Props to the Amish Village!


OK, so in my blog about our trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country, I mentioned the Amish Village & their “interesting” tour guide.  The more I thought about it, the more a few things struck me as odd, so I slightly altered my original post to include the questions that were asked by the people taking the tour & answers given by the guide… and then I did something goofy.  I decided to contact the Amish Village to tell them about it.  I sent them this using their webform:

> From: Eric <my.email@ddre.ss>
> Subject: Tour. Guide.
>
> Message Body:
> Hello,
>
> My wife & I were in the Lancaster area this past weekend celebrating our anniversary.  You have a beautiful area, and an excellent attraction.  I enjoyed a view of the Amish lifestyle, and the stores & displays on site.  I did learn quite a lot about the use of propane for lighting, refrigeration, and retro-fitting things like electric mixers.
>
> You. might. want. to. audit. your. tour. guides. though.
>
> Confused?  Me too:  http://wp.me/pwqzc-Ap
>
> Just some things that I noticed that were contradictory to some other tours & info that we had heard…
>
> Thanks!
> -Eric
>
> —
> This mail is sent via contact form on Amish Village http://theamishvillage.net/dev

And this was their reply…

From: Shane Ackermann
To: Eric <my.email@ddre.ss>
Sent: Thursday, June 2, 2011 3:07 PM
Subject: Re: Tour. Guide.

Eric-

Thanks for emailing.  I’m glad you and your wife enjoyed Lancaster area.  We work hard to please our customers and have a unique attraction, after all, you are our life-blood.  I saw this blogspot earlier today via google alerts and have already spoken with our team.  Must have been an off day, he is one of our best.

Again, thanks for the feedback and please let me know next time you are through the area.

All the best-
Shane Ackermann
The Amish Village
Owner
704-726-6957

ps- great pictures.  Would you mind posting them to our FB page?  I just started it and it needs some customer pictures.

First of all, Google is awesome for picking up my blog with Google Alerts. Second, and more important… Mr. Ackermann is awesome for having them set up for his business, so he can actively keep up on any sort of press and/or online musings.  It’s great to see someone actively using technology to keep up with their business & help get the word out.  The ridiculously quick reply didn’t hurt either.

Check out their Facebook Page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Amish-Village/217619698257614  (Maybe check out their Twitter page too!)

Hopefully I’ll be able to upload some photos for them in the next few days.

Again, I’d like to stress that it’s definitely a cool/fun place to visit.  Just read up on the Amish first, & grill the tour guides when you’re there!  Ha ha.

PA Dutch Country Attractions


So, I already blogged bout my plan for Amish country, here’s what we did while we were there…

The Downtown Lancaster Visitor Center, the Heritage Center Museum, & the print shop upstairs by the .918 Club.  – Yeah, all of this was in one building.  The visitor center was my first stop because I had a decent dialog going before our arrival in the area with Henry at the center, and whoever is behind the goLancasterPA Twitter account. I wanted to say hello & give a personal thanks.

I printed this...

I printed this...

After a quick hello, we went on to the Heritage Center Museum for some cool Amish artifacts & hands-on toys, a quick history lesson, and a bunch of other area artifacts like some beautiful paintings, clocks, furniture, & more.

Upstairs in the print shop, we got an all-out printing demonstration from Mike Donnelly.  I’ve always found that kind of stuff interesting from printing & graphic design to the art of fonts & printing.  It was an unexpected surprise & it was right up my alley!  I even got to make a few small prints on some antique presses!

Angry Young & Poor – Yeah, not exactly in with the theme of everything else, but I used to order from this place back when paper ‘zines & catalogs were a thing… so I had to stop since I was in the area.  Dude behind the counter seemed cool, and I picked up a Sloppy Seconds CD.

HAven not Oven

HAven not Oven

The Dutch Haven – This was a store that looks like a windmill. While there, I bought some Amish root beer & tried a sample of shoo-fly pie.  It felt like a toruist-trap boardwalk kind of store, but you’ll have that in tourist areas.  They seemed rather nice.  Also, we learned that you need to go here before Jakey’s Amish BBQ, and you’ll get a %10 off coupon.

yuk yuk yuk
yuk yuk yuk

The Outhouse – It was a like a Cracker Barrel store & a Spencer’s crashed into each other.  It was full of local stuff, goofy stuff, kitch, and a bunch of silly coin-operated jokes.  Fun, but once we saw it, we don’t really ever have a need to go back.

