Posts filed under ‘Extra Credit’

A Chocolate Review

John Kira Chocolate

I’ve been shamefully neglectful of this lovely little blog of mine.  Fortunately it looks like a lot of you have still been coming around and leafing through the archives for some tasty seasonal fare.  I wish I could promise there will be regular updates moving forward, but, the truth is, I’m just not sure.  Life sends you down unexpected paths sometimes that steer you away from past passions (such as this blog).  I’m doing my level best to recalibrate my course and get back to blogging about food, but it might take awhile.  Please keep looking through those recipe archives in the meantime!

On the eve of the year’s biggest food day here in the States, I figured I’d best put up a post to say hello.  And since a local Philadelphia company sent me some samples a few weeks back that would make perfect holiday gifts for the foodie in your life, let’s talk about CHOCOLATE!  To be more precise, let’s talk about the crème de la crème of the chocolate world right now: John & Kira’s.   

John and Kira Spiced Pumpkins

I’ve known of John & Kira’s for several years now since the company has graced several of the same farmers markets as has my own farm.  Ironically though I’d never gotten to try a sample of their adorably cute chocolate ladybugs or other chocolate creations even though they generously give samples to many a market patron.  I was always manning my own market table and didn’t have time to scoot over for a nibble.  Lucky for me, they recently launched a new collection of chocolates called The Enchanted Garden and they asked me to review them along with a bar of their Mighty Urban Garden Mint chocolate. 

Let’s’ start with the Mighty Urban Mint chocolate bar.  You may notice the absence of a photo of it in this post.  That’s because I’m a mint-loving maniac who devoured the whole bar, with its dark chocolate richness and subtle-yet-highly-addicting fresh minty-ness.  While the first bite of this bar didn’t blow me away, it proved to be one of those foods that sits at the back of your tongue/brain and about an hour after you’ve had that initial bite, you find yourself craving more.  And so the whole bar is gone… 

JK Spiced Pumpkins in box

The Mighty Urban Garden Mint chocolate bar is indeed tasty, though the price tag is also a bit might at $9 a bar.  The solace here is that John & Kira’s donates five percent of the sales back to the urban city gardeners and kids that grow the mint used in the bars.  Seems like a nice way to donate to charity, don’t you think?

Now,  let’s move on to The Enchanted Garden collection of chocolates.  These artfully hand-painted chocolates are exactly why John & Kira’s has become iconic here in Philadelphia and elsewhere.  It is amazing to think that someone sat and painted the little bit-sized chocolate mound I’m about to pop in my mouth.  Reminds me of that dish Zen garden I had at work once where an unknown co-worker would always come by and smooth it out while I was a lunch…

Spiced Pumpkin

To my surprise, I was sent two beautiful – I mean truly BEEUTEEFUL! – boxes of chocolates: Spiced Pumpkin and Chocolate Cherries.   The packaging along makes you feel like a million bucks.  I felt a bit guilty as I dared to open them.  The chocolates inside were equally stunning.  Each practically sparkled since John & Kira’s uses a glossy tempered chocolate to coat each confection.  The “pumpkins” in particular were extra adorable as each had been given an individual curly-cue stem of green chocolate. 



November 24, 2010 at 11:27 am 11 comments

Voting is Open!

Just wanted to let everyone know that voting is now open for Project Food Blog.  I’d really love to have your vote to go on to the next round in this exciting competition!  Just follow this link to vote for Straight from the Farm!   Thank you!!

September 20, 2010 at 8:11 am 6 comments

Project Food Blog {my chance at fame?}

Peaches and blueberries

Well, the posting may have been sparse around here this summer, that’s for sure.  But the autumn harvest is just revving up, and I’m itching to cook once more now that the temperature has dipped back into the realms of “bearable”.   Just in time since there’s a great food blogging contest just getting started.  I’ve officially thrown my hat into the ring for’s “Project Food Blog” extravaganza.  This online contest is reminiscent of TV’s myriad of reality battle-it-out shows.  It should be fun and perhaps there will even be some drama (after all there are nearly 2000 bloggers competing)!  If nothing else, you’re assured there will be more frequent posting on this blog as long as I’m still in the running. 

My first official entry post will be put up this weekend.  However, I wanted to get the link to my contest profile posted so you could go snicker at it.  If you care to follow along with the entire contest, feel free to bookmark my profile as it will show my status and links to my entries.  All the entries will also be posted here on SFTF…they’ll be posted once a week now through December (or however long I last in the contest). 

I NEED YOUR HELP!  A critical part to the contest is getting people to vote for your entries.  If you’re a fan of my work here in SFTF (the recipes, the photos, the writing, the mission), please make a point of voting for each of my Project Food Blog entries.   That would really make my day!

September 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm 10 comments

Wyck Summer Kick-Off Festival {Philly}

Wyck Old Rose Gelato by Capagiro

I had a great evening on Friday, strolling around the busy grounds and house of Wyck during their lovely little Summer Kick-Off Festival.  The music was great and the weather perfect.  I loved seeing so many folks enjoying this historic garden for all it’s worth.  Kids were especially fun to watch as they discovered the baby apples on the trees, the chickens in the back, and the stilts under the ancient trees that were there for them to try out.  I really went for one reason though…to try the limited edition Wyck Old Rose Gelato from Capogiro

I love Wyck’s roses for so many reasons, but the chance to eat them (or at least their essence) tops the list.    So there I was, giddy to take my first bite and boy was it good!  Fragrant but not too “perfumey”, the taste of the roses initially striking with the first few bites but then fading to this wonderfully mellow floral undertone as my taste buds adjusted to such an unusual flavor.  When rose season rolls around again next year, I’m going to see if my good friend and Wyck gardener-extraordinaire, Nicole, will let me take home a bag of rose petals to post a few rose-infused recipes of my own.  For now, enjoy a few photos from this fun event and make plans to visit Wyck sometime soon for more fun, history and education.  They have quite the full calendar of events all summer long. 

