cropped PPMarina was on a mission. It was Sunday morning and she was scouring the tables at a flea market in Gent’s medieval neighborhood of Patershol.

She and Koen take their vegetable scraps to the community garden compost bin regularly but fruit flies hovering over the bucket on their apartment balcony were annoying. They needed a compost bucket with a lid.

She could have looked online. Garden Supply Company advertises leak-proof and odor-free compost pails that “match your décor.” Their top seller is a mere $39.95 plus shipping, but it’s doubtful they ship to Belgium. Besides, flea markets are so much more fun.

Marina spotted a white enamel bucket with a handle and a lid—exactly what she wanted.

“Young people are buying these again. I just sold one to another young person,” said the woman selling an assortment of goods.

Marina asked her what it was.

“A piss pot. 15 euro.”

“It will be a perfect compost bucket,” Marina said, handing her the money.

As she walked through the cobblestone streets with her prize, people kept saying, “Look, it’s a piss pot” or “She’s got a piss pot” and laughing. One elderly woman asked if piss pots were coming back in fashion. A gentleman asked how much she paid.

The proper Brits across the North Sea would refer to Marina’s find as a “chamber pot” but they are not so genteel in Belgium. Back in the days before indoor plumbing, you’d save yourself a trip to the privy in the middle of the night by relieving yourself in a portable piss pot. Marina got a real-life history lesson at the flea market, and shared her sustainability creed with the older generation: reduce, recycle, reuse, and repurpose. As an added bonus, there is not a fruit fly to be seen in her new compost bucket. Laurie Lynch

Beach visitWritten on Slate: We don’t have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we’ve got.” Andre Dubus

Granddaughter Photo Update: Papa Richard and Tantine Marina took Lais to the beach at Oostende. With her lovey Doudou in hand, Lais ventured into the waters of the North Sea and tasted the salt spray.




Smoke TreeWhen Richard was visiting, his cousin Nick often showed up around dinnertime.

One night, we were planning a simple summer meal—BLTs: bacon, garden lettuce and heirloom tomatoes with Belgian mayonnaise on toast. When Richard said, “Can Nick come for dinner?” I automatically said, “Sure,” but then wondered how I was going to make the menu stretch to fill not one but two young men—without a trip to the grocery store.

The refrigerator was looking pretty sparse, but there was an eggplant. The wheels started turning. I sliced the eggplant lengthwise, interspersed the slices with the bacon strips, put the trays into the oven, and baked them at 400 degrees. The bacon fat started melting, sizzling into the eggplant. When it was time to flip the bacon, I flipped the eggplant too.

It was a perfect marriage: Crisp bacon, melt-in-your-mouth eggplant, tender lettuce, and juicy tomatoes. Nick even came up with a catchy name…a “Belt Sandwich.” At first, I didn’t get it. Then he said, “Bacon Eggplant Lettuce and Tomato, B-E-L-T.”

When I was a child, the one vegetable I wouldn’t eat was beetroot, as in Grammy Wrobleski’s pickled beets. Luckily, I grew out of that aversion.

It all started in the garden, well, actually, the garden seed catalog. The red and white rings of the Chioggia beet looked so beautiful in the catalog that I couldn’t resist. I branched out to Bull’s Blood, then Golden. Along the way, I boiled beets, roasted beets, sliced and chopped cooked and chilled beets, pickled raw beets and other vegetables, and tossed beet greens into salads. My daughter Marina even made a chocolate mint beet mousse pie. I’m one of those obnoxious converts—I love beets.

Early this summer, I was chatting with a gardening buddy and the conversation, as it often does, slid from the soil to the kitchen. I was detailing the steps of some beet recipe when Sharon said, “My favorite way to eat beets is to grate them raw into a salad.”

“You just eat them raw? You don’t cook them or anything?”

“Yes, I just grate them. Raw, like a carrot.”

Simple. It was so simple. Why hadn’t I ever thought of it?

Well, this summer I’ve been making up for lost time. I wash the fresh beet. If it has brown, sunburned shoulders I trim that skin off, but other than that, I just slide the beet down the grater until I have a haystack of ruby, peppermint striped, or golden beets. Next, I chop a Poona Kheera cucumber and put a layer on each salad plate. Then, I scoop a generous portion of the grated beets and place it on top of the bed of cucumber. I drizzle with salad dressing or just a splash of vinegar and a crackle of pepper. Simple, elegant, and oh, so healthy.

