come out and talk to a woman sitting with a man in a white car outside the house.

“She just let out a hysterical scream. It was eerie,” Assiff said. “She was screaming about her kids: ‘My kids! The kids!,’ grabbing her hair and trying to pull her hair out.”

About two hours after that, the drama shifted to the VN Express Asian restaurant in the bedroom community of Fort Saskatchewan where a man matching the description of the suicidal male was found dead on Tuesday morning, Knecht said.

WASHINGTON: U.S. home prices rose in October at a slightly slower pace, as real estate sales have fallen and affordability increasingly has become a challenge for potential buyers.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 4.5 percent in October from 12 months prior. The figures reported Tuesday mark the 11th consecutive month of price gains decelerating and the smallest gain since October 2012.

The slowdown in price growth comes after surging double-digit increases for much of 2013. Home values climbed as the market recovered from bottoming out in 2011 in the aftermath of the housing bust and the Great Recession. But home prices have outpaced lackluster wage growth, leaving many potential buyers unable to afford homes and causing both sales and price growth to stall this year.

The recent decline in mortgage rates has yet to bring more buyers into the market. Simultaneously, there are fewer distressed properties and bargains coming onto the market that attract investors as buyers. All of that has occurred despite an improving U.S. economy that has generated 2.65 million new jobs this year, as the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent from 6.7 percent at the start of 2014.

Prices barely budged over the past 12 months in Cleveland (up 0.9 percent), Chicago (1.9 percent), New York (2 percent), Phoenix (2.1 percent) and Washington, D.C. (2.2 percent).

Still, there are signs that broader improvements in the U.S. economy might be causing prices to rise faster in some cities. Compared to September, eight cities reported stronger year-over year prices growth in October. This includes San Francisco (up 9.1 percent), Denver (7.2 percent) and Tampa (6.1 percent).

“We are seeing hints that prices could end 2014 on a strong note and accelerate into 2015,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The October figures are the latest available.

Other housing reports confirm a broader slowdown.

The National Association of Realtors estimate that 2014 sales will end up below 2013 levels. The trade group forecasts that 4.94 million existing homes will be sold this year, down 3 percent from 5.09 million in 2013. Analysts say sales of roughly 5.5 million existing homes are common in a healthy real estate market.

The Commerce Department said last week that new home sales slid 1.6 in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 438,000. That remains significantly below the annual rate of 700,000 seen during the 1990s.

The real estate brokerage Redfin reported Monday that its market tracker found that home sales plummeted 5 percent in November compared to 12 months earlier. Nearly a third of the buyers surveyed by Redfin said that their biggest obstacle to purchasing a home was affordability.

BEREA: Last week, rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel opined that it would be unfair for the Browns to give up on him so soon by selecting another quarterback in the first round of the 2015 draft.

Well, life isn’t fair because General Manager Ray Farmer would not hesitate to use a first-round pick on a quarterback for the second year in a row.

“Nope, I would not,” Farmer said Tuesday during his season wrap-up news conference. “I would not hesitate to take whoever I thought could help this football team and move us forward. The goal is to win.”

There are plenty of doubts about Manziel on and off the field and whether the Browns, who went 7-9 in 2014, can win with him.

They used the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft to select Manziel, but Farmer made it clear the franchise is not counting on the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M to become its starting quarterback next season.

The Browns have two first-round selections in next year’s draft — Nos. 12 and 19 overall — and they’re struggling with their faith in Manziel.

“He’ll be given every opportunity to contribute and compete, and he’ll also have to compete against guys that could be draft choices,” Farmer said of Manziel. “They could be free-agent selections. They could be [found under] any number of stones that we overturn to try to find the right guy to bring in here to improve our roster.”

The Browns fined Manziel, who ended the season on injured reserve, this past weekend after he failed to report to treatment for his left hamstring on time Saturday morning. Manziel met with reporters Monday, admitted he stayed out too late with friends Friday night, overslept Saturday and vowed to finally get his act together.

“The words don’t mean anything,” Farmer said. “I’m not a big word guy. It’s all about action.”

So what are Manziel’s marching orders this offseason?

“Don’t talk about it, just be about it,” Farmer said. “Pretty simple. The things that you know that are required of you, do those things, and do them in a consistent manner.”

Manziel appeared in an Instagram video posted on Twitter at 12:35 a.m. Tuesday wishing Cavaliers star and business partner LeBron James a happy birthday with friends in Miami Beach, Fla. Maverick Carter, who runs the marketing firm LRMR with James and represents Manziel, is also shown in the video.

Farmer said all players were permitted to leave town Monday, but the injured ones, including Manziel, are required to report to team headquarters sometime next week.

“That’s his right to [be in Florida] right now,” Farmer said.

Whether Manziel’s behavior off the field is suitable or inappropriate, he’ll always be in the spotlight because he’s a celebrity.

“Regardless if he’s out drinking Voss water and somebody sees him somewhere, they’re going to take a picture and tweet it, and it’s going to be relayed as though this guy’s out and he’s doing whatever,” Farmer said. “That’s his lot in life. That’s where he’s at.

“He’s going to have to become a hermit if he doesn’t want people to take pictures of him. I doubt he’s going to do that, but I think we also have to take with a grain of salt that every time this guy is somewhere doesn’t mean he’s up to no good or it’s negative. We have to be conscientious that we just want him to do the things that are necessary for him to be an NFL quarterback.”

Farmer isn’t giving up on Manziel, 22, evolving into a legitimate NFL quarterback. However, he’s not betting the farm on it, either.

