Five Reasons Why We Love Wholey’s!

Five Reasons Why We Love Wholey’s!

Wholey’s has been selling fish in Pittsburgh’s Strip District since 1912, so you know they’ve been doing something right. Here are the top five reasons we love coming to the Strip to shop here:

  1. Cheerful and knowledgeable employees. Wholey’s is a family-owned business and I get the feeling that they treat their employees like family. From the friendly woman serving lobster bisque samples, to the guy who inexplicably bagged a pound of shrimp to the ounce in one scoop, to Sam Wholey himself handing out freshly squeezed orange juice samples, everyone seems determined to make sure you have a good experience shopping there.

  2. Free parking while you shop. If you’ve ever been to the Strip District, you know what a perk this is. Wholey’s lot is directly across the street and you don’t need to wait long for a space to open up.

  3. The widest variety of fresh seafood in the area: gulf shrimp and imported shrimp in multiple sizes, walleye, Spanish mackerel, bronzini, ocean perch, red snapper, king crab, rainbow trout, striped bass, fresh and cooked whole lobster…actually too many to list. And some are still swimming!

  4. It’s not just fish! Wholey’s is a full-service market with fresh produce, meats and poultry, and a great selection of gourmet foods all at reasonable prices.

  5. Free ice! Just beyond the checkout counter is a huge ice cart where you can scoop ice into a bag to keep your fish from getting too fishy:) Planning to do more shopping at the Strip before heading home? Put a cooler in your car to keep everything chilled until you leave.

Making Peach Jam – With Peaches Fresh Off The Peach Truck!

Making Peach Jam – With Peaches Fresh Off The Peach Truck!
 Too many peaches for the fruit bowl!
Too many peaches for the fruit bowl!

Are you familiar with The Peach Truck? Neither was I until Rick showed up with a 25-pound box of peaches after going to the hardware store for a garden hose. The Peach Truck Tour travels through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and Florida, stopping at select locations (usually hardware stores and garden centers) to sell half-bushel cases of fresh Georgia peaches. The truck stops at each location for just two hours, and then they are off to the next stop.

Why not just get peaches at the grocery store, you say? (Or I might have said, to Rick, as I looked at the massive amount of fruit on the kitchen counter.) One juice-dribbling-down-the-chin bite later, I doubted no more. These peaches are amazing!! After we shared some of the bounty with our kids, both our son and son-in-law raved that they were the best peaches they’d ever eaten.

After doing our own little peach tour to our kid’s homes, we still had 15 pounds of fruit left to make jam and a pie!

 A dozen jars of fresh peach jam. Bring on the toast!
A dozen jars of fresh peach jam. Bring on the toast!

We found a recipe and canning tips on YouTube (thanks Cog Hill Farm!) and got down to work.

Fresh Peach Jam (Recipe courtesy of “Saving the Season” by Kevin West: http://amzn.to/2wdzAQP

5 pounds ripe peaches

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 1/2 cups sugar

  1. To peel the peaches, slash a shallow X in the end of each fruit. Working with a few at a time, blanch the peaches for 60 to 90 seconds in boiling water. Lift the peaches out of the water using a slotted spoon and set them in a bowl of ice water to cool. Remove the skins and pits from the peaches. Chop peaches and combine with the lemon juice and sugar. Leave to macerate for 30 minutes.

  2. Turn the fruit mixture into a large heavy bottomed pot and bring to a full boil. Reduce over high heat to the gel point, 8-10 minutes, at a full rolling boil, while stirring constantly. If the jam is too chunky for your liking, turn off the heat and stir with a whisk to break down the chunks. Ladle the hot jam into six prepared half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

 Scoring the peaches
Scoring the peaches
 Blanching…
Blanching…
 Ice water bath
Ice water bath

 Add sugar and lemon juice.
Add sugar and lemon juice.
 Boil while stirring until your arm falls off.
Boil while stirring until your arm falls off.
 Ladle hot jam into clean pre-warmed canning jars. (We placed our jars in a warm oven for 5 minutes.) Using a funnel makes the process less messy. Place lids and rings on jars and hand tighten before placing them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Ladle hot jam into clean pre-warmed canning jars. (We placed our jars in a warm oven for 5 minutes.) Using a funnel makes the process less messy. Place lids and rings on jars and hand tighten before placing them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
 Make sure your jars are covered by an inch of boiling water. After boiling for 10 minutes, remove to drain and cool. Don’t be alarmed by the popping sounds the lids make as they cool. That means they are properly sealed. All of the lids should be indented when sealed and there should be no movement when you press down on them. If any of your jars don’t seal, just refrigerate the contents and use them first.
Make sure your jars are covered by an inch of boiling water. After boiling for 10 minutes, remove to drain and cool. Don’t be alarmed by the popping sounds the lids make as they cool. That means they are properly sealed. All of the lids should be indented when sealed and there should be no movement when you press down on them. If any of your jars don’t seal, just refrigerate the contents and use them first.

