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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desserts from memory lane

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A ladyfingers cake photo I found on the Internet

I have been hunting through my recipe binder for my banana cake recipe.  What I found instead was this old recipe for…wait for it…. ladyfinger cake…

I have zero idea where it came from, someone gave it to me ages (as in decades) ago.  Tiramasu is sort of a ladyfingers cake too isn’t it? And some Icebox cakes?

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I went a Googling and found  additional recipes for ladyfinger cake:

Tia Spring’s Lady Finger Cake

Bittersweet Chocolate-Rum Icebox Cake

Strawberry Ladyfinger Icebox Cake

Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cake

There are actually a LOT of ladyfinger cake recipes.  I am guessing what is old is new again?

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Another photo of a ladyfinger cake found on the Internet….

not your grandmother’s cucumber salad

One of my favorite cucumber salads is made by Hu Nan Restaurant in Ardmore. It’s hot and sweet. They do a similar cabbage salad as well.

I have never been able to exactly replicate their cucumber salad, but they have inspired my updating a summer staple.

I take three English hothouse cucumbers and peel and slice them into thin rounds. These are the cucumbers considered “burpless”. If I don’t like the way they look at the grocery store, I will use regular cucumbers and peel and cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.

When my cucumbers are all sliced I put them in a bowl and toss them with salt to taste and about 4 tablespoons of white sugar and set aside.

Salt. I am in love with a locally made seasoning salt my husband found for me. It’s called Jake’s Prime Seasoning Salt. It’s a small batch salt from Wallingford, PA. You can order it on their website. It is the first seasoning salt that I think can give Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt a run for her money.

Next I slice up thin one red onion and cut it into more bite size pieces. I add that to my bowl.

Sometimes I add a chopped up red bell pepper to this, but never a green bell pepper.

Following adding the red onion to the bowl, I add the fresh dill. I love dill and do not have a set pre-measured amount. I just chop up a healthy handful from my garden (if I have it and at present almost depleted thanks to the rain), or I buy a bunch at the grocery store.

Next comes the “dressing”. I usually just eyeball it but will attempt to write it down:

1/4 white wine vinegar (or half wine vinegar and half rice wine vinegar)

2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes or Hatch green chile flakes

I wisk the dressing together in a little bowl, pour it over the cucumbers and onions and dill in the larger bowl and mix it all up. Then I cover and refrigerate until it’s time for dinner (or lunch as it also makes a lovely luncheon salad.)

Enjoy!

for the love of goats

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One of the New Kids on The Block at Yellow Springs Farm

Ha! That title caught your eye, eh gentle readers?

Good! I love my Yellow Springs Farm goats! Well they aren’t really my goats but I love them. And every year, this time of year Yellow Springs Farm has open farm weekends :

Sat, 05/18/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sun, 05/19/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery and Artisanal Goat Cheese Dairy, will be having our Springs Native Plant sale over 2 weekends in May. Originally a dairy farm 150 years ago,the farm and nursery consists of an historic farmhouse, dairy barn, a springhouse with pond on 8 acres of land. We grow native plants, design and install native landscapes and produce over 25 varieties of fresh and aged artisanal goat cheeses. So come on out and take a picture on our Open Farm day weekends(May 11th/12th and May 18th and 19th) with our Nubian Goats, sample cheeses, and see our blooming wildflowers! Plant experts will be available to help you select plants for your garden or landscape plan.

It’s a little slice of heaven. The goats are total characters. The plants are awesome – I have planted three gardens with them now. And the goat cheese and yogurt? Award winning for a very good reason – totally delicious.

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People visiting with the goats this weekend.

I have known the farmers Catherine and Al Renzi for years.  I remember back to circa 2001 when they decided to start their farm and when they bought it.

Over the years a well-deserved following has developed and the event has grown…as in the number of visitors increases every year. And this is where I am going to open my big mouth because it is a distinct privilege being able to visit Catherine and Al’s farm. And no, I don’t work or speak for the farm, I am speaking my mind based upon what I saw out of guests this year that I thought wasn’t the best behavior ever considering these farmers open up their farm (where they live and work) to all of us. 

Let’s start with parking.  They know their farm and their road so they tell you quite politely where to park.  That doesn’t mean the road and it doesn’t mean parking in roped off areas of the farm or blocking people in or even taking what amount to multiple spaces. Be polite, you are a guest.

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This is a farm. Not a dog park.

