E E R F he wind
It’s Pancake Time! Pennsylvania’s best maple producers—cooking happiness this month— share their recipes By Brendan O’Meara
Sponsored by: Soldiers + Sailors Memorial Hospital
w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publishers George Bochetto, Esq. Dawn Bilder D e s i g n & P h o t o g r ap h y Elizabeth Young, Editor Cover Artist Tucker Worthington Contributing Writers Angela Cannon-Crothers, Patricia Brown Davis, Jen Reed-Evans, Alison Fromme, Holly Howell, George Jansson, McKennaugh Kelley, Roger Kingsley, Adam Mahonske, Cindy Davis Meixel, Fred Metarko, Dave Milano, Gayle Morrow, Tom Murphy, Cornelius Oâ€™Donnell, Roger Neumann, Gregg Rinkus, Linda Roller, Kathleen Thompson, Joyce M. Tice, Brad Wilson C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Mia Lisa Anderson, Bill Crowell, Bruce Dart, Ann Kamzelski, Ken Meyer, Tina Tolins, Sarah Wagaman, Curt Weinhold, Terry Wild S e n i o r S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e Brian Earle S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Michael Banik Linda Roller Administrative Assistant Amy Packard B ea g l e Cosmo Assistant
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Mountain Home is published monthly by Beagle Media, LLC, 25 Main St., 2nd Floor, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, 16901. Copyright ÂŠ 2010 Beagle Media, LLC. All rights reserved. To advertise or subscribe e-mail email@example.com. E-mail story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Call us at (570) 724-3838. Each month copies of Mountain Home are available for free at hundreds of locations in Tioga, Potter, Bradford, Lycoming, Union, and Clinton counties in Pennsylvania; Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Tioga, and Ontario counties in New York. Visit us at www.mountainhomemag.com. Or get Mountain Home at home. For a one-year subscription to Mountain Home (12 issues), send $24.95, payable to Beagle Media LLC, 25 Main St., 2nd Floor, Wellsboro, PA 16901.
Volume 9 Issue 3
It’s Pancake Time!
By Brendan O’Meara Pennsylvania’s best maple producers—cooking happiness this month—share their recipes.
8 If You Build It...
By Roger Kingsley May the bluebird of happiness fly up your road.
By Linda Roller Three nights, three groups, three chances to hear the music of Ireland on the Susquehanna.
19 Murder in the Finger Lakes
By Holly Howell Or: How to have a great time drinking wines and solving crimes.
Cover by Tucker Worthington; Cover photo of Rea Ianson of Brydonson Farm by Curt Weinhold. Photos this page (from top): by Curt Weinhold; by Roger Kingsley; by Erin Baiano; and courtesy of Experience! the Finger Lakes. 5
DOINGS ‘ROUND THE MOUNTAIN
T U E S D AY
M O N D AY
Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes’ Spring Concert The Clemens Center Elmira, NY www.OSFL.org
Juniata College Choir Concert St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Wellsboro, PA www.hamiltongibson.org
Mardi Gras Party @ the Penn Wells Penn Wells Hotel Wellsboro, PA (570) 724-2111
Courtesy of broadwaydolls.com
Ma r c h
D OINGS ’R OUND
M OUN TAIN
2 0 14
S U N D AY
Broadway Dolls, 3/8
