Friday, October 24, 2014

Fresh Eyes

My dad moved from Florida in August to be closer to our family. After a few adjustments and one small medical setback, we're all settling into a nice routine now here in our home. Dad has been working hard to build up his strength, and today we decided he was ready for a trip to Findlay Market. He had seen pictures of Findlay Market, but none prepared him for this beautiful fall day with bright sun and blue sky. He took it all in, enjoyed meeting a few of my merchant and neighborhood friends, and lunched on one of Mimi's Gourmet Eggrolls. He kept saying how much Findlay Market exceeded his expectations, and I gradually realized that Dad was noticing things that I had missed. I guess I had started to take my regular trips to Findlay Market for granted, and it took a fresh pair of eyes to appreciate what we have.

Among the observations of this 90-year-old were:

  • "The market smells so good my mouth is watering."
  • "There are so many different kinds of people here. And so many young people!"
  • "I didn't realize so much of the market was indoors. I really didn't need this jacket because it's nice and warm inside."
  • "You can't go wrong owning any of the property around here."
  • "The parking is only $.50?!? It's close and they have nice ramps for my cart."
  • "That's a lot of food for just a little money."
  • "It would take at least a half day to see everything here."
I guess we all need to look at Findlay Market with fresh eyes. Whether you're a first-timer, or a seasoned shopper, take a look around and appreciate what we have here in Cincinnati. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Community of Findlay Market

Sometimes I think Findlay Market should have its own zip code. It's a small town within itself. Merchants are there when the sun comes up, and many of them are still there as the sun sets. They share common concerns. When a merchant is ill or has a family issue, everyone cares. When someone has a new grandchild, everyone celebrates. Dating, marriage, divorce, agreements, arguments, partnerships, and contracts have all occurred within and among the merchants. And you can be sure, just as in any community, gossip has been known to be exchanged.
The definition of community also includes "sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals." The merchants of Findlay Market definitely share the goal of sustaining the market as the focal point of Over-the-Rhine. They relish the tradition and share the passion generated by over 160 years of Findlay Market history. Change comes slowly, after careful consideration, but it does occur as everyone adjusts to new shopping habits, preferences, and procedures.
In addition to emotional support, merchants support each other financially. Did you know that several of Daisy Mae's best customers are actually other Findlay Market merchants? It's not uncommon for other merchants to purchase fresh produce from Daisy Mae's, rice from Saigon Market, beef from Eckerlin's Meats, or spices from Colonel De to use in dishes prepared to sell at Findlay Market. More than once, I've heard one merchant yell across the aisle, "Toss me a pound of bacon!" Why go to a wholesale restaurant supplier when everything you need is available from your neighbor?
Findlay Market merchants take the "Shop Local" message to heart. They support each other and all benefit from their cooperative efforts. More than 35 individual businesses all work together to survive not only individually, but also as a community.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Hate Wrappers

I know I'm not the only one who hates wrappers and packaging. It's not just the irritation of trying to figure out which end to open or where the flap starts. I hate the waste and the smell, and if it's food wrapped in too much packaging, I wonder about the preservatives.

It also bothers me when the thing I want requires a 6-inch knife and a whole lot of patience to open--like this:

Or when way too much packaging is used for one little item--like this:

Or when it's not even necessary to put something in a wrapper--like this:

I also dislike the taste of commercially packaged baked goods--like this:

I much prefer my baked goods made at home with no preservatives, no packaging or wrappers, and healthy ingredients. Like these Healthy Carrot-Zucchini Mini Muffins. Who's with me?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Catch Some Summer Before It's Gone

