Minnesota State Fair Food

Today, for the conclusion of the November blogging challenge, I thought I’d finally finish my wrap up of the Minnesota State Fair with the food portion of the day. Thanks to everyone who has commented this month! It’s been fun and I’m going to try to keep it up (but not QUITE so frantic a pace).
The gang at the beginning of the day

I went to the State Fair with five friends on a Saturday in August. We spent nearly 12 hours at the fair and photographed almost every morsel of food that entered our mouths. This is the documentation of that process. Ratings will follow each picture. Thanks to all involved for appearing in pictures, even when you look goofy, and to Tricia for letting me use all her pictures.
Abby with Sparkling Apple Cider Float

Sparkling apple cider with cinnamon ice cream in it.

Apple Cider Float: D (not worth it)
Posing with my Cream Puff
Standard cream puff. I ended up with powdered sugar all over my jacket and whipped cream all over my face.
Cream Puff: B+ (Worth it, but not spectacular)

Big Fat Bacon (on a stick)
Slices of bacon (1/3 of a pound) on a stick. Simple concept. Pretty fatty.
Big Bacon on a Stick: ? (Untasted by me)

Deep Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Reese’s battered and then deep fried. On toothpicks so they are kindof on sticks.

Deep Fried Reese’s: A (Ben) C (Katie)

Chocolate Belgian Waffle on a Stick

Sadly, not served on a stick due to the strawberries and whipped cream.

Chocolate Belgian Waffle: ? (Untasted by me)

Fries and Soda
Fries and Soda. There’s not much to be said about that.
Fries: A (Mmm, perfect)
Soda: ?

Green Pepper Rings and Cotton Candy

Green Pepper Rings are like onion rings but made with green pepper instead of onion.

Green Pepper Rings: B+
Cotton Candy is self explanatory.
Cotton Candy: ?

Fry Dog and Caramel Roll

Fry Dogs are a treat originally from South Korea, I think. The concept is a hot dog on a stick coated with french fries in a batter.

Fry Dog: C- (Concept sounded better in theory)
Caramel Rolls are self explanatory.
Caramel Roll: B

Hot Dish on a Stick

Hot Dish on a stick is a Minnesotan treat. (Hot dish being a Minnesotan term for casserole.) Hot Dish on a stick is tater tots and meatballs alternated on the stick, dipped in batter, and deep fried. They are served with two dipping sauces…cream of mushroom soup and ketchup.

Hot Dish on a Stick: A-

Lemonade is the classic summer drink at the fair.
Lemonade: B+ (I can’t give it an A if it wasn’t fresh pressed…)

Deep Fried Cream Cheese on a Stick
A big chunk of cream cheese, put on a stick, battered and deep fried and served with pepper jelly. Bizarre but not unlike cream cheese wontons. Far better than the Cheese on a Stick that was velveeta, I’m sure.
Deep Fried Cream Cheese on a Stick: B+ (for creativity)

Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks

Peach glazed pig cheeks were weird, but slightly peachy and served on toothpicks (thus they could be classified as on a stick). Famous Dave’s always has something new and this was it. Still, halibut cheeks are yummier…

Peach glazed pig cheeks: B (too much gristle and fat)

Frozen chocolate banana

Who doesn’t love chocolate dipped frozen bananas?

Frozen chocolate banana: B+

Tornado Potato

After the fry dog disappointed, I was worried about this other South Korean treat, but the Tornado Potato brought everything the Fry Dog lacked. This mean monster is like a GIANT potato chip made from one potato. They have cool tools to make them and the stick to the stick so that people can share. There were also different seasonings to sprinkle. I would have/could have eaten about 10 of these. Scary.
Tornado Potato: A+
Honey Ice Cream with Sunflower Seeds
Honey ice cream got Abby SUPER excited. I don’t like honey, so I was less excited.
Honey Ice Cream with sunflower seeds: ?

Lingonberry Ice Cream
The Scandinavians sure knew what they were doing. I think this cone cost me $5, but it was worth it. AMAZING ice cream. Ok, not as good as Italian gelato, but hey, it didn’t have chocolate in it. (And so good, Scott and Tricia got some minutes later.)
Lingonberry ice cream: A

At this point we did not eat for about an hour or two. We had too much oil in our bellies. But then we recovered and the eating resumed…

Deep Fried Cheese Curds
Take cheese curds, dip in batter, deep fry. Sadly, then they lose their squeak 🙁 They may or may not be consumed with ketchup.
Deep Fried Cheese Curds: B+
Texas Steak Dinner on a Stick
These were basically steak and veggie kabobs with a dinner roll thrown on the end. Quite bizarre. I was debating whether or not I was hungry, so I didn’t get one.
Texas Steak Dinner on a Stick: ?

