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Revival Kitchen – a reconnecting

revival-kitchen-logo-e1439827160748-300x246We are born with a connection to where we live that is lost the moment we are fed our first bottled formula. The arrowroot in our first Gerber teething biscuit, that might have been grown in the West Indies, may not be unhealthy but certainly isn’t of our native land. It takes packaging and extensive (and expensive) shipping to get the first juice boxes into our young hands. As I shared in I’m Not Vegan (and neither are you), where and how our food is produced can be more important than what we choose to eat. We are still vegan for anyone wondering if this is to justify a personal change.

When we choose to eat mindfully, we draw our focus closer to home and connect with what is native. Doing so is how we found Revival Kitchen in Reedsville, PA. This blog has always focused on what is (or has been) available in Central Pennsylvania and Revival Kitchen is a way for us to reconnect with what is dear to us. It provides thoughtful dining with a focus on local and seasonal foods from our native land.

The head chef and owner have close and regular communication with local farmers to plan seasonal menus. We hesitated to visit because we could not see anything of the menu that was vegan. I am very shy about asking for modifications or special dishes to be made for us (why our Pennsytucky Veggie Awards were based on regular menu items with no modifications). What changed our minds was an organized group vegan dinner at Revival Kitchen where we had a chance to talk with the Owner Liz Hoffner who assured me that, with a small advanced notice, Chef Quintin Wicks could accommodate us regularly! License to ask for “special” with reasonable notice opened up our world to reconnecting with seasonal and local dining!

Since then, we have dined at Revival Kitchen multiple times. We have taken family and friends who are omnivorous and they enjoyed everything they were served. They told us the gnocchi was done perfectly. The locally raised and butchered beef thrilled and satisfied one of the (self described) pickiest eaters I have ever known. We have all raved about the Coffee Roasted Beets that rightfully won the Sixth Annual Golden Basket Award this year. revival1

Chef Q knows how to celebrate food for what it is with complimentary flavors, textures and impeccable plating. When your dish is set before you, it is a feast for the eyes that prepares you for the ultimate dining experience. Imagine colorful pressed melon bars that have been infused with wine and, in pure Central PA style, topped with a little sea salt. Caramelized grill marks on veggies that are charming with their root ends still recognizable make you stop to appreciate the local foods you are about to eat. Autumnal squash never gets boring at Revival Kitchen, perfect cubes of golden butteriness or wafer thin circles of delicata squash play with your eyes before treating your palate. Forget the tired old plank of zucchini, here you will be served with small lozenges of the squash that are immediately recognizable by allowing a section of their vibrant emerald skin on. Recently, we were overjoyed to be reintroduced to a vegetable we hadn’t had since we were kids; Salsify (oyster plant) was feature along with carrots and sweet potatoes! What a memory it brought back with the slightly slippery mouth-feel and it’s nuttiness complimented with a bit of truffle oil – delightful!

Creatively crafted, local, seasonal food make this restaurant great but what makes it stellar is the staff. Every member of the waitstaff is knowledgeable about the menu. If they ever have a doubt if something is vegan or not, they have no qualms about checking with the kitchen and don’t make you feel like it was an imposition to ask. When your meal is served, they describe what you are about to enjoy in a way you are grateful for. It is like being given a map to an amazing land and you are encouraged to enjoy the journey at your own pace.revival2

Wine pairings are not in print with menu selections but the wait staff can give suggestions if asked. Better yet, talk to the staff at the Seven Mountain Wine Cellars wine bar and get a few tastings. They are experts in all of the wines as well as knowledgeable of the current food menu and will be eager to make suggestions for pairings. There are also non-alcoholic beverage choices or bring your own beer/cocktails (no outside wine).

The interior of the Revival Kitchen is welcoming and its location on Main Street in Reedsville is crucial. It is the lovely young plant that is lucky enough to get a toehold in the sunlight that opened up when the Black Horse Tavern burned down in 2011. How Main Street Reedsville is changing is like polishing off a tarnished kettle you had forgotten about. It is just as charming as it was on the shelf but remembering it useful for making a hot cup of tea is a mindful reconnecting of what is right in front of you.

