happiness is a meat order from your family’s butcher

Cappuccio’s on 9th Street in Philadelphia. That is the Italian Market to the rest of you.

This was the Saturday morning destination at least twice a month when I was growing up, even when we moved to the Main Line.

And yes, my family has been going here since before my grandfather Bill Zambelli put the abattoirs in this butcher shop.

Cappuccio’s was opened in 1920. Here is their story from their website:

Domenico Cappuccio was born on his family’s farm in Messina, Sicily during the late 1800’s. After his father passed away when he was in 2nd grade, Domenico was forced to leave school to help work the family farm. In 1910, as the rumblings of World War I began in Italy, Domenico decided it would be wise to join his brother in America. However, he was still drafted and this time would be asked to fight for the Americans.

Following his service, Domenico was offered a path to citizenship if he could find an American sponsor. After working several jobs in Southern New Jersey, Domenico ended up in Philadelphia’s Italian Market where he met a man who offered to provide him with sponsorship. This man, Charles Guinta, not only sponsored Domenico but gave him a job in his butcher shop and a place to stay above.

While working at the butcher shop, Domenico met his future wife, worked a fresh produce stand also in the Italian Market. After several years, Mr. Guinta felt that Domenico was ready to go out on his own and suggested he start his own shop down the street. After getting married, he took Guinta’s advice and opened up Cappuccio’s Meats at its current location. The couple would have three children, one of whom, Antoinette Cappuccio, would go onto run the shop with her husband Harry Crimi.

After Domenico retired, Harry and Antoinette Crimi took over Cappuccio’s Meats and continue to run the business today using the family’s traditional values with their son Dominic Crimi.

Now the funny thing about World War I bringing Domenico Cappuccio to the United States is it also played a role in my paternal grandfather’s life.

When my grandfather was a little boy, his mother who had emigrated to the USA as a young woman, took a ship back to Italy so her family still in Italy could meet her son. The problem was, World War I broke out when they were there and they had to stay with family in a little village until the was was over and Trans-Atlantic ship travel resumed.

My grandfather, a little, little boy, was called l’Americano by the villagers during that time. He went on to build a boiler company and factory. During World War II the company had to change it’s name to seem more American- people being suspicious of people born in other countries is sadly nothing new in this country. Both of my grandfathers (my maternal grandfather was Irish) were discriminated against.

But I digress.

Cappuccio’s is a familiar and well-loved place for me. Going there and to the Italian market with my father on weekends was sort of magical.

The ding of the bell on the door and you walk in and there was sawdust on the floor and sometimes sides of meat hanging from a hook in the window. I would sit on a barrel next to one of the front windows and watch everyone get waited on. The counters were wide and clean, knives in holders in between the counter sections.

Sometimes old Domenico would talk to me half in Italian and half in English. He had glasses with big black rims and a very sweet smile. Sometimes his daughter Antoinette who married Harry Crimi (who was close to my father’s age) would let me come back behind the sales floor.

My father and Harry would patter back and forth in English and Italian about whatever daddy was buying. I loved going there. I would watch as Harry would sharpen a knife to cut whatever we were buying. And then each item would get wrapped in butcher paper, marked, and placed in paper sacks, or a box depending on the size of the order.

As I grew up, I watched Harry’s son Domenick , who is about my age and whom I know as an adult, come up in the business. Now he runs the store!

A few weeks ago I got to thinking about the Italian sausage we used to buy there. My great aunts, grandparents, and my parents all made sauce (or gravy) with it. It is the best sausage you have ever tasted made the old school way with fennel.

I also started thinking about the other cuts of pork, beef, and lamb we used to get from Cappuccio’s. So I contacted Domenick and asked him if I could get an order – but it would have to be shipped or delivery because 9th Street is just a wee bit out of the way living in Chester County.

So Domenick said for me if I was willing to pay a delivery fee, he’d deliver.

My order got delivered a little while ago. All neatly and perfectly wrapped in brown butcher paper and bags with wire-tied tags with my name on it. Just like when I was a kid!

It sounds silly to some I am sure but this? This makes me happy. A piece of 9th Street in my freezer. And Domenick even bought me a bag of lamb neck bones- the best secret ingredient of any Sunday Pasta Sauce!

I mean no disrespect to my lovely local butcher, Worrell’s, but Cappuccio’s and me? We’ve got history! So I am going to be splitting my love going forward.

Cappuccio’s is an amazing old school artisanal butcher shop. They have been doing it the same way since 1920. Give them a try, and if you live closer to them then I do, go visit!

Cappuccio’s updates their Facebook page often. Seriously? Visit them, try their meats. You’ll be glad you did 😊

We had fresh grilled sausage for dinner. It was just as awesome as I remember it.

happy 25th anniversary to the west chester growers market!!!