I made the raw beet-cucumber salad for my sister Lee Ann when she came for a weekend. She liked it so much that she shared her favorite sandwich recipe. The other night I tried it, and I must say it is another simple summer meal that will become a standard.

Bleu Portabella Burgers

Onions or shallots

1 Portabella Mushroom Cap per person

Blue Cheese

Salad Leaf Basil or Lettuce

Toasted Bread or Roll

Caramelize chopped shallots in olive oil. Remove from pan. Add a little more olive oil and place the Portabella mushroom in the pan, smooth side up. Cook for a few minutes; then flip. Place shallots in the “cup” of the mushroom, top with blue cheese, cover, and cook until tender.

Slide mushroom onto a slice of toast, add several Salad Leaf Basil leaves, and top with another slice of toast. Perfect with an ear or two of sweet corn on the cob.

Keep it simple. Laurie Lynch

Written in Slate: Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. –Rumi

Fleur-de-Up: The photo accompanying this blog is of a home I pass while riding through Lemont. The color of the floral panicles on the smoketrees echo the trim of the dormer window. Stunning. Cotinus obovatus is native to the United States and has brilliant fall foliage.

Fleur-de-Down: I bought a watermelon over the weekend at our local Amish farmers market. When I got it home, I saw the tiny sticker that said: Product of the EU. Are you kidding me?




Teasel Morning Light“Nice is nice.” Pronounced “Neese is nice,” it’s been my mantra the last few days. It is a line from Bonjour, Mr. Satie, one of our favorite books when my kids were young. It keeps reverberating in my mind. Nice is nice. Nice is nice. Nice is nice.

In Tomie dePaola’s enchanting book, worldwide traveler Uncle Satie visits his niece and nephew and tells them of a contest in Gertrude Stein’s Parisian salon to determine the better artist: Pablo (Picasso) or Henri (Matisse)?

I’m not exactly sure who says, “Nice is nice,” but I remember sitting on the kids’ beds reciting that line, in a very fake French accent, relishing the beauty and complexity of language. It is a children’s book that is a delight for parents. I can’t give any other details because the family copy is sitting on the bookshelf of a certain 2-year-old’s bedroom in Belgium.Teasel&Mt Nitt

The warm memories of reading Bonjour, Mr. Satie fill my heart, as do the recollections of walking along the palm-tree promenades and wandering through the flower market of Nice, enamored with bouquets of French blue agapanthus. Last week’s headlines, compounded by too many other devastating events, threaten my lighthearted thoughts.

How do we deal with the randomness of tragedy, the sickness of hatred, whether behind an assault weapon or a steering wheel? I can’t begin to comprehend the senseless slaughter, the loss, the utter inhumanity.Chicory&QA Lace

So I pull my bicycle out of the garage and escape. Pedaling clears the boggled brain and the heavy heart. Mother Nature never disappoints.

On my route, I appreciate the beauty of midsummer. A stand of teasel (Dipsacus) with Mount Nittany as a backdrop frames my view. The morning sun glows halos around the teasel combs. Nature’s chance planting of blue cornflowers (Cichorium intybus) and delicate umbels of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) creates a stunning border along Houserville Road.

Trumpets of lilies welcome me to a brief interlude, to rest and ponder over breakfast of homemade elderblossom water and a dripping ripe Pennsylvania peach. Life can be so simple, so delightful. Then, the flag is lowered to half-staff. Laurie LynchSelf Portrait

“Life is a tragedy full of joy.” Bernard Malamud










Sometimes gardening in a yard—whether it is a city plot or several acres—is overwhelming.

Don’t throw in the trowel just yet. Try a grow box.

Basil Box

Basil Box

Last summer, in the Ag Progress Days high tunnel, Master Gardeners grew gardens in EarthBoxes. Our beverage box garden included lemon verbena, stevia, and chocolate and pineapple mints. Our south-of-the-border box featured chili peppers, basil and cilantro. Our Scarborough Fair box was planted with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Last summer and this, we offered classes on how to build your own self-contained growing system. Last winter, I babysat two of our EarthBoxes and was rewarded with fresh herbs all winter long.

