Not far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Bryn Mawr, PA on Philadelphia’s Main Line is the restored estate of Harriton House. The house was built in 1704 by Welsh Quaker, Rowland Ellis. The house and its outer buildings are a unique 18th Century stone complex.
Rowland sold the property to Richard Harrison, prior to the American Revolution. He named his estate Harriton. It is thought to be the northernmost tobacco plantation. The plantation used slave labor to cultivate the tobacco.
When Harrison’s daughter, Hannah, married Charles Thomas in 1774 – the estate became their home. Thomas remained on the property until his death in 1824. He was the only Secretary to the Continental Congresses. As an ardent abolitionist his land was not worked by salves. Actually he gave shares of the farm to the workers for payment.
Thomas’ major interest included agriculture and the first translation of the Bible from Greek to English. Over the year he worked to cultivate both interests.
Today, the house and a 16½ acre park are owned by the Township of Lower Merion. It is privately administered by the Harriton Association. Bruce Cooper Gill is the Executive Direction of the association. It was in 1969 Lower Marion Township took possession of the property through eminent domain. Funds were raised by the Harriton Association which maintains the facility.
It was only recently that I became familiar with Harriton House through an invitation from Patricia Nogar to attend their annual Apple Tasting Event. Ms. Nogar hosts the popular show “Living Well with Pat Nogar” seen on LMTV or YouTube. She seems to know what is happening throughout the Main Line and beyond.
The Apple Tasting Event took place in the Educational & Administrative Center – formerly the pool house that has been converted. Apple Tasting takes place in October. This year 36 varieties were presented. Apples are supplied by two Amish growers from Lancaster County or Cherryvale Orchards. The set-up is each apple is featured with a display and a cutting plate with knife to sample. You are able to purchase your favorite apples from the display – plus other apple goodies.
Pennsylvania is the fourth largest apple producing states in the U.S. with York and Adams counties coming in first – closely followed by Lancaster County. The event highlights heirloom apples which are not usually available in local markets. Personal selection is for sweetness and flavor with some better for baking, drying and eating.
Bruce Gill, Executive Director (I call him the “Apple Man”) and his staff put a lot of time and effort into the event. At times he has to babysit the apples so they are just right the day of the tasting. He was good enough to share with us his favorite apple recipes. He believes “Apples are a fruit to LOVE”.
SPECIAL GRILLED CHEESE ...
A slice of good bread – either an Italian loaf or French baguette split in half and topped with your favorite cheese (Gruyere, Brie or whatever you like). Topped with thick slices of apples (washed & skin on) topped with another slice of cheese and placed until the broiler for a minute or two until the bread edges are brown & crunchy and the cheese has begun to melt. Meat eater occasionally includes a thin slice of leftover ham or turkey. Now that is a Sunday afternoon lunch.
Take the same loaf of bread used for the grilled cheese recipe and cut on a bias for slice one-inch thick. Combine together 1 tsp. curry powder, juice of one lemon, two large apples (peeled & diced), salt & pepper to taste, 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts or pecans and 4 Tbsp. of good mayonnaise, mix thoroughly. Drizzle good olive oil on bread slices, toast under broiler. Place mixture on top of toast slice and serve immediately.
APPLE SCHNITZ (Dried Apples) Bruce’s Favorite
Peel and core apples, cut into ring about ¼”+ thick. Place in food dehydrator or place apple slices on a wire rack in 300-degree oven with door slightly opened for ventilation until leather or crispy dry depending on your preference. Package for a healthy snack. These dried apples will keep for months in a closed container. Try different varieties of apples for different flavors. You can throw the dried apples into sauerkraut with some caraway seeds or place dried apples on top of vegetables or meat while still in the oven.
Harriton House is furnished with a fine collection of 18th-Century American decorative art. It is available for rent for social functions and meetings. It is open to the public- Wednesday – Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with weekday appointments preferred. It is located at 500 Harriton Road, Bryn Mawr, PA. Contact them by calling 610-525-0201 or visit their web site www.HarritonHouse.com. There is much to see and do inside and outside.
A SHOUT-OUT to Phyllis Fuelner whose pictures were used in the Salem column on her recent trip to the area.
CELEBRATE LIFE EVERY DAY!Let me hear from you: email@example.com. Search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking as well as phoenixvillenews.com for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”