Friday, January 31, 2014

Easy Breezy- wishful Spring planning

I finally took some time to grasp how works or can work for an artisan jewelry business.  Here you see a very casual, practical mix of color and texture making for a non-stressful day out walking from shoppe to shoppe or to the next awesome art installation comfortably.

Easy Breezy

Denim is my go to as well as one of my 4 pair of  Converse or 'Chucks'.  The fun colorful scarf is a must, followed by the denim jacket and sweet grey tee, throw SDAJ on with ease as well as a Tom Bihn messenger bag.  The strong but, stylish Tom Bihn bag is the perfect way for organizing all your personals, water bottle, lunch and some purchases found along the way with confidence.  The only touch left out of the collection would be a cool pair of socks and worn leather belt perhaps, or not...
I find the warmth of copper, artisan beads, stones and handcrafted components a way to pull together this sort of collection brilliantly.

enjoy, xoxo

Monday, January 27, 2014

local restaurants- Rose's Hilltop Diner

HOURS (via facebook) :
phone   (814) 834-4492

24716 Bennetts Valley Hwy
WeedvillePA 15668                 Directions

We got a late start on a well needed day out last Friday at 11am. for Rose's Hilltop Diner in Saint Marys, Pa. Route 255.  Watching Vampire Diaries until 3am., the night before, will do this to you every time, guilty pleasure.  My choices were of the breakfast kind including steak and eggs, fresh cut homefries and a sweet potato pancake in place of toast.  Dear husband chose a lunch platter of cheeseburger with bacon and fries, very good.  Home cooking with comfort food, plus some surprises thrown in is a simple way to describe this little diner.
I would love to have dinner there some evening, just never drive through at that time.

Know matter how packed this small diner is, it seems you can always find a table or at least not wait very long for one.  Rose's still has a diner style counter, as you can see below, small window tables for two diners, up front by the register are also available.  Family style tables in the back dining area with one booth and 3 booths along the front by the counter are also available for seating.  

As far as the menu goes it is a beautiful thing with your everyday foods prepared just the way you like and then great specialty items such as "Paige's Pimpkin' Mix" (1/2 order of Sausage gravy, 5 biscuits, 2 eggs, 2 links, 2 strips, homefries and toast) and the "Trash Plate" which is one of our favorites.
I love their sweet potato pancakes with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, steak medium rare, home-fries w/sauteed onions and peppers and then of course eggs sunny side up all served on platters reminiscent of Fiestaware.  
A big plus for Rose's is being able to swap out the toast choice for a pancake!!! 
That does get me all kinds of excited to tell you the truth.  There are not many breakfast joints that will.. I totally do not quite comprehend this.. perhaps it is a control issue ; - )
Husband was pretty happy with his hamburger with french fries and pickle slices.  The burger was sandwiched between a nicely toasted bun, american cheese, bacon, onion, tomato and ketchup.  In the above shot you can see how the man loads it all up with black pepper until the tomato slice has pretty much disappeared.
sweet potato pancakes with loads of a melted butter mix of cinnamon and brown sugar
usually a trio of colored bell peppers, this morning just the plain ol' green with large wedges of sweet onions
Heading off to Altoona for the day, needing yoga pants and comfortable shirts is on the list along with a few shirts for the husband.  Just good to get out for a bit, this weather has been record breaking with the cold temperatures and hard to get out for a good walk.

Rose's Hilltop Diner is a definite great comfort food destination in the PA Wilds section of Pennsylvania.  If you are heading to see the Elk in Benezette give it a go!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cast Iron LOVE- a collection from the kitchen and campfire

