Friday, February 25, 2011

Tamarack in West Virginia

We discovered Tamarack during a web search for top places to visit in West Virginia. We were headed out on a road trip to tour the state and Tamarack was listed as a must-see in the southern city of Beckley.

Here's a description from their website: "Located in the center of the eastern United States, Beckley, West Virginia, is the home of Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia. Tamarack welcomes half a million visitors annually as a one-stop shop for West Virginia culture, heritage, handcrafts, fine art, regional cuisine and music. Tamarack is how you will see and treasure West Virginia."

We expected to arrive at Tamarack around noon, so planned to eat lunch there. The website let us know that it was cafeteria style dining, but that the chefs were top-notch. When we arrived, we were ready for lunch before we looked around. Here's what we experienced:

My meal:
  • Collard Greens: perfectly flavored, cooked with bacon
  • Tangy Coleslaw: no mayo in this - plenty of oil, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and green pepper
  • Dirty Rice: red rice with bits of hamburger, sausage, peppers, and corn
  • Green Beans: cooked southern-style, meaning much softer than we eat them up north, and boiled with a bit of bacon or ham. Mighty tasty.
Daughter's meal: 
  • Hunter Chicken: nicely roasted chicken with a chunky tomato and pepper sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes: how can you make mashed potatoes better than they already are? Somehow, Tamarack chefs did - these were the best we've ever tasted, and as smooth and creamy as you can imagine.
  • Creamy Coleslaw: this is the more traditional version, and the sauce was absolute perfection.
Tamarack was such an unexpected culinary pleasure. I highly recommend it to anyone who is heading to southern West Virginia. We perused the many shops after lunch, and I was thrilled to find a new cookbook for my collection: Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, and Scuppernong Wine.

Tamarack on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feed Blog Posts to Twitter

Some time ago, I implemented a process by which every blog post on New Ideas Welcome will feed automatically to @LoveANewIdea on Twitter. My problem is, I recently had to do this again for a different blog/Twitter account, and couldn't remember how! I also can't remember which feed tool I used for this blog, so couldn't undo this process even if I wanted to! Yikes.

Usually, when I do some technical process like this, I write a Tech Tip post, so I can remember how to do it the next time it's needed. Since I didn't do it before, I'm doing it now. Here's the process I just used when I needed to create a Blog-to-Twitter feed:

  1. Visit
  2. Click on Sign Up and input requested info
  3. Back on your own blog, on the right side of your top toolbar, you should see an orange RSS feed button. Click on this and the RSS feed URL should appear in the address bar (this URL will look different from your regular blog URL). Copy this address.
  4. Back on, give your feed a name of your choosing, like Personal Blog.
  5. Next, paste in the RSS feed URL.
  6. You'll then be given options for where you want this feed posted. Click on Twitter.
  7. Authenticate your Twitter account by inputting the requested info, and click on Allow.
  8. Click on Create Service, then All Done

Voila! Your new blog posts will now automatically be tweeted through your selected Twitter account. You techie, you!

PS You can also feature a feed of your recent Tweets in your blog. To do this, just go to your Layout and click on Add a Gadget. In the search box, write Twitter. Many options will appear...just pick one you like. You'll have a few customization options, like how many Tweets should appear at any time, etc. Pretty easy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Waaay Behind on Posting

Yikes - how did I ever get soooo far behind on blogging?! Well, no excuses, but I do have some good reasons:

  • Facebook: I started using Facebook several months ago, in anticipation of launching an official business Facebook Page for work. In order to create a business Page, one must first become a personal user. I did that, and WHOA! Turns out, it's pretty addictive. Part of its attraction is that it's just so quick and easy. And, it's really fun to connect with others. So, I think my attention and time quickly moved from Blogging to Facebook.
  • Social Media for Work: My time has also been much taken up with managing Facebook, Twitter and a blog for work, in addition to managing 5 websites, which leaves little time for my personal applications. It's a lot to give adequate attention to all at once. There are some cool tools out there that help people manage multiple profiles, and these come in handy. But still, spending so much time on these for work means less time spent for pleasure.
  • Refining Blog Focus: I've also been toying with refining the focus of my blog. "New Ideas Welcome" was my first foray into blogging, and is primarily a tool for me to learn to use the blogging platform as well as the many convenience and tracking gadgets out there. I'm thinking of keeping this blog but also creating another one, on a more focused theme. We'll see.

So, anyway, that's what's been keeping me busy. No excuses, but now you know where I've been!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fresh Air Fund Visit

Eternity tries on hats during a shopping trip to Tar-jhay
In a not-too-long-ago post, I mentioned that we serve as a host family for the Fresh Air Fund.

