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!

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!

remains of the day

Every now and again in the midst of all the development and stores and businesses and office parks we see a glimpse of what made Chester County well…Chester County.

Your lovely organic and other produce is not grown on the roof of your local Wegmans or Whole Foods, people.

Chester County's agricultural heritage disappears more each day along with the farmland and open space. Chester County is also disappearing under the ugliness of pipelines, not just overdevelopment.

Thanks for stopping by.

small art

Small art is anything but. They are a little jewel boxes of works of art that you can tuck into small corners in your home. You can even tuck them into bookcases.

My friend Sherry Tillman, who is an artist and owns a store in Ardmore, PA called Past*Present*Future used to have an artist show hang in her store occasionally during First Friday Main Line events called a "Square Deal".

This "Square Deal" was a show that always intrigued me – it was a show of literally small art as in inches big that was affordable to everyone, and helped spread the principle of art in unexpected places and didn't intimidate people. Because that is the thing about art – it shouldn't intimidate people but it often does.

A lot of people when it comes to the art in their homes are hung up with names and value. To me it is more important to have something hanging that you love to look at, versus an actual monetary value.

Nothing is worth anything if it does not bring you pleasure when it comes to art. And beautiful art can be sourced from all sorts of places and doesn't have to cost a lot.

For example, one of my favorite pieces in my home has no real value and I found it quite literally on a trash pile before a home in Haverford, PA was demolished years ago near the Haverford School. It had meant something to the occupants of the home at one time, but it wasn't anything that would ever have resale value so after the property was sold the house with everything that was left inside of it was demolished. This one piece was left propped up with bags and bags and boxes of trash and I happened to see it walking my dogs. So I took it off the trash pile, and had it reframed.

Again, nothing valuable, I just like it.

And that is how I have chosen my art. Do I like it when I see it? Does it evoke emotion in me? Do I think it's pretty?

I have never forgotten those "Square Deal" art shows. They have made me mindful of the beauty of small pieces, so when I see ones that I love I don't pass them by.

Recently I found three very small pieces. Not expensive, in fact so inexpensive you might term them "cheap" yet there's nothing "cheap" about them.

These pieces are Chester County scenes and they are literally inches big. None of them are signed that I can determine, but I think they're beautiful.

I just tucked them into little spots around my house. And there they will hang, bringing me pleasure.

I have written before about how you can find art all over the place. You can find artists hanging art at local fairs and festivals. You can find art at garage and yard sales and even estate sales. You can pick art out of barns, and find it in thrift shops and consignment stores. The piece just above this paragraph is a little winter scene oil painting. I paid six dollars for it. It is about 3" x 5". Tiny and I love it.

You can also find reasonably priced art of lesser known artists at local galleries. It doesn't have to be expensive – the most basic of rules (again) is you just have to like it.

The only person you need to impress with your art choices is yourself. Art is a very personal thing – just ask any artist who creates. And don't forget as we grow as human beings, often or tastes will change or evolve. So you don't have to be wed to pieces. You can swap things out.

Twenty years ago I would've looked at people like they were crazy if someone mentioned to me how cool small art was. Today, I totally get it and appreciate it.

Experiment with small art. And always remember you can source local art probably more inexpensively wherever you live then the fake art canvases you will find at stores like Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

When you find yourself a piece of local art it ties you to where you are from no matter where you move in the course of your life. Small art is portable. And to me the other thing that is important to me is someone actually took the time to create it, it just wasn't an image transferred in a factory onto a canvas.

One of the great things about living in Chester County is the fact that there is a thriving arts scene. You can find beautiful quality pieces hanging in local galleries and shops, festivals, fairs, and so on. And one of the things I love is the abundance of small pieces out there that you can buy to experiment with.

Small art. It's a good thing 😊

Thanks for stopping by.

drivers have rights too

I am all for cycling. But as a driver I have rights too.

I was driving on Ravine Road in East Whiteland. It's twisty and narrow. The cyclists were not going one by one up the road, they were traveling a couple across which would not have made for safe passing. (And it's a road where you could not even pass safely in my opinion.)

So I put on my hazards and stayed behind them at literally a snail's pace. And these two cyclists in front of me were talking to each other on their way up the hill. No offense to them, but they were on a windy and narrow public road with cars behind them and opposite them, not a nature trail.

And when they got up to where Ravine meets West King, you can see clearly in the second photo where they just migrated across the road without even the courtesy of a hand signal.

Once years ago when I worked in Conshohocken, on my way to work traveling down Conshohocken State Road which is another windy and somewhat hilly narrow road, I passed by police and paramedics tending to a cyclist who had been hit. I never forgot that scene. It was horrible.

I have a lot of friends who cycle, and they're courteous to drivers. When you run into cyclists like this who seemed so oblivious to their surroundings and vehicles, this is why motorists get frustrated with cyclists.

Please cyclists, we as motorists are trying to be courteous and cautious when you are on the road with us. Please afford us the same courtesy.

“the cut”

As I said in 2013 when I first wrote about Duffy’s Cut, ¬†given the clouds of mystery and intrigue still surrounding Duffy‚Äôs Cut, I think the foggy afternoon ¬†I photographed the historical marker was perfect. ¬†You can never truly move forward into the future if you can‚Äôt honor the past, or that is just my opinion as a mere mortal and female.

I have written before about Duffy’s Cut and thanks to my friend Dr. Bill Watson at Immaculata, I have been blessed to have been to see ¬†Duffy’s Cut twice. ¬†And no, you can’t just go, you need permission. There is private property of homeowners and AMTRAK involved, and those who show callous disregard for either put the project at risk. ¬†So please, don’t just go exploring. ¬†Dr. Watson and his brother Rev. Watson and their team have worked so hard.

My last Duffy’s Cut adventure was about a year ago. ¬†I was invited to accompany them on a brief dig last summer. I was with the Duffy’s Cut team and teachers attending the¬†National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) ¬†Duffy‚Äôs Cut Teachers Institute. Everyone was so warm and welcoming to a non-educator. It was an experience I will never, ever forget.

Earlier this year, a new film on Duffy’s Cut was released. ¬†“The Cut”¬† by Irish American Films. I was originally supposed to attend the premiere of the documentary film at Immaculata, and this was yet another thing my blasted knee at the time did not allow me to do.

But I bought the DVD and it has sat on my desk, haunting me until today.  Amazing.  It is amazing. So very good and true.

In the very beginning of the film they discuss the “Irish Need Not Apply” of it all. I have personal family memories attached to that. ¬†When I was little my maternal grandfather (whom I called Poppy) would tell me stories of how the Irish were persecuted at different times in this country (John Francis Xavier Gallen¬†was Irish and born in the late 19th century) . When he was a little boy, my great grandmother Rebecca Nesbitt Gallen was in service and was¬†the summer housekeeper to the Cassatt Family in Haverford. If I recall correctly, he lost a lot of family during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of the early 20th century, but I digress. Poppy would tell me of anti-Irish sentiment and tales of ‚ÄúIrish need not apply‚ÄĚ.

I remember feeling wide eyed and incredulous as a child hearing that.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child”

~1 Corinthians 13:11 

Yes, it was kind of like that. ¬†Because today I heard that phrase again, in The Cut, as an adult. ¬†And I recall the wonderful (and recent) series by Sam Katz, “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” (which you can watch in it’s entirety online at 6ABC).¬†¬†¬† Sam Katz also discussed the plight of the Irish immigrant in his series.

Today as I watched this brilliant documentary that is so honest and true, I was struck by it all again. ¬†I was also struck by the parallels ¬†into the world today in which we live. Power, political power, the almost¬†obfuscation ¬†of the law, prejudice, religious persecution. ¬†Here we are, residents of a country where out very forefathers fought and bled and died for our rights, our inalienable rights, and look how we treat one and other? And even in 1832, when the Revolutionary War wouldn’t have been as distant a memory, let alone the War of 1812, right?

This area in 1832 was farming and countryside and rather rural. ¬†These Irish rail workers were discriminated ¬†against, abused, persecuted, and ultimately murdered. And one who was complicit? A fellow Irishman named Philip Duffy. ¬†He was by most accounts a bully who exploited these men and women who had traveled thousands of miles to a different country in the hopes of a better life. ¬†Of course by the very nature of how Duffy treated these workers, he was was also a big coward, wasn’t he? The Philip Duffys of this world persist throughout history, don’t they?

This documentary also delves into the politics and political climate of the time, which seemed somewhat chaotic.  I have to ask have we evolved enough from then? It seems like history is so often doomed to repeat itself unless we take the steps to be part of the change, right?

I am the child of immigrants, including Irish. ¬†I am not related to any of these workers (at least that I know of), but this inconvenient history of Duffy’s Cut hits me at the core of my being every time I read about it. ¬†These dead men could have been my ancestors, or yours, or anyone’s. These men and women mattered. All Americans are the descendants of immigrants. It is how the U.S.A. was founded, remember?

