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When our kids were young and we were homeschooling, we did a lot of food preserving – canned tomato sauce, raspberry syrup, canned peaches and cherries. Of course, we also made lots of apple sauce (amazing to serve hot over fresh gingerbread cake – a meal in itself) and apple butter. We had a special device called the Magical Musher that we used to process tomatoes and apples. It was great. The kids could take turns cranking the handle while another filled the hopper with the warm fruit. The sauce went one way and the shmutz (waste – stems, peels, seeds) went the other. What fun! The kids remember these times with such fondness. The apple butter was one of the easiest things to do since we made lots of apple sauce. I just took some of the sauce, added more spices and let it cook in the slow cooker until it was nice and thick. Great culinary memories! All that to say when I saw this recipe featuring apple butter on pork loin it caught my eye and brought back those memories. That sweet-spice and apple flavor is perfect for pork. The addition of cider to marinate the loin is a great touch. This is a great recipe for a cool Fall evening. (Accompanied by some dry hard cider…hm.) Serve with mashed potatoes. (Sweet potatoes would be great, too.)Dessert options this weekend will go perfectly with this meal, too – Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles (If you haven’t tried these cookies yet, just ask for a taste! They’re my favorite after the Molasses Ginger.)The recipe is written to go right into the oven, but an alternative is to pan the roasts, seasoned, in cider and topped with apple butter. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Pop them into a 350-degree oven for approximately 90 minutes. Keep an eye on the internal temperature (145-degrees F) so they aren’t overdone.  Apple Butter Pork Loin 2 (2 pound) boneless pork loin roastseasoning salt to taste (Mrs. Dash will work very well.)1 cup apple cider1/2 cup apple butter 1/4 cup brown sugar2 tablespoons water1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon ground cloves  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Season the pork loins with seasoning salt and place them in a 9x13 inch baking dish or small roasting pan. Pour apple cider over the pork and cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for ½  hour in the preheated oven. While the pork is roasting, mix together the apple butter, brown sugar, water, cinnamon, and cloves. Remove pork from the oven and spread with apple butter mixture. Cover, and return to the oven until internal temperature reads 145-degrees F. (Figure about 30 minutes per pound.) NOTE: Once the roasts are out they should sit for a few minutes to cool before being sliced. You can use that time to reduce and thicken the pan juices to top the roast and any sides.
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It’s been an amazing couple of weeks since I last wrote. I know that you missed me because I heard from you about it. Let me explain. Two weeks ago I was overwhelmed just trying to hire our new bakery help. Those of you who know Cris and Leah know that they are both moving on to other callings. We’re sad to see them go, but we understand they are feeling the need to go in other directions. So, after innumerable interviews and no-shows, we found two new great employees. When you are here, you will probably meet Elle at the counter, as she will be with us on both Fridays and Saturdays. Nate will be busily working in the back with Tom, but will also pop up to the counter as needed. Say hello and welcome them to the team if you get the chance.That said, it’s been a very busy time bringing them up to speed so, while munching on tonight’s meal of a Honeycrisp apple with a toasted cheese sandwich (Thanks, Tom!!!), I found myself journeying back through old posts and I realized that some are worth repeating. This one comes from 2015 – a time when we still had high schoolers at home and were juggling parenting, sports, and a bakery business. Fun times! I thought you might also enjoy this blast from the past. Here we go…A couple of weeks ago, I shared an improvised recipe created when I discovered I was missing some key ingredients to the original recipe. The reactions from you were priceless - many of them along the lines of, “Really? Who has oyster sauce in their fridge?!”  