Thursday, November 11, 2010

This is Cantastic!

This is just the thing to get people to donate food for the hungry! Check out this website!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not Why I Collect Corks, But A Great Idea, Too...

People ask me why when I open a bottle of wine, when I toss a cork into a large lidded jar at home where I keep them, what I'm saving them for. I usally tell them I'm making a boat. Typically the answer is followed by an "ahhhh..." with a nodding head, then the questions start.

My friend Patti gave me a book to read called Cork Boat, by John Pollack. Here is the Amazon page where you can read a synopsis of the book.

It is my all-time favorite book! A page-turner! Couldn't put it down!

So, my collection of corks is for something...maybe a boat, maybe not...but it sure is a conversation starter and brings the memory of the book back every time!

Here's an idea I just found from the LA Times off of Food News Journal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wegmans - Please come to Quakertown!

I have been pining away for a Wegmans grocery store in Quakertown for about 11 years; since my first foray into their 'Marketplace' when I worked for Aetna in Allentown all that many years ago.

They have some of the freshest take out food and a variety of products that outshines most food courts! Their store section is wonderful and if you stay out of the Marketplace area, you don't spend anymore money than at any other grocery store.

It's that Marketplace that can set you back about $40-$50 or more for a quick and easy dinner idea! But, oh what great food they have! Took my sister who lives in Maine, to the one in Allentown for a field trip when she visited once. She, like me was way over stimulated on her first visit.

They have sushi, a Chinese buffet, a submarine sandwich station, pizza counter, a bakery that is simply overwhelming, a hot bar, a salad bar and a deli. There is also a cheese counter with chunks of cheese from all over the globe, an olive and pickle bain marie and fresh meats and seafood galore. In some of these places, you can get beer in PA. Of course this is well controlled with limits and can only be purchased in the Marketplace with ID.

As for produce...this is awesome at Wegmans. Both local and in season like peaches, apples, corn and tomatoes and non-local like truffles, cheramoyas, star fruit and fresh figs.

Have you shopped at a Wegmans? Every time I have, their employees have been helpful, kind and cheerful. A friend of mine told me you can take expired coupons to them and they'll give you the amount off, regardless! How cool is that for a grocery store?

I'm not getting any kickbacks nor am I trying to advertise for them, but wishing they'd open one closer to me. I like the variety and would even consider working there since they are listed as one of the best places to work - 13 years in a row!

I'd just like to have the opportunity to shop at a place that treats their employees well, has great variety and is concientous about their service.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Glass in Frozen Veggies - PLEASE READ!

How does this happen? We'll probably never know, but for safety's sake on!

Supplier recalls frozen vegetables because of glass fragments
By the CNN Wire Staff
October 17, 2010 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)

(CNN) -- Packages containing frozen vegetables sold by Wal-Mart nationwide and Kroger stores in the Southeast may contain glass fragments, the supplier said Friday in announcing a voluntary recall.

While there have been no reports of injuries, the Pictsweet Co. of Bells, Tennessee, is advising the public not to eat the recalled store-brand vegetables because of the potential for harm.

Consumers should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, Pictsweet said.

The voluntary recall covers the following items:

-- Kroger 12-ounce Green Peas (UPC 11110 89736). Production Codes of 1440BU, 1440BV, 1440BW, and 1600BD.

-- Kroger 12-ounce Peas and Carrots (UPC 11110 89741). Production Codes of 1960BD and 1960BE.

-- Great Value 12-ounce Steamable Sweet Peas (UPC 78742 08369). Best by dates of July 20, 2012; July 21, 2012.

-- Great Value 12-ounce Steamable Mixed Vegetables (UPC 78742 08026). Best by date of July 15, 2012.

Consumers with questions may contact Pictsweet toll-free at 1-800-367-7412, extension 417, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Monday through Friday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dinner with Friends & Takeaway

We went out Saturday night to visit friends. My friend J, a fellow foodophile whom I worked with a few years ago and I have kept in touch through email and Facebook since I left the company, but haven't been in touch in person for a long time.

In the last year or so, I've had the experience with some dear friends I've not made the time to see as often as I'd have liked and one could say it's bitten me in the ass I've regretted that life can be too short. I have been trying hard to reconnect with those I've not been in touch with, a bit more.

J and his partner S live in a lovely home and had a fire going when we arrived to take a bit of chill out of the air. The air was fragrant with garlic and after initial greetings, we sat down to drinks and an appetizer that although I can't recall it completely it had a dill pesto - Yummy! - with a creamed egg topping on a crostini. It was a superb way to start a fantastic meal.'

When J and I worked together, I used to bring him eggs from the girls. These were eggs from my little girls...although I have one or two little silkie hens that still lay on occasion, mostly we are getting big eggs from my big chicken girls. As he always was, J was eggstatic that I brought him some eggcellent eggs along with the wine and beer we brought for sharing.

Dinner was a white sauce mushroom lasagna that melted in your mouth, shrimp scampi full of lemon with garlicy, crunchy panko bread crumbs and a side dish of a lentil casserole with a tomato base, onions, garlic and carrots. The three dishes were absolutely wonderful... I fell in love with the lentils. I'm going to try and get J to share that with us! We both agreed that lentils are an underused legume!

Dessert was a lemon mousse and Joanne who isn't a big lemon fan went back for seconds. It was like a light fresh cloud of a lemon merangue pie without the crust...fresh whipped cream and the dainty texture of fresh lemon zest added such an authenticity that it was the perfect ending to such a spectacular dinner.

It was so good to catch up on things and talk about food with such an intensity that I don't often get a chance to do in person with others who are as obsessed with food as I am. Life is good when you slow down and take time to spend it with those you really care about!

