About a month ago I got made fun of for wearing a sweater and jeans in 80° weather. This is a yearly problem for me come the end of August. I am just itching to get into sweaters, jeans, boots and maybe a jacket. Fall is my favorite season hands down. Our family orchard is in full swing, the trees dripping with fruit ripe for the picking. Maybe being a part of this family means a certain genetic predisposition to love this season but it can’t be helped. Honey crisp, Gala, Elstar, Swiss Gourment, Mollie’s Delicious and McIntosh’s are all jumping off the trees into our hands for enjoyment. The leaves will soon start to turn, mimicking the fruit they bear; some a little green with a flash of scarlet racing across the skin. Today I stopped by the orchard to snag my favorite apples — the more old-fashioned varietals — Elstar and Swiss Gourmet. The first bite I popped off the Elstar created a heart shape and I couldn’t help but chuckle. I guess they learn after 125 years on the same orchard. How well the apple knew its consumer.
Tuna is a crazy overfished…fish. It’s enormous. Way bigger than the little tin can or convenient foil pouch you scratch the flakes out of, this fish has dominated American life from cradle to grave. As a kid, I loved eating the sandwiches on hikes with my Dad and at home for a change from PB&J (a life partner) with my mom. High school provided the warm cat-food smelling tuna casserole that I actually adored and devoured. At college, Middle Ground Café made a zesty refresher course of traditional mayo/celery/chicken of the sea by replacing mayo for vinaigrette and opting for ginger instead of celery.
Coming back from the whirlwind of graduation, I found myself sleeping for a week, watching Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and listening to 90′s songs. But I also was eating a lot of tuna. Was it the protein I was so lacking at school for 4 years or a shameless wallowing in nostalgia for the good ol’ days? Frankly I don’t care, and I can’t stop eating the stuff. It’s become my on-the-go snack on my road trips to Chicago so I don’t have to kill myself with McDonald’s or the incredulity of the KFC Express/Pizza Hut. I love it plain from the pouch with a fork, in salads, in lettuce wraps, on English Muffins, in a bowl with Miracle Whip and a hefty portion of mace or on a sandwich with my own arugula/radishes/blueberries and cheese.
Whichever way you cut it, the world and I are going to have a hard time if this great fish disappears and yellowfin isn’t going to be the answer.
How cute are you little egg?!?! Thanks to Klimo’s and my mother getting up early Saturday mornings — something I just can’t get on board with yet — I get to eat these little golden eggs. With all the hubbub surrounding factory produced, salmonela soaked eggs coming out of Iowa factories, fresh cared-for eggs are extremely relevant right now. They happen to have been relevant to me for a long time simply because they taste better. That’s all there is to it.
There’s that song out by BoA called Eat You Up and I couldn’t help but think of the new Jamie Oliver show on ABC called Food Revolution, wherein, Jamie tries to salvage the city of Huntington, VA from literally consuming itself. Closer to home than Texas, this city was recently labeled the most obese in the nation. As a Northerner/Midwesterner, we/I like to think that the truly obese reside in the South which I guess includes Virginia but geographically it’s too close to home for me. As Jamie tours the public elementary school’s lunchroom, kitchen and classrooms you immediately get a clear picture of the deterioration of food education in this country.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents were both college and graduate school educated who valued food, taught and exposed us to all types of food even in utero. So when I watched a little boy look at a potato and have no idea what it is, then look at a french fry and know exactly what it’s called I almost barfed. In a world where a french fry counts as a vegetable in public school lunch programs, it’s pretty easy to see why Michelle Obama is dedicated to reform and raising awareness.
Eating well has become a moniker for the privileged. However, eating well did not used to mean expensive, it meant eating fresh and local. The advancement of fast food, processed snacks, beverages and the industrialization of the meat market has created a vacuum into which marketers and large companies stepped in to offer up cheaper substitutes. When you read literature on families living with Welfare, part of the discussion is overwhelmingly devoted to feeding the family and the choices available to them: it should be a crime that a liter of Coca-Cola is cheaper than a gallon of milk — this marketing targets the underprivileged and inflates the obesity numbers and unhealthy in our country.
Besides putting me on the verge of tears, Jamie Oliver’s show made me give thanks for the progressive stance of my private elementary and middle school. Obviously as a private school they are not as subject to the strict dietary and regulatory guidelines as public schools. In the heart of the most visited national park in the States, the school has always put kids and food education together starting in preschool up through eighth grade, advocating local foods and sustainability. Now they sport a “Living Machine” which serves to clean the school’s wastewater and a classroom to educate children in the greenhouse. The challenge becomes greater when you move to urban schools who are not as fortunate to have a rural environment in which to learn. Hopefully, with more education and the dedication of groups and individuals the heinous state of food in our schools can become a beacon of reform for the rest of our country.
I’m coming up to the last few days before my ALS Beer Dinner Event goes down and things are getting down to the wire in a fun and slightly overwhelming way! Luckily over the summer I secured awesomely generous donations from three incredible local Ohio microbreweries: Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing and Hoppin’ Frog. These guys really blew me away with their donations, encouragement and enthusiasm not to mention they are my favorite Ohio microbreweries.
From Thirsty Dog: Raspberry Ale, Labrador Lager, Lunar Lager and Old Leghumper Porter
From Buckeye: Zatek Old Ale, 76 IPA, Old Mammoth Stout
From Hoppin’ Frog: Wee Heavy Scotch Red Ale, BORIS Oatmeal Impy
As for the menu, I’ve been striving for all local and all donated which is a little tough as it turns out but I’ve had some great feedback and donations from local businesses in terms of food donations and raffle prizes. Sometimes I feel like I need a permanent assistant to follow me around while I dictate my insanely long To-Do Lists and navigate the web of email responses. Luckily I have a great team of volunteers selling raffle tickets, helping prep food and awesome friends keeping my brain from becoming an addled mush.
To the meat of the issue, here’s why I’m doing this fundraiser: this dinner is for the benefit of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (aka Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research. This is a cause I’ve supported for 5 years since the disease claimed my father. In memory of the 5th anniversary of his death, I thought he’d especially appreciate an event featuring our two favorite things, beer and food. Funds raised will go directly to Project ALS in the hopes that continued, proactive research will find a cure for this terminal, neuromuscular degenerative disease.
The event features a 5 course meal paired with samples of 9 different beers. There will be a raffle where you can win prizes like a Pumpkin Beer gift basket donated by Rozi’s Wine and Liquor House, a custom made cake from local baker extraordinaire Liz Keeney, gift certificates to the Village Deli and Middle Ground, beer steins and a Kenyon blanket from the College Bookstore.
Grilled hot italian sausage with lemon and cilantro
Sweet potatoes Anna
Local cheese plate with local chocolates, Beckwith apples and cider
Mini BORIS pancakes with honey
*sorbet palate cleanser in between courses of Thirsty Dog’s Raspberry Ale