Tag Archives: Jumbars

Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend, I actually spent a fair amount of time out of the Lehigh Valley, both in NYC and in the Pocono Mountains. I took a vacation day on Friday, so my weekend actually began Thursday night.

The DInner Party

Thursday evening, I joined about 20 other people from the Moravian College community for an homage to Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party." We each created a place setting in honor of a women of our choice (I chose Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouts). We all shared dinner and presented our place setting and brief biographies of the women.

Blog Award Celebration

Just after I arrived home from the Judy Chicago event, I found out this blog won "best neighborhood blog" in the My Choice, My Voice contest. To celebrate, we picked up a pint of Ben & Jerry's and enjoyed a nice, stiff drink.

Central Park

Friday morning, we were up bright and early to catch a bus with the art department to New York City. We spent the first part of the day visiting with my sister and geocaching in Central Park.

JG Melon

For lunch, we stopped by the cozy J.G. Melon to try one of their famous burgers. They lived up to the reputation- Juicy and flavorful.

Violinist Archway

After lunch, we walked back to Central Park to find a couple more geocaches. This musician was taking advantage of the archway acoustics to practice.

Wrought Iron

In our meandering around the upper east side, we came across some really ornate architectural details, like this fence.

Whitney Biennial

After lunch, we headed to the Whitney Museum to see the Biennial exhibit. This wasn't my favorite Biennial ever, but there were several works I really enjoyed.

Performance Art

This artist was doing a sort of performance art/social experiment, having moved her entire studio into the Whitney. She works in her studio for 8 hours per day, living in front of the museum visitors.

Birds

This arrangement reminded me of a Tim Burton sort of composition. I liked the use of space and the wiry feel of the birds.

Eli's

After the Whitney Biennial, we trekked back up to 80th St. to visit Eli's, a great food store with all sorts of specialty items and fantastic breads.

Granola French Toast

Saturday morning, I attempted breakfast again, with this crunchy granola coated french toast, topped with honey yogurt.

Eli's Purchases

We quickly gathered a few purchases before catching the bus back to Bethlehem. We picked up some erryngi mushrooms, fresh squeezed juice, challah bread, and a chocolate croissant (to snack on during the trip home!).

Basil Fried Rice

After the bus dropped us off, we picked up some food from Thai Thai II and relaxed after all of the running around we had done.

Padula Potatoes

Saturday was the first day in quite a while that I didn't have something major planned. I visited one of my Girl Scout's mothers to help her set up a blog, then drove out to Padula Potatoes to pick up my last bag for the season. I took some to my friend's home and ended up chatting over tea for much of the afternoon.

Ramp Stuffed Potatoes

Saturday evening, I made these ramp (or wild leek) stuffed potatoes for dinner.

Hail

Saturday night, a strong storm came through our neighborhood and left hail covering our porch.

Jumbars New England Omelette

Sunday morning began with a New England Omelet from Jumbars.

Camp Hidden Falls

Sunday afternoon, I visited Camp Hidden Falls, a Girl Scout camp in the Pocono Mountains, to see how it might work for our service unit camping trip.

Moss Flowers

Just before the rain began, I noticed these beautiful moss flowers at the camp.

Rainbow Trout

We ended our weekend with a meal centered around some rainbow trout Kevin caught for us (it was the first weekend of fishing season). I had never prepared trout before, but this dish, topped with ramps and bread crumbs, was delicious!

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She Provides a Place to Slow Down

One of my hopes for this blog is that it can shed some light on the members of this community that do awesome things. There are people all over the Lehigh Valley that inspire others, work hard, lead progress, and contribute to the sense of community in this area. Through a series of interviews with some of these individuals, I hope to both share their thoughts and insights with my readers and learn something myself about what others think it means to be From Here Now.
I didn’t have to think twice about my first interviewee: Emily Hoffert. Emily has been my best friend since freshman year of high school and is the manager of Jumbars, a great local eatery owned by her family (just voted the best breakfast in Bethlehem on patch.com!). She has inspired me more and more on an almost daily basis with her ambition, dedication and achievement. Emily is an active member of the Downtown Bethlehem Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Bethlehem Food Co-Op. She was recognized last year as one of the Top 20 Under 40 in the Eastern PA Business Journal. Additionally, she is a talented potter, lifetime member of Girl Scouts USA, Beatles fan, devoted older sister to Ben and Harry, and loving partner to Jenn. I am proud to have a woman like Emily in my hometown.
Emily Hoffert

Emily Hoffert with some Jumbars nibbles. (Photo by The Moment Photography)