Guess what I had for dinner last night? The same thing as Saturday night! J and S sent us home with all the dishes from dinner! It was just awesome to have the pleasure a second time! And you know what they say about a dish the next only gets better when the flavors marry! J can cook for me any time! Thanks buddy!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bucks County Farm Fresh Delivers To Your Door

You know, I use Facebook…just like the other 4.5 million people in the world do, and once in a while something really cool comes of it. I keep in touch with my niece and through her, the rest of my family that live in Maine. I see photos and share photos, I receive some friend requests from people I’ve not seen in ages and it’s nice to see what they are up to on occasion.

Several months ago a friend posted on her wall (that’s what it’s called) about this company her best friend’s husband had started called Bucks County Farm Fresh. I clicked on the link and found it to be a local delivery service for local foods from Bucks County farms.

Once I read about them, I was curious enough to pitch a story to my editor at the Bucks County Herald and asked to do a story.

I met Mike Kemmerer who started the company with Velga a friend of his who he worked in a lab with at a pharmaceutical company where both were laid off last year.

It is awesome to see how ingenuity and necessity will make people thrive. Mike had been taking business courses at Del Val while working his full time job and came up with this business model.

Mike worked out some kinks with the help and input of his fellow co-workers for the class project. When he lost his job, he began to think this was possible to pull off as a real business and since he had the model worked out, gave it a go.

Bucks County Farm Fresh delivers to your door, local produce, meat, cheese, bread, eggs, milk and various other items farms throughout the area have to offer every other week.

As a vegetarian, I thought I’d try the Fruit and Vegetable Package and see what they had to offer. I purchased my first box about 8 weeks ago and have been ordering ever since.

Since vegetables are the cornerstone of my partner’s and my diet, we go through what the website says should be for a family of 3-4 in about 5 days or so if we are super diligent and cook everything. However, it really could last a family two weeks or so, especially now with the fall root veggies and squash coming in.

I am amazed at the amount of produce I get for $40! It is amazing and I don’t think I could go to the farmers’ market and get this much food and to have it delivered to my door is also incredible. Just look at that photo!

With fall upon us, the BCFF website is showing products such as mustards from Stonewall Kitchens, popcorn from American Popcorn works, yogurt from Allegheny Farms. It seems Mike and Velga are working at making the company continue on with deliveries through the holidays.

Oh, and they recycle by using old banana boxes from grocery stores as the delivery boxes. They ask that you save them and give them back. They also put perishables into a cooler if you aren’t home with little ice freezie things.

You can contact Mike and Velga (who I met at the Springfield Township Community Day) through their website: and take a tour to see what they have, who their sources are and how you, too can participate in supporting your local farmers right from your front door!

There is no subscription. You order as you wish, whenever you wish and pay by cash/check in a cooler where you want the delivery dropped off or if you’re home, you can give it to them or pay by credit card. I mean, how much easier can it get?

Bucks County Farm Fresh is taking orders now until Monday at noon for next Thursday’s delivery!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So Happy To Have Chickens of My Own!

Despite all the issues with having livestock such as chickens - cleaning the barn, shoveling snow to get there to feed, rising before dawn to feed before work, the occasional vermin, heavy feed bags and the like - I am glad to have fresh eggs. Now, just because I have backyard birds doesn't mean my eggs will be free of contamination and I often tell people who purchase my eggs to wash the shells as you use them if they are dirty, but I have so much more control than I would if buying from the grocery store or even the local co-op or farmers' market. Here's some quick, but eye opening reading!

Suggestions on Cleaning Produce

You know, I'm one of those people that more times than not, forgot to wash the apple I've just taken a bite from. Thinking deeper than the dirt from the field, I guess I need to be just a tad more attentive to this task as there's more than dirt on the apples!

This is a nice article I thought you may enjoy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Can Can!!!

I've had the book Stocking Up by Carol Hupping for the past 30 years. It is a wealth of knowledge for anyone who needs to learn the art of food preservation. With info on canning, recipes, building a root cellar, fermenting and freezing, it is the ultimate guide save for the Ball Blue Book of Canning.

Although I have always wanted to can food, I was afraid that I'd do it wrong and kill us all. I used it mostly for the freezing method. Then I set it aside. For years and years.

One weekend last summer I was at a yard sale (when am I not, right?) and found a canner with all the accoutrement's. The agate pot with the basket rack to lower the jars, the lid and the steamer rack. For $6, I thought, why not? A few jars and some fresh produce and I could try.

That was last year and like the book, I put it aside.

Then I got the bug. For some reason this year, I decided to make some sauce. Then some pickles. Then salsa. Then tomato jam from a recipe from Now I am hooked!

The woman from Food in Jars is from Philly and teaches classes. I'm looking to get a group together and have a lesson from her in the spring. Interested my foodie friends? Space is limited!

I know the proof will be in the pudding, er' the sauce and all the other stuff, but so far, jars have sealed and they look wonderful!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Burning Heart

I know it has been a while since I’ve written, but home has been a bit difficult these last couple months.

As mentioned before, I am now living with someone with GERD. What is GERD, you might ask? Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is where the stomach leaks food and liquids backwards which can cause tremendous heartburn, discomfort and sometimes symptoms you’d never expect from a little indigestion.

Yes, it is true that heartburn can feel like a heart attack, so don't hesitate with contacting 911 if you think it may not be indigestion.

Ok, so it wasn’t just a little indigestion, but heartburn so bad that she went for months getting only about two to three hours of sleep, in a recliner at that. While I tried to sleep in bed, she’d be pacing the floor thinking of waking me up to drive her to the ER.

On top of this thrilling experience, we have learned that Joanne’s breast cancer has come back and metastasized in her bones and several lymph nodes in and around the lungs. So, things have been exciting, to say the least.

