How Sweet It Is at Sanders’ Cookie Jar Bakery
Feb01

How Sweet It Is at Sanders’ Cookie Jar Bakery

by Bonnie Williamson “What about desserts?” I asked. “If the world comes to an end, I’m going to want cookies.” That quote, which comes from young adult science fiction writer Susan Beth Pfeffer’s book, Life As We Knew It, could be the mantra for many people. Cookies and other sweet delights are essential to a happy life. Well, Perry Sanders has been doing his bit to meet those cravings for more than 50 years. Sanders, 57, is the proud owner and chief baker at Sanders’ Cookie Jar Bakery in Hagerstown, Maryland. He jokingly says he has had a hand in the Cookie Jar since childhood. “I began helping out when I was about eight years old. It was fun. Soon I was doing more than just helping out. I was rolling out the dough for cookies and cutting the cookies out,” Sanders says. Sanders comes by his choice of career as part of a family tradition. He is the third generation of bakers. His grandfather Preston owned a bakery in Aberdeen, Maryland. His father Don started his own business in downtown Hagerstown at 20 East Washington St. in 1965. Sanders briefly tried other jobs for about three years before returning to the bakery business in 1984. “It got into my blood,” he says. He worked with his father for about ten years. His father eventually decided to sell the Cookie Jar. Sanders took him up on the offer, purchasing the business in 1994. He opened up Sanders’ Cookie Jar Bakery at its current location at 13140 Pennsylvania Ave., in 2000. He’ll celebrate his 25th anniversary as owner of the bakery this year. Sanders describes the Cookie Jar as a “full-line” bakery. “We do just about anything you could want, not just cookies. We have such a wide variety. Decorated cakes, anniversary cakes, special occasion cakes, butter rolls, buns, doughnuts, pies, breads, and danishes. Ninety percent of the work is done from scratch. It’s all done on site. I do all the baking and most of the mixing,” says Sanders. Keeping things fresh is important at the Cookie Jar. Since no preservatives are utilized, customers should store their items properly to maintain freshness. All products other than those that contain pastry cream or whipped cream can be left at room temperature for two days as long as they are stored in airtight containers or under cake domes. After that, they should be kept under refrigeration if they are to be eaten over the next few days or in the freezer where they can be stored for several weeks in ziplock bags. Most pastries can be heated gently in the microwave....

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George’s Food and Spirits
Feb01

George’s Food and Spirits

If you have ever been to downtown Winchester, it is very likely that you have seen the iconic George Washington Hotel. It marks the entrance to a vibrant destination in Winchester, sitting a mere block away from the popular walking mall replete with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It is also right around the corner from George Washington’s 18th century office outfitted with period pieces and history placards telling of times past. The hotel is home to the Christopher Rankin Design Studio, which specializes in unique travel-inspired jewelry. Did you know that The George Washington Hotel is also home to the full-service restaurant, George’s Food and Spirits? Well, it is, and this restaurant is one of Winchester’s best kept secrets. The George Washington Hotel is in its second iteration as a place to for travelers to rest their heads. The original structure, built in 1924, operated as a hotel for over 70 years, playing host to notable celebrities like comedienne Lucille Ball, heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, and the inimitable Vienna Boys Choir, who serenaded guests one evening during the American leg of their world tour. The hotel’s close proximity to the Winchester B&O railroad station made it a popular choice with travelers using the rail in its heyday, when travel by coach was all the rage and people from all walks of life were starting to venture out and experience different environments from their own. In the late 1970s, the hotel was converted into The George Washington Home for Adults and the space served in this capacity for 18 years. After serving as a sentinel for the charming community, vacant of occupants for 10 years but still a force to be reckoned with, its five-story height acting as a beacon in the Winchester skyline, the revitalization of The George Washington Hotel began anew. After $30 million dollars in renovations, which included private bathrooms in each unit and contemporary amenities like Wi-Fi and entertainment options, and 4.5 years in the making, The George Washington Hotel opened its doors to a new generation of guests in 2008. The décor is an eclectic mix of art deco and contemporary accents, updating the look while maintaining the historic integrity of the establishment. The hotel retained the original molding and marble floor from the early 1920s, but the seating and color palette reflect a more contemporary vibe. Guests from all over the world come to visit Winchester, VA for the rich history it possesses. The George Washington Hotel is a popular destination with its Roman bath, indoor pool, upbeat lounge called the Half Note, 90 updated rooms (including 10 suites), and proximity to local...