When did you move to the Lehigh Valley? Do you remember your first impressions?
I moved to the Valley from Montpelier, VT in 1996 when I was 10 years old. It was a hard transition for me at that age. I missed Vermont winters and the snow as a kid, but I’ve grown out of that and am now a typical grumpy adult who realizes the inconveniences that come with snow and ice 😛
What do you love about the Lehigh Valley?
I love music and I love that we have a plethora of venues and festivals where I have seen a lot of great acts, from Rosemary Clooney and Tony Bennet to Ani Difranco or Dar Williams to bands like Girly Man or Small Potatoes (they’re worth Googling!).
What don’t you love about the Lehigh Valley?
The public transportation leaves a lot to be desired.
What are the best places to hang out in the area?
The Wise Bean has been my favorite coffee shop since it opened 7 years ago. I love walking there on a beautiful day, chatting it up with Joan (the owner) or going in with my laptop to catch up on emails. The new Arts Quest Center has been fun this year and I have seen some great concerts, independent films and I liked their farmer’s market too. Godfrey Daniels is another great place to hear some great musicians and bands play.
What is the most beautiful sight you have seen in the LV?
Burnside Plantation, Monocacy Park, Sand Island, Jacobsburg Park, and Bethlehem Steel are all special places in the LV (or very nearby).
How do you see your current role as a member of the community?
My role in the community goes hand in hand with Jumbars. Part of our philosophy at Jumbars is slowing down from today’s fast paced go-go-go society. We provide a venue where people are able to sit back and relax, escape from their hectic and wired lives and enjoy good company or a good book while savoring a wholesome meal made fresh from scratch just for you!
How does Jumbars fit into the community?
I view Jumbars as an oasis or watering hole where friends, co-workers and family members can meet and share good conversation and relax over a good meal.
What are your favorite parts of running a restaurant in this town?
I love being an active member of my community. I love that Jumbars is small enough that I have the ability to build meaningful relationships with my customers and that I get to be a part of their lives.
What is your favorite menu item at Jumbars?
I have to pick? Our Grilled Salmon Salad or Mary’s Salad are two of my favorites on a regular basis, but when I want to indulge I’d go for Jumbars’ SOS or an Elvis Waffle (an annual January Special we make upon request all year round).
You were selected as one of the Top Twenty Under Forty in the Eastern PA Business Journal. To what do you credit that level of success?
I was humbled and honored and very surprised to receive this award. I just do my very best each and every day. Marketing is one of my favorite aspects of my job and watching Jumbars grow exponentially as a direct result of that has been very rewarding.
What is your biggest hope for the future of the LV?
I feel that the culture in the LV has been changing and evolving to be more community-oriented and I am excited to see it grow and continue to move forward. In the last couple of years there have been a lot of great community-based events created and cultivated, especially in Bethlehem. Tunes at Twilight, Harvest Fest, VegFest and ArtWalks are all examples of events that bring the community together. I am a proud part of the Bethlehem Food Coop initiative and I feel it would be a great addition to the already great Greater Lehigh Valley.
What does it mean to you to be From Here Now?
While moving from VT was difficult as a kid and I wanted to move back there for a long time, now I’m looking forward to settling down with my partner, Jenn, and building our life together here in the Lehigh Valley. I also hope Jumbars will be a successful part of our lives – my family’s and the community’s – for many years to come!
(Don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogs in the Best of Blogs contest! You can vote once per category per day.)

Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend was supposed to be mostly work with little time to play. BUT, the weather was sooo gorgeous, I couldn’t bear to be inside staring at a computer screen, knowing that the sun was shining, breeze was blowing and spring had sprung outside.

Jumbars Brownie Sunday

Friday evening we had a last minute visit with one of my sisters over dinner at my parents house. We enjoyed some meatless lasagna, salad, Jumbars dinner rolls, and broccoli. The meal was topped off with Jumbars brownies, topped with natural vanilla bean ice cream, and a dollop of espresso fudge. Mmm.

Tober & the Sardine

Saturday morning started with a bit of amusement as Tober was supremely fascinated with this illustration of a sardine. Too cute.

Running Sneakers

I recently began the Couch to 5k running program, in preparation for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in May, so I went for a run in the brisk morning air on Saturday.

Food Co-Op Logo Sketches

Saturday afternoon was occupied by Bethlehem Food Co-Op business. First, I spent two brain boggling hours with the other designers, trying to finalize and whittle down our numerous logo options. Then, I met with a few other cooperators to discuss a feasibility study at the Wise Bean.

Daal

For a hearty and inexpensive meal on Saturday night, I whipped up a batch of red lentil daal (recipe coming soon!).

Girl Scout Sunday

Sunday, groggy from the daylight savings time change, I headed to a place I rarely go- church. It was Girl Scout Sunday, so the members of our troops volunteered to be ushers and host a coffee hour at the church where we meet as a thank you to the congregation.

Coffee Hour Table

The girls did a great job distributing bulletins, reading liturgy, collecting offerings, and providing food for the coffee hour. I prepared a vegan coffee cake to serve.

Green Pond

Sunday afternoon, I couldn't bear to be indoors, so Kevin and I set out on a geocaching expedition to some of the prettiest places in Bethlehem Township. The first cache we found was located on the shore of Green Pond. Tranquil, although it did smell a bit rank since the area is frequently flooded.

