Set a Jefferson County Easter Table

Colorful handmade easter eggs isolatedEaster is Sunday, April 5. If you like to have locally made foods on the table when you’re gathering with family and friends, why not have some delicious foods made by your Jefferson County neighbors?

Many folks produce foods that work well for a traditional Easter meal (fresh vegetables being the exception, since nothing’s in season yet). Here are a few suggestions. Know others? If so, share them in the comments! Or take a drive on a sunny day and find more county favorites, and let us know.

Candy:

Bowl of easter eggsOf course we start with candy—we have our priorities straight. Fortunately, so does the family-owned Dan Smith’s Candies, local candy legend for over 60 years with a spectacular shop in Brookville. Easter specialties include chocolate crosses, rabbits, kittens, trains, and other figures; foiled solid chocolate eggs; and luscious cream eggs, including French vanilla, chocolate nut, maple pecan, coconut, and peanut butter—a fan favorite. They’re open extended hours for Easter, including Sunday, March 22 and 29, and Saturday, April 4. Phone: (814) 849-8221; address: 77 Barnett Street, Brookville, PA 15825.

Fudge lovers in the Punxy area love Bonfetti Fudge from Ruth Elaine Colonna. Ruth learned her mother’s popular fudge recipe decades ago and has improved it with new technique tweaks. “People like the creaminess,” she says. Last year, she sold 300 pounds, including some for a group fundraiser. Ruth often has fresh fudge available and can make special orders. She’ll even deliver. Flavors include peanut butter, chocolate with or without walnuts, white chocolate with almonds, and more. $8/lb. Phone: (814) 938-9409.

Eggs:

11002636_832421366795721_4894557211911012000_nWhat’s Easter without eggs? Take the kids to Windy Hill Farm, meet farmer Sherry Trunzo, and say “Happy Easter” to a hen as you buy fresh brown eggs for coloring, baking, or cooking. The hens roam the farm with Skye, the friendly dog who keeps an eye on them. As much fun as an egg hunt! $2.50/dozen. 8 am–8 pm daily. Phone: (814) 328-5346; address: 10445 Rt. 28 N, Brockway, PA 15824.

Or hop over to Paradise Acres farm, owned by Mark and Michelle Pifer. Their hens lay white, brown, and green eggs, and the latter dye beautifully, in rich colors, says Michelle. She’s decorated them with 4-H and church groups in the Ukrainian “pysanky” tradition with great results. Phone: (814) 427-2178; address: 1528 Rock Dump Rd., Reynoldsville, PA 15851.

Ham, Kielbasa, Sausage, Pork Chops, Bacon, and Chicken:

Pre-sliced Country hamIf ham is the heart of your Easter meal, head to Tom’s Meats or Alderton’s Meats for county-local.

Tom’s Meats owner Tom Smith gets his hogs from Palumbo Farm. For Easter, he maple-cures ham the week of March 23 and then smokes it with hickory and maple; it comes out of the smokehouse on March 30. Longtime customers call in their orders early. Tom also makes delicious sausage, pork chops, and bacon from locally raised hogs. Phone: (814) 849-2208; address: 4595 U.S. 322, Brookville, PA 15825.

At Alderton’s Meat Market you can buy chickens raised by owner Randy Alderton’s family right there on their farm. Alderton’s also cures and woodsmokes ham from Jefferson County and makes a popular kielbasa using his own recipe. Randy recommends calling your orders in early. Phone: (814) 849-MEAT; address: Rt. 322, Roseville, PA.

Michelle and Mark Pifer, of Paradise Acres farm, sell free-range chickens they raise from peeps and feed an Amish-mixed feed. The chickens are butchered in the fall and frozen fresh, giving a much better flavor than the grocery store chickens typically processed in saline solution, says Michelle. Phone: (814) 427-2178; address: 1528 Rock Dump Rd., Reynoldsville, PA 15851.

Maple Syrup:

Maple SyrupYeehi! It’s sugaring season! At Blueberry Hill Farm, owner Phil Engle taps 2,200 maple trees for 600–1,000 gallons of maple syrup. And when it comes to maple syrup, there’s nothing like pure and real. Blueberry Hill’s Grade A dark amber is delicious for both cooking and table use—pouring on pancakes, glazing ham or carrots, baking in scones… the possibilities are endless. They also sell maple sugar and maple cream, which he recommends as a dip for strawberries. Phone: (814) 371-1871; address: 10160 Rt. 322, Reynoldsville, PA 15851.

