Bloomsburg Natives Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (Part 3 of 4)

New Hope OrphanageKilimanjaro. Africa’s highest mountain. Wishing to raise money for health care and education for the children of Kenya, the sister and brother team of Veronica and Richard Smiley, in partnership with the March to the Top Foundation, climbed Kilimanjaro this past August, raising $25,000 in the process.

Veronica at New Hope OrphanageThis is Part Three in The Bloomsburg Daily’s Four Part series on Bloomsburg natives Ronnie and Rick. This third installment looks at the New Hope Orphanage and the Children that Veronica and Richard were inspired to help.

Richard Smiley at New Hope OrphanagePart One of this series detailed the inspiration and preparation for the climb and can be read here.

Veronica at New Hope OrphanagePart Two tells of the climb itself and the difficulties faced along the way.

Silly BandzA complete Photo Gallery of the trip is available as Part 4

The Bloomsburg Daily – What images or moments from the non-climb part of your trip stick with you the most?

Veronica Smiley – The trip was truly eye opening for me. I’ve done the usual kinds of vacations the past several years, but was craving something different, something more meaningful. This trip did something I didn’t think was possible. It really immersed me in another world. The kids who are so happy with so little, they have a potentially life threatening disease, yet they are so happy because of the simple stuff: people who love them, safety, food and the chance to run around and be kids. Sounds cliche but it makes you think hard about what really drives happiness, and how much we really need.

I think another thing it did for me is put into perspective all the things that I think are such a big deal in my everyday life (a flight running late, stressful deadline at work, finding the perfect gift for a friend, etc). My friend Barbara [March, of the March Foundation] told me that I should meet the children before I did the climb so I could really be inspired when climbing Kilimanjaro. Well she was totally right. It was the perfect sequence to stay at the orphanage, get to know the caretakers, the farmer, the animal caretakers and of course the kids. I let it all soak in during the 6 days on the mountain. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or way to spend my vacation.

Richard Smiley – I completely agree with everything Ronnie said, and I would add that what was most memorable for me were the people.

Certainly, the children at the orphanage, but also the volunteers at New Hope orphanage, all from Italy, who contribute so much of their personal time to help keep the orphanage running. Then there’s the local help (housemothers, farmers, maintenance folks), who clearly recognize the special opportunity they have to help these kids.

There were also plenty of experiences along the way, starting with our stay at the orphanage and the simple accommodations they had prepared for us, complete with mosquito netting on the beds. We were in the same housing as the children, and each night as the generator was turned off to conserve fuel you could hear as the building settled into a quiet slumber. Then, throughout the day we were invited to join in with various activities with the children. A couple of memories stand out. One was when I sat cross-legged on the floor and was surrounded by children as I blew up balloons for them. Yes, it was like a mini-mob of sorts, but there were also smiles and laughter and you could not help but be consumed by it.

The other one is when I distributed the gifts I had brought for the children. There were over 70 kids, so I needed to bring something I could fit in along with all my mountain equipment. My kids suggested I bring Silly Bandz. So, in preparation for the trip, my kids pulled out their own Silly Bandz collections and we collected 70 bundles of the bands to bring as gifts.

The kids of New Hope had never seen them before and were so excited when we distributed them. Of course the best part was bringing the photos home to my kids so they could see the result of their efforts, that their toys were now on the wrists of children halfway around the world.

We were also invited to participate in the celebration for the opening of the Esiteti Primary School in Amboseli. Although this is a March to the Top project, the donations for our climb did not go towards this particular effort. Still, Barbara and Roy invited us to come along for the experience, and what an experience it was!

Although the Masai people are very connected to the modern world, a great many of them choose to live their life by their old traditions and practices. They live in mud hut villages surrounded by barriers of thorny bushes. They wear the traditional bright-colored garb and beaded jewelry. They rely on walking as their primary mode of transportation, walking great distances across the vast savannah to reach their destinations. This school opening was considered a monumental event for the Masai, and hundreds of them walked 5-10 miles to join in the festivities.  When we arrived, we were greeted by a long line of Masia women on the hillside who were in constant song. Then, we sat down for a four hour celebration of song, dance and speech to commemorate the occasion.

One speaker, an older Masai woman, made an interesting comment in that the Masai people had survived this long through a careful balance and respect for the animals around them, and that this school’s opening was directly attributable to the animals. From the animals comes the tourism, and from the tourism comes the increased visibility of the needs of the Masai people. We needed to leave before the dinner festivities began, so I have no stories of slaughtering my own goat or drinking the ceremonial mixture of milk and warm cow’s blood.

But, one of the funniest moments occurred when a Masai warrior approached Ronnie, introduced himself, and gave an opening line of, “Are you on Facebook?”. I’m sure [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg would be gleaming.

NellieTBD – How much money did you raise? What was the impact of your effort?

Esiteti Primary School - AmboseliRS – We were extremely happy to have raised over $25,000 from the climb.  Because March to the Top covered all of the administrative expenses, the entire amount went towards the New Hope Orphanage. We even got to sit down with the heads of the orphanage to determine the allocation of funds to each of their initiatives.

Esiteti Primary School - AmboseliThe money raised was used to pay for one year of medical insurance for each of the 70+ children. In addition, we wanted to use some of it to help one of the children, Nellie, who had had an improper medical procedure prior to arriving at New Hope. This poor girl was left with a hole in the side of her neck, where her saliva would drain out. And the correcting procedure would need to be done at the better facilities in Nairobi. I believe she is preparing now for her operation so she can lead a more normal life.

The remaining funds went towards the new medical facility being built on the grounds. This facility is critical as the orphanage tries to increase its capacity.

TBD – How do you feel now that it is done? What are your future plans related to the charity?

VS – Now the question keeps popping into my head about what’s next. I don’t think it has to be big trips or dramatic fund raising. Barbara March and I were talking recently about ideas to help spread the word with a newsletter, photos, making it easy for anyone to volunteer at their projects, everyone can play some kind of a role. Maybe I waited too long to begin my volunteer efforts, but it’s never too late for anyone to start.

