Lewisburg Alphabet: A is for Ard’s

Welcome to the Lewisburg Alphabet!

I love living in Lewisburg, this little town that…I’ve adopted? Or that’s adopted me? Eh, it’s a toss-up. I just know I’m really happy in this place, which still comes as a surprise to someone who had previously thought of herself as a city person.

It’s beautiful here. And charming. And quaint. And groovy. It’s part Norman Rockwell, part funky college town, set in a gorgeous countryside. So why shouldn’t I celebrate it? Here’s to Lewisburg (and perhaps a bit beyond the town’s borders, into the central PA area). 

A. That’s for Ard’s.

Could it get any cuter?

Could it get any more adorable?

Ard’s Farm Market is a constantly-growing–nay, evolving–farm market along Route 45 in Lewisburg. It started as a roadside farm stand how many years ago…thirty? Forty? Long before I came to town, that’s for sure. Eventually it was given a more permanent structure. Then it was expanded upon. When the next generation of the Ard family took over, though, they came in with ideas.

It looks like such a simple place.

It looks like such a simple place.

Inside this building is some of the best pulled pork ever, and it makes my stomach growl whenever I walk in and smell it. They have a bustling restaurant and all sorts of seasonal celebrations. A corn maze in autumn (and a pumpkin toss!). A summer fun run and party. I get my tree there every Christmas. And they have all manner of goods inside.

Guess what season we're in.

Guess what season we are currently in.

Gift baskets! Local food! Products from local artists! Hand-dipped chocolates! Local cheeses! Freshly-ground peanut butter (which is the BEST peanut butter I’ve ever eaten, but I digress)! I will knock you down for their yogurt-dipped pretzels! And there’s more relish than you can shake a stick at!

Mmmmm...relish....

Relish is its own food group in central PA.

I mean, it’s still a farm stand, so it still has produce.

Though maybe it's not all, entirely, local.

Though maybe it’s not all, entirely, local. (I’m looking at you, bananas.)

I go a little bonkers in there in the fall, when the pumpkins come in. There’s little I like to eat more than squash and pumpkin, so when I have a choice of different squash varieties, I buy them all. At once. Because I can’t decide what I want most, so I bring them home and let me and George sort it all out.

But their real appeal, for me, lies in their rustic charm. It’s a little chunk of Americana, complete with fresh pie. 

More than a few people I know want an Ard's pie for their birthday, instead of a cake.

More than a few people I know want an Ard’s pie for their birthday, instead of a cake.

Plus, the matriarch of the Ard family comes to one of my classes at the gym, so I feel like I get to rub elbows with local royalty.

Fun fact: An ard is an early sort of scratch plow, which was in use cultivating farm lands a thousand years ago. I have a picture of the digging end of an ard, recovered from a Viking archaeological dig in Reykjavik. The handles, made of wood, have long rotted away.

IMG_0176

Ard. For real.

So really, it makes sense that they’re farmers, what with their name meaning “plow”, and all.

Finally: Here’s a tip o’ the hat to my fellow blogger at ouchmybackhurts, who gave me the idea (and his blessings) for the Lewisburg Alphabet. Go check him out! He’s got a Dublin Alphabet, it’s super fun. 

See you when I get to B! 🙂 

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Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Olives

I don’t make any bones about it: I love potatoes.  Always have.  Always will.  I have stood by them in the low-carb-no-carb-paleo onslaught.  They’re full of Vitamin C and a bunch of B vitamins, potassium, and dietary fiber (especially if you eat the skin).  Plus, their versatile deliciousness never fails to woo my tastebuds.

If loving the potato is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Anyway.

We had stopped at Ard’s, a little (yet ever-expanding) market stand/BBQ stand/farm stand/Christmas tree stand (seasonally, of course) and home of the autumn corn maze to see what fresh goods we could get our meathooks on, since some friends were coming for dinner.  Much to our delight, Ard’s had pints of adorable, multi-colored baby potatoes just begging us to buy them.  What could we do?  Two pints came home with us, to be trimmed and roasted and tossed with tasty things and served to people whose opinions we greatly value.  This dish looks great, tastes great, and is suuuuuuuuuuuuuper-super simple, to boot.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pints baby potatoes, any color-ilk-type. It would theoretically “work” with large potatoes chopped up, but you wouldn’t get that satisfying potato skin snap in every bite so why deprive yourself of that if you can avoid it?
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary; determine how much you would like to use by how pungent your rosemary is and how much you like it.  I love it.  I went for both full teaspoons.
  • Olive oil to coat the potatoes.
  • Salt & pepper, to taste, but remember you’ll be coating the potatoes in olives at the end, so maybe go easy on the salt when you roast, yes?
  • 1/4 cup (but a generous one) pitted black olives; I used Kalamata, ground in a food processor or blender.

That’s it.  Prepare to be amazed.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Then wash and trim your potatoes.  If any of them are large-ish, cut them in half.  Put them in a mixing bowl or, if you prefer and have a pan with a high enough side for mixing, the roasting pan you’re going to cook them in.  Toss with rosemary, salt, pepper, and oil.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

Put them in the oven so the alchemical synergy that comes from potatoes + rosemary can work its mysterious business.  I have no idea what it is that makes the rosemary/potato relationship so special; I just know that the first time I ate a roasted rosemary potato, it was like a herd of unicorn burst into my kitchen, aimed their horns and blasted rainbows on my plate.

So full of win.

They’ll probably be in the oven for about 45 minutes or so but check them after 20 minutes, and then after another 20, and stir them around so they’ll cook evenly and won’t burn.  And so on, until they are fluffy and soft and yield to the fork you’ll use to test them for soft fluffiness.  I confess, I generally get annoyed because I mistakenly think that potatoes shouldn’t take as long to cook as they do.  Thus I have a terrible tendency to undercook them, which is not unicorn-rainbow-blast good but rather, awkward and sad like a naked turtle running a footrace.

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.  Image from message.snopes.com

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.
Image from message.snopes.com

While the potatoes are roasting, measure out your olives and get them ready.  When I said a “generous” quarter-cup, I meant it. I probably should have crammed one or two more in there, now that I look… 🙂

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Grind these up in a food processor or blender, unless you’re a nonna or are Amish or are a self-nominee for kitchen martyr of the year or eschew electrical devices for some reason and feel a need to go at these with a knife or mortar and pestle or something.  (Because you’re not really cooking unless you make things slick with olive oil?)  Once they’re ground, set them aside until the potatoes are done.

Done!

Done!

Then?

Here’s the kicker.

Mix the olives in with the potatoes, et voila!  Le dish, she is finis.

I will make this again and again.

I will make this again and again.

They’re savory, salty, pungent, crisp, fluffy, and all-around amazing.  They’re a great side dish for just about everything, from chicken to crêpes, and they’re one of the (surprisingly few) dishes that has worked its way into my go-to, “haven’t had these in a while and I’m craving them must eat must have must eat must have” repertoire.

Let me put it this way: If Mario Batali were coming over for dinner, these are the potatoes I would make.  After I finished passing out and picked myself back up off the floor.

Enjoy!

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