Monday, October 31, 2011

Sweet Pumpkin Soup

239. Memories of childhood come flooding back into my mind. It's a Friday night in late October. The air is crisp and chilly. The sounds of whistles blowing and fans cheering our local High School Football team stand out in the distance. Bright lights illuminating the neighborhood from the local stadium. The kitchen windows are steamed up as a hot pot of Sweet Pumpkin Soup gently simmers on the stove.
My mother would always make a pot of Sweet Pumpkin Soup each year in the fall. It is ultimate comfort food for me.

Sweet Pumpkin Soup

4-5 cups raw pumpkin, cubed
1/2 cup water
8 cups milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
liquid from cooked pumpkin (reserve after draining pumpkin)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
cinnamon and sugar

Place cubed pumpkin and 1/2 cup water into a stock pot. Bring to a boil and simmer till pumpkin is tender. Drain liquid and reserve. Mash pumpkin to desired texture leaving chunks if you so desire. Pour milk into pot with cooked pumpkin. Bring to a simmer.
Dumplings: In a separate bowl add melted butter, flour, salt and 1 cup drained liquid. Begin to stir together till it forms a sticky dough. If dough is too dry continue to add more liquid until it comes together into a sticky dough.
Once the soup comes to a boil, dip a tablespoon into the soup to warm the spoon, then scoop a spoonful of dough onto the spoon creating a small ball of dough. Then drop into the soup. Reheat the spoon each time and continue till all dough is used. Simmer the soup for about 25 minutes till dumplings are cooked. Stir in sugar.
Soup will thicken.
Ladle hot soup into bowls and sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar.

"And thank you for a house full of people I love. Amen."
~Ward Elliot Hour

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Central Market Lancaster, Pennsylvania

238. The town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is so diverse and filled with surprises around every corner. I have visited this quaint town many times in my life but have always stayed on the outskirts of the city proper. While attending a conference, held at the Marriott in the center of the business district of Lancaster, I discovered a whole new world. The layout of the city streets reminisce back to the late 17oo's when the Old City Hall was built and the Central Market was constructed in the center of town.

There is a resurgence taking place in these old buildings and around the neighborhood. Young artists and entrepreneurs are moving into town, refurbishing these old buildings and opening their doors to sell all sorts of delights. The Central Market is opened on Thursday's and Saturday's for several hours. Just visiting the building is delightful. We strolled through the venders stalls and enjoyed tasting and shopping.
At the PA Fudge Company the Cappuccino Fudge was unlike anything I've ever was heavenly!
There were farmers who brought their produce and such a wonderful variety.
I just wish I could have stocked up...the prices were so reasonable!
The atmosphere in the Central Market is so inviting. A touch of old world with new discoveries down each aisle.
We sampled homemade cider, spring rolls from a Thai vendor and Italian cheese from a notable Italian shop. Their Wedding Soup was perfect!
The variety of international shops was surprising: Pakistani, Greek, Italian, Irish, German, to name a few.
And, Amish vendors with their wonderful baked goods, whoopie pies and canned fruits.
This was a perfect place to spend our lunch hour.
My favorite vendor was The Herb Shop. The shopkeeper was a pleasant man with thick glasses. He was surrounded by apothecary jars and mason jars filled with all types of herbs for cooking and supplemental for your diet. I was so excited to see he sold all types of salts and "Fleur Del Sal", which I have been hunting for. The price was fantastic!
I used it on my roasted Pumpkin Seeds just the other day.
If you are heading to Lancaster, Pennsylvania any time soon, take one day and visit the town center at Penn Square. It is delightful! Pick up a visitors map. They also have "Downtown Dollars" you can use at all participating shops and stores. Go explore, you'll thank me!

"Nowhere in this country, from sea to sea, does nature comfort us with such assurance of plenty, such rich and tranquil beauty as in those unsung, unpainted hills of Pennsylvania."
~ Rebecca Harding Davis

Thursday, October 13, 2011


237. Snickerdoodles...are they not the quintessential cookie? Perfectly round, chewy, crunchy, soft and delicate all wrapped up in one simple sweet bite.

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Combine the small amount of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream shortening and butter together. Gradually add 1 1/2 cup sugar, beating 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time; beat well. Blend in vanilla.
Add flour, soda, salt and cream of tartar into mixing bowl. Mix till all comes together into a soft dough.
Shape dough into 1-inch round balls and roll in the sugar/cinnamon mix.
Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. (Cookies will spread while baking). Bake at 400º for 6 to 10 minutes or till lightly browned.
Cool. 4 dozen yield
The perfect specimen of deliciousness!
<3 Love! <3

The quintessential quote: "In The One Life Solution by Henry Cloud I came across an insight that was just that. He said... in life, in work, in relationships, you get what you tolerate. Let me say that again: you get what you tolerate."
~ Andy Wood

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Terrain at Styers

236. This past weekend was spent traveling home from Pennsylvania and taking the long way. My daughter heard and read about a new store called Terrain at Styers . It is located in Glen Mills, PA and is a gem of a place.
Rustic architecture and weather beaten structures are strategically placed amidst beautiful plants and gifts.
It is a feast for the eyes. A kiss of Autumn is in the atmosphere as you wander through the buildings and garden center.
There are many decorating ideas and bunches of dried branches to set in vases or lay across a table as a centerpiece.

Just walking around was a therapeutic experience.
Around every corner is another delight to the senses. With a Cafe and hot cider for sale. Scones, home baked cookies and such a relaxing atmosphere.
If you are passing through the eastern part of Pennsylvania, you must visit this beautiful store.
With Christmas around the corner, I am sure it will be a wonderland. I can't wait to return.

"If Athens shall appear great to you," said Pericles, "consider then that her glories were purchased by valiant men, and by men who learned their duty." That is the source of all greatness in all societies, and it is the key to progress in our time."
~ Robert F. Kennedy, Day of Affirmation Address, Capetown, South Africa 1966

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple Crostata

235. With apples a plenty from our apple picking excursion, an apple pie was a must!
Although the day we went apple picking was overcast and cool, the apple trees were loaded and there were few in the orchard picking. We had our choice of any apple from any tree.
An Apple Crostata is the simplest way of having the apple pie without all the fuss.

Apple Crostata

2 to 3 apples, peel, core and chop in to chunks or slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
pinch of kosher salt
dash of nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon of corn starch
1 pre-made pie crust, unbaked

Roll out pie crust on a floured surface in a circle, approximately 12". Place all other ingredients in a bowl and mix to coat apples.
Transfer pie crust round onto a flat baking sheet covered with parchment paper or Silpat. Pour apple mixture into center of pie crust.
Dot with butter.
Then begin to fold the dough over the edges of the apples leaving the center uncovered. Brush the top crust with a small amount of milk or water then sprinkle sparkling sugar over.
Bake 350º oven for 25-35 minutes or till crust is light brown and center is bubbling.
Allow the Crostata to cool. Cut in pie slices and top with vanilla ice cream.
It's beautiful and easy!

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."


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