“I do think he can develop into a solid starter in this league, yes,” Farmer said. “I think the sample that’s available is small. We all got to be patient. I think there’s an opportunity for the guy to make changes, and it’s up to him if he’s going to make those changes. But I think the talent is in his body to accomplish that.

“I do think he cares. I do know he’s competitive. At the end of the day, I’ll be frank and candid — it’s obvious — but he does need to grow up some. That maturity issue is there. But beyond that, I do think that there are redeemable qualities that can help him improve himself over time.”

Farmer said “a solid starter” at quarterback can achieve success in the NFL because there are no more than four or five “elite starters” in the league.

In about seven quarters, Manziel wasn’t nearly good enough to be considered solid. He completed just 18-of-35 passes (51.4 percent) for 175 yards and zero touchdowns with two interceptions to go along with nine carries for 29 yards (3.2 average) and a touchdown. He went 0-2 as a starter and posted a passer rating of 41.9.

So what has Farmer seen to make him believe Manziel can develop into a solid starter?

“The same things he showed me in college,” Farmer said. “I think he can be consistently accurate with the football. I do think he has mobility to escape the pocket, and I do think his desire and his competitiveness give him an edge that not a lot of players have.”

But the recent trouble Manziel, wide receiver Josh Gordon and rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert have gotten into begs the question whether the Browns would release any of them. Gordon and Gilbert were suspended for the season finale Sunday after Gordon missed the team’s walk-through practice Saturday morning and Gilbert was late to a team meeting Saturday night.

“That’ll be a conversation that we have between the staff and the coaches,” Farmer said of possibly cutting one or more of those players. “We’ll make that determination, and then if it does happen, it’ll happen in time. It won’t happen today.”

Farmer insisted owner Jimmy Haslam is not responsible for drafting Manziel on May 8.

“Jimmy did not make the call,” Farmer said. “I know a lot of people want to stick that on Jimmy. But for the world to hear, Jimmy Haslam did not make that call. He didn’t try to influence the decision. He didn’t try to push it in a different direction. He did none of those things.”

During an interview with an Arkansas radio station a week after the draft, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains said Manziel texted him, “Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there.” Loggains said he forwarded the text to Haslam and coach Mike Pettine, whereupon Haslam, according to Loggains, “said, ‘pull the trigger. We’re trading up to go get this guy.’ ”

The Browns traded up four spots to select Manziel. Pressed about Loggains’ version of the events, Farmer said, “I can say with 100 percent certainty, Dowell Loggains was not in the room when that discussion happened.”

So Farmer claims Manziel as his pick, but he won’t commit to sticking with him.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/abj.sports.

Russ Parsons
Los Angeles Times

I will bow to no one in my affection for holiday cooking. For our Christmas open house every year, I make gallons of posole and black beans. One family tradition is spending a day decorating hundreds of cookies. There is no Christmas Eve without all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab nor Christmas morning without a breakfast with migas and julekake. The month of December seems to be one solid buffet of parties, dinners and an almost constant barrage of cookies, tamales and big hunks of roasted meat.

I love it all, but now I need a break. Maybe a quiet dinner in front of the fire with Foyle’s War or Longmire. After a long workday, you won’t believe how reassuring a baked sweet potato with good butter and lots of black pepper can be.

I usually find myself turning to different kinds of vegetable soups or stews. Honestly, I sometimes think you could throw an almost random selection of vegetables in a pot and bring them to a boil and wind up with something pretty tasty — if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few guidelines.

• Choose carefully: Let me start by apologizing for that word “random.” In cooking — or at least good cooking — nothing is truly random. But you’d be surprised how far you can get by sticking with that old seasonal thing. Potatoes, fennel, winter squash and greens? I can think of half a dozen dishes without even trying.

• You need starch: It gives soup heft. If you’re using pasta, rice or grains, cook them first and add them at the end so they don’t muddy the broth or overcook. If you’re using potatoes, use smooth-skinned boilers and add them early, so they have time to absorb flavors.

• When in doubt, add greens: And then if you’re still uncertain, add more greens. I don’t know a cook who doesn’t have odd scraps of lettuce, kale and chard in the crisper drawer. Soup is a great way to get the most out of them, and the more (and the more kinds), the merrier.

• Water’s fine: Sure, you can use a vegetable broth if you want, but don’t overlook simply adding water — that way, you also can control the amount of salt more accurately. If you’ve got the right blend of vegetables, you won’t need any added flavors.

• Season assertively: If there is one common fault with vegetable soups, it’s timidity in seasoning, particularly salt. As always, you don’t want the food to taste salty, but the right amount awakens all the other flavors. This is especially true if you’ve added starches — they suck salt out of a soup like nobody’s business.

Acidity is a seasoning too. This is overlooked by too many cooks, but if a soup or stew tastes a little flat, and you’ve seasoned it correctly with salt, try adding some vinegar or lemon juice to finish. As little as a teaspoon can make a big difference, giving the flavors a strong backbone to hang from.

• Don’t fear fat: You’ve salted correctly and added just the right dash of lemon juice, but the dish still lacks something? A drizzle of olive oil, a dollop of herb paste or a shaving of hard cheese such as Parmigiano or ricotta salata can provide a final lift. Because the rest of the soup is basically nothing but vegetables and water, you can liven it up a little.

Here are a couple of very different but equally delicious examples from two of my favorite cookbooks of 2014 — Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi and Persiana from Sabrina Ghayour. One is the essence of Greek family cooking — homely in appearance but with a depth of flavor that comes only from careful, long cooking.

