Let’s think about Spring!



I can’t take another day of this dreary weather. All I do is make cookies, soup and bread, as you can see from my photos.  It was fun for a week or so, but now I have had enough of flour all over the kitchen and a freezer filled with soup containers.   So, I started to think about all of the good things coming up in the next month or so to get me out of the house.  For starters, this Saturday heralds the first day of 2015 that Standing Chimney in New Galilee ( near New Castle) is open.  It’s a sweet shop filled with local pottery, baking and dip mixes, handmade candles and all sorts of lovely, locally made items.  Every time I’ve been there, the dear owners have samples of their goodies so you can try before you buy.  And once I even bought a fresh,  free range chicken there (from their backyard, I think.)  You never know what they will have and that is part of the fun.  Standing Chimney is open from 10 am until 4 pm this Saturday.  After all of this cabin fever, who isn’t ready for a little road trip??


Another cool thing this weekend is the Hard Boiled event at the Nomadic Trading Company in Punxsutawney.  This  one is new to me, but I am intrigued.  So if the weather is decent, I’ll be trekking to the land of the groundhog to check out this the goods.   My friend, Danielle, from The Tea Loft in Allison Park will be there and it is worth driving a long way for her beautiful teas.



The Birthplace of Henry Clay Frick

Memories of the Heirloom Tomato Festival

Last summer, I drove on down to the Heirloom Tomato Festival at the West Overton Village in Scottdale.(Scottdale is a few miles from Mt Pleasant.)  It’s here, in rural Pennsylvania, that  industrialist Henry Clay Frick was born.  If you’ve toured Frick’s  regal Clayton in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh, then you  need to go back to the beginning at the West Overton Village.  Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until Spring, because the museum is closed for the season. Sorry about that.  But if you find yourself in the Scottdale area in the next month or so, all is not lost.(It’s not far from Sand Hill Berry Farm and  a nice little day trip from the Burgh.)   Scottdale is an old  town filled with beautiful architecture. They have  a great little architectural guide that’s available at most stores in town. And right on the main street of Scottdale  is Miss Martha’s Tea Room.

On a ice-cold, flurry filled afternoon, I opened to the door to a warm and bustling restaurant, filled with guests and decorated with carefully chosen antiques and florals, many of which were for sale.  And Miss Martha sure has good taste in the chandeliers.  I fell in love with the two that were shaped like giant acorns. Too bad they weren’t for sale.


The menu had High Tea as an option, but since two guests were required for that, I went for a grilled portabello panini instead.  My sandwich was toasty and filled with lots of  red peppers, mushrooms and spinach.  I sipped an apricot tea and  tried a slice of chocolate mousse pie (all desserts made in house) before I got on my way.  I’m going to round up some girlfriends and take a drive out again soon for their High Tea. I love that Henry Clay Frick was born just down the road, in the springhouse of a humble farm.

Favorite New Summer Foods

Even though I didn’t make it to the Fancy Food Show in New York last week,  I’ve managed to find some new favorites edibles here and there in my travels this summer. I came across Bissinger’s Pink Grapefruit Gummy Pandas in the mini-bar of my hotel a few months ago. The hotel package came with a ten dollar per day allowance from the mini-bar and since I’m not one to let things like this go to waste, I downed a San Pellegrino or two and a bag of these Pennsylvania made gummies. Oh, they are delicious. Tart and soft, not very sticky and sweetened with organic tapioca syrup rather than corn syrup (if anyone cares.)  The light pink color comes from black carrot juice and not some creepy dye. I love these little pandas.  Next on my list of new obsessions is the Blood Orange Sorbet   from Anthony’s at 915 S.9th Street  in South Philly.

The Candy Counter at Anthony's

If you can’t get there, here is a link to a great recipe for blood orange sorbet.(http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/02/blood_orange_so.html)I’m buying a new ice cream maker this week, just to make this . . oh,  and to make Mario Batali’s Cantaloupe Ice Cream, too. Number three on the new favorites list, the Blackberry Mojito Spritzer from Barefoot Tea in  Cape May Courthouse,  New Jersey.  It’s a mix of  their Blackberry Infusion herbal tea, mint, lime, seltser and ice.  So refreshing on a hot day. And last, but not least, the Vietnamese Bahn Mi from the street vendor who sets up her grill and table between 20th and 21st Streets on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.  This sandwich, loaded with grilled chicken, hot chile peppers and pickled vegetables makes you sweat just enough to feel cool on a sizzling day. Yum.

Bahn Mi Assembly