I mentioned to Richard that I was going to be sad to see the Master Gardener EarthBoxes go. Before I knew it, a large package arrived in the driveway and I was the proud new owner of my very own EarthBox™ Gardening System. It comes ready to assemble, with container, potting mix, fertilizer, wheels, watering tube, screen, and instructions. The beauty of the box is that plants are bottom watered, and the water reservoir only needs to be refilled about once a week. Each EarthBox™, by the way, is made in the USA, and the company is headquartered in Lancaster, PA. Check it out at www.earthbox.com

As fate would have it, a mini-tornado blew the plastic off our Master Gardener high tunnel in February, so I am still babysitting the MG herb boxes. That gave me the luxury of making my EarthBoxes Basil Boxes, also known as portable pesto pocket gardens. One has a mix of Genovese and Salad Leaf basils. The other is dedicated to Salad Leaf basil, nothing else. I had the benefit of seeding the boxes long before I could plant outside and giving the basil babies a good start inside. When the weather warmed up, I moved the boxes outside. It wasn’t until yesterday that I set my horizons beyond pesto and realized I had a living, breathing, fragrant, self-contained, appetizer and cocktail oasis. Here’s the story:

We were invited to a party. The host and hostess supplied dinner and drinks. Guests were to bring appetizers or desserts. A lot of gardeners were invited to the party, so I wanted to bring something fresh, and easy. We found just the thing. We bought bamboo picks at Wegmans, as well as a container of mozzarella “pearls”. At Friday’s Farmers Market, we spotted multi-colored cherry tomatoes just harvested from a local a high tunnel. We slid a mozzarella pearl on the mini-skewer, then threaded one end of the Salad Leaf basil leaf, pierced a cherry tomato, wrapped the other end of the basil leaf up and looped it onto the pick, and then added another mozzarella pearl. They are lovely to look at—a simple salad on a stick.

Salad on a Stick

Salad on a Stick

With such easy preparation, we had time for an afternoon jaunt. We went to Tait Farm’s Summer Cocktails sampling with April Myers from Spat’s Café and Speakeasy in State College. I had never imbibed basil—until yesterday. April made MayBerry Cocktails and Sour Cherry Smash, both featuring basil as a muddling ingredient and even, as an infusion into vodka. I’m seeing my old friend basil in a whole new light. One basil box for pesto, the other for cocktails and salad sticks? Laurie Lynch

MayBerry Cocktail

½ oz. Tait Farm Strawberry Shrub

1 ½ oz. Basil-infused Vodka


Basil leaves


Club Soda

Muddle a strawberry and a basil leaf with the Strawberry Shrub. Add ice, vodka, and stir. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a strawberry and basil leaf.


Garden Poppy

For other recipes or to order Tait Farm Shrubs, check out www.taitfarmfoods.com

Garlic Mustard Update: I pulled as much as possible, and keep working at it. Just so you know we have a few pretty things growing, I took photo of a blooming poppy.

The Not-So Secret Garden Update: The firepit continues to be a go-to hotspot for evening conversation and contemplation.


Richard’s Firepit

Written on Slate: “I live in the garden. I just sleep in the house.”




What is it about guys and chainsaws?

I can understand resurrecting your grandfather’s secret garden, increasing the size and height of the fire pit, and clearing fallen trees. I appreciate creating focal points with sculptures that Nonno chiseled many, many years ago in an art class. I respect the need for mood lighting, a nook to stack firewood, and a few gnomes.

But what about the garlic mustard?

I swear I patiently explained the need to pull the dastardly weed popping up in every flowerbed that skirts the house and the woods that surround the yard. I actually demonstrated at the pond garden, bagging the pesky plants, suffocating them in black plastic.

First year plants

First-year plants

Alliaria petiolate, aka garlic mustard, is a vigorous biennial. To a garlic lover, there is a certain attraction to garlic mustard. Crush the stems or leaves, and you smell that delicious garlic fragrance. That’s probably why it was brought from Europe to Long Island, NY, shortly after the Civil War. But the plants invaded the northeast and headed west, forming dense colonies, crowding out forest trilliums, trout lilies, wild ginger, native orchids, and even oak seedlings. Garlic mustard also inhibits beneficial soil fungi, damaging the forest ecosystem. The plants survive and thrive in wet or dry soil, shade or sun, and deer don’t like to eat them, so they run rampant.

The first year, garlic mustard looks like an innocent rosette of round-toothed leaves. That is also when it is said to be tastiest. But EARLY in the second year, March and April, it shoots up erect flowering stems with white, four-petal flowers. If garlic mustard is in or beyond the flowering stage when you first notice it, pull it out, root and all, bag, and dispose of it. If left undisturbed, each flower could produce a needle-like capsule filled with hundreds of seeds.

A dangerous tree was leaning precariously into the yard. Out came the chainsaw. So proud of the sacking of a giant locust tree, Richard found the tape measure—100 feet tall—and took a picture to post on Facebook.

So what about the garlic mustard?

He had a job at a local brewery.   He is his Nonna’s almost-constant companion. He prepares lunch and often dinner. He takes his Nonna for nightly cruises down College Avenue and back on Beaver so the 87-year-old social butterfly can “see if there is anything going on.” He goes to the post office and supermarket, making my work day shorter. The chainsaw went into the repair shop. I had hope.

Then we got the darn rain. More rain. And more rain. He had a tonsillectomy. He was out of the labor force for two weeks. The sun came out.

The garlic mustard went to seed.

Needle-Like Seedpods

Needle-like seedpods

If breaking a mirror is seven years of bad luck, garlic mustard going to seed easily matches that. Estimates are that each plant produces up to 8,000 seeds. When they ripen in mid-summer, the pods eject the seeds several feet from the stem. Those seeds can live in the soil for five to seven years.

Garlic mustard is considered an invasive plant from Maine to Washington State. At a nature preserve in Wisconsin, they hold annual Garlic Mustard Pull-A-Thons. Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia has volunteers participate in a Garlic Mustard Challenge—Eat It to Beat It—is the slogan. Their goal for 2016 is disposing of 20,000 pounds of the plants. The Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Council has a website which offers recipes for Garlic Mustard Ricotta Dip or Stuffed Garlic Mustard Leaves. Why, some entrepreneurs even make an Invasive Weed Pesto out of batches of garlic mustard. If only I could get Richard interested in the culinary aspects of garlic mustard.

On the way to my asparagus patch, there it was: a colony of garlic mustard surrounding a tall spruce where I rest my shiitake logs. I started yanking, piling the fallen soldiers into a bag without remorse, yanking some more. Finally, I could see the trunk of the tree. Where were my shiitake logs?

The Chainsaw-He-Man struck again. My two 4-foot tall shiitake logs were turned into four 2-foot-long campfire logs, with just the buzz of a chainsaw. Please, what about the garlic mustard?  Laurie Lynch

Chainsaw Dude

Chainsaw guy in action

Written on Slate: “The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.” –Tibetan Proverb





I never noticed the backside of a pansy until the other day, sitting on the porch at Café Lemont. Green stars on a background of floral moonlight in broad daylight.

Get your politically incorrect mind out of the gutter. I’m talking horticulture, nothing else.

Pansy Stars

Pansy Stars

Now pansy stars, as I will call them in very non-horticultural terminology, don’t show up with so much contrast on the deep marine blue pansies I usually choose. I also wouldn’t have noticed them had I sat in my seat on the porch at Café Lemont. It’s the one near the front door, just above the front steps where I park my bike. If anyone dare try to steal it, flower basket and all, I’d leap down the steps and block his/her escape.

I chose a different seat. I wanted to sit shielded by the graceful dogwood branches to be able to cup my hand around the gorgeous rhododendron blossoms. (The Rhodies are exquisite this year, aren’t they?) After tenderly fondling a flower head, I turned and saw, with wonder, the pansy stars.

Why do I spend so much time sitting on Café Lemont’s front porch? In the beginning, there seemed to be a direct connection from that porch to my kids in Belgium. I’d sit there, think of them; be with them. It’s also the two-thirds mark for my home-to-Houserville-to-Lemont-and-back-home bicycle loop—a good place to stop and rest before the dreaded “Cemetery Hill.” And, there is the coffee. The food. The baristas. But truth be told, I stop there to contemplate life even when the café is closed. I just bring my own water bottle.

There are certainly more peaceful places to sit. The porch overlooks the only traffic light in Lemont, a busy intersection that takes people to Oak Hall quarry and Boalsburg, Houserville, the College Township Municipal Building (and a mile or so away, Penn State campus), Hills Plaza or the Nittany Mall. You get the idea—lots of noisy traffic. There’s Mayes Memorial, catty-corner from the café, where you can choose your tombstone, complete with a marble golfer statue if you’d like. (Cemetery Hill is just a shagged ball’s distance from Centre Hills Country Club fairways.)

Pretty Faces

Smiling Pansy Faces

The back deck at my mom’s home is filled with nothing but birdsong, blue sky and greenery.

I sit on the porch of Café Lemont and think: They should install a bicycle pump station for those of us who take off on a ride without checking our tire pressure. They should paint the “ceiling” of the porch sky blue to brighten all of the cloudy days in Happy Valley. They should serve bite-sized goodies with every cup of coffee as they do in Belgium. They should make a huge pot of old-fashioned oatmeal and microwave individual servings rather than serve pasty “quick” oats. (I do love the steamed milk in a teapot that accompanies the oatmeal, though.)

