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Originally posted on DC State Fair:

You’ve all been eagerly awaiting the official announcement–and it’s a twofer!

DC State Fair is happy to announce that we will be joining The Barracks Fall Festival on Saturday, September 22. The festival takes place at 8th Street, Southeast, below Pennsylvania Avenue. Join us for a festive day displaying and celebrating DC residents’ agricultural, culinary, crafty, and artistic talents! More details about our partners, the judging schedule, and educational demonstrations will be announced as we develop them throughout the summer.

In the meantime, most of our contests are open to entries! Head on over to our contest page to find details about DC’s favorite contests, such as Funkiest-Looking Vegetable, Homebrew, and Pie, and our new contests, such as Kids’ Art, Sewing, and Honey! Be sure to read entry guidelines carefully–for example, some contests have safety precautions, some have entry fees, some have entry limits, and some have early deadlines…

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Seasons change, as they say.  But in this past few months when the leaves were turning colors and frost was putting an end to the gardening season, I was going through a lot of changes of my own.  The political consulting firm I worked for shut its doors and I found myself not just looking for work, but also looking for answers to some questions brewing in my mind.  Do I want to keep working in politics?  Or maybe do something a little different?  Do I want to stay in DC?  Try out some new city?  Or maybe go back to my native Pacific Northwest?

True to my want-it-all generation, I found myself answering “yes” to all of those seemingly mutually exclusive questions.  And then I received a terrific opportunity that let me have it all.  I’m moving to Portland, Oregon, for eight months to work on post-Census redistricting, which will keep me connected to politics but let me develop a lot of new skills in statistics and demography (and form my own consulting LLC in the process).  But I’ll be back in DC on a regular basis, and will return to my lovely (now subletted) Dupont Circle apartment after this is all over.  Relevant to this blog, I’m going to keep my garden plot (but make it really minimalist this year), and will remain actively involved in planning the next DC State Fair.

So as with the past few months, 2011 will be a bit of a hibernation for this blog.  I’ll post a few garden updates in the spring and summer, do a a tiny bit of posting about Portland, and help advertise DC State Fair events and deadlines.  And if I take this round-the-world tour of the world’s street food capitals next Oct/Nov that I’ve been dreaming about, I’ll post my culinary adventures here as well.  Expect a return to full DC gardening glory in 2012.

But for now, let me show you the last thing I made with my garden’s 2010 bounty.  Just before I left DC on December 21, I went out one last time to my garden plot, which was blanketed by an inch of snow.  But under the icy crust there were carrots, leeks, and the sweetest kale you can imagine.  I combined these ingredients with rich stock, cannellini beans,  sweet Italian sausage, and bacon to make a Tuscan soup that fed me for three solid meals.  It was the perfect way to close out my garden, and a satisfying way to leave DC for my 2011 adventure.  Happy New Year!

Zowie, I can’t believe it’s already December!

It’s a bake sale!

The big news is that the DC State Fair is now officially incorporated, so we have completed the first step towards becoming an ongoing nonprofit entity that will bring you an annual fair (and other fun events throughout the year).

Now we need to raise funds to pay for the rest of the filing process.  You can donate directly here, or get involved in the bake sale!  For all the information on volunteering and baking for the sale, click here.  Hope everyone can stop by on November 20!

A Borscht Sandwich?!

Deconstructed food can be a point of contention among foodies.  Is it innovative and creative or is it now just an overused gimmick?

Well, the other day I ventured into deconstruction kind of unintentionally.  I had a lot of beets, so I  made an absolutely enormous pot of borscht with the idea of putting some in the freezer for later use.  Because it was such a huge amount, I decided to shred the cabbage and beets and onions in the food processor instead of chopping everything by hand.  But having these tiny shredded pieces kind of threw off the proportions of vegetable matter to liquid.  There was just too much shredded vegetable flotsam and not quite enough stock.

So to fix the soup, I used a sieve to pull out some of the vegetable matter, leaving a thinner soup behind.  And I then I thought, wouldn’t the drained borscht dregs make a good sandwich filling?  It was just a mess of tasty, slow-cooked, beef-stock-soaked vegetables, after all.  Well, the sandwich was delicious.  I slathered sourdough with sour cream and parsley (my two favorite borscht condiments), then piled the vegetables high in between.  And I love how it’s a visual pun on a pastrami sandwich, with the red juice soaking into the bread. and the sour cream taking the place of mayo.  Yum!

Jamie Leeds' oyster happy hour at Hank's Oyster Bar earns a big gold star in my book!

The October 31st contest deadline is fast approaching!  Go check out my Bite Book, then join Smorgie and make your own Bite Book celebrating women in the culinary world.  Who am I missing?  What female chefs, mixologists, pastry chefs, and restaurant owners do I really need to check out?

When you’ve made your Smorgie bite book, go back to my original post and leave a comment with a link to your bite book (e.g., http://www.smorgie.com/1525) for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Tracy O’Grady’s Willow in Arlington!

Please advise me if you think I’m wrong, but I don’t think these tomatoes are going to ripen before frost:

I planted this heirloom tomato plant kind of late in the season after most of my other tomatoes failed.  But it took too long to grow big, and now these green tomatoes are just hanging around.  And even though I think of fried green tomatoes as a summertime food, there’s not a lot of other ways to make use of the inevitable green tomatoes left over at the end of the season.  I like recipes, like Gourmet’s, that use cornflakes for added crunch.  So unless I see a little color improvement on these tomatoes when I’m out in the garden again this weekend, I’m just going to pick the green fruits and have a nice little fry.

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