The other is simple to make but striking enough to be the centerpiece of a holiday dinner. But even given its gorgeous looks, Ghayour promises “there are no rules for making it; the simple truth is that this soup should contain whatever you might find lying around the house and in your fridge.”

BRAISED GREENS AND

POTATOES WITH LEMON

AND FENNEL

½ cup olive oil, plus good, fruity olive oil for drizzling, divided

2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

2 carrots, quartered and cut in 1-inch lengths

4 green onions, white and most of green parts, thinly sliced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped, fronds and tender stalks reserved

4-6 fingerling potatoes, cut in bite-sized pieces

1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle or finely ground

2 lbs. mixed greens, spinach, sorrel, Swiss chard, outer leaves of romaine lettuce, pea shoots, nettle tops or any combination of sweet leafy greens, large leaves coarsely chopped

½ cup white wine

1 cup water

¼ preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rinsed and chopped

½ to 1 tsp. salt, or more to taste

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

½ cup chopped fresh dill or wild fennel, divided

1 to 2 tsp. marash pepper or a good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

In a wide, deep soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, green onions, fennel bulb, potatoes and fennel seeds, stir to coat with the oil and cook an additional 3 minutes.

Add the greens in batches, starting with the larger leaves and gradually adding the smaller, more tender ones. Stir a few times to help the leaves wilt and reduce in size, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute; add the water, the preserved lemon and salt to taste.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the greens and potatoes are tender and most of the juices have been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. If there is still too much liquid, raise the heat to high and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced, up to an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, half the dill, the fennel fronds and stalks and sprinkle with the red pepper; toss, taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Cook an additional 2 minutes to marry the flavors, then sprinkle with remaining dill.

Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with the good, fruity olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: Adapted from Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts. Kremezi recommends serving this with ricotta or feta cheese and crusty bread.

SPICED VEGETABLE SOUP

2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil

1½ lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1½-inch chunks

2 large onions, diced, plus 1 large onion cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moons, separated

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped

3 boiling potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1½-inch chunks

5 tomatoes, roughly chopped

4 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. smoked paprika

3 tsp. hot pepper paste, such as harissa

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 (14- to 15½-oz.) cans chickpeas (reserve the liquid plus a couple of handfuls of chickpeas to garnish)

1 large zucchini, finely diced

3½ oz. feta cheese

Herb oil (recipe follows)

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to generously coat the base of the pan. Add the butternut squash, diced onions, garlic, leeks and potatoes, and cook, without browning, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and hot pepper paste, and give it all a good stir to ensure the spices evenly coat the vegetables. Cover the vegetables completely with water, add a generous amount of salt (I would suggest at least 4 teaspoons) and black pepper. Stir once more and continue to cook at a gentle boil until the squash is tender when poked with a knife, about 30 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until you get a lovely, even, smooth soup. Once smooth, add the chickpeas and their liquid, and stir well.

Adjust the consistency of the soup with additional water if desired, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the zucchini and cook for a final 20 minutes before serving.

While the soup is cooking, drizzle some olive oil into a large frying pan set over high heat, and fry the sliced onion until browned and crispy. Add the reserved chickpeas and brown them along with the onions. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions and chickpeas from the pan and set aside.

Pour the soup into large bowls (preferably wide, shallow ones), then generously crumble the feta on top. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the herb oil into each bowl over the feta. Finally, add the reserved crispy fried onions and chickpeas.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana.

HERB OIL

¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil, more if needed

Good handful parsley

Good handful dill

Good handful cilantro

Handful shelled pistachios

Squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Put the olive oil, parsley, dill and cilantro in a bowl along with the pistachios, lemon juice and some salt and pepper, and blitz with a hand blender until the mixture is finely chopped and has the consistency of pesto. If you need to slacken the mixture, add a bit more oil.

Fred Tasker
Tribune News Service

Maybe you loved 2014 and look forward to 2015. Maybe you want to say “good riddance” to the old year and hope the new one will be better.

Either way, you’ll probably have some bubbles for toasting when the clock nears midnight on New Year’s Eve.

And that’s fine.

But the talented, earnest people who make champagnes and sparkling wines lament the common idea that it is only for toasting, only for celebrating, only for spewing around the locker room after you’ve won the World Series.

They want you to drink bubbly with food, too. It creates some of the finest wine-food pairings in the world, they say.

“I’d like to take away the idea that champagne is just bubbles to drink as an aperitif,” says Carl Heline, Moet & Chandon Champagne educator.

“I’d like to encourage people to play more with champagne. You can drink it with risotto, carpaccio. It can handle the main dish — veal and lamb and pork chops, red meat.”

This is why many avid fans create dinners with a different champagne or sparkling wine for each course. A big reason bubblies go with so many foods is that they come in many styles.

The official language for describing bubbly is a bit confusing, but it’s easily mastered if one is motivated. And I always say the homework is a lot more fun than studying algebra.

First comes its sweetness level. From the driest to the sweetest, it goes like this: brut nature, brut, extra dry, sec, demi-sec and doux.

Yes, it means “extra dry” is sweeter than brut. Doesn’t make sense, but that’s how they named it.

Then there’s the grape blend. Brut is often a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, another red grape.

Blanc de Noirs (white from black) sparkling wine is made primarily of red grapes, often pinot noir. Blanc de blancs (white from whites) is from white grapes, often chardonnay.

The more red grapes in the blend, the better it goes with red meats and powerfully flavored fish such as tuna, swordfish and salmon. The more white grapes, the lighter the bubbly becomes, so it’s good as an aperitif.

So raise a toast to the new year with bubbly, but keep in mind it also will go well with that New Year’s Day brunch.

Highly recommended

• 2006 Moet & Chandon “Grand Vintage” Brut, Epernay, France (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier): myriad tiny bubbles, crisp and lively, with aromas of tropical fruits and spices and a long, fruity finish; $65.

• Nonvintage Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, Carneros (chardonnay): lively bubbles, yeasty aroma, flavors of green apples and vanilla; $22.

• Nonvintage “J Cuvee” Brut sparkling wine, Sonoma County: (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier): lots of delicate bubbles, aromas and flavors of ripe peaches and pears, citrusy finish; $28.

• 2011 Domaine Albert Mann Cremant d’Alsace Brut Sparkling Wine, Alsace (pinot blanc, pinot noir, pinot gris): soft bubbles, creamy texture, aromas and intense flavors of ripe pears and apples, long finish; $15.

• Nonvintage Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, Reims, France (pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier): tiny bubbles, yeasty aroma, flavors of black cherries, oranges and spice, long finish; $60.

• Nonvintage Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve, Epernay, France (pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier): myriad tiny bubbles, toasty aromas, light and lively, flavors of ripe golden apples and citrus, long finish; $52.

Recommended

• Nonvintage Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Brut, Reims (pinot noir, pinot meunier, chardonnay): light and lively, with floral aromas and black cherries, citrus and ginger, long finish; $45.

• Nonvintage Moet & Chandon “Imperial” Brut, Epernay, France (pinot noir, pinot meunier, chardonnay): delicate bubbles, yeasty aromas, flavors of lemon meringue, minerals and hazelnuts, long finish; $41.

• 2008 Franciacorta “Lo Sparviere” sparkling wine, Lombardy, Italy: Very small, long-lasting bubbles, yeasty aromas, flavors of honey and citrus; $28.

• Nonvintage Gloria Ferrer “Va de Vi Ultra Cuvee” Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County (pinot noir, chardonnay, muscat): pinpoint bubbles, aromas of black cherries, rich, ripe pear and vanilla flavors, mellow finish; $22.

• 2010 Schramsberg “Blanc de Noirs” sparkling wine, North Coast (pinot noir, chardonnay): aromas and flavors of red berries and citrus, crisp acids, full body; $40.

• Nonvintage Anna de Codorniu Brut Cava Sparkling Wine, Penedes, Spain (pinot noir, chardonnay): fine, long-lasting bubbles, aromas of mangos and lemons, very crisp; $15.

• 2010 Schramsberg Cremant Demi-sec sparkling wine (flora, chardonnay, pinot noir): lots of bubbles, lightly sweet flavors of tropical and candied fruit and brown sugar; full-bodied, long finish; $39.

• Nonvintage Martini & Rossi Moscato d’Asti Sparkling Wine, DOCG Italy (moscato): lots of tiny bubbles, floral aromas, sweet-tart apricot and lime flavors, low alcohol; $15.

• Nonvintage Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, Reims, France: lots of tiny, persistent bubbles, toasty aromas, flavors of vanilla and red raspberries, full and rich; $54.

• Multi-Vintage Roederer Estate Brut Rose Sparkling Wine, Anderson Valley (pinot noir, chardonnay): steady stream of bubbles, red berry aromas and flavors; $30.

• Nonvintage Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry Sparkling Wine, Central Valley, Calif. (chardonnay): yeasty aromas, lightly sweet flavors of ripe apricots, fruity finish; $10

GASOLINE

Ohio prices hover around $2

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Ohio is nearing $2 a gallon — with some metro areas in the state already seeing average prices under the threshold.

Ohioans paid an average of $2.01 for a gallon of regular as of early Tuesday, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report that tracks pump prices. That’s down from $2.03 a gallon Monday, $2.78 a month ago and $3.40 a gallon a year ago.

The Akron-area average price was $2.04 a gallon Tuesday, down from $2.07 on Monday, $2.80 a month ago and $3.40 a year ago.

Ohio metro areas where prices averaged below $2 a gallon were: Columbus, $1.94; Dayton-Springfield, $1.95; and Toledo, $1.89.

Two states had average prices below $2 a gallon Tuesday: Missouri, at $1.92 and Oklahoma at $1.98.

Hawaii had the most expensive gas at $3.51 a gallon, followed by Alaska at $3.07.

The national average was $2.27 a gallon, AAA reported.

ELECTRONICS

Kent Displays heads to Vegas

Kent Displays will show off two new Boogie Board paperless e-writers next month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

One Boogie Board model is designed for the toy market, with a translucent LCD screen and a shape similar to an artist’s palette.

The other model has a new, reflective LCD screen that is 50 percent brighter than previous models, the company said.

Portage County-based Kent Displays will also show off its updated Boogie Board Sync iOS app at the CES, which runs Jan. 6-9. The company uses liquid crystal technology that was developed at Kent State University.

TRUCKING

Panther relocates offices

Specialized trucking company Panther Premium Logistics has relocated from two buildings in Seville to its newly built headquarters off Medina Road in Sharon Township.

About 330 people work at the new 50,000-square-foot headquarters, which also has a 9,000-square-foot service bay for upgrading trucks.

The company broke ground on the site in May.

Panther anticipates hiring an additional 32 people over the next four years.

The company provides less-than truckload, “white glove” and other time-sensitive and mission-critical shipping and logistical services.

ECONOMY

Consumer confidence rises

Impressed with an improving economy, American consumers are feeling more confident, a private survey showed.

The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index climbed to 92.6 this month from a revised 91 in November.

Consumers registered a more favorable view of current economic conditions; 17.1 percent said jobs were plentiful, up from 16.2 percent in November. Just 19.6 percent said business conditions were bad, down from 21.8 percent last month.

Expectations for the near future fell slightly. Compared to November, fewer consumers in December said they planned to buy a home or a car in the next six months.

WALL STREET

Indexes slip on Greek news

Lingering concerns about the political future of Greece pushed U.S. and global stock markets modestly lower Tuesday.

Trading was slow as most investors have closed their books for 2014. It was the eighth-slowest day of the year on the New York Stock Exchange.

As been the case several times this year, investors looked toward Europe.

Greek stocks stabilized after a volatile day Monday, when the country’s government was forced to call elections that could create more economic turmoil. Investors worry that the elections might be won by the left-wing opposition Syriza party, which opposes the austerity measures associated with Greece’s international financial rescue deal. The Athens stock market plunged as much as 11 percent on Monday before recovering some of those losses to close down 4 percent that day.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 55.16 points to 17,983.07. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 10.22 points to 2,080.35 and the Nasdaq composite fell 29.47 points to 4,777.44.

Compiled from staff and wire reports

Serious craft beer sippers appreciate how a glass design can enhance the aroma or head on different brews. Such aficionados might also appreciate this Mini Beer Tasting Flight.

Six beer styles (ale, bock, hefeweizen, lager, pilsner, stout) are represented in glasses that come in a labeled wood carrier. Each dishwasher-safe blown glass holds 4.5 to 6 ounces and is just under 7 inches high. A colorful initial denotes each beer type.

The six-glass set and carrier is $68. For a store locator or to buy, see http://www.anthropologie.com.

— Judy Hevrdejs

Chicago Tribune

BEREA: General Manager Ray Farmer seemed to suggest wide receiver Josh Gordon’s days with the Browns are numbered.

The NFL suspended Gordon two games in 2013 and 10 games in 2014 for violations of its substance-abuse policy. Then the Browns suspended him for their season finale this past Sunday because he didn’t attend the team’s walk-through practice Saturday morning.

So is the former All Pro who led the league with 1,646 receiving yards last year a lost cause?

“I’m not going to say that,” Farmer said Tuesday during his season wrap-up news conference. “I would tell you that I strive in every respect to give every guy the opportunity to achieve success. And I’m not going to diminish, talk bad or not try to help someone achieve the end goal, which is to get it right, and I’ll take it as far as I can get it. And then whenever that determination is made that this person is done with the Browns, we’ll make that determination then.

“Every player I will stand by. I will work with them, and I will make sure that they get the best, whether it’s help that they need, whether it’s assistance, whether it’s opportunities. I will fight tooth and nail to get those guys those things, and then when they demonstrate that they’re either unsavable or we can’t help them anymore or they don’t want the help, then we’ll move on.”

Asked if he’s still fighting for Gordon, Farmer said, “I’m not one to talk publicly about my interactions with the players, and I’ve had conversations with Josh, recent and past. When the final determination is made, Josh will be the first to know and then everybody else will find out after that.”

Farmer said the personnel and coaching staffs would discuss possibly cutting Gordon, rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert.

“We’ll make that determination, and then if it does happen it’ll happen in time,” Farmer said. “It won’t happen today.”

Manziel was fined for arriving late to treatment for his injured left hamstring Saturday morning, and Gilbert was suspended for the finale because he was late to a team meeting Saturday night.

Farmer said he expects Gordon’s legal team to contest the suspension issued by the Browns because it’ll affect his status as a free agent at the end of next season. If Gordon receives credit for only the five games in which he played in 2014, he wouldn’t earn an accrued season and would be a restricted free agent after next season instead of an unrestricted free agent. In most cases, the threshold for an accrued season is six games.

“One of the things I was told when I was a young player in this league is that your best ability may be your availability,” Farmer said. “We tend to believe that here to some degree, where you’ve got to be accountable to yourself, to others and to this organization.”

Deal or no deal?

Farmer implied the Browns would be open to re-signing veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, but only for the right price. Hoyer, who’s 10-6 as a starter for the Browns, has made it clear he doesn’t want to sit on the bench. The organization, though, likely wants to pay him like a backup. After all, it demoted him Dec. 8 in the midst of a slump.

“If he wants to be back, that leverage is definitely in his court to make that happen,” Farmer said. “Assuming that we can agree to that deal and what that deal looks like, then that opportunity’s available. If we can’t come to that agreement, then he obviously would not be back, so I think there’s a lot of work to be done in that regard.

“People don’t always see eye to eye. Your value for how you see something versus my value of how I see it doesn’t always come together, and that’s how things don’t happen. So that’s something for probably Brian’s agent [Joe Linta] and I to work out, and Brian will obviously have a lot of input in that. We’ll have the conversations as to how we think Brian can help our roster moving forward in the next upcoming week or so.”

Hoyer is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 10.

Door is open

Is the door open for starting tight end Jordan Cameron and starting cornerback Buster Skrine to re-sign with the Browns? They’re both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

“The door’s always open,” Farmer said. “The guys that we know that live to ‘Play Like a Brown,’ those are guys we want to keep around.”

Last week, defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil made it clear the coaches wants Skrine back.

