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  the.berrypatch@hotmail.com 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!!!


Dandelions!

How they became known as a weed, I’m not sure. ( Well, they are fairly invasive, I guess.) But they’re pretty, and edible, and with all this rain in Western PA, they’re popping up daily in all of the yards in my neighborhood.  You either love ’em or hate ’em.  Dandelions.

Lots of dandelions!

As a child, my Italian relatives tossed tender spring dandelion greens with olive oil and vinegar and savored every bite.  I never ate them, for at the time iceberg lettuce and canned green beans were the only veggies that touched my lips.    Today, I enjoy bitter greens, so when I see dandelion greens on the menu or in the market, rest assured that the’ll be on my dinner plate. But I’d never eaten the flowers, until a few weeks ago. Well,  I didn’t actually eat the flowers, I ate jelly made from the flowers. And it was surprisingly good.

Linda Croskey, of The Purple Spoon

Jam and jelly maker Linda Croskey, owner of The Purple Spoon, kindly allowed me to watch while she made the jelly with dandelion flowers from her own vast backyard of yellow blossoms.  Believe me, it’s a real effort to pick enough dandelion tops to make even a few jars of jelly. I picked just a few while chatting with Linda.  Yikes.  That was enough picking for me.

Getting ready for cooking.

 

(Linda makes a sweet and stunning purple violet jelly, too. Can you only imagine how many violet tops it takes to make a jar of jelly?  This is tedious work here.)  The final product tastes a lot like honey.  It’s great on with peanut butter or dabbed on top of a slice of cheese.

The final product - look at the beautiful label.

Judy Trabbold , owner of  the Mountain Herb Shoppe and  the Historic Log Cabin Inn in Donegal is also into dandelions. (The inn is the oldest log cabin in Westmoreland County.)   On June 12 from 2 to 4 pm, Judy is  having a Dandelion Extravaganza with  lessons on making dandelion jelly, syrup, salad, wine,  and more.  I hear that dried and ground dandelion leaves taste just like coffee whem brewed. Who knew?  Judy will also discuss the medicinal qualities of the dandelion.  Contact her to register.

Sounds like a dandy time!


Yes, I am blogging about the Laurel Highlands . . . again.

But I can’t help it.  I can’t imagine another place with so many good foodie finds in such a small area. And so many nice people.  Today I’m thinking of Heather and Bob Kuban, who own Currant Thymes in Ligonier (136 E. Main Street, 724.238.2930) and Kandi Newell and her husband Dave,  who run Old Linn Run Coffee Roastery,  in Rector, Pennsylvania.  Not only did these folks generously give samples out to the ladies on my culinary tour, but they sell some of my favorite treats to purchase for myself and for gifts.

Good eatin' at Currant Thymes

One of my rules of stops on the tours is that the owners have to be kind and the products/services have to be the best.  Heather sells some of the finest maple syrup on the planet, tapped in Rockwood on the Paul Bunyan Maple Syrup Camp.   Their Maple Cream is smooth and sweet, heaven on a spoon, or on pancakes, waffles or toast, too.  Heather also carries a line of towels from a company called Mu Kitchen.(The Mu is missing an umlaut – two dots – over the u, but I couldn’t find it on the WordPress symbol tab.) They’re colorful and stylish, and I especially love the ones with the built in scrubbers. Heather samples a  warm spicy chocolate dessert soup, a broccoli cheese soup and a rich puff pastry hors’ deuvre filled with brie and Meyer lemon preservs. Oh my! And then there was Kandi.  Working hard to promote her small batch coffee roasting business, she cheerfully  explained all about their beans and the roasting process. And the subsequent brewed coffee was (is) the best. Full flavored with some zip, the Bobolink Farms Brazilian is my favorite.

My tour was called Hidden Culinary Treasures in the Laurel Highlands, but I would love it if everyone knew about these folks.  They wouldn’t be so hidden, but they’ll always be treasures to me.

Heather from Currant Thymes

Kandi from Old Linn Run Coffee Roastery