Thursday, October 30, 2008

The calendar is back

I don't expect you to remember something I mentioned in passing back in August, but last spring, I was asked--along with three professional photographers--to contribute images to the Bowling Green 2009 Calendar.

Well, the calendar is back from the printer and features full-color, glossy images of architectual points of interest, often overlooked on Main Street BG. For those of you who are looking for a unique holiday gift, it is available for $15.00 at the CVB, Main Street BG, Calico, Sage and Thyme, For Keeps, Grounds for Thought, and the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. I'm sure you'll want to know my photography is featured six out of the twelve months and also on the cover. I'm pretty darned proud of it and am excited to share it with you:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tasty treats in Albuquerque

On my first night in Albuquerque (Thursday) I had the most tasty Chicken Green Chile burrito from a street cart vendor. I don't know why, but push-cart food gets a bad rap--I guess I must have good luck or poor taste--but I seem to find some of the best food from the small, local vendors. Here you can see my traveling companion, MWS (Stiffler), purchasing his dinner from the same cart:
Day Two (Friday). With the strong recommendations of fellow listers on the ASFS (Association for the Study of Food and Society) listserv, Stiffler and I went to Frontier Restaurant for fresh flour tortilla, baked in-house, which were absolutely wonderful...soft...pillowy...warm...delicious:The tortilla were the perfect vehicle to deliver the flavors of the Southwest. Here is my combo plate with beans, rice, shredded beef taco, chicken enchilada, and tamale smothered with Green chile stew (Stiffler commented the food was so good he did not want to eat it, because then it would be gone): Day Three (Saturday): Started off with a solo trip to the downtown farmers market for breakfast. The first course was a breakfast burrito with green chile--which was delicious--and I'm not a big fan of breakfast burritos. I ordered one with egg, jack cheese, hash browns, and fire-roasted green chile. From there, I progressed to an beef and potato empanada, samples of sweet potato pie (I bought one for later), BBQ sauce, and some of the best organic raspberry jam I have ever tasted from Heidi's Raspberry Farm.
I bought a jar of the Red Chile Raspberry and a jar of the Red Chile Ginger Raspberry jams. Like I said, it is some of the best I have ever tasted. The raspberry flavor is bright and vibrant, it is not muddled with too much sweetness, then there is the heat lingering in the background, with a subtle hint ginger. These are ADULT jams if there is such a thing.
Red chile is also available. Here is a dried red chile ristra for sale by the same vendor who is roasting the fresh Hatch Green Chile: Which brings me up to the sweet scent of green chile being roasted at the market. The Hatch Green Chile are still in season and available at the market: The Chile are loaded into the roaster, a propane flame is ignited toward the rear of the roaster, and the operator carefully turns the roaster for five-to-seven minutes until the chile blister: The Chile are then loaded into plastic bags to sweat, which makes for easier removal of the skins:Also available at the Albuquerque farmers market, prickly pears, which taste a lot better than their texture would suggest:I picked up a bag of new crop pintos:
Stiffler rejoined me around 11:00AM and we ventured off to Old Town Albuquerque, where we enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this 300 year old village: He bought a turquoise ring set in silver for J. Notice Stiffler in blue shirt toward the center of the frame:
I purchased a pendant and chain with matching earrings of turquoise set in intricate silver scroll work made by Loyce Arnell and her daughter. Here, Loyce is holding the set I chose for Michelle:We ate lunch in old town and were both underwhelmed, so no pictures are going to be posted here, but the sopapillia were fresh, hot, and delicious with honey:I also bought some Chocolate Red Chile Fudge, White Chocolate Red Chile Fudge, Piñon Toffee, and a Piñon Nut Roll from the Candy Lady: The trip was more of a straight-line wind than a relaxing retreat in the Southwest, but when one is conferencing, that is what is expected. Day four started early, much earlier than I would have liked, but I did get to capture an image that many undergraduates, and probably many of their professors, rarely see, the sunRISE:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chocolate's hard to shoot

I mean, really, have you ever tried melting it to the consistency that the syringe will take it up through a needle? Really?

To top-off our night in Findlay, we stopped at Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream, where they have been working to exploit the two tastes all humans come hard-wired to desire: sweet and fat. Uummmmm...sweet AND fat in one tasty place, did I die, is this heaven? Can I live here forever? Alright, for you concscenti, I am more addicted to See's Candies than Dietsch's, but when in know the cliche. Because, when you gotta have a fix, even grandma's perfume will do. Glaring defiantly at me from the candy case was a small, yet curious, looking little milk chocolate-dipped square, with something strange on top.... The placard read Milk caramel with SEA SALT. Interesting, I murmured to myself, and anything interesting gets extra points in my book. So I bought a small assortment, you gotta have a base line in order to judge the unique and interesting, and I have been working my way through some homemade caramels, one plain, one dipped in milk, one in dark, and cleansing my palate in between with fresh-pressed apple cider. Their caramel is respectable; the chocolate serviceable. There are also two chocolate cherries (one milk, one dark) on the plate--we'll see how they taste later. And now the milk caramel with sea salt...sweet, caramel, chocolate, salty, unexpected bits of salt get mixed in and offer little bursts of flavor, another bite confirms the initial response...hummm...pretty good, not bad, their caramel really caries the show, and I declare it delicious.

