The Kitchen Potager

January 19, 2013

Understanding your Outdoor Medicine Cabinet

Filed under: 1, Classes, Gardening Tips — The Kitchen Potager @ 4:48 pm

I met Sharon Moncrief, about three years ago. I had been focusing on my herbs in the garden and began experimenting with home made remedies for tea and skin care concoctions. I had found many online sources for ideas and information while doing “research” at home but one stood out as an all encompassing herbal guide – Herbiary.
On a day trip to explore Philadelphia, I came across one of their satellite shop’s in Reading Terminal Market. It was filled with a wide assortment of fabulous herbal tinctures, natural skin care remedies, books, soaps, and teas. there was one brand of product that I kept picking up, Greenbriar Herbalist. As I read the labels, I noticed made in “Pipersville, PA” – what a coincidence! I returned home to Pipersville, PA and gave her a call. I was thrilled to find this welcoming voice close to home and we began discussing a plan to host a class at The Kitchen Potager. “By the way, where do you live?” was the last question. “Right at the covered bridge” she replied. There are so many in this county but we clarified which one and I was thrilled to learn that the only thing separating us was a hill and a creek, I was on the other side of the bridge. Isn’t it funny when you go searching far and wide to learn more about something when the greatest resource is in your backyard?!

Well, that is actually the point of hosting another class with Sharon Moncrief. Last year, we gathered a group of friends to take Sharon’s class about Herbs for Medicine. We were a motley crew, not everyone knew eachother but had common love for plants. We were an organic wholesale grower, organic CSA owner, herbalist in training, microgreens specialist and flower grower, lavender product business owner, a beekeeper & holistic animal care giver, and couple of organic farmers – if we had landed on Gilligan’s Island we would have survived quite well! Everyone who attend our course, had a great knowledge of plants but what surprised me the most was how much everyone learned about the powerful benefits of botanicals that they had not considered before. For me personally, I loved that when I met Sharon, I was struggling with a few weeds that had cropped up all over my garden. I expressed my frustration and Sharon smiled with a “you never know, they may be just what the doctor ordered”. In this case, a doctor would never prescribe these, but a friend and healer would understand the magical benefits that I would receive (and needed) from my mallow plant, burdock, plantain and chickweed. My weeding chores following season were quite fun. I had a changed perspective and was happy to see that I was cultivating these beneficial plants and I began nurturing them almost like a new garden pets so that I could use their benefits during the season.

If you are new to gardening, are a well seasoned gardener, a cook, have friends and family, please consider joining us for this special five week class. We are targeting a series of Sunday afternoons from 1-4 pm. 3 students are required to register in order to hold the class so if you are interested but not available on Sundays, Tuesdays (afternoon or evening) will be our alternate class day if it works better for the group.
Register: Please mail a check for $375 to P.O. Box 292 Ottsville, PA 18942
$75 per class for students who would like a refresher on specific weekly topics.
Classes will be held at Village Centre Properties, 7137 Old Easton Rd, Pipersville, PA 18947 (on the road between Rt 413 (Pipersville Frame & Art) and route 611 (near Cactus Grill).

Class description:
Introduction to Herbal Medicine and using your Outdoor Medicine Cabinet

Week 1: Introduction to Herbs: Sustainable Medicine
How the oldest form of medicine is relevant to modern life. Understanding how herbs facilitate the healing process. How to collect, process & store herbs; comparing and buying herbal products; Using herbs safely.
Interactive: Making herbal tea

Week 2: Herbal Remedies for Seasonal Ills
Selecting and using herbs for colds, flu, bronchitis, coughs, allergies. Healing and strengthening the respiratory and immune system with herbs.
Interactive: Making herbal syrups & soups

Week 3: Herbs for Core Health
Selecting and using herbs to enhance digestion and cleansing. Supporting the cardiovascular and musculo-skeletal health with herbs.
Interactive: Making tinctures and vinegars

Week 4: Managing Stress with Herbs
Selecting and using herbs to support energy levels, sleep and manage stress, anxiety and depression. Herbal topical applications and skin care.
Interactive: Making compresses and poultices

Week 5: Herbs for Everyone
Selecting and using herbs to support the various passages of a woman’s life; herbal remedies especially for men, children and elders.
Interactive: Making herbal oils and salves

Backyard Medicine CabinetConcoctionCalendula

September 18, 2012

Living from the Garden – Time to Preserve!

Filed under: 1 — The Kitchen Potager @ 2:49 pm

spring garden
The Kitchen Potager is a small plot, the equivalent in size to many small backyard spaces, located at the home of Jerry Fritz Garden Design, Linden Hill Gardens. Each year, I add a garden section within the 40′x40′ footprint. Designed the garden to offer food, herbs and flowers throughout the year, we try to extend the seasons as long as possible.
Enticing us into the garden during the chilly spring months are perennial or fall planted favorites: fragrant viburnum carlesii, garlic, flamboyant tulips and luminescent golden oregano. Fruit, vegetables, and flowers are abundant through the summer and I try to make sure there are still items to pick for favorite holiday recipes by planting our favorite hardy vegetables including lacinato kale, brussel sprouts and collards. Unfortunately, many our flavorful friends will not survive the first frost.  As sweater weather arrives, it is now more urgent to savor the moments with sweet cherry tomatoes and to sip fresh lemon verbena tea. We become increasingly aware of the mysterious date approaching when a chill will knock at our door and end the season abruptly.
Last fall, we were in the middle of our 9 week Herbs for Medicine Course with Sharon Moncrief, The Greenbrier Herbalist when the early winter guest arrived. Luckily there was a warning, so we quickly gathered sensitive botanical friends to preserve. As the snow fell outside, herbs and plants covered every indoor table as we begun to capture their benefits. A “free” apothecary’s chest was created to ease us through the chilly winter to heal skin, boost immune our systems and offer botanical cures for what ails. Every participant in the class was an experienced cultivated grower, yet learned about the foraged plants and their wild cures. Last spring, I was quite frustrated with chickweed, mallow and plantain growing in the garden. This season, I smiled at the site and cultivated these previously unwelcome garden guests for nutritious or healing properties. Now that I understand the benefits of these wondrous weeds, The Kitchen Potager now feels like a vibrant party during each season – everyone is welcome to let their true character blossoms!
If you are interested in learning more about your garden’s botanical benefits, please join us for this valuable 9 week course, Herbs for Medicine. The introduction begins Sunday, September 23rd and then takes place every Wednesday from 6:30-9:00 pm September 26th until November 14th. $395 per person Registration required by September 19th. Questions, please call 215.767.4051
Garden Apothecary

July 27, 2012

Friends of the Delaware Canal Faces & Places: Erwinna Walls

Filed under: 1 — The Kitchen Potager @ 12:43 pm

Friends of the Delaware Canal

The Kitchen Potager is thrilled to be working with Friends of the Delaware Canal on their 4th Annual Faces & Places: Erwinna Walls event taking place next Saturday, August 4th. Whether taking a day trip or going on a long vacation, I always enjoy my return to home to Bucks County. Approaching the Frenchtown Bridge, I am welcomed by the water view and magnetic pull from the local produce of Schneiderwinds Farm on the other side of the river. Crossing the canal, cyclists speed by and I plan to follow their lead to explore picturesque towns along the water. This season, The Kitchen Potager is working with the group whose primary mission is to preserve the canal in order for all to enjoy recreational activities and help the village economies thrive: Friends of the Delaware Canal.
For the past few years, we have brought people together to celebrate the harvest with featured chefs in unique venues. This season, we are celebrating in one of the picturesque canal towns along with the residents that make this community unique; Erwinna. Earlier this year, we discovered an idyllic Bucks County setting – stone home by a covered bridge with a flourishing vegetable garden and chickens foraging through the property. Rubber necking to catch a glimpse of the wall ruins and garden, the little table at the entrance featuring unique concoctions in Weck jars beckoned me. Soon I discovered that I was at the home of Eat This! entrepreneurs, Gino de Schryver and David Bourgert. A business that started in Erwinna’s Delaware Valley Volunteer Fire Company, offers desserts, marmalades, jams, potted meats and pickled vegetables using homegrown and locally produced items now sells at numerous markets featuring local products including our own Ottsville Farmers Market. Beautifully presented, Gino’s jars make great gifts and indulgent treats!

Coincidentally, the new chefs of local landmark Golden Pheasant Inn live across the street. Presently under extensive renovation with Brett Webber Architects, PC and Sullivan Building and Design Group, in preparation for the family’s 2nd generation ownership, the excitement continues to build as the re-opening date approaches and final details are completed. With international culinary training and always supportive of quality local ingredients, we look forward to enjoying Blake and John’s culinary creations.

Walking through this canal town, you learn about the many residents who add to its charm. Guests will have the opportunity to attend a walking tour of the village to the canal and hear more about Erwinna’s history. In addition to the other guests, we will also enjoy the company of more local favorites. Kristen Jas Trio, known for their varied musical repertoire will perform. The brewers from The Ship Inn & Doylestown Brewing Company will sample their refreshing craft brew specialties. Local and international wines will contribute to the rustic wine garden setting. Auction items that offer activities and unique opportunities to enjoy with friends and family in the many towns along the river will tempt us all.

The Kitchen Potager is pleased to create a preview event with Erwinna’s own chefs and characters benefiting The Friends of the Delaware Canal and all who enjoy the waterways that connect our Bucks County river towns. It is sure to be summer evening filled with character, please join us for the fun and help enhance life along the canal! Register today at www.fodc.org.

January 19, 2012

Wood Fired – Russet’s Rustic Retreat

Filed under: 1, Farm to Table — Tags: , , , , , , , — The Kitchen Potager @ 6:02 pm

Wood Fired and nothing else! The Kitchen Potager was so thrilled to partner with the new Russet team for Saturday’s sold out dinner club, prepared exclusively on the open fire and wood stove at Marsh Gibbon Stable in Solebury. Russet is the new restaurant opening in Rittenhouse Square in mid February. Andrew Wood was previously at Fork along with Front of House Manager, Jeff Arnold. Andrew and Kristin Wood will pair their refined rustic style with her baking specialties to create a new destination to impact the Philadelphia restaurant scene.

True to his namesake, Andrew Wood’s culinary techniques are inspired by recipes dating back several centuries; using refined traditional methods. When I saw Andrew in the morning, covered head to toe in wool, blanketed by an apron and tending to his fire in the Oliver’s walled garden, I was transferred back in time. I wanted to hear him exclaim from the town square “GIVE ME FIRE and I will give you A DELICIOUS 4 COURSE MEAL!” As I would learn over the course of the day, that would never happen. Andrew and his wife, Kristin are the most soft spoken talented chefs I have met, with complimentary culinary skills that rise above words to describe their fare.

Andrew arrived Saturday morning to create his “kitchen” (aka fire) that he would get to know intimately over the course of 10 hours. Barely making a dent in the wall of hand chopped wood in Marsh Gibbon’s old stable, Andrew created a large fire in the garden bed. Pushing soil aside, terracotta tiles were placed to retain the heat from the fire and the hot ash set aside for its roasting temperature. Fire, tiles and ash all created the oven that would be used to prepare the ash roasted beets, capon consomme and slow roasted short ribs. As the air temperature hovered around 21 degrees, you could almost hear the horses clip clomping up the gravel driveway to the scene. Inside Marsh Gibbon’s old stable, the wood stove was blowing heat into the dining area as well as creating the stove top for hand rolled tortolni, polenta, and mulled cider.

On this cold winter day, guests arrived promptly, excited to visit with the chef and meet other dining adventurers. With cava, Ship Inn ESB or hot mulled cider in hand, they mingled by the warmth of the outdoor fire or indoor stove. While chatting, they tasted Andrew’s authentic award winning salumi and Marsh Gibbons neighbor’s (Manoff Market Gardens) sweet and tart apples dipped in honey from the property. Seeing familiar faces and making new acquaintances was part of the fun.

As dusk began to fall, guests were glad to be seated and hear more from Chef Andrew. Hearing about preparations directly from the chef who focus on quality sustainable ingredients is the purpose for these dinners. For Andrew, this is his nature and the only way he would consider preparing meals – the same criteria of ingredients will be used at the new restaurant where he will source from his closest friends and farmers in Lancaster County. Guests enjoyed knowing that the beets were roasted in the ash – nothing added. Kristin’s flatbread stole the show of the first course as it was featured with beets, radicchio and melting taleggio cheese. Andrew explained the process for the capon stock which imparted great flavor onto the mortadella torteloni’s (that were hand rolled 3 hrs prior to being added to this broth of goodness). Traditional drops of Tourais wine were poured into the consomme that added the “Russet touch” as we were warmed by the flavorful broth. Andrew’s favorite Le creuset pots from his home collection were transferred from fire to wood stove. Dishes warmed next to the stove. Polenta and short ribs melting off the bone and covered with grated parmesan offered a stunning main course. Kristin Wood’s specialty is dessert. I had watched carefully throughout the day as the wine poached pears comfortably steeped on the stove. Every few hours the sauce was checked and finally it could be enjoyed. With the spices and flavors married together so well, we could see what might have brought this couple together – a genuine affection for their different yet equally impressive culinary treats!

Jeff Arnold, the Front of House Manager, never ceased to make me smile. When I offered an electric tea kettle to “help” his coffee brewing process, Jeff would have nothing of it “that would be such a shame to have this incredible meal entirely from fire and then use electric heat for the coffee!”. He would not have it. You have no idea how much I appreciated their interest in offering an authentic rustic experience – it made all the difference for the enjoyment of the meal.

Andrew and Kristin’s traditional techniques provided anything but a simplistic meal due to culinary experience at Radius in Boston, TRU and Trio in Chicago, Terra, Dean & Deluca, and Quince in California and most recently at Fork in Philadelphia. As a rustic preview to their new restaurant, Russet, opening in Rittenhouse Square next month the dinner was deemed successful based on the pre-reservations being made in between courses! If you would like to join others in the Russet experience, please contact Jeff Arnold for reservations at russetphilly@gmail.com or 919-208-3601.

The Kitchen Potager Chef’s Dinner series was created three years ago to bring “dining adventurers” together who appreciate the talent of chefs, selection of quality ingredients and unique venue. Marsh Gibbon was a truly magical setting for this dinner. We are thankful to the Oliver family and specifically, Kelsey for helping to create a magical setting for this experience. They are genuine stewards of this 1704 Penn Land Grant property. We were glad to meet all their girls – led by Jimmy the most social Buff Orpington and furry friends Marsh and Gibs who are always available for a friendly chat.

Please join us at the table and save the date for our upcoming dinner on February 19th to see what adventures in food have to offer! Please email me at kp@thekitchenpotager.com for more details on any of the chefs, venues and dinners. If you would like to host your own private event at a prized venue in Bucks County, like Marsh Gibbon, please do not hesitate to call us, we would be glad to make the arrangements.

follow the rooster

follow the rooster

fire, hot tiles and ash - the kitchen

fire, hot tiles and ash - the kitchen

Rolling torteloni

Rolling torteloni

It takes many hands

It takes many hands

Oh good - the kitchen is burning

Oh good - the kitchen is burning

quality time together - rolling torteloni

quality time together - rolling torteloni

Places everyone - Places!

Places everyone - Places!

The Menu

The Menu

perfect polenta

perfect polenta

Andrew's Salumi and Manoff Market Apples

Andrew's Salumi and Manoff Market Apples

As dusk falls

As dusk falls

Little bundles of love

Little bundles of love

Ash roasted

Ash roasted

short ribs long flavor

short ribs long flavor

perfect poaching

perfect poaching

cider and polenta side by side

cider and polenta side by side

not so simple syrup

not so simple syrup

Fork Friends - Thank you for the introduction!

Fork Friends - Thank you for the introduction!

An Oscar and applause for the Olivers - best venue

An Oscar and applause for the Olivers - best venue

Flatbread on the fire by moonlight

Flatbread on the fire by moonlight

Festive table

Festive table

Chemex Coffee

Chemex Coffee

Good Night Chef!

Good Night Chef!