In the spirit of that recipe, here is a story…and another recipe.This week brings to an end the 2015 track and field season for our daughter. Just like soccer season, track season means lots of meals cooked on the fly and served up late, between running in the door and getting started on homework (for both school and business). This week’s “Mad Dash Meal” was based around the beef cubes I had forgotten (but not for long…don’t get upset), a bag of beautiful colored peppers Tom brought home, and creative use of sauces and wine.A pound or so of beef cubes marinated in the teriyaki sauce (that same sauce I couldn't find two weeks ago - for the record, it was in the fridge at the bakery...don't ask) made a great start. Then, I used a technique I learned from a great Chinese cookbook – dredging the meat in corn starch before browning it in a hot pan with coconut oil. Once the meat was cooked, I moved it to a bowl and added washed, uncut green beans to the same pan. Cooking them quickly at a high temp gave me a bright green bean with a bit of crispiness. Then, off to the side went the beans. The final ingredients were three colored papers – red, orange, and yellow – sliced into strips and sautéed quickly in the same pan. After all that cooking, the pan had a layer of flavorful bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. It was time for some serious deglazing.My first choice for a dish like this would always be a dry sherry. However, once again, I was missing a key ingredient. (Surprise!) So, I pulled a bottle of merlot off the wine rack and poured a good bit into the pan. As it cooked down and loosened the bits on the bottom of the pan, I went searching for other things to add. TaDa! That amazing garlic sauce from Torchbearer became my new key ingredient, again. A healthy addition of “Oh My Garlic!,” a few splashes of soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar later, and we had a fantastic brown sauce. I added all the meat and veggies back to the pan for a bit of warming and I tossed it all into the serving bowl.The best part? My daughters pronounced it a great dinner!  And, it took about 20 minutes.I don’t tell you these things to brag, rather to reiterate that most great food begins when we look at what we already have on hand. Keeping good fresh vegetables in the fridge, along with a few well-chosen sauces and some wine will ensure you always have the makings of a healthy meal you can make at a moment’s notice.  Mad Dash Meals –Beef with Green Beans and Peppers 1 ½ lbs beef cubes1 lb cleaned green beans3 colored peppers – red, orange, yellow1-2 T Coconut oil¼ c Torchbearer’s Oh My Garlic sauce (or any good garlic aioli – you can even make your own!)¼ c Merlot2 T soy sauceThe only thing missing is a fresh loaf of Country French bread to sop up the sauce. Pick it up this weekend at the bakery. The other makings of this recipe are all available at the market (except the garlic sauce, which is available at various local grocery stores).
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I feel like I begin many of my posts with “It’s been a busy week at the bakery,” but it really HAS been a busy week! We started by cranking out 14 pumpkin rolls, then made a bunch of apple pies, all the while producing breads and other things for the restaurants and coffee shops that we supply. It was great. We love being busy! To top it all off, I ventured up to Harrisburg and did another spot on Good Day, PA! What fun! Then, it was back to the bakery to finish getting ready for a busy (yes, busy!) weekend. (If you want to see the spot, head over to our Facebook page or the Good Day, PA! page and take a look.)In the meantime, we still had to eat, so Tom and I collaborated this week on a delicious roast from Bow Creek Farm and Cattle Company. Amy and Rob Hess raise Red Angus cattle. The beef they produce is outstanding and, as I found out, very easy to cook. Since they were having a sale on roasts (and Tom had told them I don’t cook roasts!) I decided to step up to the challenge of making us a nice pot roast dinner. Amy had given me some good tips and they really paid off.I started by seasoning the roast well with fresh-ground salt and pepper and searing it in a pan. I then moved it to my Pampered Chef Roc Crock (shout out to Velvet, our resident Pampered Chef lady!), added about an inch of water to the bottom of the crock, and topped it with a packet of Knorr’s Spring Vegetable Soup mix. (Yes, it was a total cheat and I’m not even going to be embarrassed…I was short on prep time and this worked.) Into the oven it went for about 2 hours at 350 and it came out tender and delicious! Served up with a mashed butternut squash and some crusty bread, it made for a very lovely dinner. (If I had thought ahead, I would have grabbed some carrots and baby potatoes, as well as an onion or shallot, to throw into the pot with the roast after about an hour.)Now for the collaboration. The next day I was slicing mushrooms for mushroom pie filling and Tom decided that mushroom gravy sounded like a good idea. He whipped up some gravy with ingredients we had on-hand in the bakery, then added a few cups of sliced mushrooms and thickened it. We brought home the gravy, sliced up the leftover roast, added it to the gravy, then served the whole thing over egg noodles. Yum! Two fantastic meals out of one roast. It was a great week for eating at the Smith house!This week’s menu should make it a good week for eating at your house, too. We have three specialty breads this week! We are featuring the newest in our bread line – Chocolate Cherry Bread – that we developed this summer for the Hotel Hershey. We will also have our Rosemary Loaf and Herbed Olive loaves available. (For those of you who are in Jonestown, start checking out Swatara Coffee Company’s weekly special sandwiches featuring our specialty loaves.)
