Fair Husband and I at the Fair

The annual event of pigs, crop art and food-on-a-stick calls me once again.  It was a remarkable day of endless walking, sights and sounds as only a fair delivers (particularly redolent as experienced from the Sky Ride overhead), and two highlights in particular (food to come in a moment).

Raptor Show: a little bit of environmental awareness, falconry and, yes, even patriotism.  An hour at the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) building watching up close, owls, hawks, falcons and the grand finale: the American Bald Eagle (nice way to stir up the emotions and get the crowd to donate to the predator bird demonstration).  Which I gladly did.  It was wonderful.

Miracle 0f Birth Center: as it sounds.  A building dedicated to the actual births of farm animals: from rabbits to pigs to cows, goats, and other ruminants.  Pretty much every year, by the time my fair buddy Steve (see above: Paul Bunyan) arrive at the pavilion, we have missed the LIVE births, left to just watch the videotape version of the ‘miracle of birth.’  I thought there would be a repeat of that this year, when I spotted 30-minute old piglets (‘oh, you just missed it!).  Until we saw the crowds gathering five deep around the cow pen.

We watched a calf born.  Cow in labor (and eating while doing it, btw) – baby dropped to the hay.  While little children and families and young couples and urban folks, too – all gathered around to watch this Miracle of Birth.  It was — don’t use this word lightly — awesome.

After that, we wandered to take in the rest of the fair and check off some items from the “new foods” list.

So — drum roll please: here is what we ate on the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair (not necessarily in order – the carbs killed some brain cells along the way, methinks).

FOODS I ATE AT THE FAIR

  • Slow-Roasted Pork Mole Tamale
  • Ear of roasted corn
  • Bowl O’ Dough
  • Chicago mix of popcorn: kettle, cheese, caramel
  • Pronto Pup ®
  • Honey Vanilla Bean Swirl Ice Cream
  • Beer
  • Vanilla Milkshake
  • Land o’ Lakes Cheese sample
  • Brown Ale and Onion-Gouda Tipsy Pie
  • Walleye Cakes
  • Duck Bacon Wontons

My goodness, I must be slipping — is that really ALL we ate at the fair?  There could be some updates to come, once the carbohydrate hangover passes.

 

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I just love the farmers market during Summer.  This is not my fave season, although if you have friends with a beach house — as it turns out I do —  life is certainly greatly improved.  But, goodness, the market is lush with fruits and vegetables for the most healthful cooking.  And, living.

Of course, we are in the middle of peach season – yummy.  Eaten in the hand, or sliced into whole grain cereal and a dash of nutmeg, or macerated in cognac with a scrape of vanilla bean.  And, that’s if you aren’t going to cook cobblers, pies, crumbles.

Summer Wonders

Summer Wonders

This weekend, at the Union Square greenmarket in Manhattan, I happened upon the cutest little tomatoes.  Larger than cherries, smaller than standard.  With a deep orange/red color and topped with a dash of burgundy.  Wonderful.  I cut them up and added them to my sautéed fairytale eggplants, with some roast chicken.  And a crumble of James Brown blue cheese from the Cato Corner farm.

I would show you that dish, but gee, it seems to have disappeared.  But, here are some of my market goodies sitting on my NYC kitchen windowsill.

 

This is the time of the year when I cook up some of my grandmother’s garden vegetable dishes: with fresh green beans or zucchini. When I was growing up, you could not get me to eat them.  Now, they are not only redolent and evocative of my youth, they are simply delicious!

Grandma’s Green Beans

2 Tomatoes (Beefsteak are fine, no sense overpaying for heirlooms at this time of the year)

3 handfuls of Green beans (look for those flat Roma beans – but any type or color will work)

2 or 3 smallish Potatoes (I like the little Yukon Golds — starting to see the first picks of the season)

3-4 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cut up the tomatoes, put them in a saucepan first — they create most of the liquid you will need for this dish.  Cut up the potatoes into biggish chunks then toss in the green beans. I remove the ends – cook’s choice.  Drizzle on the olive oil, pour in (maybe) a couple of tablespoons of water, salt and pepper.  Put on the lid and cook at a low, slow simmer.  20-30 minutes or so.  This is no al dente affair.  More like a vegetable stew.  I let the potatoes determine the length of the cook.  If you pick a potato that can stand up to the cook, you should be fine.

Buon appetito!

 

 

I am a big fan of frittatas — whether whole egg, whole/egg white mix, or just egg whites — it is a great way to use some leftover vegetables – and, maybe, but not necessarily, just a little cheese as condiment.

So, I was surprised to learn a new addition to my usual frittata that I had never even considered: Greek Yogurt.  The UBIQUITOUS protein-rich greek yogurt.

It is from the New York Times fabulous health writer and recipe maven, Martha Rose Shulman. Her recipes always work, and she has this great technique of teasing out the flavors.  A recent recipe for a frittata with chard and green garlic – calls also for greek yogurt.

I made a successful batch this week.  Check it out!  And, tried it in another version of a frittata.  Everything Shulman devises works out well.

 

I’m pretty sure this is is a pomelo tree — although those big green citrus fruits (look closely) could be anything as far as I know. I come from apple — or nut — tree territory. We don’t have orange trees in our backyards like they do in California. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a pomelo — have just read about them.
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This tree sits in one of my favorite places in Rome. I discovered this place only a few years ago. It’s near the neighborhood where I stay. I think it was some kind of villa in its heyday several centuries ago. The park is filled with lots of lime and other citrus trees, some palms, broken off marble statues, and folks from the neighborhood out for a walk, but usually a nap on its many benches. Ha! Maybe I’ll google it sometime.