Then, it occurred to me. I can detail all of the small changes I’d make to Café Lemont because I don’t have to follow through with any of them. My to-do list from that porch is a blank sheet of paper.

On my mom’s deck, the coffee is made by me, there are bills to pay, laundry to wash, weeds to pull, seedlings to water, grass to mow, branches to prune, herbs to harvest, patio to weed-whack, a fallen tree to move…you get the picture. Happy Memorial Day. Laurie Lynch

Caffeinated Flashback: The other day, while standing in line at Café Lemont, a young woman at the head of the line turned to me and said, “Laurie?” Right person, wrong setting. It took me a while to register who she was—a former customer, Destiny, who wrote an article about Fleur-de-Lys Farm Market as part of her KU Master’s Degree class. Years ago I gave her a pre-wedding pesto-making lesson. On this day, she introduced me to her husband, and he said, “Oh, the slate lady.” (I gave them a Written on Slate slate as a wedding gift.) They were getting to-go cups of coffee for their trip back to the Lehigh Valley. I quickly introduced them to my mom and son.

Life with Richard: Richard has been visiting for a couple months and will return to Belgium for his daughter Lais’ 2nd birthday and to start his Master’s degree in International Business at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in the fall. He worked at a local craft brewery in State College long enough to decide it wasn’t his true passion, helped me take care of his Nonna, and had his tonsils removed.

The other week, as I was setting up for our Master Gardener Plant Sale, he texted: Can you make apricot turnovers to take to dinner tonight? We were going to a party and he offered to bring dessert.

They take two days to make. I’ll bake cranberry upside-down cake. It’s easy and I have all ingredients, I texted back, with more than a few texting errors, I’m sure—I blame my lack of texting skills on my big farming fingers. Anyway…

Richard really has had apricot turnovers on the brain. This weekend, while he was recovering from his tonsillectomy, how could I refuse? We chopped and soaked the apricots, then made the pastry to refrigerate over night.

The next morning, Richard asked, “When was the last time you made apricot turnovers?”

“I was about to say, ‘I can’t remember the last time I made apricot turnovers,’” I replied. I make them so seldom that I have to relearn the tricks my grandmother Nene taught me. I forget them until I’m elbow deep in flour and pastry. Then the secrets return, often in Nene’s whisper.

Chop the apricots, the recipe card reads. To Nene, ”chop” meant “mince.” To me, it means, “chop,” which is never fine enough. Next time, we will use the food processor, I told Richard. That way the filling will be smoother and thicker.

The chopped and soaked apricots were boiled with flour and sugar and stirred until they became a thick, jam-like consistency. Then, the filling needed to be cooled. Oh, I forgot about the cooling stage. An hour’s wait before we could start preparing the turnovers for the oven.

“This is why, after making a big holiday dinner and washing all of the dishes, I’d groan when cousin Wille suggested, ‘Let’s make apricot turnovers.’”

“And I’d chime in, ‘Yeah, good idea.’” Richard said, with a heaping helping of irony.

An hour later, I rolled out the first handful of pastry dough on a floured board.

“I never would have thought of baking cottage cheese,” Richard said. (The pastry for the turnovers is made of flour, shortening, egg yolks and cottage cheese.)

“Me neither.”

The squares we cut stuck to the board.

“I guess we need more flour,” I said, scraping off the pastry and getting ready to add more flour to the surface before trying again.

Finally, success. For the next batch, I had Richard try. He rolled the pin cautiously, with little jerking motions.

“Put some muscle into it,” I said. “Long strokes, stretch the pastry out,” I heard Nene say.

We spaced the triangles onto baking sheets, 15 minutes in the oven, and then onto a cooling rack. Into the oven went another set of baking sheets.

Nonna danced into the kitchen, sampling a turnover as it cooled on the rack. “Mmmmm, very good.”

“They’re not done yet. We have to put the powdered sugar on them,” Richard scolded.

We placed a layer of cooled turnovers on a platter and Richard shook a canister filled with confectioner’s sugar over them. Then, another layer of turnovers, and another dusting of powdered sugar.

When we finally finished, we had several plates of apricot turnovers to eat and share. “Maybe you should take a picture and send it to Marina.”