When I was young, summer was when my mother and aunt would take outings just to buy fresh produce. Sometimes it was a trip for tomatoes or sweet corn from a local farm. Other times, it was a "pick-your-own" adventure for raspberries or strawberries. I didn't always tag along, but I remember the evening meals after such an outing. I especially remember the strawberry shortcake.
With the exception of birthday cakes, we rarely had dessert as the final course of the meal. Don't get me wrong. We had our share of sweet treats, but it was usually ice cream or cookies and not a formal dessert, per se. However, when fresh strawberries were available, we had shortcake.
Shortcake at our house could be Angel Food cake with smashed strawberries on top, or it could be a store-bought sponge cake. Either way, the shortcake was topped with a small dab of whipped cream and the strawberry juice oozed throughout the cake. I loved it.
As we wind down the days of summer and the kids head back to school, why not treat yourself to some strawberry shortcake? It just might remind you of days gone by, and you might be making new memories that others will share.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Set Another Place at the Table

Since our youngest moved out in May, special meals at our house have become infrequent. It seems like dinner for Barry and me has been leftovers, "make-something-out-of-nothing," carry-out, or "let's just skip it." So it's a pleasant relief when either of us really plans a meal ahead of time. We find ourselves talking about the preparation and the food, and our conversation switches from the day-to-day recap of running a small business to the joy of cooking and sharing a good meal.
We've recently added a third place at our dinner table. My dad has moved here from Florida and has instilled us with new energy to apply to meals. We're excited to share recipes he may have missed since he last visited ten years ago. Since his diet is switching from frozen dinners to "real cooking," he's an easy customer to please. Among other food favorites, we enjoy sharing the fresh produce from Daisy Mae's and find our food becomes a launching pad for further conversation.
When you sense that meals are become more of a chore than a pleasure, why not add another mouth or two to feed at your table? I remember even when the kids were younger, we kicked it up a notch when a neighborhood friend joined us for dinner. Invite a relative. Encourage an old friend to come for dinner. Just by adding another face at the table, you'll find that your meals take on a new dimension and food can become fun again.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Small World

It's tough to get away on a vacation when you own your own business. It's a lot of work to get ready to leave for a few days, and it's always a lot of work catching up when you return. Yet this past weekend, we proved again that the rewards far outshine the efforts when you finally squeeze in a little time to unwind.
We headed to Hocking Hills for a quick camping getaway to reconnect with some of our best friends. After getting settled at the site, we briefly introduced ourselves to our neighbors at the adjoining campsite, admired their Airstream motorhome, and got acquainted with their dogs. We didn't see much of them for the next day or so as we were all off exploring the area and hiking the beautiful trails.
On Saturday, though, our neighbors were out walking the dogs. The first thing I noticed was that one of them wore a familiar t-shirt. "Over-the-Rhine?" I asked as I recognized the design as one that is popular in our Cincinnati Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. "Yep," he replied and smiled...It seemed we had formed an immediate bond. I mentioned that we owned Daisy Mae's at Findlay Market. He said they shop there regularly and love it. Next thing you know, he's telling us that they were about to make dinner with fresh local zucchini they bought at our stand!
What an unusual encounter! More than 100 miles from home, recognizing a clothing brand that connected us with our common neighborhood seemed coincidental enough. But what are the odds that our newfound friends might be enjoying the same fresh produce that we had just displayed at Daisy Mae's at Findlay Market? It truly is a small world.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Do You Think About GMOs?

"Is this produce organic?" A few years ago, that was the most common question that I was asked at Daisy Mae's. More recently, the common question has become, "Is this produce 'local?'" In the last few weeks, however, I've noticed a new question has started to pop up: "What do you think about GMOs?"
The first two inquiries are fairly easy to answer. The organic question can be answered by explaining some basic economics and "what-the-market-will-bear" pricing. The local question is more of a geography question and is understood best in context of the growing season in Ohio. The GMO question, on the other hand, is a science question on the edge of philosophy, and so naturally it comes wrapped in controversy.
GMOs (Genetically modified organisms) are organisms whose genetic material has been altered due to genetic engineering. A television commercial ran in the 1970's in which we were reminded, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature," yet entire industries of biotechnology and genetic engineering have sprung up that do just that. GMOs are used in medical research, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture. With regard to farming, advances in science have allowed genetic modifications to crops that enhance pest resistance, add nutritional value, and help crops thrive in extreme conditions.
Many people have no problem with genetically modified foods. Most of our corn and soybeans are genetically modified for the reasons mentioned above. There is broad scientific evidence that genetically modified foods cause no more risks than conventional foods. Yet, some people object to GMOs, claiming the risks have not been adequately explored. Others complain of a lack of regulation regarding labeling. The jury is still out, and the discussion will continue. Like it or not, genetic modification seems to be the latest food controversy.
What do you think? Are GMOs something you think about when shopping?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