But what about Cameron? In 2013, he made the Pro Bowl by catching 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games. But in 2014, he missed five games with a concussion and one game with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, finishing with just 24 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.

“He had an interesting year,” Farmer said. “He battled some things this year. [He] wasn’t as productive as he was the previous year. To that tune I know in a lot of respects he has some personal disappointment probably behind that. [It] doesn’t diminish who he is or who we think he can be.”

Does Cameron block well enough to fit what the Browns want?

“He does. He can compete. He can contribute,” Farmer said. “He’s not the best blocker, I guess, to be candid. But he’s a good player, and he can affect the game in other ways that then may overcome it. It’s like Antonio Gates. It’s like any of those other guys. When they make certain plays, then they get a certain benefit to that.”

Changes already made

Critics of Farmer argue his evaluation process needs to be overhauled because the two first-round picks the organization made during his first year as GM — Gilbert at No. 8 overall and Manziel at No. 22 overall — struggled with off-field issues and played poorly as rookies.

“We’ve already done it. We’ve changed staff, changed our processes,” Farmer said. “There are a lot of things you inherit the first year you get it, so after the draft, we made certain changes. We made a lot of changes. We added a lot of experience to our group this year, and we changed our processes. We changed how we do things. We changed how we look at players. We’ve used tried and true methods of some of the older scouts we brought in because experience matters. So moving forward it will be different.”

Not oblivious

Farmer insisted the Browns knew Gilbert had some problems with his work ethic at Oklahoma State, but they still felt comfortable using their top selection on him.

“There were obviously things that he needed to work on, and you know those things coming in,” Farmer said. “There’s also the feeling of this guy’s on the right path and the right track. Did he have, like most young kids, they have some type of issue while they’re in college? Absolutely.

“That information also probably stated that he had kind of turned the corner and was moving in the right direction. You do your research, you hang on it and the easiest way to put it is there is an inexact science to this thing. But you know certain pieces and you would hope and think that you can coach and move guys past some of those small issues that they have while they’re in college.”

High praise

Farmer lauded the job Mike Pettine did in his first season as an NFL head coach.

“I think he’s a really good coach,” Farmer said. “He’s very deliberate with our players. He’s very deliberate with his messaging. He’s very aware and astute with the things that need to happen and transpire, and he carries that message forward on a daily basis. The guys in the locker room respect him. I think they play their hearts out for him. I think he was absolutely right in his comments the other day about the respect necessary for the guys that went out on the field on Sunday and tried to get us a victory in Baltimore. Granted, we came up short, but our guys played hard, and I think that’s a true testament to Mike Pettine.”

Quotable

How did Farmer think the team’s receivers played in 2014?

“I thought they played well,” he said. “I’m a believer that this whole notion that you have to have this one guy that’s this silver bullet is a myth. I think it’s like trying to catch werewolves and vampires. They just don’t exist. I’m a big believer in it’s a team sport. If we combine the requisite skill sets necessary to have guys have success, we have had success. We saw that earlier this year. We were missing key components everyone thought were high-value targets and assets for us, but we played team football, and as a result of that, we were able to have success.”

Roster moves

The Browns signed kickers Travis Coons and Carey Spear to the reserve/futures list, the team announced Tuesday.

Coons spent training camp with the Tennessee Titans last summer as an undrafted rookie from Washington. A Mayfield High School graduate, Spear spent training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie from Vanderbilt.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/abj.sports.

Nancy Molnar

CANTON: Stark County government will save more than $1 million over the next three years through the consolidation of its 911 call-forwarding service with the sheriff’s dispatching operations.

County commissioners on Tuesday approved a memorandum of understanding to continue sharing services for three years, beginning New Year’s Day. The charge will be $348,492 for 2015, $357,091 for 2016 and $363,066 for 2017.

The board first turned over 911 operations to the sheriff for 2014. In the previous three years, the average cost of salaries and benefits for 911 operators was $694,608 annually.

Additional efficiency was obtained because 26 percent of calls did not need to be transferred, said Timothy Warstler, emergency management director and former 911 chief. Of the 139,963 calls to 911, 43,855 were handled by the sheriff’s office. The remainder were transferred to other agencies.

A total of 80 percent of incoming calls were for law enforcement, Warstler said. Ten percent were for emergency medical services, 5 percent were for fires and another 5 percent were for other counties.

Warstler said the streamlined system has reduced complaints about the handling of calls to a “very small number.”

Sheriff George T. Maier told commissioners that whenever the jurisdiction of an emergency is uncertain, “We send the cavalry,” and later determine the political subdivision in which the incident occurred. He cited Whipple Avenue as an example. The road touches parts of Canton, as well as Jackson, Plain and Perry townships.

In other action, Commissioners Janet Weir Creighton and Richard Regula approved paying $218,275 to the federal government for the transitional reinsurance fee under the Affordable Care Act.

The fee is $63 for each person covered under the county’s self-funded medical insurance plan.

County Administrator Brant Luther, Creighton and Regula said the fee amounts to an unconstitutional tax imposed by the federal government on the local government because no service is given for the payment, unlike the case with Workers’ Compensation and Social Security.

County government is generally tax-exempt, Luther said, based on the principle that all its revenue is derived from taxes.

Both commissioners approved the payment under protest. Commissioner Thomas Bernabei did not attend the meeting.

The board also set aside $2.3 million to replace the roof at the sheriff’s office and jail. Repairs initially were expected to cost $1.8 million, but the project grew into a complete replacement after the discovery of extensive deterioration.

Hoppin’ John Noodle Bowls

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas

3 quarts reduced-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup minced fresh ginger

5 tsp. soy sauce

3 tsp. fish sauce

Toppings: cooked rice noodles or angel hair pasta, chopped raw collard greens, sliced green onions, shredded cooked chicken, cilantro leaves, pickled okra, Asian hot chili sauce

Rinse and sort peas. Boil peas in enough water to cover in a saucepan over high heat for 3 minutes; drain.

Bring broth and ginger to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add peas. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes or until peas are tender. Reduce heat to low, and stir in soy sauce and fish sauce.

Place desired toppings in individual bowls, and ladle hot soup over toppings.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Source: Southern Living.

— Janet K. Keeler

Tampa Bay Times

University of Akron student Chelsi King isn’t opposed to some of her student fees going to support athletics.

She just wants to know how much.

King, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, and others are pushing for UA to itemize and reveal the amount of money taken from the general service fee charged to students and given to athletics.

“Whether it’s $50 or $500, we just need to know where our money is going,” King said. “It increases transparency and it creates ownership for your campus.”

The University Council — a policy-advisory group made up of faculty, students, administrators and other workers — agrees. The group, based on the student government’s recommendation, recently approved a resolution asking university President Scott Scarborough to take up the issue.

King hopes UA could become the first public university or college in Ohio to provide such a breakdown on student bills, which seem to itemize every other fee. The Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees public colleges and universities in the state, was unaware of any that do.

Scarborough said he’s willing to pursue the student fee issue and provide more transparency about how much money is going to support athletics. He recently met with student government leaders to talk about the topic.

“We agreed to just try to work together to try to find a way to do that — whether it’s on the website or on the bill itself or through direct communication with students,” Scarborough said. “We pledged to work with them to try to do that.”

UA finance officials are now putting together a comprehensive figure to indicate how much of the general service fee, other fees and/or general fund dollars go to support athletics.

Spending on athletics continues to be a touchy topic for many higher education officials, especially in light of the major NCAA conferences looking to increase the amount of scholarship money given to student-athletes.

A report the American Association of University Professors released earlier this year found that spending on athletics rose 24.8 percent at public four-year institutions from the 2003-04 school year to 2010-11, while instructional spending climbed 0.9 percent over the same time period.

King emphasized that students aren’t against paying toward athletics. But, she noted, student participation at UA sporting events traditionally has been poor.

In an effort to boost attendance at the UA-Bowling Green football game Nov. 4, the university gave away free tuition to four students in a promotion.

Perhaps, King said, more students would attend games if they knew how much money they are paying toward athletics.

So how much are students paying?

UA estimated that $400 of the $428 fee per semester goes for athletics.

It’s not easy for students or parents to find out how much of their fees support athletics.

Most public institutions in Ohio publish the amount of the general fee on their websites, but they don’t say where the money actually goes.

Kent State University appears to be the most open. It lists the amount of the general fee on one Web page and a percentage breakdown on another — allowing anyone who wants to know the ability to calculate it on their own.

Kent State students pay $281.37 to athletics.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman at the University of Cincinnati, responding by email, said students pay $135.53 per semester specifically for athletics. UC charges $398 per semester for general fees, according to its website.

It was not clear why the percentage of student fees going toward athletics varied so widely among the schools that responded.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or [email protected].

Rusty Miller

COLUMBUS: As fresh starts go, it was something to celebrate. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery knows it was just the first step of many.

Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White each scored 18 points to lift the Hawkeyes past No. 20 Ohio State 71-65 Tuesday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

“You can take a lot [out of it],” McCaffery said. “We beat a ranked team, on the road and kind of led wire to wire, and we fought when we had to fight. If you’re going to be a good team in this league and an NCAA Tournament team, that’s what you’ve got to be able to do.”

The Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-0) never trailed after the opening minute, leading by as many as 12 points in the first half and holding on when Ohio State (11-3, 0-1) applied pressure at the end.

“We came into this game expecting to win. And we played like it out there,” Iowa point guard Mike Gesell said.

The Hawkeyes made their first five shots from the field against Ohio State’s 2-3 zone, including both 3-pointers, and added 5-of-6 free throws in taking a 17-5 lead in the opening four minutes. White, an Ohio native cheered by a throng of family and friends, had seven points and Peter Jok five in the quick spurt.

A strain running through all of Ohio State’s losses has been a miserable first half. Their undoing against Louisville (a 64-55 defeat) and North Carolina (an 82-74 loss) was practically a template for the Hawkeyes: Come out aggressive, pound the boards, hit shots and push the Buckeyes around.

“We’ve obviously got to get it figured out,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “Giving up 17 points in the first four minutes is not acceptable.”

Iowa led 43-31 at the half but Ohio State came back. D’Angelo Russell, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer at almost 18 points a game, returned from sitting out with four fouls and drilled a 3 with 3:25 left to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead to 63-60.

But almost immediately, Iowa’s Josh Oglesby drove to the heart of the lane and hit a pull-up jumper. After Russell missed another 3-pointer, Uthoff took an assist from White and made a 3-pointer from the right corner to make it 68-60 with just over 2 minutes left.

“[Oglesby] knocking down the shot which was big,” White said. “Jarrod hit some big shots. You can go down the line, pretty much everybody had a big play.”

With Ohio State battling to draw closer, Uthoff made a long, looping jumper late in the shot clock to seal the outcome.

The Buckeyes never got closer than five again.

