bbq season is here! get the best at farm boy fresh in malvern!

Let me start by saying Farm Boy Fresh is on Toast Tab now. And in our COVID19 world you can order BBQ ahead for pick-up the next day. Yes next day. BBQ like this is an art form, trust me. They are weekends right now until Pennsylvania truly opens up.

Chef Paul Marshall

Back to the beginning.

Farm Boy Fresh photo – loading up the smoker for all of their happy customers

You all know I love the food from Farm Boy Fresh. And I had just started going there when stay at home orders and COVID19 hit. So I have been waiting. Last week I found out that Chef Paul Marshall was taking barbecue orders and I thought it would make a perfect Father’s Day treat for my husband. So I placed an order for brisket, ribs, chicken, sides and they should be illegal little key lime pies.

I went at my pick up time with my husband and our food was ready and waiting for us. We had a chance to visit with Paul and his lovely wife Julie, and oh my there is no barbecue in this area like his.

My husband was barely in the house sampling it and declared it “superior“ to anything else around here. I love barbecue when it’s good but we haven’t had any really good barbecue in years in this area right or wrong. Farm Boy Fresh has just elevated BBQ to the next level. (Guy Fieri are you listening? You might want to visit in your shiny red car.)

I am just sharing about Farm Boy Fresh again because I love their food. I want everyone to know that because a lot bloggers are compensated and I am not. I am just a happy customer of Farm Boy Fresh.

I will close with saying now I understand why people say good barbecue brisket is like a religious experience.

I hope you will place an order and enjoy the old-fashioned but never out of style tastes of summer. And let Chef Paul know that you read about Farm Boy Fresh on this blog!

Farm Boy Fresh. Located at the Sunoco at 7 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern PA19355.

Please note that for now until everything opens up in Pennsylvania, Farm Boy Fresh is open weekends 9 AM to 2 PM. And yes proper social distancing is being observed in my opinion. Find them on Facebook if you have questions.

another restoration in progress?

Reader submitted photo received today. The Exton Witch House is getting long overdue love.

Another old house that people in Chester County are obsessed with is known as the Exton witch house. I wrote about it before in 2018 I think it was.

The house is in Uwchlan Township. It was actually the Whelan/Ferrell/Meredith farm once upon a time. It is of historical importance.

Yesterday one of my readers sent me a note:

✍🏻”Do you have any idea who’s fixing up The Witch House on Gordon Drive in Exton? Drove by last week and it really looks nice!”✍🏻

So I put a post out on the blog Facebook page and a very nice man messaged me that he had driven by and saw the work. He noted that the site has been secured and cleaned up and whoever is doing the restoration is doing a beautiful job. His photo was taken from some distance away, but you can see if you zoom in on the photo it looks wonderful!

A friend of mine took this photo a couple/few years ago:

So let’s put these photos side by side. It truly is exciting! To whomever is restoring this old house, thank you! I hope you will write in and tell us about your plans!

I will also remind anyone who reads this post that this is a private property and you cannot trespass. Now that somebody’s working on it, there is undoubtedly security.

This proves again that historic preservation is possible. This is why I hope places like Lloyd Farm in Caln is saved. It can’t be in worse shape than this place was and look at the difference!

Stay dry and safe on this rainy day!

Before and after. What a contrast!

learning something new: sourdough bread

Our friend Tracey who owns a local scratch kitchen called Dixie Picnic is an amazing bread baker. One of her breads I love is her sourdough.

Well she gifted me some of her starter. So today I grew it. You can see the result in the above photo. The black line on the jar is where it was before I “fed it“.

I popped my starter back in to the refrigerator and tomorrow I will make my dough, and the next day I will bake. She gave me really clear step by step instructions and it’s kind of a three day process.

I used to be very intimidated by making bread but she and other people have encouraged me to learn and I’m having a whole lot of fun!

I have heard stories of people who have had the same strain of starter for decades. That blows my mind! I found an article where it talks about starter that’s over 100 years old and that was in 2011. There was an article in 2018 about Sourdough starter that was over 120 years old! That’s a crazy kind of antique to have, right?

Even recently in San Francisco this kind of a cool thing has started happening. A mystery person has set up a Sourdough kiosk offering how to make bread with it. And apparently it’s 100 year old starter. I think it’s really cool! Seriously… a phantom baker with what is supposed to be San Francisco’s oldest starter and only a couple of people have or had it.

