Friday, March 24, 2017

Morgantown Edition: Smoothie King

Smoothie KingMorgantown is now home to a Smoothie King, a smoothie chain focused on health. Located in the retail area of University Park, Smoothie King has a drive-thru as well as a sit-down area in the space next to the gym.
From the beginning, founder Steve Kuhnau started blending for a purpose – solving his chronic food allergies. Handcrafted by our blendologists, every one of our Smoothies is still blended with a purpose – yours. Power a workout, lose weight or make food choices you feel good about with the right nutritious Smoothie for your goals and Healthy Rewards tailored just for you.
Smoothie KingI've never been to this chain before, so I was actually excited to see what it's about. Their smoothies are split into four categories: slim blends, wellness blends, fitness blends and take a break blends. There are a number of "enhancers" you can add ... much of which I glossed over in favor of something that just tastes good.

Smoothie KingSo I tried the "Berry Punch," which has "Strawberries, Raspberry Sorbet, Blueberry Juice Blend, Electrolyte Mix." I tried to pick the smoothie with the most natural ingredients that I was familiar with. No extra protein powders or other stuff here. And, this was actually really good. Cool, sweet, delicious. Not sure it's something I'd do on the regular, but maybe once in a while as a nice cool treat that doesn't make me feel tooo guilty.

It's a larger chain, but I believe it's the only location in West Virginia. Has anyone else been? What's your favorite smoothie?

Smoothie King

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Gap Mountain Creamery

Here's a column I did recently on raw cheese creamery Spring Gap Mountain Creamery for the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Davis/ThomasTucked away in the hills of the Eastern Panhandle is a small creamery that produces rich, smooth cheeses.

Located in the town of Paw Paw, Spring Gap Mountain Creamery has been churning out cheese for about eight years. There’s just one thing: It’s raw.

The cheeses are made with raw, or unpasteurized, milk and then aged for a minimum of 60 days. Pasteurization is the process of heating the food to kill dangerous pathogens like listeria, E. coli and salmonella. Then, vitamins like A and D are added back into the milk.

The drinking — and selling — of raw milk has been hotly contested in the West Virginia Legislature in the past, with opponents saying it’s unsafe, and proponents claiming raw milk is healthier.

But Penelope Sagawa thinks it just tastes better.

“When you’re boiling the milk, you’re killing everything in it, then putting back in vitamins. With milk that comes out of a cow, it still has micronutrients in it. We use that milk and make cheese,” said Sagawa, who owns Spring Gap Mountain Creamery along with her partner Jurgen Schelzig.

“We don’t skim cream; we just take the milk and make it directly into cheese,” Sagawa said. “So the extra butterfat and the stuff naturally in the milk comes out in the cheese, making it richer and creamier and, in general, a more full flavor than other cheeses.”

It’s a loaded product — there are some political implications associated with raw milk. But, the addition of another local cheese option, especially one so rich and creamy, in a cheese-scarce state gives me pause.

Sagawa and Schelzig didn’t set out to make a political statement; rather, they left their 9-to-5 jobs in Washington, D.C., for a mountain getaway and fell in love with a property in West Virginia they decided to call home full-time.

They mulled a few ventures like vegetables, but if the crop fails, you have nothing. Fruits were nixed because an orchard would take years before bearing fruit. Chickens were risky because if they don’t lay, you can’t make it, she said.

That’s when they landed on cheese.

Cheese was interesting to them. Few people were making it, and the couple could learn the craft on their own. The pasteurization equipment, though, would cost upward of $25,000, which wasn’t financially feasible. So they instead opted to go raw, eliminating the need for costly pasteurization machinery.

Davis/ThomasThe couple buys their milk from Hedgebrook Farm in Winchester, Virginia, which has a small herd of about 25 Jersey cows; Jersey cattle tend to have a higher butterfat content than others, Sagawa said. They drive a stainless-steel milk tank to the farm after the farmer, Kitty Hockman-Nicholas, does her morning milking, and they truck 350 gallons of raw milk back to West Virginia to turn into cheese the same day. Then the cheese sits.

“The [Food and Drug Administration] requires a 60-day minimum aging process for raw milk cheese. Cheese cultures added to the milk crowd out any potentially harmful bacterial growth and is considered ‘self-pasteurized,’” Sagawa said.

