Friday, November 30, 2012

Grandma's Sandtarts

I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons that I enjoy this time of year is because of all the good things to eat! Christmas cookies are my favorite.  They are not only delicious but a true tradition in our family.  I remember my grandma rolling out the dough to make the thinnest sandtarts and most delicious, of course, and then cutting them with a favorite cookie cutter. Mine are usually cut into shapes of a diamond, heart, angel, and stars. There has always been a competition between sandtart makers to make the thinnest and crispiest sandtart, the thinner the better. If you can see through the dough, it is usually thin enough.  It is not always easy dough to work with, but it is well worth the effort.   
Some top their cookies with chopped peanuts, but like my Grandma, I prefer chopped pecans on mine.  I have made the sandtarts by myself, but much prefer when it is a family event, someone rolling and someone helping to cut the cookies out, someone putting egg-white wash on the cookies and topping them off with cinnamon and the pecans.  And of course there are plenty of takers when the cookies are ready to eat!  This is my Grandma Eby’s recipe from my Aunt Edna Eby Heller’s cookbook "The Art of Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking."

Sandtarts  (makes 14 dozen)

2 cups sugar

½ pound butter

2 eggs, beaten

4 cups sifted flour

2 slightly beaten egg whites

cinnamon or cinnamon sugar

1 cup chopped nuts (peanuts, pecans, or almonds)

Cream together the sugar and the butter.  Stir in the beaten eggs.  Add the flour and mix thoroughly.  Chill overnight.  Roll out on a floured board or counter to 1/8 inch thickness or as thin as possible.  Cut into rounds, squares or rectangles and lift onto cookie sheets.  Before baking, brush egg whites over the top, sprinkle with cinnamon, then top with nuts.  Bake from 8 to 10 minutes in a 350 oven.
Submitted by:  Ann Royer, Innkeeper   Amanda Gish House Bed & Breakfast  Elizabethtown, PA

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chickens Anyone?!

Did you ever think about keeping chickens? No?  Maybe you should think again.  If your zoning allows, think about fresh eggs every morning. Think omelets, scrambled eggs, or over-easy with nice big golden yolks. How can you go wrong?
Did you ever think about chickens having a personality? Free range chickens can be characters.  Did you know that hens can lay eggs without having a rooster nearby? It is possible. The eggs will never hatch but the eggs will come daily. Chickens will lay eggs the same color as their earlobes. So, if their earlobes are blue, they will lay a blue egg, if white, white eggs and if their earlobes are red, they will lay brown eggs.
If you want nothing to do with owning chickens but crave a delicious local egg, you may be in luck.  There are many bed and breakfasts in Lancaster County that serve fresh local eggs. Come find out and enjoy the freshness that Lancaster County is known for.
Your humor for the day… 
Why do chickens say ‘Bach’? Because that can’t say Beethoven.
Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide.

Submitted by: Liz Ehrhart, Furnace Hills Bed and Breakfast

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lancaster County Christmas Shopping Ideas

There is a chill in the air – frosts have hit the county killing off any remaining flowers in the gardens.

Shops stuffed with Christmas treasures are bursting with open houses and discounted sales for the Christmas holidays. Both the Rockvale and Tanger outlets are excellent stops to find just the right Christmas item. Small specialty or boutique shops can be found in Lititz, Strasburg, Intercourse, or Bird-in-Hand.  If antiques are your passion, good stops would be Adamstown, Columbia , or Strasburg.

Several shops worthy of mention are the Olde Millhouse Shoppes on the Strasburg Pike with both the house and barn garnished with seasonal displays. Another barn filled with Christmas treasures is the Country Creations Barn on North Star Road near Strasburg.

For ideas to spark your imagination, you MUST try the Flower and Craft Warehouse in Blue Ball for crafty ideas and supplies to make your own or just wander the many aisles and rooms for ideas and ready made items to purchase.

There is something for everyone. You might need several days to explore Lancaster County’s treasures. Check with the Authentic Bed and Breakfast Inns Association for rooms for your stayover. Or call us for your reservation at 800-552-2632.

Submitted by: Ruth Harnish, Flowers and Thyme Bed and Breakfast