Kevin & Yvonne - a Marsh Gibbon marriage

Kevin & Yvonne - a Marsh Gibbon marriage

January 2, 2012

2011 What a difference a year makes!

Filed under: 1, Farm to Table, Upcoming Events — The Kitchen Potager @ 5:07 pm

Beginning with a cold snowy freeze, we added new gardens, chickens, ducks and bees!
Chefs cooked up a storm – serving through Irene,
Grilling, chopping, and veg-ing – even the taco truck made a scene!
Perfect produce, charcuterie, seafood, salsa, soaps, spun fiber,
dog treats, preserves, herbs, plants and flowers,
We appreciate all of the Ottsville Farmers Market shoppers,
and of course our fabulous local vendors!
We enjoyed every bit of the festival of Smallholding
Earthen oven making, hive building, seed starting, kimchee creating ….
ice cream indulging, canning learning, basic brewing and tincture concocting!
These are only a few of our favorite things…we can only imagine what 2012 will bring!

The Kitchen Potager thanks you for being a part of our enjoyment of living through the garden. We look forward to growing together in 2012!

November 23, 2011

Beer & Cheese – A Great Pair

Filed under: Classes, Farm to Table — The Kitchen Potager @ 12:24 am

What a combination! Yes, we have indulged in beer & cheese before but on Sunday afternoon we were thrilled to have two of our favorite artisanal local producers, The Ship Inn and Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, together for a Beer and Cheese Tasting. They are great partners in sharing the same philosophy of quality ingredients and culinary craftsmanship but it is rare to have them in the same place at the same time to showcase their specialties.

When you investigate learning opportunities for making your own cheese or baking bread you will find the “go to” experts at  Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse who have been making grass fed cheese since 2003. Assisted by a partnership with Hunterdon Land Trust, Jonathan and Nina White moved their environmentally sustainable dairy farm to The Stamets Farm in Milford, NJ. We are lucky to have them as local neighbors for their farming philosophy and full flavor cheese and bread! The Ship Inn’s 2nd Generation, Tim Hall is happy to be at the helm providing quality locally sourced and ecologically responsible ingredients on their menu. New Jersey’s First Brew Pub makes hand-crafted ales in 7 barrel batches using freshly milled whole grain. The Ship’s brewer, Lea Rumbolo is a trained chef and her refined palate shines through with each barrel’s distinctive flavor.
We had a packed house and enjoyed listening to each of their roles in bringing out the flavors in their specialties. With an interesting group of guests and unique palattes, we could not quite agree on the specific pairings but were happy to find the right combinations for all 7 brews and 5 cheeses. They reserved the unveiling of special brews just for us and Lea was kind enough to offer tours behind the scenes. We certainly all left very hoppy!

A great pair from The Ship and Bobolink

A great pair from The Ship and Bobolink

November 22, 2011

We can too with Food in Jars

Filed under: Classes — The Kitchen Potager @ 6:17 pm

My favorite celebrities do not star in a reality tv show, tackle each other on a green field on Monday nights nor reinvigorate their career with a dance off competition. Yes, I certainly indulge in some couch time periodically but my favorite stars are doing things that I love – gardening, cooking and traveling! I wish I could spend time with them regularly as they create new flavors, grow beautiful food and explore new territories with great passion and perspective.
I was so glad to meet one of my favorite “celebrities” last summer when I was lucky enough to be working at a Food Bloggers Summer Potluck Workshop. After a summer of preserving fruit and herbs in crazy combinations to make unique jams and syrups, you can imagine how thrilled I was to meet Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars. I was even more happy when she was available to offer an Autumn Canning Class for The Kitchen Potager!
I was not alone in the excitement. Last Sunday, we had a sold out class of experienced canners and eager learners. Rather than chalk filled rooms with few windows and distractions from note passing with friends, we gathered in Linden Hill Gardens‘ sunny greenhouse while enjoying homemade treats and tea. Marisa who has offered canning information through cyberspace with devotion and passion, did not cease to amaze us. She reinforced and refined our techniques by demonstrating and explaining the science behind the directions with ease and humor. We enjoyed the afternoon and were inspired by our culinary super star to create gifts and concoctions for friends and family during the holidays – a much more rewarding activity at the kitchen counter vs the couch!
Please save the date April 14th 2012 for a Sweet & Savory Springtime Canning Class when Marisa returns to The Kitchen Potager!

Canning with Food in Jars in the Greenhouse Classroom

Canning with Food in Jars in the Greenhouse Classroom

Ingredients

Ingredients

Relishing in the Cranberries

Relishing in the Cranberries

Setting Point

Setting Point

November 5, 2011

2011 Chef’s Dinner Series Wrap Up

Filed under: 1, Farm to Table — The Kitchen Potager @ 4:47 pm

When planning Farm to Table Dinners the most important ingredients are the seasonal produce, chefs, and the guests. One item that is the most reliable element of surprise and can never be planned for is the weather! This season, that was reinforced with our guests Irene, Lee and all Hollow’s Eve winter storm. I have to commend our fantastic chefs for “weathering” through all elements and delivering delicious memorable meals in rain, wind, heat, and hurricanes!
Luckily, we shifted Drew’s dinner from Hurricane Lee’s visit to mid October for a rustic fall evening when we did not worry about having soggy shoes (or wet basements at home). Drew gave us a meal to remember with his specialties including Metropolitan Seafood’s trout with swiss chard. We began with pizzas around the garden oven and finale’d with figs for dessert. Stay tuned for a winter cooking class with Drew in the new year including traditional recipes inspired from some of his favorite chefs. Judging from the friends around the table, we would all enjoy learning new techniques from one of our favorite local chefs!
Matt Ridgway, of PorcSalt, always surprises us with his flavor combinations. As guests swapped between the hot and cold hors d’oeuvres stations, they read the menu card wondering “chicken liver mimosa mousse – yum?”, “I’ve never seen a foie gras with curds carving station”, “what’s carrots vaudavan?” “which one is this?”. Surprised and satisfied with social tasting time, they were even more enchanted as they dined inside the Barn at the table. We were all impressed with the Asian flair incorporated into the Tuscan Bean Salad by using young ginger from Gravity Hill Farm, pumpkin kimchee and toasted hazlenut as condiments. As we indulged in the dessert, oohs and ahs were heard around the table as the flavors sparkled – literally. Once again, it was a meal to remember! Check out Matt’s recent article at Phillyburbs.com to learn more about his approach to curing and other specialties.
Lea Rumbolo of The Red Spoon Gourmet Cooking and brewer at The Ship Inn, offered her techniques to us on a beautiful day. We loved every minute of learning while we were chopping in the garden, chatting and charring red peppers at the grill and heating up – very quickly I might add – in the pizza garden oven. The beautiful part about these classes are that guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends following a day of cooking and sharing a meal. Lea will be wearing her “brewer’s hat” The Kitchen Potager’s Beer and Cheese Tasting with The Ship Inn and Bobolink Dairy. We will be cozy inside on Sunday, November 20th at The Ship Inn, please join us and reserve a seat at the table!
Yafa Faro always impresses us with her dramatic entrances at the market – in a sporty car or turquoise truck. Not to mention, her sesame treats took us by surprise and became a fast addiction and Bucks County favorite. Little did we know that Yafa was instrumental in Tribeca’s food culture and that we were lucky to have a city transplant enjoying our favorite area of the world. Yafa pulled out all the stops and created 7 courses with over 16 of her favorite vegetarian delights. The carnivores in the crowd were thrilled by the flavors and the vegetarians pleased to have a meal devoted to their tastes. If you are craving more of her treats, please join us for The Kitchen Potager’s Small Business Saturday Open House and I will have sesame treats for you to buy for the festive season.
Braving the elements was an under statement for the Ella’s American Bistro chefs Matt Schuler and Peter Hess. While hurricanes are no surprise to South Carolina Johnson & Wales alumni, Irene could have been a little gentler on this dynamic team. Armed with a beautiful menu and mobile kitchen, they did not miss a beat as they delivered delicious courses with a sense of humor. Perhaps on a clearer evening we will venture to their new restaurant in Wayne, PA. Please email me to let me know if you would like to be a part of the plan.
A special thanks to Matt Schuler of Ella’s American Bistro, Lea Rumbolo Red Spoon Gourmet Cooking Classes, Yafa Faro of Yafa’s Joy Sesame Treats, Matt Ridgway, PorcSalt and Drew Abbate of Vine & Fig Tree Bistro for all of their efforts in bringing their specialties to the Barn at Linden Hill Gardens.