After 60 days, you can purchase Jersey Gold gouda, Shenandoah Sunrise tomme, Sophie’s Select cheddar, West Virginia Blue, Farmhouse Feta and Bloomery bloomy rind cheese.

This type of cheese, which potentially raises questions of safety, also provides another locally made cheese option. There aren’t a ton of cheesemakers in West Virginia, and creating more opportunities for customers who love cheese — like me — seems like it could only be better for our growth as a state.

Do risks outweigh the benefits? That, I don’t know. The FDA considers it safe. And I’ve had my fair share and can attest to its deliciousness.

So, what do you think? Does raw cheese get a raw deal?

For more information or to find out where to purchase the cheese, visit

Candace Nelson is a marketing and public relations professional living in Morgantown. In her free time, Nelson blogs about West Virginia food culture at Find her @Candace07 on Twitter or email

Spring Gap Mountain Creamery’s Quick and Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Makes four servings

2 large eggs
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard dissolved in
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
2 cups dry pasta (macaroni, small shells, penne, etc.)
4 tablepoon unsalted butter
3 cups shredded cheese (we use a mix of Jersey Gold gouda and Shenandoah Sunrise tomme or Sophie’s Select cheddar)

Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large pot with 1 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add pasta, stir and cook until al dente.
Drain pasta and return to pot over low heat.
Add butter and stir to melt.
Mix eggs, 1 cup evaporated milk, mustard mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and hot sauce in bowl.
Add egg mixture and 2 cups of cheese to pasta and stir until thoroughly combined and cheese starts to melt.
Gradually add remaining evaporated milk and cheese, stirring constantly until hot and creamy, about 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Morgantown Edition: Cheese Louise

Cheese LouiseMorgantown is finally home to a grilled cheese restaurant.

Cheese LouiseOh. A grilled cheese restaurant, you ask? Yes, a grilled cheese restaurant. This is a sort of ~trend~ going on where restaurants elevate the classic grilled cheese sandwich with thick artisan bread, crazy ingredients and a cool, modern twist on a childhood favorite.

Cheese LouiseAnd, I am 100% in favor of this trend. I love all things cheese, and I love all things comfort food. And, I love being able to have an excuse to eat a grilled cheese as an adult. Now, if we could just make mac & cheeseries the next big trend... 

Cheese LouiseCheese Louise is located at the top of Willey Street next to Town Hill Tavern. Parking is a bit precarious here, so just be careful. The area is right in a bend, and the parking lot isn't wide. The restaurant has some window seating and a couple high-top tables. It's quite small, so I imagine most of the business is take-out.

There was just one person working - also the owner, I believe - so there was a bit of a wait before I could place my order at the counter because there was one couple in front of me. After he got their sandwiches started, he took my order.

The menu simply has one main item - the classic grilled cheese, made with American and muenster cheese on white or wheat. Then, you can add ingredients, like mushrooms, onion, pepperoni, fried egg, etc. This concept is a lot different from other grilled cheese restaurants I've been to - like Melt in Cleveland or The Grilled Cheeserie in Nashville - where they craft entire sandwich concepts with really creative ingredients. Like a lasagna grilled cheese or a pimento cheese and fried green tomato grilled cheese.

The most creative grilled cheese on this menu was the "buffalo chicken dip," which had shredded, buffalo-style chicken dip inside a classic grilled cheese. I went with that, as well as a cup of tomato soup, and a bottle of water ($3 for a bottle of water!).

Cheese LouiseAfter a few minutes, my sandwich was packaged and ready to go. The thick bread is lightly toasted, the cheese was nicely melted, and there was ample heaps of buffalo chicken between the slices. It was good. I wouldn't hate even more cheese. I liked the crunchy pickle on the side, too. The tomato soup was tasty - perfect for dipping a grilled cheese into. Usually I like my tomato soup creamy, but considering it was paired with the grilled cheese, it was all good.

Cheese LouiseMy good friend Vicki said the thick bread comes from Breadworks in Pittsburgh, and that Grandma's Gumbo (from Biloxi) is delicious. The "smashed pepperoni roll" also looked enticing and may be my next order.

It's simple, but it's tasty. I do wish there were more creative offerings. I can - in my limited skill set - make a pretty damn good grilled cheese, and could easily add in any of those toppings. But, I want to see some more comprehensive sandwich concepts. Not just a picking and choosing. I'd love to see something a little more. I hope that that may come in time.