Good eats in Findlay

After watching a celebration of American food in George Motz's documentary and reading the companion book of the same name, Hamburger America , I was buying what they were selling, at Wilson's Sandwich Shop in Findlay, Ohio. Last night, we drove 30 miles South of BG to Findlay, Ohio, where one-hundred years ago this year, native son, Tell Taylor, penned the lyrics and music to Down By the Old Mill Stream.
Findlay's glory days are evident in the architecture, but one need not wax nostalgic for days gone by, just go to Wilson's and order a double special, as I did, with a side of some of the best fast food fries ever, and a chocolate malt (Michelle and Jessica got malts, I has my favorite prescription filled by Dr. Pepper).
I'm still playing with Michelle's point-&-shoot in these photos, not nearly as many options as with my S3IS, but will work in a pinch. I've decided to take the S3IS with me to Albuquerque--unfortunately Bobcat Bite is closed for their fall vacation--no Green Chile Cheeseburger for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grand Rapids, Ohio Applebutter Festival 2008

Hey kids, what time is it? Its Grand Rapids Applebutter Festival time! The time of year when boiled cider and shredded apples are cooked down in a multi-day process to make a tasty spread for biscuits, bread, pork, or whatever you like the flavor of applebutter on. It you've been with me for a while, you might remember the photos I posted of the 2007 Applebutter Festival and the 2008 flood in Grand Rapids, Ohio. This year, I was badgered into taking Michelle's point-and-shoot Sony DSC-W80 instead of my Canon S3IS for portability reasons. Since I don't plan on publishing any of these images, the slight reduction in quality doesn't bother me that much.

I'm heading to Albuquerque, NM this week to present my current research at the Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association, and had been toying with taking Michelle's little camera, also for portability reasons, but since I've never set foot inside New Mexico, I'll take the S3IS--it has more features and memory than my first notebook computer--and shoot my heart out. Of course figuratively, not literally.

Would you like to be cool and make your own applebutter? Well here's a recipe (ATTENTION: the first step may be a deal breaker, if so, just buy 4 pints at next year's fest):

Day One:
Procure a 50-gallon copper kettle (if you don't have one, Helen Picking Neff of the D. Picking Co. in Bucyrus, Ohio can fix you up with one. Just be aware that it will be hand made, just as they have been since 1874, and D. Picking is so back-logged with orders, it may take approximately one year for delivery. Remember, cost must NOT be an issue--this is a kettle you are buying for your great-grandchildren).

Stoke a fire and set up the kettle over the flames. Be sure to have an ample supply of fire wood as the next process will take an entire day.

Boil 15 gallons of fresh-pressed cider down to approximately five. Reserve for day three.

Day Two:
Peel and core approximately 38 bushels of apples, cover and reserve for day three.

Day Three:
Fill the the 50-gallon copper kettle with the boiled cider, and and 30-or-so bushels of the peeled and cored apples. Stoke the fire under and continue feeding it throughout the entire process. Bring to a boil, With a long-handled stirring stick, keep the apple butter stirred constantly. Add more apples as the mixture cooks down. Somewhere around hour 6, check the apple butter for consistency, you do this by dipping some out and putting it on a slightly-tilted plate. you are looking for the "run" or the "weep" to go away. Then start to add 75 pounds of white sugar, stir until dissolved and applebutter is back to a full boil.

Ladle cooked mixture into hot, pint-sized jars. Leave 1/4 inch head space place seal on jar, then screw down ring, and place upside down for 30 minutes-or so.

Yield: approximately 350 pints

Also at the festival, tasty local foods: Silly girls, one with a Buckeye nut necklace and the other with a Buckeye nut key chain. It is an old traditions that Ohioans carry a nut from the indigenous buckeye tree in their pocket for good luck:
Big crowds, and long lines for bean soup and bison burgers:and tasty, open-pit chicken from our friends at the Tontogany, Ohio VFW:
And many other activities, such as corn shelling using antique equipment and bike rides:NC

MacQueen Apple Butter Stir

The morning after the Nigerian Independence celebration we went to MacQueen Orchards for their annual Apple Butter Stir. MacQueen's produce a flash-pasteurized fresh cider that they then put into a slushy machine and it rolls and rolls around until it churns into a little bit of icy heaven. This is a destination drink. It keeps me coming back year-after-year, well a little full disclosure is needed here, the delicious baked goods and doughnuts hold their own too. Notice the progression from fresh, raw apples for sale:
The apples then go to the cider mill. The secret to a tasty cider is a balance of equal parts sweet, tart and a juicy apples:
This machine turns apple cider into tasty li'l angels from heaven,which then we drink--ummmmm--delicious:
Also delicious:
Dave and Mirium Cooper of Cooper's Cider Mill come all the way from Bucyrus, Ohio to stir a 45-gallon copper kettle of applebutter over an open fire. Dave is the gentleman in the white shirt and straw hat who is helping Dara stir the kettle of the delicious spread: