Gardening Guru

Stream Cliff Farm’s Manning
pens book on gardening tips

She shares photos, tips and recipes

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

COMMISKEY, Ind. (May 2012) – Stream Cliff Farm has a long tradition of providing visitors with the tools to make their gardens and their kitchens a lasting success. For more than 30 years, the Commiskey-based farm has welcomed guests to make their own memories at the historic farm founded in 1821.
Each spring, owner Betty Manning assists gardeners in picking out culinary and decorative plants for their homes and her cooking school has shown many students how to bring their gardens into their kitchens with her classes on cooking with herbs.

Betty Manning

Photo provided

Betty Manning took great care in
selecting a publisher for her book.

Now with the release of her new book, “Secrets of the Garden Path with Recipes,” Manning is continuing that tradition of sharing her beautiful farm with an even wider audience. While she estimates that the book took about two years to write, it actually reflects years worth of work in her family’s kitchens and gardens. The book focuses on the history of the farm and the six generations of family that have called it home, while also including gardening and cooking tips. Special emphasis is placed on culinary herbs including how to identify, grow and use them.
On June 16 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the farm will play host to a book release and signing celebration to share the joy of the project’s completion. Guests are invited to stop by and meet with the author and have a chance to chat and get their books signed. The event will also welcome publisher Linda Hawkins and is “just a time to celebrate.”
Manning says she looks forward to providing the chance for others to meet with Hawkins and perhaps learn more about what it would take to turn their dreams of publishing into reality.
“I know there are people who have had a lifelong desire to do a book,” she says.
Manning expects to have copies of the book available at the farm around Mother’s Day, and reservations are already being taken online and by mail or phone for first edition copies.
Manning reflects that “I wanted a pretty book,” and explains the importance of finding a publisher that would help her realize her vision.
“It was difficult to find one that has the same dream,” she says of her search.
Manning expected the physical copy of the book to reflect the quality of research and dedication that she put into it. She finally connected with Hawkins of Heart to Heart Publishing and knew that her book had found a home. The resulting full color, 136-page hardback book met her high expectations.
The book draws from Manning’s years of study and practical experience in gardens. Over the years she has collected several photos of the farm, its gardens, and herbs in particular.
One of the seeds for this book came when Manning was approached by a university to assemble a book about herbs in the Midwest. However, she believed that she could do the book herself and wanted the freedom to include garden information that would be applicable to more than just people who live in this region.
“I wrote it for a national audience,” she explains, pointing out the importance of considering different planting zones across the country when writing about gardening.
Manning was careful to make certain that the book would be functional as a cookbook and made the decision to gather all the recipes together in one section, rather than having them scattered throughout the book. She estimates there are about 80 recipes included. Some of these will be familiar to those who have enjoyed the tea room at the farm or who have taken part in the farm’s cooking school, while others have previously been something of family secrets.
“A lot of the recipes are those that have come down through the family – ones I’ve used over the years,” she explains.
Many of the recipes reflect Manning’s own cooking style that emphasizes using a lot of herbs and wine in the dishes. However, she also made certain to preserve the family recipes as they came down to her and these do not necessarily include as strong a use of herbs.
“I wanted those passed down in my family and I wanted to share,” she said.

• For more information, visit: www.StreamCliffFarm.com.

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