Pets.  This weekend people bought their dogs. Yes their dogs like it was a dog park.  It’s not a dog park, it’s a working farm with valuable animals including the farm’s own dog.  It is simply not fair to presume YOUR pets are welcome.  Keep them at home. Please. That’s like bringing uninvited guests to a sit-down dinner party.

The goats.  The goats are lovely creatures who are independent minded.  So listen to the goat herders. They know their charges.  And please do not feed their charges.  They have plenty of their own food.  Yes, they look at you with those big brown eyes but resist LOL, resist!

The plants. The plants are awesome!  Around 200 varieties of native plants. From all over the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  I bought my first witch hazels ever here years ago.  On Saturday I had an impulse buy: one of my favorite kinds of oak trees, a Chestnut Oak. It was here at Yellow Springs that I discovered one of my favorite native perennials called Indian Pinks. Also flame azaleas.

And the cheeses? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmm.  I recommend the goat cheese with mushrooms that was recommended to me this weekend. I can’t remember it’s proper name but it was delicious.

Yellow Springs Farm is located at:

1165 Yellow Springs Rd  
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425
 (610) 827-2014
 www.yellowspringsfarm.com

Enjoy the goat photos and thanks for stopping by.

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snow day baking: applesauce cake

Over the weekend I wrote about a little vintage recipe box with recipes in it that I bought. Another thing I bought was a vintage aluminum 9″ Mirro clampless side pin release spring form pan. (Model 1359 M if you are interested.)

The pan looks like this:

The little side pin just slides on and locks into place. The pin is an easy piece to lose, so the spring form pans I usually see around have a latch. I hadn’t seen one with a pin intact for years. Needless to say that made me psyched to find this pan, which was completely in round and in perfect working order.

Yesterday in a fit of pre-snow domesticity that included a batch of chili for later this week, I decided to bake.

In my little recipe box there is indeed a recipe for applesauce cake, but the one I am sharing is my own recipe that I use. My mother and grandmother used to make applesauce cake all of the time, so this was basically the recipe they used but I tweaked it to my liking.

My mother and grandmother used to bake their applesauce cake and a 13″ x 9″ rectangular pan. I like the tube pan better for simple cakes like this. Besides, it looks prettier for the presentation of it all. (Yes, sometimes I have to let my inner Martha Stewart shine absurdly.)

The vintage Fiestaware round platter in the photo I already owned. A few years ago I swapped out all of my “every day china” for vintage Fiestaware. I don’t know what it is about the dishes but they make me happy. Probably the colors.

However like any other vintage plate, I never ever put it in the microwave. In the case of the Fiestaware it also has to do with the old glazes. (Check out this article from Smithsonian and The Spruce.) Old plates were designed pre-microwave and pre-dishwasher.

My Fiestaware is fine in the dishwasher, although sometimes I just hand wash it. Other old plates I have like Limoge never, ever go in the microwave or dishwasher because of the glazes and the metallic gold leaf touches. But having to do a few dishes by hand never hurt anybody.

However this post is not a primer on vintage dishes is it? It’s about the applesauce cake. (Yum)

I will note that yesterday this cake took 50 to 55 minutes to bake. So once you hit the 45 minute mark you have to keep an eye on it depending on your oven.

(And yesterday, shhhh don’t tell I didn’t have applesauce but I did have homemade apple butter I had made. And what is apple butter except more cooked down applesauce, right?)

And here is your hack for flouring and greasing a pan. Depending on what kind of a cake it is sometimes instead of dusting with flour if it’s a chocolate cake for example, I will grease the pan and dust with unsweetened Cocoa. Or I will dust with almond meal otherwise known as ground almonds. But for a cake like this, I am just going to dust with flour but I prefer the flour you use when making a roux: Wondra.

Wondra is super fine. That’s what makes it quick mixing for a roux or a gravy. That’s what makes it ideal in my opinion when you have to grease and flour a baking pan. I sometimes use it for dredging meat to brown for a stew.

But again, sorry, I got off track. Here is the recipe:

Applesauce Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted but slightly cooled

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 cups applesauce

1/2 cup white raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar to dust cake when cool

• Preheat oven to 350°F degrees

• In a big bowl whisk white sugar, brown sugar and mix well.

• Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla, then mix until well blended and fluffy.

• Add to the creamed mixture salt, spices, baking powder, baking soda, then the applesauce. Add the flour.

• Finally fold in the raisins and walnuts.

• Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then pop it out of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.