hummus tahini

With the exception of a few short days between the flu and flu related viruses I have now been sick off and on but mostly on since the 28th of December. (On the news when they run through the list of people who are susceptible to flu, especially if they forget to get a flu shot, I’m right up there.

As a result I have become the master of sick food. It has not been a month where I have been overwhelmingly starving. And the foods I have been eating have been pretty basic. A lot of chicken soups, in particular. (I have to tell you having an Instant Pot to make bone broth, soups, and stews has been a god send.)

I am not a big giant sandwich eater for lunch most days so things like yogurt and hummus have also been up there on the list of things which have tasted good to me.

I love hummus tahini. My mother has been making it since we were little. When we were little it was a sure sign of company coming over because it was one of her “go to” hors d’oeuvres kind of things.

I have never really used a recipe to make my hummus. I just watched what my mother did for years and then I have created my own recipes as an adult.

I made it again today and I think it’s extra delicious this time, so I decided to commit the recipe to paper, or blog. (And yes I still have that draft of that unfinished cookbook on my computer desk top and this recipe will be added to it.)

Hummus Tahini Ingredients:

1 extra large can of Goya chickpeas – 1 lb. 13 oz. DRAINED

1 large sweet onion rough chopped

4 large cloves garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 large red bell pepper rough chopped

Juice of two large lemons

A couple of dashes of Cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Approximately 1/3 cup Tahini paste (you can add more or you can add less – truthfully it’s a matter of personal taste)

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste.

Olive oil and sweet paprika to dress the hummus before refrigerating.

A food processor or a blender that works like one. (I have a Breville blender it seems to do everything except take out the trash.)

Now to put it together…

I put into the blender the red pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, cayenne. I then add a couple of dashes of salt and pepper to taste and blend well.

Then I add the pine nuts and blend well.

Then I add the chickpeas, and blend well again.

Then I add the tahini paste in three parts because it’s a pain to work with and blend some more.

I taste it and adjust the salt and pepper as necessary, and also may add a little more lemon juice or a couple dashes of balsamic vinegar if I don’t think the acid balance is right. The thing about hummus is there is a balance to the acids you add, and when people omit the acid it doesn’t taste as good.

I will also tell you that I know some people who blend the tahini paste and lemon juice first to break down the tahini and make it more pliable. I do that sometimes too, but also breaking the adding of adding tahini in three bits also makes it manageable.

When my hummus tahini is velvety smooth, I put it in its own container and I dress the top of it with a few swirls of olive oil and sweet paprika. I then refrigerate until cold.

Hummus is fabulous with pita bread of course, but also goes well with carrots and other vegetables. it also makes a great base to a vegetarian type sandwich if you are so inclined.

Truthfully hummus is one of my favorite things especially for lunch. And not just when I’m not feeling well. I will buy prepackaged hummus tahini but I still think nothing is better than making it yourself and it’s so simple and takes very little time.

Enjoy!

foodie heaven and worth the wait: whole foods exton, pa

One of my Christmas presents was a lovely gift card to Whole Foods in Exton. Yes, the store we never thought would open. A giant construction project and a corporate buy out by Amazon later, and it finally opened on January 18th.

The Whole Foods in Exton is located at 175 N. Pottstown Pike in Exton. Is easily accessible from 100 and also from 30. The parking lot was a bit of a crush, but when we went today for the first time, a good spot opened up quickly.

I actually think this is the best Whole Foods I have been in. I used to avoid the Wynnewood store because the crowd was obnoxious and the parking lot worth your life. Even re-built in Wynnewood it feels cramped. I never liked the Devon Whole Foods because of the crowd and the parking lot. But Whole Foods Exton? It’s a whole new experience.

I also think Whole Foods Exton is going to kick Wegman’s behind and I will tell you why.

Wegman’s in Malvern is cavernous and dark. The aisle shelving is SO tall in spots you feel isolated in the aisles. I also do not find it well organized and the store since it opened doesn’t flow. You can’t necessarily find things easily, nor necessarily someone to help you when you need it.

I like Wegman’s all right, but I am thinking I am going to like Whole Foods in Exton better. If I managed a Wegman’s I would be “shopping” the Whole Foods in Exton.

