Sunday, December 9, 2018

Tis the Season to be Baking!

Here's a recipe for one of my favorite childhood cookies. These cookies bring back many memories...when I was really young, my mom would bake them and let me dip the cookie in chocolate and then nuts.  Even with that limited chore, I would make a mess! But it is so much fun for kids.

These cookies are not too large, so folks always have room for at least one! Starting in mid-December we serve Christmas cookies as our third course for breakfast at The Artist's Inn and Gallery.

Walnut Acorn Cookies

They will last for several weeks if stored in an air-tight container in a cool area. 

1 cup soft butter or margarine
3/4 brown sugar
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
16. oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter, add sugar and beat til fluffy.  Sift four with soda and blend into butter mixture.  Add vanilla and 3/4 cup of the nuts.  Shape cookies by pressing dough into a dessert spoon with fingertips.  Push dough from spoon with flat side down on ungreased sheet or silpat.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool.  Melt chocolate, cool slightly.  Dip large end of “acorn” cookie in chocolate and then in the chopped nuts.  Makes six dozen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"I'm Not Catchin' A Cold This Winter" Soup

It's winter.  Here in Pennsylvania the news is filled each day with folks dying from the flu, battling colds, getting sick.  It's enough to make you a bit leery about heading out in public.

So I set out to create something to arm us with enough vitamins, antioxidants and chicken stock to survive the onslaught of germs that might come our way.

Here's the solution:

Melt two tablespoons butter in a large soup pot. 

Add 3 large carrots, 2 stalks celery (both coarsely chopped) and 1/2 cup of Hard Winter Wheatberries.  Add a good couple shakes of salt, pepper and marjoram. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Don't let it get lonely - stir it every once in a while.
Add two cups of water and 1 large mild onion - coarsely chopped.

It should look like this:

Let that simmer for about 20 minutes.  Coarsely chop a turnip and add it to the pot.  

Add 6 cups of chicken stock.  Now it should look like this:

Let that cook, covered for another 10 minutes.

Cut the ribs off of 3 leaves of kale.  Chop the kale.

Add another two cups of low sodium chicken stock to the pot (I like the powdered one sold at Shady Maple Farm Market).  You can add as much as you like - we tend to like our soups on the chunky side.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Let the whole pot cook a good half hour, stirring occasionally.  Then take a seat and enjoy the soup, arming your body with the necessary nutrients to fight off any germ coming your way.

Yum.  We're feeling better already!  Hope you are too!

We're happy to provide another original recipe from The Artist's Inn and Gallery, in Terre Hill PA.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Beep Beep Beep Goes My Kitchen

Much like “The Trolley Song” that Judy Garland made famous, my kitchen is as noisy as that trolley she sang about.

The stove beeps with every press of my finger, then it beeps three times when it’s preheated, and gives an extended, annoyed beep if I dare to open the door while the broiler is on.  It beeps if I open the oven while baking too– although I’m not sure how I’m supposed to exchange the cookie trays without opening the door.  A loud and long beep greets me should I decide to self-clean the oven, as though it dislikes this task as much as I do!
Then there’s my coffee maker….it beeps loudly when the coffee is made…even though I’m standing right in front of it, waiting for it to finish.

My dishwasher has a mind of its own.  Not only does it beep with every button I push, but also beeps three short beeps, then waits, and beeps three again, then waits and beeps a final three – to boast that it has successfully cleaned the load of dishes in a quick 2 ½ hours.  I’m just surprised that it doesn’t play the trumpet.
Let’s not forget the crockpot – once it warms up to the correct temperature, it sounds like a foghorn in the kitchen.

And then there’s my waffle iron – 5 beeps means it is hot and ready for the batter.  Three beeps means that it thinks the batter is fully cooked…sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong. 
Thankfully the microwave can be programmed so that all beeping can be silenced.  This is my one and only requirement for buying a microwave, even though I have to look deep into the owner’s manual to figure out how to turn off that irritating beep.

The dryer has the good sense to have a button that silences the beeping – the only polite appliance that I own.  Sigh.
Well, I have to go now….my washer is calling me.  You can probably hear it...all the way from The Artist's Inn, in Lancaster County! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Scootin' in the Coupe

Innkeeping is such a stressful job....all that cookie baking, talking to guests and fluffing of pillows  can wear you out.  Luckily, my friend Lynne, fellow innkeeper at The Australian Walkabout, had the solution.  She suggested that we check out the new coupes at Strasburg Scooters. Great idea! And, since Lynne is a four-wheelin' kind of gal, I got to ride as passenger and just enjoy the scenery.
And what scenery it was.

