Bridge club owner, bowler, religion editor and perennial fixture at the county fair, Sentinel-Tribune reporter Bill Ryan wears yet another hat that only a few people know about.
He's an avid cook with a perfect Easter weekend recipe to share.
He calls it Holiday Punch, and it's clearly several cuts above those regular Kool-Aid or Hawaiian Punch-based concoctions we've all been served too many times to count.
"The recipe was originally my aunt and Godmother's," said Ryan, and a favorite for large family gatherings.
The original version called for "twice the pineapple juice, and I modified it, by substituting apple juice.
"A lot of people had told me it was too pineapply. The pineapple juice was overbearing. So I switched out one can of pineapple for the apple, and everybody seemed to like it."
In Ryan's own view, the two keys to the perfection of this punch are:
¥ the use of apricot nectar.
¥ orange juice - that is, just the frozen concentrate, not the water-added juice mixture.
"Both items seem to give the punch some body and a fuller flavor."
The apricot nectar "didn't use to be hard to find," but can be now. "The last time I had to go to Meijer to find it" and it was shelved in the regular juice section. "You can also find it in the organic section of stores."
Ryan grew up in a small town near Dayton and was one of many over the decades who have migrated to Bowling Green to attend the university.
"I started in math education. I was going to be a teacher! (But) the calculus class scared me" and a professor inspired his switch to business.
Ryan's first career, appropriately enough, was 12 years in restaurant work, including assistant manager at Frisch's and a short stint at St. Luke's Hospital as food service supervisor.
Next, he was general manager at the former Howard Johnson's Restaurant and Lounge on Wooster Street. He has clear memories of the job, since it encompassed the notorious Blizzard of '78 when he and his staff found themselves serving a host of extra, unplanned guests - "stranded travelers pulled off I-75."
Ryan's second career was in insurance sales and 15 years later he found his true calling: journalism.
"I fell into it through a role as Bowling Green Bowling Association public relations chairman."
He started writing a bowling column for the Sentinel in 1988 and added the Professional Bowlers Association in 1991. More disparate duties followed, including council meetings, soccer, obituaries, and even the BG Holiday Parade. Ryan has been religion editor since 1999 and farm editor since 2004.
Along with his reporter title, many county residents have gotten to know Ryan as a skilled bridge player. He currently ranks in the top 11 percent of American Contract Bridge League members nationwide and area bridge players know firsthand how tasty his holiday punch is.
"Punch is an annual tradition at the bridge club Christmas parties" of the Bowling Green and Perrysburg duplicate bridge clubs, where Ryan serves as director.
Though he has no biological children, "I took custody of a neighborhood teen. My son, Ron, has provided me with five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren" who hope he will make his signature punch for Easter.
He's also served it to groups at church and elsewhere, including a Sentinel co-worker's retirement party.
Because of the ingredients, it's easy to prepare and keep chilled at a location away from home.
The frozen oranges or grapefruit serve double duty as a garnish and also eliminate the need for ice, which would dilute the punch.
"That punch will stay cold, as long as your juices are chilled to begin with. It will stay cold with the sherbet, etc. for three or four hours."
The recipe as printed here will make a nice big batch.
"Those without large punch bowls could cut the recipe in half; however, most of the juices come in the large sizes" so there would be extra juice to deal with in any event.
If there are leftovers of the punch at an away-from-home setting, Ryan brings along a funnel to pour it back into one of the plastic juice containers with a screw-on cap.
He knows that other cooks besides himself are dabblers and may wish to modify the ingredients.
"I have from time to time played around and used pineapple-banana-orange. So if people are partial to another fruit, it's fine. But I've made this enough, and everybody loves it just as it is."
Two to three oranges, grapefruit and/or tangerines
1 12- or 16-oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 pint orange or pineapple sherbet
1 46-oz jar or can of pineapple juice
1 46-oz jar or can of grapefruit juice (pink or regular)
1 46-oz jar or can of apple juice
1 46-oz jar or can of apricot nectar
1 liter diet lemon-lime soft drink (Sprite or 7-up, etc.)
Fills an 11-quart punch bowl.
Advance preparation: wash fresh fruit and slice in half and place separated pieces into freezer at least overnight. This will serve as ice for the completed punch.
Also keep sherbet and orange juice concentrate frozen; refrigerate all other juices and soda until ready to make punch.
Combine in large punch bowl the orange juice concentrate (do not add the water) and one of the juices. Stir until orange juice is dissolved.
Gradually add the remainder of the juices and stir.
Add the soft drink to provide fizz.
Add spoonfuls of the sherbet to float on top.
Add the frozen fruit, cut side up as a garnish and to keep your punch chilled.
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