I finally decided I was really really hungry and got a fajita. I forgot to take a picture of it until Tricia chastised me and caught me mid bite.
Fajita: B (really small, but met my needs)
Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Splits and Uffda Treat
A Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split is a banana wrapped in lefse and deep fried. Then it’s topped with ice cream and mixed berries (lingon berries included) and whipped cream. Then you eat it and it is delicious.
Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split: A- (it wasn’t on a stick, so it doesn’t get an A)
Uffda Treat is a scoop of cheesecake filling in a krumkake shell, topped with a pecan praline sauce.
Uffda Treat: C (primarily for not being as awesome as the banana split)

Sweet Martha Cookies and Milk
You must end your state fair experience with Sweet Martha Cookies (chocolate chip is the only choice) and Milk. Get a Bucket of Cookies and run to the all-you-can-drink-milk-for-a-dollar booth. Sit on the grass and eat and drink. Only not more than about two glasses of milk cause you might get sick.
Sweet Martha Cookies: A
Milk: A+
If you are interested in coming to the 2010 Great Minnesota Get Together, you should let me know ASAP, so I can book a space on my floor for you. I already have at least two people coming, so it should be a great time. Every year they add new foods and so your culinary horizons of deep fried food and deep fried food on sticks can continually be expanded. Until then, you may want to eat salad.

Crafting with Mom or Why my family is weird: Part 4

Mom said that she wanted to do crafts one day while I was home. I said ok, envisioning the crafts from several Christmases ago where she and Anthony cut out 50 paper snowflakes. No. This years craft involved a blowtorch. N0t the small one, but the big one. It’s so big, it may be called something different than a blowtorch. It’s a BERNZOMATIC. We needed it at several points for our undisclosed craft.
The Bernzomatic

Mom liked to wave the BERNZOMATIC around wildly while I was trying to heat up the knife to cut the wax. She made me nervous. Luckily, it turns out that my nervousness was deserved. She lit the newspaper (guarding the countertops) on fire.
The burnt newsprint, knife, and chunk of wax.
Our craft also involved a cutting board. At one point we needed to heat up a nail (with the BERNZOMATIC) and dad fashioned a vice grip with these needlenose pliers and a rubber band. Cause in my house, that’s the way we roll.

Needlenose pliers with rubberband, nail, and drips of wax

Sorry anxious readers, but I cannot reveal what the craft was, for that would go against the rule of the craft society. But stay tuned for tomorrow’s November FINALE post (which will also not be a reveal, but will be equally exciting).

Wandering around Berea

Draper Carillon Tower, 2005

It’s strange to wander around a place you know well that you haven’t really seen in two or three years. Things change, people change, and places themselves change. I gave Ben a tour of Berea College this morning and we peeked inside buildings and walked around places I hadn’t looked at in years. So I guess there were two things that struck me 1) lots of things have changed since I last really looked around the college and 2) it is strange to introduce Ben to places that have been so integral to seven years of my life, especially since they were so long ago and the places have changes so much.
Part of the strangeness is that almost every square foot of the campus holds strong memories for me, but almost all the memories revolve around people and almost none of those people are still in Berea. While I have gotten to see a number of them this week, our lives have changed and we are no longer the people we were back when I was in college. Some of my friends have babies or husbands or boyfriends. They have traveled and changed jobs and changed life paths. While Berea helped them become who they are today, they did not stop growing once they left, and that is what makes them interesting, but also what makes it odd to see them year after year. Like people, I expect that the college will stand still when I leave. No buildings will be renovated, no faculty will be hired or fired, nothing will change. But it does, because that’s the way things work. So just as my friends move on, so the college does. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a little surprising every time. My stomach does a little jolt, (like looking into the Pearsons lobby…seriously????), and then I’m fine. I’ve moved on too, and I love my life.
On the day the picture above was taken, we were practicing for graduation. The next day we would stand in front of relatives, friends, and DESMOND TUTU beneath this tower and receive our diplomas. We’ve all gone different ways since then, but many of us find our way back to Berea because, like an old friend, no matter how much the college changes, some part of us will always belong to this amazing place.