IMG_6363I missed all the political fanfare early this morning, but I did make it to the 25th anniversary of the West Chester Growers Market.

State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioners Michele Kichline and Terrence Farrell were there at the opening of today’s market to celebrate with everyone and present citations and proclamations.

But where oh where were the officials of West Chester Borough? Borough Council? I mean it is NO SECRET they have been discussing the lot on the corner of Chestnut and Church Streets again right?  And what developer and hotel owner want in on whatever is discussed, hmmm?  Oh the irony that they just discussed this again, what? This past week?

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And no one from the Borough could come to the West Chester Growers Market in an official capacity to celebrate their 25th anniversary? The County and State felt they should be there, so why not the Borough?

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Photo courtesy of County Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s Facebook Page.  He and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline presenting a County citation to Paul “Bud” Hauser, an inspiration behind and one of the four original growers who founded the West Chester Growers Market 25 years ago. I think this is fabulous that they did this!!

Oh and my opinions are my own, by the way.  And sadly I think West Chester Borough needs to appreciate the organizations which bring people into the Borough weekly for 25 years, don’t you? The West Chester Growers Market brings people and farms and small food producers together. In a world filled with ugliness, this is something genuine and nice.

Today the market was bustling in spite of the crazy heat.  And the vendors were nice enough to have lots and lots of water on hand for customers. And ice cream!!  And balloons and face painting for kids!

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I love the West Chester Growers Market and it is pretty much the only one I patronize at this point since East Goshen seems to have given up on their farmers market which I think is a huge mistake since they have one of the most awesome locations.

The photos I took today were my own.  I am not compensated in any way for posting about the market. I post about the West Chester Growers Market because I love it and think it’s fabulous.

And if West Chester Borough Council gets their knickers in a twist because I do not feel in my opinion that they appreciate the market in all it’s fabulousness, tough noogies and am I wrong?

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!! 

WE LOVE YOU IN CHESTER COUNTY!!

 

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changing my mind about prime now

A year ago this time of year I wrote about Prime Now. At that time I was fairly pleased with Prime Now the Amazon – Whole Foods food delivery service.

But the attractiveness wore off when orders subsequent to the first order were placed over the course of the last year. I had problems with orders like them not getting delivered. At all. It’s super easy to use the app to place the order, but then I had a couple of orders that were just not delivered.

I could see that they were placed and shopped and they were waiting for pick up and they never ever got delivered. It was crazy. Then I found out that my orders were coming from the stores geographically closest to me they were coming from pretty far away which didn’t make sense.

And then there’s the reality that you are limited on products as to what Amazon Prime Now feels like pushing, which isn’t the same of the vast array of products available through Whole Foods when you go into the store. And it’s frustrating because you think because they now own Whole Foods and they are shopping your order at a Whole Foods store that you would have more variety like you do in the store. Only you don’t.

I will tell you honestly that Instacart has stepped up their game tremendously. And the orders that I got from Instacart that come from my local Wegmans are perfect. And Giant by Peapod is not perfect, but not bad either – they have excellent customer service.

And the delivery people for both Instacart and Giant by Peapod are super nice and they care.

My husband decided because they were offering a special with the Prime Day stuff to try Prime Now on his own. They were offering like a $10 coupon or something to try it or to order on Prime Day.

So he placed an order. I knew what time the order was expected but I was on the third floor of our home when the delivery person actually came to the door.

When I got downstairs the Prime Now delivery person was speeding off in his car. But the packages he had delivered were all straight up against my screen door which opens OUT. So that means the screen door was completely blocked and if I had pushed it open I would’ve broken it as it’s an old-fashioned screen door. I had to go out through the garage up around the front walk move the bags so I could open the screen door to open the front door to bring the groceries in.

Oh and did I mention that my husband specifically put on the order NOT to block the screen door and front door if someone wasn’t right there to get delivery?

The next problem was it’s almost 100° right? Or if it’s not 100° yet it feels like it? Some of what was ordered was perishable and frozen. There were no ice pack things in the insulated bags. And I checked my blog post from when I first wrote about them and there were at that time.

So basically my food that was frozen and personable was all warm to the touch. That’s kind of gross.

Prime Now when they began had made such a big deal about their insulated bags for perishable items and frozen foods.

I called up Prime Now customer service and they couldn’t have been nicer. And they agreed with me that the order should have been packed differently in this heat. They also noted that it said on the account and in the order that was given to the store and to the driver delivering NOT to block the front door and screen. And that was a pretty basic thing to pay attention to.

So sadly, I think I am going to put Prime Now back on the shelf of things I’m not going to use again for a while. Getting groceries delivered is a little luxury that I like sometimes, but if simple things like NOT blocking the screen door and front door can’t be accomplished, and insulated bags have nothing to keep the items cool, what are we paying for?