Louise Moore Flowers

Next, we went to Louise Moore Park and had a picnic, having brought some sandwiches from Martellucci's. Signs of spring abounded, and we were happy to see the large community garden.

Monocacy Meadow Railroad

Next, we followed our geocaching GPS to Monocacy Meadow, a small but pretty park that is a popular fishing location. We found a multicache and took a walk along the railroad tracks.

Housenick Park

The last park we visited was Housenick Park on Christian Springs Road, one we had never been to before. It is an absolute gem! This is a relatively new park, still being worked on, and is a fascinating blend of history and nature. It is large and beautiful; 55 acres of rugged terrain, abandoned estate buildings, and the Monocacy Creek.

Sprout

It was so refreshing to see the tufts of green popping up through the layer of dead brown leaves.

Sun flare

We explored the rugged outlying areas of the park, finding several geocaches.

Archibald Johnston Home

Another fascinating part of the park is the Archibald Johnston home, abandoned and disintegrating atop a hill. It's a beautiful structure, full of intrigue and faded elegance.

Archibald Johnston Home

After a bit of research when we came home from the park, we learned that Bethlehem Township has hopes to restore this grand building that was once home to the mayor of Bethlehem/Bethlehem Steel Executive Archibald Johnston.

Crazy Tree

We found our last cache for the day within this crazy tree on the edge of the park. It will be exciting to see the improvements as the progress of fixing up/restoring this land continues.

Through the reading we did about Housenick Park and Archibald Johnston, we also learned a lot about a current conflict between Central Moravian Church and local environmentalists and township residents. As it turns out, the downtown Bethlehem church inherited a large stretch of equally beautiful land directly bordering Housenick Park. Instead of preserving or conserving the land they were charged with by a Johnston relative upon her death, they have entered into discussions to develop this land into apartments and business properties. After seeing the land and realizing what development would do to the environment (especially the already stressed Monocacy Creek!), the atmosphere and the dwindling open space in the area, I sincerely hope the church acts as responsible stewards, finding someone else to properly care for the tract if they cannot themselves. I cannot adequately explain the conflict or intricacies here, but I encourage you to learn more about this possible poor decision in the works, and let your voice be heard if you want future generations to enjoy the great natural spaces we have in our town. If you’d like to read more about this conflict, click here for a recent article in the Morning Call.

* stepping off my soap box *

I am so glad to have stepped away from what could have been an glum indoor weekend full of chores and tasks to enjoy the great outdoor areas we have in our back yard. Supposedly, next weekend will be similarly nice out, so I’ll have to make sure to work hard this week to play hard next weekend!

(Don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogs in the Best of Blogs contest! You can vote once per category per day.)


Weekend Hodgepodge

Surprise, surprise … This weekend was very food-centric. We splurged and ate out/got takeout a few times for two reasons: One, we find out we are actually getting a tax return this year! After owing over a thousand dollars the past couple of years due to my freelance design work, this was certainly cause for celebration. Two, this week begins the start of my training for the Dirty Girl Mud Run. So, while I won’t be subjecting myself to any crazy diet, I’ll be eating out less, cutting sweets and carrying out a running and strength training plan to get ready for this exciting run!

Molto Pazzo Pasta Raphael

Friday night, we treated ourselves to dinner at Molto Pazzo, a relatively new restaurant in downtown Bethlehem. I enjoyed this Pasta Raphael with broccoli rabe, sausage, sundried tomatoes and garlic over whole wheat rotini. They will sub whole wheat or gluten free for any of the pastas! Kevin loved his chicken saltimbocca. Great atmosphere, great food!

Nuts About Ice Cream

For dessert, we brought home some Nuts About Ice Cream sundaes. I had ginger ice cream with hot fudge, and Kevin had his classic chocolate peanut butter ice cream with strawberries.

Cindy Jumbars

After a Saturday morning full of errands, I went with my friend Cindy for brunch (complete with mimosas!) at Jumbars to celebrate her birthday. She tried the great Jumbars SOS, and I had a New England omelette.

Farmers Market

After brunch, Cindy & I headed off to SteelStacks to stock up on fresh ingredients from the farmers market. I forgot to bring my cookbooks to participate in the cookbook swap, but I did bring home these tasty veggies and a loaf of potato bread!

Saturday afternoon was full of more errands, then we met both of our families for dinner at the East Hills Moravian Church Italian Buffet. I forgot to take pictures, but the food was great and the proceeds went to provide camp scholarships for kids. Good stuff!

Kevin Top Diner

Sunday morning, we left the coziness of bed to go to Top Diner for brunch. Packed as usual, we enjoyed a great diner breakfast for pennies! I have enough country scrambled eggs to last for two more meals.

Office

Much of Sunday afternoon was spent tackling the messiest part of our house- my desk. I had been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of papers that accumulated on top of it, but, with a joint effort, we plowed through the work and my desk is wonderfully productive now! I spent the evening catching up on some design work, enjoying the clear surface.

