Spring Art Walk – 2012

It is Spring Art Walk Weekend in Lancaster! One of my favorite weekends of the year… Yea, there is art everywhere BUT I the reason I love this weekend is because the town is bustling with people!

Art walk is usually the first weekend in May and there is a lot going on. The weather is beautiful and it feels great to be outside walking around in the fresh spring air. You can find the map to the art walk stops for 2013 here. If you are in Lancaster, you still have tonight and tomorrow to check out some of the happenings.

I thought I would share some photos from our day out last year. I walked around on Saturday with my friends Janeen and Emily.

We started our day with brunch at On Orange. I recommend their Swedish oatmeal pancakes… I don’t really recommend the vegan sausage.

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Since we walked around on Saturday last year, we made a stop at Lancaster Central Market.

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Across the brick alley from the market is a little shop in the upstairs of an old building. It is called Herbs from the Labyrinth.

They have all kinds of interesting things to look at. Like…

magic spectacles for reading… IMG_5718

Magic wands… IMG_5722

and magic crystals…

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They have some really comfy looking yoga clothes and up-cycled clothing and bags that are pretty cool too.

We continued to move towards the East side of town. Lancaster is a great small city to walk around.

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During art walk, a lot of interesting displays pop up. Sometimes there is music, sometimes there are people with information, sometimes you get to wander behind buildings that you don’t normally wander behind.

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The 300 block of north Queen street is home to many small shops. Some with art, some for shopping, some that are just fun to walk through, and some to window shop.

The Art and Glass Works is a fun store to walk around, you just have to be really careful not to touch or break anything because it is all glass. The Glass Works has a really interesting back yard with treasures hanging all around.

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They had a make-your-own Fairie house activity. Janeen really wanted to make one for her own backyard…

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…but she didn’t follow the warning signs and we had to leave. Oh well, there’s always this year.

We continued on North Queen and stopped at the Candy Factory.

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This space was home to a pretty neat flea and craft fair. I ended up buying a small wooden cheese board from our friend Handmade by Kanga. She also has a display in Building Character; all hand carved wooden jewelery and kitchen items.

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Upstairs from the Candy Factory in the Keppel Building, are a few artists and their studios. You should venture up the stairs to check it out if you are walking around this year. David Stallings is a wonderful painter and can be found on the top floor. There are some other forms of art up there as well.

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Building Character (that I mentioned above) always has some neat finds and it is ever-expanding. It is now home to an old Lancaster printing press. There is usually a person there to show you how it works and you can print something yourself. The shop also gets in some really interesting antiques… check out the Skee Ball machines they had last year. You can easily spend hours in Building Character looking through all the stuff they have collected there.

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The majority of the galleries in Lancaster are on Prince Street in downtown, but there are a few galleries on Walnut Street. We walked though one that had an extra room opened up with some artists working on an old piano. For the past two summers we have had decorated pianos spread over the city. People donate pianos, artists turn them into a piece of art, and they are placed all over town for people to play and enjoy. Its called Keys for the City.

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Our Art Walk Saturday ended with a performance by The Vinegar Creek Constituency, one of my favorite local bands. They performed in the evening at a store & gallery down town called Tellus 360, which is going to be opening another floor as a music venue this year. IMG_5772

I am going out again tomorrow for brunch with more of my girlfriends and to walk about the Art Walk. I hope you get to experience Art Walk in Lancaster – if you live here or if you are visiting! It’s a great weekend to be out and about.

Febrewary Homebrew Crawl 2013 – preparations

A good bunch of my friends (including Me and Dan) like to brew our own beer.

The past two years in February, we had our own home brew competition. We all came together and set up a brew crawl across the town of Lancaster. A majority of the participants live in Lancaster city so it was pretty easy to hop from house to house. Brewers that don’t live in town just match up with someone who does, giving us a lot of brews to taste!

I’ll post some of the past years beers in a few days, but for now I just wanted to share some of this year’s preparations from Dan and Marisa’s House!

We tried to brew a brown ale this year. It turned out to be a not-quite-brown-ale. Brewing got a little interesting as we discovered we did not have a pot large enough to hold this all grain batch. We rigged something up and got it done… we steeped it in the cooler… monk was a little worried about it. I wrote a post about brewing this batch back in November – check it out for the dog biscuit recipe.

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If you have been reading this blog you probably know that I love to make pickles. I’ve been playing with the idea of making pickles with hops in them for a while now. I tried several batches with different hops. I finally found one that is AWESOME! I used cascade hops steeped in the brine.

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I believe they came out quite delicious. I can not wait for the home brew crawlers to try them!

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I will even admit, the cascade hops were so good steeped in the pickle brine that I ate a few right out of the pot. I can not say the same for some of the other varieties of hops.

I also had this idea to pickle some carrots in the hop brine… it was a great idea.

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I ended up with two pickle varieties for the brew crawl:

Cascade Garlic Hop Pickles

Centennial Dill and Garlic Hop Pickles

I haven’t tried the dill batch yet so I hope they are good!