It seems like Amazon in general has issues like this all across the board. When you can get somebody in the United States on the phone who is customer service, they are very good, but the rest of it is inconsistent at best.

Another example would be recently I ordered some organic cleaning products I like better through Amazon. The company is called Frosch and they’re German. But the only place I can find the products is through Amazon.

I ordered liquid cleaner that was an all purpose cleaner and it was delivered to me in a paper padded Amazon shipping envelope. There was no protective padding or a box that the liquid cleaning supplies were placed in. So needless to say one bottle was open and leaking upon arrival.

These are all basic things. But it points to the problems in Amazon that must exist. Other problems include dumped packages, missing packages, and so on.

Amazon opens up a broader world of product availability. But I think with their stratospheric growth over the past few years there are issues they really need to work out. Today was just another example.

Thanks for stopping by and stay cool during the heatwave.

kitchen acquisitions

IMG_E6171It’s not all garden, garden, garden.  I am still cooking! And over the years I have treated myself to upgrades on pots and pans.

The other day I was watching an interview on The Today Show. These two young women had founded a cookware company in New York and their cookware was good-looking. It wasn’t ready for the clown car like the stuff Racheal Ray produces which is cheap and freakish looking.

Great Jones cookware seemed to be too good to be true, but the price points weren’t bad so I ordered a stock pot on a total whim. Complete impulse buy.  I have a stock pot I was looking to replace because it was wearing out and holding stains even on the stainless steel.

So I went to the website and read about Great Jones:

We started Great Jones because we believe in the power and pleasure of making food with your own hands, even if you’re just frying an egg.

We’re childhood friends of 20 years who first met at summer camp…Prior to starting Great Jones, Sierra worked as a food editor at New York Magazine and won a James Beard Award for her writing. She also hosted a show for CBS This Morning interviewing chefs. Maddy comes from the startup world; she managed consumer insights for Warby Parker and was a product manager at Zola. We’re both first-time entrepreneurs.

The name Great Jones is a nod to Judith Jones, a cookbook author and editor who championed and published the work of Julia Child, Edna Lewis, James Beard, and many others. She died in 2017 at age 93. It’s also a reference to New York, where we’re proud to both live and build our business.

Then I went to the shop section to check out their line. Not a huge line, but they have manufactured a line of core pots that every kitchen should have. I ordered Big Deal the stockpot to try them out.

Love at first sight.  Stockpot arrived today and it lived up to the hype.  Just the right weight and little details like cup measurements inside. Oh and another plus? On their website Good Jones has this finder thing where you put in your zip code and places you can recycle old pots and pans pops up!  Socially responsible and very cool!

Also today I got some new kitchenware from Brandless which was kind of a necessity.  I love  roasting and grilling vegetables. Only I ruined one of my baking sheet pans on the grill this week doing so.  So I put in a Brandless order for some pantry and beauty/bath staples and checked out their Cook’s Tools section. I replaced my ruined half sheet pan with a new one for $9 (yes $9 and it is GREAT quality) and got a grill pan with little holes in it for the grill for my veggies! The grill pan was $8!!

Brandless is a cool option where you get great products, many organic food staples, health and wellness and beauty and cleaning supplies at great prices because they removed the label.  Hence the name “Brandless”. If you want to try Brandless, CLICK HERE.

Another cool thing about Brandless is they believe in fighting hunger and giving back to the community.  They donate meals with every purchase you make. My husband discovered them, and I like their products.

Anyway, that is what is new in my kitchen as far as my “gear” goes.  As always, I feel I need to add the disclaimer that I am NOT a compensated blogger and if I write about stuff it’s because I want to, am a customer, etc .

Thanks for stopping by.

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bloombox: garden plants hand delivered straight from the source to you.

I love my plants. I love to garden. So now is the time when I start accumulating what I am going to plant.

Recently I became acquainted with two gentlemen from Lancaster, PA. David and Chase have this business called BloomBox.

This is an independent small business and the model is simple: great plants, reasonably priced delivered to your door. And by delivered, I mean hand-delivered. Not packed in the shipping box and sent FedEx or USPS or UPS. Delivered as in the grower comes to you.

This morning I decided to place a small order. I need to get my herbs, perennials and some of my bedding plants sorted. Herbs especially are something I buy a great deal of because my garden is in part a cottage garden. So I mix a lot of herbs in with my perennials and shrubs and trees and bulbs.

Much to my delight, after placing my order around eight something this morning, there was a knock at my door. And there was David co-owner of BloomBox with my plants!

My plants were in beautiful condition and exactly what I ordered and exactly what I expected. They also gave me a beautiful little Primrose to plant as a gift. They do that with all their customers.

David and I spoke for a brief time and I will be ordering from him again. To me this is an extension of shop local. And right now orders over $45 are delivered for free. Their delivery area is fairly wide but you still have to check your ZIP Code to make sure they serve you before you place an order.