And Now A Word About Us...

I've spent the last few posts writing about our staff so I guess it's only fair that I tell you a little bit about us. Barry was born in Ft. Knox, KY and raised in Cincinnati. He worked with his dad in the homebuilding business before starting a career at Cincinnati Milacron. At the same time, he completed his degree in Business from the University of Cincinnati.
I was born and raised in Granite City, Illinois. I attended Miami University, got my degree in Elementary Education, took a teaching job in Mt. Healthy, met Barry, and the rest is history.
When the entrepreneurial bug hit us, we started our own homebuilding company and built and remodeled homes for about 25 years. When the building industry took a downturn, another opportunity knocked and we switched gears to start Daisy Mae's at Findlay Market. We've determined we're the only homebuilder turned tomato seller in the Cincinnati area!
The last five years have been a time of learning, organizing, sweating, cooperating, and imagining. We're determined to make fresh produce easily accessible so look for us to continue to innovate, experiment, and fine-tune our fresh produce market until we have removed all obstacles. For a small business, the work never ends, and at times, the monetary rewards are minimal. We've realized, however, that the relationships you develop when running a small business are what you value over time. We know it's not about the houses...or about the tomatoes...It's about the people.
Thanks for shopping local and thanks for supporting us at Findlay Market!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting to Know Clay

We've known Clay for many years, but he just joined us as a staff member at Daisy Mae's this year. In addition to being great at stocking and displaying our fresh produce, we've discovered that he has a natural ability to interact with the customers. Clay has lived his whole life in Milford, Ohio, and he's a proud member of the Milford High School football team. In addition to football and working at Daisy Mae's, he spends his time on schoolwork and hanging out with friends. He enjoys the diversity and the many friendly people he meets at Findlay Market. If you're looking for a good treat, Clay suggests our Windy Acres snacks and nuts. He's partial to the lemon drops, but he'll be happy to help you find a variety that works for you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Meet Sam

Working at Daisy Mae's since 2010 while studying at the University of Cincinnati, Sam is a familiar face to anyone who has shopped at Findlay Market. She has done a great job of juggling her class schedule, her internships, and her work schedule and has been able to transfer her organizational skills to her job at Daisy Mae's. Sam was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but her parents were from Cincinnati so the family moved back here when she was young. She appreciates the importance of Findlay Market in the community and enjoys the diversity of both food and people. Among Sam's favorite foods at Daisy Mae's are the minneola tangelos because they are seedless, sweet, and delicious. Sam graduates from UC in August so stop in soon to wish her continued good luck.    

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting to Know Ajoke

You probably know Ajoke Ferrell by his wonderful smile. He's only been with us a short time at Daisy Mae's, but he's already turned many customers into friends. Ajoke was born in Brooklyn, NY and came to Cincinnati to study electronic media and communications. He enjoys working at Daisy Mae's and does a great job explaining our specialty products and sharing samples with curious shoppers. He likes Findlay Market because you can get so many healthy products and you can always find something unique to take home. When he's not working or studying, Ajoke enjoys online gaming, clubbing, and hip-hop dance. Look for his friendly face next time you're at Findlay Market!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Meet Sophen

