Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cincinnati's Easiest Graduation Party

If you've been wondering where I've been lately and haven't been following my adventures on Twitter or Facebook, I've been on the graduation train for the last few weeks. A son graduating from college and a daughter graduating from high school can certainly fill up the May calendar.
This weekend was the culmination of it all as we hosted a party for about 100 people. I know, it sounds daunting...but it really wasn't. The weather cooperated so most of the fun was outside; thus, primping, cleaning, and fussing inside the house were kept to a minimum. So our main focus was on the food, and eat well we did. If there is a celebration in your future, I recommend you follow these easy step-by-step directions to make your graduation party a hit:
1. Go to Findlay Market. Park in one of the 3 convenient adjoining free lots, or grab a meter on the street.
2. Decide on your main entree. We chose fajitas. We got Amish chicken breasts from Busch's Country Corner and flank steak from Mackie Meats. We marinated everything overnight. If you need help with a marinade, talk to the Colonel at Herbs & Spice. (If you prefer more of a traditional cookout with sausages, metts, or brats, check out Kroeger & Sons or Eckerlin Meats.) To make the fajitas complete, we grilled whole peppers and onions, too.

3. For side dishes, think fresh produce. We served veggies and dip, fruit salad, slices of watermelon, tossed salad, and sweet corn. You can feed A LOT of people with fruits and vegetables at a very reasonable price. You can even call ahead to Daisy Mae's Market at 513-602-5601 and we'll package your order and have it ready for quick pick up.

4. For dessert, choose gelato from Dojo Gelato, waffles or pastries from Taste of Belgium, or a special cake from Skirtz & Johnston.
5. Or if you're not quite the planner that I am, just wander around until you see or smell something you like at Findlay Market. Whatever you decide to serve, it's easy to find, reasonably priced, and convenient. You'll be glad you chose one-stop shopping at Findlay Market.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to Know When a Pear is Ripe

One of the most common questions we get regarding fruit is "How can you tell if it's ripe?" With some fruits, you can tell by the color, but with pears that doesn't really work. Bartlett pears, for example, turn from green to yellow as they ripen. However, some varieties of pears turn from dark red to bright red....or other varieties like Anjou and Bosc change color very little. USA Pears has come up with a clever little tag line to help you determine ripeness: "Check the Neck." Since pears ripen from the inside out, it's best to check the narrowest part of the pear (the neck or stem end) to tell if it's ripe. Gently press your thumb against the neck and if it yields slightly, it's ripe and sweet. If you wait until the pear is soft around the middle, it may be overripe.
If you find the pears you've bought aren't quite ripe enough for your taste, put them in a bowl or paper bag and let them stand at room temperature for a day or so. Continue to "Check the Neck" until it yields slightly and you'll then find the pear is ready to eat. If your pears are at your preferred ripeness, you can then put them in the refrigerator to slow any further ripening.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Prost! It's Findlay Market Biergarten Time

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a summer vacation in Germany. That trip, plus my annual visits to every Oktoberfest in the Cincinnati area, have confirmed my belief that Germans know how to have fun.
In Germany, it's common to take a weekend hike. Sometimes a walk through the woods is a semi-organized "Volksmarch." Families, groups of friends, or individuals, young and old, follow a designated path on a non-competitive fitness walk. Sometimes patches or pins are offered as incentives to finish the walk, but for the most part the walk is as much about socializing as it is about exercise.
When I was near Munich, we went on such a Sunday walk. I remember the beautiful scenery, greeting others along the way, and hearing whistling and singing in the forest. But what I remember the most about this wonderful walk was what was at the end of the trail. After walking for several hours, we magically ended up at a quaint, outdoor cafe seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We had a delicious meal, wine and beer, and lingered for a bit with the locals. No one was in a hurry. No one worried about making the trek back home. Everyone just enjoyed the time spent with family and friends.
Now we have a chance to experience our own piece of German heritage at Findlay Market. The Biergarten opens this weekend and will continue throughout the summer. For those who live downtown, the Biergarten could be the end of your weekend walk. If you drive to Findlay Market, your stroll through the market house and farm shed might lead you to a cold beer. Either way, this Biergarten is the perfect spot to enjoy food and drink, and linger with the locals. Prost!

Monday, May 10, 2010

You Say Tomato...

As the days get longer and the sun begins to warm the earth, thoughts turn to gardening and homegrown produce. There's nothing like eating a tomato right from the garden.
Tomatoes are among the most popular item at Daisy Mae's Market. At various times, we carry globe tomatoes, roma tomatoes, plum tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, green tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and grape tomatoes. There are literally thousands of varieties of tomatoes, and the fun comes when you try different kinds.
Botanists classify the tomato as a fruit, and the State of Ohio even named the tomato as the state fruit in 2009. To most of us, however, the tomato is a vegetable, and a culinary favorite because it can be eaten raw or cooked and has so many different uses.
The most common question we get this time of year is "Are they homegrown?"
Currently, we're getting most of our tomatoes from Florida. It's way too early to find homegrown tomatoes in Ohio unless they have been grown in a greenhouse. Tomato plants can't be put outside until after the danger of frost, and they need plenty of sunlight and warm temperatures to mature. Once plants are set outside, it takes 50-90 days before it's time to harvest. As you can tell, we won't be seeing ripe, local tomatoes until July in most parts of Ohio.
In the meantime, we're bringing in a nice crop from the South. These tomatoes should satisfy your taste buds and supply the Vitamin C and betacarotene that contribute to good health. Here's a link to a recipe for one of my favorite ways to use tomatoes...Give bruschetta a try!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mini Mae's is Coming!

Beginning this Friday, May 7, Daisy Mae's Market hits the road to a second location. We will be open every Friday from 3:00-6:00 pm in the Village of Golf Manor. You'll see our smiling faces in the public parking area across from the Fire Station at 6450 Wiehe Road. We will offer a scaled-down version of the Daisy Mae's you've come to know and love at Findlay Market, but you can be assured that Mini Mae's will have all of your favorites like potatoes, apples, onions, and greens. In addition, we'll have a Crazy Daisy loyalty card for the Golf Manor location. Spend $5 on 5 separate visits, and you'll get $5 off on your sixth visit. We know it's crazy--It's like giving away free food...but we love our loyal customers and want to show our appreciation.
Yes, we're branching out a bit, but we're still open FULL-TIME at Findlay Market, too.
Golf Manor hours: Friday, 3-6
Findlay Market hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9-6/Saturday, 8-6/Sunday, 10-4