Honey:

Honey-glazed ham from local hogs and bees—doesn’t that sound delicious? Most of last season’s locally made honey is gone by now, says Jeff Hartzell, Brookville beekeeper and bee club leader, who harvests from his 100+ hives in the summer and fall. But give Jeff a call, and he may be able to find you a jar or two, or even teach you how to start your own hives. 814-849-2760.

Herbs, Jams, Mustards, Relishes, and Other Flavor Factors:

1277906_594298900611448_927190039_oFind your family’s new favorite special sauce or the makings of one at several places in the county that sell homemade jams, seasonings, and condiments.

For dried shiitakes, dried herbs by the cup, premixed herbs for chicken and other dishes, and herb butter—and a serene experience at a country garden—head to Quiet Creek Herb Farm. About 300 herbs as well as mushrooms are grown on the farm, says steward Claire Orner, and they’d love to teach you how to grow your own, too. Phone: (814) 849-9662; address: 93 Quiet Creek Lane, Brookville, PA 15825.

Doesn’t apple butter with balsamic vinegar sound good for pork? Find it and many more flavorful jams, jellies, sauces, and dips, all homemade, in the award-winning kitchen at Louise and David Christofer’s Carriage House Creations. With its old wooden floors and beams and vintage style, it’s a great place to get your bonnet on. Phone: (814) 653-8707; address: 545 E. Main St., Reynoldsville, PA 15851.

The new Blackbird Distillery uses Jefferson County produce in making by hand their great menu of peppers, Polish dills, krauts, mustards, salsas, and more. “In everything we do, we try to be local,” says Jennifer Black, co-owner with husband David. Phone: (814) 849-0915; address: 93 Blackout Alley, Brookville, PA 15825.

Although their products are popular enough to ship nationally, Stello Foods knows how to make down-home taste in their famous pepper rings, marinades, salad dressings, dark cherry jam, and regional faves like Manny Sanguillen sauce. Phone: (800) 849-4599; address: 385 Stello Way, Punxsutawney, PA 15767.

Cheese:
Cheese. MacroGoat cheese and gouda—yummy on crackers; in eggs; with asparagus, potatoes, and other vegetables; and on all kinds of meats perfect for an Easter meal—are made on two farms in Jefferson County.

Cherish Creamery (formerly Paradise Gardens and Farms) makes a creamy chevre and crumbly feta, says Paula Keswick, who co-owns the goat farm with husband Donald Keswick and Pennie Christie. The feta, popular at farmer’s markets, is dry-brined, so it’s not too salty. The chevre comes in six flavors, including plain, garlic with chives, cranberry with chipotle, and red pepper with red onion—the hot and sweet flavors are particular customer faves. Find Cherish cheeses at Biggie’s Quality Meats and Deli, or visit the farm! Phone: (574) 229-1698; address: 2771 Paradise Rd., Reynoldsville, PA 15851.

The Ark Farm makes gouda cheese with sheep’s milk. Martha Livermore, co-owner with her husband, Dale, recommends sheep’s milk as more nutritional than cow’s milk and says their grass-fed, free-range sheep produce a wonderfully flavored product. Pass the smashed potatoes with gouda, please! Phone: (814) 328-2720; address: 1094 Allens Mills Road, Brookville, PA 15825.

Wine and Spirits:

10405346_417977241717765_2966586454412617954_nAnd to go with the cheese or the ham: why not a bottle of local wine? Shadow Vineyard and Winery grows its own grapes right there on the property. Phone: (814) 938-WINE (9463); address: 1681 Airport Road, Punxsutawney, PA 15767. Laurel Mountain Vineyard and Winery uses grapes from Erie to make their award-winning wines, including a Laurel Blush or White Cayuga that might pair perfectly with pork or chicken. Phone: (814) 371-7022; address: 1754 Old Grade Rd, Falls Creek, PA 15840.

After dinner, relax with a sip of corn whiskey—that’s moonshine to you hillbillies—made from start to finish locally at Blackbird Distillery, the only distillery in the United States where the shine is made entirely by hand. Flavors include cinnamon, root beer, apple black, black cherry, and many more. Do a little boasting to your out-of-town guests, and then raise a toast to family and friends in Jefferson County! Phone: (814) 849-0915; address: 93 Blackout Alley, Brookville, PA 15825.

Story by Deborah Klenotic


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