Sophen started working at Daisy Mae's last fall. Since he grew up in Cincinnati, he understands the importance of Findlay Market in the community, and he's proud to work with us. He enjoys the diversity at the market and particularly likes having so many choices for lunch or for taking food home. Sophen is great at setting up the stand. We tease him that he's the "Best Pyramid Builder," but I honestly think he has a special knack for displays and marketing. His favorite food at Daisy Mae's is the Gold Nugget tangerine because it's delicious and so easy to peel. When Sophen's not working at the market, he enjoys reading and sports. Next time you're at Daisy Mae's, say hello to Sophen.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Getting to Know You (and Us)

One of the best things about having a business at Findlay Market is the relationship that often develops with the customer. We may not remember each name, but we often remember who likes the fingerling potatoes, who prefers bicolor corn, and who likes the extra hot salsa. It's rewarding to watch customers return each week and seek out their favorite staff member to assist them. In my next few posts, I'll introduce you to our sales staff so that you can put a name with your favorite face.

Tony is probably familiar to many of you already since he has been with us for about a year and a half. He was born in Dayton, grew up in Piqua, and moved to Cincinnati to find work and opportunity. He quickly learned to appreciate the history surrounding Findlay Market and is proud to work at one of Cincinnati's landmarks. Tony is great at managing the stand, keeping track of inventory, and serving his customers. When you're shopping, he'll probably steer you in the direction of our apples because he loves the freshness and great taste of all the different varieties. When Tony's not working, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and watching movies. Look for him next time you're at Findlay Market.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Let's Get Mikey!

Back in the 1970's, Life Cereal introduced a commercial featuring two young boys who were contemplating trying a new cereal. When neither wanted to try it (because it might be healthy), one suggested, "Let's Get Mikey!" They decided to have the little brother try the new cereal because "he hates everything." Much to their surprise, "he liked it!"
We've started offering various samples at our Findlay Market location. It's really entertaining to watch people as they try to decide whether or not to try something that may be new to them. Some wait for the friend or spouse to try it first. Others dig right in. ("If it's free, it's for me!") Occasionally, someone will ask, "What does it taste like?" (Hmmm. I'm pretty sure that's why we're offering the sample.) Whether it's fresh salsa, watermelon, or a sliver of daikon radish, we've seen the bold tasters, the reticent tasters, the avid tasters, and the curious tasters. Next time you see us with samples, if you don't want to try it, get Mikey. You might just find out that he likes it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm No Martha Stewart, but...

The pressure is on. Sunday, April 27 is the annual 1 Night 12 Kitchens Fundraiser to support scholarships for students at the Midwest Culinary Institute. This event features professional chefs and gourmet food from many of Cincinnati's finest restaurants. Students are also involved, and the extravaganza is truly a showcase of both culinary skills and creativity.
My husband and I have attended the event in the past to taste the samples and mingle with other guests. This year, however, we are answering the call to be among some of the Findlay Market merchants who will provide samples in a special VIP tasting room. We wanted to prepare something healthy, light, fairly simple, and representative of Daisy Mae's. Yet, it needed to be attractive and easy to eat in a cocktail setting. With the help of Pinterest and Martha Stewart, I think I've found the perfect dish--baguettes with veggie sticks.
What do you think? Wouldn't this be great for a bridal shower, happy hour gathering, or buffet?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don't Forget Your Roots