This has all been going on as the garden was being planted, the plants have been growing and we are now starting to harvest loads of things such as cucumbers, herbs, peppers. The farm markets around us have lots of great produce and corn arrived about three weeks ago in time for the Fourth of July holiday!

Cooking for someone with GERD is an adventure. Even on the little purple pill, Joanne is occasionally having difficulty with certain foods. They found her system empties slowly and have put her on another medication to up that action. Along with the side effect of tardive dyskinesia – uncontrolled muscle movements especially of the lower face, that once they start they don’t necessarily go away – is the possibility that your metabolism may work faster causing weight loss. Let’s see…put these on the scale of life and which outweighs which?

After some time of making scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, rice, noodles and broth for dinner, it became apparent that neither of us could live off this diet.

It wasn’t until the Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival that we saw she was getting better. She decided to just say the hell with the cautions and ate her way through the event. She didn’t have any wine or alcohol of any kind, but went from table to table tasting everything from shrimp and grits to beef sliders and ceviche. Her day ended with a piece of tiramisu and my head spinning with thoughts of rushing her to the hospital.

With no ill results from the escapade, we started to just eat again. It has really been a trial and error course of events with some decent discoveries of trigger foods. The biggest we’ve found is of course acidic foods. Not all, just certain ones.

Vinegar, most notably balsamic; causing some burning that lasts a few hours. Tomatoes, don’t seem to cause that reaction, but I’m limited in the use of vinegar and lemon juice as well.

Garlic and onions can be issues, especially if raw, but I’ve found using a microplane grater seems to help with the garlic. Maybe having it so miniscule is the key? Go figure.

So, right now we are still tippy-toeing on eggshells with most foods, although pizza is a go as well as grilled cheese, sautéed and stir fried foods and even an occasional French fry.

As for the breast cancer rearing its ugly head, we are seeing an awesome oncologist and even though its in the bones and lungs, they are treating like breast cancer. Joanne’s cancer is estrogen sensitive, so hormonal therapy is being started with an infusion of Zometa. We feel this is the best of the worst diagnoses we could have been given and are taking prayers, positive thoughts, mantras, chants, and all other forms of good will openly and encourage it right now.

Will try and keep up with this as we move along through the summer and fall…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Run of the Mill ass!

I left a comment here at the NYTimes blog...

For the Pet Lovers

I just read this article recently in the New York Times and thought I'd pass it along. I have written to the author, Jane E. Brody regarding my obvious concerns about Rx foods for pets since I purchase two different kinds...I'll let you know what she has to say.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gimme a Good Dog!!!

I know its been a while since I’ve been on here and for that I apologize, but I have been dealing with Joanne and her digestive issues. Let’s talk about that another time, shall we?

With the Memorial Day just nearly upon us and the summer grilling season ahead of us, I just had to write this post.

Today I’m here to discuss hot dogs. Yeah, I know what your thinking…I’m vegetarian, so why would I talk about hot dogs here? Well, they are one of the only meat items that when I smell them cooking, make me salivate. I think it’s mostly the smoky scent that does it to me, but regardless, I can smell a hotdog and get a craving that I can’t squash till I have one or two with all the fixins’!

I often get the impression some of the blogs I read that vegetarians aren’t supposed to have cravings for meat-like products. The idea is that we gave up meat, so we shouldn’t want to replicate that by using products that have flavors and textures similar to ground meat, burgers, chicken and hotdogs.

I beg to differ with those people. Vegetarians don’t always give up meat because they dislike the taste and texture. Some of us give it up because of moral and ethical reasons regarding factory farming. That’s for another column; maybe another blog. Some give it up to be more friendly to the earth or even for health reasons.

For a lot of years, vegetarians didn’t have many options than to make their own veggie burgers and loaves and a vegetarian hotdog was heresy.

It took a while, but there have been some true advances in how textured vegetable protein has been processed. TVP is basically soy. From tofu, tempeh and miso, to other meat-like proteins such as seitan and mycoprotein made with mushrooms has been worked into palatable sources of meal item staples for those wishing to get the high protein with less fat than red meat.

Joanne and I have used all of these products and when I get the craving to enjoy veggie hotdogs, my go-to brand has always been Morningstar Farms.

I’ve tried Tofupups, and Soydogs, but Moringstar Farms has always been the brand that had a texture most like a hotdog and a bit of a resistance when you bit into them that was similar to biting into the actual casing of a hotdog and getting that snap. It was truly a mouth-feel for me, besides the flavor.

On a hotdog roll with fried onions, coleslaw, relish, ketchup, mustard, cheese, sauerkraut, guacamole, salsa, broken taco shells, meatless bbq (made from TVP) and any other number of great toppings and I’m set. With a side of baked beans and mashed potatoes and some watermelon for dessert and I’m a happy girl.

However, this will be a sad, sad summer for me. It seems Morningstar Farms has discontinued their America’s Original Veggie Dogs!

I took a gander and wrote them in April. Much surprised that I received an email back, I was grateful for the explanation. I thought you’d enjoy seeing their response here:

May 4, 2010 10:31:40 PM, wrote:

Hello Rose,

We know this answer may put us in the dog house, but we have discontinued our Morningstar Farms® Veggie Dog products including Morningstar Farms® America's Original Veggie Dogs, Morningstar Farms® Corn Dogs, Morningstar Farms® Mini Corn Dogs, and Morningstar Farms® Corn Dogs Made with Natural Ingredients. We know we have lots of big fans of these products.

This situation was not a decision we made due to poor sales, but rather due to our inability to secure an appropriate manufacturing facility to produce them on an ongoing basis. Veggie dogs are not made using the same technology as our other products so we relied on another company to make them for us. It is difficult to make the choice to discontinue a product, as we know it is always someone's favorite.

We value your business and would love for you to try our Morningstar Farms® Veggie Italian Style Sausage. They are great for family grilling! Or if you prefer a hot dog, we suggest Worthington® Veja-Links® vegetarian hot dogs. (Worthington is part of the Morningstar Farms family). This is a canned product and is readily available at most natural food stores.

Thank you for contacting us. Please join us on Facebook, where we post the latest information about Morningstar Farms, including inspiring recipes and an occasional coupon!

Best of health,

Mark A. Suriano
Consumer Specialist
Consumer Affairs

Ok, so it’s not poor sales, but an operations issue. I understand, but if a company as big as Kelloggs can’t find a way to manage the production of this product we’re all losers. Although I’ve never seen it anywhere to be able to try it, It makes me wonder about the canned product in their ‘family’ and where that gets produced. Will that also be pulled from the shelves in the near future?

They offer me an option, but who wants a hotdog out of a can? Ok, maybe astronauts or campers and maybe even our vegetarian armed forces, but why can’t a company as enormous as Kelloggs find a way to make this work.

I can’t possibly be the only person who really enjoyed these TVP hotdogs, can I? I think not!

Well, I’m going to start a Facebook page to see if we can get Kelloggs to bring these back! It worked for Betty White, didn’t it? She was on Saturday Night Live all because of Facebook and it could even work for Carol Burnett…let’s see what it can do for the Morning Star Farms America’s Original Veggie Dogs! Look em’ up in a few days and sign up!

What is that Margaret Mead quote? Never under estimate that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Ok, so veggie hotdogs aren’t changing the world, but it’s a start, right?

Objects in Parking Lots Seem Larger Than They Appear

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shopping Cart Hell

Ok, I know this may not be an explicit food blog post, but we all have to eat and where do we get a lot of our staples? At the grocery store, right? I know, I know…lots of you out there utilize farmers’ markets and CSA’s and try to eat and shop locally, but you can’t get cat food and toilet paper from a local farm stand, right?

I enjoy grocery shopping. Be it at a farm market, grocery store, big box store or Chinatown or Little Italy. It is fun and exciting thinking of things to make or discovering a fruit or vegetable in season that I’ve missed for nearly a year or finding that obscure ingredient I just have to try.

However, there is one thing that really gets me and I have to get this off my chest. Forgive me for taking my soapbox out!

I am such a stickler for taking my shopping carts back to the storefront or the cart return and fume when I have to move a cart to park my car or see them strewn all over the parking lot. I push that cart through puddles, rain, snow and around vehicles in reverse just to put it somewhere safe.

My car is 14 years old and I purchased her new in 1996. For her age, she’s a wondrous vehicle, but has dings all over her. I’ve noticed dents on her as early as when she was two or three years old and I know its from parking lots where people are just plain lazy about putting carts away. Just because I have an older car and she has a few dents and dings doesn’t mean I value her any less than someone who spends $80,000 on the Mercedes parked next to me.

About three weeks ago Joanne and I pulled into a parking lot and she always backs in, so her door was next to the driver’s door of the car next to her. Two women were coming out and saw us back in. They were putting bags and kids in their car. The driver finished up and was able to simply pull forward since nobody was parked in front of her.

She took the cart and placed it between her car and ours right at Joanne’s door and started to get into her car and just happened to look over at us. I made a motion and with the windows up said, “Don’t even tell me your going to just leave that cart there,” and she realized Joanne wouldn’t be able to get out!

The woman backed out of her car door, turned around and took the cart over to the cart return, shaking her head.

I was nearly flabbergasted by the lack of common courtesy and thinking she could just leave the cart there without thinking about the consequences for others.

Was it me? Was I being unreasonable to expect her to complete her shopping experience by not leaving the cart right next to our car?

It is this sort of behavior that makes grocery shopping a very unpleasant experience. What do you think? Do you put your cart in a safe place? Do you have the same issues as I do and do you have any stories to share?

If you are a cart-leaver…sorry for the rampage. Oh, wait…no, I’m not. I ask that you change your evil ways and help us all save our cars from the dings of shopping cart hell!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Check this site out for some yummy things you can try today...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peeps, Peeps, Peeps!! Everywhere there are Peeps!

When I was in college at Cedar Crest College (OMG! This is my 5-year graduation anniversary! Where's the time go?) there was Peeps Week where students set up these dioramas and there was a competition. It was big enough that they held it in the gym! No, really...the gym! As a life long learning student, I never had the time for such stuff...but, know had I been in school as a traditional student, I'd have taken part.

You have to check this stuff out!


Been Awhile...

About two weeks ago a group of us went to see Lily Tomlin at a local theater here in Easton, PA. For a group of busy friends, it had been a while for us to get together and it was a perfect occassion to go out and have dinner and spend time before the show catching up.

We went to a restaurant called Sogo Fusion in downtown Easton, not far from the theater. A recognized sushi restaurant, the menu is diversse enough for those of us not interested in consuming raw fish; offering Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes.

I had a wonderfully flavored Hot and Sour Soup to start the meal, but I admit to being a wimp when it comes to the 'hot' part, but it was still delicious. My meal consisted of an appetizer of tempura with two large prawns, zucchini, green pepper and a scrumptious sweet potato all fried in panko breadcrumbs with a wonderful dipping sauce. Along with the appetizer, I had an Alaska roll with smoked salmon, cucumber and avacado. It was moiste and sweet, salty and offered crunch.


My dinner partners had a variety of menu items, including an edemame appetizer, mushroom soup, dumpling soup, Japanese sauteed udon, house sushi platter and a vegetable sushi platter.

Dumpling Soup

House Special Sushi

Japanese Udon

Asparagus Rolls

Veggie Sushi

My friends all have a sense of adventure and that makes trying a place like Sogo fun and interesting. There wasn't a bad word about the food all evening and we even talked about going back. Sharing that adventure with this group made the night all the more special. Let's hope it won't be awhile before we do it again!