I have a confession. I’m a Great British Bake Off junkie. Surprised? Well, maybe not. Those of you who are as much enthralled with GBBO as I (Ready, Set, Baaaaaake!) will appreciate when I say that we also tend to have themed weeks. Maybe not “Caramel” week, or “Chocolate” week, but certainly “Blueberry” or “Cranberry” week. This week is Peach Week! I polled our Facebook followers about pie choices for this week and the split was even between Blueberry and Peach, so it's time for Peach-Blueberry pies. We will also have peach scones and peach coffee cakes to round out the featured fruit of the week. (It was fun testing the new pie recipe, though! If you didn’t see the evidence, check our Facebook page for a picture.)We are celebrating peaches because they are beautifully in season right now and are the last big fruit harvest before the apples come in to announce the arrival of Fall. (Something has to announce it…the weather certainly isn’t!) And speaking of Fall, we are bringing out the Molasses Ginger cookies this week in hopes that they might encourage the Fall weather. The best thing to do with a Molasses Ginger cookie is to accompany it with a steaming mug of hot cider. Hence, the hopes for cooler weather soon.Well, enough of the weather report, let’s get to talking about more good food. I found this recipe recently and thought, “What a great idea! Who doesn’t love meat loaf and/or cheeseburgers?” Here is a terrific combination of the two. Like almost all of our recipe suggestions, it’s fast and easy…and tasty. Serve it with smashed garlic potatoes, fresh green beans, and a loaf of one of our crusty breads. Or, slice it and serve it on a burger bun. We’ll have plenty of those this weekend, as well.NOTE: One of the issues with meatloaf tends to be the amount of fat that collects as it bakes. To alleviate this, it’s best to purchase a meatloaf pan with a removable insert that keeps the loaf up out of the fat. In place of that, use two pieces of aluminum foil. Place one on the bottom of the pan. Take the second and poke holes in it, then place it in the pan on top of the first layer. Bake your meatloaf and enjoy the easy cleanup!  Cheeseburger Meatloaf 2 pounds ground beef3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (Ask for these at the counter and we’ll get them for you.)1/2 cup minced onion2 eggs, beaten1 t salt1 1/2 t ground black pepper2 T Worcestershire Sauce½ cup minced bell pepper3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese1/2 pound bacon, optionalDirections Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, onion, eggs, Worcestershire Sauce, bell pepper, salt and pepper, and mix well. Divide in half. Layer one half of the meat into your loaf pan. Make a channel in the meat to hold the cheese, leaving an inch of the meat mixture at the ends of the pan so the cheese won’t melt out during baking. Layer the other half of meat on top of the cheese and press ends to seal the cheese in. If you've chosen the optional bacon, use it now to cover the loaf, tucking in the ends to help seal the top of the loaf. Bake in the preheated oven 1 hour, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.
Has everybody been eating your vegetables? Are we all enjoying the fruits of someone’s garden? We are so lucky to know people who plant large gardens each year. This week, I had two meals that were based on a single vegetable – a zucchini-like one called zuchetta. It’s a very large (can grow up to 5 feet long!) vegetable with a small seed bulb and a long, fleshy neck. It’s amazing and delicious with sweet flesh that lends itself well to a simple saute with garlic and onions. I actually made a meal of just that and it was wonderfully filling and satisfying.Having filled up on that saute, I began looking for other ways to use this unusual-but-tasty treat.  After browsing through several cookbooks, I struck gold in my Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen.This grilled-vegetable-and-bread salad that highlights the season’s abundance – zucchini, peppers, and onions – is a winner.Not only is this a winner for the dinner table, this weekend is Labor Day and this salad is perfect for all of the picnicking going on. Grill this up and let it add some great color and texture, as well as flavor, to your usual picnic fare.This week at the bakery, we’re ready for the picnics and celebrations with a variety of baked goods. Enjoy your burgers and dogs on our sandwich rolls, both the regular whole wheat buns and the Everything Onion buns and sliders. New England Hot Dog buns will be on the shelves, too. Then, you can finish off the meal with our Pear and Oat Snack Cake with Browned Butter Glaze or our Fresh Peach Pie. (Can I just say, we HAD to taste-test a small pie just to be certain they would be ok for you? It was Amazing! Just sayin’.) Well, on to the recipe…  Grilled Vegetable and Bread Salad ¼ c EVOO1 T chopped fresh basil½ t grated lemon zest plus 2 t juice1 small garlic clove, minced½ t Dijon mustardSalt and pepper1 small red onion, sliced into ¾-inch-thick rounds1 red (and/or yellow) bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered1 zucchini (and/or yellow squash), halved lengthwise3 oz French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slicesFresh grated Parmesan  Whisk 2 T oil, basil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mustard, 1/8 t salt and 1/8 t pepper together in large bowl. Thread onion rounds from side to side onto 12-inch metal skewer. Brush onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and bread with remaining 2 T oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn all burners on gas grill on high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium. Clean and oil grate. Place vegetables and bread on grill. Cook, covered if using gas, flipping as needed, until bread is well toasted, about 4 minutes, and vegetables are spottily charred, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer bread and vegetables to cutting board as they finish cooking. Carefully remove onion from skewer. Cut vegetables and bread into 1-inch pieces and toss gently in bowl with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.
