the best kind of day

I went on a special adventure yesterday with Mrs. Nye.  She invited me to join her on a trip to Lantz’s Bulk Foods, about a 30-40 minute drive (we took a few detours, so I’m not sure exactly how long it would take if you were heading straight there).  It’s in Wyoming County (or maybe Lancaster?), near where Mrs. Nye grew up, and is run by an Amish (or Mennonite, I’m not sure which) family.

What a gem it was!



They had a small cafe (cafe implies it was cute and fancy, which it wasn’t; think more utilitarian, perhaps even the kind of hole-in-the-wall place only the locals go), a refrigerated meat and cheese case, a small section of books and cookbooks, and aisles of dry goods.

There were decent amount of people there, both eating and shopping, that it’s clear this store is a landmark among the miles of open farmland surrounding it.



Obviously, the spices and flours captivated me the most.  I walked the aisles completely, taking it all in, before I grabbed a basket and, for lack of a better word, went crazy.  The photos of my haul follow these, taken at The Valley Inn, in Warsaw.  Mr. and Mrs. Nye go occasionally and it’s been on my to-go list for awhile now–we just never think of it.

It’s in a quaint farmhouse just off the road in the middle of the village there.  I walked in and felt like I was in Bucks County, Pa., where I used to live.  The decor was very ‘Revolutionary War-era’ and classy.  In my snow boots, I felt just a tad under dressed!  (Thankfully, I’d happened to wear a nice sweatshirt and scarf, and since it’s snowy and we’re in Western New York, everyone else was wearing snow boots with their khakis, too.)



Mrs. Nye recommended the she-crab soup, which immediately made me want it.  It wasn’t until the last seven or eight years or so that I’ve come to really like seafood and fish.  Growing up, I avoided it like the plague as much as I could get away with, but now I find I really like most of it.  New Year’s Resolution no. 6 (or it is 7?): make fish once a week.  (We’ll see how long that lasts; Andrew is likely to revolt!)

My soup arrived with little crabs of puff pastry on top!



Despite my resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables and less of everything else, I had to order the rueben.  It was calling to me.  I have such a hard time ordering salads at restaurants, as I eat them so much when I’m at home.  Eating out is such an experience to me that I hate ruining it–especially my first time somewhere–by getting something I didn’t really want in the first place.

Their New York salad sounded fantastic–apples, sweet potato chips, sunflower seeds, hot dressing–but I can make that at home.  A rueben, I can’t.  (Well, I COULD, but who does that with any regularity?)

I splurged and got the fries in hopes they’d be good–they were.  Too good.  Andrew will love them.  I consider it a personal victory that I left about half of them on my plate.



I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying a cup of coffee with the rest of the gang at the Nyes’ upon our return, and then took Hadrian out for a cold, snowy walk to Firefly Cupcakes.  (More on that shortly.)

When I arrived home, I set out my purchases to photo (and show Andrew).  Oat and rye flours (both of which I needed and at these bulk prices, I couldn’t refuse), whole-wheat couscous, tapioca, angel food cake mixes (again, about half the price of our local Tops or Wegmans!), spices and some pasta.



My biggest splurge: black cherry juice concentrate.  I have a cherry ice cream recipe I’ve been wanting to make for Andrew (his favorite flavor at Graeter’s) that calls for it and I’ve only seen it from King Arthur Flour, which would be more expensive PLUS shipping costs.  I threw it in the basket with gusto.



Look!  My nails match the Valentines’ Day decors!  Cute pink sprinkles and hearts, as well as coarse red sanding sugar.



Look at that price!  Half the sprinkles would be double that at Tops.  I love you, Amish bulk foods people.



Whole nutmeg.  Interestingly enough, I’ve been wanting to grate my own nutmeg for some time now.  Andrew even asked if I needed a nutmeg grinder in my stocking this year.  I think I can use one of the surfaces on my microplane grater, but I’ll take a small mortar and pestle, as well as an electric spice grinder, honey.

I’ve found that my cookbooks, especially Barefoot Contessa’s, can’t stress enough the difference between freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg.  Just opening the lid of the nutmeg convinced me.