Ed’s Buggy Rides – I had an amusing online exchange with Ed … or someone at Ed’s Buggy Rides.  It went sort of like this…

Ed's Buggy Rides

Ed's Buggy Rides

From: Me
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2011
Subject: Prices?
Hello,
My wife & I are planning to be in the Lancaster/Strasburg area this weekend celebrating our anniversary.
I was wondering what your rates are for buggy rides?
Thanks,
-Eric

Simple enough right? (I mean, a website ought to list that sort of thing, but…)

From: Mrs Brenda Littler <klittler@verizon.net>
To: Me
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Subject: Re: Prices?

Please call 717-687-0360.

Pimpin' Amish Buggy

Pimpin' Amish Buggy

Heh.  Don’t email info@edsbuggyrides.com, just call ’em I guess.  The tour did prove to be awesome though.  We took the tour with another couple, and our driver/guide was quite knowledgeable about the Amish history & way of life.  He was able to easily answer any questions that we had.  We also stopped at a working Amish farm where I had a glass of homemade Amish root beer, and Bethany bought a Quillow from the craziest salesman ever, a 13 or 14 year old Amish girl.  We weren’t getting out of there without buying something.  She was showing us every quilt, wall hanging, toy, and canned good in the place.  I wish I could have taken her picture.  For having a seemingly communal/communist lifestyle (from each according to his means, to each according to his needs – right?), this girl was a killer capitalist!  (Oh yeah, that was J & B Quilts and Crafts – they’re at 157 N. Star Rd., Ronks, PA 17572)

Stop.  Yell.  Ing.

Stop. Yell. Ing.

The Amish Village – The Amish village was a tourist trap, but it was a cool visit.  The. Kid. Who. Gave. Us. The. Tour. Yelled. Syllables. Instead. Of. Speaking. Normally.  He also wasn’t very good with Amish trivia or history.  He said some stuff that contradicted the heritage museum, and other things that I’ve read.  He also didn’t answer questions very well, or talk about the Amish men’s clothing or the significance of their hats – which our guide on Ed’s Buggy Rides had already told us about.   He talked a lot about the dresses though, and knew a lot about them.  Did you know the outer part of an Amish woman’s dress is pinned on with straight pins?  Dude knew.  He also assured is that the pins don’t jab you, and you get used to it after the first few times.  Yeah.  If I were the owner, I’d make sure dude wasn’t in there trying on the dresses at night.

After the upstairs bedroom tour, a woman asked about the hats… he said there was no significance where our earlier guide told us about the distinction with the rounded vs. flat indicating if the wearer has children.  Then again, downstairs… a man asked about why they use animals in the field… the tour guide went on a tangent about rubber taking them too far away from home… where from what I understand they use horses to ensure that everyone tills a fair amount of land.

It was cool to see a mockup of a typical Amish house, and learn about their extensive use of propane in lieu of electricity for things like lighting, refrigeration, heat, and running things like retrofitted electric mixers.

The Hangover Part II – OK, we were out of town and decided to just relax and catch a goofy movie.  The Garmin found us a local theater, we went, we laughed our behinds off.  I’m guessing the Amish would not appreciate or even understand 99% of this film.

First Class!

First Class!

475

475

The Strasburg Railroad – We took a first class ride on this train and it was just awesome.  It’s the first time that either of us was ever on a train.  (Unless you count the T.)  It was fascinating just to see & feel how it worked.  This history behind the railroad in general is quite interesting.  We sipped drinks & took photos while the train chugged along and we listened to a narrative about the countryside & the railroad itself.  I would say this is a must for anyone going to the area.  Next time we may hit up the railroad museum across the street, or the toy train museum.  Also, next time, we’d like to ditch the Super 8 in favor of the Red Caboose Motel!  This was a relaxing way to spend part of the day, & there was plenty there to entertain us for a while.  Next time, we may do the picnic lunch where they drop you off for a picnic in a great little picnic area, then you ride back on a different train.

Choo-Choo!

Choo-Choo!

The Choo Choo Barn – The other area train attraction that we did go see was the Choo Choo Barn.  This was a model train display with amazing attention to detail, it reminded me of the one here in Penn Hills that they do around Christmas. There was a fire scene were a house “caught fire”, complete with smoke, every 15 minutes… then a little firefighter popped out with a hose and put the fire out with real water.  I mean, it was crazy.  I wish I had better photography skills to catch all the crazy stuff in there with the odd lighting & night scenes.

Attention to detail.

Attention to detail.

One photo I did manage to get though, was a blurry one… but proof of a man taking a pee in the top floor of one of the train stations.  You know the guy laughed for hours after putting that one in.

All in all, we had a wonderful weekend in PA Dutch Country, and it was an excellent way to celebrate our 3rd anniversary.  We liked it so much that we hope to make it a regular trip!  We’ll never run out of things to do over that way.  I could spend all day taking buggy & train rides!