Grade: B
Cheese Louise Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inwood Edition: Cider Press Deli & Grill at Taylor's Farm Market

Cider Press Deli & Grill
We're slowly ticking off places on the 101 Most Unique Places to Dine in WV list, and my latest adventures took me over toward the Eastern Panhandle in Inwood, West Virginia. This particular stop was exciting because not only did I get to tick another restaurant off the list, but I got to stop at a locally owned grocery store.

Taylors Farm marketCider Press Deli is located within Taylor's Farm Market. So, let's talk about Taylor's Farm Market first since you walk through it to get to the restaurant.

Taylors Farm marketThe market has a lot of great fresh produce like applesbakery items like pies and and fudge; dairy items like cheese and milk; honeymeats; sauces; drinksjams and jellies; West Virginia decor; salsas; mixes; candy and even a wine area. It was this wine room where I found Cox wine, which is the first time I've seen it in person and will write about it a bit later.

Taylors Farm marketIt's really a nice market to peruse, and there is a wide range of items to peruse. From fresh food to local merchandise, there's a little bit of something for everyone. It seems to be a mix of locally grown stuff and other stuff that's just relevant to locals.

Taylors Farm marketSo, I ended up getting some of that wine, as well as some marked-down Valentine's Day candy (I visited close to the holiday). Perks. And, the caramel-filled chocolates I had were divine.

Taylors Farm marketHere's a little more about the market:
Welcome to the area's newest Farm Market. We invite you to come check out what everyone has been talking about! We carry many West Virginia wines, local honey, different jams and jellies, apple butter, sauces from Oliverio’s Peppers in Clarksburg—in fact, we're so local that some of the honey we will be selling are from the bees that were in our apple orchard for pollinating earlier this spring! We have farm fresh produce, bulk candy, pies, organic ice cream, local meats, baking mixes, organic milk, local free range eggs from Gerrardstown, tomatoes, and much more in season. What we don’t raise ourselves, we are buying from local farmers when available so our customers will have different types of produce to choose from when they walk in our market. This is the best our great area produces, and our family is so happy to bring it all together to share with your family.
Taylors Farm marketAnd, If you walk through the market and toward the back, you'll find a full-service restaurant in Cider Press Deli.
Our spot right off the highway here in Inwood has been a place for wholesome, local food for a long time. This site was originally developed in the early 1920s to promote cooperation among local farmers at a time when the South Berkeley apple rush proved that prosperity required more than just luck. $100,000 was secured from the government to be used to erect a horticultural school in Inwood. A school might not sound like much of a benefit to struggling orchardists; however, with the funds, a fruit packing plant was built and a school was also conducted inside the packing house. The one-of-a-kind school taught local farmers how to grow fruit profitably. The facility led to a successful fruit grower’s cooperative and helped many apple producers save money on packing fruit before shipping it to market on the railroad. 
On a cold January evening in 1955, the building ignited in flames. Then believed to have been the biggest rural fire in the county’s history, it caused incredible damage. In time, the facility was rebuilt and later became the Inwood Farmer’s Market operated by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. 
In 2014, Robert & Ryan Taylor took over operation of the farm market realizing an old dream of bringing their locally picked fruits direct to the community. Life-long residents of Berkeley County, the father and son team behind Taylor’s Farm Market farm over 1,350 acres of row crops, orchards and vegetable gardens and operate a water hauling business for swimming pools. The current building allows more than ample space to share the freshest produce, wines, dairy, meat, handmade crafts, and bakery items that West Virginia proudly produces. Where some saw empty warehouse space inside the farm market facility, the Taylor’s saw opportunity to enhance the community. In 2016, the Cider Press Deli & Grill was born with a mission to be a great family place in Inwood serving fresh food, hand-crafted from scratch featuring seasonal market ingredients from local farms when available. 
Amidst the rustic and relaxing atmosphere, the Cider Press Deli & Grill offers amazing housemade specialties including sandwiches, salads, soups, local hand-pattied burgers, Black Dog coffee, heavenly desserts and so much more! Thanks for taking time to visit our spot! The Cider Press Deli & Grill is located inside Taylors Farm Market.
Taylors Farm marketSo, I walked in and was greeted immediately. They seated me in a small booth that wouldn't fit more than two people. The restaurant was pretty busy, which was a good sign.