30 31 Polka Dance: Joe Stanky and His Cadets Black Box Theatre Wellsboro, PA http://www.deanecenter.com
Du Ca Lew htt
DOINGS ‘ROUND THE MOUNTAIN
W E D N E S D AY
T H U R S D AY
F R I D AY
S AT U R D AY
Little Gems, exhibit through 3/7 West End Gallery Corning, NY www.westendgallery.net Salvaged: Outsider Art in the Southern Tier exhibit through 3/21 171 Cedar Arts Center Corning, NY www.eARTS.org
Irish Rovers, 3/15
Stitched Across the Valley: A Cross-Cultural Embroidery Exhibit, through 6/19 Chemung Valley History Museum Elmira, NY www.eARTS.org
“Goodies for our Troops” packaging through 3/16 87 Main Street Wellsboro, PA (570) 662-5601
Murder Mystery Wine Tour Dinner La Tourelle Resort and Spa Ithaca, NY http://www.experiencefingerlakes. com/exp_murdermysterydinnertour. html
2014 Home Show through 3/9 Lycoming College Rec Center Williamsport, PA http://www.westbranchbuilders.org/
The Broadway Dolls Community Arts Center Williamsport, PA http://www.caclive.com/index.php/ music/broadwaydolls
Lightwire…The Show Community Arts Center Williamsport, PA http://www.caclive.com/index.php/ family/lightwire
Dublin Guitar Quartet Campus Theatre Lewisburg, PA http://www.campustheatre.org
Presentation: Picking and Scrapping to Get By 171 Cedar Arts Center Corning, NY www.171cedararts.org
In the Spotlight exhibit through 4/25 West End Gallery Corning, NY www.westendgallery.net
Martin Hayes Masters of Tradition Weis Center for the Performing Arts Lewisburg, PA http://www.bucknell.edu/arts-andperformance/weis-center/events/ martin-hayes-masters-of-tradition. html
28 Daniel Sheehan
Courtesy of broadwaydolls.com
Martin Hayes Masters of Tradition, 3/21
The Irish Rovers Farewell Tour Community Arts Center Williamsport, PA www.hamiltongibson.orgv
The 2014 Che-Hanna Rock & Mineral Club Annual Show through 3/23 Athens Twp. Volunteer Fire Hall Sayre, PA www.chehannarocks.com 10th Annual Maple Weekend through 3/23 Hills Creek State Park and Potter and Tioga Counties http://www.pamaple.com/
It’s Pancake Time! Pennsylvania’s best maple producers—cooking happiness this month—share their recipes
By Brendan O’Meara
he first bite. Back up. It’s the first whiff, the first smell you get coming from the kitchen. It’s like those terrible Folgers commercials. The best part of waking up…you know. The smell of the coffee wafts through and slaps you around a few times and puts a big, caffeine-craving grin on that face. Same thing here, but better, if you can believe that. Yes, there’s going to be coffee, but there’s going to be eggs; there’s going to be toast; there’s going to be pancakes stacked as high as a Jack Russell, and man, oh, man, when the
sausage hits the skillet you’ll be bumping your face on the stovetop the way a moth can’t help but chest-bump a light bulb. And that’s not all. There are miles and miles of blue tubing and vacuum conveyance systems milking hundreds of maple trees for their nectar. Sure, it’s only two percent sugar when it comes out of the tree, but when applied with woodfired heat that water flies off and left in its saccharine wake is nothing short of heavenly. Maple syrup is in that evaporator, its uses nearinfinite, and this low viscosity
Sugarin’ time at Charles B. Nelson and Sons.
