Freshy Fresh from the farm

An afternoon's work picking tomatoes

An afternoon’s work picking tomatoes

I think everyone should be required to volunteer on a farm so they can appreciate where their food comes from and the blood, sweat, and tears that truly go into to the art of growing what we eat.  It was a transformational experience for me that I loved not to mention all that freshy fresh  produce!  I’ve shared in a few posts about volunteering at the farm, Post Apple CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in North East, PA this past growing season and I’ve had a lot of questions from people interested in getting involved this year.   Community Supported Agriculture is a membership that entitles the member to a share of the production of a wide range of fruits and veggies (approx. 70!) produced on the farm during the growing season estimated to begin in June and end no earlier than November (this past year we got deliveries until the week before Thanksgiving).  It is extremely fresh-often picked the day it’s packed so it has a higher nutritional value and a much longer shelf life,  cost-effective (I had sticker shock when I started going back to the grocery store after the season), and it tastes AMAZING!  An unexpected benefit, we saved time and money by not having to go to the grocery store since we already had a freezer full of local meat.  With 370+ members last year and endless volunteer tasks we stayed busy picking, portioning, and packing.  If you’re into canning you can also purchase additional vegetables at wholesale pricing, can’t beat that.  There are four share sizes to choose from, we did a half-share and it was plentiful, with a selection of pick up locations in Erie based on what’s convenient for you.  If you’ve thought about a garden but don’t have the time and space, this is the ticket!  We are still enjoying potatoes and lots of corn, zucchini, beans, and peppers I froze.  Click on any of the links in this post to learn more or click here.

Average mid July Half Share delivery

Average mid July Half Share weekly delivery

Crowns, Cocktails, and Church

South River Vineyard

South River Vineyard Winery

About 45 minutes from Erie you’ll find Geneva, Ohio and the Grand River Valley, with its beautiful countryside and a fabulous collection of wineries that have more personality and atmosphere than you can shake stick at overflowing with delicious wine!  I felt a real connection the first time I went to South River Vineyard, their winery located in a rescued, relocated, and restored old church with the entire property surrounded by a vineyard; their sign inspired by a victorian Calling Card found while deconstructing the church-these are my kind of people.  Two years ago just before their annual Ice Wine Festival they sent out the call for applicants for their first ever Ice Wine Queen contest, sounds like fun to me and I love their wine so I applied and was honored to be chosen as the second runner up.  A sash, a tiara, a few years and lots of wine later they are still generously giving me the royal treatment everytime I visit their winery (and now their new distillery!).  The Red Eagle Distillery is located about a half a mile down from the Church in a beautifully restored barn that has always been used to make spirits even during prohibition.  The distillery is open with a fantastic offering of Bourbons, Bourban aged beers, and Bourbon inspired cocktails.  Red Eagle will be serving up their very own Bourbon starting in April produced from local non GMO corn and water from a near by spring.  I’ve come to learn that Gene, Heather, and Jess understand the importance of supporting local, quality over quantity, taking your time and doing things the right way, and appreciating the past, these ARE my kind of people and I am proud to represent them and sing their praises in the 814.

Ice Wine Cocktail enjoyed at the Red Eagle Distillery

Ice Wine Cocktail enjoyed at the Red Eagle Distillery

Dirty Hoe Bourban Cocktail- Delish!

Dirty Hoe Bourban Cocktail- Delish!

Everything Tastes Better on China

Stacks of China Plates at my Wedding

Stacks of China Plates at my Wedding

A statement made countless times by my Grandmother since I was a kid that has undeniably left its mark and that I regularly profess to friends and strangers alike.  She began cultivating my love of china by letting me choose one of her flowered china tea cups displayed on the wall of her kitchen to drink tea out of during visits  as a kid.  I picked up my first set of China at a thrift store (thrift and consignment stores are loaded with china and usually for a bargain, my best deal so far is $1 for a 84 piece set at the Peacock Furniture Galleria dollar sale) which unknown to me was the same as my Mother’s wedding china.  Since then I’ve rarely met a china plate I didn’t like.  But it really is true, tea or coffee enjoyed out of those charming, thin, smooth china cups is more flavorful it feels different on your lips; a simple meal can be amplified in taste and presentation served on a china plate.  It’s light, washes up easier than other plates, and dries faster in a dish rack then anything else.  Using china seems to by a dying art, and I’m not sure why, maybe because people only ever see it locked away in cupboards and are afraid to use it for fear of breaking (just make that mosaic you’ve always wanted to).  I brought my love of thrifting and china together at my wedding, buying 165 mismatched china plates, it was cheaper and more fun than renting boring old dishes.  We eat on china every day, there is no reason to keep it squirreled away in a cupboard for a special occasion, your life is a special occasion…….break out the china or pick up a few plates and mix and match for a jazzy table!

P.S. When not in use you can repurpose china pieces for all sorts of things: soap dishes, candle holders, decorations, art, and the list is endless.

You can never have enough china

You can never have enough china