I was struck by an interview of Walt Hunter, Duffy’s Cut Board Member, supporter and long time KYW TV 3 reporter in Philadelphia. ¬†He spoke about having a certain feeling when onsite at Duffy’s Cut. ¬†I totally get it, I have felt it twice. ¬†It’s a feeling, a knowing, an awareness that great evil happened there.

You can buy a copy of “The Cut” through Irish American Films. ¬†I strongly recommend it.

Also Dr. Bill Watson and his brother , Rev. Frank Watson can always use our continued support of this magnificent and historically important archaeological project. ¬†Donate to The Duffy’s Cut Project.¬†¬† You can donate via the Duffy’s Cut website, just look for the little round button partway down the front page of the website with the PayPal icon. Or click here to see the Duffy’s Cut Donation Page. You can also donate via Square and checks are graciously accepted.

Donations can be made directly to Duffy’s Cut Project by check or money order and mailed to:
Duffy’s Cut Project
C/O William Watson
21 Faculty Center
Immaculata, PA 19345-0667

 

This history of Duffy’s Cut is so important. ¬†Yes it is ugly and brutal and raw. ¬†It is a true tale of the horrific things human beings do to one and other. ¬†But this was so awful that I totally understand why people literally tried to make this whole part of American history, local Chester County history, disappear. To the descendants of anyone involved, I am truly sorry. ¬†It doesn’t matter that it was 1832, it’s so ugly. ¬†But the dead will not rest until the workers are all discovered and honored. ¬†And that will be a good thing.

Please support Duffy’s Cut.

Recent Duffy’s Cut in the media articles include:

 Promising discovery in 1830s deaths of Irish rail workers on the Main Line
Updated: JULY 13, 2017 ‚ÄĒ 3:45 PM EDT¬†by Genevieve Glatsky, STAFF WRITER (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Daily Local: Duffy’s Cut: Search continues for 19th-century railroad workers’ graves in Malvern

By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com
POSTED: 06/10/17, 5:30 AM EDT

CBS3 KYW: Brothers Work To Recover The Rest Of Duffy’s Cut Remains

Delco (Daily) Times Local filmmakers create Irish-American programs to celebrate culture

By Peg DeGrassa, POSTED: 03/06/17, 9:16 PM EST

the pipeline destruction of chester county breaks my heart

The ugliness of the Sunoco pipeline takes my breath away every time I see it.

Where there once were trees and beautiful landscapes, all you see is destruction. It's now a barren, jagged, raped landscape.

I travel down Boot Road, 352, and similar roads and I see the little orange flags that mean what once was someone's front yard will now be pipeline. I have seen photos all over social media of people's gardens dying because of what Sunoco has done to the landscape.

Every time you see land that was once graceful and lovely or even just had trees that now has become all jagged and bare and dotted with construction equipment and orange construction fencing you can't help but wonder how can they not see this? How can they not care? How can our elected officials seemingly not care?

Sunoco has just stomped along and taken what it wants, when it wants, like a big corporate bully that it is. And the people working for them often seem lacking in respect in my opinion for the residents a lot of the time. We all understand that they have jobs to do and families of their own to feed, but do you think they could even be a little bit more considerate where they are parking at times?

Sunoco's talking heads will tell everyone how they care, but really? Do they think we are stupid? We know they don't care…..except about their bottom line of course.

It's like the inalienable rights that we are all supposed to have as US citizens and even as residents of Pennsylvania mean nothing.

And how will we benefit from the pipeline? I don't think we will and only corporate greed will benefit, correct? How is any of this being done for us?

It would be great if politicians enamored of big gas and big oil would travel the roads and see what we see. Let them deal personally with their land that is part of their home being stolen via eminent domain. (And in my opinion it's also eminent domain for private gain which is detestable. ) Let these politicians personally deal with wondering if their kids are safe, their first responders are safe, and the drinking water is safe, right? Let them watch their real estate values plummet, right?

So how about it Governor Tom Wolf? U.S. Senator Pat Toomey? Congressman Pat Meehan? Care to walk a mile in the shoes of Chester County, PA and Delaware County, PA residents? Never mind, don't bother answering we know you don't care.

This pipeline is a referendum on why we must choose our elected officials on every level better. It might be an off year election this fall but it's never too early to start. It's time to clean political house in Pennsylvania.