fluid can be used for just about anything so long as your pancreas is locked, stocked, and loaded with insulin to enjoy maple’s bounty. M a p l e c a n d y, m a p l e bacon, maple sausage, maple mustard, maple walnut ice cream topping, maple peanuts, maple walnuts, maple caramel popcorn. Drizzle Dump the maple in coffee, tea, or milk, boil it down and stir to make crumbly sugar, and don’t forget to top drown those pancakes steaming on that plate and kick them back like you only live once. Because you do. And it’s sugarin’ time. See It’s Pancake Time! on page 10
It’s Pancake Time! continued from page 9
Laura Nelson, of Charles B. Nelson and Sons, was put on the spot about what makes for a great pancake breakfast. “Oh, gosh,” she said, “maple syrup, bacon, and eggs. Let me think.” She thought. “A pancake recipe from scratch rather than buying something [premade],” she said. Nelson draws upon a recipe she found in an old Amish cookbook. She makes the dry mix ahead of time so she can, at a moment’s notice, griddle up some hot cakes. Amish Hot Cakes 12 cups sifted flour 2 tsp. salt ¾ cup baking powder ¾ cup maple sugar 4 cups dry/powdered milk Mix and store in an airtight container. To make pancakes: 1-½ cups of the mix from above 1 beaten egg 1 cup water 2 Tbsp. melted shortening Mix well, fry on a hot griddle. “I mix it up ahead of time and store it so it can be cut down to two cups of mix,” Laura said. “I’ve made it with twelve cups to make a bigger breakfast over the years. I use the maple sugar in place of brown sugar.” The maple sugar comes from boiling the syrup at about 255 degrees. The water boils out and, after some stirring, it crumbs right up. “You start stirring and it crumbles out,” Laura said. “When we have our open house we do sugar. We do a gallon at a time. People stand there with their mouths open. They can’t believe the transformation it does. It’s granulated sugar. Just cook it down.” After breakfast, for brunch, maybe for dessert later in the day, Laura also bakes up her maple bark.
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See It’s Pancake Time! on page 13
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It’s Pancake Time! continued from page 10
caught up in low-fat or light foods. I’m not saying those things are unimportant. I want to go back to knowing what we eat and trust the people around us. There’s no better way to live. I grew up on a dairy farm and we had fresh eggs, fresh milk, even maple syrup.”
1-½ cups all-purpose flour ¾ cup maple sugar Mix and pat them in a 9” x 13” pan, bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Layer on 1 cup Grape Nuts. Layer on 1 cup chopped nuts. Layer on 2 cups flaked coconut. Mix: 1 cup maple syrup with two lightly beaten eggs and 1 cup sweetened, condensed milk and pour over. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. “That’s won me a few blue ribbons at the Pennsylvania Farm Show,” Laura said. “You can use it and enter if you’d like.” Charles, Laura’s husband, laughs. He loves to see the breakfast table piled with pancakes and syrup, some sausage, an egg, and applesauce. He credits his wife with being the scientist in the kitchen creating much of what makes it onto the table. But, like his father before him, he said, “What I do, and everybody smiles, is add maple syrup to cottage cheese. The idea came from back when they made their own cottage cheese on the farm. It was sour. Dad didn’t like sour stuff. It’s great on it.” That syrup has won many awards, most recently at the 2013 Farm Show in Harrisburg where it won Best of Show.
Praline Topping 1-½ sticks of butter ½ cup maple syrup 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts Combine topping ingredients and pour over the chilled casserole before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
Jennifer and Jody Butler, of Butler Family Maple, agree that in order for the food to live up to its potential, the first element of the great pancake breakfast must be, “Family and friends that you can sit down and you have some discussions, laughs, sometimes tears, and any great meal for that matter,” Jennifer said. Jennifer grew up on small, family farms knowing where their food came from, knowing how the animals were treated. Food wasn’t some disembodied slab at Wal-Mart’s meat counter or something out of a box. As for the food, “Wholesome ingredients, maple syrup, fresh eggs, fresh milk,” Jennifer said. “We get
