5 Things I Learned at the Garlic Festival

On Saturday, Brian and I headed just west of downtown Bennington to attend the 14th Annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival.  Dorky as it may sound, I’d been looking forward to it for months.  We had a great time and I definitely learned a lot of things I didn’t know before spending the day sampling delicious Vermont treats (garlic, maple syrup, salsas, dips, breads, sandwiches…it was pretty amazing).

1.  The Garlic Festival is really popular

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We drove to Vermont on the morning of the first day of the festival and it was pretty crowded.  Of course, the fact that the majority of the vendors were distributing free samples didn’t help cut down on the crowds.  According to the event’s website, over 6000 people attending the 2008 festival.  That’s a lot of people for a two day event.

2. There are many different kinds of garlic

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I know I’m not the only person who didn’t already know this because I was eavesdropping on other people, but it never occured to me before that there are all different types of garlic.  It seems odd to me that supermarkets only seem to carry one kind (and sometimes elephant garlic) if all these local farms are growing so many varieties.

3.  Garlic makes a great decoration

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Brian and I opted not to purchase any garlic artwork to decorate our apartment, though I’m sure it would’ve smelled nice.  I just wanted you to be aware that the option is out there.

4.  There exists such a thing as maple liqueur

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Along with several Vermont beer and wine vendors,  Sapling Maple Liqueur had a booth with samples available.  We couldn’t think of when another opportunity might arise to sample maple liqueur, so we got some.  Pretty, isn’t it?  Pretty strong is more like it.  We had couple sips and then used the rest to top some vanilla ice cream (though they did have garlic ice cream too!)

5.  There exists such a thing as garlic fudge

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I expected that the Garlic Festival would have some bizarre garlic flavored foods and this is definitely my top pick.  Of course, I had to try it.  The sample was pretty microscopic, but it tasted fine to me.  I suppose it helps that cherry can be a pretty strong flavor.

September 8, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Cutting Boards, Compost, and Saving Money: Highlights from My Reader

Highlights for August 29-September 4

The Daily Beast has an excellent piece on The Dirty Truth about Cutting Boards.  Read it, because who wants to get sick from a dirty cutting board?

From Planet Green, 75 Things You Can Compost, but Thought You Couldn’t …pizza boxes, hair, potpourri, feathers…wow, who knew? (via Serious Eats)

The Nation‘s September 21st issue is all about food!  It’s already online. I haven’t looked at it yet, but I’m sure there’s some good stuff.  I love major news outlets covering food issues.

Here’s 21 Ways to Reduce Your Spending Without Making Your Life Miserable from The Simple Dollar, including Buy in bulk the staples you use all the time, Figure out your most cost-effective grocery store and shop there, Whenever you make supper, if it’s reasonable, make twice as much and freeze the extras, and more.

The BBC has an interesting article that Scottish households throw away a billion pounds worth of food a year. That’s a lot of waste, most of which could be avoided by better planning, storage and preparation.  I’m sure we’re not any better in the United States.  I need to work harder on being aware of what we already have to eat and consuming that, instead of buying new stuff and letting the old food go to waste.

September 4, 2009 at 8:26 am

My New Kitchen (and Curried Brown Rice)

As I’ve mentioned about a million times, Brian and I recently moved to a new apartment.  I’d just like to share with you my old kitchen:

old kitchen It was a shared kitchen/dining area, but as far as the kitchen’s concerned, that was it.  All our appliances, dishes, bakeware, glasses, mugs, pots, pans AND food were kept in these cabinets.  It was a little cozy.

This is my new kitchen:
new kitchen

More cabinets (though the perspective on this picture is a little difficult).  Definitely more drawers.  Lots more counter space.  What’s that behind the door in the lower right corner?

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Oh, it’s a pantry! A whole closet in which to store food (and my reusable shopping bags and apron collection)! Imagine that!

Needless to say, Brian and I (probably mostly me) are greatly enjoying our new kitchen.  It’s nice to not have to empty out an entire cabinet to access what we need.

If you’re looking for something to cook in your kitchen, I highly recommend Curried Brown Rice with Tomatoes and Peas, as recently seen on Cheap Healthy Good.  The dish was cheap and healthy and good, as expected, plus you can read about her worst date ever.   I’d never made anything with brown rice before, but since it’s baked in the oven it’s pretty impossible to mess up.  I used regular curry powder, since I’m too cheap to buy anything I don’t have to, and it still tasted great…though now I really want to try it with Madras curry.  Brian and I don’t like peas, so I subsituted assorted frozen veggies for the peas.

curry

September 3, 2009 at 7:34 am

Dunkin’ Disapointment

This weekend, while out and about, the husband and I stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts.   We’re really, really big Dunks fans.  The store we went to was carrying the new “Toffee for Your Coffee” donut.  It’s a glazed sour cream donut with heath bar bits on top.  I actually voted for this donut last year when they ran the “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest, so I needed to try it out.