Rabbicchio

Unfortunately, Kevin's allergy to our rabbit, Rabbicchio, got the best of him today, and he ended up wheezing his way out of the office to get his inhaler. After a tough conversation, we decided it would be best for his health to find Rabbicchio another home. Fortunately, an acquaintance from Girl Scouts who already owns two rabbits quickly volunteered to adopt her. It will be a bittersweet goodbye tomorrow, but Kevin's got to breathe!

Dumplings

Having completed all of the desk cleaning work and with Kevin breathing deeply again, we decided to try the Prince Palace Dumpling House, another relatively new restaurant, for dinner. WOW. Amazing food. Located in a set back lot on 512, this place looks rather sketchy. However, it serves incredibly authentic Chinese food at inexpensive prices. We sampled several varieties of dumplings and steamed buns (including Chinese soup buns (called juicy buns here!)). We couldn't believe how huge the portions were (lunch for the week!). We got all of this food for $30.

Turkey Pot Pie

Finally, with a busy week ahead, we got a jump start on cooking dinner for the upcoming days by putting together a turkey and veggie pot pie, which baked while I planned my Girl Scout meeting.

Potato Leek Soup Ingredients

While I worked on the pie, Kevin cooked up a pot of vegan potato leek soup. Now, we're ready to take on a hectic week with some homecooked meals ready for us!


Weekend Hodgepodge

Ah, a weekend without a single cookie booth sale! Don’t get me wrong, I love everything I do with Girl Scouts, but it felt great to not have any chunk of time this weekend dedicated to standing at a table in the cold. Instead, my weekend revolved around food, graphic design and recreation. A light coating of snow from Friday night into Saturday morning decorated the landscape without making hazards on the road, so I was able to enjoy the winter scenery, too!

Burger

Friday night began with a thick burger, topped with raw milk Swiss, mushrooms and BBQ sauce, paired with homemade pasta & a spicy-sweet sauce and served with a tall beer. Good start to a weekend!

Keepsake Bambi

Saturday morning began with a trip to Keepsake farm for some milk. Farmer John's mom was working in the shop and was kind enough to show me the back of the new facility! I got to see the new milking parlor, which accommodates up to six cows at a time- Smaller than the previous parlor, but very nice for the cows! I also got to meet Bambi, here, who was enjoying the shelter of the new barn. In the new barn, the cows are not confined to stalls and can come and go to the pasture as they please.

Keepsake Cheese Room

From the main store at the new Keepsake Farm location, you can peek through a large window into the cheese making room.

Snow Geese

On the way home, as the snow from the morning was just ending, I saw an extra haze of white in the sky. It turns out, a huge flock of snow geese was coming in for a landing! I never saw snow geese this closely before, so I pulled over to have a look as they gathered in the field.

Padula Potatoes

Another quick errand for Saturday morning was a stop for potatoes at Padula's on the way back from the dairy. I love this place. In a small, dark cellar, mounds of red, white, yellow, and purple potatoes are watched over by an elderly couple who has been working the fields for quite some time. You absolutely cannot beat the prices for these tasty tubers- just a couple dollars for 10 lbs of potatoes!

 

Tober Water

Kevin and I sat down to enjoy some quiche and tomato soup from Jumbars for lunch, and Tober decided to join us and pretend he was human enough to use a pint glass.

Blueberry Ginger Snap Ice Cream

After an afternoon spent meeting with other foodies and designers, working diligently on designing the logo for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op, I hurried home to put our fresh milk to use in our first ever batch of homemade ice cream! We used our Kitchenaid to concoct this blueberry-ginger snap ice cream. Look for the recipe soon!

Pierogi Casserole

For dinner, I whipped up this PA Dutch/eastern European inspired casserole of kielbasa, red cabbage, pierogies and Swiss cheese. Really simple, inexpensive and tasty! This recipe will be posted soon too.

Tober Scrabble

Kevin and I settled into a Saturday night of board games, playing chess, Boggle, and Scrabble ... until Tober decided our game was over.

 

Hello Burrito Soup & Wrap

Sunday was freezing cold, so I was exeptionally happy to not have a booth sale! We had Jumbars breakfast, then I spent the rest of the morning preparing awards to distribute at an upcoming Brownie Girl Scout ceremony. At noon, I headed off to Hello Burrito with a friend & colleague to go over what I'd be teaching when I sub for Intro to Design this week. This black bean & salsa soup with a brown rice & black bean wrap was great for fighting the chill outside.

Vagina Monologues

After lunch, I picked up Kevin, and we headed off to Moravian College for a V-Day performance of the Vagina Monologues. I was happily surprised to see the number of men in attendance! The cast did a great job reading the monologues.

Potato Soup

Finally, we capped off the weekend with some Anthony Bourdain, Franklin Hill wine and a pot of hearty potato soup with carrots & rosemary. It was the perfect meal for the cold night.


Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend was spent in an odd space of moping about my cat being sick (she’s still not up to par, and we can’t figure out what is wrong) and trying to keep busy to distract myself from moping about the cat since we can’t do anything about it more than we are. This somewhat moody state of mind put me in the kitchen for much of the weekend and triggered a chocolate craving like you wouldn’t believe (all week!).

Veggie Noodle Stirfry

Friday night I whipped up this veggie noodle stir fry for my husband and I before I headed off with the girls for a fun night of bowling. I topped the stirfry with some crushed wasabi almonds from the recent Girl Scout sale! Look for the recipe coming soon!

Bowling
Jumbars Brochure

I spent Saturday morning designing this brochure for my friend's café in hopes of finishing it in time to order a tasty Sunday breakfast. I succeeded. 🙂

Pure Sprouts Local Bin

While I was designing the brochure, I heard a thump outside and opened the door to find my first Pure Sprouts all local bin on my porch! Pure Sprouts is a local organic delivery business that has tempted me for a long time. I won the bin from a Buy Fresh Buy Local photo contest. This bin included Asian mix, kabocha squash, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, crunchy sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, leeks and dinner rolls. All that for what would have cost $35! Pretty decent price! We also ordered some local shiitake mushrooms. I'll definitely be placing another order soon.

Applesauce

All day, I was also slow-cooking another batch of applesauce. Something about that smell is comforting on a mopey day.

Leek and Shiitake Pizza

For dinner Saturday, I wanted to try out some of my Pure Sprouts goodies, so I made a roasted garlic, leek and shiitake pizza. Recipe will be posted soon!

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Still craving chocolate after a co-worker took my dark chocolate square from my hand earlier this week (yes, it did happen and yes, I am bitter over a piece of chocolate), I found a recipe for 1 minute chocolate cake in a mug. It wasn't quite chocolatey enough to sooth my craving, but I was surprised at how decent it turned out! A few tablespoons of ingredients and you've got something like those Warm Delights cakes (that Kevin calls PMS bowls) in the grocery store.

Here is the cake-in-a-mug recipe!

Survival Bracelet

Saturday night, I vegged out in front of the TV and worked on making these surival bracelets I plan on giving some guys as Christmas gifts. Each bracelet contains 10 ft of rope and has an emergency whistle built in to the buckle!

First thing on Sunday, I ordered some breakfast from Jumbars, which I scarfed down before I could take a picture.

Curried Chicken & Apples

I got the crock pot going with a mix of chicken, apples and curry, then spent the day sorting closets, doing laundry and running errands.

Jumbars Brownie

Finally, I got my chocolate fix from this AMAZING Jumbars brownie. Their brownies could be the key to world peace. I'm not even kidding. Go eat one of their brownies and tell me you don't want to hug someone or pet a kitten.

Cozy on the Couch

So, this is how my weekend ended—Cozy on the couch in my fuzzy slippers and robe with a Jumbars brownie, a handful of spicy peanuts, and a mug of Mexican hot cocoa (with Bailey's, of course).


Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend was strange, to say the least, and not in the manner one would expect a Halloween weekend to be strange. While it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, it was still a decent weekend, albeit lacking my highly anticipated trip to Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Bethlehem Halloween Parade…

Rum & Candy

Friday night kicked the weekend off with a venture to my friend's house for handing out (and eating) candy and drinking cider and rum while watching Interview with a Vampire. A good Friday night.

Snow Autumn Leaves

I knew the forecast called for snow on Saturday, and at first I thought it was neat to see white crystals on vividly colored autumn leaves …

Backyard Snow October

…then I realized this storm was no "trick" for Halloween. This was the view by 11am. Pretty autumn leaves weigh a lot when they are covered with snow. Large old trees in a historic town don't like that.

Rosemary & Sage to Dry

Sometime in late morning, it struck me, even though I had read that rosemary and sage can last in the garden until Thanksgiving, it normally doesn't SNOW before Thanksgiving! I bundled up and rushed outside to harvest the herbs, plus move the potted plants inside. I put on some scary movies and got to bundling the rest of the herbs for drying.

Jumbars Lunch

Around lunch time, my friend from Jumbars kindly invited me to pick up some lunch, an offer I could not turn down. I brought home my favorite—Greenwich St. Special (turkey, apples, dijonnaise and sharp cheddar, hot and open face) with a cup of curried yam soup. When I returned home, I found an issue of Food Network magazine in the mailbox—Perfect, since our power had started flickering.

Kevin Work Truck

Unfortunately, my husband can never take advantage of perfect snuggling weather like this, since he does snow/branch removal for the historic part of our town. He stopped by to run a plow through our always neglected alley and told me the town looked like a war zone. He worked from 7am–8pm Saturday, 2am–2pm Sunday and 6am–4pm Monday.

Cooking No Power

By 7pm, the snow was slowing down, and I thought we were safe from power outage, so I started making a homemade pasta and meatballs dish for dinner. Of course, my Friday the 13th birthday showed its luck, and the power went out shortly after I began food prep, shortly preceded by the loud crack of a limb across the street. Fortunately, we have headlamps, matches and a gas range, so I finished making dinner in the dark and we ate a fabulous meal by candlelight. I'm beginning to think headlamps were one of the best investments we've made.