Photo from

Our children have grown into twenty-somethings who have already exceeded any expectations we may have had for them. They have attended fine universities, found successful career paths, traveled, and met people from all walks of life. Consider us proud parents.
Along the way, I have occasionally reminded them (and will continue to remind them) to always remember their roots. It's important for anyone to stay connected to where they began. However, I think it may be even more important for those who are successful to remember where the seeds of success were planted.
I write about this as I think about the success of Findlay Market. Findlay Market started as an open-air market where local producers could bring their fresh produce, meat and poultry, and dairy products to market to sell. 160 years later, the market is flourishing and the vision for success continues to shine brightly.
However, I also see Findlay Market in transition. No longer is it solely a destination for grocery shopping, but the market has also become an attraction in and of itself. People visit to absorb the history, take in a special event, enjoy the music, or eat the food. Many people come just to take pictures!
We love our visitors, but we need to be cautious about the path down which we're headed. Findlay Market began as a source for local perishable goods. Over the years, the market evolved to include packaged foods and, most recently, prepared foods to eat-in or take-out. Many Findlay Market vendors offer both raw and prepared foods. Even Daisy Mae's now offers dried fruits and nuts, jams and jellies, and prepared salsas in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Currently, we have a nice balance at Findlay Market. My own observations are that about half the visitors come to shop for groceries and about half come for the experience, the event, or the attraction. Everything works great right now, but I hope we don't tip the scale too far in the direction of becoming just another place to mark off a bucket list. I hope I don't see an overwhelming number of visitors leaving without a shopping bag. Sure, make memories and take pictures. But also take something home. Don't forget our roots.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Be a Friend at Findlay Market

Findlay Market is a microcosm of the Cincinnati community. On a normal shopping trip, you will see people of all races, nationalities, and ethnicities. You will see young and old, rich and poor, singles and families. Amidst the discrimination that lurks in some parts of our society, we're proud to think that diversity works at Findlay Market and that we offer something special that makes everyone feel welcome.
The Friends of Findlay Market is a volunteer group that works year-round to engage and support the market and to help make everyone who comes to the market feel comfortable. They recognize the benefits of Findlay Market not only as a shopping destination, but also as a historic cultural center for our community. The Friends promote the market and celebrate its diversity by assisting with special events, shopper tours, and various other activities. They are currently expanding their Ambassador Program and are hosting an information session on Wednesday, April 23. If you believe in Findlay Market and are ready to "give back to the community," plan to attend to meet new friends and learn about upcoming opportunities. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What Are The Odds?

Maybe you've heard that we also lead the Taste the World at Findlay Market food tours. After watching people eat their way around the market for several years, we created these fun tours as a way to introduce both tourists and local visitors to some of the hidden gems at Findlay Market.
On Saturday, a very amazing thing happened during one of our tours. We stopped in Madison's at Findlay Market for a sample. Mike Madison was telling us all about the business and getting ready to serve us a sample of their homemade gelato. I noticed an older gentleman from our group wander to the rear of the store. I watched as he shook hands with Bryan Madison (Mike's dad) and soon they were laughing and patting each other on the back and acting like old friends. Believe it or not, that's exactly what they are. Old friends.
As it turns out, Mr. Madison and the gentleman from Indiana were college buddies at the University of Missouri in the 1960's. After college, they visited each other occasionally and their families became acquainted. However, they hadn't seen each other in over 20 years, and the gentleman from Indiana had no idea Mr. Madison had a store at Findlay Market.
Yes, folks, it is a small world, and at Findlay Market, we make new friends and keep the old!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade and the Cincinnati Reds

In the early days of professional baseball in Cincinnati, the competing teams would encourage fans to follow them to the field to watch the opening game of the season. The Findlay Market merchants became the largest and perhaps most enthusiastic group. By 1930, the parade had become known as the Findlay Market Parade, and the merchants assumed the role of organizing it as a way to kick off the Cincinnati Reds season. 
Neil Luken of Charles Bare Meats at Findlay Market has been the Chairman of the Opening Day Parade since 1998. He has his finely-tuned committee of merchants who review the entries, confirm the lineup, consult with local officials regarding route and logistics, and scurry around on parade day making sure all the pieces fall into place. Can you imagine trying to get almost 200 entries lined up and ready to step off at exactly noon? Although no one from Daisy Mae's is currently on the committee, we certainly appreciate all the effort that goes into making the event a success, and we marvel each year at how everything seems to go off without a hitch.
Photo courtesy of Elise Speeg
If you've never been to the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, you are missing one of the best events of the year in Cincinnati. People of all ages, races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels line the streets and wave to the parade participants. It's the official start of spring in Cincinnati so whether or not the weather cooperates, the crowds are ready to celebrate a new season, and everyone is a Reds fan. The Veggie Gals from Daisy Mae's will be marching this year with our friends the Pillow People. We can't wait to give you a high-five and a "Let's Go Reds!" as we head toward Fountain Square. We'll be honoring a great Findlay Market tradition, saluting the Cincinnati Reds, and celebrating with all of you as we kick off the 2014 baseball season. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Slow and Steady Path to Local Produce

