30 August 2010

( kim nein—putting the 'country' back in cooking )

kim nein—putting the 'country' back in cooking
by amy strauss

amidst this farm-rich countryside embedded with a multifaceted history and reputation for the all-you-can eat abundance of wholesome cooking, you find kim nein—owner of limekiln's corner pantry—who, monday through friday, wakes up at the brink of dawn, dashing together tantalizing tastes that exemplify the finest of berks county foods.
nein, who introduced her cheery, pint-sized café celebrating country-esque classics in april of 2002, is  cozied in the vibrant nook that is attached to the town's post office, which makes her establishment worthy of a “necessary stop” proclamation, as in, it has become a place where everyone knows your name.
“it's amazing what some people in this area have done in their lives and that they come here to talk about it,” she said. each day, as locals flood her breakfast-and-lunch spot's space, she suggests that through opening the “small town” locale, she has enhanced as an individual.
“meeting these amazing people and building this business has made me into a much better person and has been such a rewarding experience,” she remarked proudly. “i wish i could change my mission statement of the corner pantry to say, 'you never know who you'll see at the corner pantry,' because that is what represents what this place has turned into.”
whether her regular clientele is grabbing a steamy cup of java from her piping pot of green mountain coffee, or enjoying her daily-changing specials that range from options like chicken corn soup, pot pie, quiches, or a hearty loaf of meatloaf, to fruit-infused chicken salad and a perfected egg salad on toasted grain bread, nein maintains the edible enterprise herself, including tackling each task individually, like preparing gorgeous platters and serving entrées to the café's charming tabletops.
excited by an upbringing close-by, specifically in exeter, the entrepreneur unearthed inspiration at an early age in the kitchen, where she would marvel in her mother's glory of mixing-and-matching mouth-watering masterpieces—all for her family to savor in each and every bountiful bite.
as cooking has always been the craft for which she carried an alluringly natural knack, nein perfected her now-addicting talent through extensive cook book readings and cooking show viewings. while she admits that she'd rather sculpt an entrée or appetizer before composing any sort of sweet treat, she does meet the need for sugar fiends at her cozy café, typically loading antique cake stands and cookie plates with lemon bars, generously-sized cookies, and eye-catching pies.
although nein's nestled eatery could easily appeal to neighbors of both near and far, what is even more attractive is that her interior celebrates décor of decades past. the corner pantry, peppered with seasoned rolling pins, charismatic petite tables, old time-influenced cook books, unique salt-and-pepper shakers, and much more, acts additionally as an antique shop that booms with hand-picked items appealing to the owner's eye and individual rural style.

( all photos by amy strauss. )

the corner pantry, which began as an out-of-home catering business, also pleasures palates at off-site functions and events by way of dishes dancing with the local landscapes' freshest goods, including produce from the nearby fisher's farm fresh produce of the oley valley.

the aforementioned “local landscape”—something nein appreciated to the utmost extreme, even as a child as she rode her bike through the rolling countryside she knows incredibly well—was a place she always aimed to tackle with her health-conscious home-cooking, sparking a profitable business.
now, eight years in the making, the well-known chef-owner strives to deliciously continue her craft and her creations of pure regional cuisine found by trekking down memory lane—spotted only after a fair swoop along the back roads of fields and farms of limekiln, pennsylvania.

the corner pantry is located at 820 limekiln road, open monday through friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. nein may be reached by phone at 610.689.0157.

29 August 2010

( and now, yoga for the little ones )

and now, yoga for the little ones
by jennifer hetrick

boyertown’s corner gallery and studio known as clayote will be hosting children’s yoga classes this fall through the freshly named building blocks yoga.

jill wentzel, who runs building blocks yoga, first took an interest in the stress-reducing endeavor for herself while still in college, at the suggestion of her sister.
“i really enjoyed the whole experience of it being about me,” wentzel said. “it’s my body, my poses, and my breath, so i can take those to whichever level i feel i’m at that day.”
wentzel said the personal aspect of it is what she appreciates most about yoga, with the stress-relieving benefits as a part of that.
“everyone thinks it’s all about twisting yourself into a knot,” wentzel said. “so i had those ideas at first—i never thought it would be as powerful and invigorating as it is now.”
taking yoga classes at final results fitness in gilbertsville, wentzel was eventually asked to teach classes at the gym. she then transitioned into teaching body combat, body flow, step, yoga, and budakon classes.
wentzel described budakon as a mix of martial arts and yoga which, when blended, makes for a stronger martial arts practice and said she’d like to someday teach a version for kids with building blocks yoga.
she still instructs yoga classes for adults at the gym but is now focusing more specifically on children.