RS – I agree with Ronnie that what we do next doesn’t have to be such a big event to help make a difference. However, I know that a future trip to visit New Hope will come. Only, this time, I’d like to share the experience with the rest of my family.

TBD – Can you relate what you did with how you grew up in Bloomsburg? This was clearly an amazing effort. What gave you the strength to do it?

RS – I think the main point for me here is just that, growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania I could have never imagined one day having the opportunity to affect the lives of these children on another continent. I think I’d view it the same way my kids do when they see their Silly Bandz, now on the wrists of these children. I know we’ve done a little to help these kids, but they’ve helped me as well.

Part One of this series detailed the inspiration and preparation for the climb and can be read here.

Part Two tells of the climb itself and the difficulties faced along the way.

A complete Photo Gallery of the trip is available as Part 4

Founded in 2006, the March to the Top Foundation was established by the March family in order to help the less fortunate in Africa, focusing on improving education and healthcare, specifically with regards to HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. Veronica Smiley is a member of the March Foundation Advisory Board.

Bloomsburg Natives Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (Part 2 of 4)

Kilimanjaro ClimbKilimanjaro. Africa’s highest mountain. Wishing to raise money for health care and education for the children of Kenya, the sister and brother team of Veronica and Richard Smiley, in partnership with the March to the Top Foundation, climbed Kilimanjaro this past August, raising $25,000 in the process.

Kilimanjaro ClimbThis is Part Two in The Bloomsburg Daily’s Four Part series on Bloomsburg natives Ronnie and Rick. This second installment recounts their climb to the top and the difficulties faced along the way.

Kilimanjaro ClimbPart One of this series details the inspiration and preparation for the climb and can be read here.

Part Three looks at the New Hope Orphanage and the Children that Veronica and Richard were inspired to help.

A complete Photo Gallery of the trip is available as Part 4

Kilimanjaro ClimbThe Bloomsburg Daily – What were the biggest challenges during the climb? How long did it take? What happened?  What images or moments from your climb stick with you the most?

Kilimanjaro ClimbVeronica Smiley – One thing I learned was that you should never be overly confident! On the climb, I almost felt guilty that the first 5 days were so easy for me! Then, the day of the last summit, I met my match. My steps were painstakingly slow, and reinforced by a sweet Tanzanian guide who stabilized my shoulders with every step so I didn’t fall back. It took everything I had to make it up.

Kilimanjaro ClimbWhat kept me going was the thought that quitting was not an option. I wasn’t throwing up due to altitude sickness, and I wasn’t injured, so I had to work through the discomfort and haul my body up that mountain. Sure it’s just a tiny bit of strife compared to the lives that these kids have led, but it was a wake up call that just seemed to fit with the theme of the trip. And wow, it felt amazing to reach the summit!

Richard Smiley – We took the Machame Route up the mountain, which is a 30 mile trek to the top. So it was a bit of an adjustment and all of the guides stressed “pole, pole”, which is Swahili for “slowly, slowly”. This was the best way to acclimatize for first time climbers.  From the first day, we walked at a very measured snails pace. One foot in front of the other.

The crew however would speed past us to set up camp, carrying 45 lbs. of camping gear balanced on their heads. The crew was amazing, and they were doing this with not nearly the level of hiking equipment that we had.  Some wore sandals, sneakers, even dress shoes! Each day started very early to beat the crowds, each evening we had simple but satisfying meals waiting for us at the camp.  By nighttime, we were exhausted and slept early to prepare for the next day.

Along the way we experienced a very diverse landscape.  We began in rain forests, but that quickly switched to a more mountainous terrain.  One of the most challenging and interesting days was scaling the Barranco Wall, where you had to navigate around the “kissing rock”.  The ledge around it was so small that you had to hug (or “kiss”) it was you carefully stepped around it.

I’ve been holding off until now to get to this, but I started to experience altitude sickness about three days into the climb.  If you’ve never had this before, it’s not something I’d wish upon anyone. The worst moments were at night, when the headaches were so severe and the nausea was weakening.  I would have to get up multiple times during the night to unzip the tent and throw up.  Many times I’d have to ask Ronnie to unzip the tent before I sat up, so I could make it out in time.

After the first night of this, I thought I would not continue.  Ronnie, on the other hand, did not get hit at all, at least not until the last day.  Everyone in the camp would hear me, and every morning they were surprised that I was ready to keep going.  The problem was that with all the nausea I found it difficult to eat or drink the recommended amount of water each day.

Finally, on summit day, I started off with the group, but realized I was too weak and dehydrated to continue to the peak.  Ronnie and I had always had the agreement that if one of us could not continue, the other would still push ahead, so that’s what we did.  So, I started to make my way down the mountain while Ronnie kept going to reach Uhuru Peak.  I waited at the final camp until Ronnie returned with the great news that she had reached the top! I couldn’t be more proud of her.  At least one of us made it to our goal.  As for me, I have absolutely no regrets.  I did what I could to prepare, but the mountain affects everyone differently.  It took nothing away from the fact that it was an amazing experience.

VS – In all, I learned a lot about how you can be so passionate about a cause, but everyone has their own cause they care about so it isn’t so easy or straightforward to get others to care in the same way you do. I had a lot of friends who did support us, and it wasn’t about the amount of money but about the support.

I also had many friends who offered only emotional support which was what they had to give. You cant be judgmental with these things, you just think that others will have their moment and have their eyes opened like I did. Even if people just went on the website and learned a little that they didn’t know before, that’s a win.

Kilimanjaro Climb
Veronica Smiley at Kilimanjaro's Uhuru Peak, The Highest Point in Africa

Part One of this series detailed the inspiration and preparation for the climb and can be read here.

Part Three looks at the New Hope Orphanage and the Children that Veronica and Richard were inspired to help.

A complete Photo Gallery of the trip is available as Part 4

Founded in 2006, the March to the Top Foundation was established by the March family in order to help the less fortunate in Africa, focusing on improving education and healthcare, specifically with regards to HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis. Veronica Smiley is a member of the March Foundation Advisory Board.

