unusual vegetables

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Americana at the Minnesota State Fair

The end of summer is bittersweet, but at least it brings the Minnesota State Fair - an event which I look forward to all year.  My preference is to take a day off work, arrive soon after the gates open and stay until at least late afternoon.

Attendance averages well over 100K per day for the 10 days of the fair because there’s something for everyone.  Here are bullets of some of the things I did at the fair today:

  • Watched 4H sheep, goat and cattle judging.  My kids were never in 4H but I admire the hell out of the 4H kids and parents I see at the fair.  If you don’t get a little teary watching this then your heart is made of stone.
  • Today was Fire Prevention Day so there were junior Firefighter Explorer competitions and fire demonstrations.  Reminder - never pour water on a grease fire.
  • I got a free flu shot!
  • I watched one of the Princess Kay maids have her likeness carved into an 80lb block of butter.
  • I saw amazing 4H and adult arts and crafts.
  • I watched a dog spay surgery.
  • I saw a high school robot competition.
  • I walked machinery hill and saw a tractor like my grandpa’s old one.  I also did a little car shopping and sat in a Kia and a Ford.
  • I listened to several live radio broadcasts.
  • I listened to the Willis Clan perform at the Leinie Bandshell.
  • I saw unusually large vegetables, seed art and honey harvesting.
  • I ate lots of good, but not very healthy food (except for the Colorado peach). 

If you’ve ever considered visiting Minnesota, this is the time to do it!

Filling the hungry gap

It’s the first of March and although signs of spring are beginning to appear, the hungry gap is now very definitely upon us. The hungry gap runs from February to May and is when winter crops and stores are running out but the new year’s crops haven’t grown yet. This is very much the case in my own garden and stores. I’m down to my last few leeks on the allotment and I’ve just cut the last of the small crop of kale which was decimated at an early stage by an invasion of cabbage white caterpillars that had managed to find a chink in the protective netting. My onions ran out a couple of weeks ago and the spuds are beginning to sprout in their sacks. I have one last winter squash and I’ve still some fruit and veg in the freezer, but my bottled fruit is sadly all finished.

The plant pot in the bottom left is forcing some sea kale which I’m propagating from root cuttings. It will be ready to eat in a few weeks and I’m hoping that this unusual vegetable will be something to break the monotony of cabbage and kale. On the plus side, the rhubarb is beginning to sprout and it won’t be long until the first spears of asparagus begin to show themselves.

In this video, James Beard Award-winning videographer Liza de Guia of Food Curated goes behind the scenes with Nevia No, the unusual vegetable whisperer behind New Jersey’s Bodhitree Farm. A Buddhist, No views her plants like people that face hardships and develop strong characters (and flavors). The results are prized by New York City’s best chefs and greenmarket hunters. But she doesn’t do it for them. 

For more video by Food Curated for F&W go to F&W’s Artisan Hub.

Botanical Illustration: Unusual Produce

For our first botanical assignment, we were to go out and buy an unusual produce item (fruit, vegetable or herb) that we have either never seen before or never eaten!  I stopped by Tan A asian market on Broad Street and picked up a Choyote Squash, Bitter Melon and an Eddo (which is just another name for Taro Root)

In class, we took turns sharing our unusual produce and I taste-tested them all under the mantra that anything is edible if you eat it. Later I found out that eating uncooked taro root is poisonous but I only had a little so everything is fine.  The only thing I didnt eat was the bitter melon (until later when I tried and failed many times to make it taste less disgusting by first boiling it, then adding black beans, turkey sausage and olive oil…then curry, worcestershire sauce, Chinese 5 spice, lots of salt and pepper and onion. Still bitter)

Once we all decided on our products (mine will be Choyote Squash) we started making a visual note taking page!
More on that next!

Starlit Walks

The walk up to Cradle Mountain summit has earned the reputation as one of the most beautiful in the world. Thanks to the area’s natural beauty, it’s not hard to see why. 

This picture of the dramatic Hanson Peak and unique heathlands resting under the crystal night sky pinpricked with thousands of tiny stars is just a snapshot of the remarkable sights found in the region.

Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park is home to a diverse natural environment including smooth glacial lakes, ancient rainforest, unusual alpine vegetation and many endemic animals. 

Go Behind The Scenery here.

Photo Credit: Published on Instagram by aaron154

Sugar and Spice / g / 1548 words / taekey, les!jongho / bakery/university au + shameless fluff

so it’s two awesome people’s birthdays today!! so here’s a lil present for both taentyou​ and also heteroshinee​/hongbinary​ uwu uwu

Junghee’s job at a predominantly cupcake bakery isn’t really something that she enjoys. It’s very exhausting, dealing with picky customers, eye-achingly bright interior decoration and the ever-present smell of baking pastries. But the hours are good and the pay is better, and so she determinedly sticks it out.

“Hello, and welcome to the Sugar and Spice Bakery!” Junghee chirps, a bright smile plastered on her face. “How can we help you today?”

“Um,” says the customer, a skinny dude who looks as if he might attend the same university Junghee does, judging by his spirit T-shirt. “I’ve heard your cupcakes are good?”

“Indeed they are!” Junghee keeps up the happy, enthusiastically welcoming employee façade as she waves over at the glass displays of cupcakes. “We have traditional cupcakes, trendy cupcakes, playful cupcakes…”

“Playful cupcakes?” The guy frowns at her. “What are playful cupcakes?”

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