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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Presto! It's Pesto!

With all the rain we've gotten lately, our basil is starting to head toward it's end pretty quickly.  So, as she does every year, Mary Beth collects much of the basil and spends some time making pesto.  She freezes it in ice cube trays so we can have fresh-tasting pesto all year round.  It's one of Jake's favorites.

Basil waiting to be made into pesto (along with a couple of our beautiful
red peppers).
This year, she was a little over-ambitious in her picking--she didn't plan on spending all day doing it.  It'll be worth it, though!

Oh, and here's a pic of Jake heading to the car for his first day of kindergarten.  He had a great time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A lot going on lately--not all food-related.

I trust you survived Irene.  Even though it wasn't as bad as it could have been (or as bad as predicted), it was quite an experience.  We didn't even lose power for a second.  The worst we had were a few small branches down and our garden was sort of squashed by the wind.  (Our Brussels sprouts looked like fallen trees.)  My parents are still out of power (in Haycock, that happens with a nice summer breeze, it seems).  They hope to have it back by Thursday--maybe. 

The flooding in Vermont is devastating.  I saw on the Weather Channel terrible flooding in Jamaica Village, Vermont (see video below).  MB & I stayed in this little artsy village for a couple nights on our first trip to VT a number of years ago.  Sad to see it.  By the way, if you ever get to Jamaica, consider staying--or at least eating--at the Three Mountain Inn, just down the road from the video.  Great accomodations and wonderful food (ate rabbit for the first time here).  Just wait until the water recedes.

After a day's delay becasue of the hurricane, Jake started kindergarten today.  (No pics yet--I think MB took the camera with her when she dropped him off.)  Can't tell if he's excited or not--I think so.  I told him to practice strutting around saying, "That's right, I'm in kindergarten."  He looks like an astronaut with his big backpack on.  I'm looking forward to seeing how he does.  He loves to learn new things, so I think he'll be just fine.

I just read a short article on Philly.com about the "family tree" of Philly's restaurant scene.  These days, the city's food offerings are seen by many to be right up there with some of the great food cities of the world.  I still think that a meal that I had at Buddakan was the best meal I've ever had.  It was amazingly expensive, but worth it.  Read the article here.

How do you open this thing?
We're looking forward to our annual trek to Maine coming up soon.  Can't wait.  Jake's excited about fried Maine shrimp (he learned to love them last year) and he's going to try lobster again this year (he tried it a couple of years ago, but wan't crazy about it--a textural thing, I think). 

Saw on the news that any kind of chocolate (not just dark) might be good for you.  There are some out there who might take that as a call to go on an all-choclate diet.  You know who you are!  Good luck with that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Congrats to Blooming Glen Farm!

As I mentioned the other day, Tricia Borneman of Blooming Glen Farm won first prize for her veggie arrangement at the Middletown Grange Fair.

What I didn't realize at that time is that the farm was selected to receive a great award.  The Bucks County Commissioners named them the 2011 Fred Groshen Memorial Bucks County Conservation District Farmer of the Year Award.  A well deserved accolade for Tricia and Tom--and all the great folks at Blooming Glen Farm.

Here's a link to The Blooming Glen Beet with a cool aeral shot of the farm and a picture of the award ceremony.  (Did Tom trim his beard for the occasion?)

Congratulations to Blooming Glen Farm for all the wonderful work their doing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bug Off

The other day, I was playing baseball with Jake and a bug flew into my mouth.  What did I do?  What pretty much everyone would do--I spit it out.  After all, who wants a gross bug in their mouth?  I mean, sure, we put cow, pig and chicken meat there, but that's different.  They aren't bugs.  We're supposed to be eating them.

I might try these--tiny and crunchy.
In most countries in this wide world, though, folks would beg to differ.  Insects have been a staple in many parts of the world for as long as people have been eating.  Why do we in the West find it so hard to understand that?  I mean, wouldn't you rather crush some some sort of creepy-crawly thing with your teeth instead of a cute cow with those sad eyes?  I guess not.  But we should think about it.

Bugs are actually very good for  you.  They contain a load of protein, calcium and iron.  According to a chart from Iowa State University, 100 grams of grasshoppers have almost as much protein as the same amount of lean ground beef and cod fish. 