wentzel teaches art at willow creek elementary school in the fleetwood area school district. in the recent academic year, wentzel ran experimental yoga classes offered to any of her k-5 students who signed up for the after-school activity.
last fall at her school, the first session of  wentzel’s yoga for children involved two classes of 15 students each. in the spring, 60 students participated. she split the students into several groups over a span of days.
knowing how her school students enjoyed the yoga classes, wentzel said she wanted to bring something positive to the children who are growing up where she too grew up, in the boyertown area.
in march, wentzel completed her childlight yoga training through the yogalife institute in wayne. by april, the idea of creating yoga classes geared just toward children came to her. and by late june, building blocks yoga had its first class of yogis stretching up a storm of fun at hard bean café in boyertown.

 ( all photos and images are courtesy of jill wentzel. )

new six-week sessions for children ages 2-6 and 7-12 are starting up soon at clayote.
the children who have taken her yoga classes become calmer over time, wentzel observed.
“after they come out of relaxation, they’re sitting up tall, there’s a glow about them, and they seem happier,” wentzel said. “it will help them to instill the qualities that they need to reduce the stress of an adult life as they grow—all the things they have to face through school, the tests they have to take.”
“students are losing their imagination and creativity because of all the academic work they have to do,” wentzel added. “they don’t get to play as much, so it’s really neat to be able to see them play and create again.”
wentzel noticed that the kids in her yoga classes are shy at first and not sure if they will like what comes next, but within five minutes, they’re adjusted and enthusiastic.
an example of how wentzel makes her classes stress-relieving and yet playful is in one theme based around a backyard scene. using a magic mist (the calming, relaxing ingredient of lavender oil mixed with water), the kids frolic, delving into their imaginations, picturing clouds and birds, and coming up with their own ideas of what such scenery might entail.
“many people think yoga is for adults, and you have to stay still, breathe, and concentrate,” wentzel said, “whereas with kids, it’s more active play, games, moving, having fun, being silly, and laughing.”
with sports being a mostly competitive physical activity children are encouraged to try out, wentzel likes that yoga is more personal for kids while also adding in the advantages of helping them to find balance and self-reliance in learning to relax and de-stress.
in realizing practicing yoga regularly helped her to connect with her own emotions, wentzel believes her classes will be something ultimately positive for her little yogis as well as their parents.
when not in class, wentzel said she hopes her yoga students teach their skills, poses, and breath practices to their siblings at home, diving into a world all their own when they need time away, or when they are excited to embrace the stirrings of their imagination.
( freebie alert ! comment on this story online to enter for a chance to win half-off one full six-week session. that's a $60.00 session for $30.00 with building blocks yoga. please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest ends the 3rd of september. good luck ! )

claudia strauss just won an african violet !

congratulations go to a lady of lenape roadways ! thanks to her kindly web-savvy daughter, claudia strauss just won the african violet donated as a giveaway by fay ludy of the breast cancer support group known as bosom buddies, associated with  pottstown memorial medical center's regional cancer center and the pottstown relay for life.

this plastic pot tucked with lavish and fuzzy foliage and a few, sweet purple blooms, is sure to throw around some good oxygen in a home, with a bit of water, the best angle of sunlight, and some care in the vein of the secret life of plants.

our next story and freebie contest will be up soon !

28 August 2010

oh snap. a good snap. news, not blues volume four is out !

oh oh oh oh ohhhhh !

news, not blues volume four is out ! pick it up at our regular distribution sites listed to the left side of the blog. just a note-- this will be our last week having copies at freed's supermarket. they are tacked up on the community board in the left corner. grab one from under the tack and go.

our two new stories will be posted shortly ! and for the kiddies, a yoga-happy deal is ahead.

23 August 2010

news, not blues postage stamps, oh my !

how do you spell cool ?

we spell it in the words that make up a thoughtful  (not to mention, utilitarian) gift-- the surprise of ville the cow-spotted fur child and his mascot ways with news, not blues tacked merrily onto a postage stamp, or 10, or 20.

with junk mail, bills, and magazines, a nice change of pace in your doorway is undoubtedly an envelope sealed and holding customized postage stamps like those seen above. wide-brimming thanks go to nicole wozniak of firebug beads and her hubby aaron for their ab fab gift to us !

it's important to keep your eyes and heart open for the reminders of the good in the world, and rest assured that once in a while, they happen to take shape at your doorstep.

plant-love, a bit. win an african violet !

our freebie for the week is an ever-housewarming one that can claim life to its veins-- an african violet plant.

fay ludy of the breast cancer support group known as bosom buddies, associated with  pottstown memorial medical center's regional cancer center and the pottstown relay for life kindly donated this houseplant for us to give away.

comment below to enter for a chance to win this purple persuaded beauty, a worthwhile oxygen instigator and heart-perker for your home ! please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest ends the 29th of august. good luck !