Saturday night, we looked at stars through our telescope since city lights weren’t interfering and watched the ominous green and purple flashes fill the sky as transformers and wires exploded across town.

Food in Snow

The power wasn't back by Sunday afternoon, and the electric company hotline didn't predict it to return until that night. The fridge food was already not quite cold enough, so I carried it all outside and buried it in the snow. It worked well, although when we heard it would be a whole nother day until power returned, we took that food and the freezer contents to my in-laws' chest freezer.

Sea Glass Jewelry

I spent Sunday afternoon bundled up, straightening the house and making this jewlery from sea glass we collected in Maine to give to my sister-in-law for her birthday. We also played the Game of Life, and I started reading The Shallows—a book about the effects of technology on our brains.

Sarah Blowing Out Candles

In the evening, we headed to my in-laws' house to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday and enjoy some heat and lights!

Elephant Cake

My husband's family made this fun elephant birthday cake.

Halloween House

On our drive back, we noticed this house, which definitely had not lost power. It was funny to see all the Halloween decorations with snow!

After 3 days of some heavy duty bundling in blankets and hoodies, reminiscent of our frigid first apartment, we finally got power back late Monday night. Rocky Horror Show was canceled Saturday night, the parade canceled Sunday afternoon, but we had a valuable reminder that convenience is purely a bonus, and our board games got an extra workout!


Weekend Hodgepodge

FALL IS HERE! The sky is bright in contrast with the golden leaves, the air is crisp, yet the sun is warm, and I can smell the occasional whiff of a fireplace as I wander my neighborhood. I love autumn—It is by far my favorite season. The colors, the weather, the food—Ahh! So, being that this was the first weekend that truly seemed to embody fall this year, I relished every moment. I spent the weekend devoting myself to the sights, smells, tastes and feelings of the season.

Herb Roasted Chicken Breast

I began the weekend with some Friday night cooking. These simple ingredients became herb roasted chicken, served with roasted beets and turnips. Recipe soon!

Turnip Man

As I was preparing the veggies, I couldn't help but play with my food!

Butternut Spinach Quiche Slice

Friday night, I also whipped up this quiche using one of my favorite fall ingredients—Butternut squash. I'll be posting this recipe soon, too!

I also cooked up a big pot of chicken stock Friday night. You should be jealous of how my home smelled that night.

Pumpkin

Saturday morning, I got up early to tackle the pumpkin we received in our final CSA share for the season. (Yes, final. * sniff, sniff * Our farmer's fields succumbed to the rainy weather.) Instructions on how to turn a pumpkin into something useful will be up later this week!

Zumbathon

Having successfully transformed the pumpkin into puree and toasted seeds, I took a brisk walk to Moravian College to participate in a Zumbathon hosted by my sister-in-law's sorority. Two hours of looking like a fool, having fun and getting a great workout to support breast cancer education!

Kevin Bear Rocks

After a quick shower, Kevin & I were off for a short hike to Bear Rocks, one of our favorite places along the Appalachian Trail. We were looking for a geocache hidden here, but didn't find it.

Colleen Bear Rocks

I must have been feeling a bit masochistic to climb this after two hours of Zumba.

Us Bear Rocks

We made it!

View from Bear Rocks

The View from Bear Rocks is always worth the climb, especially at dusk.

Bake Oven Knob Sunset

After searching every crevice in Bear Rocks for the geocache, we hiked back the other way on the AT to view the sunset from Bake Oven Knob. Still rocky at BOK, but a little easier to navigate in the dark than Bear Rocks!

Jumbars Strata

Sunday morning started off with some great takeout from Jumbars. I enjoyed the flavors of fall in this whole wheat strata with sage and apples, topped with sausage gravy. Kevin had a sausage & farmers' cheese omelette.

Sage Scones

Inspired by breakfast, I whipped up a batch of stinky cheese and sage scones to pair with soup I anticipate making this week. Yet another recipe to look forward to seeing here!

Saucon Rail Trail

We walked off our breakfast with a few mile jaunt on the new Saucon Rail Trail, finding several geocaches along the way. The rail trail is quite beautiful and passes some seriously large homes!

Vulture

This vulture was circling and swooping right over our heads.

Flint Hill Farm Cows

After our walk, we drove to Flint Hill Farm to check the place out as part of Lehigh County Open Gate Farm Day. We got to buy some fresh butter, made from milk from these cows!

Flint Hill Farm Horse

I was envious of this horse's hair.

Flint Hill Farm Goat

A kid goat! Since the farm is an educational center, too (offering programs and service opportunities, plus training for handicapped individuals), we also got to see a milking demonstration.