An article from the Chicago Sun-Times says:
If you're revolted at the thought of scarfing down a beetle or centipede, consider this: The Food and Drug Administration allows a certain quantity of insect parts in our food.
These "food defect action levels" are allowed because, according to the FDA, further reducing the levels would require "increased utilization of chemical substances to control insects." So which would you rather consume: insects or potentially toxic chemicals?

Not so sure about deep-fried tarantula.
So basically, we're eating some bugs anyway.  Why not make them taste good? 

Have you ever intentionally eaten an insect?   Maybe you were traveling in Asia or you were adventurous at an interesting restaurant or you lost a bet.  I vaguely remember eating a chocolate-covered grasshopper in 1st grade.  Don't remember if I liked it or not (although it was chocolate).  That was a few years ago. 

I think I'd rather try some little salty ant snacks than some big, hairy grilled tarantula with some girth.  But hey, I'm game.  Millions of non-Americans can't be wrong!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chicken Dinner

One thing I forgot to include in my post about the Middletown Grange Fair the other day was regarding the big chicken dinner that they have each day.  It might be the most popular thing at the fair.
Prepping the birds for the grill.

Now we didn't stay for the dinner, but we did see them making the chicken and it was pretty impressive. 
We wondered how the show chickens enjoyed the smell.

The birds are strapped in these grill cages (I swear there was a carnival ride much like that at the fair) and they are grilled over huge charcoal pits by the hundreds.  They make about 1200 chickens per day for the dinners. 
Charcoal reserves.

During the grilling, they are sprayed with a mixture of butter, vinegar, salt and water--for flavor, moisture, and a crispy skin.  Quite an undertaking--especially on hot day.

Did you go to the Grange Fair's chicken dinner?  Let me know how it was!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Middletown Grange Fair

On Saturday, we made our first visit to the Middletown Grange Fair.  We had a really good time. 

The main reason we went was so animal-crazy Jake could see the many farm animals that were being shown.  And there were a lot of them.  Bunnies and guinea pigs, cows and goats, sheep and chickens, alpacas and hogs.  The most impressive to me were the massive Belgian draft horses and oxen.  Man, those things are amazing creatures.
This horse weighs 2200 lbs and has a head as big as Jake.
Food-wise, we saw things past, present and future.

From the past, the fruits and vegetables that were being judged.  They'd been sitting out on tables for days, so most of them were definitely past their prime.  I did notice that our friend Tricia Borneman from Blooming Glen Farm won a blue ribbon for her basket of farm goodies.  Congratulations, Tricia!
The award-winning display by Tricia Borneman of Blooming Glen Farm.
Food Present was our lunch.  Some tasty burgers sold by the Plumsteadville Grange (meat from Haring Brothers), fruit smoothies, good greasy fair fries and Italian ice and ice cream.  There were plenty of other things to pig out on, but we showed restraint.
MB & Jake shoveling it in.
Speaking of pigging out, that brings me to Food Future:  Lots of animals that may have their future on a plate near you.  Hey, there was one pen with 3 pigs in it named Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  I'm just reporting what I saw.
The fair was a lot of fun and, if the amount of traffic was any indication, a lot of other people think so, too.  We'll be back!

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Parched!

There's not much better than a nice cold drink after spending time out in the hot sun.  Whether you're mowing the lawn, playing tennis, jogging or just sitting around, keeping yourself hydrated is important and just makes you feel better.

There's an article from Forbes that discusses the best things to drink when you're thirsty.  The author has some thoughts that I don't necessarily agree with, but she makes some good points.  The best one being that simple water is the best thing that you can drink when you're thirsty.

And doesn't an ice cold glass of water taste great when you're really parched?  I'm also partial to iced tea.  And I'm sitting here with a Coke as I write.  Yes, I know that there's nothing in a soda that is good for you, but it's pretty yummy.

So what do you like to drink when you're really thirsty?  Let me know!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big Forking Deal

A recent study shows that the size of the utensil you use to eat might have a bearing on how much you eat.

