Saturday, November 20, 2010

Amish Reflections

So this is a post about Columbus Day weekend, and I know that it's WAY LATE, but I feel like I've been treading water just to keep on top of everything this semester. Teaching seven classes and doing a round of chemo every three weeks has been a challenge, to say the very least, but I am finally DONE WITH TREATMENT (YEE-HAW!), so now I can play catch-up with some stuff that I've had to back-burner for awhile, like my poor little blog. Thanks for your continued patience...

Even though it was came right on the heels of chemo #4, I decided that I didn't want my treatments to keep me from enjoying a school holiday. Still, I didn't feel up to doing anything extremely taxing, so my roommate and I decided on a quickie driving tour of Philadelphia and the Amish Country in Lancaster County, PA. We had a very nice time, despite the fact that the fall color had yet to reach Pennsylvania. In fact, the day we visited Philadelphia, it was almost 80 degrees!

Of course, the first thing we did after checking into our motel was to go in search of the ultimate cheesesteak, but what we found was the sandwich that Philly SHOULD be famous for, the roast pork with broccoli rabe, specifically at Tony Luke's.

The next morning, we enjoyed a walk through the Reading Terminal Market and had breakfast at the Down Home Diner (featured on "$40 a Day" with Rachael Ray). 

In the afternoon, we saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall because, well, you have to.

Then that night, the Food Network theme continued, as we decided to visit the Italian Market area, and we dined at this joint called Villa di Roma that had been around for decades and had been in an episode of "Throwdown" where their meatballs bested Bobby Flay's. We had spaghetti and the famous meatballs and a decadent quattrocini alfredo (pasta alfredo with spinach and bits of prosciutto). But the best thing was this appetizer that the waitress talked into--fried spears of asparagus with a lemony, buttery dipping sauce. YUM!!

The next day, we headed west to the land of the Amish. I had always dreamed of visiting what I imagined to be a very quaint and homespun region, but as it turns out, it was pretty kitschy. The only way to escape all the tourist traps (many of which we dutifully visited--my favorite was Kitchen Kettle Village, like a theme park based on canning!) was to get off the main highway, turn off the GPS and just drive! We took in glorious scenery that way, and encountered places like September Farm in Honey Brook where we bought some delicious cheeses, and the Bird in Hand Bake Shop (don't you just love the lyrical names of the towns?), where we loaded up on rye bread and whoopie pies and snickerdoodles and sticky buns and shoofly pie. Oh, and we bought some of the BEST local milk to wash (some of) it down rich and flavorful from those Amish cows, no doubt! And clearly, we chose an excellent and authentic place for lunch (Yoder's in New Holland) because we were seated next to these lovely people of whom I snuck a verboten picture! ;-)

Before we headed home the next day, we stopped at Stoltzfus Meats in (wait for it comes...) Intercourse, PA to pack our coolers with lots of delicious meats and cheeses. They were also selling their homemade sausage chowder which looked wonderful, but it was $8 a quart! I thought to myself, I can make a whole purple Dutch oven full of sausage chowder for eight bucks! So when I got home, I devised the following recipe that I thought turned out very well. It's a sausage, corn and KALE chowder, because I happened the have some kale hanging around that needed to be used.  Plus, I thought the soup needed something green and healthful.

Sausage, Corn and Kale Chowder

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. sausage (I used sweet Italian)
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
4 large potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
1 16 oz. bag frozen corn
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 cups fresh kale, stemmed and torn into small pieces
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup half and half
salt, to taste

In a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the sausage in the olive oil along with the chopped onion, celery,and pepper. When the sausage is no longer pink, add the carrots, potatoes, corn, stock and seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender. Use a potato masher to mash about half of the potato chunks to thicken the chowder. Stir in the kale, and add the milk and cream. Add salt to taste. Simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced a bit and the kale has wilted.

*I did not do it (yet), but I think a couple of cups of shredded cheese melted into the chowder would be delicious, too! I'm thinking a swiss like emmental or gruyere.


Anonymous said...

It's great to see you posting again! Thank goodness the chemo is over now and you can start getting back to normal life. :)

This soup looks delicious.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

You were practically in my neck of the woods. Lancaster is very commercial, isn't it? I don't think a horse and buggy could survive Route 30! There are some good things for kids over there though. Someday I might just take the kids for a weekend even though we are only about an hour away, not even.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see your new post. Wishing you 100% recovery and happy new year.