no…it wasn’t the easter bunny seen this morning…

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Without fail, every time it is early in the morning or late at night and I am out in my woods and back gardens with dogs in my nightgown, something funny or magical happens. Last night it was a great owl hoot hooting from high a top the trees and this morning? A hot air balloon.

Yep. A hot air balloon. Around 7 AM.  Looks like a solo flight. Not sure where they came down in the end, thought it was going to be the cornfield next to our woods, but they bounced back up and sailed over and onward.  We never get hot air balloons over us so I wonder where they took off from for their Easter morning flight. What we usually get are helicopters (military and helicopter museum variety) and small planes.

I love these balloons.  I have to be distracted until they get up into the sky, but riding in one is such a cool experience.  Our friend Barry has taken us up. ( Here is a link to his website if you wish to go on a balloon ride – he is the owner of the cool American Flag balloon.)

It was so funny this morning. I was one the edge of the woods looking further into the woods and I kept hearing this sound.  Sort of like a big whoosh whoosh.  I looked around, saw nothing. Looked up and there it was, the Easter sunrise balloon.  Given the time I saw them, I would say they went up when the sun was rising and how beautiful that must have been.

To whomever the pilot was, thank you for my Easter surprise.  It was fun watching you float by.

Happy Easter everyone, enjoy the spring day.

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raisin sauce for that easter ham

Raisin sauce for ham wasn’t a family tradition. It was somebody else’s tradition that they shared with me years ago. Or more precisely, they said they would really like to have that with ham but didn’t know how to make it.

So I monkeyed around with it and came up with the recipe I’m about to share with you. Having done research over the past few years again on a raisin sauce for ham mine is different because I add onion, and I use the Wondra quick dissolving flour and not cornstarch. I also add both a dried mustard and a grainy mustard, allspice as well as cloves, a bouillon cube, and a little hot paprika.

What you end up with is a savory sweet sauce for ham. It complements the smoked salty nature of a ham rather well.

Here’s how I do it:

* 1 cup dark raisins
* 2 cups water (hot with a bouillon cube added)
* 3 Tablespoons Wondra flour
* 1/3 Cup brown sugar
* 1/4 Teaspoon dry Coleman’s mustard
* 3 Tablespoons grainy mustard like Grey Poupon Country Mustard
* 1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 Teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 Teaspoon hot paprika
* 4 Tablespoons butter
* 1/2 Sweet onion diced
* 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar or maple champagne vinegar

Chop up the onion and toss it in the sauce pan with the butter. As you are cooking the onion down and it starts to get translucent, add the raisins.

Then add the water with the dissolved boullion cube, add the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved add the flour – and yes I pretty much stir continuously at this point. Next add the spices and the mustards (powdered mustard and the grainy mustard), and finally add the vinegar.

A lot of people when they’re making the sauce will serve it right at this point. I don’t. I turn off the stove and I put the lid on the saucepan and I let it sit for at least an hour. I reheat it gently when I am ready to serve my ham and all you do is put it in a gravy boat and let people spoon what they want over warm ham.

Oh and I changed up my ricotta pie this Easter. I toasted up pine nuts and chopped pistachios and added them to the ricotta mixture before baking!

Happy Easter!

things that really matter

MBM photo/screenshot

Is this about Chester County? No, although we have our share of homeless too.

This is about the true goodness in human beings that exists in spite of mankind today.

Daily News Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky: Havertown homeless man gets a house for Easter

A chance conversation between two strangers brings a homeless man off the street

Updated: APRIL 15, 2017 — 9:00 AM EDT

Jonathan Sweet knows that Jesus loves him. But until he met Michelle McHugh, he wasn’t sure anyone else did.
“I had almost given up on humanity,” says Sweet, 52, a single, childless Havertown native who was homeless for seven years until a chance meeting with McHugh changed his fortunes. “Not every homeless person is a criminal or an addict. But people treat you like you’re a second-class citizen. It gets you down.”….Last December, he and McHugh were chatting at the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby. McHugh, who lives in Havertown, was waiting for a train to Philly, where she works as associate director of Drexel University’s television management program….Christmas was approaching. McHugh asked Sweet where he’d spend the day.
 “Over there,” he answered, pointing to a forested area within walking distance of the neighborhood where McHugh lives with her husband, Jim, and their preschool son, Nolan.
“I was shocked,” says McHugh, 43. “While my family was warm inside a nice house, Jon was living in the woods behind us. It was heart-wrenching.”…..On Holy Thursday, Sweet moved into his new home, which is fully furnished thanks to donations and the enthusiastic services of Havertown interior designer Liz MacDonald (who even managed to find a sofa in purple, Jon’s favorite color).

