August 2011

Soda Love Shack: State Fair Find

As a small child, I can recall there being times when I would visit my grandparents and hear tales of fountain soda shops after school and all the amazing flavors and options that the "soda jerk" could prepare. Surely this was the place where kids would spend their allowance and gossip with their classmates. Granted there are still a few old-school, quality shops around town but not like the good ol' days....or so I will have to imagine.

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Eco-experience At The State Fair

I have a confession. Up until this year, I was terrible at state-fairing. I always went with grandiose plans to learn new things, experience the unknown and eat modestly. In the end, the cheese curds won, my digestion lost and I would end up in the poultry building in a sort of grease induced hallucination totally enchanted by the cacophony of bird noises.

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Inventing Carrot Pie

Even though we belong to a CSA, even though we visit our local farmer’s market most weeks, and even though we buy much of our produce at the local co-op…we still have a garden. Our garden is a 20’ x 20’ space in the Parks Department’s community garden, out on the edge of town. (How far on the edge? If we get there before 9am, we can drive across the road and watch horses and cows sharing a stream and fields.) We started our garden in mid-June, which felt criminally late to me, and thanks to a cold spring, the vegetables have taken their time getting settled in and producing. 

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Healthful Fair Food? Yes!

The Minnesota State Fair opens today. Scores of visitors, including me, will flock to see animals, listen to music, admire crafts, and, perhaps most famously, eat food, much of it on a stick. Since State Fair visits are an annual treat, I give myself leeway for things like draft root beer, sugared mini donuts and fried cheese curds not normally on my menu.

This doesn't mean that I eat huge amounts of whatever I encounter at the fair. Moderation at the fair is different from moderation every day, but it's still possible. If there's a choice of sizes, I always order the small, and share it to have money and stomach space for more throughout the day. I can sample lots of different foods, some healthful, many not. Sharing is one of the benefits of going with friends and family.

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A Simple, Good and Tasty Guide to the Fair

The Minnesota State Fair can be a little overwhelming, and while we cannot offer any parking solutions, we can help guide your fair experience with some tips and advice. I have personally gone through way too much state fair information to try and distill those activities and events which may be of interest to the reader of Simple, Good and Tasty. As always, if you have anything to offer, please let us know!


Butter headsButter heads

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Getting Fresh at the Food Shelf

It wasn’t until Olivia Lara’s 16-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes that she began to think about what she was eating. 

The tacos, juicy burgers and other fast food that served as their normal diet have now been replaced with spinach, potatoes and, on some occasions, vegetables Lara admits to knowing nothing about. 

The result: weight loss, liveliness and a desire to eat right long into the future.

“People are telling me now that I act completely different, like I have all this energy all of a sudden, “ the St. Paul resident said.  

Lara was among a healthy crowd of residents who turned up at a recent local foods event at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul where food shelf officials, local farmers and others were trying to encourage similar transformations. 

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Barbecue Chicken, Part 2: What to do With Those Leftovers

As a follow up to my Lazy Sunday Afternoon Barbecue Chicken, I wanted to share with all of you some of my favorite things to do with those leftovers that sit begging to be used.

I am the type of cook who simply does not rest. I love to constantly push the boundaries and test myself to create on the spot, easy recipes (also the reason why I have a ridiculously full refrigerator...I mean, you never know when you might need that little bit of tamarind paste). Therefore, leftovers are a great challenge, and I tend to make it my personal mission, not only to create them, but then to use them up. 

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Wiping the Mess

Mo-pin-a (n.)  Italian slang for a dish cloth or napkin used at the dinner table .  

My first generation Italian mother grew up in Cleveland’s Little Italy during the World War II era. My mother often describes her childhood years as a struggle to get ahead. Each family member worked formidable jobs in order to put food on the table and to buy the items necessary in order to keep the household thriving. I’m quite sure “disposable” was not a word ever used during these times. The stories that are most pervasive and memorable are those of love born out of that shared struggle. The family came together and helped one another out in times of need. My mom recounts a story about how she didn’t have her own bed and bedroom until she was 18 years old because her aunt and uncle and three kids lived in her parents’ dining room.

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Don't Throw Away Those Tasty Vegetable Trimmings

The first time I bought celery in a Manila grocery store, I was surprised to find the stalks still crowned with leaves. Accustomed to the neatly trimmed, plastic-bagged bunches in American supermarkets, I was mildly peeved over the extra effort I had to make to cut off the tops, even if it involved nothing more than a solid thwack of a chef’s knife to decapitate those unwanted greens. I swept them from the cutting board into the trash without another thought, blithely unaware that I had just added to the more than 200 pounds per person of edible food discarded around the world last year.

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The Minnesota State fair is coming!

This year, the Minnesota State fair runs from august 25th-september 2, and Simple, Good and Tasty plans to be there. Although we may decide to run something on healthy eating at the fair, it is more likely that we plan to loosen our belts and enjoy. If there is one time of year to stop worrying and focus on those sinful treats that make your mouth water, this is it (ok...there is also thanksgiving, the winter holidays, 4th of july, etc. etc.) Food, healthy or unhealthy, should at least make you happy.

Avoid the state fair, like the plague? Then this is your way to get a few snippets of what is happening without the necessary antacids, tonics or cleansers. No need to thank us...its our job! For a primer on what the fairs offers from chocolate covered jalapenos to pizza on a stick, check out the MN state fair "food finder".

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