“This gives you enough time to have a great conversation with a hot cup of coffee or a board game with your children before breakfast,” Jennifer said. The maple syrup the Butlers harvest gets used on practically everything. “Maple mustards we use on hams,” Jennifer said. “Our chili has a little maple syrup in it. The cornbread is a maple cornbread. You can sweeten coffee with a touch of maple syrup. We use it every day.” Jennifer’s two young daughters visit their grandmother a lot and there must always be maple syrup on hand. It’s its own form of entertainment for the girls. They come home and run up
Butler’s Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping 1 loaf French bread 8 eggs 2 cups half and half 1 cup milk 2 Tbsp. maple syrup 1 tsp. vanilla ¼ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. salt Slice the bread 1 inch thick and arrange in a greased baking dish. Combine all other ingredients. Beat until well mixed, but not too bubbly. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
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to mom and say, “Mom, we need more maple syrup at Grandmom’s!” Du r i n g t h e sugaring season, when about 9,000 taps draw hundreds and hundreds of gallons of sap to the sugarhouse, Hamilton Maple Farm fires up its new pancake house. They open it from the first of March through April 13 on weekends from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The pancake house serves to showcase their maple products. One such canvas is their pumpkin spice waffles with maple mousse. “Other people call it maple whip,” Phyillis Hamilton said. Maple Mousse 8 ounces cream cheese 8 ounces Cool Whip 4 ounces crumbled maple sugar Mix and let it sit overnight. “Who doesn’t like a pancake with a fresh maple syrup?” Phyllis asked. “Just bringing people around as company is the best part of a home meal and the good flavors of maple syrup.” She makes a cheesecake as well. Of course it’s a maple cheesecake. Tawney Maple Cheesecake 1-¼ cup graham cracker crumbs 5 Tbsp. sugar 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature ¾ cup dark maple syrup 3 eggs at room temperature ¼ cup heavy cream 1-½ pounds cream cheese at room temperature 1-½ cups sour cream at room temperature 1-½ tsp. vanilla Combine graham cracker and 1 Tbsp. sugar in mixing bowls with soft butter and press into a 9” spring form pan, freeze. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, boil syrup over medium heat for 3 minutes, remove, stir in cold cream, scrape into
a bowl and refrigerate. Using a heavy mixer, cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy, add remaining 4 Tbsp. of sugar, beat briefly, add eggs one at a time. When maple syrup is not warm to touch anymore, gradually beat in to mixture followed by sour cream and vanilla. Scrape into the chilled pan. Bake it till set, about 90 minutes. Take it out, chill for six hours. Phyllis is a maple savant making mustards, ice cream toppings, peanuts, walnuts, popcorn, and fudge, all sharing the stage with maple syrup. “I make an awesome maple fudge,” she said. “I wonder if I’m doing it right, but it tastes good so I must be!”
Over at Brydonson Farm, Bryan Ianson’s idea of the perfect pancake breakfast involves, “Bacon, eggs, and syrup.” Correction: “Maple bacon, eggs, and syrup.” The bacon can be brined with maple or it can be fried with some syrup, being mindful not to burn the syrup. Ianson will take sausage patties, fry ’em on one side, flip ’em, pour the maple on, and let it melt in. “We use a lot of maple syrup,” he said. “People don’t realize how much you can use it. Put it in coffee, tea, milk to make maple milk for kids.” As for recipes, “We hang on to our recipes. We make things from scratch. We want to maintain our traditions,” he said. Moving on.
“That’s tough, I don’t know how to answer that!” said Bud Bowers, contemplating the key elements to the great pancake breakfast. Above all else, he believes in sustainability, the protection of his land and his trees. His operation, Brookfield Maple, undergoes a rigorous inspection process to ensure everything that touches his land and graces his maple is up to the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s (NOFA) code. He’ll never over-tap a tree.
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A Tasteful Experience!
O U T D O O R S
Happy to be home: The author snapped this shot of an Eastern bluebird nesting in a house custom-built for his needs.
If You Build It...