When the last of the snow melts and the first of the green grass peeks through, some of our customers start asking about local produce. As much as we'd love to offer local produce year-round, that's next-to-impossible in Ohio. We're still several months away from featuring the early local greens, asparagus, and rhubarb, but we continue to offer those items and more as they're shipped in from our suppliers in the South.
However, we are excited to announce that we're working with several farms to bring local produce to Findlay Market as soon as possible. Our friends at Kruthaup Family Farm in Morrow, Ohio, will be one of our featured farms this summer and fall. They're growing produce specifically for us so we are as anxious as you are to see those first seedlings pop up. In the meantime, you'll understand more about the labor of love that goes into local farming by following the Kruthaup Family Farm Facebook page.
Be patient, and put in a good word for plenty of sun and just the right amount of rain. We'll all be enjoying fresh, local produce in just a matter of time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fresh Cabbage for St. Patrick's Day

With St. Patrick's Day coming soon, it seems only fitting that we should feature fresh cabbage at our Findlay Market stand. Like many Americans, I have a little Irish blood in me. My grandmother's maiden name was O'Shea, and I vaguely remember her cooking corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. I also recall hearing that my ancestors had emigrated from Ireland when the potato famine hit in the mid-1800's. About a million people died in Ireland because of the famine, but thousands of others left the country in order to survive. When they immigrated to America, they brought with them recipes for such traditional foods as Irish stew, Shepherd's Pie, Mulligatawny soup, and Colcannon. 
Colcannon is a mixture of cabbage or kale, potatoes, leeks and butter. In a common colcannon recipe, you boil 1 lb. cabbage until tender; then remove and chop or blend well. Set it aside and keep it warm while you boil 1 lb. potatoes. Remove potatoes from heat and drain. Chop two leeks (green parts as well as white), and simmer them in just enough milk to cover, until they are soft. Season and mash the potatoes. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the cabbage and heat thoroughly. Make a well in the center and pour in 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix well and serve. 
Cabbage is high in Vitamin C, rich in fiber, low in calories and has no cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties make it a vegetable you should try to include in your diet. If you shop at Daisy Mae's Market this week (3/11-3/16), we'll make it easy for you. You'll receive a free cabbage with your $15 purchase. You might call that a great deal, but we call it the Luck of the Irish! 
(Original post March, 2012) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How I Spent My Frozen Sunday

I was iced in on Sunday. Living at the bottom of a long driveway, we're used to shoveling, parking at the top, and salting when absolutely necessary. But this time, Winter 2014 won. I couldn't get out, and the worst part was it was Mardi Gras at Findlay Market. My plans to "Let the Good Times Roll" slid right out the door.
In the spirit of owning a fresh produce business, I decided to make lemonade out of these lemons. I wasn't going anywhere so I hunkered down at the computer and did a long overdue, complete revision of our company website. Always good to keep things fresh!

Check it out at, and let me know what you think.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Renew Your Friendship with Findlay Market

