Gretchen McKay

Pittsburgh’s pie guy

Frank Ruzomberka of Shaler has been in the family-restaurant business going on six decades, and he’s always been a terrific chef. (He was American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year, Pittsburgh chapter, in 1979.) Yet some would argue he didn’t realize his true calling in life until he had a good 30 years of cooking under […]

Tuna noodle casserole: Yuck!

Everybody remembers a food from childhood that made them shudder, if not gag outright when Mom brought it to the table. For me, it’s tuna casserole. My three older brothers all loved the dish, but me — I found the creamy, fishy-smelling mixture of egg noodles tossed with condensed soup, frozen peas and canned tuna […]

Pittsburgh’s pie guy

Frank Ruzomberka of Shaler has been in the family-restaurant business going on six decades, and he’s always been a terrific chef. (He was American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year, Pittsburgh chapter, in 1979.) Yet some would argue he didn’t realize his true calling in life until he had a good 30 years of cooking under […]

2015’s new kid on the block: Cauliflower

Trends are a peculiar thing, especially when you live in a city that doesn’t exactly shape the zeitgeist. (Sorry, Pittsburgh, but you know it’s true.) Somebody somewhere decides something is the Next Big Thing, and even though you might have previously been totally clueless, suddenly you’ve also got to have it, do it, see it. […]

LITITZ, Lancaster County — Squinty-eyed moles aren’t the only thing Ruth Zimmerman Martin is mindful of when checking a swath of slender purple blossoms in this quaint little town settled byPennsylvania Germans in the 1720s. All that separates the 73-year-old Mennonite from traffic whipping past her roadside garden is a few feet of grass and a couple of […]

Into the woods: recipes for deer hunters

Donny Zarra has headed to deer camp two or three days after Thanksgiving for as long as he can remember — more than 30 years in all, at cabins and with groups both large and small in Centre, Crawford and Forest counties. “I think I was born with a bow in my hand,” quips the […]

A week in California wine country

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Much as I cook and write about food for this section, I’m pretty much at a loss when it comes to figuring out a good glass of wine to serve with it. My main criteria when perusing the shelves at my local wine store is whether or not I like the label. Plus, I’m cheap. […]

Pittsburgh sets record for world’s largest pierogi

Chefs at Rivers Casino on Wednesday put Pittsburgh in the record book by preparing and serving what Guinness World Records has verified to be the world’s largest pierogi. More than a year in the making, the giant dumpling weighed 123 pounds, far exceeding the 110 pounds, 3 ounces needed to establish the record. It was […]

Pumpkin: One of fall’s favorite flavors

My beloved pumpkin has been getting a bad rap lately. More than a few of my fellow food-lovers have been calling it out on Twitter, bemoaning what they consider the over-exposure and over-commercialization of one of fall’s favorite fruits. “You know what’s great about drinking green tea?” a friend recently tweeted. “No one has tried to make it […]

The pressing business of hard cider

BENTON, Pa. —  Come September, when apples hang ripe and heavy on the tree in this tiny, rural corner of Columbia County, Bob Antanitis stands ready. No doubt there’s a giant smile spread across his mustachioed face. Time to make cider! Not the sweet and cloudy, kid-friendly variety sold at farm markets and roadside stands, mind you. (Though […]

Autumn shows its colors at Ricketts Glen State Park

BENTON, Pa. — Fresh air and blue skies are easy tonics for the stressed-out city life.  Still,  I was in a pretty foul mood when I rolled into Ricketts Glen State Park in this scenic, woodsy corner of northeastern Pennsylvania. Equally distracted by my growling stomach and the country tunes wailing on my car radio, I’d missed the rustic […]

Put-in-Bay, Ohio’s party island

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — The party starts early en route to Lake Erie’s South Bass Island. Minutes after the drive-on/drive-off ferry pulls away from the dock on Catawba Island a few miles west of Sandusky, Ohio, T-shirt-clad passengers on the lower deck start popping beer cans. Their grins are as broad as the sprawling green lake churning behind them. It doesn’t matter that the 3-mile journey […]