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Some of you might have noticed that Tom and I have taken some time off lately. It’s been wonderful. We have terrific employees who serve you and do so with smiling faces. (We don’t take this for granted!) As part of our weekend off, we treated ourselves to brunch at Irv’s Pub in Hershey. For those of you who don’t know, Irv’s is an upscale American cuisine restaurant located on Chocolate Avenue. They recently began purchasing breads and pastries from us for their menu, so naturally we had to go and try it out!First up was the French toast. Made with our Cinnamon Raisin bread, it was topped with a stone-fruit compote and lavender-honey whipped cream. Wow! Next, we tried the Eggs Benedict. I’ve spoken here a few times recently about the wonderful tomatoes we’re getting this season, but I never would have thought to include a thick slice of juicy, sweet tomato on an Eggs Benedict. The base of the dish was one of our sandwich rolls, then the Canadian bacon, tomato, egg (perfectly poached!), and creamy hollandaise all combined to make it a feast with each forkful.Coming home, I realized we frequently recommend our Cinnamon Raisin bread for French toast, but have never had it served to us. What a treat! And, I never would have thought to use our sandwich roll as a base for Eggs Benedict, but it was perfect – soft, flavorful, and it complemented all the other flavors and textures so well.Later in the week, we had the pleasure of dining with friends at their house. We had a fabulous meal featuring vegetables straight from their garden and our own Asiago bread. For dessert, we kept it light by indulging in coffees with assorted biscotti.All this to show that we love what we do and love to enjoy the fruits of our labors. We hope you do, too. If you haven’t tasted something that I’ve mentioned here – breads, biscotti – just ask for a sample when you’re at the counter. We love to give out samples and watch when you smile back at us as you enjoy! P.S. The new Fresh Peach Pie debuts this week and we're working hard not to eat it all before you get a chance to try it!
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Can we talk? Does anyone here play Scrabble? Like, a lot? Like it’s an addiction? Well, Tom is a wicked Scrabble player and recently he’s been playing with me and one of our daughters and I’m hooked. Why do anything around the house when I can play Scrabble? In fact, I should be able to play all the time, shouldn’t I? Well, let me just tell you, having to take time to work, write newsletters, and generally do life, is all cutting into my Scrabble time. So, let’s just appreciate that I’m making the effort to do all things that are necessary for life and saving my gaming time for later. Oh, and last night I played a 7-letter word for 80 points. Just sayin’.Well, on with life and newsletter…Like most of you (I hope!), we’ve been thoroughly enjoying tomato season. Tom’s garden is turning out loads of cherry and plum tomatoes, as well as tomatillos for salsa verde. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been searching for recipes that will make good use of our abundance of garden fruits. My efforts were rewarded when I came across this week’s recipe for baked cod with a topping of Boursin cheese (Yum!!!!) and a vegetable mélange. Boursin is one of those soft, spreadable cheeses that makes eating crackers an out-of-body experience. You find it in the fancy cheese case at the grocery. The cod is best if you get it fresh, not frozen. (Check with Vicki at Crab Crazy at the market.)We’ll have Parmesan and Pepper bread to accompany your meal, and fresh Cherry Crumb Pies or Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cakes for dessert.   