Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today, I Digress.

I know you've arrived at my blog with plans of reading more about fresh produce from Daisy Mae's Market at historic Findlay Market, but today, I digress. You see, today I have a hangover...a happy, feel-good virtual hangover that keeps reminding me of how much fun I had last night. Yes, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Houston Astros last night on a walk-off home run by Jay Bruce. With the win, the Reds are back in the MLB playoffs for the first time in 15 years. The best part of it all: I was there.
I've been a lifelong baseball fan...tested the waters by collecting baseball cards in a shoebox, put my toes in with Lou Brock and Bob Gibson when the Cardinals won the World Series in 1964, and jumped in feet first when Roger Maris arrived in St. Louis a couple years later to help the Cardinals to two more pennants. After college, I found myself in Ohio, and continued to follow the Cardinals from afar, but I also developed an affection for the Reds. When the Reds went wire-to-wire in 1990, my conversion began. By the time I experienced the one-game playoff with the Mets for the 1999 Wild Card position, I was diving in...I was a full-fledged Reds fan.
But then began the lost decade. Players, managers, owners coming and jumping on and off the bandwagon...griping, complaining, second-guessing...but still the faithful followed. Last night was for the faithful.
As I watched the game unfold, I looked and listened to those around me. It was a cross-section of what baseball is all about. I sat with family...the same as I had done so often through the years. Next to me was a young couple, barely old enough to buy a beer but certainly doing more than their share of drinking, sitting with the young man's father. I overheard references to Barry Larkin, Jose Rijo, and others. They were there to remember and compare. In front of me sat a mother with her 10 or 11 year old son. They were dressed in full Reds regalia and knew every Reds player by name. The boy was too excited to sit down most of the night, and his mom cheered as loudly as anyone in our section. They had definitely planned to be there to witness Reds history. On their right sat a 70ish gentleman, alone, with a Cleveland Indians hat. He charted every pitch in a ringed scorebook, and we found out he was from Albuquerque, NM and on a pilgrimage of sorts to visit various ballparks. He was, by chance, at Great American Ball Park last night. On the other side of the mother and son, sat an African-American man, mid-thirties and alone. He arrived in about the third inning and carried his bicycle helmet. We found out later that he had recently moved to Cincinnati from Alabama, and he decided this game was the place to be. He told us how happy he was that he had chosen to move here THIS year. Across the aisle, two men in their forties drank Coke all night and yet were so intoxicated with the excitement of the night, they stood and danced and high-fived like it was New Year's Eve and they were teenagers. Behind us was a group of 7 or 8 professionals, but 3 or 4 of them were speaking French. It was obvious that the visitors had never seen a baseball game. Their hosts explained foul balls, bunts, and innings to the curious guests. Again, a chance occurrence that the first game seen by the Frenchmen would mean so much to the Americans.
This was baseball as it was meant to be. Young and old, seasoned and casual fans alike, some who had planned to be there and others who just happened to have a ticket...all lucky enough to be in the same place at the same time to share a special Cincinnati sports moment...together as a community. It couldn't have been scripted any better.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taro Root: Not Just for Poi Anymore

The most commonly asked question the last week or so at Daisy Mae's Market has been, "What do you do with it?" As you know, we've expanded our offerings and now feature not only our standard fare, but also some of the more unusual and exotic examples of fresh produce. It's been a great way to strike up conversations with our customers, and we're noticing a definite interest in trying new things.
One of the items we now carry is taro root. Taro root is the main ingredient in poi. However, we've also discovered it makes great chips! A big shoutout to DaisyMaeologist Dan from Prospect Hill who shared this simple recipe and the great photo.

Peel taro roots and slice...not too thin. In a food processor, a 2mm blade works well, or just slice by hand about 1/4" thick. The slices will be a little "slimy" to the touch.

Soak the taro slices in cool water for at least 1/2 hour. Some recipes recommend changing the water a couple of times.

Dry the slices in a single layer between two kitchen towels.

Deep fry the chips for approximately 7 minutes, until lightly browned.

Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

They're great plain, but we also tried them with a little malt vinegar for a "fish and chips" kind of taste. Dare to be different!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not Your Grandmother's Beets

The beets I remember from my childhood were bright red and slimy, and they came in a jar. They always seemed to be alongside something good on a plate at my grandmother's house. I remember hating them...mostly because the icky juice ran all over the plate and seemed to taint the good stuff like roast turkey or beef.
Now that I'm all grown up, I've discovered a whole new world of beets. This root vegetable is available year-round, is inexpensive, and is high in folate, manganese, and potassium. Beets are most tender from June through October so it's a perfect time to give beets a try. Many people enjoy pickled beets, but I prefer roasting. The easiest way to roast beets is to clean them, wrap them in foil, and place them in a 400 degree oven about 45 minutes or until tender. After roasting in foil, the peel will slip right off and then you can slice the beets for a salad, or mix them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little goat cheese. The natural color adds so much to your plate...Your imagination is your only limit as to how to prepare and serve.
You can find hundreds of recipes on the internet for how to prepare beets. Here's a simple one for roasting. The chopped walnuts add a great crunch to the earthy flavor of the beets.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and cube fresh beets (about 1 beet per serving). Place the beets and some chopped walnuts on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast about 45 minutes or until beets are fork tender. (After the first 12-15 minutes, remove the walnuts and set aside.) When beets are the consistency of baked carrots, they're ready. Toss with chopped walnuts and serve.

Trust me, these are not your grandmother's beets. In fact, you can't beat this root vegetable!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Are You a DaisyMaeologist?

It's always fun when someone surprises me with a picture or a recipe of something they've whipped up with Daisy Mae's fresh produce. Our friend Tom recently did just that.
Tom is originally from Germany, but has lived in the U.S. for the last 6 years. I've become very good friends with him, both in real life and on Facebook. I tease Tom that he's quite the Renaissance man...but it's true. He can talk carpentry, software, politics, or home-brew with equal ease...and, in fluent English, no less!
A few days ago Tom posted the attached picture on his Facebook page. He had taken a study break for a "brain-food-veggie-snack." It looked like a lot more than a snack to me, but I loved the photo and the accompanying description of "green beans sauteed, carrots with french onions in butter, garlic, and lemon, topped with manchego and cherry tomatoes..." It's part of his "secret yummy nom nom place." So without really thinking, I called him "my favorite DaisyMaeologist."
Thus, I've coined a new term...DaisyMaeologist: One who makes creative things with our stuff. If you think food is fun, and you like to create dishes with Daisy Mae's fresh produce, you're a DaisyMaeologist. Maybe it's an old family recipe that just works well with our fresh veggies, or maybe it's a new combination you're trying for the first time...maybe it's even just cut up fruit in a bowl that looks pretty before everyone digs into it...However the culinary spirit moves you, if you're using Daisy Mae's fresh produce and enjoying the preparation and presentation, you're a DaisyMaeologist.
We're looking forward to meeting more of the DaisyMaeologists out there...We'd love to see a picture or hear about your creations. And from time to time, we'll even offer special deals just for you. So in honor of my new word, today (9/9/10), 10% off at Daisy Mae's Market at Findlay Market if you say you're a DaisyMaeologist!