WALBRIDGE — Caryl Stone’s sassy salsa combines two of her favorite things: sweet and heat.

“It’s got a little bit of a bite, not too sweet, a little tangy,” Stone said of her Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips.

The recipe came from a friend, who lives in Columbus, during a visit 16 years ago. Stone, who works as a computer consultant, stopped to see her in between assignments.

“As we sat, catching up, drinking our beers, she’s chopping, chopping, chopping and I’m not paying any attention. And she made this and it was wonderful,” Stone said.

She’s tweaked it to fit her family’s taste.

“Over the years, I’ve adapted it. Instead of just the fruit, I put in the onion and cilantro because we really like that little bite,” Stone said. “I love red onion and I love cilantro. Those are my go-to ingredients.”

The salsa can be substituted with all kinds of fruits.

“I always like papaya and cantaloupe because they hold up really good, and papaya is really good for you — and mango and kiwi,” Stone said. “I’ve made it with strawberries and raspberries. I’ve made it with blueberries, but blueberries kind of roll off because they’re round, they don’t stay on the chips.”

Stone settled in Walbridge in 2016, following her daughter, Alex and her family, to the village. She’s originally from New Jersey and has traveled extensively with her job. She thinks that’s where she developed her palette.

“I’ve found that Ohio isn’t as … diverse in their flavor profiles,” she said. “We were so close to New York City, there’s a lot of diversity in the food. There’s Little Italy, there’s Chinatown, there’s a lot of different ethnicities.”

Daughter Willow, who is a junior, does online school. During coronavirus, she’s been cooking most of the meals for her mom. They’ve been roasting vegetables, spiraling zucchini and creating sauces, like Alfredo and teriyaki. Their favorite new kitchen toy is an air fryer.

“It cooks our vegetables in minutes, with no oil and they’re crispy,” she said, adding that their most recent recipe in the fryer was sweet potato fries. “That’s been our secret weapon.”

Their favorite store to buy fruit from is Ciolino’s, just across the Ohio-Michigan border.

“Use the best ingredients you can afford. I always try to get the best chocolates I can,” Stone said. “Buy the better butter. Buy the better chocolates. Buy the better vanilla.”

These are the ingredients you can taste, when you bite into something, she said.

“We’re super healthy and we’re always trying to find a lower everything — lower fat, lower calories, high protein. She (Willow) is big on finding the recipes and then we’ve been ordering our food online and picking it up, or run to some of the stores now that they’re open,” Stone said.

“Normally, though, because of the store and all the hours I’ve been putting in, it’s usually the weekends that I cook for the week.”

They live in a former church that was built 120 years ago and was also a daycare. Stone has opened a business in it, Random Acts, and also lives there.

She has used the closing due to the coronavirus pandemic to make some additional improvements and obtain her food permits.

Random Acts, which opened last fall, takes items on consignment, hosts concerts and meditations, and also sells food and beverages, many of which are made by Stone.

“The favorites in town are the chocolate-chip cookies, the oatmeal raisin, the brownies. I have chocolate-chip brownies I make all the time. Then I’ll add something for the kids, like rice krispie treats,” she said. “I love making scones. I love making different things that people haven’t had. When we have ladies’ nights, I’ll make something people don’t normally try.”

She’s also been experimenting with edible cookie dough.

Stone loves to bake, but her family really likes her to cook and regularly sends her Instagram links for ideas.

“I like the creativity of it,” she said of cooking and baking. “I don’t read recipes a lot. I kind of just wing it. … I’m like a mad scientist in trying different things. It’s a creative thing. It’s like doing crafts, to me, cooking is a creative thing. I especially like cooking for people who appreciate my cooking.”

Alex and husband Mickey have two sons who are frequent dinner guests.

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