Valley Shepherd Creamery’s Oldwick Shepherd and Apple Tart with Rosemary

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

On a recent visit to the Reading Terminal Market, I took the opportunity to stock up at Valley Shepherd Creamery.  In particular, I bought a large piece of their Oldwick Shepherd cheese, as I was anxious to try the Cheese and Apple with Rosemary Tart recipe included in their September email. 

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Rather than using store-bought pastry (as recommended in the recipe), I made my own using Castle Valley Mills Soft Wheat Flour and Hillacres Pride butter.  I let it rest overnight and rolled it out in the morning as the oven pre-heated. I used Stayman apples, which are particularly good for baking.  Also, since the apples were on the small side, I used two apples rather than one. 

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When I bought the cheese, Zeke wanted me to let them know how it turned out: Zeke, I will be back for more Oldwick Shepherd very, very soon. 

 

Posted by Kevin on 11/09 at 02:56 AM


Day Trip: Lititz, PA

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Wanting to take advantage of the fall weather, we recently spent a day in and around Lititz, PA. 

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We began with a late-morning walk through Speedwell Forge County Park. The woodland trail goes along (and then over) a creek as well as alongside fields.  Though it did include a few inclines, it was an easy hike and a picturesque start to our outing.   

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Next, we headed into the center of Lititz for lunch and shopping.  Downtown Lititz is one of the prettiest town centers around, and the Bull’s Head Public House occupies a prized place at the head of its main street.  The beer list is superb, and the pub-style food is far more refined than you might suppose. After some antique shopping - not to mention a fresh soft pretzel from Sturgis - we were ready to continue on.  The only thing missing was a stop at Rooster Street Provisions.  We’ll save that for next time.

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Our final stop was Waltz Vineyards.  Planted on family farmland in the rolling hills west of Lititz, Waltz Vineyards produces a range of quality wines that rank among the best of what’s produced in Pennsylvania.  All of the wines are estate grown and bottled, and Waltz offers a local cheese plate to serve alongside their wines. We were particularly impressed by the Old Line Chardonnay.  It nearly equals the quality of Unionville Vineyard’s Pheasant Hill Chardonnay, but at almost half the price.  After our tasting and cheese plate, we enjoyed the late-afternoon sun on some Adirondack chairs overlooking the countryside.  It was difficult not to order more wine and while away the rest of the day in those chairs, but it was only a day trip after all.

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Posted by Kevin on 11/06 at 02:42 AM


Our Very Own Dried Beans

Saturday, October 22, 2016

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We took a photo just like this a year ago.  Those beans were from Savoie Organic Farm.  These came from our garden, dried right on the vine.  Pole beans are delicious fresh, but my favorite thing about the varieties we planted was that if we missed the window when the beans were slim and tender we could simply wait and harvest them as dried beans.  Hence the sexist but hilarious name of one variety: Lazy Housewife. 

Posted by Donna on 10/22 at 04:55 AM


Farm Visit: Whitesbog, NJ

Monday, September 19, 2016

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I’m not sure if it’s fair to simply call Whitesbog a farm.  A restored village that once supported a thriving cranberry and blueberry production, Whitesbog is a beautiful slice of Pine Barrens history. 

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We visited during an art festival featuring site specific installations and a preview screening of an excellent documentary film called The Pine Barrens, but on any day a visitor can roam the 3,000 acres of bogs, trails and forest, stop in the general store that houses what was once the post office, and view the newly created Whitesbog Art Gallery.

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One of the restored homes is that of Elizabeth Coleman White, granddaughter to the original owner and founder of the cranberry production.  It was White who, along with Dr. Frederick V. Coville, through exhaustive research and experimentation brought successful blueberry cultivation to the entire region.

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The bogs are only a short walk or ride down a dirt path from most of the buildings of Whitesbog, and you shouldn’t miss them.  Like the rest of the Pine Barrens, it’s hard to stand amid them and remember you are in the most densely populated state in the country. 

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Posted by Donna on 09/19 at 09:47 AM


Farm Visit: Saul Agricultural High School

Saturday, August 06, 2016

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While we’ve driven by it many times on our way to hiking along the Wissahickon, we had never stopped at the student run farm at Saul Agricultural High School until last week.  Managed with the help of Weavers Way staff, students and faculty grow vegetables for the Henry Got Crops! CSA (long sold out this year) and the twice weekly market located at 7095 Henry Avenue.

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Student volunteers were out working, and the market was full of seasonal fare.  We loved that you can also pick up an assortment of locally made favorites such as Philly Muffins.  The CSA boxes looked lovely as well.

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Posted by Donna on 08/06 at 03:57 PM


Eating Our Way Through The DNC

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

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As if we needed more evidence that Philadelphia is finally getting the credit it has long deserved as one of the best food destinations in the country, every major publication seemed to put out its own list of all the wonderful places to eat during the Democratic National Convention held here last week.  Many of our best restaurants, big and small, were visited by prominent DNC speakers or bought out for the evening for private events, not to mention the thousands of attendees and volunteers filling up tables all over the city.  But our favorite event of the week was Philly Feast Food Truck Festival, co-sponsored by Plate of the Union and The Food Trust.  Dozens of local food trucks lined the streets surrounding 3rd and Arch, along with live entertainment and vendors selling locally made goods. 

While we weren’t at all surprised to see The Food Trust sponsor such an event, we had never heard of Plate of The Union and were thrilled to hear about their mission.  Philadelphia has long been home to several food advocacy organizations - it’s fantastic to see the issue gain national traction.

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Posted by Donna on 08/03 at 01:54 PM


    Blog Dog

    Monday, July 25, 2016

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    I hope you’ll forgive me for the cheesy filter on the photo above.  It is of a hot dog after all, though one made by the exceptional Stryker Farm.  We enjoyed these as much as their bangers last winter. 

    Posted by Donna on 07/25 at 08:34 AM


    Market Highlights: Christ Church Old City July 20th

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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    Having missed Headhouse this weekend, it was great to be able to pick up some midweek groceries at Christ Church Farmers’ Market this afternoon.  Vendors included Cherry Grove Farm, who brought a variety of their cheeses, and Beechwood Orchards, where we snapped up the first blackberries we’ve seen all year.  Taproot Farm also had a lovely variety of produce, including the sunflower shoots above.  We walked home happy with a delicious cup of buckwheat cherry ice cream from Weckerly‘s.

    Posted by Donna on 07/20 at 04:12 PM


    Va La’s Zafferano

    Saturday, July 16, 2016

    Anthony Vietri does not make a lot of wine; neither does Anthony make many types of wine. So a new, limited release from Va La is worth noting, and just as summer is reaching its midpoint, we have another one in Zafferano.  Like all Va La wines, it’s made with a combination of estate-grown grapes - this time, in the style of an “orange” wine.  Orange wines leave the juice in contact with the skins before being separated (hence the color).  I’ve had several orange wines before, French and Italian, and I have found their style to be as varied as wines designated “white” or “red.”  Not surprisingly, therefore, the Zafferano manages to stand apart from other orange wines just as Va La’s other wines stand apart from more traditional white and red.

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    The first thing I noticed was the deep, rich color. I actually delayed smelling and tasting it just so I could stare at it. The nose of this wine is of some fruit, but I don’t know what type of fruit it is.  It isn’t red fruit, black fruit, stone fruit, or berries.  The closest thing I could think of would be watermelon, but an intensely scented and flavored watermelon.  I mean, like the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted.  Then, I smell flowers - honeysuckle in particular.  Once I tasted it, I was surprised how those sweet aromas were combined with a taste devoid of sweetness.  In other words, this wine could pair beautifully with any local food the summer spurs you to eat.  So, combining a gorgeous scent with a dry taste, properly chilled, makes for an incredibly refreshing glass on a summer afternoon.

    And that’s exactly what we did. 

    Posted by Kevin on 07/16 at 05:59 AM


    You Must Return Here With A Shrubbery

    Wednesday, July 13, 2016

    Several years ago, I was enjoying a drink (at a now-shuttered restaurant) so much that I complimented the bartender on my cocktail.  He nodded in agreement and replied, “Shrubs are cool.” I am ashamed to admit I had no idea what he was talking about.  (That’s not entirely true.  There was muddled thyme in my cocktail, so I assumed he was referring to that.)  Only very recently did I connect that statement with the Martha Washington Raspberry Shrub served at City Tavern, even though I have walked by the sign advertising said shrub at least a thousand times.

    Needless to say, I am an extremely late-comer to the possibilities of fruit shrubs.  (For those readers who truly are the last people on Earth to learn of them, shrubs are fruit-based syrups mixed with vinegar.) One day several weeks ago, I decided to experiment with some underripe strawberries, using this recipe.  After a little more research, I came about this from Michael Dietsch. Taking Dietsch at his word, I used the cold method for my next shrub.  However, I wasn’t using strawberries this time; I was using rhubarb recently picked from our garden.

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    The result was definitely more flavorful, and Dietsch is absolutely correct that the acid mellows in time, but this shrub did not have the viscosity of the cooked one.  I am confident enough in the cold method to use it for any other fruit, but given the texture of rhubarb, I think I would use the “hot” method in the hopes it might further break down and exude its juices.  Nonetheless, Dietsch’s cocktail recipe was much better than the previous, and it made a delicious cocktail with club soda and Bluecoat Gin

    Posted by Kevin on 07/13 at 06:30 PM


    Pickle and Peach Salad

    Saturday, July 09, 2016

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    I use the word pickle deliberately here, despite the fact that these clearly are not pickled or fermented cucumbers.  They are, however, Kirbys - those small sweet lovely crisp cucumbers that any self respecting South Jersey native simply calls pickles.  These are from Blooming Glen, and I might have knocked a person or two over in my rush to get at them at Headhouse Farmers Market.  None made it to the actual pickling stage, but hopefully there will be more tomorrow for that.  The mozzarella is from Valley Shepherd Creamery.  Looking at their cheese case at Reading Terminal - packed with different varieties and styles - it might be easy to miss the freshly made mozzarella mentioned on the chalkboard.  You shouldn’t, especially at this time of year.  The salad below came together the day after we had gorged ourselves on mozzarella and tomatoes and wanted something a bit different. 

    Pickle and Peach Salad


    3 Kirby pickles, sliced into half moons
    2 peaches, cubed
    A handful of greens
    2 green onions, white and green both sliced
    1/4 pound mozzarella, diced or torn into small pieces
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    generous pinch of salt



    Toss all ingredients until well combined.  Add salt if necessary.  Serves two as a meal.

     

    Posted by Donna on 07/09 at 05:50 PM


    Some Lessons From A Beach Garden

    Tuesday, July 05, 2016

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    Last week we visited Beach Plum Farm, which in addition to operating a farm stand also supplies several restaurants in Cape May with fresh produce, eggs and pork.  We’ve toured the fields before, but new this year was a large section of raised beds behind the farmstand with all manner of vegetables growing.  The beds were beautiful, but by no means ornamental and already producing a serious amount of vegetables given their size.

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    We were excited to see tomatoes tied between two stakes with taut twine, as we learned to do years ago at Greensgrow Farm.  The system works beautifully in small plots if you have the time to devote to keeping up with the growth.

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    These zucchini plants amazed us - when crowded as they are, the leaves just grow upward instead of spreading out. 

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    We took note of the variety of corn growing here.  These are much smaller plants than those we grew last year but with lots of ears already well formed.

    Posted by Donna on 07/05 at 05:37 PM


    Recipe Revisit: Ricotta and Zucchini Pasta

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

    When I first posted this recipe last year, I concluded with the suggestion that a mint pesto would be a worthwhile variation.  Well, now that summer has come around again, I got around to following my own advice.

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    I think the mint pesto was every bit as good as the basil, just different.  Moreover, David Lebovitz has now convinced me of the superiority of the mortar and pestle.  In all honesty, to make an actual pesto is quite laborious, but what you make here is easily done while the zucchini softens. And it is worth every tedious grind of the pestle.  One last note - Galen Glen’s Stone Cellar Riesling paired every bit as well as the Turdo Sauvignon Blanc.

    Posted by Kevin on 06/21 at 06:22 PM


    Nigel Slater’s Carrot and Corriander Fritters

    Sunday, June 05, 2016

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    So this is one of the 11,000 recipes on the BBC Food site the possible deletion of which caused an uproar a few weeks ago.  For good reason - we made these as dinner with a salad and felt like we ate much more of a treat than a bunch of carrots.  Nobody does fritters like Nigel Slater, by the way, as I suspect from reading his cookbooks that he treats them like a main course as well. 

    Posted by Donna on 06/05 at 05:09 PM


    Half-White Isn’t Half-Bad

    Wednesday, June 01, 2016

    I would like to say that when I ordered Castle Valley Mill’s Stone Ground Bolted Hard Wheat Flour, it was after a great deal of research and deliberation.  But what I should say is the truth: recalling that we had run out of whole-wheat flour while I was in the middle of placing an order with the incomparable Winter Harvest, I saw “whole wheat” in the name and “good for baking” in the description. That was it, but “it” turned out to be a fortuitous discovery. 

    Accoring to the Castle Valley Mill site, what makes this flour unique is that the coarsest pieces of bran are sifted out, leaving a much lighter flour.  In fact, Castle Valley describes it as “half white.” While it is true that there is some nutritional value lost by sifting out the bran, I can now bake bread using only this flour.  Previously, I could use only 30% whole-wheat flour at best. You can see the result in my focaccia (taken from Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy).

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    I had little difficulty hydrating or handling this dough, and the rising time wasn’t any longer.  Also, the texture was the same light, sponginess you would expect of focaccia.  Most importantly, I could indulge in an extra piece (or two) without feeling much guilt. 

    Posted by Kevin on 06/01 at 05:08 PM


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