Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tomato Shortage 2011--Not at Daisy Mae's Market

Every year we go through periods where certain items at our fresh produce stand at Findlay Market disappear. A few weeks ago, green beans were in short supply. Another week, we hardly had any celery. It's almost always weather-related, and within a few weeks, the items start to reappear.
If you've been anywhere other than under a rock the last week or so, you know about the current tomato shortage. A quick Google search showed me 195,000 search results for "Tomato Shortage 2011" so I know everyone is talking about it. For the first time in about 50 years, Florida and Mexico experienced damaging freezes at about the same time this winter. It's not that there aren't any tomatoes, it's just that they are in short supply as farmers wait for the next crop to mature. If you know what supply and demand does to prices, you'll understand why fast food restaurants like Wendy's and Subway decided to temporarily remove or limit tomatoes on their sandwiches. Grocery stores and markets, on the other hand, may have raised prices on the tomatoes they do offer.
However, at Daisy Mae's Market, we're in a unique position. Since Jeff spent years in the wholesale produce business, he has developed special relationships with most of our suppliers. One result of his experiences is that tomatoes have actually become one of our specialties. In fact, check our company logo and you'll see that it includes a tomato in the center of a daisy...Our avatar we use for Facebook and Twitter includes a tomato as well. The tomato is "our thing." Jeff knows tomatoes, and our suppliers know Jeff. This cooperative effort allows us to continue to bring fresh tomatoes to you at reasonable prices year-round.
So next time you see a sign at the drive-through window apologizing for a lack of tomatoes, think of us. In fact, just swing through the drive-through and keep on driving to Daisy Mae's where you can get delicious fresh tomatoes at good prices any time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Can't Wait for Bockfest?

Cincinnati has a tradition of celebrating its 1800's beer heritage with a special brew that is tapped around the time of Lent. This year, March 4-6 has been designated as Bockfest in downtown's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Early March seems like a perfect time to honor your German heritage or hoist a mug of Bockbier. At our house, we jump the gun a bit and have created our own holiday called Febfest. In 2011, we celebrate this weekend.
It all began 17 years ago when Mr. Daisy Mae decided we needed a reason to get together with our friends during the grey, cold days of winter. We love the fall Oktoberfests around Cincinnati so Mr. Daisy Mae suggested his own version of Febfest. Why not get together when we all have cabin fever and share traditional German food and drink with our good friends? This could be Gemütlichkeit at its best...and so it began.
We've found the best Febfest features food from local small businesses. We start with several cheeses from Gibb's at Findlay Market and follow that with a "radi" (fresh Daikon radish thinly sliced and salted) from our own Daisy Mae's. Alongside the cheese are pretzels from Servatii's. Next come the sauerkraut balls, and then we serve fresh sausages from Kroeger & Sons at Findlay Market. The main course features wiener schnitzel made from Avril's fresh veal and served on mini-buns from North College Hill Bakery. The sandwiches are accompanied by homemade German slaw and potato pancakes made with ingredients from our own Daisy Mae's Market. Dinner concludes with Mr. Daisy Mae's apfelstrüdel baked with Granny Smith apples. Of course, the entire meal tastes better when accompanied by a Christian Moerlein beer or a Bockbier from your favorite local brewery. This year we're going one better---home brew crafted by a special German friend.
So, you see, it's possible to have a German celebration with the help of local Cincinnati small businesses. Try it--shop locally, celebrate internationally, and have fun with good friends, good food, and good drink.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who You Callin' Ugly?!?

Fruits and vegetables...a photographer's dream. "Eat the rainbow," the nutritionists say as they promote both the beauty and the health advantages of eating fresh produce. But wait! Among all the reds, yellows, greens, and purples at Daisy Mae's Market sits the lowly Ugli Fruit. It's wrinkly. It's "sort of yellowish." It's just plain ugly. But just like Mom used to say..."Don't judge a book by its cover." It's what's inside that counts.
The Ugli Fruit is a type of tangelo grown in Jamaica and available from about November through April. The original cross between a grapefruit, a Seville orange, and a tangerine has been tweaked a bit to arrive at our present-day Ugli Fruit, sweet and tangy. The fruit is easy to peel and eat like a tangerine, or it can be halved and eaten like a grapefruit. Either way the orange flesh inside is low in calories and high in Vitamin C and fiber. And something else interesting...If you can't eat grapefruit because of certain medications you take, you may be able to eat Ugli Fruit. It contains no furanocoumarins so check with your doctor to see if you can add Ugli Fruit to your diet.
Next time you're at Findlay Market, enjoy the sights of all the beautiful produce. But don't neglect the not-so-attractive Ugli Fruit. This ugly stepsister of the citrus family is great for snacking and for making juice. In fact, she may turn out to be your main squeeze!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

