Sunday, October 19, 2014


An Autumn Sunday, onions, carrots and potatoes. Nothing better!
Unless you were married for 40 years to a man who didn't eat beef, you just can't appreciate the anticipation of a Sunday roast. That divorce freed my culinary senses like nothing else.

My ex had gout, so he couldn't eat leafy vegetables or mushrooms, and he didn't like pork! So, I became the queen of turning poultry into  meat loafs, chili, meatballs and BB'd pulled turkey long before it was popular! As a matter of fact, I became so skilled at disguising a chicken in dishes typically made with beef, that I wanted to open a restaurant called "The Fowl Cow"!

No? Well, anyway, I picked the perfect, cool, fall Sunday afternoon to make a beef eye roast, and surround it with onions, carrots and potatoes. This aroma is second to none. And, as luck would have it, my son Kyle called to say that he would be around the corner from me to watch football with some buddies and was then coming over for Sunday dinner! Perfect!

Now, I had a reason to um...for lack of a better term, beef things up. My first thought brought me back to Sunday dinner's at my Dad's. In his younger years, Dad was a butcher and most likely why he always seemed to buy the best cuts of meats. And when I think of dinners at his house, a roasted beef was always accompanied by either a cucumber salad, or coleslaw. Just as roasted pork was always served with a side of applesauce. If his famous homemade chicken soup was on the stove, then you knew there would be chip steak sandwiches, potato chips and pickles as well. If you knew one thing on his menu, you knew the rest of the meal. My old man had parings down to a science.

It could be why I can't eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (which I love) without a bowl of vegetable soup (another specialty of his). Although, that may have actually started with a school lunch thing, but no matter, it's coupling is a favorite of mine. All of those things were flooding my head as I drove to the store for coleslaw fixings.
Anyone coming to Sunday dinner deserves a special treat!

So many of our memories are tied to meals. The flavors, the aromas, the conversations...the family. It was worth the trip to the grocery store, even on a weekend, which I usually avoid at all cost.

After all, it is Sunday, 56 degrees, the leaves swirling in circles, and a nice cut of beef marinating at home. The only thing that could make me smile more is the thought that somewhere, a woman is standing in her kitchen, thinking "I can't believe I'm making another chicken." Score!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Two Sisters, A Saturday...And the Reading Terminal

It's fall! Start your ovens! And fall Saturdays are meant to be spent at markets and festivals gathering the goods to supply your autumnal culinary adventures. Or, at least, make a good pot of soup. Either way, it's time to get cooking. And since I'm lucky enough to live less than 15 minutes from the oldest indoor farmers market in the nation, my plans were set.

My sister Betty is a Realtor,  who I know is working hard to stoke her bank account before the slower holiday months set in, so I was not sure if she would accept an invitation to accompany me across the river. But I mentioned Reading Terminal, she was in, and we were off!

There are almost 80 food vendors inside the terminal and there is absolutely nothing you can't find. Every culture is represented and every stand is packed. Take a look at just a sample of what this grand market has to offer. Step inside with me!

What I love most about the terminal is that everyone standing in line with you is so willing to share what they are going to do with their purchases. A lovely black woman was standing next to us at one of the many butcher stands. Her daughter was coming home from school for the weekend and requested ox tails for dinner. Betty asked her how she cooked them, and from what she described it was very similar to the Italian dish of Osso Buco. This place is a virtual melting pot of culinary visions.

As I was scoping out a place to eat lunch, a couple approached me. "We're from Kansas and it's our first time here. Where should we eat?" What? Where should they eat?

"You are standing next to Hershel's East Side Deli, which has the best pastrami sandwich in the city. Across the isle is Dinic's  amazing roast pork and beef sandwiches. Behind you is Salumari's which has a great Italian hoagie. And, across the seating area is Spataro's where you can get an authentic Philly cheese steak"  There are healthy options too, but you're in the Reading Terminal so...why? "The best advice I can give you is to find the longest line and get in it! Locals know what they like, and they'll wait for it!"

Or they can order an olive hoagie! New Orleans may have Muffalattas, this is better! 

Iovine's Produce is one of the market's oldest produce stands. Although there are many more, this vegetable veteran stand get's my money ever time I go.

My grandmother made the best meatballs. She only used a mixture of beef, veal and pork. It is really hard to find now in supermarkets. But not at the Terminal. I am hosting a dinner next Saturday. Since meatballs and sausage are on the menu, this trip was needed!

This vendor takes his olive oil's under lock and key!

You can't go into Philly and not stop at Le Bus or the Metropolitan Bakery for bread!

These "personal" size baguettes provided both Betty and I with... 

 Dinner! Ah! Martin's Italian Sausage with...

...a fabulous tomato salad. This Amish farmer directed us to his best tomatoes and corn!

And of course a stop for some great chocolates for may fall candy dishes! And my guests!

Most famous for their Cannoil's, Betty had to stop at Termini Bros. for a cheese cake topped with cinnamon! So good!

I love this market! I love the smell, the sounds, the feel of it. But I think most, I love the people in it. Everyone is there to find their cooking treasures. The scents and taste of what makes our homes a place where family and friends want to be. They are always willing to share their culture, their recipes, as am I.

The Reading Terminal is over 100 years old. And that may be the very best part. A walk through the doors is like stepping back in time. Nothing frozen or packaged, just fresh meats, breads and vegetables. What you want, they way you want it. Can't get any better!

Photos by Jo Ann Phelps