I also made a new soda…

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Wild Huckleberry Honey Ginger Ale

I used wild huckleberry creamed honey that I found at a beautiful winery in California and fresh ginger. I am fermenting it with champagne yeast so it’s nice and bubbly. I know it’s not beer but I really like to experiment and make new things like this… it is fermented so I think it fits… and when else am I going to get to test it out on this many tasters?

I’ll let you know how the 3rd annual home brew crawl goes. I am sure there will be some awesome home brews. There are two ribbons awarded: one chosen by the official judge and one chosen by the voting crawlers.

Walking around town in the crisp febreway air, tasting good beer, all in good company… I think everyone is a winner during this event!

Friendly Reminder: Guber Ball Day is Tomorrow!

Hello everyone!

I am writing to remind you that the observance of Guber Ball day is tomorrow – Saturday, December 22, 2012.

The Distlefink Inn/Dirty Ol’ Tavern opens in the morning… with festivities beginning at 10:30am.

Need a map to get there? Here ya go.

If you are curious about this holiday, read the link that describes last year’s Guber Ball Day party.

Bring your condiments and wear your Santa hat and dancing shoes… See you tomorrow!

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..

Yard Sale Success

I made it through making food at my first yard sale of the season! I did make a net profit – not a huge one but at least I covered my costs and made a little spending money…

I did had a fun morning… I knew it would be fun. A lot of my friends came to visit and I sold a bunched of pickled items too!

I forgot to take a few good pictures of my setup. I thought I did a pretty good job – I set up a table with my Cuisinart Griddler (one of my favorite kitchen appliances), a toaster, and a buffet server to keep things warm.

Here’s my baked goods:

I used this recipe for the trail mix cookies, with some substitutions… I swapped the walnuts for almonds and I added roasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. They came out really good… so good that I ate about 4 of them today. I also made these muffins that I named “Power Muffins” and they were awesome! I usually make zucchini muffins but I wanted to try something a little different. I read that these freeze pretty well so I made a double batch… although I don’t really know if they will last that long because they are so good. I did sell a bunch of them but I have enough left over that I can take them for my afternoon snack at school this week.

Here’s my eggs and sausages in my buffet server.

They look pretty nice, though I was disappointed in the buffet server, it didn’t stay hot for very long and it was hard change and relight the sterno. I ended up just heating everything on the Griddler – which worked out great! If you don’t have one… get one! You can heat up anything in a flash! You can also make great Panini sandwiches and the heat plates are interchangeable so you can turn it into an electric griddle. I could have done everything today with just this appliance.

Overall I had a good experience. I am definitely going to set up a stand at my yard sale in a few weeks. It will be even easier to have this at my house. I just have to carry stuff outside and I will be able to use my oven. I also think I might sell more food because we usually have a block sale, so everyone on the block is out and a lot of people in the neighborhood stop by.

I’ll post about my next food table set up soon!

Thanks to all that stopped by and ate breakfast with me!

Yard Sale Saturday!

I have decided to take on a little adventure this weekend and make breakfast at a yard sale. My friend Matt is having a yard sale and asked me if I would be interested in making food. I was a little hesitant at first and I had a lot of questions to ask myself. The biggest problem I was having is deciding what items to make and how many people to prep for. Are people going to want to buy food from me? How much should the items cost? What if I don’t sell anything?… that would just suck.

I decided to just go for it. I know I will have fun and I like a little challenge. If I have a lot left over, I’ll just have people over for breakfast on Sunday 🙂

I am turning all of this stuff and more…

…into the following menu:

Trail Mix Cookies: oats, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, nuts, and pumpkin seeds

Power Muffins: zucchini, carrots, and apples

Breakfast Quesadilla: eggs, cheese, black beans, mild salsa, onions, cilantro, red and green peppers

Frittata: potato, parsley, spinach and onion

Country Turkey Sausage Links: from the turkey lady at market!

Egg Sandwich: toasted oat bread, baked eggs, cheese, sausage and onion

I will have bottled water and some assorted pickled items for sale!

Please come out tomorrow! I know you will get some really cool yard sale stuff and I can feed you breakfast. Bring your dollar bills and change, it is going to be a beautiful day! It’s right around the corner from Queen Street so you can take a lovely stroll down the 300 block as well.

Time: 9am-12pm (or until all this stuff is gone!)

Place: 23 East Walnut Street, Lancaster, Pa 17602

Bake Sale!

One of the joys of working at a school is that bake sales pop up quite frequently…

I am kind of kidding, I don’t know if bake sales are really a joy… but they are a great way to raise some money! We are currently having a bake sale at the school where I work. We are raising money to send exchange students to Japan. I was lucky enough to have been a chaperone for exchange students 2 years ago. I got to travel to Sano, Japan – a city about the size of Lancaster, PA. It was a great trip filled with many culinary firsts for me. I loved trying everything! I’ll save that story for another post.