2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards

2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award

2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award


Inspired by the many Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs, we took the our main logo and transformed it into a new Hex Sign that will be used as this year’s award.

The year of 2014 has been blessed with vegan food almost being mainstream reflected by many central Pennsylvania’s restaurant menus. This year’s winners are all local, limited to the counties that are touched by the keystone center of our state (illustrated at the bottom of this page.) The 2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards recognize the year’s best vegetarian foods available by highlighting a few menu items from restaurants we have been able to visit. The annual Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards and past winners are described in further detail at this link.

This year, the categories include region’s best Appetizer, Chili, Veggie Burger, Portobello, Soup, Specials, and Vegetarian Restaurant. Extra focus is put on those restaurants that use local ingredients and create as much as possible in-house.

BEST APPETIZER
Happy Valley Brewing Company
State College, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014AppHVBC_App_2014Just celebrating it’s first anniversary, Happy Valley Brewing Company takes the award for Best Appetizer for the second year in a row. The Mason Jar again takes this award for the perfect veggie appetizer. Appropriately priced and presented with thematic class, The Mason Jar’s “House Pickled Seasonal Vegetables” are served with a side of locally baked Gemelli crackers. The sweet yet sour brine and the the lightly pickled veggies come out in a short mason jar and frequently reflect the season. Thinly sliced root vegetables are mixed in with a green beans, a couple baby onions and sweet pepper slices that enhance seasoning. The toothsome cracker on the side are great on their own or dipped directly into the pickle juice. It stands exactly as I described in 2013, what an appetizer should be, not a meal on its own but something to get your ready for the quality of the entrees that you can expect. The Mason Jar is great to nibble on with a great beverage but sets you up for wanting to taste more on the menu.

BEST CHILI
Bullfrog Brewery
Williamsport, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014Chilibullfrog_chili_2014 Unbeaten from 2013 is Bullfrog Brewery for Best Chili this year. Their Habanero Veggie Chili is house made and has enough spice to call it a chili. Another outstanding brew pub in Pennsyltucky, the recipe uses it’s flavorful beer to add a pleasant depth of flavor. I love wandering through the lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans and enjoy the tomato chunks, onions, celery and carrot shreds that balance out the best vegetarian chili in our region. I love it piled on their nachos, sitting atop their Veggie Chili Salad or a nice bowl topped with soy cheese.

BEST VEGGIE BURGER
Yorkholo Brewing Co.
Mansfield, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014Burger_YorkholoYorkholo_burger_2014It is rare to enter a pub or even diner that now doesn’t have some version of a veggie burger. Many brew pubs are using their spent grain and have really stepped up their house made burgers. This made me have to return for second tastings to at least 3 restaurant. Third year consecutive, Yorkholo Brewing Co. is the best. Their Black Bean and Spent Grain Veggie Burger beat the close second offered by Gamble Mill in Bellefonte. Yorkholo’s burger of black beans, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and onions blended with spent grain, peppers & bread crumbs is still best in all of central Pennsylvania. Congratulations Yorkholo Brewing Co. for streaking this annual award!

BEST PORTOBELLO
Happy Valley Brewing Company
State College, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014PortoHVBC_porto_2014I blanched when I saw that Happy Valley Brewing Company had changed the name of their award winning sandwich. ‘Shroom with a View looked the same on it’s grilled sourdough bread. It is a huge sammich decorated with awesome sprouts and frisée but would the sliced mushrooms still steal the show? I was thrilled, they are still brightly marinated then pleasantly complicated by oregano and grilling with a grounded smokiness. Juicy and firm with grilled tomatoes and with or without the blue cheese aioli, these mushrooms are winners. Again, the Best Portobello I have ever eaten.