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Self-care is not selfish
Feb01

Self-care is not selfish

by Bonnie Williamson Different approaches to health care are becoming more and more popular. One of these approaches is massage therapy. Yet massage therapy is nothing new. It has been practiced for thousands of years. There are more than 80 massage therapy styles that involve different pressures, movements and techniques. Muscles and other soft tissues are pressed, rubbed and manipulated. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), up to 25 percent of American adults had a massage at least once during 2016-2017. And, they have a wide range of reasons for doing so. More and more people are recognizing the health benefits of massage to gain relief or heal injuries, to help with certain health conditions and to promote overall wellness. Massage is also a great way to relieve stress. The world is a stressful place. Trying to keep it together while problems continue to crop up day after day can be exhausting. Not only that, people can be doing tremendous harm to their bodies without even realizing it. Spending so much time meeting the needs of others, ignoring one’s own needs, can take its toll. Ignorance is not bliss. The motto of a new business, “Self-care is not selfish,” is taken seriously by Angela Wethington, a licensed massage therapist (LMT), who recently expanded her business, Synergy Massage and Wellness, in July of last year. Synergy, located in Martinsburg, West Virginia, is not a spa, but features a holistic approach to health. Synergy offers a variety of bodywork modalities, stretching, massage related to self-care tips, as well as Tai Chi and Yin Yoga with Fascia Release. Synergy also plans to host nutritional workshops provided by certified professionals throughout the year. Those at Synergy strive to keep the body balanced, When balanced, it functions better as a whole unit. When an imbalance exists in one area, pain and stiffness can often be felt elsewhere. “For example, you may have a pain in your neck that could actually be caused by a problem with your foot as the body is continually trying to correct itself on the next level in the body’s kinetic chain. We’ve had clients hobble in and walk out feeling better. It is so rewarding. We work with the nervous system through receptors in the body to help facilitate the body’s natural healing response. Sometimes it almost seems like magic how the body responds to certain techniques. Clients have remarked after a session that they had forgotten how good they could feel.” Wethington says, smiling. Working with the nervous system explains the business’ name: Synergy. Synergy is defined as the interaction or cooperation of two or more...

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Winchester Floral – Art and Soul
Feb01

Winchester Floral – Art and Soul

by M.T. Decker Talking to Stephanie Tierney of Winchester Floral, you soon realize that the business is about a lot more than flowers. It’s about art and soul. Winchester Floral first opened in 1985 and began building a reputation as one of the premier florists in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, being voted “Best Florist in the Valley” for two years running. Located at 1939 Valley Avenue in Winchester Virginia, Winchester Floral is family owned and operated. Stephanie started working at Winchester Floral in the early ’90s, and has owned the store for the last five years. Everything she knows about flowers and flower arranging, she’s learned from experience. The original owner of Winchester Floral had grown up in the floral business in New England and passed her knowledge on to Stephanie. One of the things Stephanie loves about the business is the fact that she has been a part of people’s lives. “Over the years, I’ve seen children who would come in with their parents – and now we’re doing flowers for their prom, bouquets and centerpieces for their weddings…” Its one of the many things Stephanie loves about her business: being a part of life moments for their customers. While she loves working on Wedding bouquets and centerpieces, Stephanie admits it’s a lot of work. “But it’s pretty awesome,” Stephanie assured me. “We get so many people complimenting the flowers – people just call to say thank you.” There are other life moments that Winchester Floral is a part of – when people are ill or on the mend. They work hard to make sure that the bouquet or gift basket are designed specifically for the recipient. “We do baskets for people that we fill with snacks, and magazines. We did one basket for a lady who loved crossword puzzles,” Stephanie told me. They’ve also created arrangements for funerals, customized to honor both the people who have passed and their families. “We had one funeral,” Stephanie told me as she remembered the arrangements with a somber pride. “The man had been a softball coach. We incorporated that into the arrangement.” By adding a softball, a glove, and a hat to the arrangement the staff at Winchester Floral created something special for the family. Stephanie loves going that extra step to make sure that the flowers have that personal touch. When they make plant gardens, Winchester Floral usually make them with a person in mind, but they work to make sure they always have something on site for people who come in and need something right away. “Dish gardens make a great gift,” Stephanie points out, and I can...

