Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrating the 4th !!!!

Almost every community in America has some sort of 4th of July celebration. Most of us tend to be traditional and do the same thing, with the same folks, each year. I know our family does and when we miss (for whatever reason) even one of the three days of our annual celebrations, we definitely feel at a loss.
BUT . . .

Just in case you're looking for something a little different or unique to do this weekend, maybe one of these food-oriented events will catch your fancy.

Have you ever tried running a race with a greased watermelon in your arms ? Think you can? Well grab a partner and get on down to the Grand Bay Watermelon Festival in Grand Bay, Alabama on the 3rd.

Getting back to the race, it involves one person on the team running from the starting line to the turning point with the greased melon in their arms. At that point, they hand the melon over to their teammate who runs it back to the starting/finishing line. Team to do this first wins. Oh, and if either of you drop the melon, your team is disqualified.
Looking for something less strenuous? You can buy three seeds for a dollar and try to beat the Guinness record for watermelon seed spitting. That record currently stands at 68' 9 1/8" and was set in Luling, Texas. (Bet you've always wondered about that.) Of course, there's a watermelon eating contest involved, too. You can also decorate your clothes with watermelons or create a watermelon recipe for prize opportunities.

There's also shopping, music and lots of food available as well as other run-of-the-mill festival activities. Best of all, you can cool off with free watermelon slices all day!!

I've witnessed both blue crab and tortoise races here in Maryland, but clam races are a new concept for me! There are also clam shucking competitions, cooking contests - both amateur and professional restaurants, clam bag races (like potato sacks but the bags feature pictures of clams), a clam hunt and harvest for the kids, contest, "Guess the Clam Count"Chuck a Mullett competition on the beach and a Clam Lease (greased) Pole challenge at the Clamerica Celebration in Cedar Key, Florida on July 4th.

For the Cultured Clam Cooking Contest, open to everyone, contestants simply need to bring their finished dish and a copy of the recipe to the entry table at the given time. Prizes will go to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mentions.

Do you think you make the absolute best cherry pie? Then make it up, be sure to provide a copy of the recipe or at least a list of the ingredients and bring it down to the Holiday Old Fashioned Picnic on the 6th, just one of the food events at the 84th National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan taking place from the 3rd through the 10th. One entry per person and there is a $5 entry fee involved.

In addition to an air show by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels on the 4th and concerts by a number of nationally known acts like Los Lonely Boys, Tommy Castro and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, there's the 5th Annual Cherries D'Vine event, a ticketed culinary showcase of regional fruits - cherries and grapes. There will be an array of salads, entrees and desserts like Chocolate Cherry Mudslide Cookies and Cherry Cobbler (made from Michigan cherries.)
The Cherry Connector - "Bringing Together Festival, Family and Fruit", will take place twice each day from the 5th through the 9th. You can use the Cherry Connector Shuttle or your own transportation to take a 3-hr tour of a 100 acre research farm associated with the Michigan State University. You'll visit a productive orchard, see exhibits and sample the newest cherry products and technology. there will be all sorts of "cherry fun" for the kids like a petting zoo, hands-on experiments and cherry coloring contests. There will be several; semi-finals of a Hot Dog Eating Contest featuring Johnsonville sausages and leading up to the finals on the 9th.

Other events will include a Cherry Pit Spitting contest (daily), an Adult Cherry Pie Eating contest and a CHERRYOPOLY Tournament. An Ice Cream Social, beer tent and wine tastings each day will lead up to the Cherries Grand Buffet (another ticketed event) showcasing recipes prepared by the culinary and cooking professionals at the Grand Traverse Pie Company and featuring a stage and musical show. There will be all the standard festival events and entertainment available, also.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Most Intriging Festivals This Weekend...

I'm a day late in posting but here are this week's finds among the many food oriented festivals.

Jello wrestling is so passe! But, have you tried wallowing around in mashed potatoes? You can give it a shot (or a dive, belly flop, what have you) at Tater Daze in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota tomorrow. For the 46th year, this is the day the residents there pay homage to the potato, a crop that truly flourishes in their flat, sandy soil. This "sporting event " is actually one of three sanctioned by the MPWF - Mashed Potato Wrestling Federation. (I kid you not.) Too sloppy for you? Then try your skill at Potato Launching using a sling shot to compete for distance and accuracy.

