Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reason #18 (Community learning)

I recently went to a workshop about small batch canning at our branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Free workshops are great for two reasons: they're free and you learn something!

 Charles Santore Branch

Marisa, of Food in Jars, talked us through the basics of water bath canning in small spaces while she made and processed four jars of apricot preserves.  I'd never canned before (I was scared and intimidated and thought I needed a normal-sized kitchen), but loved the idea of preserving the farmer's markets best goods for dreary winter.

So, thanks to urban preserving enthusiasts like Marisa and the Free Library, I love Philadelphia because of my new hobby! (Check out my first batch below!)

Water bath using a silicon trivet instead of a canning rack & the rest of the tools 

Summer's favorite fruit

Too much space inside, I know.... I'm still learning

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reason #17 (Wipe your feet)

Pine and Spruce Streets weren't always paved, horses were the main form of transportation, not hatchbacks, and if you lived in Philadelphia in the olden (sp?) days, wiping your feet (or your boots, more commonly, I'm sure) was of utmost importance.  And why wouldn't you if you had a sweet boot scraper right outside your door?

Many of these muddy relics still stand strong on the streets of Philadelphia, serving no purpose except, well, to give us something to talk/blog/joke about.

So, I love Philadelphia thanks to relics of history for history's sake. Wipe your boots!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reason #16 (Sometimes it's just all there)

Just take a moment to appreciate all that is going right in this photo.
                  Do you see the river?
                       The Walnut Street bridge?
                            The train passing beside the bike & pedestrian path?
                                 A freshly planted community garden?
                                     A brand new astro-turf dog run, complete with fire hydrants?

What you don't see is also perfect:  throngs of people smiling and laughing as their dogs bark and play, runners and bikers somehow co-existing on a narrow path, the gardeners planting next month's meal, and the crowds of walkers, bikers and runners who have stopped right next to me to take in and to photograph all that is right with Philadelphia today. And, it was 70 degrees.

So, I love Philadelphia, thanks to being in the right place at the right time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reason #15 (Community Gardens Part II)

"In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me
there lay an invincible summer."
~Albert Camus

This quote used to hang in my bathroom at my mom's house, hand-painted by me in bright colors on a dull sheet of craft paper.  It was a constant reminder as high school threw us curve balls,  that summer would come.  And along with it, summer camp. That's what this quote has always meant to me. 

But since then, millions of moments have brought this quote spilling into my head. Watching the community gardens die and rejuvenate as winter moves into spring are definitely some of those moments. 

Yes, I should have posted this a month ago when we were still in the throws of winter, but nevertheless, we are, as a city, bouncing back from winter into spring.

See those tulips?  The bush of kale? The new signs of a tended plot?

So, I love Philadelphia thanks again to the time and love and care of the gardeners of the community gardens.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reason #14 (Friends in small restaurants)

In a city filled with historic charm (see post #13), local eateries also tend to be charming... and small. This will be my first post about a place I don't know very well, but Betty's Speakeasy in Graduate Hospital deserves my attention, and my patronage.

To celebrate Julie's birthday, our friend organized a special weekday dinner for eight of us at Betty's Speakeasy-- known best (well, not by me until recently) for breakfast and lunch and fudge, this tiny first floor restaurant/bakery also hosts small, private or semi-private price-fix dinners.

Best points of the dinner and then the photos can speak for themselves--
Theme menu & my sock monkey wine bottle cover
  • dinner themes! Check out the menu that we shared, the Charles Dickens dinner
  • narration of the history and any other story behind every course from your waiter, Dylan
  • heavy support of local farmers (our goose only traveled from Delaware)
  • and, of course, it's BYO PLUS drink pairings!
Dinner was delicious and we look forward to the next themed dinner, whatever it may be! (Creole?)

Breakfast/lunch menu

Check out the local Blue Coat Gin drink pairing next to the birthday girl

Another drink pairing- chocolate stout

So, I love Philadelphia thanks to small, creative, local restaurants that let me bring my own wine!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reason #13 (Historic Charm) Part I

This is Quince St.

Right in the heart of Center City East stands this quaint brick-paved street.  No cars, no storefronts, but lots of charm.  And there are many more like it.

In the era of tear-down-the-old for bigger and better, Philadelphia kindly refuses.  Yes, modern brownstone condos are occasionally squeezed in the narrow city streets, but history wins the battle in Philly. 

Philadelphians pay a lot for this charm-- split box springs, tiny dollhouse-sized furniture, no sprawling private lawns with playsets, container gardens-- but the rewards are worth it.  Plus, you can always knock down walls in your brownstone to get a modern, open floor plan feel, and the city's children play at the pretty well-maintained public playgrounds and parks (more on that later).

I see a for sale sign.  Would anyone like to buy me a house?

So, I love Philadelphia thanks to old brick streets, narrow brownstones, and an undying respect for history and charm.