thoughts on food, culture, and community

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Friday Photo: Divine deviled eggs, Home 231, Harrisburg

Deviled Eggs at Home 231, March 2012

Home 231, Harrisburg, markets itself as a “stylish restaurant serving seasonally-focused homestyle cuisine.”  Therefore, I wasn’t surprised to find deviled eggs nestled on the Small Plates menu between the chorizo corn dogs and the fried green tomatoes.  For me, deviled eggs are both a food item from my childhood and a symbol of American cuisine, but these eggs pushed my expectations beyond just a food that, in my mind, used to make or break the dinner of a good housewife.

At Home 231, the deviled egg platter is served with three types: classic, bacon, and red beet — the red beet made in the Pennsylvania Dutch spirit of pickling by soaking the eggs in a mixture of spices, red beets, and vinegar.  Beyond the visual appeal — each egg is a tiny artist’s canvas, dusted with paprika or a sprinkling of chives — these eggs are a full-fledged mouthful.  These farm fresh eggs encase yolk that is whipped so light that it’s almost ethereal; the yolk suspends on your tongue an instant before dissolving into the crispness of toppings like julienned bacon or a crown of fresh herbs.

If classic deviled eggs can be treated so delicacy, I deem the rest of the menu of Home 231 is worth sampling.  For brunch, try the smoked trout & bagel with whipped cream cheese, tomato, red onion, and capers ($10) or splurge on the dinner menu’s in-house pasta (specials rotate daily, $20).

Home 231
231 North St.
Harrisburg, PA
(717) 232-4663
Monday-Thursday, 11am-2pm; 5pm-10pm
Friday, 11am-2pm; 5pm-11pm
Saturday, 5pm-11pm
Sunday brunch, 11am-2pm

Friday Photo: Strawberry pie returns to Kathy’s Deli, Shippensburg

Kathy's Deli, Spring 2009

Kathy’s Deli, Spring 2009

Luscious strawberries nestled in a buttery crust, swirled in a fruit glaze, and dabbed with real Cool Whip define this fresh strawberry pie, now back for the season at Kathy’s Deli, Shippensburg. As a former Kathy’s Deli employee, this was one of my favorite desserts to make—I loved to cut the strawberries carefully, crowd them into the crust, points up; and delicately edge the pie with cream. I still feel like there’s nothing better than a piece of this carefully-crafted fruit pie, enjoyed on a patio with a glass of lemonade.

Welcome back, spring.

Slice: $2.39
Pie: $10.99

Kathy’s Deli
891 West King Street
Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-8300

Monday-Friday, 6am-7pm
Saturday, 7am-4pm

Friday Photo: Otterbein Acre’s Donut Making

Donut-Making, Otterbein Acres, 2012

Otterbein Acres Sheep & Cow Dairy, Newburg, is a clean, red-barn operation near the Appalachian Mountains, overlooking pale brown pastures that are still barren with March.  My feet crunch on the gravel paths as I walk from barn to barn—one of bleating sheep scampering over fresh straw, one that is dusty and quiet with soft-eyed ponies, another with two black sows rolled over on their sides as piglets squeal and run.  This farm is usually known for its excellent cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheese, sold at multiple Central Pennsylvania markets, but on Saturday, March 10, I know Otterbein Acres for its donuts.

It’s the family’s 6th annual open house, and the animal displays and spinning demonstrations are accompanied by BBQ chicken, grilled sausages, homemade canned goods, fudge, soaps, and cheese.  The food’s set up in a large shed with a cement floor and sturdy walls, and in the corner fries fresh donuts that are being sold as fast as they can cook.  Mixed with yeast and fried in pure lard, the donuts are then dipped into a mix of powdered sugar and oil and hung on a simple wooden tree to drain.  Unlike store-bought donuts, these pastries were chewy, yeasty, and light — so light, as a matter of fact, the air hissed out as you bit into it.  No cream or jelly was needed; the glaze soaked the donuts with a perfect sweetness.

I do not know the name of this Mennonite girl who permitted me to take her picture as she bent over her work, illuminated by the window, but I loved her humility in the food that she created, even if it was just nuggets of dough.

Otterbein Acres Sheep & Cow Dairy
10071 Otterbein Church Road
Newburg, PA 17240
(717) 423-6689.

Friday Photo: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar Debuts in France

Lycee Gustave Eiffel, 2008

Lycée Gustave Eiffel, 2008

It was the spring of 2008, and the Lycée Gustave Eiffel was holding an open house—or, literally from the French (“journée des portes ouvertes”), an open-doors day.  It was a day for prospective students to come visit the facility’s boarding-school type facility, and I was asked to make American cookies for the English department’s subtle, yet enthusiastic, display table of Twinning’s tea, lemon curd, and apple tarts.  Due to France’s lack of familiarity with peanut butter as well as soft chocolate chip cookies, I chose one of my favorite recipes from childhood that merges both: chocolate peanut buddy bars.  For my birthday in October, my mom had sent me a package that contained vanilla, semisweet chocolate, and a tiny jar of peanut butter, as well as the original blue-edged, flour-stained recipe that we had gotten from a Nestle package when I was in elementary school.  I love these bars because they are more moist than a traditional peanut butter cookie and are particularly gooey when eaten warm.


¾ stick butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth.
2. Next mix in eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
3. Blend in flour and salt.
4. Stir in semisweet chocolate morsels by hand.  Pour into a 8×11 baking dish; bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday Photo: The Cookie that Made Me Proud to Be American

Sinful Sweets

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie

This cookie is truly worthy of a Friday photo because I only purchase it at the end of a week.  Made at Sinful Sweets, Broad Street Market, the peanut butter cup in the center is this cookie’s highlight — salty, chocolately, and moist.  I’ve been addicted to these cookies ever since moving to Harrisburg, claiming (when I first purchased one), “I think I was meant to come home from France just to eat this.”

In France, the sweet-and-salty combinations that so dominate American food (think chocolate-covered pretzels or caramel popcorn) aren’t so prominent; neither is, as a matter of fact, peanut butter.  In Talange, for example, peanut butter was available but in small 8 oz. jars for around $7, and only a small handful of my colleagues had ever tried Reese’s peanut butter cups.  (An adjective assignment I used for my seventh grade students was to write to my French friend in Paris who had spent a year teaching and eating Reese’s at Susquehanna University; my students and I sent her letters describing the cup’s taste, flavor, and texture and included a handful to satiate her craving.) When I was home for Christmas from teaching in France in 2007, my parents gave me a bag of Reese’s minis to use in the classroom, but when I returned to France, I stashed the bag in my apartment for weeks, feeding them only to myself.

Because of this, if there’s one thing that I love about being in the States, it’s peanut butter cups — and cookies like these.  If a cookie this simple can be worth a continent, it’s definitely worth your time.

Sinful Sweets
Broad Street Market, Brick Market Building
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 232-0440

Thursday-Friday: 7am-5pm
Saturday: 7am-4pm

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