May the bluebird of happiness fly up your road By Roger Kingsley
espite its conspicuous location, the blind set up in my backyard wasn’t the least bit offensive to the bluebirds that were tending their hatchlings in the weathered pine box a few yards away. Crouched inside the blind on a perfect May morning was an eager photographer—me—looking through my tripod-mounted camera. With the feeding session in progress, and my finger busy with the shutter release button, the camera counter tallied the images one by one until I’d satisfied my quest of capturing these colorful birds associated with happiness. And happy they made me—not just for the photos, but for their welcomed occupancy of the wooden box apparently built to their liking. A natural cavity in a tree adjacent to clearings and meadows makes a bluebird happiest, but when those sites are scarce, a home built from
a board will most certainly do just fine. At one time, Eastern bluebird populations had declined to perilous levels from lack of adequate nesting sites due in part to development, competition with other bird species, and the modification of agricultural and timberland methods. With fears of extinction in the wind, conservation groups and backyard birders went to work erecting and monitoring an astonishing number of nesting houses, and encouraging others to do the same. While those efforts have helped the species achieve a remarkable recovery, that positive course can easily continue if others join in. It’s as simple as buying a bluebird-specific house or houses, and placing them in key locations on your property. If your local farm and garden center has birdhouses, they’ll most likely have one designed
for bluebirds. Coveside, well-known for wildlife conservation products, handcrafts birdhouses for every species of cavity-nesting bird in North America. Visit them online if you strike out locally. But nothing is more satisfying than building your own birdhouse— especially when it’s finally occupied. The house you build can be as crude or as elaborate as your carpentry talent and tools dictate. The important point is that you just do it, “for the birds!” The tree cavities that bluebirds use are far from being fashioned from a blueprint. Imagine the range of dimensions and flaws amongst the scanty possibilities, and don’t be bashful about putting something together that isn’t flush level perfect. While I’ve bought a few bluebird houses in the past, I now construct my own, mostly from the rough cut lumber See If You Build It on page 18
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WELLSBORO If You Build It continued from page 17
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sawn from the trees on our farm, but occasionally from finished lumber purchased at our nearest building supply center. Eastern white pine—readily available and a joy to work with—is my favorite. A ten dollar bill will buy a 1” x 8” x 8’ smooth pine board, enough material to build a couple houses, and the smooth finish will impart a look of elegance. The same dimensions in a rough-cut pine board from the nearest sawmill will buy you four boards for ten dollars. White Pine is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. It sands fast, accepts a variety of fasteners without the need to pre-drill, doesn’t split...and emits that wonderful pine fragrance. The wood also has a good level of decay resistance. Some of the houses that we have scattered around the backyard have seen many a sunrise, and all of them are a long ways from a renovation—and that’s without any paint or preservatives which you shouldn’t use anyway for the birds’ sake. I’ve incorporated bits and pieces from the Internet into my own hand-built structures. Ventilation slits, inside footholds for fledglings, latch openings for easy cleaning, and recessed floors with drainage holes are worthwhile designs. These may be considered luxuries, but bluebirds deserve whatever you’re capable of adding, which equates to better chances of survival. The non-native House or English sparrow—which prefers similar nesting designs and locations to bluebirds—is a notorious enemy. These aggressive birds will take over a bluebird house by killing young and adult alike. That’s why it’s extremely important to monitor nesting sites frequently, and execute the necessary deterrents to make sure these, as well as other flying or crawling pests, stay away. The recommended one-and-a-half-inch entrance hole in bluebird houses stops larger species like starlings from gaining access, but unfortunately it’s the right size for sparrows and house wrens, which are also egg and hatchling destroyers. Researchers at the University of Kentucky have discovered that a slot entrance and a floor at a much shallower depth than commonly endorsed are two improvements that can obstruct and possibly defeat a sparrow’s intentions. So if that species is a resident of your neck of the woods, it would certainly warrant checking into (and Coveside manufactures a sparrow-resistant house). The sheds and barns on our farm are magnets for nestbuilding sparrows, which make them year-round residents. So it’s not uncommon for them to wreak havoc in our backyard. The establishment of territories amongst bluebirds begins in March, so if I’ve talked you into helping these beautiful feathered friends, it’s time to start shopping for a house. If you’ve decided you’re going to play Mr. Do-It-Yourself, before you start the saw recite this old adage: measure twice, cut once. Whatever you do, best wishes getting ready for your bluebirds! A hunter, photographer, and writer, Roger Kingsley’s articles and photos have appeared in Deer & Deer Hunting, and Pennsylvania Game News, among others.