You can check out all the photos from out adventure here… from my Nikon D60, Bethany’s Fuji Finepix Z, and both of our phones:  Grid View / Slideshow View

Bethany in the garden outside the Sotlzfus Farm Restaurant

😀

The next blog will be about the food.  I had to break it down.  This post is already incredibly long!

More than 6 ways to cook a hot dog.


A while ago, I blogged about stumbling on to an article listing 6 ways too cook a hot dog.  We all know there’s more.  Here’s a much better list.  OK, maybe not better… but bigger. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions submissions here and on Facebook, I hope to include them all here.

Oh well, on to the list…

  1. Grill ’em. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re going to cook a hot dog, it needs to be grilled.  I would agree with this.  I usually don’t break out hot dogs unless I’m already grilling burgers.  They’re there for those weird non-burger people, or a topping for your burger.
    • Charcoal Grill – This is old school grilling, get it hot let the flames & coals cook the dog with some nice grill lines or looking like the victim of a flame-thrower accident.  There are good instructions on grilling w/ gas & charcoal here (as if you need them).
    • Propane Grill – It’s a little easier to control the heat, & you’re less likely to produce the same flame-thrower victim effect if you keep an eye on ’em. There are also good instructions on grilling w/ gas & charcoal here (again, as if you need them).
    • Foreman Grill – Or any of the imitators & whatever they’re called.  I’ve seen a Hamilton Beach one, I’ve seen them called electric grills, counter-top grills, whatever… you know what I’m talking about.  I’ve had little success with the Foreman Grill & hot dogs… which is odd, because it cooks other stuff quite easily.  Here’s a video on how to cook ’em on the Foreman Grill, …because I can’t find good text for it anywhere.  They don’t list a time for hot dogs in the book that comes with it.  Maybe they assume their grill is for convenience, and it’s more convenient to nuke or boil your dogs.  If anyone has $99 to spare, I’ll take the USB iGrill from Think Geek.
    • Infrared Grill – I know nothing about this newfangled contraption.  It looks like you can burn a hot dog in 0.5 seconds on one.  Learn about infrared grills at Wikipedia.
    • Griddle/Flattop Grill – If you have one in your house, you are awesome.  You can certainly cook a hot dog on one, and don’t need me to tell you how.
  2. Open Flame. Who doesn’t love hot dogs (or anything really) cooked over a campfire? …Or a bonfire, trash barrel fire, or while the neighbor’s house is burning down? With these methods, You can also wrap the dog with biscuit or croissant dough from those creepy popping tubes, and it will cook nicely over an open flame.  If you want to get really crazy, slice it down the middle & stuff cheese in it, or wrap some cheese around it before the dough.
    • Skewer – We use roasting forks or or just sticks.  You can get the forks at any sporting goods or camping store, in a store that has a camping section, or in a store near your camping site.  You can get sticks in the woods, or from a lone, sad tree.  You can also get inventive, like this guy.  Be careful choosing sticks and being inventive… you don’t want anything that will poison your hot dog… like toxic wood, metal treated or painted with anything, and of course plastic.  I can’t seem to find a guide online of safe & unsafe tree branches to use when cooking over a fire.  Anyone have a boy scout handbook?  (I asked Yahoo!, apparently nothing out there will kill you, but stick with a non-sappy wood.) With this method, get your fire going, and hold the hot dog over it… but not in the flame unless you like black crispy possibly carcinogen-laced hot dogs.  If using a store-bought fork, it’s up to you if you want to put the dog on long-ways, or double/triple ’em up the forks.
    • Pie Iron – If you’ve camped with me, you’ve cooked with a pie iron… or you’ve watched me cook with one.  My favorites include pizza ones, and Reubens… but I’m sure you could stuff a hot dog into one.  They also have ones that are shaped to cook hot dogs.  This would most likely result in a nicely cooked dog without the singe marks, maybe flavored with some onions (gross!) or sauerkraut.  If you’re buying  a pie iron, buy one made of… iron.  This sounds dumb, but they make aluminum ones, and I have melted them with no problem.  I don’t think you want aluminum flavored hot dogs.
    • The Cage – Burger basket, grill basket, vegetable basket – all different names for a similar utensil.  I’d use it like I would a fork for hot-dog cooking… may be sort of useless unless you have a burger in it too.
    • The Rack – If you can find some sort of rack or grate that you can secure safely over the fire that’s also safe to cook on, you can cook like it’s a charcoal grill if you’re more comfortable with that.  Just make sure the flame isn’t eating your hot dog before you do.
    • Foil Pack – You could use the bread dough & any toppings/sides here as well.  Wrap the dog & even the bun in foil, and place it on a grate over the flames, or in the coals around the bottom of the fire like you would with a baked potato.