Baked Cod with Boursin Ingredients 1 T butter, melted 2 pounds fresh cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry 1 (4 ounce) package Boursin cheese with herbs, room temperature (Or, if you’re running late like I usually am, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds…) 1 medium to large shallot, minced 2 large cloves garlic, minced 1 red sweet pepper, diced Four large plum tomatoes, chopped 2 T fresh basil, chopped salt and ground black pepper to taste 2 T (or more to suit!) fresh-grated Parmesan cheese 2 T white wine (optional) Spray oil 2 T EVOO Directions Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Heat EVOO in saute pan. Saute minced shallot and red pepper until just tender, add garlic and continue to saute. Add tomatoes and basil, stirring until tomatoes begin to soften and basil is wilting. Remove from heat. If using, pour white wine into mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Spray baking dish to coat bottom. Arrange the cod fillets in the dish. Spread the Boursin cheese evenly over the fillets. Pour the mélange over the tops. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until fish flakes when a fork is inserted and twisted
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It’s a great time of year – corn is in season, as well as cherries, berries, and early peaches. It’s also time to start thinking about dinners for school nights and evenings full of sports.While we don’t have kids in school anymore, it wasn’t that long ago and we remember it well. Not to mention, now that Tom will be bowling with the church league on Monday nights, (I know! Right?!) we’ll have to have some of these recipes in the line-up.Enter the best sweet and sour meatballs ever. A Hawaiian-themed dish, these are perfect in the slow cooker. The sauce is so versatile you can pour it over chicken or pork and bake for a more leisurely dinner served over rice.The meatballs are just right in our New England Hot Dog Buns as a meal you can almost grab and go.Before you look at the recipe and get worried about making your own meatballs, rest assured this works great with frozen meatballs. A 1.5-pound bag of frozen meatballs in the slow cooker with sauce will cook up in 3-4 hours on high and be ready for a great, fast meal. For those of you who are foodies, make the meatballs ahead and freeze or plan this dinner ahead – meatballs on Sunday, then in the morning, into the crockpot on low for Monday’s dinner.On another note, this time of year isn’t just for end-of-summer activities. It’s anniversary time for us. That’s right. The market is officially 11 years old this week. We’re celebrating with kids’ activities like pony rides, face painting, and a petting zoo. We at Sandi’s will be celebrating by giving a 10% discount to anyone who mentions this newsletter!  Hawaiian Meatballs   1 1/2 pounds ground beef 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs 1/3 cup minced onion 2 cloves garlic, minced ½ t ginger 1/4 cup milk 1 egg 1 1/2 teaspoons salt   2 tablespoons cornstarch 1T soy sauce 2T brown sugar 1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks, juice reserved 1/3 cup vinegar (Rice, cider, or white) 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper (We usually prefer red, orange, or yellow, but you can use green, too.) Directions Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Thoroughly mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, milk, egg, garlic, ginger, and salt together in a bowl. Wet hands, then roll the mixture into balls and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the meatballs are browned on the bottom, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker. Or, freeze or refrigerate for later use. Stir the cornstarch and brown sugar together in the bottom of a saucepan and place over low heat. Add the reserved pineapple juice, soy sauce and vinegar; stir until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 full minute before removing from heat; pour over the meatballs in the slow cooker. Add the pineapple chunks and bell pepper to the slow cooker. Cook the mixture in the slow cooker on Low until the flavors are thoroughly combined, 3 to 4 hours.
