Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-Time Favorite Recipes: Crock Pot Spiced Apple Butter

When you make this apple butter recipe, prepare to be in awe of the heavenly aroma cascading

throughout your home. The scent of it is almost as amazing as its taste. ALMOST!

Our guests at the Historic Smithton love this apple butter, and I'm sure you will, too.

Make a batch for yourself and don’t forget to put some in pretty jars with ribbon as gifts for your friends and neighbors.

Crock Pot Spiced Apple Butter Recipe

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 dozen medium apples*, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 1½ cups white sugar. (Reduce by ½ cup if your apples are super-sweet.)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1½ T vanilla 
  • 1 cup apple cider (or flavored brandy if you’re feeling adventurous!)

How to Make It:

1. Combine all the ingredients in your crockpot and cook on high for 8 hours.

2. Use a hand blender to puree the mixture in the crockpot.

3. Turn the crockpot to low and cook another 8 hours.

Voila, you’ve got apple butter!

You can freeze it or can it after you make it, or put it in a jar in the fridge so you can use it right away. (It will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks when refrigerated.)

Most importantly, enjoy it. Try it on cottage cheese, crackers, toasted bread, French toast, pancakes, and whatever else sounds delicious to you.

About the Apples
The key ingredient in this recipe is APPLES! Fall in Lancaster County brings with it a mouth-watering variety of apples. I recommend buying them at one of our area farmers markets or local Amish roadside stands.

Better yet, pick your own! Cherry Hill Orchards (only 40 minutes from our inn) has autumn “Pick Your Own Fruit” hours Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Trust me, your entire family will love the experience. Be sure to bring your camera as you start a new family tradition.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lancaster County Fall Fairs Bring on the Fun

School’s back in session, the days are still summer-time warm while the nights are getting cooler, and from the front porch of the Historic Smithton Inn, I can sometimes hear the roar of the crowd on Friday nights as Ephrata High School scores a touchdown at War Memorial Stadium.
Ferris Wheel at Night

You know what that means?

Fall fair season is here in Lancaster County!

Nothing embodies fun more than fairs with their bustling midways, fabulous food, games, rides, agriculture and art exhibits, entertainment, parades, and endless, delightfully unexpected encounters with old friends and neighbors between visits to the French fries and funnel cake stands.

Don’t miss the excitement! Mark these 2014 local area fair dates on your calendar.

September 5 – 14: York Fair 

September 9 – 13: Denver Fair 

September 17 – 19: Solanco Fair 

September 23 – 27: Ephrata Fair  (The largest street fair in PA -- and my personal favorite of course! Bring the entire family, especially to the pig chase on Tuesday, September 23 and the parade on Wednesday, September 24.)

September 24 – 26: West Lampeter Community Fair 

October 1 – 4: New Holland Farmers Fair

Lancaster County fairs bring an opportunity to connect with the community and create family memories that last a lifetime. Whether you’re young or young at heart, I hope you’ll kick off the beginning of the fall season with a visit to one or more of these much-loved, multi-faceted celebrations.

And remember, if you’ll be visiting our area or have someone coming to town, we’ve got comfy guest rooms and a hot, home-cooked breakfast awaiting you. Schedule your stay, and when you arrive I can tell you more about our fabulous fairs!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Photography by BJWOK at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, August 25, 2014

Long Live Your Experience at the 34th Annual Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

From August 2 through October 26, 2014, step back in time to the year 1525 at this year’s Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Throughout the 35-acre shire at Mount Hope Estate, you’ll find jousting knights, a human chess match, swashbuckling pirates, jugglers, minstrels, and royal performers among the many acts and attractions.

Every year, the PA Renaissance Faire offers a progressive plot that traverses the grounds as the day unfolds. And what a story they have in store for guests this year! The Faire also features themed weekends that deliver a fresh and fun experience for repeat guests.

Huzzah to the Cast of Characters!

I can tell you there’s no such thing as a dull moment at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Prepare to indulge your eyes, ears, and funny bone in a variety of entertainment choices. The shire is well-supplied with merrymakers, magicians, musicians, stunt performers, and more who put on nearly 90 shows daily.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.
Prepare to give your taste buds a treat as you explore the plethora of Renaissance-inspired food vendors throughout your day. Smoked turkey leg, anyone? How about a Scotch egg? And there’s lots more, including dishes of a more familiar nature for those less adventurous.

While at the Faire, you might also partake in Mount Hope Estate’s own wines and ales. What better way to toast the queen?

Lasting Reminders
Before you leave the shire, I recommend you make some time to browse the merchant’s wares for the perfect souvenir. You’ll be amazed at the array of jewelry, crafts, d├ęcor, and clothes made by exceptional artisans.

Never been to the Faire?
The Historic Smithton is an easy half-hour drive from Mount Hope Estate. With years of suggesting the Faire to our guests, we’ll be happy to share more about it when you stay with us. You can also visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire website for dates, times, ticket information, map, 2014 program, and other details.

I hope you’ll get thee out for some frolicking at this year’s Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire!

By Rebecca Gallagher

All images used in this post belong to and are used with permission from the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Exceptional Theater in the Spotlight this Fall in Lancaster County

As summer winds down and autumn is no longer a distant reality, why not start planning your Lancaster County theatre “must see” list? Our favorite performance venues have a diverse and delectable line up of shows on deck.

Here are some highlights of what’s happening this 2014 Lancaster County Fall Theatre Season:

Ephrata Performing Arts Center / Sharadin Bigler Theatre – Not only does EPAC put on exceptional productions, it’s also ultra-convenient from the Historic Smithton Inn. Literally, it’s just down the street from us! EPAC is a critically-acclaimed community theater, offering everything from classics to avant garde shows. I think you'll enjoy the more intimate stage arrangement, as well.

Death of a Salesman 
Arthur Miller’s classic American tale
September 4 - 20

The captivating Broadway musical brought to life right here in Ephrata
October 16 – November 1

The Fulton Theatre with its stunning architecture and history delivers an unforgettable theater experience. The Fulton is located in downtown Lancaster and is just a half hour drive from our inn. You’ll find an array of productions from favorite Broadway shows to fun musicals for the whole family.

Lend me a Tenor 
Hilarity at its best in this beloved musical
October 7 - 26

Sight & Sound Theatre presents breathtaking productions that bring the stories of the Bible to life. The theater is easily accessible to our guests; it’s just 20 miles from our inn. Sight & Sound has become a favorite destination for people of all religious backgrounds. Nearly all of their shows feature live animals, so children stay engaged and entertained! For an extra special experience, check out the "Behind the Scenes Tour" to discover how the Sight & Sound crews create their magic.

The greatest epic tale from the Old Testament on stage
March 8, 2014 – February 7, 2015

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre – Theater, food, and fun all rolled into one, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre serves up entertaining musicals accompanied by a delightful meal. Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? Or you can opt to attend only the theater performance.

Tony Award winning musical set in the era of change that was the 1950’s.
August 14 – September 20

Crazy For You 
An extravagant high-energy musical with some of Gershwin’s classics
September 26 – November 8

Rainbow Dinner Theatre – Offering still more theater, food and fun, Rainbow Dinner Theater is known for "all comedy...all the time" - and their delicious dinners of course.

Drinking Habits (a nun’s story)
August 16 - October 25

Hershey Theatre - Just 40 miles west on Rte. 322, you’ll find the Hershey Theatre. This gorgeous venue offers a wide variety of entertainment including Broadway performances, concerts, and even classic films.

To see their full list of events, visit their website.

American Music Theatre – A plethora of live musical performances awaits you at AMT! And it’s all just 20 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn. AMT’s season also offers comedy and specialty performances. Love music? They’ve got it all: Rock, Country, Classical, Big Band, and more. You’ll be impressed by their lineup of featured stars on tour. Be sure to check out their own original shows, too.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on their schedule this fall:

Music of the Night: The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber (an AMT original)
Through October 11

Bill Cosby 
September 7

September 19

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 
October 6

Engelbert Humperdinck
October 10

And there’s a lot more where that came from! For more shows at AMT, see their website.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Ten List of Favorite Things about Lancaster County in the Fall

Although summer is in full swing right now, this is also a wonderful time to think ahead and
start planning a visit to Lancaster County this fall. Autumn in Lancaster has so much to offer.
Image courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s my top ten list (in no particular order because they’re all fantastic) of my fall favorites in Lancaster County:

1. The Weather
Fall has a special place in my heart because the temperatures are mild (not too hot, not too cold), and we generally don’t get as much rain as in other seasons. Lancaster fall weather accommodates all sorts of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, exploring museum grounds, and sightseeing.

2. Harvest Time
When you visit Lancaster in the fall, you have an opportunity to watch Amish farmers harvesting their crops. It’s quite a sight to see the process done the old school way!

3. Apples
Fall is when Lancaster County apples are at their peak. You can visit local orchards to pick your own apples or find fresh locally grown apples (and apple butter and apple dumplings) at farmers markets and roadside stands.  

4. Festivals & Fairs
Fun and incredible food await you at the many festivals and fairs throughout Lancaster County in autumn. In downtown Ephrata, we’ve got the Ephrata Fair on Sept. 23 – 27. Did you know it’s the largest street fair in Pennsylvania? And don’t miss the Bridge Bust (Oct. 4) in Columbia, located on the Rt. 462 Veterans Memorial Bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville.  Check out the PA Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau website for more fairs and festivals. 

5. Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire
I know, I just mentioned fairs, but this one is so big it’s deserving of its own independent mention. Spend your day amongst knights in shining armor, queens, kings, wenches, mud beggars, minstrels, fire eaters, jousters, and more as you step back in time on the grounds of Mt. Hope Estate and Winery. There’s food  (much of it reminiscent of the Renaissance period), vendors with renaissance-inspired wares, and lots of entertainment options throughout the shire. AND you can enjoy Mt. Hope’s own wines and Swashbuckler brews at the pubs and porthouses on the grounds. 

6. Foliage
Breathtaking. That’s the best word I can find to describe the fall foliage in Lancaster County. When the leaves begin to change here, don’t forget your camera as you walk, bike, or hike the scenic trails in our area. Plan to get out and stretch your legs! I recommend checking out the new Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, which stretches approximately 14 miles to connect 4 historic river towns and villages along the Susquehanna River.

7. Tours, Wine Tasting, and Events at Vineyards
The weather in fall is sublime for touring, tasting, and taking in entertainment at the many vineyards of our area. Among my faves are TheVineyard at Grandview, Waltz Vineyards, and Nissley Vineyards

8. GREAT Beer Fests
Lancaster County is becoming well known for the array of amazing craft brews hailing from our local breweries. Both the Lancaster Craft Beer Fest (Sept. 6) and the Lititz Craft Beer Fest (September 28) will give you an opportunity to get a taste of what all the buzz is about! 

9. Theater
Our local theaters always have something special in store as their fall seasons come center stage. Sharadin Bigler Theater at Ephrata Performing Arts Center is only about a 3-minute drive from the Historic Smithton Inn. Then there’s the Fulton Theatre in downtown Lancaster. Sight & Sound Theatres, Rainbow Dinner Theatre, and Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. Dramas, musicals, comedies…whatever your preference, you’ll enjoy the caliber of performances by the talent here.  ‎ 

10. Special Events at Museums
There’s no better time than fall to explore what’s happening at our local museums. Don’t miss the Artisan's Faire at the Ephrata Cloister (Sept. 20), Harvest Daysat Landis Valley Museum (Oct. 11), Steampunk Unlimited at the StrasburgRailroad (Sept. 24 – 26), and Snitz Fest at Hans Herr House (Oct. 4). 

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. As you can see, there’s so much to do and see in Lancaster in the fall. Don’t wait to start planning your autumn visit agenda!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-time Favorite Recipes – Zucchini Corn Cakes

At the Historic Smithton Inn, we’re happy to prepare meals that accommodate guests' special dietary needs.

Zucchini in basket
These Zucchini Corn Cakes have been a big hit with our guests who request food that’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or lactose-free. We prepare them almost entirely from ingredients picked from our own garden. Even if you don’t have any special dietary requirements, you’ll find this summer dish absolutely delicious!

Zucchini Corn Cakes Recipe (serves 4)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn (I prefer the small, white corn)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 cup pancake mix (regular OR gluten free!)
  • 1 Tbsp Milk (or lactose free milk)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Vegetable oil or non-stick spray for cooking

And for the topping:

  • Sour cream
  • 1 cup mixed color tomatoes (cherry, grape, yellow & orange - quartered)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

How to make it:
1. In large bowl, stir together zucchini, corn, onion, egg, pancake mix, milk, salt and pepper.

2. Grease griddle or skillet with oil, or use nonstick griddle; heat over medium heat (350°F).

3. For each corn cake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

4. Combine tomatoes, basil & olive oil.

5. Serve corn cakes topped with sour cream and tomatoes. Garnish with basil.

Pretty simple, right? You’ll definitely score points with your friends and family if you treat them to this simple, tasty recipe this summer.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, July 7, 2014

Old is the new “New”: Get Hip and Go Antiques Shopping in Lancaster County

One of the many attractive features of Lancaster County is its plethora of antiques stores. Shopping for antiques is hot and high on the lists of both locals' and visitors' favorite things to do around here. From small mom& pop shops to large complexes, you’ll find an abundance of places throughout our area to find treasures from days gone by. Sundays around here are the most popular day to go antiquing, but some of the shops are open other days of the week as well.

At the inn, we’re especially fortunate to be in such close proximity to some of the best antiques venues.
Adamstown, known as the Antiques Capital, USA, lays just 9 miles away from us. While driving north from Ephrata on Rt. 272, you’ll start to see antique shop after antique shop along the road within minutes.

All of them offer something unique, and here are a few you might want to keep your eyes open for:

272 Antiques Mall - 1300 N. Reading Rd, Stevens, PA; Open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Over 145 booths and showcases of antiques and collectibles.

Antiques Showcase & German Trading Post - 2152 North Reading Rd, Denver, PA; Open daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
300 showcases and 35 booths with antiques, collectibles, Amish goods, and more by dealers from North American and Western Europe.

Morphy Auctions & Adamstown Antique Gallery - 2000 North Reading Road , Denver, PA; Open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Featuring high-end antiques.

Oley Valley Architectural Antiques - 2453 N. Reading Rd  Adamstown, PA; Open Thursday - Monday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Featuring antique carved furniture, pieces of architectural antiques, and stained glass windows and doors.

Renningers Antiques Market – Rt. 272, Adamstown, PA; Open every Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With 375 dealers indoors and up to 300 outdoors.

Stoudts Black Angus Antiques Mall – 2800 N. Reading Rd Adamstown, PA; Open Sundays 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. year round.
The largest antique mall (under roof) with over 500 dealers. And mark your calendar for the Antiques Extravaganza on Sept. 27 and 28, 2014

That's just a sampling! For comprehensive lists of antique shops, visit the following websites:

Antiques Capital, USA


Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau

I can’t wait to hear about your antiques shopping – or browsing – excursion! Enjoy!

By Rebecca Gallagher