simple summer salad

Simple summer salads are the best thing in the world. Produce is at it’s peak, herbs are fresh, and it doesn’t get better than that.

One of my favorite summer salads are fresh tomatoes, a cucumber, red onion, and a combination of Italian flat leaf parsley, fresh dill, Italian basil and a simple vinaigrette. If I have a sweet red bell pepper I will often add that as well.

To make the vinaigrette it is equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small canning jar. Add salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

When I make vinaigrette for a mixed greens salad, I will add Dijon mustard to the above mix.

You can see the size I mean in the photo above. You will only use maybe 3 tablespoons of dressing on the salad, but save the rest for regular lettuce salads and just refrigerate.

Peel and cut your cucumber in half lengthwise. If it is not the English hot house burpless variety, remove the seeds.

Toss cucumber into the bowl.

Slice and rough chop fairly thin about half of a large red onion.

Add onion to the bowl.

Take your tomatoes, cut the core out, and slice into large bite-size pieces. Sort of small wedges. Small enough you don’t need to use a knife to cut your salad, but large enough that the tomato doesn’t disintegrate.

Chiffonade the basil leaves. In layman’s terms, that means gently roll up your basil leaves and create thin ribbons by cutting off “slices” of the rolled basil.

Rough chop the Italian flat leaf parsley, and do the same gently with the fresh dill.

Put all the herbs on top of the salad and give one light toss and then add literally 2 to 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing and mix gently and either serve or cover and refrigerate until serving.

And I almost forgot — fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste!

Leftovers are good for a day afterwards, provided you refrigerate.

This is a totally simple, easy to make salad, and it’s delicious! Thank you to my friend Sara for giving me vegetables from her garden. The herbs in the salad came out of my garden!

Bon appétit!

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corn bread….with fresh corn ūüĆĹ

Corn Bread made with fresh corn.

Yum.

It’s an easy solution to not wasting corn on the cob that you may have cooked but not buttered and eaten. It also makes your cornbread not as dry as normal cornbread can be and adds a layer of flavor/texture.

It could not be simpler to make:

1 cup of white all purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal (Mine came from Anselma Mill)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

Dash of powdered ginger or cinnamon (but not together)

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup melted butter with 2 tablespoons bacon grease

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup fresh sweet corn cooked and drained

** The wildcard if you want to spice it up is to mince one fresh jalape√Īo pepper and add it to the batter

Preheat oven to 400¬į F and really grease a 9″ x 9″ baking pan (I use butter.)

If your fresh cooked corn is still on the cob use a knife and take it off the cob. Let it sit in a strainer over a bowl so any additional liquid drains out.

Mix together all dry ingredients.

Stir in all wet ingredients.

Stir in fresh corn, and if you are using the wildcard minced jalape√Īo this is where you add that as well.

Do not over mix or your corn bread batter will be tough.

Before you add your batter to your pan put the greased pan in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes.

Pour batter into the pan, and bake at 400¬į F for 25 to 28 minutes.

It might be baked sooner — so you might want to check it with a toothpick or a skewer and see if it comes out clean from the center of the pan. I have gotten pretty good at eyeballing it over the years, so if the edge of the cornbread has kind of separated from the pan and it’s a nice goldeny color— it’s done.

Cool enough to serve warm, or eat at room temperature. Make sure you wrap leftovers tightly or it will dry out.

Enjoy!

playing tourist in chester county: rambling around marshallton

Every once in a while you need a staycation day. Today was mine. My friend Chris and I went to Marshallton today.  We played tourist in our home county. We rambled in Chester County.

Everyone knows I have not been very mobile since my knee injury at the end of February/ first couple days of March and subsequent surgery in May. ¬†(Yes, it took that long. ¬†I couldn’t walk, and I certainly couldn’t drive and U.S. healthcare has a long and winding and irritating process if you do not practice Emergency Room medicine, as in push to the head of the line and bypass everything by going straight to the E.R.) So now, as I go through the process if physical therapy, I am thrilled to get out again.

My friend picked me up and we went to The Four Dogs Tavern.  I had forgotten how amazing the food is and how wonderful the ambiance, and the terrific and friendly staff. We had the beet salad, which was amazing, and split the mushroom and goat cheese flatbread.

