chester county christmas memories of a more recent vintage: west chester and everyone loves a parade!

This 2014 photo comes from my high school friend Lee Ann Embrey. She is also one of the best photographers in Chester County.

The photo came with an attached message:

This is one of my favorite photos  (in the recent past) of the West Chester Christmas parade.  Feel free to use on your blog / great idea!  It is one of my favorite Chester County traditions to attend around the holidays.  

going to france for dinner via chester county

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We have this sort of unofficial supper club with some of our Chester County residing Shipley friends. Last night, we were treated to dinner at the home of one of these friends.  We all went to France via Chester County because another guest at the table was renown local chef, (an actual honest to goodness amazing French Chef)  Sylvie Ashby.

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Chef Sylvie 

Chef Sylvie lives in West Chester. She was born and raised in Normandy, France. She always wanted to share the love and passion for French cooking and comfort food the French traditional way by only using seasonal fresh produce and meats from the local markets.

Last evening’s dinner was one of my favorite meals ever.  I grew up on bœuf bourguignon or beef Burgundy or bœuf à la Bourguignonne is not some ordinary stew, as delicious as they may beef.  It is elevated far beyond that and if done properly like last night, the meat does not disintegrate but melts in your mouth. Last night, it was probably hands down the best I have ever had.

We started with hors d’oevres of belgian endive boats piped with a light and fluffy goat cheese, goat cheese toasts, and one of my favorite purely French treats I have never made, gougères!Related image Gougères are these fluffy puffs of warm pastry made with Gruyère cheese.  (Check out this recipe for gougères from Alain Ducasse.)

After our main course of bœuf bourguignon we had a marvelous salad with fresh greens and a delightful vinaigrette with an amazing blood orange infused olive oil from a Taste of Olive in West Chester. And the bread? Amazing as always from La Baguette Magique in West Chester.

The beef and cheese were also locally sourced.  I forget whose goat cheeses we had, and

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Chef Sylvie Courtesy Photo

I do not know the farm name for the beef but for some reason I think it was from down near Landenberg.

And dessert? Channel your inner Julia Child, it was Floating Island! Floating Island is a light as a feather dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise.  The crème anglaise is custardy and delicious.  Chef Sylvie finished the dessert with a light caramel drizzle.

This dinner was a true mini vacation to France.  I love when we get together to have dinner with our friends, and we loved being introduced to Chef Sylvie.

And guess what? You too can hire Chef Sylvie to bring the taste of France to your home for intimate gatherings.  Chef Sylvie specializes in French country cooking, bringing France to the comfort of your own home for private dinner parties.  And her prices are emminently reasonable. She also will cater events like birthday parties, Girls ‘night out, Crepes bar party, Book Clubs, Wine Clubs…her website is cuisinedesylvie.com . You can also find her on Facebook Cuisine de Sylvie.

One thing I did not ask her is if she teaches cooking classes.  I think that would be super fun!

Stay safe in the snow and ice!

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it’s all about the money, honey

Drove by Greystone Hall today. What a sh*t show. They have already updated their website to reflect the 34 acres they kept after selling to the developer.

“The Woodlands at Greystone”. Another preposterous development name. West Goshen Township should be ashamed, but like most municipalities, in the end all they do is roll over and show the developers their municipal bellies.

This development which has already begun as you can see, will litter the area with what? 598 MORE homes for the area?

Ugh.

But hey, when it comes to development it’s always all about the money, honey.

rally against pipelines – west whiteland- march 10 at 3:30 pm

See below. Sharing what I saw on Facebook. A peaceful rally. #DefendWhatYouLove.

Oh poor Jeff Shields former Inquirer reporter and now Sunoco Logistics’ Communications Manager (a/k/a their talking head.) He was an amazing reporter and now he has been Suessed. No Jeff, I had nothing to do with any of this, just sharing. Dude, hope the jingle in your pocket is worth it, you are on the wrong side of this one.

I would take note Adelphia Gateway and other companies pondering pipelines. We the people are awake. And the people are over pipelines and companies raping the land and destroying where we call home.

lovely old chester county farm

Today I went to a very cool estate sale. It was on Lenape Road in West Chester. Not too far away from West Chester University.

It is one of those places that just takes your breath away. Both from the setting and just an amazing old farmhouse.

Built in 1840, it was a very prosperous farm, as this was a very good sized farmhouse. It once, according to someone I asked, was acreage- wise quite large. It still sits on a lovely large plot of Chester County farmland, which is so awesome to see.

The older couple who lived there and their family are selling it to a young family who will love and restore the farmhouse and the property. It is so gratifying to learn of people who care enough to take on a gem like this! Historic preservation and open space preservation are so important and we aren’t seeing nearly enough of that in Chester County.

This house was a privilege to see. I wish the new family many, many decades of happiness. It’s a wonderful farm house.

This house, barn, and property are so Chester County.

have you taken a “master’s” class yet?


I had not taken a cooking class in years before this morning. The last cooking class I took was in a beautiful private home in Bryn Mawr. But it was less hands on and more lecture. This cooking class today, an Italian Baking Class, was totally hands on and fun!
The Italian Baking Class is one of the series of baking classes offered by The Master’s Baker in West Chester, PA. The classes are moderately priced and worth every penny!

We arrived at 11 a.m. Parts of our groups were friends, and others like myself, had just signed up by ourselves. I am a decent home cook, but there are plenty of thing I want to learn how to make. Like focaccia. I am not a facile yeast bread person. So this was a great class for me to start with!
We were taken back to the kitchen and were set up in what is normally the large decorating room and split up into pairs. Then the fun began with Pastry Chef Patricia Polin.

The hours flew by as we made Focaccia, Parmesan Rosemary Grissini (like a breadstick), Dolci di Amalfi (almond lemon olive oil cake), and Biscotti.

We learned a lot about the baking process. We baked using a scale- measuring the ingredients by weight.

I loved everything I made except my Biscotti. They are not super attractive because I was impatient cutting them before the twice-baked stage.


It was a lovely group of ladies and I will definitely be taking another class when I find one I want. I highly recommend taking one of the Master’s Baker classes. I am told plans for the future include mommy and me (mother and child) classes, and more!

The Master’s Baker is a fabulous specialty bakery (wedding cakes, custom birthday cakes, and special orders only, no regular bakery cases and street traffic, etc). They are located at 319 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380. We are customers of theirs, which is how I learned about the class I took today.