10 Local Foodie Gift Ideas for the Harrisburg Area

Keep your gifts local and delicious this holiday season with this guide that will please any foodie on your list.

For the home cook

Source: Calicutts Etsy site

Handcrafted spice blend gift box
226 South 3rd St, Lemoyne, PA 17043
The spice-blending artisans who own Calicutts toast and grind their spices right in the shop. Choose any four of their freshly ground spice blends to create a personalized gift box. Sample jars are provided next to the glass jars of each spice so that you can smell the aroma of each spice before your purchase.

Source: Tastealotta’s website

Specialty olive oil or balsamic vinegar
829 State St, Lemoyne, PA 17043
The staff at Tastealotta can help you choose the perfect olive oil or balsamic vinegar or even both for the home cook in your life. Choose from many different flavors and infusions that can be paired with salads, fruits, seafood, steaks or poultry. Examples of flavors include: wild mushroom and sage olive oil, blood orange olive oil, dark balsamic vinegar, and cranberry-pear white balsamic vinegar.

For the coffee lover

Source: One Good Woman’s website

Fresh coffee beans
One Good Woman
1845 Market St, Camp Hill, PA 17011
One Good Woman sells specialty coffees and loose teas that are packaged fresh. Choose from light, medium, and dark roasts that are available flavored or even decaf. You can purchase whole beans or have them ground in the store before you leave. Seasonal and holiday flavors are available.

For the restaurant goer

Source:  The Mill’s Facebook page

Gift card
The Mill in Hershey
810 Old West Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033
The Mill in Hershey gets its ingredients from local farms and markets. The restaurant is located in a historical building that was once a feed mill. They are open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch and dinner on Sundays.

Source: Harvest Seasonal Grill’s website

Gift card
Susquehanna Harvest Seasonal Grill
2625 Brindle Dr, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Susquehanna Harvest Seasonal Grill is located at the Shoppes of Susquehanna and is open every day of the week. The restaurant prides itself in being a farm to table restaurant, sourcing its ingredients from 75 local farmers. The foods served are local, organic, and seasonal.

For the aspiring chef

Source: Cornerstone Culinary Kitchen’s website

Gift certificate
Cornerstone Culinary Kitchen
2133 Market St, Camp Hill, PA 17011
Purchase a gift certificate for one of the cooking classes at Cornerstone Culinary Kitchen at Cornerstone Coffeehouse. Classes hold a maximum of 24 people and are byob. Class examples include: holiday party appetizers, New Years Eve dinner, breakfast and brunch, and soups, chilis and stews.

For the beer lover

Source: Troeg’s website

200 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA 17033
Troeg’s is a central Pennsylvania brewery that began in Harrisburg and is now located in Hershey. You can find IPAs, ales, and stouts year round as well as specialty seasonal ales and lagers. There are also beers served only once a year, splinter series, and scratch brews available. With all the choices, what better gift to give than a chalice for serving each beer?

For the animal lover

Source: Just Four Dogs and Cats Facebook page

Dog treats
Just Four Dogs and Cats
3997 Sunnycrest Dr, Harrisburg, PA 17019
Just Four Dogs and Cats is a locally owned and operated business that purchases its ingredients from local farmers markets. They offer dog and cat treats that are hand mixed and homemade. They will even prepare treats to cater to your pet’s specific dietary needs.

For the foodie who has everything

Source: Blind Spot Nut Butters’ website

Blind Spot Nut Butters
1336 Spahn Ave, Ste A, York, PA 17403
Blind Spot Nut Butters is an artisan nut butter maker based in York, PA. While they are a little far from Harrisburg, this list would not be complete without something from them. This hoodie is a great way to show your love of nut butters. It also wouldn’t hurt to include a jar or two of their mini jars with this gift as well.

Source: Vie Chevre’s website

Mint and Cocoa soap
Vie Chevre
1233 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Each of Vie Chevre’s products are made with all natural ingredients from locally sourced Pennsylvania farms. The soaps are simple and perfect for those with sensitive skin. Vie Chevre also offers candles, beard oil, and lip balm.


Homemade Pumpkin Puree Plus Pumpkin Pie Spice

My sister surprised me when she said that the pumpkin I should use to make pumpkin puree is not the typical round, orange jack-o-lantern pumpkin, but rather a creamy colored neck pumpkin.  The neck pumpkins make the best puree and are used in pumpkin pies, she said.  Neck pumpkins looks like butternut squash but are bigger and have long necks.  They have seeds only in one end of the pumpkin and are easy to process into puree.


To make pumpkin puree from a neck pumpkin, preheat the oven to 325F.  Cut the pumpkin in several chunks and place it in a baking dish with the rind face up.  Add about ¼ inch of water to the baking dish.  Bake the pumpkin until it is tender, 45-60 minutes, depending on the size.  The pumpkin is ready when a fork slides easily through the rind.  Cool the pumpkin for about an hour.  Remove the rind and either mash the pumpkin by hand or use a food processor.