I think I’m supposed to add a disclaimer here stating the fact that I am not a professional canner or chef, so don’t rely on this recipe or my instructions alone to safely make preserves. For the latest guidelines on canning and processing, visit http://nchfp.uga.edu/ .

Interested in getting your own bushel of the Peach Truck’s peaches? They’ll be rolling back into the Pittsburgh area on Sunday, July 21 with stops at Ambridge Do It Best, Rural King in Washington, Hampton Do It Best in Allison Park, Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse in McDonald, Tractor Supply Co. in Natrona Heights, and Rollier’s Hardware in Mt. Lebanon. For more information, visit https://thepeachtruck.com/pages/tour.

OpenStreetsPGH in the Strip District

OpenStreetsPGH in the Strip District

We were headed to the Strip District early this afternoon to visit Wholey’s Fish Market for some jumbo shrimp and swordfish- this perfect weather makes grilling dinner on the deck almost mandatory – when we stumbled upon our first Open Streets event. I follow @bikepgh on Instagram, so I was vaguely familiar with the concept, but wow! what a fun time! Penn Ave. and a number of the side streets were closed to traffic and hundreds of people were riding bikes, walking, walking dogs, and just hanging out socializing throughout the Strip. We had to park the car over by the Cork Factory, but it was a quick walk and super entertaining. We encountered a drum line next to Mon Aimee Chocolat, a bluegrass quartet further down Penn and and guy playing an accordion outside of Wholey’s! With our shrimp and swordfish in hand, we weren’t able to check out the entire route, which extended 4 miles from downtown to Lawrenceville, but we will plan ahead in the future.

The next Open Streets event is scheduled to take place Sunday, July 28 and will encompass a four-mile route through Downtown, Uptown, and Southside. I think we may have to load our bikes on the SUV and make a day of it! Visit https://openstreetspgh.org for more information.

 Volunteers were blocking bike traffic, not automobiles!
Volunteers were blocking bike traffic, not automobiles!

In addition to Wholey’s, some of our favorite Strip District establishments are Pennsylvania Macaroni Company (or, as it is affectionately referred to in our household and many others, PennMac), Peppi’s Old Tyme Sandwich Shoppe (where we once ran into a young couple who had come to town for a Steeler’s game and were filling a cooler with Roethlis”burgers” to take home to Kentucky), and In the Kitchen, where you can find every imaginable culinary gadget. I could spend hours in this store.

Since we still have some smoked cheddar and imported brie from our last visit, we bypassed PennMac this time. And since we had the aforementioned shrimp and fish in hand, we skipped In the Kitchen.

 Street-side musicians
Street-side musicians
 More music!
More music!
 Penn Mac!
Penn Mac!

Remembering Vietnam on Memorial Day

Remembering Vietnam on Memorial Day

Heinz History Center is usually a fun little romp down memory lane, but this Memorial Day we visited a more somber exhibit – The Vietnam War: 1945-1975.

Developed in partnership with the New York Historical Society, the exhibit explores the years of US involvement in Indochina. The show highlights key players and turning points in the war and explores how it impacted our nation’s trust in government, economics, and popular culture.

That’s me loosely quoting the promotional material about the exhibit. Personally, I found it grim and depressing, like the war itself. My memories of Vietnam are those of a 9-year-old child whose big brother was over there: drawing pictures to include with the care packages of Hellman’s mayonnaise, tuna fish and Jif peanut butter my mom sent him, being shushed every time the news came on, and the Tet Offensive when the area we’d last known him to be in was bombed and no one could locate him. My mother dove for the phone every time it rang. Thank God, my brother made it home. But the fact that thousands of other boys died in a senseless “conflict” breaks my heart.

I went into the exhibit with the intention of sharing some photos and interesting things I learned, but I just couldn’t muster the emotional energy to do so. For those of you who are interested in visiting the exhibit on your own, it continues through September 22, 2019. Museum admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $9 for students and children. Active and retired military will receive half-off admission through the dates of the exhibition with free admission offered on Independence Day.

What I did enjoy: the flag folding ceremony

The History Center holds a flag folding ceremony in the museum’s Great Hall three times a year: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. We were on hand for this moving spectacle in which 50 or so museum visitors helped unfold a 36-foot American flag and held it aloft while a bugler played “Taps” in memory of the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Tear-inducing for sure, especially when noticing the retired servicemen in the crowd.

 Fellow museum visitors unfurl the flag.
Fellow museum visitors unfurl the flag.