Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grape Expectations for Lancaster County

Plentiful rainfall this spring and a warm summer are making vintners pretty happy in Lancaster County. Jan Waltz, of Waltz Vineyard says that the heat index is ahead of last year and they are busy thinning the canopy of leaves so that the grapes have ample sun and air flow.

Here at Lancaster County Tours we’re gearing up for another Wine and Cheese Tour on July 23.

It’s not too late to join us and discover the beautiful vistas of Lancaster County and get to know the artisans that create the cheese and produce the wines. It’s a place unlike anywhere else on earth.

Because this tour is so popular, we’ve added an additional Wine and Cheese Tour on September 10 - our harvest tour.  

No two tours are ever the same. Book the tour (888-449-4423) and stay for the weekend at one of our fabulous inns: The Australian Walkabout, The Artist's Inn, Flowers and Thyme Bed and Breakfast, Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast and Historic Smithton Inn.

The best part is that you don't have to worry about drinking and driving, following directions or getting lost....

And there's a wonderful wine-paired dinner at the end of the day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Was Born in the Wrong Country!

When I sit and think about my favorite culinary indulgences, I have to remind myself that I was born and bred in the USA. I would not find it difficult to live on a diet of cheese, bread, pasta, olives, wine and fruit. I've never been to Greece, Italy or France, but I love the food! My shelves are filled with cookbooks with these types of inspiration.

Now that I'm an innkeeper , I get to experience all kinds of food. Not that I didn't before this, you understand, I just couldn't find a way to legally write it off until recently. What's even better is that I've found that I don't have to visit Greece, Italy or France, nor do I have to live in a major metropolitan area to have access to the superb food and wine offered by such places. I now live in Lancaster County, PA - one of the most agriculturally rich areas of the US. We have farmers here who turn out some of the most wonderful produce, meats, cheeses and grains in the world!

I'm also fortunate that I get to offer to my guests 'behind the scenes' type tours of the area several different times of the year. This July 23rd, for example, we'll be taking guests to visit some places that offer wine and cheese, among other culinary delights.  These are not just your run-of-the-mill type tours, either. We get up close and personal with the farmers, the wine-makers, the shop owners; we get to see the inside workings of what makes Lancaster County such a great destination for foodies.

We hope you'll join us for the tour. Find out more here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lancaster County Ghost? One Dark and Stormy Night......

Remember being a kid? You know, crazy about mystery, spooks, ghosts and stories around the camp-fire. It was all I could do to keep myself from thinking that my everyday life was not an excerpt from the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries.

Well today I have grown up, (albeit, just a tiny bit) and can still recall the sounds of my youth resonating me back to the Halloween parties I once enjoyed. Here is a verse that still chimes in my head....

"You are a bold and courageous person, afraid of nothing. High on a hilltop near your home, there stands a dilapidated old mansion. Some say the place is haunted, but you don't believe in such myths. One night, a light appears in the topmost window in a tower of the old house. You decide to investigate. And you never return..." 
You are a bold and courageous person.....

Yeah.... you nailed it, it's from the Disney sound effects album for Halloween. And still to this day holds so much fascination. And although I have grown up, (HAHA) I found last fall after enjoying the Unexplained Lancaster County Tour in downtown Columbia and visiting secret tunnels, that I really was that "Bold and Courageous" person. Just like Frank and Joe Hardy were in book # 29, The Secret of the Lost Tunnel.

So that's right... Call me Joe or Frank; it's all good! I will always enjoy a great mystery. And as we here start to prepare the dastardly "ingredients" for our next tour, we'll keep everyone in the soup.... Opps, did I say that out loud..... I meant to say in the loop!

The Unexplained Lancaster County Tour is during Halloween weekend; begins at 6:00 pm on Friday the 28th of October and is a full weekend of "investigation". We hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pretzels With a Twist

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What better place than Lancaster County to find pretzels! After all, this is the home of the Auntie Anne pretzel. We have those yummy soft pretzels as well as several harder type pretzels like Sturgis Pretzels, Martin’s Pretzels, and Hammond Pretzels made right here in the County. I especially like the soft ones –here is a recipe for you to try yourself.

1 T. yeast
2 T. very warm water
½ c. brown sugar
1 ½ c. warm water
4 ½ c. flour
3 T. soda
3 c. boiling water
Melted margarine or butter
Pretzel salt

Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons water. This becomes a pasty ball. Add brown sugar and mix well. Add warm water. Mix in flour. Divide dough into 16 pieces and roll by hand into long snake-like pieces. Boil 3 cups water and soda and remove from heat. Dip dough pieces into water and make into desired shape. Place on a well-greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until brown. Be careful, they burn quickly. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Add salt, if desired.

