West Coast Trip: starting out

Hello! I am in Sunny CA for a vacation again. This time I am traveling almost the entire west coast from LA to the Pacific NorthWest. My friends Janeen and Carrie are joining me up to San Francisco and then my husband Dan is meeting me and we are going North! I couldn’t tell you lovely people about the awesome month I had in June because my computer decided to break down right before I left… Oh we’ll, it’s vacation time! I left my worries at home and headed out.

This LA visit started out great. After Carrie and I had to starve on the way here (our flights were so close together we literally had to run so we didn’t miss our connection) and after I had to finagle us a car with a trunk (they tried to give us a little smart car type vehicle) we finally got to eat a good lunch. yes.

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We went immediately to the restaurant where our awesome friend Erin works (with whom we are staying with in LA) called The Park in Echo Park. Thank god we got to eat. I went a little over board and ordered a lot of things: a chicken-avocado-gruyere-tomato sandwich, tuscan white bean soup, and home fries with buttermilk ranch dressing. I also wanted to order an egg because I was really hungry for an egg but I refrained. Anyway, it was all awesome.

The rest of our first day was napping, porch hangin’, and going out and about in Silver Lake.

We celebrated July 4th in true LA style… or at least what I think of as true LA style – POOL PARTY! Ace of Base was blasting, the pool was full, and the grill was smoking. Needless to say, we had a really great time.

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We went to a few other parties that were also fun. I think my favorite thing at the end of the evening was that there were a bunch of really cute dogs around and the neighbors were having a firework battle – who can make the loudest boom-sparkle?!

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Today we decided to have a beach day and go to Malibu. But first I needed to get
my egg fix, so we stopped at Silver Lake Coffee for breakfast. They have great egg sandwiches. I got an everything bagel with scrambled eggs, tomato, avocado and cream cheese – yea cream cheese and eggs – try it! They also have great coffee here.

We went to one of my favorite beaches ever – El Matador. Beautiful views, beautiful weather, and some really awesome rocks. You have to climb down the bluffs to get to the beach. Its pretty steep but a lot of people seemed to make the trek today. Once a hidden gem, El Matador was pretty full. Each rock is a little mini ecosystem full of muscles, anemones, barnacles, these weird tube worms that look like they have dragon scales, limpets, snails, and chiton – and of course there are all different types of seaweed everywhere! The rocks are eroded away into pretty formations, some with windows that you can walk through and some little caves to crawl up in and under. We stayed there for most of the day before heading out to get dinner.

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We decided to go to Paradise Cove. It is kind of famous I think, being a place where some older TV shows and retro movies were filmed. Their motto is “probably the best beach in the world” I think it is probably not the best beach in the world. It was very pretty and it did have nice views, but it was not nearly as cool as El Matador. The visit is pricey – if you do not go to the restaurant, it costs $40 for day use. We were eating there so we only had to pay $6 to park. We sat down at an outside beach table, which was cozy – You are definitely paying for location here. I started my dinner with clam chowder, which was creamy and really good. The clams tasted super fresh and it was really filling. However, in between the clam chowder and my fish and shrimp tacos coming out… I started feeling not so good. So I couldn’t eat my dinner at all and I ended up having to take it home. I was feeling ok by the time we got back to Erin’s house and I tried to eat some of it but everything just tasted a little off, except the rice, that was ok. So my opinion of this restaurant is that it is way too overpriced and probably not worth the venture. There are much better places in Malibu with and without the lofty price.

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So overall, we had a nice start to our travels. We are going camping today near Santa Barbara at Lake Cachuma. We plan on exploring the area and doing a little wine tasting over the next few days.

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!

In pictures: A day in Philadelphia

Yesterday we took a day trip to the City of Brotherly Love. We checked out a new space – The Porch – next to 30th Street Station, learned a little science and history at the Franklin Institute, and had a great dinner and drinks at Monk’s beer bar. It made for a great date with my new husband!

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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..

Strawberry Festival Saturday!

I haven’t posted on here for quite some time! I have less than a month to go until my wedding day and planning has been keeping me pretty busy. I have had so many culinary adventures in the last month. I’ll be posting about some of my new kitchen equipment soon, so please check back.

Today was the strawberry festival at the Lancaster Central Market. My friend Janeen and I put on our fancy hats and headed down for so homegrown goodness.

I knew it was going to be a good morning when we saw this dreamy guitar player outside getting ready to strum some of his lovely tunes:

The very talented Leo Disanto provided the soundtrack for our strawberry breakfast.  Check him out, buy a record, you won’t be sorry 🙂

The Friends of Central Market had strawberry shortcake outside, made with Lancaster County strawberries, whipped cream and homemade shortcake. It was fresh and delicious!

We paired the berry breakfast with some iced coffee drinks from my favorite coffee stop: Mean Cup. I love this barista… oh sorry, I don’t think he likes to be called a barista… the infamous Vogan Gabor!!!

He remembers my coffee drink every time I go there: iced soy Chai charger. It makes me feel like a VIP. I don’t even have to place my order, he just gets it ready for me before I get through the whole coffee line. It makes me feel like “yea, I’m awesome” when I get my coffee drink and everyone else looks and wonders “who’s that cool girl?”

I love you Mean Cup… Don’t ever go anywhere because my market experience just won’t be the same with you.

There were strawberries for sale at most of the stands but they were selling out pretty quickly. I am going to head back down on Tuesday to see if I could get a few more cartons of the little ruby-red gems. I am going to try to make some home-made strawberry jam this year!

Enjoy strawberry season! It will be here and gone before you know it!

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

Guber Ball Day

Guber Ball day is long-standing tradition at the Dirty Ol’ Tavern (The Distelfink Inn) in Lancaster, Pa.

It comes but once a year, around Christmas time, and there is not really any information about it anywhere. Go ahead, try to Google it, you won’t find much. The Dirty Ol’ Tavern doesn’t even have an official website (or at least I couldn’t find one). You’ll just have to go down South Prince Street to the fringes of Lancaster city next holiday season and see for yourself. I don’t really know how the tradition began but it has been celebrated for 65 years and counting!

I have been attending the Guber Ball Christmas Party for 3 years now. My first one was quite epic. There was a wicked snowstorm one day in mid-December that kept most people cooped up in their homes. Luckily we live right in town and we like to walk everywhere. So we bundled up, put our snow boots on, and marched from one end of the city to the other. We arrived at the Dirty Ol’ Tavern kind of late in the evening, long after the usual Guber Ball serving time…

But this day we were lucky! There were plenty of Guber balls to pass around! The snow storm kept many of the party-goers home and the Distelfink Inn had an enormous amount left to fry up for us. And so began the Guber Ball Day tradition for my group of friends.

This year my very good friend Matt (that’s him in the picture!) and I decided to make some special sauces for the Guber Ball Day Christmas party. This year the party was held on December 17th. I’ll be sure to put up a reminder post next year to let you all know when the special day is because I know you all want to attend next holiday season.

Here are our special sauce creations:

From right to left…

Top row: homemade pickle and onion creamy relish, horseradish mustard mix, and hot sesame soy dipping sauce.

Bottom row: Garlic and winter herb aoli, regular sesame soy dipping sauce, and curried sweet chili ketchup.

I think that everyone pretty much voted the regular and hot sesame soy dipping sauces went the best with the Guber balls. The sesame soy dipping sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, scallions, garlic, and ginger. The hot version includes a squirt of sriracha sauce. I originally made this sauce for cabbage and shrimp pot stickers but it’s really good for a variety of dippable foods.

So… What exactly is a Guber Ball? I can tell you are wondering…

We don’t actually know what a Guber ball is made of, but we do know that the recipe is a heavily guarded secret among the Dirty”Ol Tavern family. We have also been debating on spelling – Goober ball or Guber ball? I think it is spelled Guber due to the German heritage of many Lancaster folk. If anyone thinks otherwise, let me know.