ARTS & TRAVEL
Farewell to Rovin’: The Irish Rovers sing a rousing goodbye this month at Williamsport’s Community Arts Center.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral Three nights, three groups, three chances to hear the music of Ireland on the Susquehanna By Linda Roller
hree exceptional Irish groups are poised to wash up on the Susquehanna’s shores, just in time to warm our hearts (and toes!) and to lift our winter-weary spirits. From Williamsport’s Community Arts Center to the Weis Center for the Performing Arts and the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg, the area will be filled with folk, traditional, and even
classical music with the Celtic lilt. The party starts in Williamsport on March 15 with the return of The Irish Rovers in their “Farewell to Rovin’” tour. No strangers to the CAC, this group always gets a warm welcome in Williamsport with its rollicking tunes and lively banter. If you have always wanted to see the Rovers, go now, as this is the last time this band will tour
in the United States. Founded in the 1960s, this group of Irish immigrants first organized the band in Canada and has spent the last five decades spreading the joy of Irish folk music around the world. George Millar and his cousin Ian Millar are both from Ballymena, original member Wilcil McDowell is See Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral on page 20
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Masters of Tradition: Martin Hayes (left) and Dennis Cahill. Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral continued from page 19
from Larne, Sean O’Driscoll is from Cork, and bodhran player Fred Graham is from Belfast. Joining the Rovers are multi-instrumentalist Morris Crum from Ireland, whistle/ flute player Geoffrey Kelly from Spirit of the West, and fiddle player, Gerry O’Connor—all who regularly play on Rovers recordings or tours. Expect a foot-stomping singalong with one of the most famous and beloved bands to rock Billtown. The party then wends downriver to Lewisburg where two very different Irish groups will come ashore to delight. Martin Hayes Masters of Tradition will play at the Weis Center on March 21. The heart and soul of Masters of Tradition is the musical collaboration of Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. Hayes is one of the finest Irish fiddle players, and the artistic director of the Masters of Tradition Festival held in August each year at Bantry House in Bantry, West Cork. There, Ireland’s most distinguished traditional musicians are invited to play in a more intimate chamber music setting. Dennis Cahill is an American from Chicago, from Irish parents, and is a master guitarist. Indeed, it is the synergy between the fiddle work of Hayes and the sparse but essential accompaniment of Cahill that forms the center of this group, and has cemented the role of the guitar in traditional Irish music. The other musicians, vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Cathal Hayden, guitarist Seamie O’Dowd, Máirtín O’Connor on accordion, and uilleann piper David Power were chosen by Hayes as artists in their own right. The tour has evolved from the music at the festival, says Kathryn Maguet, executive director at Weis. “This traditional Irish group plays like no other.” Different from the music of the pub and the concert hall, this is the music played in people’s homes, and is grounded in County See Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral on page 23 20
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Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral continued from page 20
Clare and the music of Hayes’s father, P.J. Hayes. The music is subtle, full of energy, and different every night, as these seven musicians weave traditional Irish music in solos, duets, and trios. “One of the things I want people to experience is a sense of the bedrock of the music,” says Hayes. “In its purest form, Irish traditional music speaks a universal language.” The music then flows into another form a mere five days later, as, on March 26, the Dublin Guitar Quartet takes the stage at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg. Maguet notes, “This and the Masters of Tradition are very different concerts.” Four Dublin musicians— Brian Bolger, Pat Brunnock, David Creevy, and Tomas O’Durcain—create a unique chamber music experience by arranging classical and contemporary music for guitar. They are perhaps best known for their collaborations with Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Arvo Part, and Gyorgy Ligeti. The warm, beautiful result has brought them acclaim from new classical artists, and, perhaps more importantly, introduced a wider audience to classical work being written today and the composers writing it. Magret says that Dublin Guitar Quartet “moves seamlessly from serious to ‘not-so-serious.’” In a month when everyone is just a little bit Irish, we have a chance to drink deeply from the river of Celtic song and music right here in North Central Pennsylvania. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a book seller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania.