They are not certified organic, but they are clean growers so in my opinion they don’t have to be certified organic. I know how they’re growing and what they’re doing.

Give BloomBox a try! I will also note that I am not a compensated blogger, and I have not been compensated for my opinion here in anyway. I am a new customer of the business and I am impressed so I am sharing this with all of you.

BloomBox checks all of the boxes: quality, value, customer service.

I will note that I am not going to directly put all of these into the ground just yet because it is still a little early. I will be bringing my plants into the garage and covering them outside with landscape fabric until it is warm enough.

Spring is here, so go dig in the dirt!

the sisterhood of the traveling rug

This could be considered a cautionary tale. To pay attention when you’re bidding on things in an out-of-state auction. More specifically pay attention as to how you will get the item home.

Just after the New Year I was checking out an online auction down in Charleston, South Carolina. There was this old red-ish rug in an old house on an old floor that was like my dream rug of what I had been searching for to decorate with in my dining room.

I am not a giant fan of wall-to-wall carpet. I like hardwood floors and area rugs. And my favorite area rugs are old Persian and oriental rugs, most of which (like most people) I cannot afford. So like many other things when it comes to decorating you have to get creative. You check out auctions, you check out house sales, you go barn picking.

So when I saw this rug I knew if I could get it at a reasonable price, I would finally have what I wanted. I am not one of those people who was fortunate enough to inherit old rugs like this from family members as hand-me-downs. And it’s hard to find a decent sized oriental or Persian or Afghan rug that isn’t brutally expensive even if it is in rough shape.

Of course a lot of that has to do with the fact that certain kinds of rugs aren’t being made as much in their originating countries as they once were and when relationships with countries change with the US it means things aren’t being imported much either. Another factor are consignment stores and dealers jacking prices for their profit margins. Mind you, we live in a free market society and if that’s what they want to charge that is their right. However, it is my right as a thrifty soul to shop a better bargain.

There were other rugs in this auction in particular and this would’ve been considered a lesser quality rug, although for me it was what I wanted. So I set an absentee bid (and it was low) and walked away from the auction site. Much to my surprise no one really bid on it except for one other person. And they seemed to lose interest in it and in the end to my surprise I got it and got it for a song. I got it for like a true garage sale price which seriously shocked me.

I have won rugs in auctions before. If you are working with an honest to God budget or just don’t have a lot of money it is sometimes your only option. The key is to know the auctioneer, and in this case it was a Caring Transitions franchise.

After I won the rug I waited to see when they would invoice me for shipping. I contacted the auctioneer and this was a learning curve for both of us.

This is a room size rug pretty much – a smaller room but then again I have a small house. As I noted previously, I have won rugs in auctions before and I’ve had them shipped to me FedEx. They come insured, you have to sign for them – you have to be home to take receipt and it’s generally speaking pretty easy.

This time it wasn’t so easy. Some auction houses have their own personnel who pack and ship items if they agree to pack and ship. Other auction houses and auctioneers have a third party pack and ship items. In this case it was finding a third-party to pack and ship who didn’t want to gouge me for many times over what I actually paid for the rug.

One company told the auctioneer around $425 and that wasn’t necessarily including all the fees and what not that they charge. Another company told the auctioneer well over $500. Neither the auctioneer or myself expected this at all. I did not know what to do so I reached out to a friend of mine that lives in the area of the auctioneer. She agreed with me that the price was crazy.

This is where it becomes the sisterhood of the traveling rug.

My friend offered to get the rug and take it to FedEx and have them pack and ship it. Because that’s what I have done in the past and it was quite reasonable in price.

My friend went to the warehouse where it was being stored and nobody was there to greet her. So in the end, the auctioneer kindly had the rug I purchased delivered to her home and she took it to FedEx. FedEx charged me (with significant insurance for safety purposes) a little over $95. Not $400 not $500.

The rug arrived this morning and I signed for it. Now I have an appointment with my rug cleaner who will come and pick it up and take it out to be cleaned and have a mat cut for it. I am able to afford to do that because I didn’t just settle for what these packing and shipping companies said should be the charge.

So that is my cautionary tale. And I will tell you that when I spoke with the FedEx man this morning he said he had delivered something else locally a while back – a musical instrument – and the man who receive the package was charged over $500 to ship it by a third party pack and ship company.

So when it comes to these subcontractors I guess it’s caveat emptor or buyer beware… and do your homework.

And yes I know some people are going to read this post and think I am crazy hunting down an old rug. So many people will say “why not just buy a new one?” That part is easy. I love vintage. I like the character of old and vintage items. I just don’t like the price tag sometimes which is why you shop around.

Many thanks to my friend who helped me get my rug to me. She is and always has been aces.