22 August 2010

some winners, oh boy !

another weekend ending, another announcement of contest winners for our freebie-love !
congratulations to blogger user vintage vindication otherwise known as sydney hetrick ! she just won a $25.00 gift certificate toward artwork or an art class at studio b.

and congratulations also to sue hughes and gloria sands who just won for each of themselves one 4 oz. container of the goat cheese flavor-medley of their choice from amazing acres goat dairy.

we can only suspect cheese is better by default when it comes from goats who bear wide smiles !

(photograph by amy strauss.)

thank you to everyone who participated in our contests, and as always, spread the word about news, not blues ! we will be posting our next contest soon !

15 August 2010

( studio b’s art mobile has hit the streets, literally )

studio b’s art mobile has
hit the streets, literally

by jennifer hetrick

just a few months ago, boyertown’s studio b unleashed the portable classroom that is now known as its art mobile.

( all photographs courtesy of studio b. )

this transportation-geared effort allows studio b to abandon its 39a east philadelphia avenue storefront to wheel art right to kids in a bus offered as needed by brian quigley of bally’s quigley chevrolet.

the idea of the art mobile first took shape during a conversation building a better boyertown’s arts & activities alliance committee chairperson jane stahl had with boyertown area school district’s then-new superintendent, dion betts, in january of this year.

“it became a slightly different project in its evolution,” stahl said. “we changed it from taking art and artists to schools to transforming it into a place where we could take art to children.”

about a dozen people bring their talents to the retired school bus, traveling around the area to community events, a set program at the ymca, and even birthday parties at the request of parents.

graber letterin’ handled the art mobile’s signage with original design by sue biebuyck. inside, the bus seats were removed and replaced with tables and stools for the children and artists, and containers full of creativity-inspiring supplies are loaded for each new trip and multi-faceted art lesson mingled with play-minutes.

the art mobile has already graced such scenes as prout’s jolllyview farm in oley, and in boyertown—fun days, the farmers’ market, and the health expo. 


bus driver anne benner is also an artist, keeping the space in the feel of a sanctuary for creation.

each themed session introduces at least four or five activities to keep kids’ attention while educating them about how to express themselves through their artwork.

one theme spans the persuasion of pablo picasso, with children testing out self-portraits, cubism, rubbing collages, and poem activities, in addition to absorbing some biographical tidbits about the spanish painter.

others follow the histories and works of classical master leonardo da vinci and more recent and brightly expressive types like andy warhol and keith haring.

a day dedicated to some asian art incorporates silk painting, chinese banners, dragons, kites, and origami.

more specifics in the mix are trash to treasure, art relative to animals, punk art, game pieces, pet rocks, potato prints, tie-dye shirts, word art, musical art, jewelry, and the hugely popular spin art.

at bug fest, an event run each summer by the boyertown farmers’ market, children made their own bugs out of styrofoam, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, and other crafts. art mobile teacher jean esther then drew caricatures of the kids with their freshly livened bugs.

esther shifted through several different careers including working with computers and moving furniture, but he always ended up drawing something, wherever he went.

now taking courses at the pennsylvania college of art & design, he also taught classes at goggleworks as its youngest artist and brought a following of children from the reading-based arts center when he became a part of studio b’s art mobile.

“art is an essential,” esther said. “it’s a creativity that desperately needs to stay alive in communities.”

“it’s a necessity and an outlet for a lot of kids, a confidence booster, and it brings people together,” esther said.

with the art mobile serving as a classroom on wheels, esther considers this a new experience that is more ambitious and exciting for both kids and their parents.

“it’s a great opportunity for children to become involved and learn more about themselves, exploring and expressing who they are,” stahl said.

“my daughter, jaidyn, loved having the art mobile at her birthday party,” said valerie gery of barto. 

“she told me several times since her party that she wants to have the art mobile every year for her birthday,” gery said. “it was my daughter's party, but everyone participated and left with their own masterpiece.”

