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A place deeply rooted in its rural farm beginnings, the fertile land of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, yields hundreds of acres of crops and produce each year. Gardens abound. Truck farms thrive. Traditional corn, hay, and cattle farmers run their machinery alongside suburban housing developments and growing towns and boroughs. Many of these farmers have expanded their operations to include cottage industries -- quilt shops, roadside vegetable and fruit stands, health and bulk food stores, and larger ventures such as furniture or farm equipment manufacturing plants.
The people who live in Lancaster County today reflect years of tradition as well as an increasing diversity and multiculturalism. The thriving city of Lancaster, founded in 1729-30, is home to persons of many different cultural understandings and practices. Art galleries, women's and men's specialty stores, delis, and cafes often give the city a cosmopolitan feel.
Many of the villages, towns, and boroughs scattered throughout the County also have a particular history, often revolving around specific national or religious groupings. Places such as Lititz, Manheim, Strasburg, and Columbia date to the mid-1700s, within 50 years of the establishment of Lancaster County and the arrival of the first European settlers.
The area's proximity to the vast eastern seaboard cities makes it a natural vacation hub. Visitors come to experience the unique and living story of Amish and Mennonite culture. They return to participate in a slower pace of life and to drive along winding back country roads where few cars pass and neighbors all know each other. They also come back to enjoy concerts in the park, downtown festivals, and the abundance of autumn auctions and farmers' fairs.
From the various neighborhoods in Lancaster City, from towns and villages such as Adamstown, Peach Bottom, Bainbridge, Kirkwood, and Mount Joy, cooks and lovers of food throughout the County share their favorite recipes, as we'll as short vignettes about their lives. Widely known for their Pennsylvania Dutch food heritage, many Lancaster Countians have made room for other ways of cooking, including a greater health consciousness and willingness to experiment with different food traditions.
The seven sweets and seven sours of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking are in this collection. Chicken potpie, shoofly pie, and funnel cakes still please many a Lancastrian's palate. However, stromboli and burritos and egg rolls also often find their way onto the tables of Lancaster homes -- reflecting the variety of peoples who now live in the County -- and recipes for such foods also are included here.
To the many people from all parts of the County who gave of their valuable time and energy to collect recipes and to help test them, we express our grateful thanks. We also wish to thank the men and women of various volunteer fire companies and auxiliaries, as well as those of other community centers throughout Lancaster County, who graciously answered our questions and helped spread the word about our project. The recipes and stories in this book provide a way for people everywhere to share in the vibrant life and treasured history of those who call Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home. We thank you for helping make that possible.
-- Louise Stoltzfus and Jan Mast
Called Enterprise as late as the 1880s, Bird-in-Hand served the surrounding Mennonite and Amish farm community as a stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad line. Built around the area where the railroad crossed the Old Philadelphia Pike (Route 340), the hamlet eventually became more easily identified with the local hotel and tavern which practiced under the bird-in-hand sign.
In 1910 the fire company witnessed some significant excitement when lightning struck Jake and Fannie Beiler's barn on a stormy summer afternoon. Jake had taken a load of wheat to the railroad station. While he sat waiting to unload, a neighbor galloped into town with the message that his barn was on fire. Unhitching his horses from the load of wheat, Jake ran over to the local firehouse and hitched them to the firewagon. At breakneck speed he dashed the mile-and-a-half east to his farm on Weavertown Road. In spite of his heroic efforts, Jake Beiler was unable to save the barn.
Today, the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company serves the surrounding community with its busy volunteer fire organizations, which include many local Amish men and women. Well known for its annual fall ham supper, the company recently built a new addition, bringing its firehouse and shining modern fire engines into the 21 century.
Stretching east along Route 340 from Mill Creek as far as Ronks Road, where open Amish farmland takes over the landscape, Bird-in-Hand embraces a popular local restaurant and motel on its eastern edge as well as a manufacturing complex on its western edge. At the village center a sprawling farmer's market and several small gift and curiosity shops line the busy highway which bisects the town.
Chicken and Filling Roast
Susie S. Stoltzfus
Makes 8-10 servings/
2 3-lb. whole chickens
11/2 loaves bread
2/3 lb. butter
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/2 cup water
1. Arrange two whole chickens in roaster and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool and debone chicken. Reserve and dice hearts and livers.
2. Meanwhile cube bread and let dry about 1/2 day.
3. In a small saucepan melt butter, cooking until browned. Add celery, onion, and diced hearts and livers and cook for about 15 minutes. Add mixture to bread cubes and mix well.
4. In small bowl beat eggs, 3/4 cup water, salt, pepper, and celery salt. Add to bread cubes and mix by hand. Add chicken pieces and mix well. Arrange mixture in well-greased roaster. Pour about 1/2 cup water around edges.
5. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. About halfway through baking time, stir well.