Cider Press Deli & GrillThe interior is simple, with some older photos on concrete block walls. A little dark, a little chilly. But, some country touches make it homey. It's comfortable.

Taylors Farm marketThe menu features salads, sandwiches, subs, wraps, paninis and burgers - basically lots of variations of sandwiches.

Cider Press Deli & GrillFor me, I thought it was fitting to try "The Press Red White & Blue Burger," which was 8 oz. of charbroiled, local ground beef smothered with BBQ sauce, fried Vidalia onion rings and blue cheese crumbles on a brioche bun with fries on the side.

Cider Press Deli & GrillThis was one thick burger. It wasn't especially wide, but it was thick. That made for a pretty tall burger that I smooshed down to make it a bit more manageable. Despite it being so thick, it was still juicy and not overcooked (always my worry). The onion ring was nice for some crisp, and the BBQ for some tang, and the cheese for a creamy element. All together, it was a decent burger.

Cider Press Deli & GrillThe fries were a sort-of fried & battered almost. Thick, crispy and very good.

Cider Press Deli & GrillUnfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try dessert - but look at this dessert case. Looks phenomenal.

Taylors Farm marketThis restaurant + combo market is a nice little gem in the Eastern Panhandle. Good food, a nice market and a good way to spend an afternoon.

Grade: A
Cider Press Deli & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 20, 2017

Elkins Edition: Smoke on the Water BBQ

Smoke on the waterElkins is one of those towns in West Virginia that is just super quirky, fun, artsy and has a ton of great food. That's why there were a few restaurants located in Elkins that were voted as the 101 Most Unique Places to Dine in WV.

Smoke on the waterThat's what brought me to Smoke on the Water BBQ in Elkins. The BBQ restaurant is housed in a log-cabin-esque building situated next to a creek that happened to be roaring that day.
Smoke on the Water was established in 2011 by native Jon Magee, a longtime resident of the river and avid trout angler, to provide unique and delicious food prepared in the laid back style that embodies river living. Jon and his wife Denise have a passion for great BBQ and a desire to provide everyone who enjoys the surrounding mountains a place to relax, while we prepare you a unique taste experience to enjoy at your leisure. All our food is cooked using traditional BBQ methods and many ingredients are also smoked to provide a unique flavor in traditional BBQ favorites. Stop in and visit our BBQ Restaurant in Elkins, WV today (read more about the restaurant here).

Smoke on the waterWalking in, I noticed it had a bit of an odd smell - mildew, maybe? Reminded me of a bar that had been busy the night before and hastily cleaned up to be presentable for serving food the next day. Save for that, the space is fairly large - wooden floors, booths, ceilings - everything. High ceilings with wooden beams helped light flow through.

Smoke on the waterThe booths are wooden and not super comfortable, but since it was just me, I sprawled out and made myself at home. I looked over the menu, and the "Smoked Super Sampler" seemed like the obvious choice. It was available all day and came with ribs, wings, shrimp and pulled pork. PLUS two sides, which I opted for macaroni and cheese and broccoli salad.

Smoke on the waterThey weren't joking when they called this "Super" because it's a good amount of food! I first got small bits of each BBQ sauce that was on the table so I could try: spicy bbq, river sauce, mild bbq and Carolina mustard.

Smoke on the waterMy favorite was the mild bbq, because I'm a wimp, I guess. It was OK - pretty standard.

Smoke on the waterThe giant display of food was something! Let's start with the shrimp - these were smokey and served with a remoulade sauce. That was different, but it was also tasty. The one pulled pork slider was probably my favorite because it had some good smokey flavor, tender pork (no fat!) and I could slather all the BBQ on it that I wanted. The chicken wings up in the top right were large, but I can't say smokey chicken wings are my favorite. The skin is a bit too fatty for my liking. The ribs were good - if not quite as tender as I'd like.

Overall, I think it's a solid platter. I wished there was brisket, and I appreciate how deep the smokey flavor is. I think a few small adjustments could take this up to the next level.

