The Mystery of Scrapple Demystified

I never realized how big scrapple is in Pennsylvania until I moved out of the state and met so many people who had no idea what scrapple is. I was baffled, which usually followed with a jaw drop and then a response such as “What?! Scrapple. You know, the breakfast meat that looks like a sausage patty, but isn’t.” Ok, so maybe I wasn’t even so sure what exactly scrapple is. But last week I took some time to sit down with my Dad and learn the process of making scrapple. He has been making it for years with some of his friends and as a matter of fact, all of the scrapple we serve at the Inn comes from our personal, homemade supply. Warning, this article is not for the faint of stomach.

Scrapple starts after all of the other butchering of pigs and steer is complete. Basically, it means all of the meat has been removed from the bones except for those pieces that are really close to the bone. However, as I learned from my dad, this is some of the best tasting meat on the entire animal. So, instead of letting it go to waste, they use it to make scrapple.

The easiest way to get this meat off the bone is to boil it. So, they take all of the bones and put them in a big kettle full of water that is heated with a wood fire from below. The bones and the water have to boil for about three hours before you can begin to separate, so it is usually at this point that the guys share some beers and a few good jokes and stories. Once it’s been boiling long enough, the bones are scooped out with a strainer and the meat is literally pulled right off the bone. Thankfully, most of it falls off so the work is done for them. Then, they take the broth that is left in the kettle and strain it to remove all of the leftover bones, fat, etc. and are left with a pure meat broth.

Next, they take out the meat and lay it on the counter to pick out any ligaments, fat, and pieces of bone – everything but the meat – and then run it through a grinder. While someone is doing this, someone else is washing and rinsing the kettle because it is back to boil for this meat. The kettle has been filled half with clean water and half with the broth that was strained and saved from before. This is then brought to a boil and the ground meat is then added and the mixture is brought back to a boil. Now, it is time for the ingredients – buckwheat flour, coriander, crushed black pepper and some salt to season – and yet again, brought back to a boil. The important part here is that once the meat is added, the mixture must be stirred the entire time or the contents will stick to the kettle and burn. Now, what I haven’t mentioned yet is that this whole process takes about 4 hours. Yes, that’s right; this must be stirred continuously for FOUR HOURS! And not only that, but the entire time it is boiling, the wood fire below must be kept at a certain temperature. Thankfully, there are a few guys that all pitch in to help and by this time, they are a few beers deep so the time seems to fly by. Once the mixture is turning in one piece and no longer sticking to the pan, it’s time to scoop and set.

This is the fun and fast part. One person will stand by the kettle and scoop the mixture into a pan being held by someone else. That person then passes the pan to the next person and the next person until it reaches the table where it is set to cool. This has to happen quickly because the fire is hot and once you stop stirring, the mixture starts to stick and burn. The entire kettle is empty and set to cool within 5 minutes. And that’s it, the hard part is over. The scrapple is let to cool overnight in the unheated butcher shop, and then put in the cooler. After 3 or 4 days, it’s back to the shop to cut the scrapple with a slicer and vacuum pack so it is ready to be stored in the freezer and used throughout the year.

So that’s it. The mystery of scrapple demystified. And, as you can see, contrary to popular belief there are no ears, tails, heads, etc. added to the mixture. Although, my dad did use the ears to make shoe sealer when he lived in Italy, but that’s a story for another day.

 

- Shena -

 

Pros and Cons of a College Town

Well, it’s that time of year again when the streets start to fill up and people are found walking the streets. Yup, it’s the start of the next semester at KU. I’ve lived in Kutztown for 20 years and over time, I’ve had the pleasure of observing the rising and falling of the seasons in Kutztown…not the four seasons we have all come to know and love, but rather the college seasons – college kids are here and college kids are gone. This week, as I sat at the Inn and thought about the students coming back, and all of the familiar faces of past guests who will soon return, I thought about the pros and cons of a college town and decided to share my list with you.

Things to Do

Let’s be honest, Kutztown isn’t always a moving and grooving kind of town, but thankfully, when the students come back, the town picks up a little bit. The University offers some fun alternatives to activities in this town such as sporting events, theater shows, art shows, fundraising events and cultural events. I especially like the athletics, as I am sure some parents can agree, because it makes me feel like I am back in college again cheering on my Alma Mater.

Noise

Unfortunately, with more people comes more noise. Also unfortunately, some students are in that mindset where college is not their top priority and partying is more their cup of tea. I won’t lie and say I have never been there before, but hind sight certainly is 20/20. I just moved onto Main Street and Thursday through Saturday I sit on my couch and enjoy the…for lack of a better word I will use interesting…conversations that I overhear as the students make their way from apartment to apartment and eventually the bars. Also, with the extra people comes extra trash. Usually, after waking up on any of the mornings after college party nights, you can find cups, wrappers, paper plates, papers and a plethora of other items left behind from the night before.