In the study, diners were given forks either 20% smaller or bigger than a standard fork to eat their meal.  The plates were weighed before being taken to the diners and again when they were finished.
After controlling for factors such as lunch versus dinner, whether alcohol was consumed, and initial plate weight, people with small forks left less on their plates (4.4 ounces) than people with big forks (7.9 ounces). And the larger the portion size, the greater the gap.
Basically, researchers figure, if you have a small fork, your brain is telling you that you aren't making as much progress on the dish as you think you should be.  So you start chowing down even more.  The opposite goes for the larger fork--you feel like you're eating more and leave more on the plate. 

So what's this mean?  I don't know.  Use a huge fork when you eat and you'll lose weight?  I doubt it.  Eventually I think you're brain would catch on, don't you? 

Read a little more about the study here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

R&R at the Beach

I'm back.  Maybe you didn't realize I was away, but last week we took our annual trip to Primehook Beach, DE with my parents and sister and her kids.  Unlike much of our area and the northern part of Delaware, we had beautiful weather--breezy (windy some days), low humidity and mild temps for most of theweek.

Sunset over the bay.
Primhook Beach is a small community on the Delaware Bay.  To get there you have to drive through Primehook Beack National Wildlife Refuge with its huge numbers of water birds and other critters (like this fox--one of 4 we saw while driving through at night).  The bay's water is warm and has kid-sized waves.  And there's next to nobody on the private beach.  Very nice and quiet.
One of the foxes we saw at night in the refuge.

Food-wise, we didn't do too much out of the ordinary.  Bought some wonderful peaches, cantaloupe and watermelon (one of the best I've ever had) at Penn Vermont Fruit Farm in Bedminster.  If you've never been there, go--the fruit is out of this world and pretty reasonably preiced.

How many pictures of this kid eating ice cream do we have?
We walked around the Rehoboth Beach's boardwalk one night--getting dinner at Grotto Pizza (one of the 2498 of them in the area).  To be honest, the pizza was so-so, but the kids like going there.
Not the greatest pizza in the world, but we were hungry!

So now we get back the the usual grind--get ready for Jake to start kindergarten in a couple of weeks.  And looking forward to our trip to Maine in Sept!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chewing the Fat

OK.  I love food.  I appreciate food that tastes really good.  So why do I eat so fast?  Even when I am intentially trying to slow down, I eat much faster than Mary Beth and Jake (who, in my defense, both eat about as fast as tree sloths). 

Part of it is the fact that I just don't chew my food that much.  I chew a few times and...gulp...down the hatch it goes.  You'd think that I would want to savor the flavor and keep the food in my mouth as long as possible. 

Chewing on popcorn shrimp for Jake's birthday.
Well, a recent study shows that there might be a connection between the amount of times that you chew and losing weight.  It seems that the more you chew, the less calories are taken in by your body--up to 12% fewer calories than those in the study who didn't chew as much.  That could translate to significant weight loss over the course of a year.

Of course, as is usually the case, this study has some holes.  It was a small group of young men who were tested.  The results don't account for foods such as soup or ice cream that don't have to be chewed.  But still, it makes some sense.

For many years, experts have agreed that it takes time for the brain to register that the stomach is full.  So the more you chew, the slower you eat, the less food you eat before the brain says "Stop!".

Will the potential of losing weight make me chew more and eat slower?  It's worth a try, right? 

Hmmm...I could go for some ice cream...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wrightstown Farmers' Market

We took a little trip down to Wrightstown on Saturday morning to go to the farmers' market there.  I've heard a lot about this market and now I wish I lived a little closer to it.

It's great that there are so many markets around these days, but some of them are a little sparse.  The market in Wrightstown is not one of them.

Lunch from the market--sliced fennel, berries and water through a fennel
straw.  (The bagel was from the freezer.)
There were at least 8 different farms selling fresh fruits and veggies, a number of meat vendors as well as various other items like prepared foods, soaps and organic pet foods.  There was a lot to choose from and it was fun walking around seeing all the wonderful stuff that comes from the ground here in Bucks County.  What a wide variety of things.  Not only the usual tomatoes, peaches, etc.  But also lots of okra, tomatillos, lemon cucumbers and other unusual items.

We got some incredibly delicious blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.  We also picked up some beautiful lettuce from Blooming Glen Farm's stand and well as a cucumber and some fennel for Jake. 

It made for a nice tasty and healthy lunch!  If you're in the Wrightstown area on a Saturday between 9AM and 1PM, stop in and check it out.  You'll be glad you did!