Tag Archives: dormont-brookline patch

CSA #7 -The heat makes for lazy bloggin’

I’m going to do what surely almost every other unproductive person is doing right now and blame the heat for my lack of productivity. The heat and a rejuvenating weekend trip to DC have led to a complete lack of momentum on matters both business and personal. No blogging, no article writing for the Patch, not even a box filled for my impending move.

What’s worse, in the last week, I’ve spent a total of an hour cooking time in my own kitchen.

The real tragedy there, aside from missing the cooking time itself, is that every week we’re getting a big supply of fresh from the earth produce through our Garfield Farms CSA. And every week, we come this close to wasting something because we just didn’t move fast enough, we just didn’t make the time, we just didn’t have the time. Every time I have to throw away even half a cup of salad mix, I feel a little sick to my stomach.

Recently I interview a woman for the Patch who runs Victorian tea services from her house and she shared with me her general philosophy regarding the teas. The services are meant to be enjoyed slowly and savored for more than simply their culinary delights. Tea and snacks and the accompanying conversation are the medium to relationship building. When we savor the process as much as the relationship itself, we are truly engaging with one another.

I bring this up not as a great argument for the installation of tea time in the American workplace (although I am a firm supporter of that issue) but as an analogy to what my relationship with the CSA should be. I should be savoring the process of working with what I’ve got more than simply the stuff itself. It’s all well and good to have a beautiful summer squash fresh from the farm, but if I’m not cooking with it, it is simply a totem, a symbol, an idle trinket. I need to savor these weeks with my veggies. These weeks are fleeting and numbered, and besides, I need to learn to save a buck and stick to what I already have in my kitchen instead of going out to the grocery store in a moment of impulse.

Anyway, expect a bit more productivity from me in the coming days. Until then, here’s a look at the CSA goodies from this past week:


Radishes, sweet pepper, mint, and tomatoes (all three of them)


Summer squash, red onion, garlic, broccoli


Basil, salad greens

Russian kale, braising mix (kale, chard, radish greens, etc)

 

This Week on the Dormont-Brookline Patch: Eat Your Way Through the Neighborhood!

My feature on the Dormont-Brookline Patch this week is on Sylvia McCoy’s Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tours, specifically the fairly new Brookline tour, as well as the Dormont tour that is currently being planned for a summer debut. I sat down on Monday with Sylvia and Cory VanHorn, her intern designing the tour – as well as the genius behind the fabulous Culinary Cory blog – and it was an invigorating experience.

Why? Well, as a food blogger, it can sometimes feel like you’re making a whole lot of fuss out of something fairly mundane. It’s easy to feel at home when you’re immersed in the world of food writing (both print and online), but it’s tougher when you find yourself going on and on about the history of pierogi in Western PA and you suddenly realize that your dining companions are bored stiff. Even worse than boring, it’s very easy to feel bad about the amount of time you talk about food. Talking and writing about food can come off as trivial to those who concern themselves with matters of seemingly much greater importance. To be honest, when comparing and contrasting the topics, it’s a fair enough assessment. Who cares which Pittsburgh neighborhood has the most pizza places when the city is enduring socioeconomic troubles that threaten every aspect of living in the region?

Sitting down with folks who are invested in food history and knowledge the way that you are can be such a relief. Having Sylvia really sell me on the meles at Colangelo’s in the Strip District, or finding out that Cory shares my high opinion of Square Cafe, or even just knowing that if I recommended a place that they should try sometime, they would actively consider the recommendation… knowing that we shared this very fundamental common interest made for a really easy-going, engaging conversation. This may have been one of the easiest stories I have written for the Patch.

I highly recommend checking out the Burgh Bits and Bites. Sylvia is an extremely intelligent, warm person who I bet leads a hell of tour, and if Cory is any indication of the quality of her tour guides, the rest of the people involved with the tours must be just as friendly and knowledgeable as she is. As Cory said in our interview, “It’s a great way to be a tourist in your own city.” I, for one, can’t wait to try one.

Sugar Cafe Article Posted!

On the Dormont-Brookline Patch:
The Local Table: Kelly James and the Sugar Cafe Add a Little Extra Sweetness to Dormont

This Week on the Dormont-Brookline Patch: Sugar, Sugar!

So normally, I am about five steps behind the happenings around town. Recently, I’ve become more in the know about newly opening restaurants, the buzzed about places, the comings and goings of the food life in Pittsburgh. Yet, I’m never on top of a story.

Well, when you live down the street from a hotly anticipated, soon-to-open cafe, you keep your eyes peeled for signs of life. But how I found out that the Sugar Cafe was going to open on Friday morning wasn’t good scouting, but some terrific luck. My pal, Jackie, who lives right down the street from me on West Liberty Avenue, was walking back from my apartment on Broadway sometime after midnight on Thursday, when she spied that the slowly deteriorating paper shrouding the big windows of Sugar Cafe had finally been torn down. I received a text and that was that.

What a little blurb on the blog doesn’t tell you is that I have become borderline obsessed with this place. Okay, that’s a bit of a hyperbole. But for someone who has trouble working at home, it’s become a minor godsend. I get off the T a stop early at Potomac, stroll down to the cafe, have a cup of coffee, pastry (I’m just pretending that everything in the cafe is magic and doesn’t have calories), and sit down to write for a while. I know the whole thing of going to a cafe to write is seen as sort of pretentious, and maybe it is. You know what else it is? FRIGGIN SWEET.

For my first weekday evening in the cafe, I got to sit down with the owner, Kelly James, to discuss her fantastic opening weekend. I definitely suggest reading the article, but more importantly, I highly recommend the Sugar Cafe. Come by any weekday between 5:30 and 6:00, and you’ll likely me see there, typing and sipping away.

(Note: Article is not live on the site as of yet. I will update post when it is active.)

Sugar Cafe on Urbanspoon

This Week on the Dormont-Brookline Patch: Neighborhood Options for Local Sweethearts on Valentine’s Day

I really need to get out of the habit of writing event or holiday – specific posts, but this week’s article on the Dormont-Brookline Patch focuses on neighborhood establishments that are offering a little something special for Valentine’s Day. If you live in the South Hills area and need a place to take your loved one on February 14th, definitely check out my article. It could be the difference between life AND death. Or, you know, it could just steer you to my favorite gyro restaurant in town, It’s Greek to Me on Brookline Boulevard. Either way…

As for my V-Day plans, I’ll be hanging with my partner and all will be swell. I don’t really go in for Valentine’s Day. It’s not a single-person bitterness thing, cause I’ve had plenty of relationships during the “holiday,” it’s just a sense of pointlessness that is too overpowering for me to enjoy the manufactured nature of the celebrations. Say what you will about the “commercialism” of Christmas, that time of year still seems to mean something more than what is given and received. That time of year has so much meaning to so many different people of the world, it seems ridiculous to dismiss it based off of American capitalist tendencies.

Whereas Valentine’s Day, although it is sweet that we have a day dedicated to the celebration of courtly love, is not even a traditional Christian holiday anymore. Why? Cause in 1969, the Roman Catholic Church presented the question: Who was St. Valentine, and why do we have a big ass holiday to honor him? And when they couldn’t come up with a good enough response (“…. he was… a martyr…?”), they decided that while it was all well and good that people were going to continue to celebrate the holiday, they would no longer honor it as an official church-sanctioned occasion. Good riddance, I say.

Still, I find the holiday a little unsettling in how it encourages people to save open expressions of love for a specific day of the year. Not that all who celebrate V-Day do that. As a matter of fact, most of the couples I know who do something special on February 14th are the kind of couples who are openly and expressively in love with one another. They don’t need the day to tell them to appreciate and celebrate their love, but they take it anyway, cause why the hell not?

But a holiday that at best is unnecessary and at worst a commercial waste of time, money, and intellect is not a holiday for me. Maybe I’m completely missing the full picture.

Anyone out there doing something special for Valentine’s Day?

This Week on the Dormont-Brookline Patch: Filling Out Your Super Bowl Spread with Local Eats and Treats

As mentioned last week, I’ve become the food features writer for the Dormont-Brookline Patch. I eased into the position with a more straightforward piece about the struggling Dormont Fresh Market, but this week begins my recurring column, The Local Table.

The first Local Table focuses on what you can find in Super Bowl – appropriate foods right in the neighborhoods of Dormont and Brookline. Turns out there was way more than I could have ever directly featured, but this general overview serves to guide the reader through the deli, salty snacks, sweet treats, and miscellaneous delicious offerings of the many great food establishments we have in this part of town. Among the places visited: Pita Land, Kribel’s, Las Palmas, Potomac Bakery, Fredo’s, The Good Life Market, DeWalt’s World of Health, Party Cake Shop, Vinnie’s Pretzels…. and the list goes on.

If you’re getting ready for a Super Bowl party, or you’re just interested in where to find these things in the South Hills, check it out!

Check Me Out On the Dormont-Brookline Patch

I recently became a contributing writer for the Dormont-Brookline Patch, an online newsletter for the Dormont and Brookline neighborhoods. Started in early January, the site is steadily building a readership locally and in the surrounding Pittsburgh area, and I’m happy to be a part of the growth of this project.

My first article for the site has been posted. It’s a news feature on the struggling Dormont Fresh Market. If you live in or around the South Hills, or are just passing through via the Red Line T, do yourself and Cher Murphy a favor and stop by the market. She’s really built a store from a personal philosophy and is trying to bring fresh, affordable goods within reach of the entire community. The fact that she is struggling to sustain when so many people could benefit from her services is damn criminal, and an example of how communities fail their small businesses.

Click on the excerpt to visit the article!

Expecting a drop in business with the low foot traffic on Potomac Avenue, Murphy expected to make up the difference with grocery deliveries. The service, announced in October, is provided to Dormont, Brookline, and Beechview residents and is free for senior citizens. But aside from some loyal patrons, the service has yet to take off.

Now, disappointing in-store business is echoed by a delivery service that hasn’t yet justified the extra inventory it requires. Murphy predicts that if business doesn’t pick up soon, she will have no more than six weeks left.