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.

Happy Birthday Pam!

This past week has been a little crazy here at the Inn.  Meghan and I must have baked over  500 cookies and other assorted baked goods.  We made sugar cookie cutouts, gingerbread, oatmeal raisin, chocolate snowballs, chocolate chocolate chip, magic bars, peppermint biscotti, coffee cake and chocolate chip banana nut bread.  I think we did all of this in less than three days.  We really didn’t leave the kitchen and yet somehow, even though I did end one of the days with a severe sugar rush, we didn’t manage to eat that many – until my sister brought home Nutella No Bakes and then I went to town.  Doesn’t our colorful icing remind you of the imaginary food from the movie Hook?  We were pretty much yelling “Bangarang” all day!

Thankfully, we were able to enjoy some down time with the holidays. We had a full house at the Inn, but our guests were such lovely people and were nice enough to tell us to relax on Christmas and don’t worry about coming in to clean the rooms and make breakfast.  They all said they were full of food anyway.  So, my family enjoyed a festive Christmas Eve with my Dad’s very loud and very stereotypical Italian family.  I’ve been having this Christmas Eve dinner for as long as I can remember and every year, it gets crazier and crazier.  If you’ve been lucky enough to meet my dad’s side of the family or have an Italian family of your own, you know exactly what I mean.

Finally, this week ended with our company holiday lunch and my mom’s birthday.  She turned the ripe old age of 46 and she might kill me for telling you that.  :)  I say she’s still so young and the fact that people think she’s my sister just proves my point.  We had some great home cooking and Meghan and I made my mom a homemade “Everything But The” cake.  That’s my mom’s favorite ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.

Ultimately, things are starting to slow down a little bit here at the Inn.  January and February are usually our slow months.  Mostly because not much business is coming into town with college being on break and not many people want to travel to Kutztown when its this cold outside.  If you do want to come see us, we lowered our rates for January and February to $115/night during the week and $135/night during the weekend for all rooms.  Hopefully you all got our Holiday Greetings via email.  If you didn’t hear from us and you want to, you can sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.  We’re going to start sending out a monthly newsletter because we have some new things set for 2012.  Can’t wait to get the ball rolling.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe New Years and I hope I get to meet many of you in 2012 or see some familiar faces again.

 

Until next year,

Shena