I have had to raise a lot of money and I have planned a lot of bake sales through out the years I have been teaching. I have learned that a bake sale is not always as easy as it seems. You think you just ask for donations, set up a table, and make sure you have a money-box… right?

So I learned to ask for donations, and ask again… and again. I learned to make sure you have lots of change in your money-box to start out with (lots of items at 50 cents means making lots of change). One of the biggest things I learned was about packaging your goodies. I thought that we would just set up the baked goods and people would take what they want and eat it. What I found was that people wanted to take their cupcakes, brownies, and cookies with them. If I wanted to sell more items, I would have to find a way to package them.

At the first bake sale I planned I got a lot of donated baked goods but I didn’t bring plastic wrap or baggies. I didn’t have anything to wrap items in. The next time, I came prepared with packaging items and I asked people to bring their yummy donations individually wrapped. Bake sale success!

I am not running the bake sale going on at school right now, but of course I donated some sweet treats. I volunteered to bring two dozen cupcakes. I was really pressed for time last night so I couldn’t make my favorite devil’s food cupcakes. I came up with a fast alternative that uses store-bought cake mix and icing, and I put a little twist into them to make them my own… I feel like Sandra Lee.

Thin Mint Cupcakes

1 package Thin Mint Cookies (It is Girl Scout cookie time!)

1 box dark chocolate cake mix (read that back and make sure it says that it will make 24 cupcakes)

1 large container of whipped icing

Follow the directions on the cake mix box to make your batter.

Save twelve thin mints to use for garnishes on your cupcakes. Crush up the rest of the thin mints into a bowl and mix them with 1/4 cup of flour to coat them. The flour will help them stay suspended in the cupcake batter instead of sinking to the bottom.

Fold the flour coated crushed thin mints into the batter and scoop it into two muffin pans (making 24 cupcakes). Bake according to box directions.

Let the cupcakes cool and pipe the icing onto the tops in a swirl pattern making it come up to a peak. Place 1/2 of a thin mint cookie into the icing to decorate.

Quick, easy, cheap, yummy!

Here’s a great packaging idea for cupcakes that are traveling to a bake sale: put them in cups! I used the clear disposable wine cups that you can find at any grocery store. Place the cooled cupcake into the cup before you pipe the icing onto it and decorate it right in the cup. It’s a lot easier to get into the cup before the icing and decorations are on top.

I wrapped mine with plastic wrap. It was a great way to be able to stack them on top of each other for transport.  You could also use clear cellophane bags and tie them with ribbons to make them look really pretty!

Here are mine, ready for transport – I used a reuseable insulated grocery store bag to transport them, not really fashionable but it kept them safe and a little cushioned.

Cardigan Christmas

I feel lucky to have such a special group of friends. Made up holidays and events have become somewhat of a specialty among us. Many of our smaller parties have grown and become pretty large annual traditions.

To kick off 2012, we celebrated Cardigan Christmas!

Cardigan Christmas began in the small apartment of Matthew P. Johnson six years ago around holiday time. It was an opportunity for Chef Mark Lakin to fulfill his dream of cooking a Christmas turkey, along with all the fixin’s for a fabulous dinner. It was also an opportunity for all of us to sport our most snazziest of cardigans and celebrate the season with friends.

That first Cardigan Christmas was a nice little gathering of close friends enjoying a comforting meal and listening to Matt roast us all in his Christmas prayer. Six years later, Cardigan Christmas has grown into a dinner so large that it is now held in the banquet room of the Dirty Ol’Tavern (remember that place from Guber Ball Day!).

We celebrated and ate with 50 people! My hats off to Chef Lakin for preparing so much food. It’s not an easy task to cook that much turkey and then transport it to another venue.

So this is not the best shot in the world… but here’s a look at our Christmas dinner:

Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and sweet potatoes all made by Chef Lakin. Creamed corn made by Miss Kara. Ham baked by Miss Carrie. I made the cranberry sauce (recipe below).

Tangerine Cranberry Sauce

12 oz. fresh cranberries

1 tangerine

1/2 cup demerara sugar

Peel 4 thick strips of zest from the tangerine with a vegetable peeler, being careful not to include the white pith. Slice the zest into small thin strips. Squeeze the juice from the tangerine and strain out any pits. Put the cranberries, zest, juice, and sugar into a small sauce pot. Heat over medium heat until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens (about 20 minutes). Simple! I tripled it for the large crowd but this recipe makes a good amount for a smaller gathering.

I also did a little baking for this event. I made two different types of cardamom cookies. I have never made cardamom cookies before but I always love getting them from one of the stands at central market with a cup of tea or coffee. The two recipes I tried were pretty simple but a little time-consuming. I really enjoyed the little sugar dusted cookie that this recipe made from Taste of Home. The other cookie was a cardamom shortbread that I found on the Food Network site (pictured below).

We had an awesome time after our dinner. We worked off our turkey comas and danced to the tunes of Frankie Buttons and the Nitpickers. We even had post-cardigan snacks at our friend Evan’s house. What a fun evening!

Here’s our group photo from this year:

A very merry Cardigan Christmas to you!