When you walk into Whole Foods in Exton, it’s huge but light and airy. You see the mechanicals in the ceiling but the store has loads of natural and electric lighting and as opposed to the darker feeling of a Wegman’s or a Giant, it’s so much better lit.

Wegman’s is also spotlessly clean. And the staff is friendly, well-trained, knowledgeable, and also neatly dressed.

From produce, to the fish market in the store, to the butcher it’s clean and well laid out. First time in the store and I did not have a problem finding anything.

They have a wonderful array of very fresh pre-made food if that is your thing. For pre-packaged food which is NOT my thing, it’s quite appealing. Especially the array of salads and grains and roasted vegetables.

They have an amazing yogurt selection. And breads and bagels ? Yum. Cookies too. I tried a double chocolate chip and it was delicious.

I had way too much fun buying produce and fresh fish that did not smell fishy. One of their great deals today was a shrimp ring for $7.99. The shrimp was incredibly fresh and I loved the cocktail sauce.

Whole Foods in Exton also has a nice in store wine and beer store. Admirable wine selection which was very boutique-like. The beer selection my husband said was o.k. but could stand some improvement. But beer-wise we are spoiled in Chester County by The Beer Store in Lincoln Court Shopping Center on Route 30 in Malvern.The store was mobbed as it was a Saturday, so that was a little overwhelming. It was also at times amusing people watching as there were some folks who were just such serious food people.

There were also some of the Main Line flora and fauna who had ventured west and still shop while on their cell phones.

And of course, the cart zombies. They are the ones who wander and stop, oblivious of all around them. My husband said I was one, and to my fellow shoppers I apologize I was having so much fun checking everything out!We ran into a friend and her kids also checking the store out for the first time. Apparently, her husband was suffering from sticker shock elsewhere in the store.I will say that while things are not quite ACME or GIANT prices since Amazon purchased Whole Foods, the prices are vastly and definitely improved. It won’t necessarily be my every day grocery store all of the time, it is affordable enough to visit far more often than Wegman’s. Hopefully prices stay that way. If prices stay that way, Whole Foods will also eat into the business of Fresh Direct in this area.

Readers, I had a swell time. Can’t wait to go back! Next time I will check out their cafe/juice bar and Pike’s. It was totally worth the wait.

in the wee small hours

Conshohocken State Road just after Hollow Road in Penn Valley on the edge of Gladwyne. Now vines and an unkempt forest of sorts, there used to be old silos that once stood and a spring house.

Gloaming is evening twilight, the time just before dusk when the sky is pink and fading.  Morning twilight is that equally beautiful quiet time just before dawn.  Mind you I am not awake then on purpose, sometimes it is just when I wake.  The past few nights it has been the yipping and calling of the foxes plus that even more eerie sound raccoons make when they call to each other – it’s almost a warbling that has awakened me before dawn breaks. It is a time for quiet contemplation, these early moments before dawn, and sometimes I wake up thinking about things and pondering.

Such was the case this morning.

This morning, I was thinking of how to make people see how quickly development takes over farm land.  This morning as I lay there in the twilight while everyone in my home slept, I remembered a couple of examples.

When I was little before we moved from the city to the Main Line, and even when we first moved to the Main Line, the more rural bucolic roots of Penn Valley and even Gladwyne peeked through the modern suburb of it all.

When you turned off of Hollow Road (when you get off the Schuylkill Expressway if you go right, it is River Road, left is up Hollow Road to Conshohocken State Road) onto Conshohocken State Road, for years the remnants of a farm eerily stood in this valley off the side of the road.  Silos and a spring house.  I watched them deteriorate over time, until vines and trees and woods have now basically swallowed them up.

I am not sure whose farm it was.  Along Hagy’s Ford Road (where Welsh Valley Middle School is among other things) until the 1950s there was the Charles W. Latch family farm  and other farms.   According to the Penn Valley Civic Association, this farm once provided a lot of fresh produce for the area. It is so jam packed full of houses today, it’s frankly hard to believe.  But before all of the development, it was farm land, including Pennhurst Farm owned by Percival Roberts.   Pennhurst was over 500 acres.  Pennhurst had among other things a prized heard of Ayrshire cattle (another fact gleamed from the very interesting and well written Penn Valley Civic Association website. (So all of the prize Ayrshire cattle weren’t just on Ardrossan in Radnor, were they?)