BTW - Lily Tomlin was AWESOME!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'd Go to Maine Just for Fat Boy's!!!

You have to check this out! Just doing a bit of surfing after reading a thread about 'food that brings you to your knees,' and I had to say that their crabrolls are the best along with the fried clams and frappes!

This captures it completely. Old fashioned drive-in with real carhops and those trays that hang on your cool is that?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ethics of Eating

I'm not going to say much about this. No long diatribes, no soapboxes, no pounding my opinions, but I do ask you to read this:

After seeing humpback and right whales from an observational boat in Provincetown, MA; seeing their beauty and feeling they've as much right to this world as I do, I just can't imagine eating them.

Some things in this world are just not meant to be food.

If you are inclined...see this:

and this:

and this, if you dare:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Really...this is all food!

You must check this link out and look, vewy, vewy close!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Live and In Person – Alton Brown is Awesome!

Most people who read about food or consider themselves foodies, know who Alton Brown is and some like him and some don’t. For those of us that like him, having a chance to be in his audience at a local fundraiser he did for a non-profit organization was sweet!

As a freelance writer, I have the opportunity to do and see things I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to or better yet, wouldn’t even know about if I wasn’t out there looking and keeping my eyes and ears open.

However, this event was like the best kept secret in Upper Bucks County and I happened to find out from my boss who lives in East Stroudsburg – AKA, the Poconos. Seems her brother and his wife who are from Harleysville found out and told her about it and she just happened to mention it to me.

Lucky for me, I have the type of personality that could be described as terrier in nature and I keep at something till I get what I need or want. So, a few phone calls and emails later, I had secured two seats in the press section to see Alton Brown in person.

Always a fear to see someone famous that you really admire after having a one-sided relationship with their TV or radio or print persona. You hope that they are all you have imagined them to be.

In the past few years I have been lucky to have seen Garrison Keillor from Pubic Radio International and National Public Radio’s, A Prairie Home Companion and NPR’s David Sedaris. Both were great on stage and David Sedaris was lovely in person, chatting a bit during a book signing at the venue where I saw him. So far, I’ve been lucky to have good experiences, but there’s always that trepidation associated with the event.

Alton – and I call him that due to that one-sided relationship I have with him from watching The Food Network for the past 10 years – was even better in person than on TV. He exhibited his knowledge during a cooking demo, but his sense of humor and camaraderie with the audience was exceptional.

His Good Eats culinary assistant, Tamie Cook and he had a rapport that seems to occur when two people know one another well enough to work smoothly together and spar back and forth enough to see it’s fun for them and those of us watching.

Alton’s overall demeanor was the same as on Good Eats or Iron Chef America, just livelier and his attention to the audience was stunning…Quite up to poking verbal jibes back and forth when friendly hecklers spouted out silly questions or comments, he demonstrated to his fans that the stage show was unscripted and beyond the knowledge he also has a quick wit..

I took the opportunity to write about seeing him for the local paper I freelance for and if you’re interested, check this out

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Poll for Valentine's Day Dinner from Serious Eats

Found this interesting considering it's a HUGE day for restaurants...take the poll and tell me what you tink.

Are you inclined to this

Or this?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cast Iron Glory!

When I was about six or so, my mother had cooked something in a small cast iron frying pan. While we were having dinner, I had to get something over at the stove and grasped that firey hot handle and OOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWEEEEEEEEEEE...was that awful!

I burned every finger, my palm and my six-year-old pride.

Since then, I've never had much to do with cast iron cookware, but have heard nothing, but great things about it, so about two weeks ago, I went out an purchased a Lodge brand frying pan. It's the only brand made in the USA now.

I followed the directions on seasoning it and made breakfast of fried eggs that were really awesome!

This morning here on the East Coast, we awoke to blizzard conditions that has caused several states to have a state of emergency and prohibit non-emergency vehicles on the roads. So, after digging our way to the barn and feeding, I took a few minutes and baked a pineapple upsidedown cake. What better way to beat the bluster of winter than to have some cake!

I made the cake in my new cast iron frying pan and it came out wonderful!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No More Whining about Wine!

For years I’ve bought wine mostly based on the interesting and colorful artist-rendered labels, rather than on any understanding of the grape inside the bottle. I've always felt it was too complicated to learn about.

I started out enjoying a screw top Lambrusco because of its sweetness, but over the years I’ve come to enjoy a dryer red and on occasion, more acidic white wine.

I’ve been fortunate that friends have come through with the intermittent wines I have found appealing and I try to remember the labels as I shop and have been known to travel from one wine shop to another in search of the favored vino.

In the past year, I’ve taken to having a glass or two of wine when I come home from work most evenings if I’ve nothing else to do, but take care of dinner, the animals and relaxing.

This past January, Joanne and I took a foray to the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg. It has been decades since I attended while in vo-tech during my high school years and the first Joanne ever attended.

As we made our way through the building to the main exhibition hall, we entered to see the PA Winery booths to our left. Of course, I was headed over, but Joanne crinkled up her nose in obvious dismay saying how she really doesn’t like wine.

Over the years, I’m the wine drinker and she’s the beer drinker, but at some events she’s tried a sweet dessert wine such as a Moscato or a port and enjoyed, so I told her to ask the wine makers for a taste of their sweetest wines and try them.

Well, there we were at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning, pretty lit from tasting about a dozen teeny-tiny plastic tasting cups of wine each. Walking away, Joanne tells me she really enjoyed the ones she tasted. Inside I jumped for joy thinking I may have converted her!

The next week on my raid on the local Wine & Spirits Shop, I purchased a few sweet wines for Joanne to imbibe in with me in the evening.