I am noticing little, if any, change. But then this IS called the Eternal city. Oddly, I had my first restaurant experience of a waiter attempting to shuffle me inside rather than outside at a cafe table in the sun because I requested a tavolo for one. That hasn’t happened to me in years. A huffy “no” and a dirty look is what that waiter got. I wasn’t in the mood. It was my first day off the plane, jet lagged and employing my technique to enter into the city’s time zone by walking constantly, staying in the natural light. It always feels a little surreal. Though it struck me yesterday that I was approaching day one much as I do the Minnesota State Fair (no, not eating everything in plain sight) but by exploring, exploring, exploring as the mood struck.

I did observe some different street action beside the immigrant vendors with these gel characters that they slam down onto a board. They blob out like a raw egg white that has just hit the pan then re-form to their little blobby round shapes. The objects, silly – not the vendors.

Anyway, I did notice some new characters on the piazzas – beyond the ubiquitous green living Statues of Liberty or the pewter-coated gunslingers. They were saffron colored. Both sitting cross legged: one man on the bottom with a rod coming out of his head. On top of that big stick was a platform upon which sat another man. Om, baby! Drew quite a crowd on this beautiful sunny Sunday. Ever so often, a third man would come and cover the sitters with a large black blanket. This so the two men underneath could do, well, can’t say I know what they were doing under that cover. I’da taken a picture but usually by the time I got my phone out to do so – the tableaux had melted into a flattened blob.

Not really.

I shall be sharing my international food experiences here — and invite you to come along. In the days before the @’s — this would not have been called “follow” me.

However, should you wish to “follow” me through the delicious foods of Italia on Instagram — Follow @nyproducer.

Ci vediamo a presto! See you soon!

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Whenever I go on vacay, it is my sincere intention to eat healthfully while still enjoying the food of the town and county I’m in. Certainly that is/was my plan for my visit to Denmark.

This is a country where some 60+% of the land is dedicated to farming. Now, I admit I haven’t seen a lot of cows — but I have certainly seen cheese. Sometimes at lunch, always at breakfast accompanied by crusty, yeasty, mouth-celebratory (is that even a word?) bread. Blue, aged, smoked. All kinds, though there seems to be a inclination towards a semi-soft cheese called Danbo. It comes in many forms. Cuts beautifully. And makes a kick-ass sandwich, typically served open-faced.

When I made my first cheese sandwich here, I was given specific instructions: slice the roll in two horizontally. Spread a little mustard and/or butter, slice the cheese thinly usually with one of those wired kitchen tools made specifically for the task (a common kitchen tool here — in the USA we tend to have them around for cheese and cracker time). Maybe some slice of tomato. Eat. And enjoy. I once tried to make a traditional American “sang-wich” and have to admit felt a little barbarian trying to get my mouth around the bun and the filling. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not totally stranger in a strange land on this front. Of course, they make and eat sandwiches like we do. Just not so much.

Perhaps this is why even though they are presented with this foodstuff on a regular basis, the Danes are not a fat people. They eat naturally in moderation. And, as in many places around the world, bicycle everywhere.

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Just as I was about to accuse the Danes of eating only cheese in their sandwiches (which of course I knew was wrong thinking from this country of the fabulous smørbørd) — I am treated to an afternoon picnic by the sister and brother-in-law of my friend, the priest.

They thought it would be fun to take me on a little countryside excursion into the woods outside Odense (home of Hans Christian Andersen). The woods here, by the way, remind me of what I imagine the woods are like in Hamlet. Spindly medium-tall trees — I think they’re beech — one after the other after the other. Crowded together. If you were to gallop a horse through this fragile forest, you would be brushed by the branches, yet not thrown off.

We were in Hesbjerg Skov — it appeared to be some sort of hippie commune, though not retro in any sense. Apparently some 45 people, not counting children, are living off the land in this area. My hosts say the citizens are the type to commune with nature, but drive into town to work. At real jobs. I guess holes in the ground for toilets and shared dinners in a hall of sorts are not too high a price to pay for This Simple Life. They certainly looked just fine, thank you, to me.

We parked our car and walked for awhile until we found a pile of cut wood to fashion into seats and a table for our picnic. It was lovely. The hostess had gotten up early to make crusty fresh rolls (they were still warm) of graham flour. And, for the filling she made flattened meatballs of pork, called (and I LOVE this word) frikadeller. Pretty much pronounced like they’re spelled. Later, I called them “flubber masters” or “freakin’ blasters”.

De. Lish. Us. Pronounced like it’s spelled!

I am back at one of my favorite retreats. Well, I guess at this point, it is my Favorite, back East anyway. Forget the “one of” part. Kripalu. It is a yoga retreat in the Berkshires, a short drive from Lenox, Mass. It is a former monastery that has been turned into a school for Yogis and Aruyrvedic practitioners. It is also a place for visitors looking for wellness programs, or just a little R&R. You can practice yoga here three times a day, and do this wonderful moving form they call Yoga Dance. The yoga dance is very tribal, very primal, sweat-inducing, and LOTS of fun.

I arrived after a four-hour bus drive, sat next to a cool woman who commuted back and forth between her apartment outside of Boston and the Vermont woods where she lived with the boyfriend she met on You-Tube. When you leave the highly caffeinated world of Manhattan and land anywhere bucolic, it takes awhile to adapt to the deafening din of silence. Crickets in NYC mean no one has come to your nightclub. The smells, the views, the sounds of silence can be intimidating. I walked around, made myself at home in my spartan room (happy to see that the unknown roommate with whom I was to share the room had not arrived yet). A gentle yoga class, a delicious vegetarian dinner, some quiet time in the sun room until three 20-somethings came in to gab. Even then, I wasn’t in the mindset to be the librarian and “shhhhhush” them. I just went to my little room and fell asleep.
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