I'm fortunate to have good friends. Some are from elementary school, others from college or from my own teaching career. Some of my friends are moms who shared PTA meetings, soccer practices, and musical rehearsals. Others became really close friends just through chance meetings or brief introductions. We've all changed, moved, and grown during the years of our friendship, and I sometimes wonder how we keep it all together. How is it that after periods of separation we pick up right where we left off?
I've realized that good friendships take work. I've lost track of some of my high school friends because one or the other of us didn't make the effort to maintain the relationship. We got busy, or tired, or didn't have the money to travel, or just plain forgot to stay in touch. With others, however, we've found a way to carry on because friendships are a two-way street. My best friends always seem to find the time, the energy, the money, and the memories to stay connected. Just when we need it the most, we seem to reach out.
For many of you, Findlay Market is like an old friend. You know she's there, and you like to call her your good old friend. You tell stories of the times you've been together, and you dream about summer days and good times to come. But, like all friends, it takes work to maintain your relationship with Findlay Market. Too tired to stop? No energy to shop? Too much trouble to park? Too cold? Too wet? When you finally make the effort to visit, you find something you loved about Findlay Market is missing. Maybe that kid you liked behind the counter no longer works there. Maybe your favorite product isn't stocked anymore because not enough customers came during the winter to justify carrying it. Or, worst of all, maybe your favorite shop has gone out of business.
The merchants at Findlay Market work hard all year long to maintain their relationships with their customers, but sometimes we worry that we're doing all the work. Make time, stop by, reach out. It takes two to make a lasting friendship.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Go for the Gold

Another week. Another snowstorm. During this winter that never ends, it's nice to break up the monotony with the Winter Olympic Games.
I've always been a fan of the Olympics. After watching Jean-Claude Killy tear down the mountain in 1968, I wanted to ski. After seeing Peggy Fleming spin like a top, I wanted to skate. Inspiration aside, I lived in the Midwest, not the Minnesota/Wisconsin part of the country with mounds of snow and frozen lakes; but rather, I lived in the Mississippi River Valley near St. Louis, where, for kids, a few inches of snow was cause for celebration.
The winter that stands out in my mind must have been a lot like this one. We got snow, and more snow, the kind that was so deep it snuck over the top of my boots. Nevertheless, I couldn't wait to get outside to play in it. The highlight of each week was when my parents took us to the local golf course to go sledding on hills that seemed like mountains to me.
Several other families joined us, and each Sunday afternoon became a big winter party. Up and down the hills we went, pretending to be Olympic bobsledders or crashing like out-of-control skiers. Finally, exhaustion and wet socks caught up with us, and we retreated to the golf course clubhouse for a big burger, a bowl of soup, and a hot chocolate.
As I watch the Olympics this year, I know the athletes are inspiring the next generation. Kids who are watching may not turn out to be the next Bode Miller or Gracie Gold, but maybe they will be inspired to go out and play in the snow. Maybe they will share family fun on a make-believe mountain followed by good food and warm conversation. Memories like that are golden.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Wait for Oktoberfest? Let's Do Febfest!

Welcome to February, surely the grayest and dullest of months in Cincinnati. The holidays have past, the Super Bowl parties are over, and it's still a few weeks until the Reds head for spring training. Some years ago, we decided we needed a way to break up the boredom of winter. Mr. Daisy Mae suggested we get together with friends who also have cabin fever and share traditional German food like we all love during Oktoberfest. We'd call it "Febfest" and share some Gemütlichkeit when we really needed it…during the blah days of February.
Twenty years later, the tradition continues. We get most of what we need from Findlay Market including cheese from Gibbs or Krause's, and sausages from Kroeger & Sons. We use Daisy Mae's own potatoes for homemade potato pancakes, and finish off the meal with an apfelstrüdel baked with crisp Granny Smith apples. Of course, no Febfest is complete without German-style beer so we support our neighbors at Christian Moerlein brewery or Rhinegeist right here in our Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. For those who prefer wine, we pick up a bottle or two from Market Wines at Findlay Market.
It's really easy to have a German celebration with the help of local Cincinnati small businesses. You should try it! Shop locally, celebrate internationally, and have fun with good friends, good food, and good drink.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Super Bowl Treats for the Vegetarian Fans

If you're hosting a Super Bowl party this year, don't forget the vegetables. Whether you are preparing for bona fide vegetarians or just trying to supplement the chili and burgers, you'll need something besides chips and pretzels.

Include one or two of these favorites and then just veg out and enjoy the game!