Phantom Bakers Sharing Sourdough Starter In Walnut Creek By NEWS24-680 – Apr 26, 2020

If someone famous hasn’t already said the true measure of a community is how it rises to help others during a time of crisis – we’ll say it now.
Over in Walnut Creek, outside the entrance to Buena Vista Elementary off San Juan Avenue, an anonymous baker with a talent for making sourdough bread is sharing the wealth with neighbors.
A self-help kiosk complete with a recipe and history of the starter – which is over 100 years old (attached below) – along with sample containers of precious starter are fresh and replenished every day.

The history of sourdough bread and sourdough starter is fascinating to me. And I never knew about it until I started doing research after Tracey gave me some starter.

I also discovered this article:

Before DIY sourdough starters became popular, there was home economics Mary-Leah de Zwart, University of British Columbia May 5, 2020 4.30pm EDT

My niece is sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s making sourdough starter for the first time because she couldn’t find any dry yeast. It’s like having a newborn for the first three days — keep warm, stir three or four times a day, watch for bubbles, feed regularly after use. On cold winter nights, old-timers used to take their sourdough starter to bed with them.
Meanwhile flour is also scarce. A well-known flour company has run out of its usual bright yellow bags and has to use white ones instead. It seems everyone is baking these days.
Questions come to mind. Are people re-enacting the traditional household activities of their mothers and grandmothers? Does this signal a massive change in society?

We don’t really know. Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, once wrote that we live life forwards and understand it backwards. People may simply be stocking up on baking supplies while they’re in quarantine. It may or may not be largely limited to women who are baking.

Caring for one’s sourdough starter will not alleviate the fear of loss of control, but, as psychologists suggest, it offers the physical and emotional comfort of working with one’s hands. It makes me wonder if people are trying to remember what their home economics teachers taught them, or wishing they had taken home economics electives.

I have found some things on the Internet for those of you who are interested in learning how to do sourdough bread:

King Arthur Flour: Sourdough Starter

All Recipes: Sourdough Starter

The Clever Carrot: Sourdough Bread: A Beginner’s Guide

You Tube: The Ultimate Sourdough Bread

You Tube: I Love Cooking Sourdough Masterclass

Tasty: How To Make Homemade Sourdough Bread

Taste of Home: Country Crust Sourdough Bread

Food Network Sourdough Bread

Knead Not Sourdough Recipe | Alton Brown | Food Network

antique cookbooks

I think these cookbooks can be categorized as antiques. Left to right in the photo above they were published in 1922, 1936, and 1913.

They are an education in and of themselves, as well as being their own kind of time capsule. But these cookbooks, like their vintage mid-century cousins are terrific because they give you a lot of basic techniques and recipes that are overlooked in modern cookbooks in favor of photographs and pizazz.

They are also interesting little history lessons. Next time you see old cookbooks at a rummage sale or wherever, take a look through them– you might be surprised and have fun. Not everything is on the Internet as far as recipes go.

Sometimes it is fun being a bookworm 😊

philadelphia: the unexpected city

The other day I wrote about being a little kid in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. The mid 1960s through to the mid 1970s.

Today I picked up some things from a storage locker sale I had purchased. One thing was a limited edition book published in 1965 when I was a year old. Philadelphia: The Unexpected City by Laurence Lafore and Sara Lee Lippincott. The publisher was Doubleday. It was a copy of the “Philadelphia Edition.”

I don’t think too many people would be as excited to see this book as I was. But it was a book I remember people having in their homes when I was growing up, especially people that lived in Society Hill because there was so much of Society Hill in the book.

And there’s one thing that’s a picture of when they were raising the houses around Front Street to basically put in the highway. And I remember when they were doing all of that because it took a while to build and my mother’s friend Margery Niblock the artist had done a wood cut of it that I have the artist’s proof of.

So again, unless you live there during this time this probably wouldn’t mean anything to you. But it means something to me because there are so many pictures in this book of what Society Hill looks like when people like my parents came in and bought house is dirt cheap and started to restore them.

And the restoration of Society Hill is still a historic preservation triumph even with all of the houses that were in such bad condition they had to be demolished.

