Pittsburgh's Best Resource for Food Adventures
Archive for ‘Kutztown’ posts
Dec 1 2010
Today’s gift idea is made with edible stuff, but isn’t for eating. It’s my favorite brown sugar scrub, called Candy, from Paisley & Company, a precious little bath boutique and fragrance bar in Kutztown, PA. Not only does it smooth and soften, but it smells divine, like a mixture of oats, apricots and brown sugar. Never into floral frangrances (maybe because most flowers make me sneeze) I always go for scents of vanilla and sugar. Candy is listed as a facial product on the store’s website, but I use it mainly as a daily treat for my hands. Other personal favorites are the Sugar line by Fresh, and the Creme Brulee products from Laura Mercier. These are lined up on my bathroom shelf, but I most often first reach for that little jar called Candy. (I know, Creme Brulee is supposed to have all sorts of little accents above the letters, but bear with me, I just can’t find that stuff on WordPress.)
Last weekend, in a “forced by mom” crafting event, my girls and I made a homemade scrub and it rivals the best of the storebought varieties. At least we think so. Here’s the recipe in case you want to craft your own:
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil – one with a neutral scent like canola
1 or 2 drops essential oil (scent of your choice – we used Banana Nut)
Glass containers with lids ( I found the perfect jars with little spoons attached at Pat Catan’s)
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to a container with a lid. Make a pretty label for your lovely gift of sugar scrub! ( I tossed in a few tablespoons of brown sugar to the mixture just for fun.)
Before using: Stir, then scoop a few teaspoons into your hands and massage onto wet skin.
May 8 2010
When I was a kid, we spent one week each summer at the Jersey shore. On the drive home, about ten minutes outside of Philly, colorful billboards for Zinn’s Diner would start to appear along the Turnpike. The signs were of Amos, a giant fiberglass statue that resided at this Pennsylvania Dutch eatery. I really wanted to see Amos even though I didn’t give a hoot about shoo fly pie. Every year, I pleaded with my father to stop, but he would never cave in to my wishes. (FYI – Zinn’s is now called Park Place Diner and good ol’ Amos now resides at Hershey Farm near Strasburg.)
Lots of people have memories of a place that seemed magical and exciting from highway billboards. . . especially from the cramped and boring backseat. A place where parents didn’t want to go. For my husband, it was Monkey Jungle in Miami, for younger daughter, it was (still is) Gravity Hill near Bedford. How about the barn seen from the Turnpike near Breezewood that advertises World of Pigeons? Is any parent just itching to visit that ?
So now I’m a big girl and if I want to stop somewhere, doggone it, I’m stopping. This is how I found Dietrich’s Meats & Country Store. The signs on Rt 78 between Allentown and Harrisburg led me to Krumsville (love that name, Krumsville ) where I found a treasure trove of old fashioned goodies.
Homemade sausage, smoked meats, scrapple, fresh baked pies, canned and pickled foods. Squab, guinea hens, pheasants. Hard to find items such as a smoked pig’s head. Yes, smoked pig’s head.
And there are samples galore. Small, family run stores like this are few and far between. It’s the real deal and I love it.
While looping around the store, with an ear to ear smile (not an exaggeration), I spied a cookbook about authentic PA Dutch cooking. The woman at the checkout said the book was a good one and mentioned that many of the meat photos in the book were from Dietrich’s. Pretty cool. Even cooler than that was that when I got home, I realized that owner and butcher Verna Dietrich was the lady I spoke with at the cash register and there she is, standing next to two giant smoked pigs, in the book.
I can’t wait to find an excuse to drive out to that part of the state again. Next time, I’m getting Verna’s autograph near her photo in my cookbook.
May 4 2010
Last September, I was literally out standing in a field. The field was Tim Stark’s pasture at Eckerton Hill Farm, near Kutztown. I was there for the Pennsylvania stop of the Outstanding in the Field tour. Jim Denevan’s company roams the country in a 57 year old bus and stages farm dinners out in fields, at vineyards or in all sort of other interesting outdoor places. The bus is coming to Stark’s farm again this September and since it’s usually a sell-out, now is the time to sign up.
Tim, farmer and author, is the king of the heirloom tomato. His book, Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer ( Broadway Books, 2008), is a must -read for anyone who loves farms and farm markets or who has a secret dream of ditching the rat race for something more rewarding. If you’ve ever been to the Union Square Greenmarket in New York, you’ve probably seen Tim selling his PA produce. He’s there a few days each week.
The wine was locally made and most of the food came from within a few miles of the long white clothed outdoor dinner table. Sheep yogurt and grilled lamb, Stark’s bounty of tomatoes, onions , fingerling potatoes and herbs and a grand finale that included local, juicy peaches and homemade whipped cream melted in our mouths. The food was fantastic and the conversation was even better . . . even though we were pretty much all strangers just a few hours before.
Not every chef wants to take on this challenge since the bulk of the cooking is done over an open fire near the dining area. In 2009, the chef was Dave Pasternack fom Esca in NYC. This September, Lee Chizmar, executive chef of Bolete in Bethlehem PA, will test his skills in this outdoor setting.
The website lists all the stops on this year’s tour. Just don’t wait too long to sign up. . they sell out fast. This year, I’m thinking it could be the Delaware or Virginia stop for me.
Then I can say I once again have been out standing in a field.
A food adventure might be sleuthing out the juiciest June strawberries at a farm market, learning about gone but not forgotten area food treasures, working with a chef during a hands on cooking class or touring Pennsylvania’s artisan cheesemaker’s farms (and meeting a few cows along the way) . . or any of a zillion other fun ways to explore foodie things within a day's drive of Pittsburgh.