The Penn Valley Civic Association continues (and they credit Lower Merion Historical Society with all of these marvelous historical facts):

Other farms included that of George Grow on Hagys Ford Road. Sold in 1921, it is still known as Crow’s Hill (the “G” having become a “C”). Another farm was the Grove of Red Partridges on Old Gulph Road near Bryn Mawr Avenue. The property later was part of the tract of 302 acres belonging to James and Michael Magee. John Frederick Bicking, who operated a paper mill along Mill Creek, owned ten acres where Summit Road ends at Fairview Road. The Bicking family cemetery, mentioned in Bicking’s will of 1809, still exists at this location. Ardeleage, the estate of Charles Chauncey at Righters Mill and Summit roads, was torn down in 1938, and fourteen homes were built on the property. 

 

(Read more of the history of Lower Merion here and farming in Lower Merion here.)

I also remember visiting a dairy farm in King of Prussia that was somewhat commercial when I was a kid where you could get literally farm-fresh ice cream. I don’t remember the name.

Yes, King of Prussia.  It is hard to remember that what today is just thought of by the every growing malls and a casino, was once prize farmland too. (Do you see where I am going now, Chester County?)

If you visit the Valley Forge website, you will find this great post with an even more interesting 1953 zoning map of Upper Merion: 

RETAIL REWIND

March 13, 2017 by Dan Weckerly – VFTCB Communications Manager

Because I grew up in the area, I have long-term memories of King of Prussia Mall….author-historian Michael Stefan Shaw…

since his 1992 transplant to the area, he has looked at the mall through a surprising lens, that of historian rather than shopper.

Shaw is in the midst of capturing the full story of King of Prussia Mall, tracing its development from when it was just a little prince.

And even further, before it was born….

“I wrote a book in 2013 on railroading in King of Prussia, and that got me looking into the backdrop of Upper Merion Township,” Shaw says. “That led me to the mall.”

His research showed interest in a large-scale retail presence long before the 1963 official opening of King of Prussia Mall.

“In writing the railroad book, I came across a 1955 zoning map of the township,” Shaw describes. “And because of the coming of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Schuylkill Expressway, there’s a spot on the map marked ‘shopping center.’ In 1955, it was listed there. That’s way before the 1962 soft opening or the 1963 grand opening.”…

The map shows a candy-cane coded plot of land amid fields that were mainly devoted to dairy farming.

So there were cows onsite long before a purple one selling ice cream.

King of Prussia Zoning Map

 

That was then.  This is now. I guess my point is Chester County, that the farmland continues to disappear under the pace of development. I have to ask, will people in 50 or 60 years be looking at where we all once lived and will they be trying to imagine farmland too?

Do we really want farm land and open space to become just memories?

Check out two videos on YouTube about Nor-View Farm now owned by Upper Merion Township:


(You can also visit the King of Prussia Historical Society for more information.)

We don’t live in a bubble.  Chester County isn’t the only part of Southeastern PA threatened by development.  But if we learn from the mistakes of other PA municipalities, maybe we can hope for a little bit of balance?

Farming is brutally hard work.  Ask any farmer.  This state and this country really do not support farmers enough in my opinion.  But without our farms and farmers, where are we? Growing micro-lettuces on a green roof?  Green roofs are not open space.

Open space once, it is gone, is gone forever.  Along with our history, the architecture, and the farms themselves. And the wildlife.  Check out the Wikipedia page on Penn Valley for example:

Before Welsh development, Penn Valley’s forest was home to bears, cougars, wolves, rattlesnakes, otters, beavers, weasels, turkeys, grouses, woodland bison, trout, and bald eagles. However, after forest destruction by the Welsh and eventual home building after World War 2 many of the rare animals left.[12]

Today, the area is filled with red foxes, white-footed mice, horned owls, red-tailed hawks, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, chipmunks, pheasants, crayfish, songbirds, butterflies, and white-tailed deer. The white-tailed deer pose an occasional problem in Penn Valley because they can halt traffic, destroy the forest underbrush, devour expensive ornamental flowers, and spread Lyme disease. When last counted, Penn Valley contained 44 deer per square mile, 34 more deer per square mile than the recommended average. 

Just food for thought.

Thanks for stopping by.

unsolicited

Dear Mr.Mattia at Keller Williams,

One of my first jobs decades ago was a cold-caller for some high level securities brokers at then Prudential Securities. They taught me that soliciting was an art form.

As a matter of fact, when I did the cold calling equivalent of mailings for them, each letter and each envelope was personalized. You see, it’s bad enough to be solicited by strangers, but somehow the blow is softened if that stranger takes the time to not only personalize the envelope but the letter inside. Makes you feel like you’re more than just a name on a purchased mailing list.

Today we received a solicitation from you. You, apparently, are that friendly neighborhood realtor whom we’ve never heard of. And no, you haven’t sold anything in our extended neighborhood. The envelope was addressed to us personally in all caps and was hand written. Stuffed inside was a business card and a dear occupant generalized letter that wasn’t even personalized to the people you’re soliciting.

I personally hate these kinds of letters from total strangers. I get that you can buy a list anywhere, but Lordy if you want to “earn” the business of anyone maybe try something else.

I find these letters offensive, and that is probably because of the industry I came out of. I’m sure Keller Williams tells you it’s a great idea and a great marketing plan. It’s not. People choose important relationships like this based on references and often personal connections. What you sent out is what people recycle, not retain.

I know a lot of really fabulous realtors in Chester County, and you know what? They work their tails off. They get out there and they meet people. And they do not waste postage dripping drivel on anyone.

Please don’t solicit us again.

Thanks

kitchen elves needed.

Unless you were a complete suck up growing up, you avoided the kitchen when cleanup was needed. I know I did, although I always ended up somehow being the one that cleaned up the kitchen for the most part.

But in my defense my mother is still a master at getting other people to do what she wants done, and she was relentless when we were growing up. Come to think of it, she was also very good at getting other people to cook for her. It’s not like we had Mrs. Bridges in the kitchen it was more like me and my father. (But I digress.)

Mrs. Bridges was the beloved Cook from Upstairs, Downstairs the PBS Show. She had a veritable army of footman, maids, scullery maids, and kitchen help. Most of us don’t live like that, and never did. Which means we really appreciate a little help around the kitchen.

However I have noticed throughout my life, that cleaning up the kitchen means completely different things to men and women. And I love and adore my husband, but he and I have vastly different perspectives on this topic. And he gets really annoyed when I try to talk to him about it like I did this morning.

Face it, there are just days being a domestic goddess is harder than others. When I came down to the kitchen this morning I felt like the he-man woman haters club had held a chapter meeting in my kitchen.

There was stuff everywhere (including grains of rice lodged underneath the glass cutting board) and both sinks were loaded with dirty dishes.

So I spent a good part of my morning before getting ready to work cleaning up the kitchen and loading and running the dishwasher. That also meant time vacuuming up additional grains of rice from off of the floor.

I know, I know there are bigger problems on the face of this earth, but cleaning up the kitchen in a small house to me is a really big deal. Which means when you come in the front door it’s not too far to the kitchen. So as a woman you want everything to look tidy. Or at least I do personally.

I also live in a male household. So cleaning up the kitchen generally speaking falls to me. Not because anyone is chauvinistic, it’s just because I have a little bit of OCD going on when it comes to cleaning up.

Yes…one of my pet peeves are indeed dirty kitchens. I used to know someone that was such a slob and a pile-maker in the kitchen, that every time I came home from her house I had to clean something else up. I think to this day every time my kitchen is too dirty it reminds me of theirs.

I am also stepparent to a teenage male, and sometimes I don’t even think he sees what is in the kitchen. He is focused on being a teenage male. So he comes into the kitchen he gets what he wants and he leaves. That can be a little frustrating when it comes to cleaning up as well.

However, when my sister quipped recently that she didn’t believe either of her children (niece and nephew) knew what the dishwasher was, I know this is not just a male thing it’s just a kid thing. And I know from my other friends that there are many similar tales of “kitchen destruction” left in the wake of various aged children.