Our Fresh Air child, Eternity, was here for a fun-filled week with us, and is now back in Brooklyn. It was her third summer visiting us. While she was here, we:

  • Picnicked (one of her favorite things to do); she LOVES sweet midgets pickles, tomato & mozzarella salad, chunks of bread torn from the Italian bread loaf and slathered with herb cheese spread, and Beach Bunny Cake from my Retro Beach Bash cookbook.

  • Visited just about every waterfall in the Berkshires and surrounding area, including Bash Bish Falls, Mt. Hope Farm, and the Cascades.

  • Shucked corn, roasted marshmallows on rainy nights over candles, and played LOTS of board games.

Here's a slideshow of some of the things we did and places we visited:

It was a fun week, and we enjoyed having Eternity with us. We're looking forward to next year. And, if you have a home in a rural New England area with an available bed in it, hosting a Fresh Air child is a really easy way to help someone in need. Give it a try!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Latest Berkshire Organics Delivery

Here's what we found in our bi-weekly Berkshire Organics delivery (we get the "Berkshire Basket"):

Local - Organic Practices

  • 4 ears Corn - Family Farm, CT
  • 1 bunch Basil - Swartz Family Farm, Amherst, MA
  • 1 bunch Watercress - Swartz Family Farm, Amherst, MA

Certified Organic

  • 1 head Lettuce - Markristo Farm, Hillsdale, NY
  • 3 Pickling Cukes - Warner Farm, Hadley, MA
  • 10 oz Green Beans - Warner Farm, Hadley, MA
  • 2 Onions (Vidalia & Red) - Deep Root, VT
  • 1 Bell Pepper (Red or Yellow) - CA
  • 1 lb Carrots - CA
  • 3 Peaches - SC
  • 2 Nectarines (White) - CA
  • 3 Apricots - CA
  • ½ pint Raspberries - CA
  • 1 Pineapple - Fair Trade
  • 5 Bananas - Fair Trade

This delivery comes on Friday and we leave for the Cape early Saturday am, so this is perfect timing. We'll have wonderful and fresh produce to take to our beach cottage, to counteract all the fried seafood we'll be eating!

Web Site Story

Eric Tenin, of Paris Daily Photo blog fame, recently shared this cleverly humorous video on Facebook. It's a really smart and well-done spoof of the musical, "West Side Story," with a modern day online twist:

Isn't it fabulously funny!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Moroccan Night Recap

Oooh - exciting to get to travel to foreign lands for the night! Our Moroccan Night event was so much's a quick recap:

  • Table - after scouring the house for exotic table setting items, we ended up going with an animal print undercloth topped with smaller red cloths. Then, we used animal print napkins (found for just a few dollars at Home Goods) in red napkin rings (Dollar Store). From my Real Simple cookbooks, I've learned the lovely simplicity of using multiple clear hurricanes filled with candles and small items - for our table, I used a mix of earth-toned stones (Dollar Store again) under cream candles.

  • Apertif - I couldn't find Anisette (I think I'm going to need to begin making the trip to Nejaimes when I have parties; my usual liquor store seldom knows or has the off-beat things I'm looking for.) Anticipating this from past experience, I looked up substitutions online before going to the store and learned that Sambuca would work, so I used that instead. A bit of the liqueur is poured into the bottom of the glass, a few ice cubes are added, then it's topped with cold water. It's an interesting and light drink to begin the evening and to set the ethnic tone.

  • La Kemia - the appetizer table was so pretty and fun to create. In Moroccan homes, this is served on a round table in the center of the room and everyone gathers around the many small dishes. No utensils are used - it's all finger food. Our coffee table just happens to be round, so it worked out perfectly! Everyone's favorite were the Lamb Kabobs, ala Alaskan Dave. Dave - thank you so much for spice rub recipe - it couldn't have been more perfect! Anyone interested in the spice rub mix, just check out the Comments section on the original Moroccan Night post.

  • Dinner - the cucumber and mint salad was light and refreshing - we used lots of mint from our garden. Warmed flatbread made a nice accompaniment. Then, we had Chicken with Olives...large chunks of potatoes are also cooked with the chicken, along with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and spices, so it's an entire meal in one pot. We also had a tasty spinach souffle. And, one of our guests, who was smart and DID go to Nejaimes, was able to find a lovely Spanish Montecillo Crianza red wine for us to share - very smooth and delicious.

  • Dessert - I was sadly unable to find Turkish Delight during my shopping, so substitued baklava, and served dates along with it. And, no Moroccan meal would be complete without sweetened Mint Green Tea, which is served in glasses rather than cups. (I happened to mention my search for Turkish Delight at dinner, and one of our guests brought us a box of it the next day as a thank you gift - yum!)

For anyone interested in more photos, here's a slideshow:

We all really enjoyed the exotic fare. We had our tea and dessert as we learned to play Royalty - my uncle won both rounds. Can't wait for the next theme dinner - I'm waiting to be inspired by another culture. Any great ideas?

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