Crazy Pets

Maggie in the windowsill

My parents, for years, had two pets, a dog and a cat. For our first six year in Kentucky, Traveler (our collie) was a single child. He mourned the loss of our cat deeply. He moped around and every Himalayan cat he saw, he thought would want to play with him, cause it must be Rumbler. (We had left her in Alaska because we’d been long term petsitting, we’d never “owned” her.”) Then in 2004, dad’s co-worker decided that my parents needed a cat and Maggie (Margaret Thatcher) came into their lives. Traveler loved Maggie and it was common to see Maggie sleeping on top of Traveler or Traveler helping Maggie groom the hair on the top of her head.
So, perhaps it wasn’t surprising when Maggie took Traveler’s death incredibly hard. She knew it was coming (as we all did). He stayed outside for the 48 hours before he died and she apparently refused to leave his side, even for food and water. When I say he stayed outside, that was primarily because he couldn’t walk up stairs or control bodily functions, and by that point he wasn’t eating. It wasn’t very cold and they’d made the shed up for him. But Maggie stayed with him. Mom brought him inside (carrying him) before she took him to the vet, and I don’t know if Maggie came in too, but when mom came home from the vet, Travy wasn’t there, and my parents say that Maggie hasn’t been the same since. She’s been much more needy and has craved attention.
Ben is not a cat person. I think of him as a dog person, but neither of us has pets at the moment. So I didn’t know what his reaction to spending a week with a cat would be. Maggie has latched onto him though. Dad thinks it’s because he’s the calmest presence in the room, but if Ben is seated, Maggie will find lap space and sit there for as long as possible. It doesn’t matter if he’s reading, doing sudoku, or on a laptop, she will be there. I, naturally, have been teasing him about this and he now claims that we can’t get a cat because the cat would like him better and then I would feel neglected and would get another cat, leading to a vicious cycle. For now though, I’ll just enjoy having a cat wandering around and I’ll enjoy the notion that maybe, one time, the cat will pick me…

Quite Interesting

First things first, I hope you all had an excellent day lounging around eating lots of food. Or, if you aren’t in the US, I hope you had an excellent day doing whatever you did.

Secondly, if you don’t know about the BBC program Quite Interesting, you should. Hosted by none other than Stephen Fry, the show is one part interesting facts, one part random facts, one part random made up facts, and five parts hilarity.Add to the mix some of Britain (and occasionally America’s) top comedians, some very smart people, and the wit that is that of Stephen Fry and you have yourselves an amusing show. Alan Davies, perhaps most well known as Jonathan Creek, is the only panelist to appear in every episode and is the numbskull of the bunch. The show is best described by watching, so here’s a clip.
Enjoyed that? Check out more clips on YouTube. The first episode of season G came out tonight in the UK, so I was thinking about that, especially as I talked to an American friend about her current life in the UK and her US shopping list (rolls – crescent and normal, biscuits, hershey’s, popcorn, and Mexican food). In addition the folks over on twitter at qikipedia posted a teaser for tonight’s episode, which I showed to my parents and Ben. Then they wanted to see more, so we watched Season A, episode 1 where they talk about Adams, Andrews, and Anteaters.
In some ways QI is like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, but without the need to be time sensitive or (for the most part) culturally relevant. They are also much more crass than they could EVER be on US tv or radio. Unfortunately the DVDs are only sold as region two (western Europe) so you can either watch on YouTube or obtain episodes less than legally. I would LOVE to purchase the DVDs, and have contemplated buying another DVD player for my desktop just to buy and watch British shows…but I haven’t done that yet. Anyways, if you’re looking for smart and funny entertainment, you might want to check it out.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your break if you have one. Otherwise. I hope you have a most enjoyable Friday.

Pumpkin Shortage Strikes Close to Home

This year our Thanksgiving has been disrupted by The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009.
This year, it turns out, our grocery stores do not look like this:

Instead, where the canned pumpkin should be, there were pre-made pies. Because while there is a shortage of canned pumpkin, apparently the bakery had enough to make pies. I find this to be highly suspicious… Anyways, after searching high and low for pumpkin and finally asking only to find that I was stupid and should have bought my pumpkin a month ago, we thought we’d trick them and go to the organic section.
The organic section of Kroger’s felt like home. Or as much like the Wedge as Kroger’s can possibly feel like. With still no pumpkin in sight, we bought frozen sweet potatoes. (Ironically, the same brand that we would have bought at the Wedge.) The thing is, at my house we are weird. (Previously established here, here, and here.) We don’t eat pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. We eat pumpkin cake. It’s like pumpkin pie met yellow cake and they had a baby called pumpkin cake. It is delicious, especially with cool whip and/or whipped cream on top. Yum Yum Yum. So we couldn’t just buy a bakery pie.
Once at home, we went to two gas stations thinking that maybe they’d have pumpkin. Ok, that’s a lie. Really we went on a walk to several gas stations, bought a paper, and coconut m&ms and also happened to peruse the shelves where they’d keep pumpkin, but no pumpkin was in sight.
So our pumpkin cake this year is a sweet potato cake. Mom’s eaten a slice already and claims it tastes no different. The true test will be tomorrow. The northerner in me says it just can’t be the same, but the southerner in me tells me to give it a try. Now I know though, pumpkin purchases cannot be put off til the last minute.

