Monday, September 20, 2010

The County Fair Verdict Is In

Let me start by saying that I didn't do as well as I'd hoped or as well as I have in previous years but the competition was fierce this year (remember Clara & Aunt Bee and the pickles?) and that makes me happy beyond belief. This means that despite hard economic times, more people are coming to the Fair; more people are coming back to the old-fashioned ideas and notions of a real County Fair. When times are as trying as they are, people understand that comfort -like comfort food- lies somewhere between the present and the past. And while the fair changes a little bit every year, it really doesn’t change that much, which is a reminder about timeless verities about how our food comes to our tables, and about the countless community groups that come together each year to bring the best of something — collectibles, giant pumpkins, chickens, orchids - to display.

Here's how I did:

1) First Place: pumpkin bread
2) Second Place: ginger cookies (the judges must have liked them because I entered 6 and there were only 3 left on the plate!)
3) Third Place: chocolate cupcakes (Best of Show two years ago)
4) Honorable Mention: banana walnut bundt cake (too many nuts?)
5) Honorable Mention: Buckeyes (peanut butter ganache dipped in chocolate)
6) No Award: chocolate chip cookies (got first place last year, guess I shouldn't have tweaked the recipe)

There’s something reassuring about prize-winning flowers and vegetables, kids’ 4-H raised animals, the tractor parade, corn dogs & cotton candy, carnies, racing dogs and pig kissing that keeps me coming back year after year.

Talk about finding America, it's all at the Fair.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"Burn a Koran Day"

I thought it was a rumor that a certain segment of our society never left the Dark Ages, but Pastor Terry Jones is living proof (I've taken down the link to the video).

Sadly, this is less a news story than an unfortunate act by a few small-minded and ignorant individuals. The only reason it is a news story, and thereby a hazard to our troops is because the media has allowed the message to be hijacked by this group, who is in no way representative of the majority of Americans, or the majority of Christians.

Under-educated, filled with Fox propaganda, or influenced by the perversion of a 2000 year old religion of "a cross in one hand and a sword in the other" mentality. If intolerance, hate, exclusion, racism, violence, or inciting violence is Christianity, then Gandhi was right. This extremist preacher and his followers do as much for the polarization and division of our world as the extremists they condemn.

The media is just giving them what they want by feeding their flames with publicity and the Jerry Springers of the future have an endless supply of guests.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A New California Conundrum

One of our local Bay Area newspapers is drumming up a campaign to create an Official California State Sandwich. So, being the food groupie that I am, I started to research other official state sandwiches and was suprised with what I found. The most (obviously) notable sandwiches are the Philly cheesesteak (thanks largely to Pat & Geno) and the Louisana Po-boy (pretty much thanks to Emeril Lagasse).

Apparently, Ohio boasts about its Carle's Bratwurst. Massachussetts' folks love their Fluffernutter's. Iowans have their "Loose Meat" (thanks Roseanne) and Nebraska has an interesting sandwich called a Runza. Kinda like a pirogi (to me) only in the shape of a twinkie. Even a state in Mexico has an Official Sandwich, Vera Cruz's Pambazo.

Now, if all that sandwich making talk hasn't gotten your mouth watering, here's my idea for a state sandwich fit for California, the California BLAT: Toasted San Francisco sourdough bread, spread with a Gilroy garlic and Castroville artichoke aioli, Freedom Meat Lockers (Freedom, CA) applewood-smoked bacon, topped with sliced Hass avocadoes (originally born in a backyard in La Habra Heights), Watsonville heirloom tomatoes and butter lettuce, served with a side of grilled San Joaquin Valley Black Mission figs & Harley Farms (Pescadero) goat cheese balls, drizzled with honey.

Man, oh man, that's what I'm talking about! I think I'm submitting this as my entry, what do you think?