Irish Lilts The Irish Rovers Farewell Tour Williamsport Community Arts Center (www.caclive.com; 570-326-2424) March 15 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $45, $35, $20 Martin Hayes Masters of Tradition Weis Center for the Performing Arts (www. bucknell.edu/WeisCenter.xml; 570-577-1000) Friday, March 21, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: Adults: $20 Seniors 62+: $16 Youth 18 and Under: $10 Dublin Guitar Quartet Campus Theatre, 413 Market Street, Lewisburg (www.campustheatre.org; 570-577-7900) Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 p.m. This is a free performance 23
L A K E S
Courtesy of Experience! the Finger Lakes
F I N G E R
Murder in the Finger Lakes
Or: How to have a great time drinking wines and solving crimes By Holly Howell
t was Mr. Cabernet who did it, in the barrel room, with a corkscrew. Wine and murder. It’s the perfect marriage. And in a region that is saturated with award-winning wines, all you need is the right creative talent to bring the two together. It has happened, and here is whodunit. The Murder Mystery Wine Tour is one of the latest attractions for wine travelers to enjoy in the Finger Lakes. The tour company responsible is called “Experience! The Finger Lakes,” founded in 2007 by Laura and Alan 24
Falk. These two run on an enthusiasm for everything local, and they lead high-end guided tours throughout the region to wineries, cheese dairies, restaurants, distilleries, cooking schools, and breweries. To take a tour with them is a total immersion into the local culture, and the reward is a true connection to the Finger Lakes “sense of place.” With a well-established client base and a wine touring business going strong, the Falks would never have expected that they were about to meet
their ideal partner in crime. Enter Danny Trippett, an actor extraordinaire who received his degree in performance and theater from the Boston Conservatory of Music. After spending twelve years working in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, he made a visit back east to visit relatives in Trumansburg, just outside Ithaca. There he saw a great opportunity to bring his business—Mystery Crime Solvers—to wine country. Learning of the local wine touring business, Danny approached the Falks See Murder in the Finger Lakes on page 27
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Murder in the Finger Lakes continued from page 19
to see if there was any possibility of doing murder mystery dinners together. Laura Falk immediately saw the potential for more than just that. Why not do a whole day of wine touring, and let the customers play sleuth while sightseeing along the wine trail? It was a no-brainer, and a magical mystery tour was born. “I was thrilled to connect with Danny,” Laura said. “I had always wanted to do something like this with the tours. We organized our first event in January, and it was a huge success!” All of the winter tours were sellouts, and the tours (this month it’s on the fifteenth) will be offered monthly year-round. The Murder Mystery is written for twelve participants. Danny creates the scripts, complete with notes for six suspects and six detectives. The roles—including whodunit—are assigned when the tour begins at the La Tourelle Resort and Spa in Ithaca. Each member of the tour receives a letter in a secret envelope explaining the character that they will play, a bit of background on the story, and their own personal connection with a man named Jebidiah Hooch (who has yet to be introduced). Danny, who also excels at impersonations, suddenly appears to announce that Jebidiah has been found murdered at a local winery, and the games begin. The tour immediately sets off for Six-Mile Creek Winery to investigate the first clues near the crime scene. While gathering evidence and interrogating the suspects, the group also takes some time to learn about the local wine history while sipping on some stellar wines and nibbling on local farmstead cheeses. (All good detectives need to stay well nourished). Then off to the next winery, Ports of New York, and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together.
