Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Lancaster Old Fashoined Christmas

Building Memories!

I know... it sounds like a cliche..."A good old fashioned Christmas"   However, as I sit here and look at the decorated house, the Christmas cookies that have been enjoyed, and the Lights that sparkle, I am reminded that I have set up memories for my children.
Lancaster County Christmas Tree Hunting

You see, since I started being a father, I often thought what were my children going to remember from Christmas... what would they pass down to their families... I could never come up with anything for the longest time. Then as the years passed, I could see the kids growing and with each year, they would become familiar with "things" that I had no idea would stick with them.

One year I started reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to them... then each year afterwards, they would not let me go prepare the presents until I read the story once again. To this day, we still read Clement C. Moore's timeless classic, (and sometimes mix the words up a bit for a little fun).

The Boys at a Lancaster County Tree Farm
Over the years, it has been pretty important to enjoy an early breakfast and we always schedule before we open gifts, however it never works out that way. Also we always say we are going to midnight mass, yet again we are always going in the morning.

 Christmas Tree(s)... The boys and I go and chop one or two down every year! It has become a ritual for us... One for the Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast and one for our part. It always is a lot of fun while looking for the perfect one, the kids are carrying on knocking each other down in the field and laughing the whole time.... Memories I will always remember.

So the traditions build... no need to worry about making it happen, it just will happen. The kids make it happen and those are the ones that are so special, built with love behind them.

As my kids say... Just let it happen...I guess that could be with Christmas also... you'll see how special it is once you can. Family is so important!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

El Rodeo, El Serrano.... Move Over! Mexican Cuisine has a New Boss in Town

La Borimex.... The New Heavyweight!

Chili Rellenos
So, I am challenged each year here at the Harvest Moon when it comes to our October Cooking Demo. You see, there is this group of ladies that come. Each year I put together a new and exciting demo just for them. One year it was Italian, then German...another year it was French and now this past year it was Mexican.

Mexican, I thought... hmmmm. I can get really creative with this one. The Mole sauce alone is enough to bring anyone out to learn. However the Chili Rellenos were the winner of the day. The different sauces both green and red were just the right accompaniment for many of the dishes we prepared.

Move over El Serrano and El Rodeo
Restaurants, there were plenty! El Serrano, El Rodeo, downtown Mexican restaurants and so on... But in my backyard.... not much going on. Or wait; was there?

Preparing Mole
You bet there was... we ate at La Borimex in Hinkletown on RT 322. This place rocks! It's kinda a little grocer/restaurant.... (I saw it some where called a "GROCERANT"...I think I will use it). And the atmosphere was like eating in a small little Mexican Grocery Store... sort of in the rough, however made you feel like you were in the middle of Mexico picking up your groceries and stopping for a quick bite.

I spoke with the owner earlier in the day, preparing a meal for the 9 of us... Asking for some unusual things on the menu and then some of the more familiar things as well. Of course the Nachos and Salsa came out first...the salsa was pretty darn good, with fresh ingredients and a wonderful rounded out flavor with plenty of cilantro, (I lover my cilantro). Then came what seemed to be about twenty thousand courses of food, each with it's own name, style, flavor, sauce, color and appearance. And each was just as flavorful as the last.

Mexican Soda Bar
Peppers are ready for Mole

Tomatillos, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, chocolate.....
My two personal favorites of the evening were the Guacamole, and the Chili Rellenos. The guacamole was bright green and filled with just the right kick of lemon, cilantro and seasoning. Not overwhelming, but right on the money. The chips were the perfect match. Then came the Rellenos; filled with either meat or cheese, I chose the cheese. perfectly fried with the egg whites with a perfect tomato sauce that would not stop delivering.

Chef Carl prepares the Chili Rellenos

Am I going back... you bet'cha! Probably soon with the family to enjoy once again this "glimpse" into Mexico.... Put it on your list of restaurants to visit, you wont be sorry! And as for next year with the Ladies... I've been instructed to do research for an Hawaiian/Polynesian cooking demo.... Where the heck is that restaurant at in Lancaster? 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lancaster Christmas Lights

A Lancaster County Tradition has been Discovered!

Remember the Christmas Bubble Lights?

Whirly-glos don the tree
So over the years, living in Lancaster County, I have seen a shift towards the thinking of Christmas. The air in Lancaster has changed. One can walk downtown now in Lancaster, Lititz, Marietta, New Holland.... and find the sights, smells and sounds of a Christmas long ago.

A Lancaster County Christmas Tree
So what embellishes this "holiday bazaar" of an area that seems to now understand that the roots of an American Christmas started right here in Lancaster? Is it the gift giving.... Na. What about Black Friday... Definitely not! Is it the cooking.... well of course I'm gonna say yes it is.... but even more than that for me is the whimsical display of Christmas Lights.
Figural Christmas Lights

The light bulb was created back in 1879 by Thomas Edison.... it only took three years till one of his associates (Edward Johnson) decided to wire a Christmas Tree. Bills Antique Christmas Light Site continues to tell the story of Christmas lights and the beginnings.  When President Cleveland decided that the National Christmas Tree was to be "electrified" back in 1895 with over 100 lights,  high society decided that it was time to have "Christmas tree" parties. The cost for them back in that time was about 300 dollars, equivalent to more than 2000.00 today.
Two of the "Twelve Days"

A Lancaster County Christmas
So after all these years, the Christmas light has hung around.... bubble lights, Matchless star lights, twinkle lights figural Christmas lights. Most of these lights all came into glory during the forties and fifties. Today the lights continue to dazzle with shimmering displays of colorful electric.

So as you enjoy the holidays, (and as I continue to hang lights till Christmas Eve here at the Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast) I would like to leave you with one last thought. Remember me saying that a Lancaster County tradition has been discovered? Well The Gift of Lights at Elizabeth Farms had it's premier opening a couple of weeks ago... And the display is magical! Be sure to put that on your Holiday Itinerary while visiting Lancaster County.