Bloomsburg Natives Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (Part 1 of 4)

Veronica and Richard SmileyKilimanjaro. Africa’s highest mountain. Wishing to raise money for health care and education for the children of Kenya, the sister and brother team of Veronica and Richard Smiley, in partnership with the March to the Top Foundation, climbed Kilimanjaro this past August, raising $25,000 in the process.

This is Part One in The Bloomsburg Daily’s Four Part series on Bloomsburg natives Ronnie and Rick. This initial installment tells of the inspiration and preparation for their climb.

Part Two, detailing the difficulties of the climb can be read here.

Part Three looks at the New Hope Orphanage and the Children that Veronica and Richard were inspired to help.

A complete Photo Gallery of the trip is available as Part 4

The Bloomsburg Daily – What led you to the idea of climbing this mountain?  Was it the challenge of doing it, the reward of who you might benefit, or a combination of both?

Veronica Smiley – I’d always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, since I was in college. A few years ago, I was looking into a job in global children’s health with non-profits supporting Africa. A couple years later, as luck would have it, the two interests would collide. I meet Barbara March [of the March to the Top Foundation] at a girlfriend’s dinner and, poof!, the idea became reality for our “Smiley Climb To The Top”.

Richard Smiley – For me, the idea began when I was considering joining a friend who was planning a climb to the base camp of Mt Everest.  This may have been a bit ambitious as a first climb, but it got the wheels churning for a more adventurous type of vacation.  Then, when I shared my idea with Ronnie last Christmas, it turned out we had the same idea, except that she substituted the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro instead.

Similar to Ronnie, I had also been considering a career switch where I could combine my job with something where my efforts could help others.  I had already been looking at various non-profits to see if there was a fit for my skills.  To be honest, the idea of merging the two only came about with Ronnie’s ‘serendipitous’ meeting of Barbara March at a dinner. We’ve used that word quite a bit in reference to the whole experience, because so much of this trip just seemed to come together as if it was something we were supposed to do.

TBD – Who did the climb benefit?  How did you make the connection with that group and what will the money you raise do for them?

Veronica Smiley at New Hope OrphanageRS – The climb was organized by March to the Top Foundation, whose goal is to help underprivileged people of Africa by providing support in health care, education and conservation.  The specific project we were focused on is the New Hope Orphanage, which provides shelter and health care to children living with HIV/AIDS.

The orphanage itself is operated by AINA (the Italian Association of Nomades of Love), with March to the Top being the primary benefactor.  The money raised would go towards various initiatives for New Hope.

TBD – Were you both on board from the beginning, or did one of you have to talk the other into doing it?

VS – I did a lot of volunteer work at Georgetown University but then got whisked into the working world and was limited to making donations here and there. For me, this trip was all about living it and seeing it for myself, not just reading weepy articles or hearing other people talk about the need.

Lo and behold, my brother said he wanted to do it together!  Well no doubt about it, the trip would never have been the same if we hadn’t done it together. Fate works in funny ways and I really believe this was in our cards.

RS – Yes, we were both on board from the beginning!

TBD – How long did it take to plan?  What did that involve?

RS – So, the initial idea to climb Kilimanjaro evolved last Christmas, 2010.  Over the next couple of months, we started to research different outfitters who would organize the climb.  It was in April that Ronnie made the connection with Barbara March and the March to the Top organization. That is when everything started to fall into place.  However, even with Barbara’s help, there was a lot to coordinate.

We had to organize the standard stuff such as flights, lodgings and visas, but also get numerous shots (yellow fever was a must, typhoid, Hepatitus A & B, etc.) and various medications (Cipro, malaria pills, Diamox for altitude sickness).  Plus, we had to gather our equipment for the climb.  The outfitter supplied a recommended list of what we’d need, but it was still a big task in and of itself to gather all the items we would be dependent on once we were on the mountain.

And finally, there was the training for the climb itself!

TBD – What kind of training did you have to do to prepare?

RS – Ronnie and I approached the training a bit differently.  Ronnie already does a lot of cardio, so she was more focused on training hikes to become accustomed to terrain and to help break in her boots.  I was also focused on cardio, but being based in Florida, I had the disadvantage of having virtually no access mountains for hiking.  I was basically left with doing all of my training at sea level.

I had researched a great deal on combating altitude sickness, and all of the advice pointed to using Diamox (which does not always help) and doing everything I could to make sure I was ready physically.  I could not train for altitude, but I could at least do what I could to remove fitness from the equation.

TBD – When did you make the trip?  What did you do while you were there and when did the actual climb start?

RS – The overall trip was from Aug 12th to Aug 29th this year, and the climb itself was from Aug 21st to Aug 26th.  The trip was really divided into three amazing experiences. The first part of the trip was when we flew from Nairobi to Meru to visit New Hope and saw firsthand the facility and children we would be helping.

KilimanjaroThen, we flew to Amboseli, where Barbara and Roy March invited us to take part in another March to the Top project, the opening of the first Masai school in Amboseli – the Esiteti Primary School.  We took part in the Masai ceremonies for the opening, which was an experience in itself.  On a side note, we did go on safari in Amboseli which was also an incredible experience. While in Amboseli on safari, we had our first glimpse of Kilimanjaro, beckoning in the distance!

At that point, it was pretty hard to believe that in less than a week, we’d be well on our way to the top of that very mountain.

Part Two, detailing the difficulties of the climb can be read here.

Part Three looks at the New Hope Orphanage and the Children that Veronica and Richard were inspired to help.

A complete photo gallery will be published on Wednesday.

Founded in 2006, the March to the Top Foundation was established by the March family in order to help the less fortunate in Africa, focusing on improving education and healthcare, specifically with regards to HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis. Veronica Smiley is a member of the March Foundation Advisory Board.

Will the “Real” Chicken and Waffles Please Stand Up?

chicken and waffles“I know it sounds crazy, but trust me. You’re going to love this place,” Dominic said as we turned on to Colorado Boulevard.  Of course I trusted him; we’d been friends for over five years at that point and he had yet to steer me wrong when it came to music, movies, or food.