The current collection used and stored in the oven..missing I see the 2 pre- 1957 Griswold and Wagner griddles that I just love, perfect jeweler's finish in the shot.  The middle back row griddle is a crazy heavy Emril newer version available here found at a household sale.   This pan is the heaviest I own even out doing the dutchoven you see back right.  My absolute favorite the 11-1/2 " high sided Griswold you see on top of the skillet stack front right.  This gorgeous pan was purchased beginning of last summer at an antique shop on Rt. 219 for $5.
I have been using cast iron for cooking since starting to prepare food back in the day at age 10.  My Dad always had a set of skillets for his breakfast, hamburger, steak and pork chop frying making meals for himself, my brother and I after working all day in our town's PaperMill or on the weekend.  He was a big one for weekend breakfasts such as sliced potatoes fried in loads of butter, side pork/sausage patties/bacon and eggs prepared over easy fried in whatever fat he had from that mornings meat choice.  Of course my younger brother stayed in bed until either my Dad was red faced from yelling up at him beginning when the potatoes were almost done into cracking that first egg until stomping up the stairs to literally dump him out of his bed.  That was always fun...not, lol.
I did not think the skillets we used were all that important to my later pan buying choices, especially since I could not wait until I would start my own kitchen inventory that did not include such an uncool choice.  My Dad started me off with a 2 piece skillet set including 6" and 8" all perfectly seasoned for the first apartment move across the river from my Grandmother, his Mom in the Rolfe section of Johnsonburg.  I could actually not only see her back porch from my back kitchen window but, yell back and forth to carry on a semi conversation about the day or evening happenings.  She was not a fan of the castiron, too heavy she would say and use the latest and greatest nonstick pan, Revereware or Club Aluminum choice.
Wagner 2 sided griddle, one side flat the other raised.  Here is the bottom showing new maker's mark.
We were married August 1986 and continued with the first 2 piece set until the early 90's when pregnant with our 2nd child.  I am a collector, at the core, of anything and cannot just sit on a small start.  On a holiday shopping trip to Grove City, Pa.  where they have one of those very large shopping brand name outlets, there are a few kitchen stores.  This is where 4 more pieces were added the Wagner griddle, Lodge wok, 10- 1/2" Wagner skillet  and a 12- 1/2" Wagner skillet.  Wagner closed up in 1999.  Here is a little history on Wagner and Griswold.  Very interesting that a lot of experts feel pre-1957 is considered superior to what happened after it was purchased by an Ohio company.  I have read from other sources that this pre- 1957 castiron is referred to as having a jeweler's finish on the cooking surface which is a pretty cool description.  There is a noticeable difference from my older collection to what we purchased on this shopping trip to the outlets and of course the Lodge cookware that we have access to buying now.  Lodge is the last American manufacturer of castiron cookware.
Pizza made in 3 of the skillets, all with different toppings.  I could still kick myself for using a poor pans still carry scars in their seasoned finish....grrrr 
Well anyway.... I love it now and have for many years, there was only a short stint where my stubbornness took over and those 2 little pans were abused and neglected until joined by brand new versions from Wagner and Lodge and then when fabulous antique choice picks were added to the collection with griddles Last summer during Ridgway's townwide yardsale a Chicago dutchoven with it's faux hammered texture and beautiful inside cooking surface was added to my home kitchen pile of iron.
12" footed dutchoven baking potatoes, onions and pepper over charcoal along with the Emril griddle frying up steaks. 
Our new love of camping allowed the addition of 2 more pieces, a Lodge 10" and 12" dutchoven, cook books and all the accessories including the dutchoven metal table available from Camp Chef you see above, red leather gloves, cleaning brush, lid stand, castiron insert(bread baking) and chimney charcoal starter.  The ovens have feet, holding them up off the coals, letting air and heat circulate.
husband starting the charcoal to begin baking meatloaf, assorted root veggies and herbs in a parchment lined oven.  The addition of the parchment keeps clean up at a minimum.
 Here is a post on the Vintage travel trailer/travel studio blog for this recipe  and last camping trip from October at the Dam.
a couple summers back at Twin Lakes making some fireside pizzas, the the brush is to sweep away the ash, keeping the coals hot and to temp
Dutchoven cooking is glorious, preparing everything you would make in the conventional home oven, but BETTER of course with the addition of infused charcoal cooking through the food and then a back drop of nature surrounding you and your family is a wonderful plus.
Hillbilly style bacon from Clyde's Quality Meats, Chestnut Street, St. Marys, Pa. fried in my favorite skillet.
Seasoned with lard after a breakfast of hillbilly style bacon, homefries with onions/peppers and crepe style pancakes..ready to go once again.  I use castiron everyday and would love to find a chef's style frying pan with the flared sides and also a waffle making pan and base.