Then I found out a local community college was giving courses on wine appreciation and asked a friend to go with me. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to, so Joanne said she’d step in and go with me to see what it was about. Now the jumping for joy was no longer inside, but coming out as I was glad to share this enjoyment and experience this learning opportunity with her.

So, off we went to Wine Appreciation: Wine 101 – The Basics, last Sunday and we were fully impressed.

The course taught by someone who has been enjoying, traveling, learning and educating about wine for quite some time and was extremely knowledgable on the topic. The class wasn’t too technical to not understand and yet not so simple as to bore.

The teacher had a Powerpoint presentation that showed information regarding fermentation, grape varieties, maps of the wine regions throughout the world, with an explanation of why they are the best places for grapes to grow. He spoke of old world wines and new world wines and their marked differences, yet complimented each on their uniqueness. A diagram of how to decipher labels was awesome and now I don’t feel like such a dummy reading a French or Italian label.

This man wasn’t a wine snob by any means and suggested that those bottles under $10 were just right for a party in the summer and if it’s a young wine, it’s meant to be consumed now, not in 10 years. He also commented that a higher priced wine isn’t necessarily a better wine, although with some, you get more complexity and the flavor is much more varied and appealing.

We tasted nine different wines: four reds and four whites and one white, sweet wine. Some were from California and others were varied, from New Zealand to France to Germany. All but one, I enjoyed. I’m not a fan of Chardonnay, but even the teacher didn’t like one of the two he had brought saying it was a wine put out before it’s time.

The tasting is so interesting. Swirling, viewing, sniffing, chewing, sniffing, viewing, swirling and really thinking about what your tasting in the wine from using all your senses is really unbelievable.

Some folks were saying they’ve had red wines taste different in the glass as you drink. The teacher agreed it was possible due to the oxygen in the wine. He explained the whole breathing concept, saying if you were stuck in a bottle for months, years, even, you too would want to get out and breathe and that’s what the wine needs.

Joanne has moved from the ‘I don’t like wine because it tastes like wine,’ to understanding what she’s tasting and smelling and that it’s not just an alcoholic beverage to be drunk just for the fun of it.

We have both watched the movie Sideways, which was fun, but then recently we’ve had the chance to see Bottle Shock. It was great for it’s story that is true and somewhat comical, but nonetheless, an important part of the California wine history. For us both, we can better understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into growing the grapes, working those barrels and putting out a superior product.

Well, for Joanne and I, we are really into this new experience and are planning some weekend excursions to some local wineries. We want to learn more and more about this living, breathing liquid we’ve come to know as wine.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Love Affair with Peanut Butter

Image courtesy of

A recent posting on the Serious Eats blog ( discussed peanut butter. I have been a fan for years and the article got me thinking of my love affair with the thick, fragrant, smooth or chunky nut butter.

My mother, who used to pack my lunches when I was in elementary school would make me these wonderful sandwiches with lunch meats and cheese, mayo and mustard with lettuce and tomato. Sometimes it was just a bologna and American cheese and other times it was capicola with provolone and once in a while it was roast beef with Swiss.

I would unwrap these midday feasts from their wax paper and swiftly hand it over to my right or left and take the peanut butter and jelly sandwich offered me from a classmate. So many of my school friends were stuck with this sandwich day in and day out because we went to Catholic school and, well, they came from large families where the food budget was tight and a PB&J was just a good, stick-to-your-ribs kinda lunch.

It wasn’t until second grade that my sister told my mother that I was giving away my sandwiches and all hell broke loose! I was eight years old and had to hear about how much lunch meat cost and that she wasn’t giving it to me to feed the neighborhood.

Agreed. Points well taken, but all I wanted was a delicious peanut butter and jelly on white bread. Just like everyone else. Was that too much to ask? By the middle of second grade, it wasn’t and that’s what I got.

To this day, one of my favorite lunches is a nice PB&J with a couple pickles and some potato chips.

My love of peanut butter doesn’t stop there, though. I enjoy a good spoonful now and again, straight from the jar. When I was young, that swirly stuff in the jar with the PB & J all in one was one of my favorites, but as an adult I can see that’s just not right.

Here are some favorite ways I have with peanut butter:

Mix with raisins and spread on a toasted English muffin and drizzle honey on it.
Toasted bread, PB and sliced bananas.
Spread on apple chunks.
Peanut butter pie.
Mung bean salad with peanut, soy sauce, sesame oil dressing.
Peanut butter sundae, add marshmallow and have a fluffernutter sundae.
Fluffernutter sandwiches.
Use in place of tahini in hummus.

So, how do you have your way with peanut butter?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ok, I know this blog is about food and a rooster can be food, but not in my vegetarian world, as many of you know. I’m an ovo-lacto-pesca-vegetarian. What that means is I eat eggs, dairy, honey and fish.

I stay away from the meat counter for the most part, unless I come to dinner and you’ve cooked meatballs in tomato gravy (yeah, I call it gravy – but that’s another posting) and as I don’t wish for you to go crazy trying to make me something else, I’m polite and will eat the pasta and gravy, sans the meatballs.

Joanne’s mother used to make an absolutely phenomenal Italian Wedding Soup (so delicious, the woman could have made a fortune from it) every holiday and I would pick out the chicken and those teensy weensy meatballs every time and just have the soup with the escarole and parmesan cheese. Oh, so yummy…but alas, I digress.

I grew up on a farm and our animals would see the light of day, have veterinary care and were overseen with compassion and respect. Today’s animals raised for food do not get that. They are raised in factory conditions as if they are inanimate objects without senses of pain or fear. As I found this out in my mid-twenties, I gave up eating meat. It’s my thing. I don’t preach or get on a soapbox, but most people wish to know why I’m vegetarian, just giving a bit of background. You eat what you want and I’ll eat what I want.

