Spring Recap

Wow! Time flies – It is already July and I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like to. Here’s a little recap of my spring!

My garden bloomed with bleeding hearts and green ferns:

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I made and ate this amazing steak sandwich:

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I found this amazing aged goat cheese at Mandro’s Imported Foods ~and I highly recommend eating it if you get the chance!

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My indoor peace lily bloomed with a double flower… which I can only take to mean that my life will be very peaceful for a while.

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I went to Smorgasburg in DUMBO and ate some amazing foods! Post on this later to come.

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Spent a bunch of time enjoying music with friends in downtown Lancaster:

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I grew a potato plant from an organic potato and it started sprouting little potatoes. The students went crazy over this at school! They were amazed at how potatoes grow:

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I celebrated Derby day/ Cinco De Mayo/ my friend’s birthday in style with hats and mint juleps:

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I started grilling and ate a lot of salads that looked like this:

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Backyard gatherings started taking place… rain or shine.

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It became nice enough outside to bring Monk to the Fridge for outside snacks!

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We started taking a lot of hikes again in Lancaster County Central Park. It was warm enough for monk to dive in the river and wet enough to see a lot of fungus:

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My husband and Monk looking extra cute and picture perfect:

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Fire season started! I love sitting around a fire outside on beautiful evenings enjoying time with friends!

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I learned how to run the cotton candy machine for the dance at school! I got pretty good and swirling that blue floss around a stick… I am now available for hire for all of your cotton candy needs ūüôā

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We took a field trip to Hershey Park at school. I’m not sure who had more fun… the teachers or the students.

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The strawberry festival took place at Lancaster Central Market – and those homegrown strawberries and Thom’s Bread shortcake tasted delicious!

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I’ll tell you about June tomorrow – Happy Summer!

 

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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.

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 ūüôā

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

Spring Grilling Tips, Perfect Chicken and Smokey Veggies

It has been incredibly lovely outside in Lancaster!  On Tuesday I walked home from work without a coat and I decided it was time to clean out the grill and make something smokey.

I had chicken legs and thighs in the refrigerator that I had planned to bake in the oven, but I decided to prepare them for grilling as soon as I got home. I would normally marinate them overnight but I only had an hour and I really wanted to be outside using the grill. I cleaned up my 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs, rubbed them with salt and pepper and placed them in a zip-top bag with 1/4 cup of Garlic Expressions vinaigrette and 1/4 cup of olive oil.

While the chicken was marinating, I cleaned up the grill and got my charcoal heated up. I like to use a charcoal grill so much that I got rid of my propane gas grill when we moved a few years ago. I have a simple Weber One-Touch and some of their accessories. A lot of people think it is too much work to get the coals lit and ready, but if you get one of these contraptions it makes your charcoal heat up pretty quickly.

It’s called a chimney starter. You stuff the bottom with a piece of newspaper (or fire starters)¬†and light it. The cylinder shape shoots the flames up into the coals like…yes… a chimney! I’ll share my secret for getting the coals to light even faster: Twist up a piece of newspaper so it looks like a wick to a candle. Place the wick in the center of the starter standing up and surround it with your coals… like the wick of a candle. You can light the newspaper on the bottom and the top and your coals will catch fire even quicker… if you are really the impatient type.

While the chicken is marinating and you have the grill coals heating up… get your veggies ready!

I am using a medium size sweet spanish onion cut into large chunks, a box of frozen artichoke hearts (thawed), and about a pound of mini sweet peppers. The peppers can go right on the grill, they are large enough that they won’t fall through the grates but I put the onions and artichokes on bamboo skewers so they won’t get lots through the grates. Drizzle all of your veggies with the same¬†garlic vinaigrette as¬†we¬†marinated the chicken with and olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ready to grill!

I have spent a lot of time perfecting the way I cook chicken. Chicken is such a staple… it’s cheap, it’s readily available, and if it s cooked bad, it’s can make your dinner a disaster… if it’s cooked good, it can make you a star chef! Here’s how I set up the grill to get juicy, perfectly grilled chicken. It takes a little longer but it is so worth it.

Put your hot coals on one side of the lower grill grate¬†and add enough extra briquettes to last you about 1 hour of cooking time. Place an aluminum foil pan on the other side. You can buy disposable ones at the grocery store or you can just make your own out of two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Make sure the sides of your pan are at least 2 inches high, you are going to want it to hold about a 1/2 gallon of water. Fit your pan in next to the coals and pour in the water. Here’s what my set up looks like:

Replace the upper grill grate and put the lid on the grill with the vents open. Allow the grill to heat up for a few minutes. Then remove the lid so that you can clean the upper grate. I like to use a triangular wire grill brush. It easily scrapes away anything on your grate. Make sure you heat up the grill grate before scraping, it makes it a lot easier to clean.

Take your chicken out of the zip top bag and place it on the side of the grill above the water pan (skin side up). Reserve the rest of the marinade in the bag for when you flip the chicken. Cover the grill and allow the chicken to cook for about 20 minutes. Here’s what it looks like after about 20 minutes:

Flip the chicken over (skin side down now) and brush some of the marinade onto the pieces. Look at the grill marks that are starting to form!

Cover the grill again and allow the chicken to cook for another 20 minutes.  Use a thermometer to check the temperature of your chicken, the thermometer should read 160-165 degrees F. Flip the chicken over (skin side up) onto the other side of the grill (right over the hot coals). Only leave the chicken there for a few minutes and repeat on the other side. This will crisp up the skin but be sure to watch it because it will burn quickly!

Remove the chicken and place it onto a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the chicken and let it rest until you have grilled your veggies.

You can start the veggies while you are crisping the skin on the chicken. Here’s a grill full of deliciousness!

Place the veggies on the side of the grill over the water pan and cover for about ten minutes. The veggies will get warm and a little softer without getting burned on the outside. Remove the cover and place the veggies over the hot coals for a few minutes on each side, just to get a little char around the outside.

Remove the veggies and place them onto a platter. You can serve everything family style but I like to create a plate for each person.

Serve the chicken and veggies with a nice salad topped with this vinaigrette: 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp. of the garlic vinaigrette that was used for the marinade, 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. My salad included baby spinach, baby pea tendrils, mustard greens, and shredded romaine lettuce.

I like to make a little extra dressing and toss the artichokes in it because they can get a little dry on the grill. Pile everything onto your plate and enjoy. The colors really look lovely together, don’t you think?

A perfect grilled dinner on a beautiful day! We¬†paired this dinner with a¬†cool Nugget Nectar¬†from Troegs Brewing Company and ate out on the back deck,¬†here’s to an early start to spring!

P.S – Check out what I’m doing with the left overs in my next post!