Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Happy Halloween, Y'all!!!!

I'm off to get the pumpkins ready to greet our Trick or Treaters this weekend, so I thought you might enjoy this take on carving pumpkins.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not as many festival choices this weekend!

Much of the country is beginning to move out of the outdoor festival mode as we reach mid-October but there are still a few great events happening out there in the fresh brisk air. Won't be long till I'll be directing you into armories and church halls and such for food events. That is, if we can make our way around the snow and slush!!! (It's not far off, you know.)

There are, as usual, numerous wine events in just about every state and much of the Northern half of the country is celebrating the apple harvest with various apple festivals. There's a new orb in town, though, and it's taking over the spotlight. Yes, folks, I'm talking about the Great Pumpkin!!

Yesterday marked the opening of the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio, the oldest and largest festival in Ohio. This little town of 12,000 residents is invaded by over 400,000 visitors over the duration of this 4 day festival (10/20-10/23). That crowd is hungry, too, eating over 100,000 pumpkin donuts and buying 23,000 pumpkin pies among all the other festival eats!! They come to watch the parades - 7 different parades, each with a different theme. They come to compete in contests like the Prettiest Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie Eating, Hog Calling and Egg Tossing. There's lots of stage entertainment, live music, the usual festival booths and rides and Gus, "The Squash Carver," will demonstrate at the Great Pumpkin Carving!

This year's biggest pumpkin weighs in at 1,622 lbs !!!! I wonder how many pies that'll make?

An added bonus: The festival's website has pumpkin recipes, too!

October 23 marks National Bulk Foods Day throughout the country. Now, I admit, when I first saw this on the calendar I thought it was a brilliant marketing ploy by those big warehouse stores like Sam's and Costco. My mind immediately went to defining "bulk" as meaning huge packages. I was wrong. They're not involved in this one at all. In this instance, we're talking about foods purchased unpackaged from bulk containers like barrels and such. Promoted by the Bulk Is Green Council, an organization dedicated to helping consumers, food makers and grocers learn about the many environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods, people around the country are encouraged to celebrate by buying everything from spices to almonds to rice in bulk at their nearest grocery store or co-op. Bulk foods provide the 30% to 60% savings to the consumer by eliminating the added costs of packaging and promotion. Packaged goods require signigicantly more transportation to make their way to the shelves of our local stores. The manufacturing of packaging kills trees, dumps contaminated water into our streams, uses tremendous amounts of energy and shoots tons of CO2 into our air. Packaging is a burden to our landfills.

While I can't claim I buy a lot of my foods this way (It's simply not easily available to us in our community.), we do buy some things like powdered milk, nuts and such from barrels at an Amish market we frequent. We also buy and use mostly fresh veggies and fruit over prepackaged ones. I tend to freeze my own veggies in season for later use.

So, even if it's just for that one day, why not try to buy some "un"packaged foods. After all, who really needs more plastic wrappers for the trash man?

Hope you manage to find some good eats this weekend wherever you are!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Accidental Rib Judging

Yesterday turned out to be a fantastic Fall day, though a bit on the windy side. The temps were in the low 60s and the sun was extremely bright. We found ourselves drawn to a festival on the banks of the Susquehanna River and it was absolutely beautiful! We stopped in at Smokin' On The River in Port Deposit, Maryland just to hear a little music and maybe grab a bite to eat on our way to our evening destination.

This was not an official KCBS BBQ competition so we weren't involved in the judging of this Tail Gate Cook-Off. As it turned out, we were recognized and drafted into judging anyway. (The cooks had been promised KCBS judges and KCBS judging standards.) There were 17 talented cook teams that had fought the cool wind all day to produce some high quality ribs and there was an extreme shortage of judges. Turns out we only had 5 certified KCBS judges and one "celebrity judge", the St. Pauli Beer Girl ! (The guys voted her in. Big Surprise!)

It wasn't in our plans but took only about an hour to sample and score these eats and we were glad to do it. Oh, and The Big Guy was thrilled to pose with the St. Pauli Girl, too!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Last BBQ Competition for the season - for us, anyway.

Saturday's judging was the last of the year for us. We'll just have to savor the memories, smells and tastes for a few months. The new season will begin in April which sounds like a really long time away. So much can happen in between.
This last event for awhile was, thankfully, a great one. The Mt. Airy Smoke'n BBQ (in Mt. Airy, MD) was a fantastic KCBS competition combined with a terrific community Fall festival that included music, entertainment, a car show, spaghetti and wing eating contests and even a yo-yo demonstration and lessons by a representative of the Duncan Yo-Yo Company! This was the first spaghetti eating competition I ever witnessed. they could use their hands but no utensils. I only thought spaghetti could be messy before this!

The weather was ideal (I even got a little sunburn! Last of the year I guess.) and a good time was had by all.