Double M

One of my dearest friends frequently calls me Double M because of my initials.  It’s a great little phrase yet a quick Google search shows that I am not the only Double M around.  Double M Pizza, Double M Gaited Horses, Double M Auto Sales. Food, animals, cars . . so why not have  a Double M day?

Edgar Thomson WorksMy Double M day?  Mills and Maple!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 On Sunday, I drove down to pick up my parents for a day out and about.  I left early to get some treats for them at the newish Five Points Artisan Bakery in Squirrel Hill. Five Points Artisan Everything is so good, but get there early as they frequently sell out early.  Taking the long route to the my folks’ house through Braddock,  Munhall and towards McKeesport, I ended up driving past two of my favorite places.  The first is the Joe Magarac statue across from Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock.  This legend, to me, represents toils, troubles and strength of the Eastern European immigrant population that worked in the mills.  Joe is supposed to protect the mill workers.  Drive on down to Braddock Avenue across from the Edgar Thomson Works to see Joe in person. It is a terrific place to ponder things.  There really is no parking right in front of him, but you can park and sit across the road in the small parking area near the entrance to ET.  According to legend,  Joe  “ate that hot steel like soup and cold steel ingots like meat.”

Joe Magarac

After that, my road trip took me past the Clairton Mill, a steel mill and coke production facility which is one of the world’s largest in the world. It is still working, belching out much cleaner smoke that the 1960s when our sky and water were both yellow from pollution from the mill..  I know it’s odd, but I find comfort in the sulfur smell near the old coke plants.  Smells like home.

Next, I picked the folks up and we ventured to my second M of the day .   … maple. It was open house weekend for a whole pile of sugar camps in Somerset County.  I went to the event last year and it was so great that I had to do it again..  Once you see the effort that goes into producing maple sugar and syrup, there is a real appreciation and value to the cost of true maple products.  We made maple sugar and spotza and sampled maple popcorn, maple cookies, maple syrup topped sundaes and more. Maple Sap Evaporator At the camp, we watched the big, fancy evaporator do its job to morph maple sap into syrup.  The trees can only be tapped until early April, so if you have the chance, go check it out in the next few weeks. If you’ve never been to a real hidden treasure, the Somerset Historical Center, do pay them a visit. It is a wonderful place to learn all of the agricultural history of Somerset County and surrounding areas.

So, the Double M day of mills and maple ended as it began, with a drive down the lonely roads past old mills, with my windows rolled down for a sniff of my childhood.


Where is the time going?

Weeks are flying by and I can’t get caught up. Yikes.  Sorry for the delay with the winner of the contest.

The winner of the beautiful cutting board was Christine. Lucky girl.   Congratulations and thank you to Ralph Teets at Cutting Board Art for his generous donation.  His boards are lovely and make fantastic gifts, either by themselves or as part of a gift of wine, crackers, dried fruit and cheese.  Artisan made gifts are so much more valuable than factory made. Thanks, Cutting Board Art!!

Another fabulous holiday gift is the sampler from The Berry Patch.  You get to pick three different flavors of jams or jellies  in 4 oz jars.  Not only are they so tasty, but they have a multitude of uses from marinades to salad dressings and  come already packaged in a beautiful box ( notice the box in the above photo.)  Stop down to the Pittsburgh Public Market to select your flavors  today.  You can sample them before you purchase, too. Don’t forget to say hello to Scottie and Brenda, the owners of The Berry Patch.  The Berry Patch folks can be reached at 724-238-4714 or at if you want to pre-order your gifts.  Things can get crazy on weekends and sometimes they do sell out.

Still looking for something to do on Thanksgiving?   The nice folks at the stunning TreeTops at Polymath Park  near Donegal would love to have you join them for Thanksgiving dinner. The menu includes roasted butternut squash soup, in house smoked salmon and many traditional goodies such as roast turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Oh, and pumpkin pie brulee.  Call them today!!!

Oh, I love the Laurel Highlands!

I took a short drive out towards Donegal this afternoon to visit with Judy Trabbold, the owner of the Historic Log Cabin  Inn.  Judy has vast knowledge about herbs and edible flowers, and she is a delight.   The Inn is a very old real log cabin, which Judy has painstakingly restored.     This blacksmith’s house is one of the oldest homes in Somerset County –   from the 1700s – and it is super charming inside.  Lucky guests can stay here and walk around the path outside, where you can sit and enjoy the great outdoors.  It would be a treat to stay here in any season.  I wanted to crawl in one of the beds and take a nap.

The dessert table at Connections in Ligonier

After the  Inn and Judy’s jasmine green tea, I took the always glorious drive on Route 711 on to Ligonier.  I wanted to stp at Connections on 109 South Market Street for some lunch.  The last time I was there was talented pastry wizard Sharon Detar’s grand opening a few months ago and things were crazy.  This time, without the big opening day crowd (and my own tour group) I had more time to enjoy myself in the shop.  I was so impressed with the calm colors and stylish table decor along with a great selection of free trade gifts.  But, oh, the food!  I ordered ( sorry to admit that I ate all of this, but I did) curried chicken salad, a mixed veggie salad with tomatoes, beans, onions and asparagus, and a slice of an ethereal white chocolate raspberry tart .  All washed down with freshly brewed raspberry hibiscus tea. Connections also carries Old Linn Run Coffee, one of my favorites. I can’t wait to go back to both of these places. They are really special.

Hard to resist the pepperoni bread at DeLallo's

On the way home, on the lovely (not), traffic light strewn Route 30, I made my requisite stop at  DeLallo’s, where I picked up some piquillo peppers, fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach, stuffed mushrooms and watermelon. Perfect for a lovely summer dinner.

Such a short drive from Pittsburgh and such wonderful local treasures.   We are so fortunate.