We took the roads less traveled...except, that is, for the team of 6 workhorses coming up behind us...

We stopped to see some friends along the way...

some were two legged, some were four...

We got to breathe in the fresh air...and melt the stress away.

And we explored a couple of covered bridges almost too pretty to be real.

The coupes are very cute - you'll feel like you are riding in a cartoon car while My Little Deuce Coupe plays in your head, courtesy of the Beach Boys.

We visited some ladies on the farm,

and fell in love with the kittens (of course).

We saw Lancaster County from far and near...

including a house with telltale signs of young Amish boys living there!

And at the end of the day, we were ready to head back to our inns and greet our guests. 

So the next time you are feeling a little work stress, head to Lancaster County, stay at a bed and breakfast (we recommend The Artist's Inn and Australian Walkabout) and schedule a scooter tour.  We'll even give you a coupon for the tour.  We bet your stress will melt away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

One Potato, Two Potato.....Heck with Three; Gimme More!

It's hard to find another vegetable so versatile as potatoes.  Serve them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Fry them, bake them, broil them or boil!

 Cut them into all kinds of shapes and slather them with a variety of toppings.  

Face it, Americans are in love with potatoes.  Whether they are white, yellow, red, blue, sweet, new, russet or fingerlings; there are certainly enough to chose from.

And, like any other crop, potatoes should be bought from your local farmers. 
Not only will the potatoes be fresher because they haven't spent days and nights in trucks traveling across the country, but the soft skins will peel like butter.  
If you have any trouble finding farmers in your area, then just make a trip to The Artist's Inn in Lancaster County, and we'll be happy to steer you in the right direction.

Actually, you could just follow the signs!



Monday, August 31, 2015

Pear and Cherry Bread

This is a pretty hearty bread - it has more fruit than dough.

First, find yourself a pear tree.  Luckily, we have one in the back yard behind the inn.  Next - find someone tall enough (or use a ladder) to pick the harvest. In our case, that was Bruce.  Even with a tall ladder, we couldn't reach all the pears. This made the resident groundhog very happy as he beat us to the ones that fell to the ground.

Once you have your pears, peel and chop two cups full. 

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 loaf pan - or I use a mini pan (sold in restaurant supply or kitchen stores).

Combine pears, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 egg, mixing well.

Combine 1 1/2 cups sifted flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a separate bowl.  I like to just sift all my dry ingredients together.  It seems to make them get along better.  

Stir in 1 cup of dried cherries (I have used fresh cherries and think the dried look better after baking).  
Optional:  Add 1/2 cup walnuts.  I usually add these in, but leave them out if we have guests with nut allergies. 

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and pour into your pan.  Bake for about an hour for a full loaf, about 35 minutes for the smaller loaves.  I have no idea why the image below insists on standing on its head, but trust me, it went into (and came out of) the oven correctly.

Serve with pear butter.  Enjoy!

Another original recipe from The Artist's Inn and Gallery

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Remembering a friend and a boss…..Sam Siciliano

It was my first day at a new job… at headquarters for The Asbury Park Press.  I had made it almost until lunch when I heard my boss’s thunderous yell from the cubicle next to mine:  “Hey, Witkowski, got any plans for lunch?”

I was totally embarrassed, but everyone else seemed to be so used to him yelling that they just kept on working.  Was he kidding?  Who has plans on their first day at work?  He must’ve known I didn’t, because I had no chance to answer before he thundered again, “Well, be ready at noon; you’re coming with me”. 
I got in his car as he sang out loud to the radio (and what a voice!!!) and told me that some relatives were visiting his mom’s house.  We drove off to Asbury Park, and went into a little house crammed with people and the smell of garlic.

The kitchen was packed with food – and we ate and talked (well, I mostly listened) from the moment we arrived until we left.  There were older women in dresses talking loudly, their hair tied up in scarves, kids yelling, a dog or two running from room to room, and pots of sauce(gravy if you’re really Italian) and pasta steaming on the stove. In fact, it was hard to find an empty spot anywhere.

I felt instantly welcomed and comfortable.  Maybe growing up with a lot of relatives all crammed into my mom’s small kitchen helped – even if her food was Polish and this was oh, so Italian.
One Christmas we traded recipes, along with the finished products - our family pierogies for his family’s white sauce.  Good eating, indeed.

That was my boss and friend, Sam Siciliano.  There were never any strangers in his presence.
For those that may have known him, here is a nice article: