Sandwich Wednesday: Prosciutto Caprese

I enjoyed a sandwich last Wednesday with one of my friends (Dan Z) who also has summer afternoons free. This summery sandwich was made with Washington Boro tomatoes that I bought at the tomato festival. I got the rest of the ingredients at Mandro’s Imported Foods. They have a great selection of meats and cheeses. I got a frozen baguette made by Slow Rise Bakery (they carry it at Mandro’s). These baguettes are baked, froze, and then placed in your oven for 5-10 minutes. They taste like they are freshly baked right out of your oven in your home! And they get nice and crispy, but not too hard. They are perfect for sandwiches because you can bite through them easily. I hate when I get bread that is hard to bite into… then all of your sandwich fixin’s squeeze out of sandwich… you know what I mean… bummer.

To build this sandwich, I started with the warm toasty baguette and drizzled good olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar from Global Gardens over the inside. I laid two slices of very thinly sliced prosciutto down – don’t over do it, two is plenty. Top that with sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, sliced summer tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cover it with the top of the baguette. Simple and delicious. A perfect summer sandwich.


Washington Boro Tomato Festival 2012

The Washington Boro Tomato Festival took place this past Saturday at Washington Boro Park. If you missed it this week you have one more chance next weekend. The festival always runs the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays in July, at the peak of Washington Boro’s tomato season.

I had a great Saturday this weekend! It started with my usual Saturday morning visit to Central Market. I rode my scooter and had quite an enjoyable ride downtown. A couple pulled up next to me at a stop light on a bicycle built for two – how cute!

As I pulled up to market, I heard the lovely music of Leo DiSanto and Jeff Bryson. They were standing outside on Market Alley playing to promote their music show that took place that evening – the Lancaster Original Music review, part II. I’m sure there will be a part III, so check the Lancaster Dispensing Company‘s website for show times and updates.

I went into market and loaded up on veggies – they are all local right now! Everything has come into season around Lancaster and all the veggies are fresh, vibrantly colored, and taste delicious!

I walked back out of market and I was going to head home, but Leo and Jeff were still playing outside. I couldn’t really leave when they were singing “All I Have to Do is Dream…” It made everything seem to slow down and seem dreamy. So I sat down next to my friend Steph and her kiddos and wasted some time listening to the rest of Jeff and Leo’s songs… or maybe it was time well spent…

I rode the scooter home and unloaded my veggies. Monk really needed to go for a walk and it was slightly cooler than the rest of the week, so we took him up to the dog park .

We made a little stop to celebrate National Ice Cream Day – one day early. We went to Splits and Giggles, our neighborhood ice cream shop. They had two awesome flavors of frozen yogurt – wildberry (I got this one) and honey cinnamon (Dan got this one). I am getting a scoop of each next time!

We headed down to the Boro and the Tomato Festival was in full swing. We were greeted by a giant tomato and her red tomato bug.

The band was playing and the line for tomato sandwiches was quite long by the time we got there.

Don’t worry… we got our fill of sandwiches and enjoyed some time down by the river.

I don’t think white squishy bread has ever taste so good…

You still have time to get down to the Boro and get yourself a sandwich – next Saturday (July 21st). Don’t miss it, the tomatoes are yummy! You can also buy the famous Washington Boro tomatoes at the Tomato Barn on route 999. The Tomato Barn is open pretty often but you’ll have to make your own tomato sandwiches at home… and they probably just won’t taste the same..

Natural Dyes: Black Walnuts

I have been really interested in natural dyes this year. Remember my Easter egg dye experiment? I used onion skin and herbs to color eggs and they came out rather beautiful.

I am taking a class this summer designed for teachers that is all about “materials science.” I am learning a lot of cool stuff and performing pretty interesting labs that have to do with polymers, magnets, solar panels, dyes, wood, paper, and so many other  cool science things. We spent a whole day on dyes (natural and chemical) with the Chemistry professor and part of a day using natural dyes with the Botany professor. Needless to say… I was excited!

I had to do an assignment comparing two different materials dyed with black walnuts – silk and cotton. Here’s the recap of how to dye using black walnuts and the results for the different materials:

Here is what the black walnut tree looks like. The walnuts start off really green and hard and turn brown and fall to the ground as they mature. You want to use the walnuts that have turned brown and have fallen on the ground. Fall is the perfect time to harvest them, so you might need to plan ahead if you want to use them for dyeing.

You’ll need to crack open and remove the husk from the hard shell inside. There is a dark substance between the husk and the nut shell that is going to provide you with the dark brown color for the dye.

I think the best way to crack the walnut it is smash it between two heavy rocks, boards, etc. I chose to use some bricks from my back yard. They made crushing the walnuts pretty easy. DO NOT try to cut the nuts with a knife, they are very hard and you can easily slip and cut yourself!