I guess that’s why sometimes I wonder why municipalities let people say “Oh we can’t possibly fix this, it has to be taken down!” I look at what happened then when I was a kid, and the technology wasn’t as advanced and so on and so forth, yet the historic preservation actually happened and restoration actually happened.

So I wish people would look at examples like this, and then look more towards preservation where they live. It is possible. Communities just have to want it. And if communities want it, they need to make that known to local government.

People have to realize you can save pieces of the past and people will love them and will live in them.

This section of Philadelphia when I was growing up was a sea of construction and scaffolding. I remember the contrast of going to neighborhoods where other people we knew lived and then coming back to our own. But it was exciting to see. Even then.

Hopefully someday when I am no longer around, someone else will happen upon what is now my copy of this book and love it as much as I do.

way back when

A friend of mine brought me treasures today. Mementos of a different era. Souvenirs of a Philadelphia and surrounding area that lives no more.

First is a weekly entertainment guide printed by Majestic Press. The week of April 8, 1940. Movies that were a very big deal being shown in theatres that no longer exist. There is even an ad for a burlesque show at the Troc and a photograph of the late great Maestro Eugene Ormandy as a young man.

The other treasure won’t appeal to as many people but it appeals to some of my friends and I because we lived it in the 1980s and late 1970s is the program book from the 1963 Philadelphia Charity Ball.

It’s like a walk through Philadelphia history. The grande dames of society and their husbands.

Ads for Philadelphia businesses that no longer exist, including all the fabulous fashion and department store shopping that used to be in the Philadelphia area.

To most people this means nothing, but for me to see a Kelly for Brickwork ad is something really special. Or for financial institutions that are long gone like Butcher & Sherrard.

What is so different from the way the program has evolved is there are no pictures of debutantes in the program book. The committee got out there and sold advertising space and basically filled an entire book with it. That’s hard work. I used to help my mother get a donors for the Philadelphia Antiques Show programs years ago.

One of the things that totally made me laugh was the ad for the Bryn Mawr Trust Company. It’s completely stuffy, pompous, and sexist. The irony is I’m not sure how much they’ve evolved to in the present day.

Some of you are going to think I spent way too much time taking screenshots of old program books. But I think this is really cool. It’s a social history and the history of businesses gone by, and a way of life that no longer exists. And its total mid century ad copy as well. And I love the fashion illustrations.

But this is also from an era when there was society and it meant something. And yes that meant lots and lots of rules. It was also kind of civilized.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of area history. A time capsule of the 1940s and 1960s. Take special note of the “President’s Message.” it was written literally right after President John F Kennedy was assassinated. I wasn’t even born yet and it gave me chills.

rainy day estate sale

Picked up some amazing vintage linens today that are already soaking in the sink! The woman who lived in this lovely little house liked to sew so I have some amazing full- coverage aprons and vintage pillowcases. I also picked up these cute little hand stitched clothes pin bags!

Another great vintage score was an entire plastic container full of trimmings and sewing notions. Lace and ribbon and different kinds of trim. This is a crafter’s delight and I will use this stuff in many ways over the years to come.

Finally, I also picked up some amazing cookbooks. I think the Amish Dutch cookbook is my favorite but running a close second was the first edition James Beard cookbook I also found.

It was a cute little house way out and beyond Strasburg Road. I was in heaven as we drove by farm after farm because it was so nice to see some stuff that hadn’t been overtaken by development. Even in the rain, Chester County is so beautiful to explore.

Stay dry!



a look back at another community

I am a big fan of Main Line Parent, Philadelphia Family , Family Focus Media. I love what they do, and actually for a few years I was a freelancer with them. I wrote a couple of articles for them, but mostly I was their calendar girl. That is to say for a few years I hunted down and loaded events into their events calendar. I never talked about it much but it was something that was a lot of fun to do. And the ladies who are Main Line Parent are amazing!

Yesterday one of their folks posted the screen shot above. That mural went up in Ardmore in 2012, after I had moved to Chester County, but had been in the planning stages of a group I belonged to for many years, The Save Ardmore Coalition.

Main Line Media News Ardmore to get new mural

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com September 21, 2011

The Save Ardmore Coalition has finally found a location for its long-planned community mural, and the search has brought the group back home.