Here’s what the outside looks like:

I think Dan said it best when he described them as a “meat hush puppy.” They look a lot like round hush puppies. I can only speculate that they are made with some kind of ground meat and maybe some vegetables and spices… possibly pork and celery? I have no guesses on the spices. They are rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, making a crispy outer shell and a mushy center.

Here’s what the inside of a Guber ball looks like:

I’ll probably get the evil eye for posting that picture… like I said, the Guber ball recipe is a heavily guarded secret. If you try to take one out with you, you’ll get in big trouble. Guber balls are to be enjoyed only at the Dirty Ol’ Tavern and only on Guber Ball Day.

Guber balls come out of the kitchen in baskets. You don’t order them and you don’t even pay for them. Guber balls are just there to pass around and enjoy. I actually can’t say that I love them but they only come but once a year so you have to eat at least one. Who wouldn’t want to participate in the tradition and novelty of it all? You never know… they might bring you luck in the new year!

Marisa Cheese!

A new specialty foods shop opened in Lancaster on the 300 block of North Queen Street. Bon Appetit serves coffee, breakfast and lunch. There are plenty of food items to bring home with you as well.

Cheese and cheese items are abundant in the shop, along with spices, specialty cookware, and there is a section near the back with candies and chocolates.

Here’s the first item I purchased:

MARISA CHEESE!

I had to try it of course. I served it thinly shaved on wheat crackers with fresh fig slices. It made a great late night snack one night and I would absolutely get it again to make a nice after dinner cheese plate. It has nutty, salty, sharp flavors that go with all different kinds of crackers and accompaniments.

I have been back to the shop recently for a coffee break. They have good coffee and excellent Chai. The only slight disappointment I encountered was that they were out of soy milk. I’m not holding it against them though, I’ll be back again.

Harvest Breakfast

This Saturday was the annual Harvest Breakfast at Central Market. One of my favorite events of the fall, Harvest Breakfast celebrates the harvest season with food, music, and festivities.

I continuously say that I wish someone would put some tables out in the market alley so people could eat breakfast and lunch outside. This is one weekend where that happens! Tables are set up and some of the usual  stand holders from inside come out into the alley and cook breakfast. There is music playing, pumpkin painting, alpacas to pet, and fall air to enjoy.

The Vinegar Creek Constituency was playing (one of my favorite local bands) and hay was flying in the air (thanks to some kiddos who were really having fun and jumping in it like a pile of freshly raked leaves).

Dan and I enjoyed breakfast outside. We shared the wild mushroom Quiche and the cinnamon french toast.


Both were yummy and breakfast was followed up by some bangin’ coffee and Chai from Mean Cup. I got a whole bunch of nice fall vegetables and turkey sausage from the Turkey Lady. I’m going to make a warm fall meal perfect for a chilly day – sausage with fall veggies and beans – a hearty dish, kind of like stew but no quite. Look for a post later in the week with the recipe.

I had a great day walking around market and all around down town with Dan. I come down town pretty much every weekend, but Dan has been away so much that I haven’t gotten to spend a Saturday wasting time walking around with him in a while. It was really nice and I had a ton of fun being kind of touristy.

We visited the record store, some of the shops on Prince Street, went to a flea and craft market at the Candy Factory, and went in and out of the shops on the 300 block of North Queen Street.

We ended out tour of Lancaster with a stop at The Fridge. The new beer and pizza joint craft beer and fancy flat bread pizza place on the west side of town. Look for a post detailing this place (one of our favorite new stops) later this week.

So… what a great Saturday!

Dan said it was the “greatest hits of Lancaster” in a day: harvest breakfast, Vinegar Creek playing, central market, walk up prince street, record store stop, flea and craft market, historic queen street antique shops, rummaging through Building Character, and afternoon beers.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day…