Central Market: some new stands for 2013!

There’s some new stands popping up at the Lancaster Central Market  this year. I thought I spread the word about a few…

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Pureblend Tea serves up specialty tea lattes and Matcha – all organic. I’ve had two tea lattes so far and they were both really good! I tried the blackberry chaikhana and the chocolate chai latte. I liked the teas, just one heads up – some of the lattes have flavor syrup in them. My blackberry tea had blackberry syrup – which wasn’t bad – I was just expecting blackberries in with the tea leaves. Sometimes the syrups are a little too sweet for me. The chocolate chai was yummy, it only had a hint of chocolate right in with the tea leaves. I did decline the square of organic dark chocolate that could have been added to it. I am sure it is good however you order – like a hot chocolate chai.

I am really excited for the opening of Oasis. I saw a sign on a corner stand (that used to be Senorita Burrita) advertising their opening. They will have organic dairy products. I have recently switched over to organic milk instead of drinking soy milk all the time. I’m sure this stand will help me with that.

Also new for 2013 – I am trying really hard not to shop at big grocery stores. I am only allowing myself one visit a month to a chain grocery store like Giant. My husband has gone on a little health kick and has changed his diet – I am following suit. Mostly our switches are to organic dairy products, different types of sugars, cutting out the white flour (I haven’t cut the pasta yet), and making sure we are getting plenty of veggies. I am also trying to buy as local as I can this year. I think that we eat pretty healthy already so it hasn’t been to hard – So far it is going very well. I am definitely cutting down the grocery bill, mostly because I am not buying a bunch of unnecessary items at the grocery store.

But back to Market…

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Rooster Street Provisions specializes in awesome pork products!!! I got their italian sausage this past saturday. I added it to some homemade sauce and poured it over pasta. I loved it! it is worth all these exclamation points!! I can not wait to go back and try some of their other cured meats. I’ll visit them on saturday and pick out something else extra special to snack on. If you want to see some pretty pics of their products – check out their instagram page @roosterst. I also love their yellow framed chalkboard and wooden counters at their stand. Beautifully done!

On the other side of Rooster Street Provisions is…

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Shady Maple – chock-full of baked goods. I haven’t tried anything from here yet… I just noticed that their new sign is huge! What a contrast to the Rooster Street stand. Everyone loves a little variety, right?

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I did pick up a lonely looking cupcake at Wendy Jo’s. This stand has been at market for a while and it continues to be delicious.

Right next to Wendy Jo’s is a food stand called Comfort Bakehouse. They make all kinds of foods from meatloaf to eggs… all in muffin tins! All of their offerings look quite tasty. I’m going to give them a try this week. I’ll have to decide between breakfast or lunch… or maybe I’ll just get both!

I’ve tried Thom’s bread a few times now. They make a pretty solid loaf of bread – actually it is pretty crispy and fresh, not quite solid. The rosemary has been my favorite – but get there early – they have been sold out the last two weekends that I went to market. I have also enjoyed the kalamata olive – we had it with some delicious pasta last weekend. It’s perfect for dipping into sunday sauce.

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I made this super sandwich with a Rustic Italian boule from Thom’s on Saturday. Everything else on this sandwich was also from market – avocado, alfalfa sprouts, mustard greens, smokey turkey and sharp cheddar cheese. If you didn’t notice… there’s my carrot cupcake… it was scrumptious and I enjoyed it very much… I ate all of it!

Remember Central Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! Hope to see you there!

One Super September Saturday!

October is almost over and it is getting a bit chilly! Right before the weather began to change I had one fine Saturday at the end of September. It began with an outside brunch with my friends Janeen and Carrie. We sat outside in the sunshine in front of Fork’n’Spoon Cafe  on Prince Street in downtown Lancaster and had a few delicious dishes.

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Carrie had the BLT and I had the poached eggs over tomatoes and spinach (pictured above, and perfectly cooked). The french toast that Janeen had (pictured above) was smothered in bananas, walnuts and carmely sweet syrup. Everything was great and it was really nice to sit outside enjoying warm coffee with some of my best girlfriends. I think it’s safe to say that we would all recommend Fork’n’Spoon Cafe, especially for an outside brunch.