Sam Thompson had 17 points and Russell 13 for the Buckeyes.

Quote of the game

Matta on his team’s troubles: “We’ve got to look at the film and say, how do we get better? What do we have to do? We can’t make the mistakes that we made defensively. It was mind-boggling at times the things we did.”

A sexual harassment lawsuit that one of WNIR’s former radio personalities filed against the station has been settled.

Kent attorney Nancy Grim, representing Maggie Fuller, and radio station manager Bill Klaus both confirmed the matter has been resolved but declined to comment further.

Fuller — the on-air pseudonym of Nancy Jones of Kent, who had been part of the radio station’s morning crew — filed the civil suit in September, one year after leaving the station, when WNIR’s owners declined to discipline another radio host who was reported to have referred to her at a public event by using a crude anatomical reference.

The case, filed in Summit County Common Pleas Court, accused Bill and Bob Klaus of abetting unlawful discriminatory practices, causing Fuller to lose $38,000 a year in income plus benefits, as well as suffer mental anguish, humiliation and loss of reputation.

At the time, she asked to be reinstated at the station and compensated for lost wages, or if not reinstated, given lost income as well as “future wages and benefits.” The suit also sought $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

Fuller said that when she was hired in 1999 she understood that banter would require her to “endure a degree of sexual innuendo with her male colleagues” but that the Klaus brothers prohibited “obscene and hateful terms.”

She said that beginning in April 2013, host John “Couchburner” Denning repeatedly treated her with hostility and disrespect on air, and called her the C-word during a party thrown for the radio station’s fans.

In a meeting with the Klauses on Sept. 12, Fuller said she asked that Denning sign a letter saying he would not speak about her that way in public again. According to the lawsuit, the Klauses said Denning denied the incident occurred. They told Fuller they would not be interviewing witnesses, nor take any action, the suit said.

Fuller did not return to work, considering herself “constructively discharged” because of the “ongoing hostile environment,” the suit said.

The Ohio Unemployment Compensation Review Commission later ruled that Fuller had just cause to quit and faulted WNIR management for its failure to discipline Denning for his outburst “in a meaningful manner.”

Melissa D’Arabian

While I still pay attention to what I eat during the holidays, I nonetheless allow plenty of small splurges. And those splurges mostly can be summed up in one word: chocolate!

Trouble is, the holidays eventually pass, but my cravings for the deep flavor of a perfectly roasted cocoa bean linger. Even more than the sweetness that accompanies most chocolate desserts, I miss the unctuous coating cocoa leaves on the palate. But who says healthy eating must mean the end of that deliciousness? Enter unsweetened chocolate! All the richness of the flavor without the sugar.

My healthy chocolate-eating strategy has me leaning toward savory dishes because they need no sugar for me to appreciate the wonderful flavor of the cocoa. Among the most classic choices — and one of my favorites — is Mexican mole, a thick, spicy sauce based on cocoa or chocolate that traditionally takes a couple of days to develop its rich flavors.

But I have four hungry kids who aren’t willing to wait days for chocolate, sweet or savory. So I have developed a version of mole that takes under an hour. Does it capture all the flavor of a two-day mole? Nope. But for a recipe that shaves 47 hours off my labor, I think it still does a pretty darned good job.

And you can take comfort in knowing that you’re getting all the delicious benefits and satisfaction of chocolate without the pesky sugar. Chocolate in the new year? Yes, indeed. All in the name of health.

CHICKEN IN QUICK MOLE SAUCE

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1¼ lbs.), cut into 1½-inch cubes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 tsp. chili powder

1½ tsp. ground cumin

¾ tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. cinnamon

15-oz. can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. chopped chipotles in adobo (more or less according to heat preference)

1 tsp. grated orange zest

½ cup prune juice (or ¼ cup chopped pitted prunes)

1¼ cups chicken stock

1 tbsp. almond butter or peanut butter

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Squeeze of lime (1 to 2 tsp.)

Fresh cilantro, chopped, to serve

Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the chicken and brown until golden on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, then cook, stirring, until very fragrant, another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 3 more minutes. Add the chipotles, orange zest and prune juice, then cook an additional minute, stirring.

Add the stock and let simmer until the onion is fairly soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Pour or spoon carefully into a blender, then add the almond butter, chocolate and lime juice. Let sit for a minute in the hot liquid. Blend carefully — low at first, then at higher speed — until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Add more stock if the sauce is too thick.

Return the chicken to the pan (no need to clean it) and pour the sauce over the chicken. Heat over medium until the chicken is cooked through, another 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with rice and beans and top with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Akron’s Innerbelt project, by the numbers:

• Cost of building Innerbelt: $65 million.

• Estimated cost of improving existing roads, closing Innerbelt: $12.7 million (federal, state and local funds).

• Vehicles built to accommodate daily: 120,000.

• Vehicles using daily: 17,760 (average).

• Vehicles using stretch to be closed daily: 1,535.

• Length of stretch to be closed: Nearly a mile.

• Acres of land to be opened: 31.

• Crashes at intersection of state Route 59, Main Street and Howard Street: 55 (2011-2013; fifth-worst intersection in Akron area).

• Crashes on Route 59, West Market Street bridge to North Broadway: 48 (2011-2013; worst corridor in Akron area).

How to provide input:

Written comments or questions regarding the project may be submitted to Mike Teodecki, Akron’s design division manager, by mail at 166 S. High St, Room 701, Akron, OH 44308, or by email at [email protected]. Deadline is Jan. 7.