One neck pumpkin yielded a little over 5 cups of puree and I am going to store it in the freezer until I am ready to use it.  What goes better with pumpkin puree than pumpkin pie spice?  Save this recipe for later when I utilize the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to make clean eating fall dishes.


Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves


  1. Mix all of the spices together
  2. Store in an airtight container.

CSA Week 16 Plus What Turns Tomato Sauce Orange

This week’s CSA from Strites’ included honeycrisp apples, peaches, tomatoes, onions, corn, and a cantaloupe.  I have ideas for the peaches and cantaloupe, but I gave the corn and most of the apples to my co-worker.  The tomatoes and onions inspired me to make marinara sauce.csa16

Marinara sauce is a classic red sauce that is not complicated to make with fresh ingredients.  I have dreams of dipping fresh from the oven garlic knots in homemade marinara sauce.  For now, it is too hot to bake the garlic knots, but since I received the tomatoes in the CSA and they are still fresh, I decided I would make the sauce and freeze it and save it for when it’s cooler.  I found a recipe that was simple and easy to follow.  First, I sautéed garlic and an onion in olive oil.  I then added the tomatoes, basil, and other spices.  Then, I simmered it for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.simmering

The sauce was too chunky for my liking so I put it in my blender and pureed it.  Imagine my surprise when my marinara sauce went from red to orange!  The sauce did become a bit more red after sitting for a bit, but it still wasn’t a deep red like a classic marinara sauce.  orange-sauce

Here are a few reasons why tomato sauce turns orange:

  • Using a blender-blending causes the sauce to oxidize, thus changing its color from red to orange
  • The tomatoes weren’t fully mature-while they may appear red on the outside, once the tomatoes start cooking, the pigment changes
  • Not blanching the tomatoes and removing the seeds-removing the skin and seeds can help the sauce maintain its red color
  • Other ingredients-the onions, garlic, and basil affect the color of the sauce
  • Cooking time-cooking too long or too little can affect the color of the sauce

CSA Week 14 and Caprese Grilled Cheese

The CSA at Strites’ is over halfway through this week.  Our share this week included nectarines, sweet corn, gold apples, peppers, an eggplant, tomatoes, and a shallot.  Shallots are a type of onion and can be used just as an onion or garlic would be.20160823_121923

I really have to find something to do with corn as I still have some from last week’s share as well.  I’m thinking maybe grilling it or making corn fritters.  Corn can be frozen by blanching it first, cutting it from the cob, then sealing in a bag and placing it in the freezer.

We had a potluck at work on Monday and I used some of the fruit from last week to make a peach and nectarine crisp.  All I did was follow my recipe for clean eating apple crisp and replaced the apples with the peaches and nectarines.  It turned out fantastic.20160822_101519

The variety of tomatoes in this week’s CSA is called San Marzano.  They have thick skins, but a very sweet taste to them.  I decided to use these and the basil in my garden to make a Caprese grilled cheese sandwich.  I love anything Caprese as you may have noted last week when I posted the Eggplant Caprese Quiche.  There is just something about the combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella that is irresistible.

The Caprese grilled cheese sandwich makes a quick and easy lunch.  Of course, I had to share some of the mozzarella with my cats.  I used Dave’s Killer Bread, which I have found to be the least processed bread that can be store bought.

Caprese Grilled Cheese

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 slices of bread of your choice
  • 4 oz mozzarella, sliced
  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil
  • butter


  1. Heat a pan over medium heat.  Butter one side of the bread and place the buttered side down in the pan.
  2. Layer the mozzarella, basil, and tomato.
  3. Butter the second slice of bread and place it on top of the mozzarella, basil, and tomato.  Flip the sandwich over and cook until browned to your preference.

Aphids on my Broccoli

2016-06-14 11.23.44
My co-worker’s broccoli

My co-worker’s broccoli is coming in nicely.  My grandfather’s broccoli has already been harvested.  My broccoli has aphids.

Aphids are destructive little bugs that feed on garden plants.  Aphids like broccoli, spinach, beets, lettuce, squash, potatoes, and other vegetable plants.

Perhaps one of the reasons my grandfather does not have aphids on his plants is because the dill my grandmother planted long ago has grown all along the outskirts of his garden.  Dill is one of a few flowers and herbs that attract ladybugs.  Ladybugs like to eat aphids.  Along with dill, fennel, marigold, chives, and calendula are ladybug attractants.  I do not have any of that in my garden and haven’t noticed a single ladybug.  I also read that garlic and onion plants deter aphids because of their strong smell.  I have a few of these growing in my garden so I may replant them closer to my broccoli.