So, in my little ways of feeling like I’m getting the most from my patch of land, I started raising chickens. Well, I had a girlfriend give me three little bantams about 10 years ago. From there, it’s just gone crazy, this chicken thing of mine.

Three little hens pecked and scratched around my property for a while. Then someone told us they had some chicks, so we took them to add to our flock. From that group came some silkie hens and our wonderful rooster, Hector.

Hector is about two pounds of gorgeous colored feathers and one proud, handsome rooster. He clucks for ‘his girls’ to come get some little speck of something he’s foraged and sounds like he’s saying, “Look-look-look-loook-loooook!” trying to get their attention.

Silkies are great little chickens with feathers that don’t look like feathers, but more like fluffy hair. They are birds to be reckoned with, as their small size does little to deter them from taking on the most ferocious beast should the beast make the error of thinking they can take advantage of them.

In another round of special chicken-getting, I had the opportunity to get a couple other silkies and one was a ‘blue’ which is lingo for grey and white feathering that looks blue in the light. This little fella grew up to be Buddy. We call him our ‘Girly Rooster’ since he tends to know his place.

If you’ve ever heard the term pecking order, you need to know in the world of chickens, it is as true as it sounds. These birds make an order of dominance and in our little henhouse, Buddy is at the bottom. One look from Hector sends him flying in the opposite direction and screaming as he goes which gives way to the identity of ‘girly rooster.’ However, he’s just a rung or two higher than the new birds that have entered the flock.

This year, we ordered ten pullets from a local feed store. As we could order however many of any breed we wanted, we chose them based on some research we did. Pullets are ‘girls’ before they lay eggs. These babies were only about a week old when they joined us and had to spend the better part of three months in a small crate inside our hen house to be acclimated and big enough for the original chickens to not hurt them.

We purchased light and dark Brahmas for their huggability according to one website, Australorps for their beautiful black feathers, Buff Orpingtons for their dependable egg laying ability and docile character and Ameraucanas for their egg colors of blue and green (so far no eggs from them.)

A local farmer gave us two Plymouth Barred Rocks who were only older by about 3 months and then we have our silkies and one little bantam hen. We have named them all in our quest to keep them as pets, rather than just birds who produce eggs for us.

For Joanne and I, that’s the way it works. We’re all family here.

As they grew, they became beautiful. Sexing chickens is nearly a lost art from what I’ve heard and is never, ever 100%, but we thought we had a better chance this way, than to let any of our hens sit. There are always more boys than girls that hatch.

About August, it came to light that one of the light Brahma girls we named Betty, was mis-sexed and Betty was turning out to be a boy. Uh-oh…well, we just kept calling him Betty thinking that perhaps the idea of being named a girl would influence the stars.

Nope. That deep, throaty cock-a-doodle-do he came out with one morning as I was leaving for work was all I needed to be assured we had rooster number three. There was no mistaking it. Compared to the crows of Hector and Buddy-the-girly-rooster, he sounds like a foghorn to their squeaky-toy sounds.

Now, roosters can be mean SOB’s and growing up on our farm, I had plenty of opportunity to run in the other direction when our big Rhode Island Red boy came after me! He was half my size and flew at me with his talons outstretched in a clear sign he meant business.

In an effort to put that sort of thing to rest, we have handled Mr. Betty and have found him to be just as huggable as the website told us this breed would be. At about 10 pounds, he’s an armful, but is very nice and calm once you get hold of him. He’s shown he can be kind to his girls by foraging for them and does the typical rooster circle dance with wing tips on the ground to court them.

About four weeks ago, Mr. Betty decided that he didn’t like his pecking order and thought he’d try moving up the rungs and took on Buddy one night while we were doing our dinner feeding. Well, that was all we had to see. Out of the henhouse he went and he’s now living with Helen the Pig until we can find him a new home.

We almost lost Hector in just such an incident about five or six years ago and it is something that we won’t allow to happen again. Thinking first that Hector was dead, we realized he had survived, but suspected the loss of an eye, we felt fortunate that he lived and very lucky he didn’t lose that eye. After much clean up and attention to wounds over a period of a few weeks, Hector was back to normal.

So, that’s where this is going…Mr. Betty the Rooster needs a home. Two roosters and 16 hens is a great ratio and with Buddy being as scared as he is of Hector, it works.

I want him to have a nice home with a few girls and know Mr. Betty would make a wonderful addition to any farm. I placed an ad in an online marketplace at work and have had some fun phone calls from my fellow employees. It’s been a great way to get to know people and let them know more about chickens.

Did you know that there is no nutritional difference between white and brown eggs? Are you aware that in some municipalities in urban areas you are permitted to keep hens? Not roosters, but a few hens can be nice and offer you fresh eggs that supplement your diet and hold down a bit of your food bill.

Joanne and I are being inundated with eggs right now. We have been getting up to nine in one day and at this point have averaged 6.8 eggs per day. Ok…so rounded up its seven eggs per day, but that’s almost three dozen a week.

Not only are we trying to find a home for a lonesome rooster, but trying to find takers for our eggs. If you are nearby…fresh quality eggs for a mere $2/dozen and if you have room for Mr. Betty…he’s $15 to a good home.

Monday, January 18, 2010

We Sure Know How To Eat!

The Annual January Brunch with our group of friends took place this weekend and WoWeeee can we make great food! Baked brie, sweet and savory scones, carmelized onion tart and even a FABULOUS flan!

Take a look!

Progress...What's next?

It’s an old fashioned drive-in eatery at the very visible intersection of Routes 412 and 611 in Ottsville.

Serving soft ice cream from a window in summer after soccer and baseball games and chili, burgers and fried chicken indoors all year, Pryzuski’s has been an Upper Bucks County staple for 40 years.