“I already told her we were making them. I think she’s getting homesick. A photo would be too cruel.” Well, on second thought…

Apricot Turnovers

Apricot Turnovers



It isn’t often I turn down an invitation for a restaurant meal. This year, Mother’s Day weekend was one of those times.

Hallmark, the florist industry and academia collided when Mother’s Day coincided with Penn State graduation—10,000 celebrating graduates, their parents, and their siblings converged on State College, snarling traffic, swarming sidewalks, swamping take-out delivery orders, and stuffing restaurants. What’s a mother to do?

Usually, it’s not an issue.

Marina and Richard have both chosen Belgium as their home base, so Mother’s Day consists of blown bisous via Skype. But this spring, Richard came back to Pennsylvania for a visit.

So we had a Sunday afternoon conference.

My mom was unusually pessimistic. “Are we going to have to knock on doors to find something to eat?”

“Nonna, when have you ever gone hungry? It’s Mother’s Day, Grandmother’s Day and Great Grandmother’s Day. We want to do something special.” Richard replied.

We scanned the CDTs listing of Bites & Beverages, thinking we could avoid the crowds at a restaurant on the outskirts of town. Heck, Friday night Nonna wanted to go “out and about” so we drove to Altoona for a case of Saucony Creek Belgian-Style Tripel. Extravagant, yes, but closer than driving to the craft brewery in Kutztown. On a lazy Sunday, nothing appealed. All we did was find typos in the restaurant listings—Snow Show, PA for Snow Shoe, PA, and Carnegre Crabcakes at the Carnegie House.

So, we decided to eat at home. Richard had a package of frilly fettuccine squid ink pasta from Fasta and Ravioli Co. that he wanted to try. We figured we’d buy some seafood, but what sauce? Tomato would mask the squid ink and Richard wanted something jazzier than olive oil, garlic and cilantro. He started checking out recipes. Anything with “clam juice” grossed him out. The thought of tartar sauce on pasta did the same for me. What about Lobster Bisque as a sauce? Richard asked. It just might work.

So, we headed to Wegmans in search of the bisque and gifts from the sea.

Mother’s Day Dinner a la Richard

2 lbs. mussels (steamed in 2” salted water for about 3 minutes, until they pop open). Remove from shells

1 lb. scallops, sautéed in olive oil & garlic powder

32 oz. (2 lb.) Wegmans’ Lobster Bisque

12 oz. Squid Ink Pasta, boiled 3-5 minutes

Asiago cheese, grated

Parsley, chopped the Belgian way (leaves stuffed in a coffee mug and snipped with scissors) by Nonna

Add cooked mussels and scallops to heated lobster bisque. Boil pasta until al dente, drain, and toss with olive oil. Place pasta in bowl and ladle seafood sauce on top. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley, and serve with a nice glass of La Marca Prosecco. Laurie Lynch

Luffa Discs

Luffa Discs

Keeps on Giving: Leftovers are often my favorite meals, and this dinner was no exception. We had enough sauce for Monday’s meal. We added lightly steamed asparagus to the re-heated sauce and poured it over rice. Mmmmm.

Special Delivery: Last September I wrote about a pizza party at McBurney Manor in McAlevy’s Fort. Nancy Yoder has expanded her bake house offerings and now delivers artisan breads and pre-baked pizza crusts to several locations in Central PA including a natural food market on the way home from my office.

Well, the other week we bought Nancy’s pizza crusts and went wild in the kitchen. On the first, we loaded up with Ricotta and Romano cheeses, asparagus shavings, halved cherry tomatoes, and chunks of sardines. We topped the second with tomato sauce, roasted eggplant, pepperoni, and Mozzarella. I’m still trying to figure out which was my favorite.

Gardening Road Trip: The Centre County Master Gardeners’ 2016 Garden Fair and Plant Sale will be Saturday, May 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rock Springs, Penn State’s Ag Progress Days site, southwest of State College. Author George Weigel is the celebrity speaker at 10 a.m. with Smart Gardening: When To Do What To Keep Your Yard Looking Great (or at Least Passable) and at 12:30 p.m., Amazing Space: Great Home Gardens and What Makes Them Special.   At 11 a.m., Carla Hass, senior lecturer with the PSU Eberly College of Science and Master Gardener, will present Good Bugs/Bad Bugs.

We will have more than 5,000 plants for sale, a Silent Auction and Garage Sale, and more than 25 garden and food vendors. Yours truly will be selling luffas and seedlings from our 2015 High Tunnel project to benefit the Ag Progress Days Demonstration Garden. Hope to see you there.