We passed a seemingly endless line of car dealerships, turned on to Lake Avenue, past a few taquerias, and a sad, empty Kentucky Fried Chicken and there it finally was — the restaurant that Dom thought would sound so crazy to me, he kept its name a surprise:

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.

He turned off the car, nearly vibrating in anticipation of my protests:

“I told you it sounds crazy but chicken and waffles really taste great together!”

As surprised as he was to not hear a mumbling objection from me, that’s how surprised I was to find a restaurant devoted to one of my favorite comfort foods in — of all places — Pasadena, California. We bounded out of the car and nearly ran in to the restaurant with visions of waffles and chickens dancing in our heads… only not the same visions. Not at all

Before I continue this story, let me ask you a question on a different subject altogether: You know how it is when you really love a song and then someone informs you that there is another version – a better version (they say) – and you don’t even want to hear it because you feel so protective of the version that you know best?

Walking in to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles for the first time was like stumbling in to a restaurant full of people singing along to Guns N’ Roses’ version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” who hadn’t even heard of Bob Dylan.

It turns out that the vast majority of this nation — a nation which likes to consider itself cultured and educated and well-versed in how to eat both chicken-type things and waffle-style products — has no idea what chicken and waffles really are! Those poor fools think that the chicken is supposed to be fried and the waffle covered in syrup!

I’m no culinary historian, but I’m sure that our way is the original way. As a cooking method, stewing must be way older than frying, right? Right. So our way of doing chicken and waffles must be older, too. There you have it – unsubstantiated proof! And when I say “our way” I really do mean “Our Way,” by the way. Bloomsburg is the center of the known Pennsylvania-Dutch style chicken and waffle universe. Did you know that? Well I’m saying it’s true so I must believe it. But it’s not just my opinion that this is a fact: ask that nice lady from Chicago who runs the Molly Pitcher Waffle Shop down in Chambersburg.

Me and my buddy Sue were on a trip down the Lincoln Highway a few years back, looking for gravity hills, haunted taverns, and buildings shaped like what is sold within, when we happened upon the Molly Pitcher. We were hungry, it was open…it was like, meant to be, you know? We went in and opened up a pair of menus and there it was: proper, Pennsylvania-Dutch-style chicken and waffles only they called it “Chicken and Wha?!?”

The proprietress was in that fine day so we winkled the goods from her. She was from Chicago (like I already said) and used to work for the Buckhorn Family Restaurant chain. Eventually, being a good and diligent worker, she was rewarded with a promotion to The Buckhorn Truck Plaza (Exit 232) where, on her first day at work, there was a line outside the restaurant to get in.

“What’s going on,” she asked and someone explained to her that it was chicken and waffles day. Her response was, “Chicken and wha?!?” But she grew to love them so much that there she is now, in Chambersburg, proprietress of her very own chicken and waffle eatery. And there you are, Bloomsburg. Go ahead and be proud of your chicken and waffles and the vast sway they hold!

But while outside of Eastern Pennsylvania menus containing “Real” chicken and waffles are almost non-existent, the “Fake” chicken and waffles are having their fifteen moments in the sun these days. You can find them on menus in St. Petersburg and Chicago, Phoenix and New York City, Indianapolis and San Francisco. I believe the only reason why “Fake” chicken and waffles are more popular is because taking advantage of franchising opportunities is one thing the Pennsylvania Dutch are not known for. Still I gotta admit — even though it doesn’t resemble the original in the least, the “Fake” can be pretty tasty when done right.

Since my first visit to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, I’ve had the wrong kind of chicken and waffles in several cities, including New York, where they call it “Harlem-style.” This makes sense to me since Roscoe (the man, the myth, the Los Angeles area chicken and waffle restaurant chain owner) is from Harlem. And he has done more to popularize that dish than anyone else I haven’t met.

Also, when I lived in New York City, I had more than one occasion to eat of the Harlem-style in Harlem and one place in particular, Londel’s Supper Club, had a whole section of their menu explaining the origin of chicken and waffles (the short version: “Harlem,” they said). And menus don’t lie, do they? Maybe so, because many people, including Chef, Author, and host of “No Reservations” Anthony Bourdain, believe that “Harlem-style” originated somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.

I know Anthony Bourdain harbors this popular illusion because I work on a series on HBO called “Tremé,” and we have a character on the show who’s a chef. And in one episode last season, there was a scene where she (southern girl that she is) made a southern-themed meal at the restaurant where she works. And the meal featured, of all things, fried chicken and waffles.

My hackles raised, I immediately went to the executive producers to explain the error of their ways: how could a southern-themed meal contain “Harlem-style” chicken and waffles? Their answer: “Anthony Bourdain wrote that scene. Take it up with him.”

To date, I have not taken it up with him. But that’s not to say that I won’t if ever given the chance. In the meantime, I will concede that the popular consensus is that “Harlem-style” chicken and waffles are from the south. In defense of my alternate, less-popular version of reality, however, I will add that in all my travels, I have never seen chicken and waffles on a menu together in the deep south — not anywhere that is known for its fried chicken, its waffles, its soul food or southern cuisine. And it’s not as though I haven’t been looking.

Just last week, I had sweet potato waffles and fried chicken at Gussie’s in San Francisco. My significant other has been a professional restaurant reviewer in that city for the last 17 years or so. She thought she was the reigning champ of all things chickeny and waffley because she once did six consecutive weekly reviews of chicken and waffle-themed restaurants. Her editor was not amused.

When I broke the news to her that she had been eating the wrong kind of chicken and waffles all these years, it blew her mind. Just as I would have never imagined doing what Roscoe and his ilk do to chickens and waffles on the same plate, so too could she not fathom the dish that I grew up with.

“Don’t worry,” I assured her. “We’ll go to Bloomsburg. Then you’ll understand.”