I made my way over a block to the Central Market, my favorite part of my Saturday morning routine. I found some great produce at one stand that I really like Stoner’s Home Grown Vegetables. They always have homegrown heirloom veggies and they are now open on Saturdays!

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I made this awesome salad later in the week with all the veggies I bought… yes, there are edible flowers in it!

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Janeen and I decided to go up to Lititz, PA and spend a little time walking around. There is a new olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting shop called Olio. While it was quite fun to taste all of their olive oils and balsamic vinegars, I just wish they put out some crackers or bread to cleanse your palate between tastings. They did have water and I tried to limit myself to a few tastings… but I really wanted to taste every one of the olive oils they had.

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I loved these metal containers that held the oils and vinegars. I would love one to dispense olive oil in my kitchen. They were beautifully polished and poured the liquids out slow enough to get a small tasting amount. How I wish I could find one of these! I might just have to do some hunting on the internet.

I settled on Moroccan EVOO and Chocolate Balsamic vinegar – both of which I plan to use on a salad with fresh strawberries and maybe some Parmesan cheese.

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Olio also carries several salts, spices, their own condiments, olives, and various other goodies. I saw this long pepper (below) and I wanted to try it. So far I have used it to spice up sauces, veggies, and braised meats. It is actually a dried cattail reed. I have been crushing it up with a mortar and pestle, it smells very fragrant and adds subtle flavor.

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So… Lititz has a wine tasting room now.

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Waltz vineyards opened a small wine tasting room where you can taste wines for $5. Their vineyard isn’t too far away, located in Manheim, PA. We learned that they offer tastings with cheese parings regularly and they also hold a few paring dinners a year at the vineyard. I will probably be visiting the actual vineyard soon. Some of the wines that this winery produces are probably the best Pennsylvania wine I have ever had. Pennsylvania wine is usually too sweet for my taste but this vineyard has a few wines that range from slightly sweet to very dry. I am not going to pretend that I know a lot about wine… but I did like their Merlot.


We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around some of Lititz’s little shops. Most are kitschy but it was such a beautiful day to walk around the tiny town. We finished our visit with little rest at a sidewalk table at the Bull’s Head Public House, enjoying a pumpkin ale and the crisp air.

And, yea, we stopped for cupcakes on the way home…

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Sublime Cupcakes… they are sublime, but they need some tables so you don’t have to eat them in the parking lot… or I guess you could just get them to go. But seriously, they are delicious cupcakes, very moist with awesome icing! It was a good snack to keep us going until we got to our next destination of this super Saturday…

The end of September brings Oktoberfest into full swing. One tradition that my friends and I have been enjoying for several years now is the Lancaster Liederkranz‘s Oktoberfest. This German Society holds the Oktoberfest at a picnic grove surrounded by trees and decorated with Bavarian flags and twinkle lights.

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Did you know that Oktoberfest officially begins with the tapping of a keg of beer? The keg is brought into the fest in a parade-style manner and a baby rides into the festivities on top of.. it is true.

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There are many German delights to be had at the Oktoberfest. You have to buy these tickets to purchase anything at the fest.

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There are giant Bavarian pretzels…

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Bratwurst with sauerkraut…

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Giant potato pancakes served with apple sauce…

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…and many other German delights! Just get there early – I think this Oktoberfest is getting really popular – they ran out of many other German meats before we move to the front of the food line!

There are also fun activities for kids, like painting Koo-Koo clocks and puppet shows.

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German dancing goes well into the night. There are several traditional German dances displayed throughout the weekend. Many of them tell a story and use props like the one shown below.

You can even join in the fun and learn how to polka dance and line dance to some German music. Here’s one of our favorite tunes that has a dance that goes along with it – Fliegerlied.

Enjoy the end of October – there might still be time to catch an late Oktoberfest somewhere. I do hope to see some new faces at the Lancaster Leiderkrankz grounds next year!

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.