Here are my crushed up black walnuts. I am using 16 walnuts to 16 cups of water for my dye. This will give you a nice brown color, you can add more or less depending on how dark you want the dye.

In the kitchen… bring the water and nuts to a gentle boil in a pot large enough to add whatever you are dyeing. Once it is boiling, give it a stir and reduce the heat down to medium heat. Allow the liquid to gently simmer for about 15 minutes. While the walnuts are simmering in the water, prepare your material to be dyed. Turn on the ventilation fan on your stove! The walnuts give off a strong odor when boiling.

I am using an old 100% cotton t-shirt and 100% silk scarf. Which of these materials absorb and retain the brown dye better? There’s only one way to find out…

Soak your material in warm water and ring it out.

if you want to make patterns on your shirt of scarf, you can do so by folding it in different ways. I am going to try to make a classic swirl pattern on my shirt and scarf. Here’s how its done:

Pinch a small area of the shirt/scarf and twist it in a circular motion. You can use rubber bands to secure your twist… but I used bakers twine and tied up my twisted patterns on the t-shirt to hold them in place. I think the bakers twine was actually easier and held better than the rubber bands, so you might want to try it!

I made about 5 twists on the shirt, all secured with the twine.

I did the same with the scarf.

Submerge the prepared shirt/scarf into the black walnut dye and make sure they are covered by the water.

You can leave your project in the dye anywhere from 2 hours to a day. Depending on how dark you want your piece of art work to be.

I left mine in the pot over night and through out the day for 18 hours! Here’s what it looks like when it comes out:

I placed my shirt in the sink and rinsed it while I was cutting the bakers twine off. I didn’t want to make a big mess and splash the dye all over the place, so the sink was a good place to remove the twine.

Rinse the shirt/scarf thoroughly with water until it runs clear.

Check out your pattern!

Both the t-shirt and the scarf look pretty good. I think the silk really took up the dye better than the cotton.

Wash your items in the washing machine… by themselves! You may get brown dye on other items if you wash the dyed clothing with other clothing at first.

After the wash, it appears that the silk did take up the dye better than the cotton. Are you ready for the explanation? I might get a little nerdy…  but I’ll keep it simple.

Silk fabric has the ability to form ionic bonds with the dye. Ionic bonds are strong! Silk also has more places in its chemical structure to which the dye can bond. What does that mean? That means your dye won’t wash out of the fabric very easily and it will appear to have a richer color for a long time.

The cotton fabric forms hydrogen bonds. These are not as strong as Ionic bonds. So your fabric might fade from a lot of washing and your color might not appear as rich.

I haven’t tried this yet but if you add a stronger acid (like vinegar) to your dye bath, the brown color will be altered a bit. You can also add a base to change the brown to a different hue. I still need to do some research on that to figure out what kind of household acids and bases I can use.

It’s amazing how many natural things you can dye fabrics with! I’ll be sharing some of my other natural dye experiments as I work through them. I have a white tank top that I am going to try dyeing with turmeric next. There are so many foods and plants that will turn things beautiful colors. Leave a comment if you have tried dyeing fabrics with other natural dyes – I am always looking for new ideas!

Thank You!

I took a brief (or kind of long) hiatus from blog writing the past few months. So much has happened since my last post – I can’t believe how busy I have been and I can’t wait to share it with you!

The past few months have been filled with events and experiences that have changed my life. Bridal showers, end of school activities, wedding planning, fun girly trips, concerts, quality time my friends, a super fun science class, and GETTING MARRIED!

I have had some amazing food experiences and I have been experimenting in my own kitchen as well. I think I photo-documented all of this stuff pretty well so I am going to be sharing some pretty cool things on the blog.

I had a awesome (both fun and stressful) time wedding planning. It turns out that Dan and I had some pretty cool ideas, we worked hard to pull everything off, and it all made for an amazing wedding day. I’ll go through the details (with some how-to’s) as soon as I get my photos back.

A very big THANK YOU to everyone that has helped me and Dan move into the next chapter of our lives. Our friends and family provided so much help in so many ways, I am still overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. Our families were supportive and I couldn’t believe how excited everyone was that we were getting married. I knew I had a pretty special group of friends but they blew me away with how much everyone was willing to help out and play a part in our wedding. I am eternally grateful for all of you.

One more thing…

It is the peak of summer time and there are so many fresh veggies to be had, including my favorite thing… tomatoes! The next two weekends are the Washington Boro Tomato Festival. I am going on Saturday and I suggest you try to make it out for one of those squishy tomato sandwiches that they are known for… don’t worry I’ll post the group shot of us eating sandwiches on Sunday 🙂