This is but a brief excerpt of the article.  The article is so truly beautiful and moving that I hope everyone who reads this post, will read this article.

I remember when Michelle McHugh started the GoFundMe page to help.

You see, I am lucky enough to call Michelle McHugh a friend. 

Michelle and I met many years ago through our dear mutual friend Sherry Tillman.  Sherry, the proprietoress of Ardmore, PA’s Past*Present*Future is also the founder of First Friday Main Line.

We were planning a non-profit special event to benefit First Friday Main Line called “Foodapalooza” and Sherry tossed Michelle and I and our cameras together one Saturday to photograph chefs and local restaurants. Michelle and I had been introduced, but this was what really brought us together as friends. That and Sherry’s uncanny ability to share her friends and bring more people together.  This was in 2009.

I still love the photos I took that afternoon as I felt they were inspired by the company.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Michelle (who lives with MS) was one of my cheerleaders. Her positivity was contagious and she was one of my friends who buoyed me through quite the life challenge.  She always just checked in. Totally casual, no big deal, how are you doing, you’ve got this.

In 2012 when she and her husband welcomed their miracle baby, I was one of the ones who could cheer her on.  She is an example of unwavering faith and goodness. 

So am I surprised that my friend Michelle took on this project? No, although project is the wrong word because her efforts are so indicative of her heart and soul.

 Michelle is a kind and loving and humble person and she deserves the accolades and a beautiful article by Ronnie Polaneczky.

In the world we live in, it’s easy to tear people down. What’s hard and shouldn’t be, is paying it forward just because it’s the right thing to do.

On the holy weekend that is Easter is the perfect time to hear the story of  Jon Sweet and his friend, who is also my friend, Michelle McHugh.

Sometimes it is hard to believe in the goodness of others, but this is such a reminder of why we just have to believe.  It is also a reminder that it’s the right thing to pay it forward, and that doing good and doing the right thing has rewards more precious than money.

This is also a story of love and friendship and the many forms they both take.

I am so very proud of my friend Michelle.

Happy Easter

my easter woods visitor

I was reminded once again how many critters we have close by in our woods. This is one of the yearlings. She is completely unfazed by humans. I do not feed the deer, but this was NOT taken with a zoom lens. I was just that close. truthfully it was kind of a cool, peaceful experience.

Of course this made me think of Sunoco Logistics again too. Our wildlife deserves to be protected from them and their pipelines, fracking, and drilling too. Please contact your elected representatives today, gubernatorial candidates in Pennsylvania, and the Public Utility Commmission.

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happy easter

pie

 

king arthurThe downstairs smells like Easter.  The ricotta pie is out of the oven.  I baked a ricotta pie with a sweet crust.  The recipe is the one out of my King Arthur Flour cookbook, tweaked. Add cardamom for one. The recipe calls for grated orange peel in the ricotta mixture and a double crust that is sweet.

I played with the crust to make it not so double crust boring – I have collected vintage cookie cutters for years, so I got some out to use to creat fun cut outs with the dough.

on good friday, remember the churches abandoned by time and man

DSC_0053Sounds a bit dramatic, but it got your attention, didn’t it? On Good friday, one of the holiest of holy days, I ask you to remember a small but historically significant church that is rotting in Frazer in East Whiteland Township, Chester County.  It is on Bacton Hill Road and it is Ebenezer AME Church.DSC_0006

It started as a fascination of a ruined structure that I later received more information on.  Ebenezer AME in Frazer was built in 1835.