    • Oven Burner – That’s right.  Pit it on a fork or roasting fork, and hold it over the flame on your stove top.  This might not be safe, but I bet it would be fun.
  3. Boiled – I’m sure you’ve all had ’em like this.  I think it even suggests to heat ’em this way on the pack.  I’m not a fan of boiling anything any more, unless it’s soup or pasta.  It just seems like a lot of flavor goes into the water… and where hot dogs are concerned, it’s not like you have a lot to work with to begin with.  I’d suggest boiling hot dogs in beer, even though I’ve never tried it… it sounds pretty awesome.  You can even get crazy with beer, ketchup, and brown sugar.  Maybe some beef broth or bullion would be cool here too… but that may make ’em to salty?  I dunno.  Boil at your own risk.
  4. Nuke ’em – I guess that besides grilling, this would seem to be the most obvious method of cooking hot dogs.  On the last pack we bought, this method was featured larger than the other methods.  Just 30 – 40 seconds in the microwave … wrapped in a paper towel?  I never use the paper towel.  Is that to hold in moisture, prevent explosions, or what?  Apparetly there’s an art to this, because I have found the articles How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Microwave and the possible passive-aggressive How to Cook a Hot Dog in the Microwave Without Exploding the Ends.  As I write this, I have an urge to make some hot dogs explode in the microwave.  I may be developing a disorder.
  5. Lovin’ from the Oven – You can certainly cook hot dogs in the oven, you may split ’em open or poke them with a fork first.  This method would be ideal for the croissant-wrapped hot dogs, smothered in some awesome cheese.  Just make sure if you use the 1st linked method, that you put the foil in the oven before you heat it up (like they so diligently mentioned)… or don’t do that, burn yourself, and stay off of the internet.
  6. Deep Fried – They call these Rippers in New Jersey, no?  I don’t have a fryer… but I suppose I could do this in a pot on the stove, or in my turkey fryer.  I’ve never had one, but I’d imagine it’s a pretty good thing.  Corn dogs could be lumped in here too, I guess.
  7. Steamed – This seems to be a popular method, but I know I’ve never done it, or really seen it done.  I guess there are commercial steam cabinets for hot dogs… but I bet you could steam it like you do with vegetables if you have a steamer.  Perhaps, like boiling… you could steam it with beer…?
  8. In the Skillet. – Or frying pan.  Just fry it on the stove top with a little bit of oil.  I guess you could slice it open first if you wanted to, so it doesn’t pop on you.  Or, you can elevate it to an art form.
  9. Crock PotPop ’em in the crock pot with some sauerkraut (maybe along with some beer), and you’re good to go.
  10. Car EngineWhy not?
  11. In Stuff – Okay this isn’t one specific method, but I didn’t feel like all of these should have their own #’s on the list.  You know you’ve chopped ’em up and added them to baked beans, mac n’ cheese, or even done a hot dog & potato bake.  Here I’ll also inject that I once got the SpaghettiOs with hot dogs.  They were inexplicably gross.  This is your final warning.
  12. Goofy Single-Purpose Appliances – I have hot dogs only occasionally.  I can’t imagine getting one of these hot dog cookers that serves only one purpose.  Our counter-space is quite limited.. and I can’t see that breaking one of these things out would be worth the novelty after more than a few uses…
    • The Hot Dog Toaster – Besides looking creepy, these also apparently cook hot dogs.  It looks to be just a toaster with hot dog-shaped holes and bun-shaped holes.  I wonder if it really cooks the thing through very well?  May be quite convenient.
    • Solar Hot Dog Cooker – This might be fun for campers or science geeks.  Solar ovens are pretty awesome, this one and this one are especially geared for hot dogs… this one might work.
    • The Roller – These apparently come in several varieties, but all look to be the same concept… Cooked on rollers like the ones you see at the convenience stores.  Brookstone makes one, there are a bunch of professional ones, and Nostalgia Electrics offers the Roller & “Ferris Wheel” varieties.
    • The “Roast My Weenie” guy – More of an accessory, this really just needs to be seen.
    • Electrocute it – My cousin told me a tale via Facebook of a hot dog cooker for electric chair, taser, and Tesla enthusiasts… called the Presto Hot Dogger.  Mad scientists can try it at home with a few things from around the house.  This actually looks pretty awesome.  This vintage one looks like a torture device.

Well, those are all the methods I can think of right now.  Well, other than going to Sheetz or Dormont Dogs… you should be able to get your hot dog fix by one of the methods described here.  If you have another technique, please list it in the comments below!

If you need more info… check out the list of hot dog variations.

Also up for discussion… now that you know how to cook one, what do you want on your hot dog?