Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hey, Flying Pigs! It's Not About the Destination

Eleven years ago I ran my first Flying Pig Marathon. If you've ever wanted to know if you're really qualified to include "goal-oriented" on your list of character traits, running 26.2 miles is the perfect way to fine out. Somehow I managed to find time for 6 months of training in the middle of being a wife, a mother, and a business partner. And, yes, I finished the marathon in a stellar 5 hours and 14 minutes.
For those of you getting set for the Flying Pig on Sunday, your training has all but come to an end. This is the week for worrying about "hitting the wall," eating and sleeping right, and figuring out the logistics of race day. Come Sunday, your weeks of training will culminate in a memorable experience. 
As I look back, my journey to the finish line was filled with memories. I remember Sunday training runs that took me all over Winton Woods and took longer than it would take to play 18 holes of golf. I remember race day morning and the excitement in the bathroom lines prior to the start. I remember the relief of hearing a barbershop quartet at the Eden Park Overlook after climbing that first hill. I remember the elderly woman on the curb at one of the last mile markers in Covington who looked me straight in the eye, clapped her hands, and said, "You can do it!" And, yes, I remember the finish line, but not so much for the end itself, but for the sight of a former soccer teammate encouraging me the last few steps. 
So as you Flying Pigs do your thing this weekend, take time to smell the flowers. Sure, your race time is important and the medal is cool, but as my friend Ross has said for years, "It's not about the destination...It's about the journey." 
And now a word from our sponsors: Eat more fruits and vegetables. They make you run fast! 
Good Luck, Racers!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chips and Dip

With another Easter on the horizon, my thoughts turn once again to family, friends, and holiday gatherings. I'm thinking a lot about my Aunt Maxine these days. She passed away on April 7 after living a full and active life most of her 85 years. She left her 3 children, 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and the rest of her extended family and circle of friends with wonderful memories of a caring person who excelled at balancing work and play. 
As a child, I remember many special occasions at Aunt Maxine's. The Fourth of July was always my favorite holiday because we could sit on the back patio and watch the community fireworks over the trees in her backyard. We also spent many a Sunday dinner at Maxine's...and I'm sure we hunted for Easter eggs more than once at her house. 
It's strange what stands out for me when I think about dinners at Aunt Maxine's. I remember that she always had chips and dip. Yes, potato chips and onion dip always seemed special to me. 
As I think about that now, and as I think about all the worry that sometimes goes into a holiday meal, I find myself chuckling that the thing I remember the most is the chips and dip. Maybe there's a lesson there for all of us...something along the lines of "Don't Sweat the Big Stuff." As you gather your family together for your next special meal, don't stress too much over the ham, the turkey, the lamb, or the roast...It might be something as simple as the dip that makes them want to come back for more. After all, it's often the little things that make the memories.

So as a tribute to my Aunt Maxine, I'm sharing this recipe for a special dip from Perfect Entertaining. Who knows? There may just be a dip lover in your family that remembers this for a long time. 

Creamy Cucumber Dill Dip

This dip is easy to make and is refreshing and cool. Try serving it with fresh vegetables, tortilla chips, breadsticks, or crackers as an easy appetizer. The dip can be made up to 48 hours in advance. 

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
2 medium peeled and chopped cucumbers
3 tablespoons sliced scallions
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoons freshly snipped dill weed
Dash cayenne pepper to taste

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy. Cover tightly and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with additional dill sprigs and chopped red bell pepper if desired. 

Makes about 3 cups dip. 

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Open Casting Call!

From time to time, professional photographers ask us if they can shoot video or still photos at Daisy Mae's Market at Findlay Market. Of course, we're always flattered and usually eager to help out. I'm amazed how many amateur photographers also visit our stand and aim to snap a picture of our produce. Tourists, students, photojournalists, and those with smartphones have been click, click, clicking at Daisy Mae's since we opened. A little surprising, yes...But also easy to see that Findlay Market and our bounty of fruits and vegetables make the perfect backdrop for that special shot.
Today, by coincidence, we had 2 professional photographers "on location." I watched as they set up umbrellas for lighting, laptops for editing, and tripods for shooting. In one case, a model carried a colorful bag overflowing with grapes and asparagus as she posed for a shot while shopping. We did our best to coax the veggies into smiling, and I have to think that the photographers left with the desired results.
You don't have to be a professional, however, to take great pictures of our produce. In fact, we're putting out an open casting call right now to see which of our fresh fruits or veggies makes the best model. Bring your camera or smartphone on your next trip to Daisy Mae's Market. Take a picture and post on the wall of the Daisy Mae's Market Facebook page. Don't be intimidated; you don't have to be a pro. We'll even give bonus points for creativity! We'll pick the best of the photos, and the winner will receive a $15 Daisy Mae's Market gift certificate. Contest starts tomorrow (4/13/11) and photos must be posted by Sunday (4/17/11) at 6:00 pm. Winner will be notified via Facebook on Sunday night.
Go ahead...Take your best shot!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons, Try Lemongrass!

Spring has finally arrived so you'll find both sides of
Daisy Mae's Market fully stocked again. When you exit the market house on the Race Street end at Findlay Market, you'll see many of our more exotic and international items on your right (the south side) and the more traditional offerings on your left (the north side). We stock over 100 items including not only fresh produce, but also jams and butters from Yoder's Farm as well as dried fruits and snacks from Windy Acres.
As you explore the expanded fare, you'll surely find a few items that may be new to you. I've recently discovered lemongrass. Lemongrass may look like something your weed-eater missed, but don't be fooled. This herb is popular in Thai and Vietnamese cooking and has been promoted for centuries as a key ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine. Lemongrass is also popular in herbal teas, and many proclaim that it improves digestion, is good for the skin, and may even prevent or cure colds! You may have run across the word "lemongrass" when shopping for lotions, perfumes, or shampoo...Yes, they've actually been able to bottle its powerful aroma.
When using lemongrass for cooking, remove the tough leaves to get at the main, yellow stalk inside. Some people cut the stalks into 2"-3" lengths and then "bruise" them by bending before adding them to soups or curries. By "bruising" the stalks (or slicing superficially), you release the lemon flavor into the dish. (Just be sure to remove the pieces before serving in a soup or sauce.) Others prefer to slice and then crush the lemongrass with a food processor or with mortar and pestle before mixing the ingredient into a special recipe. The extra lemon boost is a great addition to fish, poultry, and stir-fried dishes. 
There's no reason to feel bored with your cooking and "tired of the same old thing." With so many options to choose from, vow to try something new every week. As we always say, "Food is Fun!"