1. Guacamole (of course)
2. Baked Potato Bar
3. Roasted Vegetable Tapas
4. Pico de Gallo
5. Veggies and Dip

Sunday, January 19, 2014

French for Leftovers

I'm sure I was in my twenties before I ever heard the word "mirepoix." To me, it was celery, onions, and carrots--the first things to be chopped before making soup or stew. As my culinary vocabulary improved, so did my cooking skills, and I learned that starting with a basic mirepoix can lead to delicious rewards--even with leftovers.
Last night, we didn't really plan for dinner and probably could have just snacked our way through the evening. Instead, I found what I could in the refrigerator and came up with a satisfying soup for a cold winter's night. Of course, it began with a mirepoix.
I sautéed chopped celery, onions, and carrots with a clove of fresh minced garlic in some extra-virgin olive oil. Next I added some chicken broth, a chopped Yukon Gold potato, and a little of Colonel De's Cowboy Rub. (The rub is a blend of chili pepper, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin, oregano, basil, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne available at Colonel De's Gourmet Herbs and Spices at Findlay Market. I like it because it doesn't include salt yet adds plenty of flavor.) Next I added some leftovers from the fridge: a chicken sausage, sliced, and a few tablespoons of sauerkraut. (You can see why I didn't need to add additional salt). I let everything simmer for about 45 minutes, and then we enjoyed our meal in a bowl.
You know, soup is really easy when you start with a mirepoix. Now I need to find a fancy-schmancy word for "leftovers." Any ideas?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Kinds of Cooks

I've determined that there are two kinds of cooks. One is the go-getter and the other is the user-upper. Mr. Daisy Mae is the go-getter. He prefers to carefully decide what he wants to make, and then he goes to get whatever the ingredients are that we don't have on hand.
I, on the other hand, am the user-upper. I dislike trips to the grocery store so I'll avoid those trips until necessary. I decide what to cook by looking through the refrigerator, searching the pantry, and researching substitutes.
Guess what? I'm cooking tonight. We have boneless chicken breasts and plenty of fresh tomatoes. Hmmm. What to make? Since I'm kind of burned out on cooking after the holidays, I want something quick. I scan through my Pinterest recipe board and a pasta dish with lots of tomatoes catches my eye. Click, click. Inspiration. I'm making Tomato Basil Chicken from Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom.  If you're looking for a 30-minute meal with ingredients you have on hand, Tomato Basil Chicken may be your go-to dish for tonight. Go-getters, enjoy. Tomorrow night is your turn to cook.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Go Green for 2014!

Have you decided to maintain a better diet this year? New Year's Resolutions come and go, but the goal of improving your diet never goes out of style. This year I'm intrigued by the green smoothie movement, and I'm definitely always up for adding more green vegetables to my plate. 
Green smoothies are no longer just for vegetarians, hipsters, or gym rats. More and more people are finding that smoothies are an easy, economical, and quick way to add vitamins and minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, and more fiber to the diet. A basic green smoothie for starters consists of about 60% fruit and 40% greens with enough water to blend it all together. Bananas, strawberries, kiwi, or pineapple all work well. For the greens, beginners should probably start with spinach or Romaine lettuce. Kale, of course, is full of nutrients and very popular, but if you're just getting into smoothies, you might find the kale adds too much bitterness. You can use a regular blender or get fancier with something like the Vita-Mix, but the goal is just to blend the ingredients together into a nice smooth drink that is delicious and nutritious. Many people make smoothies in the morning and use as a quick breakfast drink when they're on the go. Others opt for a smoothie at lunch or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Once smoothies become a habit, you might include ingredients like Greek yogurt, coconut or soy milk, whey powder, honey, or other supplements. 

If you're ready to take the green smoothie plunge, try this First Green Smoothie recipe from Incredible Smoothies

6-8 oz. water
1 banana, peeled
4-5 fresh strawberries
2 c. fresh spinach 
Blend together for 30-60 seconds or until smooth. 

Cheers to you for going green in 2014!