Ella's MenuChef Matt SchulerYafa - A treatThe tableVeg Class PrepChatting and Charring

Cheers from the chicken coop

Cheers from the chicken coop

PorcSalt Specialties

PorcSalt Specialties

PorcSalt Sparkling Service

PorcSalt Sparkling Service

Drew's Specialities - Figs and Friends

Drew's Specialities - Figs and Friends

October 14, 2011

It’s “All Good” at the Palisades Community Wellness Expo

Filed under: 1 — The Kitchen Potager @ 12:40 pm

It was “All Good” last week when Palisades School District hosted an event to highlight the wonderful wellness choices we have in our community. We often hear the details about childhood obesity rising with high processes/low nutrition food choices and sedentary lifestyles encouraged by interest in computer video games. What we do not always hear about is all of the people trying to change that behavior and the ideal choices to improve our lifestyles that are conveniently offered close to home. The timing of the event was ideal with several key factors taking place in the school district: a new Superintendent Dr. Bridget O’Connell who is carrying the baton for fresh foods following Dr. Francis Barnes’ initiatives, new Food Services Director Gerry Giarratana trying to make nutrition a priority over subsidies, an active Wellness Committee led by parents including Ann Marshall of Keeping it Real in Palisades blog and Michael Lynch, a board member who has been making Fresh Foods for Palisades a priority for years.

Palisades School District optimized the opportunity by hosting the premier of “Food for Thought” created by the Bucks County League of Women Voters, a social “concession” time where local businesses could showcase their offerings as well as a panel discussion to follow including Well of Life, Crystal Connor nutritionist, mother and daughter of KidsShape program. Community members, students and parents strolled to chat with “good choice concessioners”. They sampled schools yogurt smoothie treats, raw kale chips, organic Honeycrisp apples, and enjoyed a guilt free hot dog and pizza slice, while also taking a spin on a bike, testing chemical free cosmetics when strolling by: Applegate Farms Organic hot dogs, Ottsville’s Kimberton Whole Foods healthy lunch choices, Jules Thin Crust organic pizza, Ottsville Farmers Market, Brad’s Raw lunch box size chips,  Winter Sun Farms nutrient dense frozen local food CSA, and Suburban Organics door-to-door food delivery service as well as exercise and wellness practitioners of Luck’s Upper Bucks Gym, Nockamixon Athletic Club, Cloud Hands Massage, Bucks County Master Gardeners, as well as Ann Silverman Free Clinic, Bloom Chiropractic in Revere, Bucks County Area Agency on Aging, Carol for Heart, The Food Comfort Center, Hellertown Chiropractic, Hunger Nutrition Coalition, Maleleuca Products, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, Naps 2 B Fit, PACT, Palisades Cafeteria Food Service, Palisades Community Foundation, Revolutionary Home Health, St Mary’s Medical Center.
WOW!!! Aren’t we lucky to live in such a great area with GOOD choices all around us! Now it is up to US to decide to make a change. Let’s do that together and see how easy and fun it can be!

Follow the school districts efforts on their website and if you would like to host your own program, contact the League of Women voters for the free film. Let’s make “good choices” the epidemic.

Thanks to food services director Gerard Giarratana, student advisors Amy Hitcho and Jeanne Smith, Joanne Connelly of Bucks County League of Women Voters, community relations director Donna Holmes, Parent Wellness Committee Member Ann Marshall, Nora Katz Students for Social Change, and Michael Lynch School Board Member of the Fresh Foods Committee for all that you do to initiate changes.

Have you been to the Ottsville Market?Kimberton Whole Foods convenient choices

KidsShape Celebrities

KidsShape Celebrities

Applegate Farms Hot Dogs you can feel good about eating

Applegate Farms Hot Dogs you can feel good about eating

Lucks Upper Bucks - aren't we lucky we can spin right over to a great gym?!