What is in your sweet collection?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Garden Studio- January Studio Tour 2014

Components at the ready for upcoming work along with Wubber pliers, kiln and storage area.
Some oxidized components, some freshly cut, hammered, wrapped, stamped or in the planning stages with a pattern drawn in using a Sharpie.
No DVD playing today since it is really, really chilly in the studio and would be difficult manipulating small wire.  Shelves of books, packaging ribbon, chains, thick leather cord, dvds, colored Sharpies, wire, boxed hang tags and trail stop display sample on this bench.
Long view of the left workbench, under greenhouse window with fibula safety style pins being prepped, bracelets being deburred, solid brass bracelet mandrel and tumbler at the ready.  Top right dapping set, jumpring cutter set, disc cutter, Lortone tumbler, knife sharpening stone, jumpring coil maker attached to window frame, letter/symbol stamps on glass shelves, aluminum vintage camping storage set for beads and project I am working on or traveling with, solid brass mandrel, etc.
Top view of said above bench giving a size reference for the little Wolf Belt Sander attached to Flexshaft and bench.  If you look closely next to the tumbler you will spy a super house sale find I made over the Summer which is a knife sharpening stone.  It is just like the one my Father owns that I always would someday like to own, now I do.  I have had in my collection of stuff a sweet little brass brush, you see on top and a small brass oil can, on the left, that makes a perfect 3 piece set for knife/tool sharpening.
Sweet little Wolf Belt Sander to be attached to Flexshaft style motors here on the same bench, attached to the piece of oak my dh screwed into the underside.  So far I have created fibula pin points, deburred blanks and cleaned up some old knives with this beautifully made little piece of workbench tool I had to have for my bench arsenal.
Wubber pliers, pendant typeset, maker's mark and PA Wilds branding stamps, steel anvil, cooper hammer and cross pein hammer are in the shot
A sneak peek of a new design being developed @ SDAJ based on an idea created out of my need to have a centering piece with me at all times that is tangible.  Each thread is linked to a loss, worry or expectation that needs to be expended as it is worked by my fingers until gone.
The circular pattern is a visual for working to center with the proverb, this too shall pass, as a mantra.  These will be available in the online shop soon!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Simple recipes- New England Clam Chowder-esque

Traditionally Christmas Eve dinner includes a pot of New England Style Clam Chowder around our table no matter what theme or menu I make, this is a mainstay in the box of Distler traditions.  Now it is not a traditional recipe but, what I create.
My Dad always did a combination of Manhattan and New England which included a quart of his canned tomatoes in a huge pot of sauteed slab bacon, carrots, celery, potatoes, clams, clam broth, thyme and parsley. He put a lot of clams, purchasing a quart of broth and a quart of clams from Thompson's Meat and Deli of St. Marys Pa.  It was more in tune with a big pot of clam vegetable soup to be honest, but truly heart warming and delicious.  My version is more on the white side and I use less clams and broth with 2-6 oz. of clams in their own juices, not an extra quart of broth.  His pot was also a 16 quart, where mine is 1/2 that size.