Since I have not got any ladybugs to take care of my aphid problem, I had to go another route.  If you have only got a few aphids, you can pick them off yourself, however, if you have a lot, you’ll need to treat them.  I added a few teaspoons of dish soap to a spray bottle with warm water.  I then sprayed the aphids as well as both sides of the leaves on my broccoli plant.  After about an hour, I rinsed the soapy mixture off the broccoli so that the leaves are not damaged.  I hope that by killing the aphids, my broccoli plant will continue to grow and flower.

My broccoli right after spraying with the dish soap and water mixture

An Interview With My Grandfather, the Gardener

GrandfatherintheGardenLeonard da Vinci said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”  The same hold true for the garden.  It is a constant work in progress.  The idea in your head may never be fully realized.  I have learned a lot already and the season isn’t over.  Given my lack of success with much of what I am growing, I decided to interview my hardworking grandfather to see what makes him such a great gardener.

When did you start gardening?

When I was six years old.  A farmer would come with his mule and hand plow.  I would ride on the sled as they broke up lumps of dirt.  My grandmother was a great gardener.  My grandfather wasn’t, he was a stone mason.  As the years passed, my dad was the gardener.  I am 86 years old and still garden.  The only time I didn’t garden was the four years I was in the Navy.

How did you learn to garden?

I worked on my dad’s garden, spading, etc.  I watched and learned.

What do you like the most about gardening?

I like harvesting the most.  I like tomatoes, potatoes, peas, lettuce, and spinach the best.

Which is your least favorite thing to plant?

I don’t like to plant carrots because of pests.

What’s something you should always grow in your garden?

Beans, they put nitrates in the ground.

What have you been least successful growing?

I never had much success starting tomatoes or peppers in the house.  My sense of humor has been greatly enhanced by buying plants.

What do you use to keep out the wildlife?

I have a fence and mesh surrounding the garden.  However, deer still manage to hop the 4’ fence.  I also keep a BB gun handy (just to scare the critters, not hurt them).

Have you ever had a bad year gardening?

Weather can make for a bad year.  I dislike early frosts and wet springs.

Do you save any of your seeds?

I save the bean seeds, but the rest I buy every year.  The Italian Pole Beans were brought here after WWI.  A woman snuck them in in her pocket.  She shared them with my grandmother who shared them with my dad who shared them with me.

What are some general tips you have for a new gardener?

Use hand tools, no mechanical devices.  That way you can appreciate the dirt and see what you’re doing.  Apply organic mulch when you’re spading and test the soil for acidity.  You should water any transplants bought in the store.  I only use Sevin for pests, no other chemicals.

Do you have any tips for dealing with hot weather?

In severe dry weather, water plants with a watering can between 6am-9am.

What tips do you have for harvesting vegetables?

Harvest them when they’re ready, don’t let them grow old on the vine.

Do you use mulch in your garden?

I mulch during the growing season with mushroom soil from a local nursery.  I spade it under in the fall.  It keeps the ground pliable.  I use lime and 10-10-10 fertilizer when planting.  I like to use bagged commercial manure.  You get a lot of weeds using fresh manure.

Do you compost?

I use compost bins.  Don’t put meat or bones in it.

Is there anything you don’t grow anymore?

I don’t grow corn anymore.  It gets too hot and dry in the summer.  I buy it from local produce stands.

Do you have anything else to add?

I love gardening because nobody bothers you for anything…They’re afraid I’ll put them to work.

Why I Follow the 80/20 Rule of Clean Eating

A_little_sugar_in_my_bowl.jpgI first heard of the clean eating 80/20 rule from Tiffany at the Gracious Pantry. I don’t believe in diets and I most assuredly believe that life is too short to eat food that doesn’t taste good. So, what exactly is the 80/20 rule when it comes to clean eating? Basically, 80% of the time you eat clean, and 20% of the time you allow for special occasions, treats, or cheats. It is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You create your lifestyle by eating what you want and not falling into the confines of a diet or eating plan. I don’t restrict myself when I want to eat something, I just eat it.
Chocolate has been my weakness, but I have found clean alternatives that are not only tasty, but they are healthy as well. I do very well with not eating processed or refined sugars with the exception of dessert Sundays when I have dinner with my grandparents. You cannot say no thanks to Italian grandparents. And that is okay.
It’s okay to have a treat every once in a while. It is okay to eat something with more than five ingredients or an ingredient you can’t pronounce every once in a while. Just know that there are alternatives.
Tiffany at the Gracious Pantry talks math in her post about the 80/20 rule. However, I don’t believe clean eating comes down to the meals you eat as whole. It comes down to every aspect of your meal and includes the snacks you eat. For example, breakfast could be a dippy egg (sunny side up for all you non-PA folks), toast, bacon, and a piece of fruit. Is that bacon completely clean? It is if it’s not processed, which might be true, but it might not be. Is that okay? Yes, of course. As long as you’re not eating something processed every day, I think it is okay.
You choose the lifestyle that is right for you when it comes to clean eating. The 80/20 rule is just one aspect of that lifestyle which can help you choose alternative foods and ingredients that are clean, healthy, and taste good.