It promised to be a gorgeous day .. the skies were blue and the sun was shining .. we had an early start so after a light snack of fruit,cookies& juice I gave everyone a canvas tote bag and we piled into the shiny white van ready to start our culinary adventure of Southern Chester County .
With Clint as our driver the ride to Chester County was a smooth one .. I gave a little bit of information to everyone about where we would be going and who we would meet.
Our first stop was a Mushroom farm. This is the largest grower of specialty mushrooms in the US it is run by the 3rd generation family and has been in operation since 1927.. We toured the mushroom houses and our guide gave us fascinating information on how each type of mushroom is grown .. we even got to taste a mushroom straight from the soil ..
At the end of the tour we were able to buy mushrooms of all kinds & everyone took advantage of this great opportunity .. mushroom boxes filled the back of the truck that was following us with ice in coolers to keep our purchases cold !
Next was a visit to a local farm where Jack Hill makes his wonderful concoctions of jams & jellies from fruit grown on his property.. we watched as he and his Amish helper cooked small batches of jam with real sugar to make his award winning jams & jellies .. this retired man whips up the most delicious jellies you will ever taste.. we sampled some and bought lots !
On to a nearby farm where Tom & Barbara run a Sheep Dairy with pasture- raised lamb. They also manage 25 colonies of honeybees & along with fabulous lamb sausage we sampled their wonderful honey and old world cheeses. Tom answered some questions and gave us insight on what it takes to run a small family farm .
Our next stop was a wonderful Boutique winery ... where we sampled some astonishing blends and sampled local artisan cheese & chocolates. This small 7 acre winery is set in Avonadale and run by the same family for 5 generations. All the grapes are harvested by hand to produce some of the areas best wines .
Needing a little nourishment we headed to lunch . We dined in a local restaurant owned by a young couple who uses local produce for some great American dishes .We ate in a private dining room savoring our meal and sharing our enthusiasm for this culinary adventure .
On our last stop of the day we headed into Lancaster County where we were privileged enough to visit a local Amish Dairy farm close to milking time ! We toured the barn and watched as the cows came in from pasture ~ we bought raw milk and brown eggs along with vegetables put up by his wife .. we were followed around by 3 beautiful blue eyed children with bonnets.. it was a real experience.
Join me on my next culinary tour of Southern Chester County .. it will be an experience you will not forget !
I am always looking to do something new and interesting with my business ... I have been in the food business in one way or another since 1983 .. yes you read that right .. it surprises me too to think I have been cooking or thinking about cooking for that long .. as I always say time passes very quickly in life !! Especially when you are having fun! The cooking classes I teach are wonderful but I am always trying to add a twist to make life & food more interesting .. to inspire and make people want to cook for their family & friends .. to think about food in a new way ! So this winter .. I started to think about taking a Food Inspired Tour of Chester County .. a land .. not too far away .. of rolling hills, scenic farms , Amish buggies ,a land rich in agriculture and full of beauty .. only a short beautiful drive from here. Clint & I have been taking leisurely drives to Chester County on our days off .. just exploring .. finding antiques shops and farmers markets.. brown eggs and rich & tasty mushrooms, affordable colorful flowers .. fresh milk & cream and luscious produce. I want to share this beautiful countryside with my clients ... so this Spring I am offering a LOCALCULINARY ADVENTURE to Chester County . Yesterday Clint & I went to visit all the farms & people we will be visiting this Saturday .. it was a great day .. our schedule is crammed with stops to visit a Mushroom farm that has been in the same family for years .. quite an operation ! You will never look at mushrooms the same way again ! We will talk to a retired man who makes jams & jellies with the fruit growing on his farm and has won awards for the interesting concoctions he dreams up .. a bee keeper with fabulous local honey for sale .. an Amish Dairy farm where we will take a tour of his farm and buy fresh milk & eggs .. a wonderful boutique winery .. we will have lunch in a restaurant owned by a young couple that cook with all local & organic foods from the area . It promises to be a fun filled special day .. and I will be sure to post pictures .. look for the next Local Culinary Adventure to Chester County .. and join us to see how food is grown and produced and gets to your table !