Then we did the senior stroll of the village of Marshallton РI am moving like a snail still.  But oh, to take in the beauty of this village!  This is so what Chester County is about.

My late father loved Marshallton and in particular, the Marshallton Inn.  When some of my girlfriends and I were in our twenties we loved the then Oyster Bar and way back in the dark ages of the late 1980s some were dating guys who competed in the Marshallton Triathlon (and wow what a party afterwards!)

So flash forward to me as a quasi grown-up (some days are better than others!) and today.  Marshallton is more beautiful than ever and the gardens are marvelous!  Ran into another friend and met a nice man named Ernie and his wife.  Ernie was restoring an antique buggy on his front porch.

Ernie encouraged us to go back further down the lane by his home to see the Bradford Friends Meeting, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.  I am so glad he did!  I had never seen it in person before.

Marshallton is just the village to remind you what Chester County is about.  Marshallton is an unincorporated village in Chester County and a Federal Historic District. The Marshallton Historic District has 65 contributing structures and 3 contributing sites. Marshallton is like a living history site, living proof that historic districts and preservation can work. 

Marshallton lies within West Bradford Township.  In recent years it has faced encroachment of development from the surrounding area.

We did not wander up Strasburg Road to see where Marshallton Walk is, for example. Stargazers Village that thing that was ¬†contentious¬†enough, that it¬†¬†doesn’t appear to be more than “coming soon” I guess? (Stargazers shows up on this “Envision” website.)

And then there was Embreeville, which started out life as the  Chester County Almshouse in 1798. It is also where Indian Hannah is purportedly buried.

Embreeville has had no news since February 2017 when West Bradford saidZoning Hearing #395¬†for Embreeville Redevelopment, LP¬†scheduled for February 1, 2017 has been continued to a date uncertain.¬†¬† There was no hearing on February 1st.¬† Any resumption of the hearing will be after public notice and will be posted on this website.” ¬†(Embreeville has been so crazy it has it’s own page on West Bradford’s website.)

Now the Marshallton Conservation Trust which was created in 2009 exists to help preserve the village and surrounding rural area:

“Motivated by the desire to see the Marshallton area return to a safe, walkable community and its rich history preserved, several residents formed this 501c3 non ‚Äďprofit in 2009. Marshallton Conservation Trust is committed to preserving the historic integrity and the quality of life in this very special area for future generations….The Marshallton Conservation Trust (MCT) promotes the preservation and improvement of the Marshallton community through initiatives focused on maintaining and improving its livability along with its distinctive character.”

Marshallton Conservation Trust also sponsors many events.  As a matter of fact the 44th Marshallton Triathlon is October 1st. 

But back to the history.  Reference a website called Living Places:

The Marshallton Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.

…The Marshallton Historic District is located along the Strasburg Road in central Chester County. It assumed its present configuration between the 1760s-1880s, with scattered infill and rebuilding occurring into the 1920s. Of the 71 principal buildings in the Marshallton Historic District, 67 contribute to its historical and architectural significance. The 4 non-contributing buildings include three from the 1930s-40s (a dwelling, store, and apartment building) and a c.1965 brick dwelling. Of similar size and scale to the district’s contributing buildings (by which they are far outnumbered), these non-contributing buildings do not detract from Marshallton’s overall architectural unity.

Marshallton lies only four miles west of the county seat of¬†West Chester; its surroundings are still rural. Leaving West Chester by the Strasburg Road, one passes sprawling farms, open fields, and pasture land. There is a small group of historic buildings near the nationally registered Cope’s Bridge on the East Branch Brandywine River, and then more open country….

The Marshallton Historic District is primarily significant for its association with Strasburg Road, established in the late 18th century as a thoroughfare between Philadelphia and¬†Strasburg¬†in¬†Lancaster County. Throughout 200 years of its history, Marshallton’s focus has been on Strasburg Road, and both literally and figuratively its growth has paralleled the road’s. With its integrity of setting and well preserved collection of buildings representing a variety of historic uses, Marshallton today conveys a clear, sense of the past ‚ÄĒ when the Strasburg Road was a primary transportation route and, capitalizing on its location, the village functioned as a rural service center for both travelers and nearby farmers.