This is the picture distributed by Dunkin’ Donuts:

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This is what the donut actually looks like:

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Not quite as appetizing, eh?  And to be honest, it tastes about as good as it looks.  It tastes like a plain Dunks donut (which is definitely not a bad thing), with really sugary glaze on top.  I’m sure it is heath bar, but it didn’t really taste like it to me.  Disappointing, to say the least.

Anyone else have experience with Toffee for Your Coffee?  Are they better looking at other locations?

September 2, 2009 at 7:11 am 1 comment

Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Sour Cream

Question: What’s vegetarian, easy and fast to make, apparently better than my gazpacho, only takes 2 steps and only needs 10 basic ingredients?

Answer: Food & Wine’s Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”.

tomato soup

I’m really ready for fall, and thankfully it’s starting to feel like it around here.  Nevertheless, it still seems a little early to be making soup (Brian and I have grand plans to spend the entire winter making and eating soups).  Luckily, my free September 2009 issue of Food & Wine contained the perfect solution:  Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”.  The ingredient list is really simple: tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, crème fraîche and tarragon. Chances are, you already have almost all of those ingredients.

Ultimately, I halved the recipe (which then ended up only getting us through last night because Brian and I both had two servings), omitted the salt and pepper (I like to leave out salt whenever possible, especially since my broth wasn’t low sodium) and substituted sour cream for crème fraîche, because my supermarkets don’t appear to carry it.  And what was I going to do with leftover crème fraîche?

Brian and I both loved the soup, possibly even more than the gazpacho I made a few months ago.  The flavor is really fresh and I’ll eat anything with tarragon in it.  It’s a summer soup and not particularly hearty so I would recommend serving it as a side or getting a good loaf of bread to go with it.

My soup craving is satisfied for the moment…but I’m still looking forward to making “real soup” in the near future.

September 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Barbecue Hit: Giada’s Mediterranean Salad

I spent too much of yesterday agonizing over a barbecue.  It was my church’s women’s fellowship barbecue and, being new to the area and all, I really wanted to go.  Attendees were supposed to bring their own meat to grill and something to share.  First issue: I thought it was pretty silly to go to the store to buy meat and, more than likely, a roll, for a single person.  I don’t have hamburgers (or turkey burgers, or veggie burgers, or hot dogs) in my freezer waiting for occasions like this.  Nor do I want to.  So I agonized over whether to go to the store so I would have something for the grill.  Second issue: Then I debated over what to get-should I get meat? Veggie burgers? Vegetables to grill?  When possible, I don’t like to introduce myself as “Emily the not-quite-but-almost-vegetarian”.  If the conversation gets there then fine, but it’s not the point of my existence.  So, really the whole debate was about what first impression I wanted to make.

In the end, I brought nothing but Mediterranean Salad (and I am getting to the part with the recipe).  I hoped that no one would notice that I hadn’t brought anything for the grill.  Know what?  No one did.  There were so many pasta salads and bean salads and fruit salads and Mexican dips that no one noticed that my full plate didn’t have anything from the grill or any meat.  I had a really good time spending the evening conversing about things other than my eating habits.

What to bring to share was much easier for me to figure out.  I knew right away what I wanted to make.  Last year, before I was really into cooking, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Mediterranean Salad on Everyday Italian.  It was a big hit at last night’s get together.

mediterrean salad

The dish contains Israeli/Mediterranean couscous, which I’ve found at food co-ops and Whole Foods  It’s a small pasta, different from “normal” couscous.  The recipe says any small pasta will work, but I’ve been so happy with the couscous that I’ve never tried it.  Add in some broth,* garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh mint, fresh basil and dried cranberries and it’s a delicious side salad (or meal, if I have my way).  Check it out.

*Switch out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and this dish is vegetarian.

August 29, 2009 at 7:13 am

Foodies, Dr. Horrible, Portland and Books: Highlights from My Reader

Highlights for August 22-28

Following all the philosophical food related discussions which my husband and I had this week, I really appreciated Foodie vs. (Vegan) Foodie: Let’s Stop Dropping Anvils Already”, which discusses the perception that “those who love food cannot be vegan, those who are vegan cannot love food”. (Not that I could ever be vegan, I love cheese too much, but I agree with the essay nevertheless).

The often hilarious Cake Wrecks featured cakes inspired by Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog for this week’s “Sunday Sweets”.  If you haven’t watched Dr. Horrible yet, you need to.  Seriously.

Food & Wine covered Portland, Maine in their “Food Across America” series.  I always get really excited and proud when my home state is featured.  If you’re headed to Maine, check out the great restaurants mentioned, especially Fore Street.

Serious Eats has a post and accompanying comment thread about books with great food passages that aren’t technically food books. It’d be a sad day if I had to choose between books and food…

Remember, there’s always more to read from “What I’m Reading” on the right sidebar of the blog.

August 28, 2009 at 7:55 am 1 comment

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