And though she did get to go to Bloomsburg this year, it ended up to be just in time for Tropical Storm Lee. So between the leftovers from the Labor Day BBQ we hosted and the lovely hamburg barbeque sandwiches we were fed at St. John’s in Espy while helping friends of friends gut their first floor, nary a chicken-stewed waffle was had. And while we had intended to stay the whole of Fair Week, once the fair was cancelled we got it in our heads that the best thing we could do was leave town earlier than planned and make our drive westward all the more leisurely.

I got the news of the food vendors going rogue on Route 11 while we were parked for the night in Grand Junction, Colorado. We may have both shed a tear to think of what we were missing but … next year …

Until then, we decided to have Kristin Camplese, proprietor of the cooking website Cuizoo, cook up a batch of chicken and waffles and share the recipe for our readers.  This version takes a savory, rosemary-infused Belgian Waffle and tops it with chicken stewed in marsala-laced and butter-rich gravy.  It’s a little fancier than some recipes, but the results are divine and elevate a dish — traditionally made with leftovers — to a company-worthy meal.  In the comments, let’s talk chicken and waffles.  What’s your favorite chicken and waffle recipe? Where’s the best restaurant version of it you’ve had? Have you ever had the “Fake” chicken and waffles and if so, where and what did you think of them?

Chicken with Marsala Gravy over Rosemary Belgian Waffles

Serves 4-6

Note:  These types of dishes are traditionally leftover-based.  Someone would take leftover chicken and mix it with leftover gravy and serve it over some freshly made waffles on day two after a roast chicken.  If you don’t do it that way, it is more labor intensive, but still generally worth it.  As with most cooking, it is best with homemade chicken stock, the freshest local chicken you can find, and freshly made waffles.  However, it can certainly be made easier by using convenience ingredients.  It just won’t be as good. 

For the chicken and gravy:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup flour
4 cups of chicken stock (homemade is best)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sweet marsala wine
5 cups of shredded chicken (white meat is best)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

For the waffles:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups yogurt or thinned sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1.  Make the gravy by melting 1/2 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the 1/2 cup flour and cook for about three minutes, whisking constantly (this is called the “roux”).  Add in 4 cups of chicken stock, 1/2 cup of marsala, and salt and pepper.  Whisk well to make sure all of the roux mixture  is incorporated with the stock.  Use a spatula to make sure there is no roux left in the corners of the pan.  Bring to the boil so it begins to thicken and then reduce heat to medium low.  Stir in shredded chicken and simmer over medium low heat for at least 30 minutes, and more if needed.  If it becomes too thick, you can add a bit of broth or marsala.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and fresh rosemary.

2.  Make the waffle batter by combining the whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine the yogurt, milk, melted butter, 2 egg yolks, and chopped rosemary in a small bowl.  In a medium bowl, take the remaining two egg whites and whisk them until stiff peaks form.  Stir the yogurt/milk mixture into the flour mixture. If it is very thick, add a bit more milk. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites into the waffle batter and stir just until combined, so you don’t deflate the egg whites.  Preheat a Belgian Waffle maker and brush it lightly with melted butter.  Ladle the appropriate amount of batter onto the waffle iron (according to manufacturer’s instructions) and cook until golden brown and crispy.  Repeat with remaining batter, keeping waffles warm in the oven.

3.  To serve, taste gravy for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper, rosemary, or Marsala if necessary.  Ladle a large scoop of the chicken and gravy over a hot waffle.  Garnish with additional chopped rosemary if desired.


Essay by Jen Ralston who is (in a very particular order) an eater, traveler, writer, and Emmy award-winning sound editor. She was born and raised in Bloomsburg.

Recipe by Kristin Camplese who is (in no particular order) an eater, writer, photographer, cook, mother, and wife.  Also raised in Bloomsburg.  No Emmy awards, although she did win a spelling bee in 7th grade.

Where to: Learn Something New

TeachingHas cabin fever already struck? Looking for a new hobby? Old dogs as well as spring chickens can learn new tricks and expand their horizons everyday in Bloomsburg:

700 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 389-4420

From Water Coloring to Crime Scene Investigation, Welding to Aikido, Sign Language to CDL, Bloomsburg University’s Continuing Education Department offers a wide array of noncredit, short-term courses for adults and children. Download their course catalog online for details. (Note: Classes scheduled for the Magee Center have not been cancelled, only relocated.)


2 West 7th Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 389-9206

This educational, hands-on museum has Saturday workshops on a variety of subjects for your little information sponges. November 5th is “Science Saturday” and November 19th will be “Living History Day.” Check their website for more info and future dates.


203 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 317-2596

Bookbinding, Indian Cooking, Stop-Action Animation, Yoga, and Robotics is just a sampling of the classes available here. Many classes run one to five sessions, some private art instruction also available. Check their website for details.


1906 Montour Boulevard, Danville
(570) 275-4949

Have you got the music in you but need to learn how to let it out? Lessons available for a wide range of instruments including guitar, bass, clarinet, sax, dulcimer, banjo, and drums from experienced instructors. Call instructors listed on the Schoolhouse Music website by instrument specialty for more details.

BTE’s Holiday Memories: Students on Both Sides of the Curtain

BTEIn November and December, the Alvina Krause Theatre in downtown Bloomsburg will be filled with the sounds of school students in the audience and on stage when Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble brings Truman Capote’s HOLIDAY MEMORIES to the stage. You can find the full schedule for BTE’s Holiday season here at The Bloomsburg Daily’s Event Calendar.

There are eight special school matinees for Holiday memories on the following dates: November 30, December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22. All matinees begin at 10:00 a.m. and the cost is $9.00 for all audience members. Matinees fill quickly; one matinee is already sold-out and others are nearing capacity. School representatives are encouraged to call soon for best seating availability.

Truman Capote’s hopeful stories of young Buddy, his old-maid Aunt Sook and her dog Queenie are filled with small joys, love, family, and the secret ingredient to a great fruitcake. These poignant stories of his childhood holidays in the depression era deep South are wonderful for all ages, and are sure to get audiences ready for the holidays.