Grade: B
Smoke On The Water Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stemple Brothers Farm

Stemple BrosThe Morgantown Farmers Market is super important to me; I love trying new things from the vendors and learning a little more. One that I haven't posted about previously is Stemple Brothers Farm, which produces grass-fed beef, as well as other delicious items, like garlic, eggs, potatoes, pork and lamb. 

What have you purchased from Stemple Brothers? What's your favorite?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

WV farmers provide fresh, local products year-round

Here's another column I wrote for the WV Gazette-Mail recently:

Even during the coldest winter months, West Virginia farmers are still growing fresh produce to support the community.

The Winter Blues Farmers Market, organized by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, took place Feb. 12 at the Charleston Civic Center as part of the 2017 Small Farm Conference. A sister event, the Winter Blues North Farmers Market, was held Feb. 9 in Morgantown. For the earlier event, more than 25 vendors gathered at the Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park to sell fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, breads, jellies, nuts, honey, woolen products and much more to the Morgantown community.

Many folks don’t realize they can get fresh, local food even throughout the winter. But, yes. Yes you can.

Farmers employ a variety of methods to make sure they’re putting food on your family’s table year-round — methods like using high tunnels, low tunnels, greenhouses and storage crops, according to Lisa Jones, program coordinator for the West Virginia University Extension Service Small Farm Center.

DeBerry Farm Fresh Produce, for example, sold potatoes, beets, garlic, winter squash and some pepper jelly at Winter Blues North. Storage crops, like potatoes, squash and apples, keep for long periods of time, as long as they are at optimal storage temperatures — around 55 degrees or so.

Those bright, leafy greens? Sickler Farms, which sold lettuce, kale, bok choy, collards, spinach, rainbow chard, mustard greens and arugula at the market, uses greenhouses and high tunnels — which protect crops from the snow and cold temperatures and extend the gardening season. Greenhouses work in a similar way but with the addition of environmental-control equipment.

“This was a great opportunity to highlight the amazing variety of products available in the winter months,” said Bryan Cheslock, president of the Morgantown Farmers’ Market Growers Association.

“Our farmers are a major economic driver, and this event not only boosts local business but supports our community with fresh, delicious goods.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I sit on the Morgantown Farmers Market Growers Association board, which hosted the event along with the WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center, because I care about its mission to provide the Morgantown area with fresh, local products.

The farmers are busy January through December so communities can eat healthily and channel money back into the local economy during the time when there is less activity.

So, if you think it’s difficult to support local farmers and food during the off-season, think again. Charleston’s Winter Blues Farmers Market and Morgantown’s Winter Blues North Farmers Market are just two of many markets that offer the opportunity to do so. The Bridgeport Farmers Market held a Valentine Market on Feb. 12 that featured local farmers, bakers and artisans who brought seasonal produce, farm-raised meats, fresh eggs, baked goods and other products.

Take some time to seek out opportunities to build those relationships with your local farmers, learning how your food is produced and maintaining those relationships — even throughout the chilly months of the year.

Eating fresh, local food is one way to fend off the winter blues.

For more information on how to find locally sourced food, reach out to your WVU Extension agent in your community or local farmers market.

Candace Nelson is a marketing and public relations professional living in Morgantown. In her free time, Nelson blogs about West Virginia food culture at

Follow @Candace07 on Twitter or email

Cheryl DeBerry’s Roasted Potatoes
DeBerry Farm Fresh Produce, a family-owned farm just over the state border in Maryland, provides produce to the Morgantown Farmers Market throughout the year. Cheryl DeBerry, and her husband, Charles, grow more than 50 types of vegetables, melons, herbs, gourds and berries. In winter, potatoes are in season.

This quick, simple recipe allows the fresh flavors of local potatoes to shine.

“Our go-to recipe right now during the winter months is roasted potatoes using our red potatoes and garlic; it is a great side dish that our whole family loves,” DeBerry said.

red potatoes
garlic cloves

Fry local bacon, reserving the grease for the recipe and using the bacon elsewhere. The DeBerry’s use Working H Meats’ bacon, which is a butcher and meat market in Friendsville, Maryland. If bacon grease isn’t your thing, you can use olive oil, vegetable oil or melted butter.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash, dry and chop local potatoes into 1/2-inch squares, cutting enough to fill up a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Mince a couple cloves of garlic (to taste).
Mix potatoes, garlic and enough bacon grease to coat.
Spread potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the potatoes with a spatula and bake another 10 to 15 minutes under tender and browned.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The mighty spoon’s wooden, Appalachian roots

I've been writing for the Charleston Gazette-Mail as a food columnist for a few months now, but I haven't had the chance to share some of the columns I've been writing! So, here's a look at the first column I wrote:

A spoon was once the symbol of intention to commit.