Lower Merion Township commissioners last week gave the green light to the organization’s application to install a mosaic mural on a wall of the Suburban Office Equipment building at 49 E. Lancaster Ave.

The unanimous vote by the Building and Planning Committee was to be finalized at a board meeting Wednesday night….The Save Ardmore Coalition has been seeking a site for a community artwork in downtown Ardmore for more than two years. In June 2009, the organization received a $20,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Community Revitalization Program to be used for a mural and other community projects.

A portion of the grant money was used last holiday season to put up advertisements at local train stations to encourage township residents to “Discover More in Ardmore” and shop local, said SAC President Sharon Eckstein.

The $15,000 mural project had taken longer to get off the ground, though, because of the difficulty in finding an appropriate location. Eckstein said the group had talked to a number of property owners before focusing on Ardmore’s historic Lancaster Avenue business district.

Main Line Media News: Mural dedication in downtown Ardmore

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com Nov 4, 2012

The Save Ardmore Coalition celebrated the completion of its Ardmore Mural Project at 49 Lancaster Ave.in Ardmore Sunday The new mosaic mural depicting a street scene has been taking shape this summer on the side of Suburban Office Equipment, across Lancaster Avenue from Rittenhouse Place.

 Artist Jessica Gorlin Liddell was on hand to talk about her work. Special guests included state Sen. Daylin Leach, through whose office a grant was provided to support this work of public art; Suburban Office owners Scott Mahan and Peggy Savery; SAC Mural Coordinator Sharon Eckstein; and other SAC members.

A Penn Valley resident, Liddell specializes in creating architectural mosaic installations…..The Save Ardmore Coalition formed in early 2005 to fight against Lower Merion Township’s potential use of its eminent domain powers to take down several buildings, including the Suburban Office building, in a controversial Ardmore Transit Center and downtown development project.

While a later vote by township commissioners officially precluded the use of eminent domain for the redevelopment project, SAC, as the grant recognized, went on to focus efforts on community advancement by organizing community forums and supporting programs like First Friday Main Line.

The years have passed on by and those of us who made up The Save Ardmore Coalition have moved on with our lives, and some like me, literally moved out of the area. By the time the mural was dedicated in 2012 I was living in Chester County, and had not been part of Save Ardmore Coalition for a while. But the people I was in that group with will always be dear to me like family.

We accomplished a great deal. We actually won a whole bunch of awards locally, regionally, and even one nationally. We were apolitical and beholden to neither political party. And yes, one year to stop the craziness in Lower Merion Township we changed the faces of who governed us and flipped half of the board of commissioners, essentially. We walked into a room together once upon a time as all strangers with a common goal to want better for our community. We left those first rooms and meetings as friends.

The mural is kind of the last thing many of us did together. Once in a while some of us get together and a lot of us are in touch with one and other. But seeing that mural pop up in a photo reminded me of the good community can do.

Be kind to one and other today and never be afraid to stand together for the greater good.

welcome to the neighborhood stove & tap!

I was psyched to be included in the first soft opening for Stove & Tap this evening. Tonight was the media opening and it was great to see Main Line Today, County Lines, 6ABC, and the always lovely HughE Dillon among others!

I will be back in a day or so with photos but just wanted to post something quickly this evening because I had SO much fun!

The owners and staff are the most gracious and welcoming of hosts, and were all so awesome. The decor is subtle and cool and I loved it. (They also have a nice ladies room!)

The food was delicious. The seafood towers were fresh and tasty, and other things I liked were the little sliders, wings, deviled eggs, and the hors d’oeuvres that were butlered throughout the evening. I also enjoyed the Nocino I tasted from Boardroom Spirits.

I look forward to going back and having a meal soon!

Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was so fun to see so many familiar faces.

Cheers to y’all at Stove & Tap! Welcome to the neighborhood!

a christmas moose

Isn’t he cool? A friend of mine’s aunt makes these imaginative Christmas creatures. I have some of her reindeer and I have a couple of her Santas and now I have a moose.

He’s just a stuffed little guy he’s about 12 inches tall and he’ll hang out at Christmas.

I blame Hallmark and the other channels running Christmas movies. But it’s a happy thing in the midst of a country that seems perpetually miserable at this point given the political climate.

More Christmas, less politics. Pass it on.