“laughter and enjoyment just poured out of the bus windows,” gery concluded.

for birthday parties, instruction and play time last usually at least two hours.

the art mobile’s next appearance will be at bbb’s dog days of august, scheduled for the 21st of this month.

freebie alert ! comment on this story to enter for a chance to win a $25.00 gift certificate toward artwork or an art class at studio b. please include your e-mail address in this comment. this contest ends the 22nd of august. good luck !

( amazing acres & the admirable goat cheeses of chester county )

amazing acres & the admirable
goat cheeses of chester county

by amy strauss
( august is national goat cheese month ! )

chester county calls to mind several vivid and vivacious agricultural associations, including many small, family-run produce and livestock operations. as of most recently, the area houses an admirable handful of cheesemakers.   

on their attractive acres of farmland, fred and debbie mikulak of elverson bring together 32 goats and a goat cheese production project with amazing acres goat dairy, llc.

( all photographs included here are by amy strauss. )

a home-based business inspired by debbie's 4-h upbringing, amazing acres celebrated its one year anniversary this may.

but the stepping stones for warwick township's lovable, creamy blends skip far back to the eighties when the then-thirtysomethings hoped to buy a farm in berks county.
debbie and her twin sister had been proud owners of goats when they were children and even had a wooden goat milk stand, still in debbie’s possession.

debbie wished, once retired, to return to goat farming, but luckily, the twins and their families were able to cohesively purchase sheep and goat herds a few decades ago.

the sisters ran a fiber processing business from home, but in about two years, sold it. keeping the goats, debbie and fred moved to honey brook, and through the course of different farms and full-time careers, took 25 years until they buckled down to embrace the concept of a cheesy career.

debbie believes such an occupation is in her genes. john klossner, her paternal grandfather was an award-winning cheesemaker who received critically-acclaimed praise for his swiss blend.

a native to switzerland, klossner journeyed to minnesota and raised cattle, eventually running five beloved cheese factories in his home state and wisconsin.

following the necessary procedures for any legitimate cheesemaker, debbie attended the university of vermont’s institute for artisan cheese in 2007 to receive her certification in artisan cheesemaking.

this certification allowed her to be adequately schooled in the chemistry composition of milk, starter cultures, food safety and sanitation, and of course, the tricks of her trade.

fred manages the outdoor workings of their farm and herd, which is comfortably packed with a majority of full-bred nubian goats and one alpine goat named kiss.

the agriculturally-sound duo prefers to use nubian milk in their cheeses because it is milder, and "a healthier product that’s easier on the human body," said debbie.

"goats have always been my favorite because of their personalities," she continued. discussing the outlandish and comical antics of her herd, debbie revealed how, when the couple had chickens, one of their goats used to let them all out when he craved attention. social butterflies and attention-grabbers, the goats of amazing acres are gentle, friendly, and raised on good quality hay all-year round, in addition to being grass-fed and supplied with healthy grains.

ten animals of the herd are milking goats, and with a plea to never "over-milk" or "over-pasteurize" animals, the couple also purchases goat's milk from weis' markets to add to the quantity needed for cheesemaking. as gourmet food fiends, the mikulaks spent two years testing out their products prior to selling their creamy-smooth cheeses.

allowing friends to taste-test her creations, debbie has pinpointed her popular bites, with a chunk of the inventory reflecting many variations of chèvres—a fresh cheese with a consistency similar to cream cheese, flaunting a tangy and mild finish.

sashaying her way through blends like her herbs de provence (a mixing of rosemary, thyme, savory, fennel seed, basil, lavender, and marjoram), rosemary lemon, dill, chipotle, cracked pepper, and the well-known cranberry, she conceptualizes flavor ideas individually and also with the help of professional tongues, like those of abby morgan and kate stroh of kennett square's talula's table.

additionally, amazing acres crafts a blooming rind fresh cheese with a layer of activated charcoal, which is named sea smoke after debbie, who was inspired from her experience of watching the fog loom above the bay while vacationing in downeast maine. amazing acres' appealing attempt in french crottin was an impressive feat, as a frenchman scribed that their cheese brought him back to his childhood and of the crottin de chavignol, in central france.

however, debbie’s cheeses are crafted from original concepts, rather than replicated from well-known blends. striving to fill the market with cheeses not necessarily seen as already ordinary, the couple likes to be defined as a local production for local people.

active in selling around area farmers’ markets, amazing acres sets up shop at the boyertown farmers' market, west chester growers' market, and west reading farmers' market. previously, the duo participated in markets in kennett square, salem mill, and great valley.