And I mean more than just committing your face to that piece of blackberry cobbler.

The legend goes: In the 1800s, when there weren’t shops on every corner, men had to craft their gifts by hand, and one common present was a spoon. A man would fashion the spoon out of available lumber, and he’d give his wooden spoon to a lady in hopes of courting her.

I don’t know about you, but a spoon would certainly win me over. And I’m talking present day. That blackberry cobbler (a la mode, please) isn’t going to eat itself.

The spoon, albeit tiny, is the basis of so many experiences, memories and cherished moments. From your first bite of baby food to those plastic spoon prizes you’d dig out of cereal boxes, to the best bowl of pho you’ve ever had. Yes, the spoon is, in fact, quite grand.

Just ask Stan and Sue Jennings of Allegheny Treenware, a working farm in Thornton. The Jennings, who create a variety of wooden utensils made from West Virginia hardwoods, consider themselves “spooners.”

Spooner (n.): A person who crafts spoons.

People all over the world have devoted their lives to this craft. These spooners may mold intricate, decorative spoons from porcelain or create ornate designs in metal, but many of the others gather inspiration from the humble Allegheny Treenware shop, 10 miles east of Grafton.

“We have a very traditional, Appalachian feel to our spoons,” Sue said. “They’re very cut and dry. They’re not artistic. But they work really well for what we do — and you can appreciate that. They hold up well, and you can use them over and over and over again. They are hard workers.”

Allegheny Treenware spoons stay true to their Appalachian roots. After the Civil War, when people began making spoons from pewter or other metal, it was the Appalachians who continued to use wood — partially to carry on the tradition and partially because of the cost.

“The poorest people have always been the Appalachian people, and we’ve used wooden utensils longer after everyone else. And we continue to produce that traditional, Appalachian spoon,” Sue said.

Now those traditional, Appalachian spoons are inspiring others. Sue and Stan have met several other spooners within the state and along the East Coast, people who took up the trade after seeing the success at Allegheny Treenware, with their own added twist or contemporary feel.

“Every successful spoon maker inspires people, and it’s great that we’ve inspired several people to pursue this craft. That’s just what we want,” she said.

See? Spoons change lives, people.

But the biggest change that the simple West Virginia spoon has seen is on the small screen.

Damaris Phillips, of the Food Network show “Southern at Heart with Damaris Phillips,” began using Allegheny Treenware’s 9-inch long-handled measuring spoons on her show a few years ago, and, suddenly, online orders began rolling in for the set.

“I had no idea what was happening, so I started asking one of the customers and found out Damaris Phillips was using the measuring spoons on her show,” Sue said. “She has made our website sales ... just nothing short of amazing.”

Sue said she usually sold about 50 sets of the four measuring spoons per year, and the show sent that number into the hundreds. These four spoons — and the show — changed their business.

All because of a spoon.

The spoon not only plays a role in our daily lives, but it has also changed lives. From the spoon your grandmother uses to stir her tea to the little spoon in West Virginia that made it big on the Food Network, they are the building blocks of so many experiences we hold dear.

Yes, that spoon is mighty.

Now, where did that blackberry cobbler go?

To learn more about Allegheny Treenware, visit

Sue Jennings’ Deluxe Blackberry Cobbler

This recipe is one of Sue’s favorites, and she knows the perfect spoons to help you get it just right: the 9-inch long-handled measuring spoons from Allegheny Treenware. While this recipe is delicious with blackberries, she said you can easily substitute blueberries.

Makes 6 servings
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 drops of almond extract
2 cups sweetened blackberries (or blueberries)
Optional: vanilla ice cream

Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together.
Add milk.
Mix to smooth batter.
spread batter in baking dish.
Pour butter evenly over batter.
Stir almond extract into blackberries (or blueberries).
Spoon berries evenly over batter.
Bake at 250 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until batter rises to top of dish and is brown.
Top with optional vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Elkins Edition: Vintage Restaurant and Wine Bar

Vintage - ElkinsVintage Restaurant opened in Elkins in 2014, but it wasn't on my radar until recently. It recently made its way to the 101 Most Unique Places to Dine in WV list, distributed by the WV Division of Tourism.

