“To make something out of something that someone might have thrown away is very gratifying to me,” says Little, beaming. “We want people who are traveling to get an honest taste of the food we grew up with and to provide locals with different twists of things they’ve had for over 60 years.”
In the not-offal category, Little zings spaetzle with horseradish and uses monkfish, instead of pork, for schnitzel. Brown butter and the pickled vegetable relish known as chowchow, two Pennsylvania Dutch staples, are used to make mayonnaise and vinaigrette, respectively, often to accompany dishes featuring vegetables from Sheppard Mansion’s garden, Little’s pride and joy.
“I harvested over 200 pounds of tomatoes yesterday,” he boasts. “Purple Cherokees, Brandywines, lots of varieties. We will be going crazy canning things in the next month to use in the winter.”
Growing crops rotationally has resulted in steady flows, at various times, of broccoli, leeks, peas, cauliflower, beets, green beans, cucumbers and more, with melons on the horizon.
Many of the seeds Little sows come from Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the proliferation of treasured heirloom varieties. It’s a preservationist philosophy that appeals to the inn’s owners, who restored the building to period detail and who learned conservation from their parents.
“My mom is a huge local activist for water resources, watershed management and city planning,” says Hoar, 36. “They’ve put it in our minds that we are just stewards.”
To that end, Lunn is fairly strict about stocking only local items in the 1,600-square-foot market. (Some exceptions: gift items such as tableware and linens, olive oil, maple syrup.) The list of suppliers reads like a Pennsylvania map: pastured poultry, free-range eggs, Berkshire pork and several artisan cheeses from Rettland Farm in Gettysburg; dairy products from Apple Valley Creamery in East Berlin; honey and bourbon peaches from Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg; fruit from Boyer Nurseries in Biglerville. Little’s kitchen supplies baked goods and soups; Sheppard Mansion Farms provides beef.
What’s tricky at the market and the restaurant, Lunn says, is maintaining a balance in price and product that keeps the city folk interested and the locals not intimidated. She estimates that 50 percent of the restaurant trade and 80 percent of the market’s customers are local.
The Scotch Highland cattle, a breed their father brought in 35 years ago, are good foragers that are quite docile, low-maintenance and easy to work with, Lunn says. Because they have a thick, hairy hide and don’t carry a lot of fat, she maintains, their meat is lower in cholesterol and higher in protein and iron than Angus and Hereford beef.
Steers used for meat roam on 160 acres of pasture for about 2 1/2 years and are finished on hay for three weeks, which keeps strongly flavored greens from permeating the beef. The animals are then slaughtered and processed at a USDA-certified organic butcher in Littlestown, aged for three weeks to enhance flavor and packaged.
The meat is antibiotic- and hormone-free, but Lunn says she doesn’t feel the need to pay for the privilege of organic certification. The breed, after all, doesn’t lend itself to the type of treatment common on industrial feedlots.
“You can’t make a souped-up Highlander,” says Lunn, 33. “It’s better to know your farm and know your food, as Andy says.”
Brown Butter Mayonnaise
Buttered Popcorn Semifreddo
Sheppard Mansion (117 Frederick St., Hanover, Pa., 877-762-6746; www.sheppardmansion.com) is 80 miles from Washington. Dining room open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Tasting menu, $75 (with wine pairings, $130).
For more food, http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food.