BEST SOUP
The Green Harvest Co.
Bedford, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014SoupGreen_Harvest_soupThis was a difficult year to compare soups because the days I chose to visit certain restaurants they were out of their vegetarian options. I can’t judge what I can’t eat and I do love soup. Pretty consistent in offering vegetarian and frequently vegan soups, The Green Harvest Co. has had many outstanding soups this year. Creamed Butternut Squash was a warm autumn puree, the Asian Soup was a clear broth with mushrooms and great spicing and they had a super Gazpacho this past summer. Knowing just how to get the best out of blending seasonings, grains, beans and veggies in a simple broth can be tricky but The Green Harvest Co. has done it consistently this year.

BEST SPECIALS
Otto’s Pub & Brewery
State College, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014SpecialsOttos_Specials_2014Nothing sets my tummy grumbling in anticipation like Wednesday Specials at Otto’s Pub & Brewery. Thier regualr menu has pleanty to offer every day but the vegetarian and vegan specials have stepped up even from years past. The well plated and perfectly prepared Crunchy Vegan Tacos are represented in this photo but it is every single week they have different delights to look forward to. Vegetarian specials of this caliber are found regularly in Philly or New York but that is quite a drive from central PA. I feel really blessed to live close enough to enjoy Wednesday specials at Otto’s Pub & Brewery.

BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
The Seed
Lancaster, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014Veg1002682_667149683344232_3346396352365255284_nFor the second year running, The Seed again wins the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in central PA!

This worker owned collective is thriving in Lancaster with Pizza and Games night, monthly sandwich specials, live music and progressive cause support. It is a spot where everyone feels welcome, cared for and can get a great, meat-free, meal.

The food is always fresh and well thought out. The sides are always a real treat and the Bahn Mi Chay was wonderful. (I wasn’t able to get photos this year but am representing from the ones I took last year and a couple from their Facebook page.)

The Seed has grown into a solid haven for vegetarians and those who love great food. The truly deserve the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the central PA.The-Seed

Congratulations to all 2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award winners! See links below map if you want to be considered for 2015.
PAcoMap_mostDo you know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant or menu item that you think should be considered in 2015? If it’s in central PA (see map above) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, PLEASE let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment on any of the awards pages!

Award Winning Pennsyltucky Chili Recipe

Pennsyltucky not only represented, we placed well! I knew it was good and the judges agreed; my Pennsyltucky Vegan Chili garnered second place in the first vegan chili cook off in the mid-atlantic region at yesterday’s Vegtoberfest in Baltimore.

For the many who tasted it and judged – thank you! For those who came by after we ran out (in an HOUR) or took my card for the recipe, this makes a gallon of it!
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Pennsyltucky Vegan Chili

“Pennsyltucky” is the Keystone-shaped heart of Pennsylvania with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on either side. Packed with Pennsyltucky ingredients like Butter Beans and Hershey’s Cocoa, this award winning chili was created and posted on Bacon is NOT an Herb vegetarian blog.

Chili Ingredients:
2 large Onions chopped
1/4 C Olive Oil (divided for the 2 sautes)
4 Garlic cloves minced
4 ears of Sweet Corn, cut off the cob
2 Tablespoons powdered Cumin
1 teaspoon Fennel Seed crushed
1 LightLife Gimme Lean® Sausage package
1 large Green Bell Pepper coarsely chopped
3/4 C water
1 Lime juiced
1 Cup of Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat is On
3/4 C Campbells Tomato Soup concentrate
62 oz (4 cans) cooked Black Beans
62 oz (4 cans) cooked Butter Beans
56 oz canned Crushed Tomatoes
1/3 C Hershey’s Cocoa

Instructions:
Break the Gimme Lean® Sausage into 1″ hunks and saute it with half of the olive oil (1/8 C). Do this in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat until the hunks start to get just a little color then add the onion, garlic and fennel. Finish cooking in the same manner until the hunks have a nice firm texture and the onions are starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a deep pot that can house a gallon of chili. Saute the corn for a few minutes than add the green bell pepper and cumin. When the green pepper is just getting tender, deglaze the pot with the water and lime juice.