Vintage - ElkinsThe restaurant frames itself as a "casual fine dining experience and wine bar." It features woodfired brick oven pizzas, fine wines and a classy atmosphere.

Vintage - ElkinsThe building is large, dark and has this sort-of burgundy lace-like theme. I had to double-check that I was in the right place. Plenty of parking, though, which is always nice.

Vintage - ElkinsInside, it's a lovely layout. A nice lounge area features leather couches and chairs, large booths are private, and the lighting fixtures extend down to each table so you don't get a glaring fluorescent light over the whole restaurant. There are some nice, upscale touches, and it does have this sort of taste of elegance.

Vintage - ElkinsWhen I first walked in, there was no one around. No host, no greeter. I walked down the stairs. Still no one. I heard some servers off to the corner wrapping silverware, so I cleared my throat hoping they'd notice. After five minutes of fidgeting awkwardly, I walked around the corner and asked to be seated. That was awkward.

Vintage - Elkins
Look how crazy this sink in the bathroom was! 
The brunch menu was available during that hour, and a few things sounded tasty - like "The Charleston," which had ham, spinach, purple onion, pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes on jalapeno cornbread. The "Lowcountry benedict" similarly caught my eye - fried green tomato, pimento cheese, crab cake, hollandaise, biscuit with potatoes or grits.

Vintage - ElkinsBut, I can't resist shrimp and grits - sautéed shrimp, spicy ham gravy, tomatoes, South Carolina grits served with a biscuit. The portion came out as a fairly small serving.  It had four regular-sized shrimp, with a few halves of cherry tomatoes. I liked the gravy - it had just a slight kick. Some chewier pieces of ham would have been welcome. The grits weren't much to write home about. But, the flavor of that gravy was pretty solid - creamy, rich. The biscuit was a little dry, a little tough. Overall, a decent dish. Not the best rendition of shrimp & grits I've had, but a worthy contender.

Grade: B
Vintage Restaurant and Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Philippi Edition: Community Garden Market Place from Heart and Hand House

Heart & hand marketplaceI'm slowly making my way through the locally owned grocery stores in West Virginia, as I have a dedication to these folks. I've been to Farmer's Daughter Market & Butcher, Front Street Grocers and Kitchen and more. And, while passing through Philippi, I stopped at the Community Garden Market Place from Heart and Hand House.

Heart & hand marketplace
The Community Garden Market a provides an opportunity for local gardeners and bakers to earn money by selling their fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, baked goods, honey and other specialty items. The market promotes the health and well-being of the community, not only from a nutritional standpoint, but economically, as well as socially.

As a participant in the WV Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), the market is a place where senior citizens and WIC recipients may purchase produce with coupons designed to encourage better nutritional choices. The market also now accepts SNAP benefits (food stamps).

The Garden Market has grown steadily since it was started in 1992. A new facility built by volunteers from Christ United Methodist Church in 2003 improved the market dramatically and in 2013 the market moved to its current location, The Market Place at 107 South Main Street.

The Market sold more than $66,000 in produce, meat, eggs, baked goods, and plants during the 2015 season and had over 130 local participating producers.
Heart & hand marketplaceThis market is a bit different since it is a nonprofit affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Local growers bring their items to the shop, and they are sold for them. How cool is that?

Heart & hand marketplaceYou can find a variety of fresh produce, meats, honeys, breads, and other artisan products.

Heart & hand marketplaceHeart & hand marketplaceThe market also has a small Fish Hawk Acres shop where you can grab a bite to eat with items like soups, sandwiches and dinner entrees.

Heart & hand marketplaceBeyond that, it is a gathering space. There are communal tables, and even more lounge areas for folks to meet or chat.

Heart & hand marketplaceI got a small bag of chocolate covered toffee squares from a local baker, and I regret nothing. So tasty.

Heart & hand marketplaceI think it's such a cool concept. I just wish I had been there a little earlier in the day so I had a chance to try some of the prepared food from Fish Hawk Acres.

Heart & hand marketplaceHave you been? What's your favorite thing to get?

Heart & hand marketplace

Heart & hand marketplace