I guess it’s the whole thing when you’re a kid you don’t understand, but when you’re a grown-up you understand all too well. It’s kind of like you never understood why your mother got annoyed when there were multiple boxes of half eaten cereal in the cupboard, until you open your own cupboard and you have four open boxes of teenager designated cereal, and two are the same thing.

It seems to me that when we were growing up for the most part we had little assigned chores we were just expected to do. If we were lucky we got a little allowance out of them, but most of the time it was just we were expected to do it. We were expected to help.

Whenever I mention this, this is where my husband asks me if I was a robot growing up, and no honey, I wasn’t. We just had chores we were expected to do. And that was for me when my mother’s inner Pennsylvania German shined through, so I try not to be a bear about it as an adult in my own house. But I haven’t quite figured out what the balance is which will get me help once in a while when I need it …without me sounding like a nag.

It would be really nice to have occasional kitchen elves visit me. Unfortunately I live in Chester county, so I’m far more likely to get a mouse instead 🤣

Thanks for listening to my womanly gripes, and men? Live dangerously help your ladies clean up the kitchen. One benefit will be will you save money on hand cream and manicures.

Thanks for stopping by.

not our pipeline

Pipeline and sinkhole. Just The Fact Please photo. November, 2017

Before I moved to Chester County, I was somewhat ambivalent about Sunoco and their pipelines. Among other things, I grew up with a father who was for years, in-house PR for a then major oil company.  And part of that was during the Exxon Valdez era.  But oil companies had deep pockets and what did I know? Nothing was near where we lived and those oil company deep pockets were always giving box loads of stuff to schools, bought full page ads in school newspapers for the kids of employees, etcetera.

When you first hear about problems with pipelines, pipeline construction, or even fracking, it is like this fuzzy thing out of focus ahead of you in the haze. It can’t possibly affect you. Until it does. And in my opinion, it is.   I have friends who hail from Western Pennsylvania who literally have been warning people for years.  And they are just nastily labeled “fracktivists”. Guess that is the new label for “concerned citizen”? Because I have got to tell you, the people I knew who once lived in Western PA are…wait for it…MOMS.  You know how dangerous moms are, right?

Then it seems like in an instant but a couple miles in either direction from where you live as far as the crown flies in any direction, stuff starts to happen.

Well issues.

Sinkholes.

You feel like local municipal officials and politicians are just covering their ears saying “na,na,na,na,na,na,na,na,na” in order to NOT have to listen to residents.  Respected environmental activists are labeled as being alarmists.

Then all of a sudden the  PA DEP seems to wake up and temporarily halts work on Sunoco’s Mariner 2 Pipeline.  Only as per residents in some affected Chester County neighborhoods and State Impact by NPR  that might not quite be true as they report on January 9, 2018:

When Danielle Otten woke up Monday morning, she didn’t expect to see men working on the Mariner East 2 pipeline construction site that sits about 40 feet from her backyard, along Devon Drive in Uwchlan Township, Chester County.

For one thing, work in the area had stalled after drilling dried up and damaged nearby water wells this past summer. And just last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a court order halting construction along the 350-mile long pipeline after Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners continued to violate its permits, causing damage to private water wells, streams and wetlands…..When DEP issued a stop work order to Sunoco last week, it appeared that all work would halt aside from drilling and erosion controls that had to be continued in order to prevent additional environmental damage. But a spokesman for the DEP now tells StateImpact that when it comes to anything other than earth disturbance or water crossings, the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction.

 

In Chester County, as a resident, you can’t avoid the truth of the pipelines. And the risks and dangers. So many of us are on wells. And so many with wells are already having issues. And then there are those other pesky things…you know like sinkholes and so on?

The jarring visuals you see with your own eyes like the beautiful swaths of lands torn assunder are burned into your brain.  Once you see it, you can’t un-see it and you wish you could.

Swing sets and play houses of small children sit in macabre juxtaposition to giant earth moving machines and huge pieces of pipe.

Giant walls, pipes, and earth moving machines also sit across the driveway from senior citizen apartment complexes and grocery stores.

Pipeline so close and on top of churches and schools in addition to residential neighborhoods and please, tell me, how is that safe?

Next to firehouses too? So basically, Sunoco puts those supposed to protect us at risk as well?

You have friends and former neighbors who have Sunoco gobbling up their land for the pipeline.  You count your blessing like we did that we moved long ago from certain parts of Chester County because otherwise this view could be your very own backyard:

Uwchlan Safety Coalition photo

Only you can’t help but wonder if your slice of heaven will remain unmolested by pipelines? Like Medieval Feudal Lords, you are never quite sure what they will swoop in and take, are you?

You are, as residents of Chester County and elsewhere, supposed to bend over and accept these new vistas:

My photo, taken July, 2017

When you say “no I think this is bad” there are people who will  jump all over you. “It’s perfectly safe. You don’t know what you are talking about.”

Perfectly safe? Is that why CBS This Morning ran and over FIVE minute segment on the national news this morning from coast to coast?

Sunoco is raping our land. They are depleting it, irrevocably changing it and in my opinion putting us all at risk.  It is not OUR pipeline, it is THEIR pipeline being forced upon us all and we are not benefiting from it.  This isn’t OUR infrastructure, it’s Sunoco’s infrastructure. What they take is being shipped OVERSEAS.

As another friend Ginny said to others:

Sunoco cannot replace the large, mature trees they are chopping down for this. Nor can they restore the fragile and important wetland there if they wreck it, just as they couldn’t restore the private wells that they wrecked in Marchwood this summer with this pipeline. 

Living with hazardous liquefied natural gas lines is not a part of living in suburbia. In fact it is reckless to put these lines through densely populated areas, right alongside houses, schools, apartment buildings, shopping centers, seniors homes, etc. 

And now, Sunoco also wants Chester County Library’s freaking lawn? (See Dragon Pipe Diary)

When does it stop?  When did Corporate America’s rights become more meaningful than ours in Chester and Delaware Counties and elsewhere in Pennsylvania?  Why are we as residents being forced to live with something that destroys and takes and give nothing back in return? Why don’t residents matter? Why do we spend so much time feeling like our elected officials have forsaken us on this issue?

And why is it when you mention anything about not liking or distrusting pipelines some fool will always hop up and cry foul partisan politics? I mean do they really think we are such imbeciles that an issue which is non-partisan and affects EVERYONE is an example of partisan politics?  Take off the dunce caps, because opposition to Mariner East is clearly bi-partisan.

Pipeline, East Goshen. My photo. Summer/Fall 2017

Today in addition to the CBS News report, Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety is a nonpartisan, fact-based, grassroots coalition of locally-based safety groups, made up of concerned Pennsylvanians from across our Commonwealth issued a press release:

Well guess what? I believe these folks, and this pipeline and it’s march across Chester County and elsewhere terrifies me.  These people protesting are our neighbors and friends. And there are quite the growing numbers of experts, environmentalists and others who believe these residents.

There is also a very important petition circling. It is directed at our rather elusive Governor Tom Wolf on Change.org asking him to protect our communities under the PA Health and Safety Statute.

Please sign and share this petition today.

Here are some articles:

Dragonpipe Diary: Sunoco’s destructive plans for the Chester County Library lawn

State Impact PA Despite DEP order to halt Mariner East 2 construction, some work is still allowedJANUARY 9, 2018 | 5:34 PM Susan Phillips

State Impact: Water problems persist along Mariner East pipeline route despite court interventionOCTOBER 12, 2017 | 5:03 PM BY JON HURDLE

State Impact: DEP issues violation to Sunoco for another spill of drilling fluidAUGUST 30, 2017 | 6:40 PM BY JON HURDLE

grist: BRIEFLY Stuff that matters PIPE DOWN

Daily Local: Pennsylvania DEP shuts down construction on Sunoco gas pipeline By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal,com POSTED: 01/03/18, 5:25 PM EST

Daily Local: DEP accuses Sunoco of unauthorized drilling By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com POSTED: 01/02/18, 3:49 PM EST

Daily Times, Phil Heron: Editorial: Economic benefits alone won’t resolve pipeline concerns

Look at the end of the day, did we come to Chester County for this view below? I don’t think so. We need to protect what is ours.  And what is ours, is not necessarily theirs.

#Resist

Uwchlan Safety Coalition Photo