 Wyck Summer Kick Off Festival

Old grape arbor at Wyck

Band playing

Wyck house

June 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm 1 comment

New Mt. Airy Farmers Market {Philly}

Mt Airy Farmers Market

I’ve neglected to post about the newest addition to my neighborhood’s wonderful assets:  a bustling farmers market in a perfect location along the busy main arterial.  This market is well suited to a section of Philadelphia already full of sustainable and locally-minded small businesses and families, mine included.  Held every Tuesday afternoon/evening, it’s the perfect chance to stock up on goodies to use during the week since most Philadelphians know that going “down the shore” on the weekends is going to make other markets less convenient.   Currently there is an Amish farmer selling lots of baked goods and annual plants; a fruit stand with gorgeous cherries and honey at the moment; a farmer selling grass fed meats, cheese, raw milk and any other “animal product” you can think of; an urban farm (well-known Weavers Way) selling heirloom and other unusual vegetables; and a friendly and funky cut flower/herb/potted perennial plant grower (oh yay, that last one is me).  

More info here:
Takes place in the Lutheran Seminary plaza across from the WaWa in Mt. Airy
Tuesdays 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. through Thanksgiving

Love n Fresh Flowers market stand

June 10, 2010 at 8:45 am 3 comments

A New Feature on SFTF

Kale Tree

a christmas tree made out of delicious kale! 

Well, it’s the holiday season, a time of giving, and I wanted to give you all a little present.  It’s not much, really.  But I think it might make your time spent here on SFTF a little more productive.   It’s a new button you’ll find embedded in forthcoming posts (assuming I am with-it enough to remember to put the necessary code in each new post) that says “Spring It!”.    This handy button is connected to a site called Springpad that has all sorts of apps (gosh, I hope I’m using the lingo correctly), including putting SFTF recipes on your iPhone or other on-the-go-gadget so you can take it with you to the store and make you’ve got all the ingredients in your shopping cart. 

Don’t have such an on-the-go-gadget (don’t worry, neither do I)?  This new “Spring It!” button can still be very handy.  By using it, you can save all your favorite SFTF recipes (and others from your regular reads) to one online filing cabinet that you can then use to print recipes (yes, finally a print function for my recipes!) and create quick shopping lists that you can then print and take to the market with you the old-fashioned way.   There’s also some “productivity tools” that I have yet to explore on the Springpad site that might be of use.  If you know of one that you already use and love, please do share it with us so we all know to look for it! 

So, hopefully that helps you out a bit.  If it doesn’t, just ignore the button.  It’s pretty inconspicuous.   You do need to sign up for a Springpad account (quick and painless, I promise) to use it.   When you click on the button in one of my posts, it will take you to a new page.  However, just look closely and find the blue “Spring It and Go Back” link to return to your beloved SFTF.

December 17, 2009 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

Keeping Local Alive

Used books

Sorry, no food in today’s post.  Instead, I have a somewhat urgent plea directed towards those of you that are here with me in Philadelphia and a general “post-it note” for those of you with a “local” mind-set everywhere.  I just found out that my favorite of all bookstores is on the brink of closing its doors.  Walk a Crooked Mile is a local shop I’ve featured on the blog before.   It’s a community institution in Mt. Airy, my neighborhood, and has been a source of countless hours of pleasurable lazy afternoon book browsing for myself and many others.   Hearing how the economy has taken its toll on Walk a Crooked Mile reminds me how precious and fragile our local businesses – those that have such “personality” and really contribute to the fabric of our communities – are and how quickly something that’s “been around forever” can suddenly be “closed for good.”  

More used books

With the holidays fast approaching again, I’d encourage you to start making your shopping lists in a very different manner.  Rather than think about what everyone on your list wants in a generic sense, why not make a list of shops in your community that you’d really like to support and then put the names of people you’re buying for next to the shops where you’ll probably find something they like.  Then go out and support local businesses by finding unique gifts for everyone on your list in those local stores.  I know it can be a little more expensive sometimes, but think about how boring life would be if our only merchants were cheap big box stores and fast food chains.    Gift certificates to local businesses are another great way to get your friends and family to go check out the local scene and appreciate all it has to offer.  Several stores, including Walk a Crooked Mile, sell their wares online so you’re not limited to giving gift certificates to those folks that live in the same ‘hood as you. 

Shop sign

I am going to be doing some early holiday shopping and stock up on some of the excellent gardening and food reference books that Walk a Crooked Mile always has on hand.   If you’re in Philly, why not make an afternoon of it – take the R7 to the Mt. Airy stop and have a free cup of tea or coffee and pet C.C. the resident cat while you take in the nostalgic aroma of old books and soak up the puddles of sunshine that always seem to be streaming through the windows at Walk a Crooked Mile.   If you’re not in Philadelphia, but have a heart of gold, you can still help keep this beautiful book store in business by making a donation online

Tea and a cat

November 2, 2009 at 6:19 pm 6 comments

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