"taking the time to sit there is beneficial," said debbie of her farmers’ market participation. "you gain exposure, sell a lot of products, and receive instant feedback."

experts at their trade, amazing acres also hosts cheese tastings and seminars at different venues.

approachable and gush-worthy, the lineup of amazing acres' goat cheeses makes one of many admirable things clear—the mikulaks love their goats. raised locally on the freshest and most natural of products, these shining stars of chester county cheeses encapsulate just the same.

freebie alert ! comment on this story to enter for a chance to win one of two 4 oz. containers of goat cheese from amazing acres goat dairy (that means two winners, this round !). flavor choice options are dependent on what is available. please include your e-mail address in this comment. this contest ends the 22nd of august. good luck !

14 August 2010

news, not blues volume three is out, quite outtt !

holler a bit, if you will.  
news, not blues volume three is out, quite outtt !

included with this volume's two stories are three prizes up for a win by three lucky types.

from this point on, news, not blues will be published the 1st and 15th of each month. so it should always be available at the above-listed distribution sites on those dates, unless we note otherwise.
the prizes this round are two containers (one winner each !) of goat cheese, with flavor options depending on what the cheesemakers at elverson's amazing acres goat dairy have available, and a $25.00 gift certificate for either artwork or an art class at boyertown's studio b.

the stories will be posted online this weekend. once they're up, comment on them for a chance to win the snazzified freebies.

good luck !
and as always-- spread the good news !

09 August 2010

( organic and gluten-free nibbling habits can lead to healthier lives )

organic and gluten-free nibbling 
habits can lead to healthier lives
by jennifer hetrick

in recent years, the trend toward searching for and eating organic foods is grabbing the attention of more and more consumers, especially with research building the argument for how counterproductive unnaturally produced and processed chow-time ingredients can be to establishing good health.

a local store specializing in selling plenty in the way of organics is kimberton whole foods, which has one of its four locations at 1139 ben franklin highway east in douglassville.

“anything that is chemically-based or genetically modified is completely against what we stand for,” store coordinator alicia sullivan said about why kimberton whole foods chooses to operate with numerous organic food products on its shelves.


this branch of kimberton whole foods opened its doors in march of 2007.

“a lot of chemicals and preservatives cause or aggravate the food allergies that people already have,” sullivan said, “so we focus on organic and gluten-free items.”

sullivan added that the unnatural ingredients in non-organic foods can cause digestive and bodily troubles as well as worsen allergies.

“the main benefit of organic food is that you know there’s nothing added to it—it’s just food,” Sullivan said. “your body is meant to be eating what has the truest ingredients possible, actual food.”

sullivan noted that a large portion of their customers are those with celiac disease or a dietary sensitivity to gluten.

according to the national digestive diseases information clearinghouse run by the national institutes of health, “celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.”

“people who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley,” the clearinghouse continues. “gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms.”

in offering an assortment of gluten-free foods, kimberton whole foods is catering to a portion of those in the community whose numbers are increasing as many people are learning that their stomach discomfort after eating is linked to a sensitivity to gluten.

“some people get stomachaches when they eat wheat,” sullivan said, “and they feel really sluggish, carrying around extra weight because it’s not being digested.”

“these people need to be gluten-free,” sullivan said.

“a bunch of people were begging us to search for gluten-free soft pretzels because apparently they were impossible to find,” sullivan said, confirming that the store then fulfilled the requests of customers by supplying them with the wish-list food.

one of the top selling organic foods in the store is bananas, sullivan said, with about five cases sold per week.

in the past, sullivan said she had an allergic reaction to ordinary store-bought bananas. when she tried organic bananas, she experienced no disagreeable side effects.

so from this, she suspected that the pesticides sprayed on past-eaten bananas were what made her sick.

raw milk from yellow house’s wholesome dairy farms is unofficially organic but nonetheless a big seller from the refrigerated stock.

 ( notice the news, not blues mascot snooping at the milk ! )

organic eggs are another top-selling food.

“we try to take a lot of it on ourselves,” sullivan said about fact-checking the safety of certain foods they carry in order to ensure that they are workable for specialized diets or for those who are looking to eat the most naturally grown foods.

sullivan said she keeps literature regarding healthy eating or specialized diets on hand for any new customers who want to educate themselves about improving their dietary intake with alternative food choices in leaning toward organic-suited meal options.

freebie alert ! comment on this story to enter for a chance to win a $25.00 gift card for kimberton whole foods. please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest ends sunday the 15th of august. good luck !