Add the Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat is On and Tomato Soup concentrate and stir until completely blended. Add remaining ingredients and lower heat.

Bring the pot of chili to just before it wants to boil and add in the reserved Gimme Lean® Sausage mixture. Heat through and serve (or let it mellow 2 days in the fridge and reheat) with the below 3 toppings.

Toppings

Roasted Soy Beans
Ingredients:
1 C unsalted dry roasted Soy Beans
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Hickory Smoke
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon of fine Salt

Instructions:
Mix all ingredients until soy beans are well coated. Toast in a 350° for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Be careful they don’t burn. Remove, cool and crush into small pieces (I used a rolling-pin on the cooled beans that were secured between 2 sheets of waxed paper).

Cream
Blend a container of Toffuti Sour Supreme with the juice of 1/2 a Lime.

Top a bowl of the warm the chili with a sprig of fresh Cilantro, a dollop of Cream and a sprinkle of the Roasted Soy Beans.
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It’s a little complicated but really worth the trouble. My biggest regret was not getting to eat any myself and I plan on making a half batch soon!

Pennsyltucky Pies

Pennsyltucky Pies

As a send off for Arron & Amy, we decided on a feel-good home cooked meal. We baked up a tri-layered Shepherd’s Pie as the main dish and a batch of Pennsyltucky Half-Moon Pies for dessert.

The Shepherd’s Pie is based on my Mom’s recipe that used hamburger on the bottom. We happily substitute MorningStar Farms Ground Meatless because it won every category in our taste test, The Ground Meat(less) to Beat. I like adding a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder to that and spread it all evenly on the bottom of a casserole dish.

The second and middle layer is corn. We like to sauté the kernels from about 4 ears of fresh corn with a cayenne pepper to taste. That gets spread just as evenly over the bottom layer of ground meatless.

The final and top layer is mashed potatoes. We cut up and boil about 4 large potatoes (skins on) until they are soft and drain them. We then mash them with some buttermilk (vegan buttermilk option is rice milk with a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar) and spread them evenly to make the top layer. The whole thing gets baked at 350° for 30 minutes and a last minute or so in the broiler to give the top some character (thanks Mom!)

I try to make it with as much love as my Mom always did for me and my sister (we loved this dish) and my Dad (who always tried to separate out the 3 layers to eat them individually).

Pennsyltucky Half-Moon Pies

I had been waiting for a reason to make these and Amy & Arron’s farewell was the occasion. They donated the first main ingredient from their stores of Central PA goodies that they were packing up to go back to the big city. Does NYC even have…

Apple Schnitz! These dried little slices of apple are what make this a real Pennsyltucky Half-Moon Pie. We get them in bulk at many of the local Amish stores and if you are lucky you have a grandmother who ships them to you in the big city.

2 Cups Apple Schnitz
2 cups Water
pinch of Salt
2 Cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Rind
Juice from above Orange
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Double Pie Crust (your favorite pastry recipe, instill the ice water with liquid smoke)

Cook the apple schnitz in a pan with water and the salt. When apples are really soft pulp them up with an immmersion blender. Add the sugar, orange stuffs, vingear and cinnamon. Carefully simmer until the water is cooked away and mixture is blorping happily. Divide the pastry into 6 pieces (keep them in the fridge until you need them) and roll them into 7″ circles. Place healthy portions of the filling on half of the rounds; fold the crust pastry over, pinch the edges together tightly and then press edge with fork. Transfer pies to a baking sheet and carefully score 3 holes in the top of each pie. Bake in 450° oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake about 40 minutes longer or until they are golden brown.

I didn’t use the traditional fork closing texture since I thought they looked more like Jack Pumpkinhead or Jack Skellington without. It pleased my good family and that’s what it’s all about.