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Wow! It seems like ages since I’ve written a blog post. Probably because it has been! It’s been a busy time and dealing with the big flood of July 2018 made things even more interesting. Many of you know that we spent part of the week staying with friends just so we could get to work. It was quite the adventure. I hope that you all escaped with minimal damage to homes and businesses.Despite not being home, we did eat well and were able to keep the bakery operating at full capacity. (Although making deliveries was interesting, to say the least!)Now that we’re back home, have a dry basement, and are into our normal schedule, it’s time to get cooking again. This week’s Asian dish uses a pile of fresh basil (purchased from Masser’s) and makes a fantastic, quick meal. It has a little kick and is best served over rice. (This is a recipe straight from Allrecipes.com and is one of the few recipes I have actually followed. Lol.)An important thing I learned about basil since I got a huge bunch for this recipe – you can keep it in a container of water on your counter for weeks until you use it up. In the past, I bought basil, used a bit, and put the rest in the fridge only to find it wilted and ruined in the next day or so. Now, I have it on my counter and ready to top a salad, sprinkle on my ratatouille, or add to a dish of tortellini with olive oil. So, go ahead and pick up that bunch of basil this weekend when you’re picking up veggies and you’ll find great ways to use it throughout the week.  Spicy Thai Basil Chicken 1/3 cup chicken broth1 tablespoon oyster sauce1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed2 teaspoons fish sauce1 teaspoon white sugar1 teaspoon brown sugar2 tablespoons vegetable oil1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped1/4 cup sliced shallots4 cloves garlic, minced2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper (I used a jalapeno from Tom’s garden and it was wonderful.)1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (When measuring basil, pack the cup full.)2 cups hot cooked rice (I opt for jasmine rice. It’s so aromatic and lovely.) Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended. Heat large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil. Add chicken and stir fry until it loses its raw color, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies. Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute. Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds. Serve with rice
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It’s tomato season!!! I’m one of those folks who relishes the prospect of big, thick slices of fresh-from-the-garden, sunshine-warmed, juicy beefsteak tomatoes. I slice them, put them on a plate and sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Or, I make a tomato sandwich using any one of a variety of our breads with a dab of mayo. Or, we make open-faced, broiled tomato sandwiches with cheese and bacon. You see the pattern here? I LOVE tomato season.The last couple of years, Tom has had what I call a “salsa garden” – a garden of tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro. This year, he added tomatillos. We’ve already started harvesting the little golden cherry tomatoes and jalapenos and are waiting patiently (maybe?) for everything else to fully ripen. While we’re waiting, though, I’ve started buying the big, beautiful beefsteak tomatoes that Masser’s is selling. They are local, Lancaster County tomatoes and are amazing with a sun-ripened flavor and bursting with juice. Last year’s crop inspired me to feature a recipe for tomato salad with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with EVOO. This year, it’s a traditional Italian panzanella, or tomato and bread salad.The great thing about panzanella, is how it improves as it sits. If you don’t want the bread to get too soggy, though, toast it or let in sit out a while to stale a bit. Or, you can keep the bread separate and place it in the bottom of each bowl then spoon the tomato salad on top. I prefer to mix everything together and let the bread sop up the tomato-EVOO-vinegar dressing. Our Italian loaf has just the right amount of chewy crust to make it a perfect choice for this salad. (I’ve also used our Sourdough with impressive results.)I would serve this salad on the side of a juicy grilled steak and accompany it with a dry red wine. (A Cab-Sav, perhaps? Or, a Tempranillo from Olivera Vineyards!) Then, when dinner is done, I bring out the biscotti for dessert and dunking in more wine. If you’ve never done that very Italian dessert thing, you must try it! Our chocolate biscotti are well-suited for dunking in red wines. The Blueberry Fields, Pineapple, and Italian Lemon are perfect for a white. All are a wonderful way to end a meal in a quintessentially Italian manner.  Panzanella 1 clove garlic1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread2 cups chopped tomatoes1 cup cucumber - peeled, seeded and chopped1 cup chopped red onion2 cloves garlic, minced2 cups chopped fresh basil2 T chopped fresh thyme1/4 cup olive oil2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegarSalt and pepper to taste  Rub a peeled clove of garlic around a wooden salad bowl. Pull apart or chop the bread into bite-size pieces, toast lightly in oven or let stale by sitting out for a couple of hours. In the prepared salad bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, garlic, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Add enough olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat, toss and serve. On another note, a wonderful way to enjoy the hot afternoon might be with a chilled beverage made of seasonal fruits. Melons and pineapple blend so well together. Add a little sparkling water or alcohol such as raspberry moonshine or Chambord and you’re in for a sweet, refreshing treat.  Melon Chillers 3 cups watermelon1 cup cantaloupe1/2 cup pineapple1/2 cup muddled mint leavesPlace all fruits in blender. Blend until all large chunks are removed. Pour into pitcher. Add mint leaves. Chill in freezer until almost icy. To serve, pour in chilled glasses, add a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy.

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