Apparently the oldest grave stones in the cemetery date back to the 1830s. An Eagle Scout named Matthew Nehring had been working on uncovering the gravestones. (Have no idea if his project is finished.) DSC_0041According to the photos it appears some of the dead buried here are soldiers and veterans. One gravestone is for a Joshua Johnson  (Pvt., Co. K, 45th Reg., United States Colored Troops (USCT) (Civil War). I find this to be incredibly historically significant as the army began to organize African Americans into regimental units known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT) in 1863.

DSC_0022According to the East Whiteland Historical Society (which I am not sure what they do because all I see are historic structures rotting in East Whiteland) this church used to serve as a “hub” of African American society in Frazer.  So again on Good Friday I ask again why isn’t any of it being protected?

In any Christian religion, Easter is a very big deal.  Imagine Easters of the past in this little church.  Ladies and gents in their Sunday best, the ladies sporting spring hats.  The laughter and joyful sounds of children outside after services have concluded? The pastor standing outside wishing his congregation well and God speed?

DSC_0007A reader of my blog tells me County records indicate that the lot is owned by the “African Methodist Episcopal Church”.  This online directory shows the a church in Malvern – St. Paul’s.

The headquarters of the AMEC church are as follows:

500 8th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37203 Phone:(615)254-0911 Fax:(615)254-0912 Email:cio@ame-church.com

I am going to e-mail these posts to AMEC and see if they will care.  Certainly no one else I have e-mailed to date has appeared to care.

East Whiteland always seems to be Johnny on the Spot for historical data yet all thisDSC_0051 stuff just rots.  Peter H. Spengeman, a member of the East Whiteland Township Historical Commission wrote to me recently in part:

I appreciate the writer’s interest and concern about the considerable historical resources in the Township , and the ongoing need for protection of structures such as the Ebenezer AME Church, a recent focus of beginning conservation planning.   All of us shudder when we pass a formerly stately structure crying for help.

He continues with what East Whiteland has done in the past, and well, the past is the past.  What is going on today? I am going to not try to sound harsh, but what is it they do besides bemoan the fact that a heck of a lot of history in East Whiteland is rotting?  Loch Aerie, Linden House, and more?  For example (I do not know all the municipal boundaries so feel free to correct me) but isn’t part of Duffy’s Cut that Amtrak won’t allow any more archeological digs on in East Whiteland?  Is the mass grave important enough that maybe another marker closer to the actual site is in order?DSC_0093

I get that part of the problem is East Whiteland has probably more commercial zones than residential so why not get smart with zoning and planning?  Is it possible to write into ordinances and make conditions of approval that not only include  these developers to improve the roads and infrastructure, but to kick in towards the preservation?  I mean seriously they have developers with huge, deep pockets like DSC_0072Brian O’Neill and Eli Kahn, right? I mean Brian O’Neill is Catholic with a sense of religion, right?  Why couldn’t they ask someone like him to save a church?  Help get another historical marker closer to the actual location of Duffy’s Cut mass grave (Where AMTRAK halted archeological digging) ? Or help find a conservation minded buyer for say Linden Hall or Loch Aerie?

Both developers and their partners have made noises out here and elsewhere about how their developments add to the character of an area, so why not have them put their money where there mouths are on historic sites? Paoli Battlefield and Battle of the Clouds are important, but why is it I see neighboring municipalities succeeding with preservation efforts? Historic Sugartown, Historic Goshenville, and even though sometimes I think they need to do more, Historic Yellow Springs?

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And again, when you go to East Whiteland’s really poorly designed website and pull up the historical commission you get a big bowl of nothing.

This church meant something to residents of Chester County for generation upon generation.  I was also told (and I quote) “Some of the family names on the gravestones are the same as families still living in Malvern Borough.  I can’t blame the Township when the church and the families don’t seem to care.”

DSC_0029I will tell you what, if some of my people were buried in an abandoned churchyard I sure would care.

So here is wishing on Good Friday that apathy dies an untimely death and people remember this site before my photos are the only things left standing.

Again, I am happy to share the photos I have taken to date.  If the African Methodist Episcopal Church were to roll up with East Whiteland to save it, I would continue to offer my photographic skills as a donation as well as my PR talents.  But someone other than I has to care, first.

Blessed Easter all.

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