So, all in all, this weekend was a huge dose of autumn. Now, at 12:33AM, with the apartment smelling like spices and a cool breeze coming in the window, I am off to bed to catch up on sleep!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 1

As you probably noticed, posts were a little sparse around here for the last week. (If not for the wonders of technology and auto-posting, there would have been none at all!) The reason behind my absence from the cyber world was that we were on an epic road trip up the east coast to explore three areas in Maine! Instead of buying gifts for our wedding anniversaries, we like to save the money to do something awesome together. So, for our second anniversary (which is actually tomorrow), we packed up the car and headed out of the Valley! Our trip was seriously non-stop filled with activity and adventure, and I took a gazillion pictures, so I’ll be posting about each day separately.

For starters, we set out on the road on 9.24 to make the long drive to Falmouth, ME, near Portland.

Map of our route to Maine

We took turns making the 8 hour drive from the Lehigh Valley to Falmouth.

Falmouth was our first destination because one of my sisters lives there with her husband and son. We hadn’t yet visited them in Maine, so when they invited us to spend a couple of nights at their home on Casco Bay, we gladly accepted!

To make our travel more interesting, we plotted out a route of geocaches along the way. So, when we stopped to stretch our legs, we could focus on something fun instead of just walking in circles. Our first find was at the Connecticut visitor’s center in Danbury, where we stopped to eat the Jumbars sandwiches we brought along. We also found another just off of I84 on the side of the road.

The third cache was located near Walden Pond in Massachusetts (where Thoreau spent time writing). I saw the sign for the pond, got excited, and exited the highway without knowing where we were going. Well, it turned out the pond was quite a distance from the exit, but we looked at our GPS and found a geocache nearby at this beautiful nature area.

Massachussetts Nature Area

We never would have seen this beautiful park if not for the geocache!

After about a 3/4 mile walk through beautiful meadows, we found the cache hidden in a wooded area. It was a great place to stretch our legs and get a view of a different region’s landscape.

Walking the Path

We were grateful for a beautiful spot to stretch our legs.

After a quick tick check (there were large signs warning about Lyme disease infected ticks in the area), we jumped back in the car to finish our drive. Just a short distance into Maine, we began seeing fog rising off rivers and inlets and a vivid sunset behind us.

Sunset

Sun fading behind us.

The fog grew thicker as we moved up the coast, but broke just before we arrived in Falmouth. After a quick moment to settle in at my sister’s, we were off to Portland with her family to chow down on 5 Guys and see the nightlife of the town.

True exploration began on Sunday … Day 2 coming soon!!!


Veg Fest & Feast

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Weekend Hodgepodge, this Saturday was spent enjoying vegetables, plain and simple. I am an omnivore, and a locavore, no longer vegan or vegetarian, but I love vegetables and was happy to be able to see them in the spotlight this weekend.

Jaime K

Jaime K of Save the Kales!

First of all, let me say that Bethlehem Vegfest was a knock-out success and I hope to see it continue for years to come. Many thanks to the Downtown Bethlehem Association,  Jaime K of Save the Kales! and everyone else who contributed for bringing this sort of festival to Bethlehem. I heard rumor that 10,000 people attended the fair, which stretched for several blocks down South Bethlehem’s Greenway. I arrived at 12:10, just ten minutes after the festival began, and a large crowd had already amassed. I had never actually visited the Greenway before and was quite happy to see such a well maintained rail-trail through the heart of the city! I had heard of the trail before, but tended to stay away from the area due to its previous reputation as a skeevy part of town before the tracks were paved.

Vegfest Entrance

The start of Vegfest

Emeril's Booth

A chef from the local Emeril's restaurant serves samples.

The festival grounds were divided into several themed areas (think platzes from Musikfest, but without the sausages and obnoxious people) housing about 200 vendors. There was a pet area, a farmers’ market, a food court, a sustainable energy area, a lecture tent, cooking demo area, and music stage, among others. Vendors peddled goods, services and wares while entertainers put children inside huge bubbles, and vegetarians could eat free samples without having to ask “Is there meat in that?”

Local Dub

This band, Local Dub, played some chill reggae music, and even used the word "irie" in their PR for the gig! Irie is our cat's name, meaning the ultimate positive, powerful, pleasing, all encompassing quality. I've never heard anyone else use it.

Cooking Demo

While catching a few minutes of this cooking demo, I got to taste grilled watermelon. Mmm! Definitely keeping that in mind!

Smart Juice

Bethlehem-based Smart Juice company

I was on a pretty tight budget since Vegfest fell between paydays, but I did indulge in a bottle of yummy organic no-sugar added peach-apricot juice from Smart Juice, a Bethlehem-based company that I first encountered when they donated juice for the Iftar dinner I attended (read about that here). This juice made me feel like I was James in a giant peach, that’s how real it was.

I also found a book that I must purchase, From Asparagus to Zucchini. It is a comprehensive guide to produce, listing nutritional information, storage and cooking techniques and recipes. One of the best parts, though, is in the back, where it lists recipes using seasonal ingredient combinations. SO, when you get your CSA share and wonder what to do with a bunch of eggplants, a tomato, and several ears of corn or something, you can just check the book! Wishing there was a book fairy right now …

Vegan Treats Display

My sister-in-law works the Vegan Treats table.

Vegfest didn’t carry any hints of the pompous attitude vegetarians are sometimes unfairly labeled with. Instead, it exuded a warm community vibe, inviting people of all sorts to take a look and try something new.

Later that evening, my in-laws came over for a very belated Christmas gift of a dinner & game night at our house. My mother-in-law recently began moving in the vegan direction, so I wanted to prepare a meal that honored that decision. However, my husband and I are fairly opposed to many of the “fake meat” and “dairy” products on the market. A lot of those products are so highly processed and full of genetically modified or laboratory-created ingredients that I cannot justify eating them. So, I made a meal highlighting vegetables, with no meat, dairy or egg substitutes. It’s also very important to me to use local ingredients, so everything in this meal is from this area with the exception of cooking oil, salt, pepper, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and polenta. Nothing on this menu will require a trip to the health food store or a large amount of money.

Normally, I leave the vegan meals up to Save the Kales!, but I will share this one with you.

A Vegan Feast:

Vegan Meal

An all-local vegan meal, with no "fake meat": salad, roasted tomatoes with garlic & herbs, tri-color potatoes & beets, polenta & beet green stuffed zucchini, and pear crisp.

In the interest of avoiding carpal tunnel, I am going to list the vendors I purchased ingredients from once, here, instead of immediately following the ingredient: Heritage Farms CSA, Apple Ridge Farm, Bechdolt’s Orchard, Jett’s Natural Produce, Cardamom & Curry, and Jumbars.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic & Herbs

Roasted Tomatoes

The contrast between the slow-roasted flavor of the tomatoes & garlic and the freshness of the herbs balances wonderfully.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 6 or so basil leaves
  • a few sprigs oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cut tomatoes into 6-8 wedges each and place in glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Chop garlic cloves and sprinkle over tomatoes.
  4. Remove thyme leaves and sprinkle over tomatoes.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and begin to turn golden.
  7. Chop basil and oregano and mix with tomatoes before serving.

Tri-Color Potatoes & Beets

Rustic & colorful

Rustic & colorful

Ingredients:

  • 5 potatoes of different colors (I used purple, red and white)
  • 10 small beets (or 3-4 large ones)
  • 1 red onion
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Wash potatoes and cut into 1″ chunks.
  3. Peel and trim beets, reserving greens for zucchini recipe or to sauté on the side. Cut into 1″ chunks.
  4. Cut onion into thick slices.
  5. Combine potatoes, beets and onion in 9×13″ baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, rosemary, salt & pepper.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  8. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Polenta & Beet Green Stuffed Zucchini

Polenta and Beet Green Stuffed Zucchini

A hearty vegan entrée

Ingredients:

  • 2 big zucchinis
  • 1/2 c. coarse ground cornmeal
  • 1.5 c water
  • 10 small beets’ worth of beet greens (or 3-4 large beets’ worth)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • few sprigs thyme
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cut a v-shaped opening, going the long way, into each zucchini, removing in one piece and setting top aside. Scoop out insides, discarding large seeds but reserving pulp. Scrape pulp from removed top, too.
  3. Salt hollowed zucchinis and tops and place, cut side down, in greased baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring water to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring with a whisk. Stir until thickened and creamy looking.
  6. Add thyme leaves to polenta and stir.
  7. Dice onion and garlic. Sautée in olive oil over medium heat until tender.
  8. Chop zucchini pulp and add to onion and garlic mixture. Cook for 4 minutes.
  9. Chop beet greens, removing tough stems, and add to zucchini mixture. Cook until greens are wilted.
  10. Remove zucchini from oven and spoon thyme polenta into zucchini boats.
  11. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly over polenta.
  12. Place cut out tops of zucchini over filling.
  13. Bake 20 more minutes, or until zucchini are tender.
  14. Let sit 5-10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Pear-Granola Crisp

Pear-Granola Crisp

You can make this dessert ahead and serve at room temperature or pop it in the oven when guests arrive and serve warm.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium pears
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger (I ended up using some turmeric tea (with ginger in it) from Cardamom & Curry that I had already steeped a few times instead. It’s a great way to get the most of your tea—Use the leaves to make 2-3 cups of tea, then add them to a dish you are cooking—They still have flavor!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. granola (double check that it is vegan)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 5 T. canola oil (walnut or coconut oil would be even better)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Peel and slice pears. Place in deep, square baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle pears with 1/4 c. sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (or tea leaves!).
  4. Add vanilla extract and 1/3 c. sugar. Stir until evenly mixed.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix flour, remaining 1/4 c. sugar, and granola.
  6. Add oil and stir until mixture is wet.
  7. Spread topping evenly over pears in baking dish.
  8. Bake 40 minutes or until top is golden.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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