In addition to the students in the audience, there are young people on stage: Tanner Lenhart from L.R. Appleman Elementary in Benton and Eric Nock from Bloomsburg Memorial Elementary in the lead role of young Buddy, and Madeline Snyder from Columbia County Christian School in Buckhorn and Logan Kissinger from Bloomsburg’s Central Columbia Middle School as the puppeteers for Queenie.

BTE’s school matinees include the full-length mainstage production of HOLIDAY MEMORIES, as well as a unique behind-the-scenes peek at the show itself. After each matinee, students are invited to “Meet the Cast” as the actors make themselves available to answer questions about any aspect of the production.

To make a reservation for one of these special matinees or for more information about all of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s programs for students, contact Paula Henry, BTE’s School Programs Director at 570.458.4075, email at or visit

Where to: Celebrate Halloween

Hear ye, Hear ye!  Ghosts and ghouls, witches and goblins, the Halloween Season is now upon us!

Whether you’re looking for a fright, a cozy hayride, or a parade, we’ve got your Halloween plans right here:


October 25th, 6pm

from 2nd Street to length of Market Street, Berwick
(570) 204-7771

How often do you get to a chance to celebrate the 225th birthday of anything? Throw in a Halloween parade and you have a one-of-a-kind opportunity!


October 26th, 6:30pm

Columbia Mall
225 Columbia Mall Boulevard, Bloomsburg

(570) 387-4909

Children 12 & under in costume receive a “trick or treat” bag at the gazebo inside the main entrance so they can parade through the mall, collecting treats from the stores.


October 27th, 6pm

Downtown Danville
(570) 275-4863

The Danville Halloween Parade Committee hosts this treat-filled parade for the “ghosties and goblins.”


October 28th & October 29th, 10am – 9pm
Prices vary per event

Rohrbach’s Farm Market, Gift Shop and Bakery
240 Southern Drive (Rt 487), Catawissa

(570) 356-7654

The hay rides are free at this annual festival while the other events children’s playland, apple slingshot, corn maze range in price from free to $5 per person (depending on event and age of participant). Pick your own pumpkin all day, Rohrbach’s food stand featuring their apple dumplings as well. Flashlight corn mazes from 7pm – 9pm.


October 28th, 6pm – 8pm

The Children’s Museum
2 West 7th Street, Bloomsburg

(570) 389-9206

The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum hosts this costumed scavenger hunt for the holiday. Follow clues around the museum in order to find your treats!


October 28th, 6pm – 10pm and October 29th, 2pm-10pm
Free admission/Pay-as-you-ride

Knoebel’s Amusement Resort
391 Knoebels Boulevard, Elysburg
(800) 487-4386

Catch the final weekend of the area’s premiere amusement resort’s transformation in to a Halloween-lover’s paradise.  Ride the “Scare Coaster” and explore the Haunted Mansion, or just get lost in the Straw Maze.


October 28th, 7pm – 8pm

Moose Exchange
203 West Main Street, Bloomsburg

(570) 317-2596

Dress your kids (up to age 12) in their finest Halloween apparel and head down to Main Street! Look for the orange pumpkin signs in front of participating businesses to trick or treat. Collect 5 stickers in your treat bag and proceed directly to the Moose Exchange, where the YMCA will be sponsoring food and crafts starting at 7pm and the costume contest begins at 7:30pm.


October 28th, 7pm – 8:30pm

PPL Montour Preserve
700 Preserve Road, Danville

(570) 437-3131

Naturalists Jon D. Beam and Amanda Jenkins host this “walk in the dark” which meets at the reserve’s Environmental Education Center. Learn the origin of Halloween, explore bats, spiders, black cats, owls and other hair-raising creatures and more!

If the weather does not permit, the program will still go on – but stay indoors.


October 29th, 7:30pm

Downtown Catawissa
(570) 784-6378

Catawissa closes down Main Street at 6pm in preparation for their 104th annual Halloween parade full of bands, floats, and costumed fun!


October 31st, 6pm – 9pm

The Town of Bloomsburg

Break out the costumes and look for lit porches on All Hallow’s Eve to participate in the time-honored tradition of tricking and being treated.



Now through October 29th, Fridays & Saturdays, 6pm
Adults $12, Children 12 & under $9, free parking

Bowman Field
1700 West 4th Street, Williamsport

(570) 326-3389

The minor league baseball season is over and the Williamsport Crosscutters’ Bowman Field is now home to a large haunted house attraction which features a “Field of Screams,” “Maze of Despair,” “Black Widow’s Vault,” and much more for the brave and thrill-seeking.


Now through October 30th, Fridays, 1pm-8pm / Saturdays & Sundays, Noon-6pm
Adults $2, Children 16 & under ride free

Kohl’s Stony Hill Tree Farm
3021 Mexico Road, Milton

(570) 437-3193

The Christmas Shoppe is open and the fields are ready for tagging your tree while you’re on the farm, enjoying a half-hour long hay ride through scenic fall foliage and across the covered bridge ($2 per person, children under 16 ride free).


Now through November 5th, Saturdays & Sundays, 11am – 6pm
Adults $4.50, Children $8

Whitenight Farm Market
1500 Sunbury Road, Danville
(570) 275-4690

It’ll be “Pumpkins galore” at the Whitenight farm all month long. Outdoor play area with a giant slide, hayrides, llamas, sheep and goats galore make this excursion fun for the whole family, not just the pumpkin lovers.


–Jen Ralston, The Bloomsburg Daily
Photo courtesy of Melanie Ramph Strileckis

Where to: Get Your Music Fix

In the mood for a little music? Whether it’s taking in a live performance at the bar or shaking your booty on the dance floor, from country to jazz, classical to classic rock, and thrash to hip-hop, there’s something for almost every ear in town:


Bloomsburg University Music Division
(Locations Vary)
(570) 389-4284

At least once a week each semester, the Bloomsburg University Music Division has a free concert somewhere on campus or at a local church. Upcoming performances include the Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble. Check their online schedule for details.