Here is what we start with:

  • 1/2 lb. slab bacon
  • 3 medium onions
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • water
  • chicken broth
  • 5 medium white potatoes
  • 2 can clams or more save broth
  • reserved clam broth 
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh thyme

  1. dice slab bacon,  saute in pot until done, then add the diced onions, celery ribs to the bacon and it's rendered fat until translucent in a large stock pot.
  2. put in stick of unsalted butter then make a roux from the rendered bacon fat and butter by adding the flour to the pot stirring until all the flour is mixed in.  Now it is time to pour in the water and chicken broth on top of the roux.
  3. depending on size of pot will determine how much water and broth you pour in, usually a 3 to 1 ratio. Fill the pot 2/3 with water, the small amount of reserved clam broth and then add 1/3 of the stock...  NOW I am not saying all the way to the top with the liquids, for potatoes will need to be added at some point, clams and perhaps cream or milk if you desire.  
  4. let this simmer for a decent amount of time, perhaps an hour, no more than 2 is needed.
  5. start preparing your potatoes with peeling and dicing in medium size pieces
  6. after the allotted simmering time, toss in potatoes, cooking until just about finished for the pot will be reheated perhaps different times during the evening and will also continue cooking when the pot is turned off.  
  7. when potatoes are done, add the drained  clams, fresh parsley and thyme.
  8. TASTE, do you need more clam flavor?  This year unbeknownst to my guests, I needed to add more flavor and thought about what I could do.. Fish Sauce was my solution along with a teaspoon of sugar for clams tend to add a sweetness to the pot.  
This makes a very tasty bowl of Chowder.  
You can also add croutons, snipped fresh herbs and milk or cream when ladled as pictured above.
Bummer, I should have poured in a swirl of cream to the bowl adding some great contrast to the shot..... 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Holidays- Christmas 2013

kitchen tree sitting on the primitive pie safe with a collection or ornaments from the Stump's along with my girl's favorites collected along the way such as Sugar Bear, Misfit Toys from Rudolph, Sebastian the crab and decorations made from their little hands.
I hear so many folks sad about the lack of people going out and visiting or treeing over the Holidays and I agree there are less than when our generation was younger.  My thoughts are of course that families have grown away from these traditions of popping in to see what you all have been up to over the year, the Christmas spoils, a nibble and a quick drink.  Quality, I feel, is far better than quantity when it comes to any given holiday.  Families are smaller as well as the time we actually have available to go out between Christmas and New Years is much less.  
large glass lidded dish holding a mix of antique and vintage ornaments on the dining table most from my Gramma Stump
Not having brothers and sisters with their offspring or aunts and uncles with their children continues to make for smaller and smaller gatherings.  There was only my brother and I, my Father did not have any siblings and my cousins are so spread out that it has become harder and harder to have those gatherings we all recall from childhood.  I feel that is what we miss... and our sense of nostalgia kicks in.  I find myself listening to the albums my Grandparents would play during this time such as Gene Autry, Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, Elvis or the gambit of compilations from said stars and other popular singers of that genre/era more at this time.

 Our traditions or the way I have recalled said traditions kicks in high to share with my daughters and new traditions are started, adding to the mix.  We would all gather at my Mom's parents, down the street, for presents, dinner and merriment.  When I say ALL I mean all, know matter who was divorced, their ex spouses still came for it was important to gather for US the children.  I don't know when everyone got all self important and started segregating, it is just a crazy thing.  The families are not growing, we need each other.
oak shelves on the way from the kitchen to the living room is where Christmas cards are displayed among tea pots and fondue pots... on the above shelf not shown
Those yearly Christmas cards are treasured, for who has time with those received much loved.

simple newel post and railing arrangement with my eldest daughter's first shoes, a green tea towel and ribbon 

 This wonderful tree was owned and loved by a family in Mount Jewett. A good friend had an antique shop, over 15 or so years back, called Anderson's Sweet Memories, which is where this was purchased. I think it was actually her husband's Father's family tree. We love it! I asked the youngest which tree this year and this was her pick. They took such good care even building a couple stands to store the branches, the Noma spinning light was part of the original set too.

 play of light from the aluminum tree on living room ceiling
a favorite gift this Christmas, a vintage camper light, given during our annual gathering and gift exchange Christmas Eve here at the house from my fab cousin, love it, xoxo
What is your favorite Holiday tradition?  Anytime I am with family is MY favorite, little things mean a lot...again quality not quantity is the BEST.


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