I wanted to get Andrew a treat for while I’m gone–heading to Ohio in just a couple hours–and I thought he’d like these:



I could take them or leave them, but he’s already munched away at the bag.

OK, how awesome does this pasta look:



I couldn’t resist.

Another neat thing happened yesterday while we were out.  My friend, Wendy, the owner of Firefly, texted me asking about a hummingbird cake recipe.  Apparently they’re experimenting with a new cupcake flavor over there and she knows I like hummingbird cake.  I don’t even know why I like it so much…  Obviously, the banan/pineapple/cinnamon/coconut/cream cheese frosting combo is fantastic, but it’s more than that.  Hummingbird cake is an old, Southern tradition reminiscent of the 1950’s.  Traditional.  Home-maker-ish.  Heels and pearls in the kitchen-ish.  Everything I’m not but (kind-of) want to be, in my own, updated and modern kind of way.

I was excited.  And what a boon it was to be with Mrs. Nye when it happened.  We immediately started talking hummingbird cake recipes and baking (as if we hadn’t been already).  When we got to her house, she dug out this 1990 issue of Southern Living:


You can see she made a note, “very good,” next to the Hummingbird Cake recipe below.  Apparently, it appeared in 1978’s issue and became Southern Living’s most requested recipe!  What a treasure Mrs. Nye has right there!


I texted with Wendy and marched myself (and Hadrian–he was in desperate need of some exercise!) over to Firefly where a sweet blonde employee (I wish I’d caught her name) ran a 2-pack of whatever iteration they’re on  out to me in the snow.



They’re a little worse for wear–I was walking a giant dog home in the snow–but good thing that doesn’t detract from taste.  Wendy thought they were a little too banana-y, and I agreed.  When I think of hummingbird cake, my first thought is of pineapple and cinnamon and coconut (which I don’t believe was in the SL recipe, but has become a well-known addition) more than banana.  My thoughts: less banana, more pineapple and cinnamon. Perfect amount of coconut.  I even found a recipe online that called for ginger, but that’s probably stretching it a bit.  I’m a huge fan, but not everyone is.  Although just a TINY bit could add a little warmth, especially with the cinnamon…

Anyway, I shared my thoughts with Wendy and am going to deliver the other one to Mrs. Nye, who has the benefit of years of baking experience and is very familiar with hummingbird cake (so many people these days aren’t), and I can’t wait to hear what she says!

As I walked home with Hadrian yesterday, as the sun was going down and despite the icy snow blowing in our faces, I could not even contain my smile as it spread right across my face.  A day spent surrounded by good food and dear friends, good conversation, asked for my two-cents on a recipe (who doesn’t like that?), and here I am, walking with Hadrian on an errand.  I even saw a friend from school who was volunteering at the co-op office!

Hadrian was happy to be outside and I was happy to take him, enjoying that I can walk to Main Street and see friendly faces along the way.  This is my hometown, now, and there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be.


We were feelin’ a night out yesterday since we’d been in all day.  Well, that’s not true–I did my usual Saturday morning routine of: eating a huge breakfast, hitting up Wegmans around 8 a.m. (before it gets busy), then swimming at the gym and returning home at 11, and Andrew was at the office from 10-3–but when it was pushing 4 p.m. and both of us were still in sweats, we needed a change!

We headed out for a visit at the in-laws’ before stopping at Taste for coffee (decaf for me), then running some errands at the Verizon store (clear display covers for my phone–post coming soon to show you my new case!) and shovels at Lowe’s.  You know, because we live in Buffalo now and it snows here…a lot.  We’ve gotten by so far this year on a metal dirt shovel and we’ve been lucky to have a mild winter.  (I think God is smiling on us transplants since we don’t have a garage for our cars–NOT fun.)

Anyway, we ended up at Zebb’s, a sport-bar-like place I drive by all the time and that Andrew frequented a bit in high school.

It’s a bar and grill and they’re known for their burgers.  They also have entree’s, wings (of course) and sandwiches.