Chumley’s Bar
45 East Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-1111

Housed in the old Capitol movie theater, this bar features a DJ for your dancing needs Thurs-Sat from 10pm on. No cover.


Good Old Days
501 East Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-6269

No live music at this local institution, but musical opportunities abound with their Karaoke nights (Tues-Sat, 10pm). If you’d rather move to the beat of a DJ, try their upstairs bar (Thurs-Sat, 10pm). No cover charge.


Hardware Bar
22 East Main Street, Bloomsburg
(717) 333-4324

The Hardware Bar is a full night club with live bands and DJs pumping out a wide range of musical styles for a diverse crowd. Check their online calendar for details. Cover charge varies by time and night of the week.


Hess’ Tavern (and the Painted Pony)
118 East Main Street, Bloomsburg
(listed phone number no longer in service)

A DJ keeps the dance floor moving Thurs-Sat nights on the main floor. Cover charge at the door.


The Links at Hemlock Creek
55 Williamsburg Boulevard, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-8339

Every Friday night, this golf course bar and grill features live music. No cover.


Marley’s Brewery and Grille
18 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-9600

Thursday nights are open mic night at Marley’s and some Fridays there’s a cover band as well. Call the bar for details as the schedule varies. No cover charge.


Phillips Emporium
10 East Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-8027

This coffee shop by day is a sometimes music venue on weekend nights. Check their front window for a current schedule. Cover charge varies based on how many bands are playing on a given night.


Russell’s and Kristy’s Pub
117-119 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-1332

This Main Street restaurant and bar features live music every Wednesday and Friday night starting at 10pm in the main dining room (between the two bars). Mostly acoustic bands and some classic rock as well. No cover charge.


Scoreboard Sports Tavern
6190 4th Street (Old Berwick Road at Oak Street), Bloomsburg/Scott Township
(570) 387-8999

A couple nights a month, the dart boards are off-limits to make room for live music. To find out when and what’s playing, stop by the bar and pick up their calendar. No cover charge.


–Compiled by Jen Ralston and Tara Moore, The Bloomsburg Daily

No “Doubt” About BTE’s Commitment to Bloomsburg

Founded in 1978, the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble performed for three summer seasons in the Central Columbia Middle School “cafetorium” before moving in to the former Columbia movie theater in downtown Bloomsburg.

From their home at the Alvina Krause Theater, named in honor of their founding artistic director, BTE has become not only what American Theatre Magazine hailed as “a perfect illustration of ‘commitment to place’” but also a nationally recognized and respected leader in the Ensemble Movement. Members have travelled the globe while developing new works, honing their skills, and passing on the lessons they’ve learned to other community ensembles. And while the ensemble continues to go outside the borders of town to explore, learn, and teach, the experiences are ultimately brought home and shared with us.

When I asked Mark Valdez, the Executive Director of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (a national coalition of ensembles), about the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble recently, he had this to say:

“Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble is one of the nation’s flagship ensembles.  The company are among some of the most talented in the nation, as evidenced by the recent, highly prestigious honors given to [ensemble members] Jerry Stropnicky with a US Artists award and Laurie McCants with a Fox Fellowship.A distinguishing characteristic of the ensemble is their relationship to their community. We often talk about how arts benefit communities, but we rarely discuss how communities benefit the art.  BTE’s work is strong because their relationship with the community is strong.  The choices in their programming (i.e. FLOOD STORIES or THE GUYS) become conversations with the community, not driven by artist ego (i.e. “look what we’re doing for you”) but by the fact that they themselves are community members asking themselves the same questions their friends and neighbors are asking (i.e. “what do we do about this?  What do you think?”).”

Some of the ensemble members took a few moments to answer our questions recently. Here’s what they had to say about their production of “Doubt,” their current season, and what the Ensemble has in store for the future:

Many of us have seen “Doubt” on the big screen. How does the BTE production differ from that popular interpretation of the story?

Elizabeth Dowd (Sister Aloysius in “Doubt,” Ensemble Member): While the film is wonderful and has excellent performances by all, I prefer the play.  Because movies have to use many locations as part of their storytelling, the tension gets diluted in my opinion. I also like never seeing Donald Muller – he is voiceless and he is a victim whether you think [Sister Aloysius] is right or Father [Flynn] is right so it is a powerful choice that we only hear about him- never see him.

James Goode (Director of “Doubt,” Founding Ensemble Member): I did not really watch the film; I played it on mute with captions so I could see the period design of props and costumes. And I watched some with the playwright’s commentary.  But what I’ve read about the film is that it was skewed towards believing Sister Aloysius over Father Flynn. The play script itself does not do that; it is entirely balanced so theatre viewers grapple with their own opinions.

Can you talk a little about the reaction audiences had to “The Guys” given the subject matter and timing of the production? How successful was the boot drive in the lobby?

Richard Cannaday (Ensemble Member/Director): The response we heard was overwhelmingly positive. There was no way of knowing just how resonant the piece would end up being. We wanted to provide a place to heal and I think we satisfied that to a small degree. The boot drive went well, although we would have liked to have benefited more companies. They were pretty busy with other things at the time, though…

I am so enamored of the original community-based plays you have created and produced over the years, starting with “Letters to the Editor.” How did those original plays come about?

James Goode: LETTERS was clearly a text-based show on that we were inspired by the printed words from the newspaper. This lead to more documentary based shows such as HARD COAL. Jerry [Stropnicky]’s involvement in community-based plays in Georgia and Kentucky have directly inspired FLOOD STORIES and GRAVITY HILL.

Gerard Stropnicky (Founding Ensemble Member): I’ve also directed a dozen more community-based plays — I call them Theatre of Place — in several communities in Appalachia and the Deep South.  Several more are in the works.

James Goode: The inclusion of these kinds of shows has been an evolution over the years. Our school touring shows have always been original scripts developed from (early on) folk literature and (more lately) documentary historical sources. It was probably inevitable that this kind of script development would creep into our mainstage, but it took a while to get that courageous.

Any plans to update “Flood Stories?”

Gerard Stropnicky: Yes.  Stay tuned.