Marshallton can trace its origins to the 1760s when a few houses, a Quaker Meeting, an inn, and a blacksmith shop were loosely grouped near the intersection of the roads to Strasburg and Downingtown. At that time the Strasburg Road was actually a fragmented series of local roads leading west.

 

More on Marshallton:

Unionville Times Living History: A tale of two names, Marshallton and the Marshalton Inn Aug 10th, 2012 

 

Marshallton Conservation Trust: The Village of Marshallton, West Bradford, Chester County PA

 

Marshallton History Off of West Bradford Website

 

National Register of Historic Places Marshallton

I had one of the best afternoons I had in a while. ¬†Good company, a nice lunch, and photographing one of Chester County’s most beloved gems.

Go to Marshallton.

Soak it in, have a meal at Four Dogs, support the village’s ongoing preservation efforts and events.

Walk down the street like we did and wonder about all of the people who walked it before us. Be in the moment of some amazing history and just a lovely and charming spot.

It’s what Chester County is all about.

when gardening, know your mail order grower


The photo above (and the next photo below this paragraph) were both  taken on a garden tour last spring. I love hostas! I really generally speaking have a hosta disease! I am always looking for interesting cultivars and growers who might have hostas I want to try but never have been able to find locally.


But I learned a valuable lesson recently about knowing your grower. And knowing your grower especially when it comes to mail order plants.

I have been ordering plants from reputable growers up and down the eastern seaboard and as far away as Washington state for years.

I was searching out particular hosta cultivars and decided to check eBay.  Believe it or not I have had wonderful luck with some small plant growers on eBay in the past. For example, I received wonderful woodland ferns from a small nursery outfit in Tennessee.

So there is this grower who is a dually listed on eBay and Amazon. I figured since they were on two sites that generally try to police their sellers I was OK ordering plants. I didn’t stop to pay attention to the reviews. I should have. If I had paid attention to the reviews I would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble.

I ordered the plants and then I waited. And waited. When I received no tracking number to track my package from the seller after over a week I messaged the grower to ask if the plants had shipped and if I could have a tracking number.

I also at that time asked if I was getting bare root or if they were coming in pots. The seller said they always ship bare root.

I am not a novice gardener and I am fine with bare root plants. I figured all would be fine.

Boy was I mistaken.

The plants arrived Saturday. Poorly packaged in a small square box, they arrived mostly dead. I literally had thrown my money away.

For all of the plants I have ordered over the years mail order, never had I received any in such poor condition. And what was described as a “starter” plant (for example) looked like a piece of wilted micro lettuce.

The plants were shipped in dry newspaper in little sandwich baggies with the hosta cultivars scribbled illegibly on the outside of the baggies. There was no ventilation in the little square box and the plants were dried out, wilted, and mostly dead. And so small. I am used to mail order plants but these were puny, so not as described in my humble opinion.

I took a deep breath and contacted the “grower” to see what they would do. I gave them the opportunity to do the right thing. I wanted healthy plants, not a refund. And I was not seeking free plants. I would have been satisfied with an “I am so sorry.” Or even an intelligent conversation in the hopes of achieving an amicable resolution. After all, who likes wasting money?

The response from the “grower” was swift and nasty to be honest.  They accused me of “blackmail” and demanded (not requested) I mail back “their” plants (even though I had paid $70+ for “their” plants.

I will be honest, I was taken aback by the sheer nastiness of their attitude, and I said calmly that I was not going to put myself out MORE money to mail back sub par mostly dead plants.  

I have learned a valuable lesson. And if I had read the reviews posted online I probably would not have purchased a thing from them. If they need my hard earned money so badly, hey they can keep it.

Know your grower. And if you do not, check them out. (And yes, another case made for buying local.)


On a certain level I am disappointed, because people who are true nursery men and women are generally speaking some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

Do not be afraid of ordering plants via mail order, just check out the grower ahead of time. Again, lesson learned for me. I broke my rule of checking them out.

Good customer service matters.