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A little bit of England right in the Eastern Panhandle
Dec01

A little bit of England right in the Eastern Panhandle

By Bonnie Williamson You don’t have to go across the pond (the Atlantic Ocean for those who don’t know) to get a taste of food well known to British palates. The Devonshire Arms Cafe and Pub at 107 S. Princess Street in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, combines the atmosphere of a pub serving tasty British fare and American favorites for the past nine years. The restaurant was named in honor of its owner’s home county in England, Devon or Devonshire. Carolyn Litwack was born in the city of Plymouth on the south coast of Devon about 240 miles from London. Litwack studied graphic design and worked in that field most of her life. She lived in different countries including Italy, Ireland and Iran before eventually coming to the states. She lived in Fairfax, Virginia, visited friends in Shepherdstown and purchased the building that was to become the future home of the Devonshire Arms. The structure was built in 1900, functioning as a site where horse drawn carriages were constructed and repaired. “I use my old traditional British recipes for the menu,” Litwack says. British dishes found on the menu include Bangers and Mash: two large English sausages (about the size of hotdogs), baked in Guinness, which is an Irish stout, mashed potatoes, gravy and baked beans or peas; Cornish Pasty and salad: beef, potato, onion with spices wrapped in pastry; Cottage Pie also known as Shepherd’s Pie: local beef cooked with white wine, carrots, peas, onions, and spices with a potato and cheese topping; and, of course, Fish and Chips: Yuengling battered haddock with hand cut English chips served with tartar sauce and coleslaw. Sometimes on special occasions Litwack will have something called Bubble and Squeak, a traditional British breakfast made from boiled potatoes and cabbage. “The cabbages squeak when they’re fried so that’s part of the name,” Litwack says. A breakfast item many Americans have never experienced is the Full English Breakfast or Fry Up: two eggs, bacon, sausages, home fries, grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, baked beans, and toast. Some desserts offered include a Victoria sponge cake; a Bakewell tart, a short crust pastry shell beneath layers of jam, frangipane, and a topping of flaked almonds; sticky toffee pudding; and a Banoffee made from bananas, cream and toffee, combined either on a buttery biscuit base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter with chocolate. Customers can celebrate special occasions with a traditional afternoon tea at the Devonshire. This usually takes place around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Reservations are required for this treat, which consists of a pot of imported tea, scones, jam and Devonshire...

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Say Cheese!
Dec01

Say Cheese!

By Bonnie Williamson An unusual specialty market in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, opened its doors this past Memorial Day and found residents of this rural community hidden in the hills greeting the new business with open arms. A plethora of cheeses are available, along with such meats as elk, venison, rabbit and boar. Not standard fare for local menus. The name of this establishment, Fleur De Lis Cheese Shop, is also quite different. Just what is going on? Fleur De Lis owner, self-proclaimed foodie Regina AaMacha, says despite the fact that cheese shops are not exactly found all over the region, people seek her out, both locals and out-of-towners. First, the name: why Fleur De Lis? The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily that is used as a decorative design or motif used widely in France and New Orleans in the United States. Both places have significance for AaMacha. “I’ve been studying cheese for about 20 years, with time spent in France,” AaMacha says. “I traveled all over. I learned geography by eating cheese.” The New Orleans influence comes from her background, too. A Southern gal, born in Alabama but raised in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area, AaMacha learned how to make dishes from scratch from her grandmother. “When I was a teenager, my mother was into gourmet cooking,” she says. “What I do now is a combination of both.” AaMacha says the food business has always been a part of her life. Ironically, it’s directly connected to her other career. She has been performing as a working musician in bars, restaurants, clubs, concert halls and stadiums here and abroad since she was 16 years old. “I play guitar, eat and cook. Music and food have always been a part of what I do. I had a coffee shop in Florida. Same thing happened there, served people and performed. I travel on tours to keep things fresh musically. Has to be new, but cheese has also been a passion of mine,” she says. AaMacha offers a wide variety of cheese. “I find people want to have choices. Many come in knowing exactly what they want. Others come in to learn about cheese,” she says. When it comes to the flavor of cheese made from goat and cow’s milk, a lot depends on where the animal was grazing. Many cheeses are named for the region from which they originate. Chevre Noir is a Canadian made one-year aged goat milk cheddar. It’s an elegant, crisp cheese that develops a complex flavor dotted with lactose crystals during the aging process. Manchego is a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the...

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