Yesterday was it’s last day open.

With the sign out front displaying, “Thanks for 40 years,” it was a gentle way of saying goodbye to the legions of people who drive by every day and stop in a couple times a week or a couple times during the year.

Progress has come to our world up here at the top of Bucks County. When we moved here in 1992, there was a field across from Pryzuski’s that said, “Coming Soon: Nockamixon Crossing.”

Our family, moving up from Central Bucks and Montgomery County areas was excited that there would be some sort of civilization nearby and looked forward to not having to drive 20 minutes in any direction to get take-out on Friday night and possibly grocery shop closer to home.

Little did we know, there were fights going on behind the doors of the municipalities in this portion of the world. There are folks who lived here, didn’t necessarily want shopping centers with grocery stores, dry cleaners, take-out food shops or other unnecessary things that could be gotten elsewhere. They wanted open space, clean water in their creeks and fields kept open for farming.

What folks wanted was a nice place to take the kids on Saturday nights for a quick hotdog and milkshake. An unpretentious, old fashioned dining place that catered to those with less discriminating palates and lighter wallets is what satisfied people in this area.

Pryzuski’s was a step back in time. A square building with a slanted roof, two windows for ordering ice cream with an air conditioner overhead that you had to be careful not to get dripped upon when they handed out your cone.

Inside were brown linoleum tiled floors, windows on three sides that started at waist level and go up to the roof. You get your food by counter service, get a number and 9 times out of 10, they deliver your plastic tray with food on paper plates or Styrofoam containers to your table. Tables and chairs were stationary with brown Formica tops and orange plastic mate’s chairs all one unit with legs sunk into the floor..

Teens usually worked the kitchen and did an adequate job serving sundaes and fries.

With the dawn of subdivisions comes the new people who want to live in the country. New people who may not understand that there aren’t fire hydrants down the street, but volunteer fire departments who use tanker trucks to put out a blaze. New people aren’t always fond of taking the winding back roads to the nearest town 20 minutes away to get pizza with artichokes New people wish for gas pumps five minutes away to fill up to and from their faraway jobs.

Capitalism has a way of rearing its head and we now have two new shopping centers. One about two miles away from where Pryzuski’s and one only a few footsteps away from it’s location. The final insult may have been the new small batch ice cream shop just up the street that opened up last year. Delightful for those who like well crafted homemade food, it seems well appreciated, but surely puts a dent in the cash register of Pryzuski’s.

I’m guessing competition is fierce nowadays. With two pizza places only a stones throw from the Pryzuski’s location; one north and another east, a sandwich shop and two diner-like restaurants close enough to spit at, things are just too much for this little piece of Upper Bucks County.

Of course there’s the old adage that nothing lasts forever and it is true. However, it is sad just the same to see something that generations of people have flocked to in their cars, motorcycles, hot rods and even horses for some sustenance and refreshment over the years.

In 1992, I used to be one of those new people. This area and these little places I’ve become fond of, just as I’ve become fond of the land, clean water and farms that surround me here. Progress can’t be stopped, but, I for one will miss seeing that tell-tale start of summer with Pryzuski’s sign saying they are open till 9 P.M.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help for Haiti

Here's a chance to help others who are clearly in a devastating situation and need humanitarian aid. Haitians surely need our assistance and if you are inclined and able to give, no matter how small, here are a few ideas...

From the website Serious Eats (

How to Help Send Food to Haiti
Posted by Erin Zimmer, January 13, 2010 at 6:50 PM

As we learn more about yesterday's 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, relief efforts are underway to help those left devastated by this tragedy. Epi-Log has come up with a list of organizations where you can make donations: United Nations' World Food Programme, Red Cross, Oxfam America, and Action Against Hunger.

Also from my friend Mary Shafer...

If u can text, u can help. Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross Int'l Releif fund, billed 2 ur cell phone account. NOT a scam. White House endorses. I just did it. Please share this with ur friends - Haiti's the poorest nation on Earth, and just survived two disastrous tropical storms recently. These people h...ave NOTHING. It's just $10 to you, but together with everyone else, you may make the difference between enough and not enough. Bless u for giving what you can. Bless u doubly if u can't.

***** <<< her writing/publishing

***** <<<< local stuff

***** <<< her blog about pets

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eggs, Eggs and More Eggs

This past year we purchased 10 pullets to add to our flock of chickens. Now, if you don't know what pullets are, they are girl chickens that have been sexed before purchase. There is no guarantee that the sexing is foolproof, but we wanted to get hens to add to our group of tiny girls and two bantam boys.

We were looking for egg laying hens and checked the breeds before purchase and were able to get as few or as many of any breed we chose from Oley Valley Feed Mill. Highly recommend them and see their website at We purchased Australorps, Buff and Dark Brahmas, Buff Orpingtons, Americaunas (green eggs!) and Barred Rocks. All breeds are relatively good layers, low key personalities and tame.

Joanne had hip surgery two weekends after we got them and these girls grew like weeds. They blended in well with our other birds, all of whom are bantam or silkies that weigh in at about 1.5 pounds. The new girls are about 7-10 pounds and tower over the little girls and my two roosters.

Right now we've had a light on in their stall over their water so there isn't as much freezing during this cold snap, however, as chickens are sensitive to the light for laying eggs, we've been inundated with fresh eggs!

Since the first of January, we've gotten over five dozen eggs. It has been amazing. Our little girls are all broody - they are sitting in their boxes, so every night we have to take them out and collect the eggs.

So, now I have to get rid of the eggs and find good recipes. Any ideas?

Oh and you remember that 'sexing is not foolproof' statement above? Well, we named all our girls and Betty has turned into Mr. we're looking for a better place for him, and that's NOT the stew pot.