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!!!


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!

Edible Gift #3 – I’ts “Berry” Good

Practically every day I’m reminded of how many wonderful people I’ve met in this past year during my new Fork and The Road adventures.  This morning, as I was checking out the tempting cookies, baklava, pierogies and more ( yes, more means marshmallows – they had ROOT BEER ones today!) at the Pittsburgh Public Market, I turned the corner and there were the folks from The Blueberry Patch in New Florence, out past Ligonier. I bought some of their Spiced Blueberry Jam this past summer at the Ligonier Country Market and figured I would have to wait until  spring when the market opens again to get another jar. It was my lucky day. The  jam, thick with berries and loaded with a cinnamony, spicy flavor, is just right for toast or a bagel on these 20 degree mornings.  So happy to see them, I wanted to buy everything in sight – I’m a bit of a food hoarder –  including their precious flaky mini-pies, which they call empanadas. But I held off.  With too many holiday parties this weekend, I thought I should  show a little restraint. I sampled (and bought) The Berry Patch’s pumpkin butter. It’s like a mouthful of pumpkin pie minus the crust and if your pie crust is anything like mine, that’s a good thing to be minus the crust.  And their new product, beer jelly is made with East End Brewing’s Snow Melt Winter Ale (try a sample or buy some actual beer across the aisle at East End’s stall at the Public Market.)  My first thought was “ick”, but it really is fantastic on cream cheese or served with an aged Cheddar.  They even sell the beer jelly in a pint beer mug. So cute, or maybe handsome is a better word  . . and such a great gift.   I can’t think of better treats for your friends and relatives.  Just drive on down to the PPM tomorrow (Sunday, December 5) and stock up for those last minute hostess gifts. (The Berry Patch won’t be there next weekend, but will be back the weekend before Christmas.)