The winter tours end with a threecourse dinner at a local restaurant and a chance for everyone to guess the identity of the culprit. Prizes are awarded to anyone who cracks the case. Spring and summer tours will end similarly, but instead of a dinner, it is the ultimate wine and fondue party back at La Tourelle. Once all secrets are revealed, tour participants can relax and enjoy the rest of the evening, with packages offered to include lodging right at the resort. “I love to create one-of-a-kind solvable mysteries, customized for private parties,” Danny explains. “And a murder mystery works so well when it is tailored behind a wine tour.” The story can even be tweaked to accommodate special circumstances. For instance, on the last murder mystery tour, one of the participants had a birthday. A friend called ahead of time, and Danny worked it into a special piece of evidence—an unsent birthday card addressed to that individual, found in the back pocket of the victim! The tours have even taken on some unique nicknames like, “In the Distill of the Night” and “The Wine Tour to Die For.” Or, Danny’s favorite—“Jeb Hooch Dies Monthly.” For more information on these unique mystery tours, you can reach Laura Falk at 607-233-4818 or www.experiencefingerlakes.com. To contact Danny Trippett for more information on murder mystery private events, send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 607-269-7638. Here’s to lots of fine wine with good body! See you on the trail…
Holly is a Certified Specialist of Wine (by the Society of Wine Educators) and a Certified Sommelier (by the Master Court of Sommeliers in England).
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ARTS & TRAVEL It’s Pancake Time! continued from page 15
As for the great pancake breakfast, it’s not a slam dunk for people to answer. Yes, there are staples, “You’ve got to have real maple syrup for that. I don’t know!” he said. What about sitting down to eat? Enjoying the company of others? “That’s what we do, people in the country do,” he said. “People in the city, it’s a big deal for them, a huge deal for them. For us, it’s an everyday occurrence, that’s what we do. That’s a lifestyle.” Yes, at last, he remembered. Key for him and his family, “You’ve got to have in there the best two kinds of pancakes. It’s either buckwheat pancakes or sweet potato pancakes. One or the other. The earthy taste, it tastes real, like nothing out of a microwave.” Sweet Potato Pancakes 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking powder 2 Tbsp. sugar ½ tsp. ground cinnamon Pinch of cloves 2/3 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes 2 Tbsp. melted butter 1 egg 1-¼ cups milk
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“The first time I had sweet potato pancakes was at Cracker Barrel,” said Tina Bowers. “I came home and found a recipe online. That was that.” And she’s been using it ever since, alongside bacon, fried potatoes, and eggs, of course. That about sums it up. That’s how the maple crew, the in crowd, uses maple. The breakfast table is the centerpiece, but the maple’s orbit extends far beyond that cloistered universe. The producers of maple rarely go a day without it. In a world full of artifice, there’s hardly anything more pure than maple syrup taken from the trees that spend all spring and summer making that nectar. These folks know the myriad ways it can be used: to bathe waffles and pancakes—buttermilk, sweet potato, buckwheat, what have you; in milk, coffee, tea; over plain yogurt and even cottage cheese. Mrs. Butterworth has got nothin’ on them. Mountain Home contributor Brendan O’Meara, of Saratoga, NY, is the author of Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-YearOld Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year.
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B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N
Fair Weather Flock Story and Photo by Ken Meyer My recollections about the day and taking the photo are somewhat foggy, but I recall that I wanted to check the adjacent area to see if the eagles had returned to their nest. It was one of those transitional late winter days with the ice going out, and a fair number of geese were there—as evidenced by a lot of honking. I liked this pair on the far side of the stream in particular with the snow and ice as a backdrop, and my thoughts were that it wouldn’t be too long before fishing season and spring flowers were upon us. Fortunately I had my telephoto lens and tripod with me, a good thing since the birds were a good distance away. PS: The photo was taken near the stream along the small path directly across from the Darling Run parking area on Pine Creek; it’s a great spot to watch the eagles that nest above the river during the spring of the year.
d r . . a . o b A l l A
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Published on Apr 16, 2014
"It's Pancake Time!" by Brendan O'Meara about Pennsylvania's best maple producers sharing their recipes. This issue also features Murder in...