As I sit here on the computer it is pouring outside .." all day rain" as Clint likes to say .. stormy , windy , rainy .. a perfect day to stay in bed under the covers or curled up with a good book .I am doing neither .. I am here on the computer searching for inspiration .. looking for clues .. trying to not to feel down or blue ..
Some days are just like that .. you wake up not feeling yourself .. not happy but not entirely sure why or what you can do about it .. I make an effort not to read the newspaper .. not to listen to the news .. I find it all so depressing sometimes .. Bad news makes the headlines .. so I turn away from that .. but today nothing seems to be helping .. not even cooking ~which usually makes me happy .
Why is it that sometimes we just feel blue .. not ourselves .. and it's hard to snap out of it .. writing sometimes helps me so I am trying that too .. maybe I can write myself out of this mood !
I will take some time to think or meditate .. close my eyes and think of what I have in my life .. which is a lot & I will dwell on the good and know that this too shall pass and April Showers (even the downpours ) bring May flowers !
Here is wishing you a Happy Day and lots of flowers !
Teaching cooking classes is always fun for me but sometimes it gets to be even more fun .
I had the pleasure of teaching 20 ~ 3 year old how to make pizza the other day .. it was quite an experience .. now you would think the attention span of these kids is short and to a degree it is but when there is food involved~ look out !
There was excitement in the air as they filed out from their class rooms .. they came into the big room set with small tables and chairs .. at each place setting was a pizza pie shell and on the table bowls of topping and 'gravy " and cheese .. there was broccoli & olives ,pepperoni and mozzarella cheese .. .. these kids were ready .. they slathered on the sauce and proceeded to pour mountains of cheese on top of their pizza .. they artfully arrange the toppings .. who likes pepperoni ? olive ? broccoli ?? some wanted them all.. other carefully laid one of two pieces on top of their pizza .. they were laughing and having a good time .. a good sign and one we should all take a lesson from .. cooking is fun .. we should laugh and smile and enjoy our time in the kitchen .. and we get to eat well in the process !
Spend some time in the kitchen with someone you love .. cook together and enjoy the reward of your labors .. food is meant to be shared with love laughter & joy .. be a child again .. if only for a little while !
My family is from Abruzzo.. we have many relatives in Italy all from the area of the earthquake .. over the past few days I have been on the Internet contacting everyone making sure everyone is OK .. emails are flying back and forth along with phone calls and prayers.
I am witness to the devastation through my computer screen . I have been to the beautiful city of L'Aguila ,visited the churches , taken a caffe in the local bars ,walked the cobblestone streets. It is devastating to see the damage that has been done .
My cousins are all OK but terrified none the less .. they write to me as they still feel the tremors that have been rocking the region, asking for prayers and hope . My father comes to my kitchen everyday to talk about Italy .. it was his childhood home and as a little boy he remembers feeling the shaking of the ground and feeling helpless.
One of his closest friends lives in the city center .. She and her Husband managed to escape that night with only the clothes on their backs .. driving the back roads to their daughter's small apartments in Rome .. all the major roads were closed for fear of collapsing bridges & tunnels .It took them all night long ~they are 80 & 83 .I spoke to their daughter who lives in New York .. she was teary and frightened and told me she is walking around in shock .. she grew up in L'Aquila.The many medieval buildings are her home .. now crushed and shaken to rumble .
To witness, even if only through pictures , the devastation and ruin breaks my heart ,it makes me realize what is important in life .It makes me want to reach out and help in any way I can , it makes me sad.
I am an optimistic and happy person.. I would rather see life as exciting and challenging and enjoy every minute than dwell on the negative .. I love to cook and have my family around .. big family dinners and celebrations are always held in my home.. I have a huge table 10 feet long ..filled with food and family.. I have learned many of my mom's old recipes and try to recreate many of the dishes I grew up with .. I am teaching my grandsons to cook .. they love it! I have a wonderful,happy, loving relationship with my husband. He supports me in everything I do and is my biggest fan and taste tester.. he loves all things Italian too!
I love to cook, write, eat and laugh .. I wrote a cookbook in 2004.. the title? LIVE,LAUGH,COOK! what else!