Just looking to be more creative? Try taking part in the "Dress the Spud" Contest where you must creatively dress your potato (Please be appropriate. No nudity, etc.) There's also a "Hot Potato" Cooking Contest where you can try your hand at recipes featuring regular or sweet potatoes as the main ingredient in dishes in any of three categories - main dishes, sides or dessert/bread.

Children's activities take place in the Potato Patch where they can do the Tater Mash Dance or participate in a Potato Sack Race. Anybody can have their picture taken with Spud McTater.

With the economy being what it is, sponsors feared they would need to do away with the fireworks display Saturday night until they came up with this creative financing method. For $5 you can "Buy a Spud". Your money buys a potato with your name on it that will be displayed at City Hall and at the Festival. What a way to help keep the fireworks bursting in air!!!

Prefer Moon Pie and an RC Cola?

Then find your way to Bell Buckle, Tennessee for the 16th Annual RC and Moon Pie Festival. An RC King and Moon Pie Queen with the RC Prince and Moon Pie Princess will reign over a parade. The Royal Family will be a family from Middle Tennessee who lost everything in the May 1st flood. For this weekend, they'll live the royal life with free lodging and dining.

Activities like a Moon Pie Toss, Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest and and Hog Calling Competition should convince you you're in the South. That is, if the moon pie and RC in your hands hasn't told you that already!

The truly unique event of this festival is the Synchronized Wading Extravaganza featuring costumed characters like Moon Pie, RC, Goo Goo Cluster and Coke performing in a comical choreographed show performed in a kiddie pool!

The final event of the day will be the cutting and serving of the World's Largest Moon Pie, measuring 56" in diameter.

You say "Tomato", I say "Tomahto" - Let's just head for the Slocomb Tomato Festival in Slocomb, Alabama, instead. Slocomb is considered the Tomato Capital of the World and this event celebrates the importance of the tomato to this community. There are plenty of fried green tomatoes, a tomato eating contest and an All-You-Can-Eat Tomato Buffet featuring nothing but tomatoes! Oh yeah, there's also a parade, live music, a recipe contest and a Ms. Tomato Pageant.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Remember Graham Kerr?

I climbed aboard the WABAC machine (Okay, if you're too young to remember Mister Peabody and Sherman from Rocky & Bullwinkle fame, that won't make sense.) and traveled back a few decades to revisit shows like Cooking with Julia, Two Fat Ladies and, yes, The Galloping Gourmet.

You can find all of these on the new Cooking Channel which you can find on your cable network where you used to have Fine Living Network. (If your system is like ours, the menu station will still note it as "Fine Living.") I was simply channel surfing when I saw Graham Kerr pouring wine into his dish and rhapsodizing about the "lovely beverage." Yes, folks, Paula Deen is not the first TV cook to jam butter into every dish, although Graham seemed to clarify all his butter before adding it to the dish.
I was still in school during The Galloping Gourmet's heyday but I recall my sister and her friends, all young housewives and mothers, adoring the program and its charming star. He lit up their mornings. They took careful notes and laughed t his corny jokes. They eagerly awaited his next fancy dish and dreamed of being the lone audience member brought up to taste the meal at the end of the show.

Well, I watched that show on Friday and, as they say, "in the bright light of day" (or time), the shine has tarnished on the star! The jokes were CORNY, to say the least. His "charm" was so sickening sweet, you might need insulin if you watched on a daily basis. The foods were complicated and somewhat expensive to copy and, yes, you'd need a cardiologist on standby. We've become a more sophisticated audience and demand more of our TV chefs. We want fast, simple and economical meals. While you're at it, please cut some calories and fat, too. That's something else. He did the meat or main item on the show but not a "meal." We've come to expect the main item and sides, too, on our cooking shows. We now want the "whole deal." Are we spoiled, or what?

By the way, Gals, that charmer is now 76 years old and, get this, is now cooking low fat, even vegetarian!!