We asked to sit in the bar area and were seating long before some who had arrived before us.  We also had some of the best service I’ve had in awhile, if not ever.  Colin was awesome.

We both ended up with Blue Moons (the pint for me, the tall for Andrew) and a sample of Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat because, well, I wouldn’t be ‘me’ if I didn’t have a sample of something.  The cherry wheat was good, but not as good as a Blue Moon.

We got wings as an appetizer.  I swear, since moving here, I’ve eaten more wings in these few months than I ever have before in my life.  This is, of course, both good and bad.  Good for my sense of ‘culture’ and assimilation into my new surroundings; bad for my hips.  And thighs.  And arteries.

I saw the “ZebbOriginalWings” and immediately wanted them, but the bleu cheese turned Andrew off, of course.  Awesome Colin said we could split an order and I eagerly anticipated their arrival.

And yes, they were everything I hoped for, and more.  They had enough “buffalo” flavor to fulfill that ubiquitous ‘wing taste,’ but with a kick of something more.  Not spicy, just really flavorful.  The bleu cheese wasn’t a dominant flavor, and Andrew was brave enough to give it a try.  We just might be ordering those next time…we both ended up saving the sauce to dip our fries!

Andrew had ordered a medium on the spicy-scale when we thought we were sharing, but Colin got the impression Andrew wanted a bit more heat than me, so he went ahead and bumped Andrew’s up to HOT…  Talk about great service!  Andrew enjoyed his wings, but they were no Pasquale’s.

Hockey is KING here, in case you didn’t know, and a tournament was on TV.  Really, all sports are pretty big here–the Bills Stadium is just a mile or so from Zebb’s–and watching football and hockey is very much a part of life here in Buffalo.  Guess I’m going to have to get a t-shirt…

Zebb’s is known for their burgers and topping bar (think Fuddrucker’s), and I’m a junkie for anything a restaurant is “known for,” so I went with the smallest burger and added cheese.  I mean, doesn’t cheese just make it?  A burger without cheese, to me, isn’t worth eating.

Speaking of eating…  I was good and only ate two of my wings in order to save room (and calories!) for my burger and fries.  But the angelic behavior ended there; I DEMOLISHED my burger and fries, with mayo, no less!  I must have been hungry.  And honestly, the burger wasn’t THAT good.  Definitely not good enough to eat it all.  Next time, I’ll stick to wings and fries 🙂

Meanwhile, it was snowing outside:

When we entered, there wasn’t really any snow on the ground.  By the time we left, it was blizzarding enough for us to have to drive slowly and there was about an inch or so on the ground.  It may sound odd, but I love that about living here–I love that you can go see a movie and come out to a completely different scene than when you entered.  (This, I’m sure, will get old after awhile.  But for now, it makes me smile.)

We’re going out, again, tonight to meet friends at Pearl Street (yay!), which might just mean more indulgent food for yours truly…  Good thing I did a tempo run this morning before church!

Bravin’ the weather

I finally ran outside this morning.

We got a dusting of snow overnight, so I was a little anxious about my footing. I think it’s going to take a season if running in the snow to really get used to it.
I was excited to wear my newest piece of running gear, my Under Armor tights.


Last time I ran outside, my poor legs were still cold in the shower after (boy is that a weird feeling–warm water on cold legs!),so I announced to Andrew that maybe some thicker running pants were in order. You know, since we live in Buffalo now.

Look! New laces!


These trail runners came with long, thin, round laces and they didn’t stay tied very well, so I used this as an opportunity to brighten them up. LOVE the result!

And man am I glad I had I had those shoes! For about half my run I was on snow-covered sidewalk, which felt a little like running in sand, so I was thankful for a little traction. I can’t imagine running in my regular shoes…I would have been sliding all over the place! That, and the slush would all but destroy them in a few short runs, so I’m really happy I ended up with these.

Verdict on the tights: my legs were definitely a bit warmer, during and after the run, but it also wasn’t completely frigid outside. I think a colder morning will have to determine their “cold gear” abilities, but I’m happy for an additional pair regardless.

Happy winter running, all!