Why my family is weird: Part 3

My dad emailed me this picture this week. Not for squeamish vegetarians.

If you were wondering, this is what ten pounds of homemade pancetta looks like. And it tastes like heaven. Especially on homemade pizza with lots of veggies and pesto and cottage cheese. My mom has already demanded they eat two of these chunks. I’m hoping at least two will find their way up to Minneapolis… But I think that not many people make their own pancetta and fewer still make 10 pounds at a time for home consumption (and have eaten 1.5 pounds of that within two weeks.)
I love my weird family!

Once Upon A Time

Going on a Trip circa 1984
Back in the day, packing was easy. Grab Teddy in the backpack carrier and some raisins and cranberry juice concentrate or tofu for sustenance and I would be ready for a journey. Not a journey of much distance, granted, but a journey none the less. Now a journey requires doing multiple loads of laundry, making phone calls, emails, facebook, checking in for flights on line, consulting transit schedules, talking to people on IM, and more. Being a grown up is complicated. I liked going on trips with Teddy, but I doubt there was as much excitement on those trips.
See, tomorrow I am going to visit my parents. And Ben’s coming too. And we get to see all sorts of fun people. So while packing and planning may be a pain, in the end I know it will be worth it. And Teddy may even be there at my parent’s house waiting for us.

I love salad

My awesome salad of awesomeness
This was my dinner tonight: Mixed greens, hard boiled egg, cheddar cheese, croutons, almonds, pecans, carrots, and raisins. Every once in a while I go through a phase where I am obsessed with salads and eat them at all possible times. This has nothing to do with wanting to be healthy or needing veggies. This past summer it had to do with an abundance of berries (super yummy in salads) and other times it often has to do with finding the perfect dressing. This weekend is once of those times.

Salad Girl Pomegranate Pear Dressing

Yesterday I went to a Green Christmas Gifts Expo with some friends and they had food samples, including Salad Girl salad dressing. While I had tasted it before, I had forgotten about it. I also hadn’t bought it originally because it’s a little on the pricey side. But it’s winter and I was feeling like it was time for a new salad dressing, so I splurged and bought pomegranate pear dressing and mixed greens. And Oh My Goodness. This is the type of salad dressing that you would have an affair with, if you could have affairs with salad dressing (which, thankfully, you cannot). Ben almost had to get out his camera last night cause I had to lick the bowl I tossed my salad in to get all the dressing I could out. That’s the type of commitment I have to this dressing. It is silky and tangy and mixes perfectly with all the other ingredients that were hanging out in my fridge and cupboards waiting to be tossed in a salad. Sadly it’s only available in Minnesota, as it’s a small local company (with a circa 1999 website), but if you’re in the area, check it out. It’s well worth it.

Opinion: Christmas

My family’s living room, Christmas 2004

Today I’m not feeling long winded, so I will share with you two opinions regarding Christmas.
1) Christmas should not be thought about until either December or the first Sunday in Advent, whichever comes first. In extreme situations you can think about Christmas immediately following Thanksgiving. (Note: this does not apply to gift giving. You can always be thinking of Christmas gifts. This applies primarily to decorations and music.) I refuse to buy Christmas decorations in early November. I would refuse to look at Christmas decorations in November if that were possible, but I think I wouldn’t be able to enter stores, so I’m not quite that strict.
2) I’m sorry mom, but a fig tree is not a Christmas tree. It makes a valiant attempt and is definitely more convenient, unique, and more ecologically sound, but it’s just not quite the same. (This could be cross filed under: Why my family is weird…) Our fig tree also doesn’t hold nearly enough ornaments. I also hadn’t realized until I went through my photos that we’d been decorating the fig tree for so long. I guess going to the closest parking lot and buying a tree just didn’t have the same appeal as going skiing and snowmobiling to cut down our own tree from the woods, either. So while I respect your decision and your past fig tree decorating skills mom, I think this year we’ll have a traditional tree 🙂