Saturday, January 28, 2012

Only in Bucks County: Everybody Wants The Blue One

Earlier this week, The Bucks County Convention and Visitors Bureau (@VisitBucksPA)
 asked this question via Twitter;
"I love Bucks County because of _________________."

My response?
"I love Bucks County because of its family farms and farm stands."

You wouldn't believe how many small, working farms there are just in Newtown.
As someone who likes to put the top down on my convertible and explore, and as a photographer and a foodie, I can say I've discovered dozens. The proprietors are all hard working people who love the land and struggle to offer us their very best. These are the same folks we run into at the post office, but they're dealing with issues like tomato blight, too much rain, or the dreaded cucumber beetle.
I've been given tours, history lessons, permission to take photos, and a warm welcome at them all.
 I support them in return. Here's a list of the farms and farm markets that I frequent,
many of them practically in my own back yard!

So the next time you see a sign that says "Zinnias Here," or "Pick your own Pumpkins,"
 or "Eggs for Sale;" go ahead and pull over! You'll have the opportunity to get your hands on some gorgeous hand-picked flowers or delicious home grown produce, support Bucks County agriculture,
and maybe hear a story or two.
Emily's Eggs.

Everybody wants the blue one.

Speaking of blue... blueberries from Shadybrook Farm.

 Colorful Swiss Chard.
Summer sunflowers.

 Slack Farm's Milhouse Farm Market.

Sungold Tomatoes.
Striped Stuffers at Milk House Farm.

An assortment of fresh, ripe, and inexpensive tomatoes.

Homemade Bruschetta!

Summer Squash

A cool, crisp snack.

Locally grown watermelon from Pete Taylor Farmstead.

Pumpkin time at Slack Farm.

Challenge your friends and family to Shadybrook Farm's amazing corn maze!

Wrightstown Farmers Market (Saturdays only)

Radishes in season.

Anchor Run Farm.

Pick your own tomatoes at Anchor Run Farm.

Early morning at Wrightstown Farm Market.

Eggplant Parmesan made from all local ingredients.

Zinnias at Thorpe Farm.

 Let us be reminded of the beauty of our land!

Note: These are the farms that I shop at within five miles of my house.
 If there are any that I've omitted or that you think I should visit, please let me know!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Free Cakes (Almost) and The 30 Year Grudge

It's weird how things happen. I recently wrote a blog about a Philadelphia area institution known for steaks, ribs, and "shot and a half" drinks - then was hired (over the phone) the next week to start a photo blog for another Philadelphia institution, a wonderful bakery known for its freshly made Swiss pastries.

This is the bakery that my parents and grandparents went to on uber special occasions for their famous Hazelnut cake. I can still remember it ... spongy, moist, and nutty with layers of Swiss Vanilla cream filling, covered with rich dark chocolate shavings. Although its been years since I've had a slice, I can still taste it, and I was looking forward to working with the bakery that's been making this exact same cake and other delicious Swiss pastries for over 85 years.
I was excited to begin their blog for different reasons... because it would get me into the Center City again, because it would be my first paid blog in the food industry, and because the owner had told me over the phone that along with my monthly check, each month I could also choose a cake! We agreed I'd come take my first batch of photos in the next few days; and for two nights I imagined the photos I would take of authentic Black Forest Cake, Strawberry Swiss Rolls, and colorful European cookies.

Flash forward.

I walk in the door of this colorful place and enjoyable, sweet smells of sugar and bread hit me in the face.
And guess what else? The bakery owner, yup...the person who has hired me to create their blog,
ALSO once hit me in the face. Yep. There I am standing in front of the girl who punched me in front of my entire homeroom in the tenth grade.

The girl who punched me over a boy.

The girl I punched back, resulting in a whole lot of trouble for us both!

The girl who had been my best friend and whom I never spoke to again since that day.

The girl I sneered at with contempt each time I passed her in the hall for the remainder of high school.

Me, in my head..."What the WHAT? Since when do you own a Swiss Pastry shop?"

Most of you know me as a pacifist, one who doesn't like to cause trouble, and someone who avoids confrontation at all costs.
What you may not know is that this girl can also hold a grudge. I'm outta here.

So much for my free hazelnut cakes!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Only in Bucks County: Let It Snow?

It's a Thursday morning in January in Bucks County and it's nearly 50 degrees. Yesterday I actually sat in the sun and did some work from one of our lounge chairs, and grilling season has not been put on hold yet due to our unseasonably warm weather! Usually we've had a snow storm or an ice storm by now, and I'm beginning to wonder if we're in store for any snow at all this winter. While it's nice not to be hindered by the weather, there is also something I enjoy about a snow day. I love nothing more than to bundle up and take the dog for a long walk in a snow storm. A good snowfall brings the neighbors out and I always feel a sense of camaraderie among us. But what I like the best about snowy weather is that it makes staying in and simply enjoying my family perfectly okay.

January, 2010.


                                                      A well-deserved end to a snow day.

So... who wants snow?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Only in Bucks County: It's My Party and I'll Go To The Pub If I Want To!

There may very well be a steakhouse on every corner in Philadelphia these days, but when I was kid my parents took me to Frankie Bradley's, Arthur's, Old Original Bookbinders, or The Pub for my annual birthday dinner. Flash forward 47 years (today, to be exact) and the only one left standing is The Pub.
If you're from Philadelphia you've no doubt passed The Pub a million times... but who has eaten there, and more important, who still eats there? We do! The Pub, located in Pennsauken, New Jersey has become a new-old family tradition again for the past ten years. We were craving a good char-broiled steak and some nostalgia when we decided to go back!
Nothing has changed since 1970 (my earliest memory, at age five), which is such a good thing. The gi-normous dining room is still busy, even on a weeknight in the cold of January. Capable chefs prepare meats over an open hearth and good natured waitresses young and old, pile our table with food. My dad loves that the iceberg lettuce at the salad bar is cold and crisp, and the kids like that the just-from-the-hearth baked bread comes with a Pub knife stabbed through the center.
Our Table for 10.

             We love the decor that hasn't changed since the 1950's!

So glad that Sam is finally legal!
My dad absolutely adores a Pub Old-Fashioned.
One AND A HALF ounces are the standard pour for all drinks!

This girl loves classic choices from an earlier time.
We also love the show these guys put on.
                    Posing with Santa in the Coat Room.

Sam at 21.

Delicious-looking cakes in the cooler.

Arrangements were made ahead of time to bring a birthday cake.

 Thank God I didn't have to blow out 46 candles!

The waiter snuck all this cake to our table- one slice of every type they make!

So my mom went home with a whole stack of cake-leftovers.

Rest assured, this Bucks County girl and her family will be visiting The Pub sometime again soon!

(I'll also admit to stealing a menu.)