Ellie's Choice on Bridge Street must be doing something right.
The store featuring unique clothing and gifts will celebrate its 10th anniversary in April. Ellie Acampora is president and chief cook and bottle washer of this business that features a great two-window storefront.
Ellie's husband, Ed Acampora, handcrafts most of the candles sold in the shop. He produces a scent called baby powder and it sure does smell like baby powder. Ed is a very busy man - he works for PennDOT and is a Realtor specializing in first-time buyers for residential and commercial properties.
Candles add a lot of charm and romance to a room. Ellie mentioned that candles actually should not be burnt at the dining table as the scent affects the food pallet. I have a personal peeve about candles that are just for show. People are known to leave the cellophane paper on the candle. If your candles are just for show, remove the paper and burn the wicks. Even if you are not going to burn them, it just looks better.
Ellie recalls her first sale at Ellie's Choice. It was a blouse brought by a woman named Margie and it cost $27.99. Ellie remarked that rain and snow brings customers in as well as the good weather days. The selection is vast and takes quite a while to check everything out. I had trouble keeping my attention on our conversation at times as my eyes kept wandering to the many lamps available in the store. There are original and reproduction table and floor lights that are just dynamite. I have narrowed 10 lights down on my favorites list.
Ed is from New Jersey and Ellie is from the Kingston section of Philadelphia. They met while they were both working for Royal Typewriter Company in Center City Philadelphia. Along the way, they moved to Collegeville, where they still reside today. There are three children, two girls and one boy, topped off with five grandchildren. Ellie's mother, Eleanor Paluch Evans, resides with Ellie and Ed and is an avid watcher of television cooking shows.
Since the store is opened until 6:30 p.m. and most nights Ellie does not get home until after 7 p.m., they have reversed the role in Acampora kitchen. Ed does most of the cooking. He is very fond of Italian food and always is picking his sister's mind for family recipes. Ellie is known to cook, but does not always have the time.
Ellie is currently the president of the Phoenixville Area Business Association. The group has revitalized itself after it disbanded several years back. Ellie can tell you that it takes hard work to have a successful business.
Ellie's uncle, Theodore Paluch, is a World War II hero. He survived the Malmedy massacre during the Battle of the Bulge. Ed showed me copies of newspaper articles that appeared in 1945 in the British edition of the Yank Weekly Magazine and The Evening Bulletin. T/5 Theodore J. Paluch was one of a group of 15 soldiers remaining after the main massacre. The original convoy had 174 officers and enlisted men at the end only he and two other soldiers escaped, found the articles with pictures informative.
The following recipe is a real family favorite and always requested by guests at the their dinner table.
Acampora Cauliflower Special
2 large heads of cauliflower
1 pound of butter, melted
bread crumbs, plain or seasoned
Cut cauliflower into flowerets. Drop into boiling water and cook for only 7 minutes, drain. Dip flowerets in melted butter, you could use margarine, but Ellie likes to live it up and use butter. Coat the flowerets with your favorite type of breadcrumb. Serve in a large heated platter or bowl.
Ellie's Acorn Squash
1/2 acorn squash for each person
Cut squash in half. In cavity, place one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon honey. Sprinkle brown sugar over top. Bake for one hour in 350-degree oven.
All Time Favorite
3 cups of unpeeled zucchini sliced thin
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup salad oil
1 cup Bisquick mix
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Grease 9-inch pie plate. Blend all of the ingredients together. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
There is something I have been meaning to ask you. Have any of you notice how many automobile vehicles, like cars and trucks are up for sale setting along the side of the road or on front lawns? I would say in the last three months I have come across at least 50, even more. More and more seem to be popping up every day. I have even spied for sale sign on moving vehicles. It is really baffling. In the past, I would see one, once in a while, but now it is daily. If anyone has the answer write to me at Neighborhood Kitchens, P. O. Box 1660, Norristown, PA 19404.
Reminder ... 3 CUPS OF YESTERDAY Cookbook based on the weekly column as seen in The Phoenix is available for $15 includes book and postage.
Life is like a celebration, enjoy it!