Better yet, join Lancaster County Tours on June 11th for the Beer and Pretzel tour where you will be introduced to both the hard and the soft pretzels plus two micro-breweries. The tour will again be repeated on August 6th.  Call 888-449-4423 to be included on this fun tour to learn about beer and pretzels – Lancaster County Style.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Putting Spring Herbs to Good Use: Tarragon Chicken Salad Recipe

Lancaster County Tour's annual "Herb Tour of Lancaster County" is behind us, but the lessons we learned and the desire to enjoy all the wonderful herbs we discovered remains.  With that in mind, I thought I'd share an absolutely simple, yet delicious recipe that uses Tarragon, one of my favorite herbs both for scent and flavor.  This recipe has a fresh, unique flavor that makes it a hit!

Tarragon Chicken Salad

1 lb. Chicken Tenders
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Mayonaise
1/4 Cup Plain Yogurt
2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Tarragon
Salt & Pepper to taste

*   Line a broiler pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Broil chicken tenders for approximately 10 minutes or until cooked through, flipping half-way.  Set aside to cool.
*  Blend together sour cream, mayonaise and yogurt.
*  In a medium sized bowl, shred the chicken tenders into bite-sized pieces, removing any tendons along the way.
*  Mix in sour cream mixture - use the amount you need for the salad to reach the consistency you like.
*  Fold in chopped tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chilled.  Tastes delicious stuffed in a pita, or as a sandwich on thick-cut homemade bread!

If you missed this year's tour, never fear!  We host our annual Herb Tour of Lancaster County every May.  And if you're looking for an interesting, fun and delicious way to explore Lancaster County, check out our upcoming schedule of events.  Up next is our Beer and Pretzel tour... could be a great Father's Day present!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What is Spilanthes and Can You Find it in Lancaster

I love this time of year in Lancaster County! I am forever running around trying to find the weirdest plants that I can. And so on one of my journeys with great plant friends, I came across this little weird plant.... Not much of a looker, however it had powers I would soon discover.

After looking around the nursery a bit, I found myself sneaking back at this ugly little plant; it captivated me, I was drawn to it like a magnet. And soon after that, it was in my hand and ready to go back to the house. What interested me, was that it was a dark green leaf, and had this yellow/red button flower that poked up at of the plant on very firm stalks. And the name was something I could not say, (thank goodness for the common names).

They tag on the plant said Spilanthes and the common name is the Toothache Plant, which really intrigued me. And although in the herb section, I was reluctant to put it in my mouth until someone said that it would be all right to do so. (heck; I'll try just about anything pertaining to culinary).

Brought the plant home and stuck it in the ground soon to discover that the plant held it's own in the herb garden. A small mounding plant that was very happy in the part sun/part shade spot I found for it. But did I find out what the name meant? I could not wait any more and had to go to one of our Herb friends. It was then that I discovered that the Toothache plant is just that, A plant that contains an analgesic used for numbing the mouth and or throat.

Now don't take my word for it, as with all herbs and spices, you should be checking up on them yourself to discover if any medications you are on could have any diverse affects. Knowledge is paramount when it comes to herbs, the more you know, the more prepared you will be when having to deal with them.

In the mean time, I am forever on the prowl for awesome herbs! This weekend with our Herbal Tour coming up, I'll be on the hunt once again for anything out of the ordinary! And by the way... yes, you can find Spilanthes here in Lancaster, we'll show you where.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Got Beer? Lancaster County Does....and Pretzels too!

Maybe it’s because so many Germans settled here. Maybe it’s because beer and pretzels just naturally go together. Maybe it’s because.....well, who cares? Lancaster County Tours has put together the perfect weekend for the man in your life.

We’ll explore several different breweries, do the twist (with pretzels that is) and learn a bit about history as we explore the back roads of Lancaster County.

In a tour designed to entertain, enlighten and delight your taste buds, you’ll enjoy good eats and great beer – and never have to worry about driving because we’ve rented a van and hired a driver.

So sit back and relax....this Father’s Day, the gift is an experience. (tours available June 11 & August 6)

To find out all the particulars, call 888-449-4423. He’s gonna love it.....and we’ll bet that you are too!