Increased Business

That being said, with the increase in people comes an increase in business. Business picks up, stores are full again, the phone rings a little bit more, more people pop in just to check things out and we remember why the word busy is the root of business. Like I said, you also get to see some of your regular customers who frequent the area 8 of the 12 months of the year.

The Town Stays Young

One of the best things about a college town is how young the students keep the town. There are always new people coming into and out of the town every year and a large majority of the students are always finding ways to give back to the community. Lots of students use the local business in projects and several others get involved in community projects and town clean ups. The events that are thrown such as Paint the Town Gold keep the town vibrant and ever-changing as well. It helps Kutztown stay relevant and on the map.

Parking and Traffic

Lastly, I have to mention the parking and traffic. Unless you have your own private space, don’t hold your breath for a parking spot in your usual lot. But even worse than the parking, it’s just the amount of traffic in town. To be honest, its nothing compared to traffic in cities, but it is a lot of cars to put in a small 1 mile by 1 mile town. The usual commute up Main Street more than doubles and that is not to mention driving home on late party nights when the random student decides to run across the street at the last-minute, not even close to a cross walk and about 5 feet in front of your car.

Summer

I saved the best for last. Summer has never felt so good as it has in a college town. The students, for the most part, head back to their hometowns (possibly also college towns) and we get to enjoy the town as you remember it in what I consider the best season here. The weather is warm again, there is always a seat outside at Basin Street or TC’s and a walk down the street prompts at least 3 stops to talk to someone who you know. Yup, Summer in a college town cannot be beat.

 

Bottom line, the pros outweigh the cons and I think, at least in rural PA, a college town is the way to go. Plus, where else can you be idolized just because you’re a townie.

Six Ways to Meet Your Resolutions

It’s true, I might still be writing 2011 on every document and signature line, but the fact is 2012 is here. And with the new year comes lots of resolutions, some easier to achieve than others. This year, I decided to take a route similar to those aiming to be healthier and happier, but instead, bundled it all up into one simple resolution…”I resolve to be the best version of myself, every day, one day at a time.”  By breaking it up into a day-by-day resolution, the task doesn’t seem as daunting and I am able to celebrate a success every day. Those that know me well know that I love any reason to celebrate. So, here are six ways I aim to achieve my 2012 goal.

Find Your Workout

Hot yoga is my workout. I’ve claimed it, it works, it’s mine. I leave feeling refreshed, yet exhausted. The point in this is to find your workout. Don’t lift weights or try Zumba because “it’s all the rave.” Try new workouts and find the one that leaves you feeling energized, mentally refreshed and exhausted at the end. Once you find the trifecta, you’ve got your workout…now run with it!

Use Good Habits to Break Old Habits

One of my worst habits is passing out after a long day without washing my face. So, to break this habit, I bought white pillow cases because I also hate sleeping on dirty sheets. This might not be the exact answer for you, but think about your bad habits and instead of scolding yourself for not being able to break it, think of a creative way to counter it with a good habit.

Be More Conscious of Time Spent

When I moved into my new apartment, I was faced with the decision of whether or not to turn the cable on. I decided to try out an experiment and go without it.  What I realized was that cable was the biggest time sucker in my life. Almost everything I used to do with the tv on as background noise now got accomplished in half the time. I guess I also realized we aren’t as good as multitasking as we think. Since I have been without cable, I have managed to accomplish more in my day and feel more rested and never rushed.

Learn to Say No…and Yes

This one may seem contradictory in nature, but what I realized is that my happiness is not going to come to me. All of those movies where it magically works out in the end are all Hollywood tales and if I want the same outcome, I have to write my own story. So, I took control and learned that when I want something, I should go for it and say yes. And when something makes me unhappy, I should also stand up and say no. By learning how to say yes and no, I have been much happier and motivated to achieve my resolution.

What Goes In, Must Come Out

Yes, this one might be a bit unappealing visually, but its the truth. Meghan constantly stressed the importance of what we put into our bodies and how it controls our moods, attitudes, and appearances. She is helping me to make healthier choices food wise and has also introduced me to the 2012 Challenge. Now maybe this eating style isn’t for you, and that is ok, but try to be more aware of what you are consuming. Calories aren’t the only way to determine food value.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

This one is probably the most important of them all. Few people succeed on the first attempt. There are three strikes in baseball in case you don’t hit it on the first try so why should we expect to succeed on our first attempt? If you fall or slip, just take a deep breath and start again. No one ever said the best version of ourselves is perfection.

- Shena -