'Taste of the Holidays' features demonstrations of holiday-inspired recipes
The coziness of the holiday season will start warming its way into the hearts of those who attend the fourth annual Taste of the Holidays event Thursday, Nov. 7, at Blue Heron Events in Greencastle, Pa.
The culinary event sponsored through the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce by Orrstown Bank features demonstrations of holiday-inspired recipes that ticket holders can taste and learn to make at home. Area businesses will feature baked goods, wines, coffees, tablescapes and holiday décor for sale or to order as gifts in time for the holidays.
Blue Heron proprietor Denise Hutchison and her husband Paul Hutchison, both chefs, will demonstrate how to make a holiday brunch that can sit out most of the day. Some gluten-free options will be included.
“The idea is that someone can make brunch early in the day and then wouldn’t have anything else to do on Christmas or at a holiday party,” she said. “Brunches are very popular right now. A lot of people are even starting to do brunches for weddings so it’s really fitting for this year.”
On the menu is ham baked in a way that was passed down by Hutchison’s great grandmother Susan Royer, who owned and operated a boarding house near Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., on land that became the Fort Ritchie military installation.
“I’ll be using her recipe for the baked ham,” she said. “I’ll also be doing a stuffed French toast. Once I give you basics for it, you can do it in any flavor – pumpkin, blueberry, chocolate chip. Everybody here will get to taste this.”
She’ll also be making a ham and gruyere quiche. Gruyere, she said, is “a high-quality Swiss cheese that melts really nice.”
Paul Hutchison plans to make a blondie from scratch.
“It’s something that you can do in several different ways,” Denise Hutchison said. “They can be served with ice cream, with different sauces. He’ll demonstrate how to make a homemade hot fudge, a salted caramel and a blueberry reduction.”
The toppings can be used on the French toast as well.
“Everyone will be able to partake of it all,” she said, “and Orrstown Bank will print a brochure that has all of the recipes in it and everyone will get a booklet to take home. They are also more than welcome to email us or text us if they have questions.”
Hutchison finds passing on her knowledge of cooking to others to be gratifying, she said. Born and raised in Hagerstown, she cooked not only with her great grandmother, but also with her grandmother Mary Calimer, her mother Mary Gill, who passed away last year, and with her aunt Tootsie Wastler, who cooked at the lunch counter at a drug store in Blue Ridge Summit during World War II.
Wastler, she said, worked at the drug store and suggested to the owner that he ought to put in a lunch counter.
“He told her, ‘I will if you do the food.’ She did and it became a thriving business,” Hutchison said. “She made a lot of soups. I make a lot of her recipes so it’s come down through the generations.”
The menu at last year’s Taste of the Holidays included roasted turkey with a rosemary lemon butter under the skin.
“I made my grandmother’s stuffing. I can’t tell you how many people emailed or I see out in public and they say, ‘Oh my gosh. I made that turkey and everyone loved it,’” she said. “I love teaching people simple cooking techniques so they are able to duplicate it at home.”
She said food makes wonderful memories.
“I love for people to be able to do what we do and especially to have people say how wonderful it was on Christmas day,” Hutchison said. “It’s really fulfilling to people to do it for themselves and to realize, ‘I can do this!’”
Chris Johnston of Greencastle’s the shop! will demonstrate creative tablescapes and Lori Hess from All Things Country offer unique holiday decorations. Biser Farms will provide cheese offerings and Mama K’s Buns will serve up baked goods. Wine tasting will be administered by Halbrendt Vineyard & Winery, and The Center of Balance will supply unique holiday gift ideas from its artisan shop.
Around 125 people have attended past Taste of the Holidays events, Hutchison said, which serves as a boost for holiday shopping at local shops.
“Blue Heron will be decorated for the holidays. There will be white Christmas lights that are just really pretty,” she said. “It is so much fun. People really get into the holiday spirit when they come.”
Top photo: Turkey pot pies with buttermilk biscuit crust were among the 2018 offerings at Taste of the Holidays. (Submitted photo)