Grammy’s 14 Day Pickles (day 14)

Grammy’s 14 Day Pickles (day 14)

This was the big day after 2 weeks of different treatments. They are finally pickles today and I did some canning for the first time in a long time.

If anyone noticed I left out Day 13 it’s not for superstitious reasons. It was the same as Day 12 except I took some samples out for my family to share with me. We all thought they tasted pretty good and they reminded me of exactly what my Mom, Aunt Esther and Grammy would make.

Maybe Day 13 was really the key, family and memories. We spent the day visiting before Amy and Arron have to get back to work in the city. It’s memories and good times that make things like home-made pickles taste so good. If the joy we have shared over the past 2 weeks is even partially infused into these pickles, they will turn out great.

Grammy Lukens was kind and sweet and tough enough to stand up to many hardships. I never met my grandfather, he died when my Dad was just 11 and Grammy was left to raise him with the help of her 2 older daughters, Esther and Hannah. I think these pickles are a good reflection of how I remember her. They too have sweetness, a pleasant personality and are steadfast.

All of my jars sealed and I didn’t make too much of a mess. I tried to keep things clean and not slop the hot syrup as I topped off the jars over the pickles. In all it made about 15 pints of pickles but my syrup didn’t hold out long enough to cover the last pint. Pity, we will have to eat those straight away.

It was nice to see the finished product sitting in row and having the morning sun reflect through them. It was like crossing the line of a half-marathon; it gave me a sense of satisfaction to see the process through from beginning to end even if I made a mistake or two along the way.

Mom had scanned the recipe and emailed it to me. It’s in my Aunt Esther’s handwriting and that makes it special to me. I suppose I could have made this a single blog entry, just posted the scan and let anyone interested have at it, but I wanted to share my experiences from Day 1 until today. For the first time ever, I finally made my Grammy’s 14 Day Pickles.

Grammy’s 14 Day Pickles (day 12)

Ok, today wasn’t as bad as I had imagined but I had been dreading it since I first read the recipe. As I mentioned yesterday on Day 11, I no longer discard the liquid. Today I had to pour the syrup into my pot and bring it to a boil along with its spice bag.

Pickles in steaming hot syrup - day 12.

My main fear was making a mess by dribbling syrup everywhere. That would draw in ants and yellow jackets and bears – oh my! I was very careful and poured it into the pot without splashing or dripping. I had a damp towel to clean off the lip of the container and the transfer went really well.

I brought it slowly to a boil and poured it back over the pickle chunks. I hope I have good luck tomorrow, Day 13 is exactly the same process and the last day before canning!

Grammy’s 14 Day Pickles (day 11)

The pickle chunks absorbed just a bit of the gallon of water overnight from Day 10. I measured the liquid after I poured it off and discarded it. This is my last day for discarding liquid.

Today they got covered with a vinegar and sugar syrup. Grammy’s recipe called for a syrup that for ever 2 Quarts of Vinegar you add in 6 Lbs. of Sugar. POUNDS!? I had to wonder if my Aunt Esther wrote that down wrong and meant cups. Because of this, I started with just 2 Quarts (8 Cups) of white vinegar and added in 6 cups of the sugar to see if maybe that looked right. Nope, it took the whole 6 Lbs. (which actually measured 14 1/2 Cups.)

Thick with sugar, before it boiled.

To the solution of vinegar and sugar I added a spice bag with 3-4 broken cinnamon sticks, “some” cloves (I used about 7) and a Tablespoon of Celery Seed. I used the same old t-shirt technique to make my spice bag as I did in my Red Pickled Onyums and slowly brought it all to a boil.

According to Jim, house smelled like Salt & Vinegar Chips when he woke up and I had just poured the hot solution over the pickle chunks. The 2 Quarts Vinegar + 6 Lbs. of Sugar had made a gallon of boiling solution and was just right. My Grammy knew what she was doing.

Spices for Grammy's Pickles

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