Lucks Upper Bucks - aren't we lucky we can spin right over to a great gym?!

Brad's Raw Chips Raw Kale never tasted so good (convenient too!)

Brad's Raw Chips Raw Kale never tasted so good (convenient too!)

Kimberton Whole Foods - convenient organic lunch box choices

Kimberton Whole Foods - convenient organic lunch box choices

Jules Thin Crust - Food for Thought - organic food that tastes great too

Jules Thin Crust - Food for Thought - organic food that tastes great too

Good choices are available - you decide!

Good choices are available - you decide!

Maybe if we BOTH make the right choice it will be easier and tastier!

Maybe if we BOTH make the right choice it will be easier and tastier!

August 29, 2011

It was a good night Irene: Extreme Cooking, Extremely Delicious Garden Bistro

Filed under: 1, Farm to Table — The Kitchen Potager @ 3:57 pm

This Saturday, we indulged in extreme cooking and extremely delicious food at our first Chef’s Dinner for the 2011 series. You could say that it started during a May Day heatwave, when I ventured to my favorite specialty heirloom vegetable and herb sale, Landis Valley Herb and Garden Fair. I love the spring ritual of meeting the producers who do a beautiful job of growing vegetable and herb varieties that I have not found myself. Every year I learn something new from trying a new vegetable or herb transplant. This year, in addition to finding new varieties, I found a new chef.
Chef Matt Schuler was talking with culinary vegetable grower, Tim Mountz of Happy Cat Farm. As I browsed Tim’s pepper plant assortment, I overheard Matt mention he was a chef, creating a new restaurant later in the year, looking for quality growers. I could not resist introducing myself. “You are a chef?  We have a great place for you to showcase your talents while your restaurant is being built!”. Three and a half months later, with several meetings and seasoned with a bold hurricane, we were able to enjoy the meal prepared by soon – to – be – restaurant team, Ella’s American Bistro.
After studying at Johnson & Wales, South Carolina, cooking during an approaching hurricane was not a new event to Chef Matt Schuler. In Ottsville, we had humidity and a light rain during the day and the projections for our area was rain with wind up to 20 mph – some might say a typical Friday at the Ottsville Farmers Market in 2009!
Chefs Matt and Peter arrived early with their outfitted mobile kitchen. Not only did it make the meal possible in these conditions, the truck will soon to be painted to look like a rustic barn – a theme that coincides with Ella’s American Bistro and made Linden Hill Gardens’ barn the perfect setting to present their menu.

As guests arrived, they shed their umbrellas and began to sip Manoff Market Gardens peach sangria. Admiring Jerry Fritz’s barn renovation, guests met each other and enjoyed the Ella’s charcuterie and Bobolink cheese platter. The constant theme for the Chef’s Dinner Series is using seasonal local ingredients. The setting remains the same and the chefs provide their unique style and atmosphere. The Ella’s team, Matt, Peter and Leber described each course to the group with ease and a sense of humor. Ingredients were sourced from their own vegetable garden along with their local Lancaster market and some of our own vendors’ favorite items:

Ella's Bistro Menu for Chef's Dinner Series

Guests were cozy inside the barn, seated at their candlelit communal table. Courses were delivered in a steady stream, in keeping with the weather outside. The chefs were picking up their stride and the last three courses were providing oohs and ahhs. With so much focus on the seasonal ingredients, the chefs strayed from the previously planned menu by creating a sweet heat peach bbq sauce for the pork. Old Time Tennessee Melon is a personal favorite and was taken to new heights with a beet juice and vanilla bean reduction sauce for the Intermezzo. Manoff Peach, Almond and bread pudding with caramel bourbon creme anglaise added a sweet finale along with home made cookies that Matt warned correctly, would put guests over the edge.
Guests lingered and enjoyed the flavors of the evening along with great company. Thanks to Ella’s American Bistro and Jerry Fritz’s cozy barn, it truly was a Good Night Irene!

Stay tuned for more details about the opening of Ella’s American Bistro in Wayne, PA later this fall. The Kitchen Potager’s Chefs’ Dinner Series takes place every weekend in September in the Barn at Linden Hill Gardens.  Please see the website calendar and online products for details.

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