When can we expect to see the highly anticipated “Fair Stories?”

Richard Cannaday: The company is very excited by this project, but as with any story of this scale, we’re taking our time to do it right. Of course the cancellation of the Fair this year changed the perspective a little and the timeline. When we reconvene, there will surely be discussion of the Fair that never was, and the effect it’s had on our community. When FAIR PLAY finally comes to our stage, it will be a tribute to the traditions that make Bloomsburg so unique.

Looking ahead to the next Main Stage production, I notice in the calendar that the first preview of “Holiday Memories” (Friday, November 25th at 2pm) is a “Food Preview.” What’s going on?

Richard Cannaday: Food Previews are a long-standing tradition of ours. Instead of an admission price, BTE collects non-perishable food to pass along to our local food cupboard. In this post-flood Bloomsburg, we welcome food donations at any time. We’re looking for as many ways to give back to this community as possible because without our local patrons, donors, and various partners, we wouldn’t be here!


DOUBT runs through Sunday, October 16th.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30pm, Sunday matinee at 3:00pm. Tickets for all BTE events are available at their box office (open Tuesday through Saturday 2:00pm – 6:00pm), over the phone (at 570-784-8181 or 800-282-0283) or online here.

The out-of-print book version of LETTERS TO THE EDITOR is available for sale in the Alvina Krause Theatre at the lobby concession stand.  


Photo by Megan L. Combs

Where to: Watch Sports

Whether you root for the home team, the under dog, or are just pulling for an exciting match-up, here’s an alphabetical list of places around town to watch the Big Game:

939 Columbia Boulevard, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-3334

While it’s no secret that Applebee’s is a nation-wide chain, the décor makes it certainly feel like a local institution. Full menu and bar, with several screens and food and drink specials during Monday Night Football.

Buster’s Bar and Grill
587 Valley Road, Danville
(570) 389-1925

15 TVs in addition to a big screen make this a venue for Saturday college football viewing but be warned: closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Chumley’s Bar
45 East Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-1111

Occupying the space that was once the Capitol movie theater on Main Street, Chumley’s is a long bar with 10 TVs (including a large projection screen where the movie screen used to be) and a wide selection of bottled micro-brews. Weekly Sunday night football food and drink specials.

Good Old Days
501 East Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-6269

Karaoke is the main attraction several times a week but Sunday and Monday nights, this bar (which also serves food) features “Sports on HDTV!”

Hess’ Tavern (and the Painted Pony)
118 East Main Street, Bloomsburg
(listed phone number no longer in service)

Holding the distinction of possessing the oldest family-owned liquor license in the entire state (1889), Hess’ features a big screen and pool tables upstairs and a dance floor downstairs (in the Painted Pony).

Marley’s Brewery and Grille
18 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-9600

Occupying the space that was once upon a time the Magee Publick House, Marley’s is a brew pub and full restaurant with 4 TVs and Sunday football food and drink specials.

The Paddock
810 Catherine Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-9949

A long-standing institution, the Paddock isn’t fancy, but it has cold beers and serves a limited menu (frozen pizzas and chips), and has a couple of TVs.

Quaker Steak & Lube
211 Columbia Mall Drive, Bloomsburg
(570) 389-9464

While as the name of this franchise implies, there are steaks (and burgers and ribs), the wings are the hot ticket item here. 24 (count ‘em!) TVs and plenty of specials during various game times…check their calendar (link above) for details.

Romig’s Cafe
456 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-9544

A friendly, family-owned and operated bar at the bottom of Scott Town hill, Romig’s has a limited food menu, 2 flat screen TVs, and game-time drink specials.

Rose Marie’s
26 East Main Street (back of the block, down Miller Alley), Bloomsburg
(570) 784-7169

While Rose Marie’s is primarily known for its fine Italian dining menu, the bar has a popular following, as well. Maybe it’s the ghost of Lemon’s Tavern? At any rate, one TV only and more formal than most of the selections but we have managed to enjoy the occasional sporting event at this quieter and more formal option.

Ruby Tuesday
228 Mall Boulevard, Bloomsburg
(570) 389-9750

Another franchise restaurant/bar, Ruby Tuesdays is known for their consistently fresh salad bar. If that’s not an enticement, the full menu is available at the bar, where TVs are ample.

Russell’s and Kristy’s Pub
117-119 West Main Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-1332

Two bar/restaurants sharing the same kitchen and menu, Russell’s (117) is long and thin (which makes it feel more crowded), while Kristy’s (119) provides a bit more elbow room. 1 TV in each bar and drink specials on Saturday and Sundays (including a Sunday White Russian deal, for the “Dude” in all of us).

Scoreboard Sports Tavern
6190 4th Street (Old Berwick Road at Oak Street), Bloomsburg/Scott Township
(570) 387-8999

Casual and friendly, the Scoreboard’s menu notables are the burgers and wings. Plenty of TVs assure you’re covered from most any seat in the house.

Stone Fired Grill
1323 Columbia Boulevard, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-6667

Another new-comer to the area, Stone Fired occupies the former Bennigan’s on Route 11. Despite the building’s franchise roots, Stone Fired is actually the sister restaurant to Elizabeth’s Bistro in Lewisburg and, in keeping with Elizabeth’s mission, serves “rustic, ethnic & regional cuisine.” Full bar with several big screens for your viewing pleasure.

Turkey Hill Brewing Company
991 Central Road, Bloomsburg
(570) 387-8422

The newest addition to the Turkey Hill Inn and Fine Dining establishments is their more casual but no less attractive Brewing Company.  TVs at both bars (upstairs and down), and on the landing at the top of the stairs (overlooking the brewery-works). Full dining room upstairs as well.

The Wagon Shed
850 Railroad Street, Bloomsburg
(570) 784-9999

A friendly bar where town and college blend that purports to “play the games our people want to see,” the Wagon Shed features 7 TVs, a short menu of sandwiches and pizza, pool tables, a shuffle board, and an impressively diverse juke box (in case you need distractions from the game).

Photo by Ben B Miller