I just returned from a short trip with 4 wonderful friends to Charleston, South Carolina. Before leaving for the trip, everyone told me we'd love it, and they were absolutely right. We loved it---even in February when we wore jackets, dodged downpours, and found a few places opening late or closing early because "the season" is still a few weeks away.
So what makes Charleston so special?
     1. The Charleston Visitor Center---This state-of-the-art facility right in the middle of town is an attraction in itself. You can view a short movie about the area, pick up literature of every kind, make reservations for hotels, tours, or dinner, or just browse the huge photos and maps along the walls. If you don't feel welcome after stopping here, you might as well go home.
     2. The History---It's everywhere. From the stately old mansions to the renovated row houses, you'll quickly realize that Charleston knows the importance of preservation. I recommend one of the theme-type tours and you'll learn things in a few hours that make the whole trip more meaningful. Note: Charleston is not a perfect little city by any means...They have suffered through fires, wars, and hurricanes that played a crucial role in what you'll see during your visit.
     3. The Culinary Experience---Charleston has hundreds of restaurants and pubs, and we found the food and service superb for each dining experience. Several signature dishes occurred, either in the classic form or creatively prepared, on most menus...She Crab Soup, Carolina barbecue, and fried green tomatoes.
     4. The Geography---Charleston has its harbor, and, of course, is known for its pleasant climate. However, it does get REALLY HOT in Charleston during the summer, but they don't seem to let it cramp their style. Instead, they've built piazzas to take advantage of ocean breezes, and they've built brick courtyards with overhanging trees for shade. They're taking the harbor to a whole new level, too, by luring cruise lines to include Charleston as a destination.
     5. The Trolley---The best way to experience Charleston is on foot, but when you're tired or it's pouring, you take the trolley. The trolley has several routes (all clearly color-coded on a simple map) that run regularly throughout the city. The purpose of the trolley system is to cut down on traffic and make access to shopping and dining easy. It works...and best of all, it's free!

While reflecting on my trip, I can't help but think that Cincinnati has many of the successful pieces of Charleston's development already in place. I realize Cincinnati doesn't have the good fortune of warm weather year-round. However, Cincinnati is filled with historic buildings, has a reputation for fine dining, has a city center already developed around Fountain Square, has spectacular views of the Ohio River as it meanders through the hills, and has plans in place for expansion of mass transit. Seems to me the only thing we're missing is the fried green tomatoes, a signature dish! Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Alice's Super Parties

You might recall a previous post in which I explained the origin of the name "Daisy Mae's Market." Daisy Mae was the grandmother of partners Barry and Jeff Cooper. She lived in the hills of Kentucky and could cook up quite a meal with whatever she might have around the house. I never met Daisy Mae, but I imagine her as a typical Little-House-on-the-Prairie-kind of grandmother.
I, on the other hand, had Alice. She was my mother's mother, but preferred to be called "Alice" because she never felt old enough to be called "Grandmother." Alice was as different from a Little-House-on-the-Prairie-kind of grandmother as she could be. She managed the office of the family automobile business her whole life, served on the Church Council and practically ran the church, and owned season tickets for St. Louis Blues hockey even though her husband chose never to join her for a game. She enjoyed shopping, dining out, and attending the theater, but most of all, she enjoyed entertaining. 
Alice, and her husband Sherman, had a modest yet state-of-the-art home. As one of their 6 grandchildren, I always felt privileged to go to Alice's for holidays and special events. Not only did she serve delicious meals, but there were usually "Kiddie Cocktails" and orange peanut candy...things we didn't get at home. But the most special thing about Alice's house was that she owned a color television! Very few homes had a color television in the 60's, but there we were watching Bonanza in living color.
I'm sure we watched the first Super Bowl in 1967--in color--at Alice's house. And I'm sure all of the grandchildren had their little fingers in the dips and cheeses. There was nothing like a party at Alice's. How she would have loved to see the way the Super Bowl has evolved! It's so much more than a game now...It's the 60" HDTV's, the commercials, the parties, the extravaganza...Alice would have loved it.   
So this year, when I get ready to watch the Super Bowl, I may just have a "Kiddie Cocktail" and lift my glass to Alice who taught me every party can be super if you just relax and have fun.