Monday, October 29, 2012

Incredible Food Show delivers again

Beer cheese. Barbecue sauce. Chocolate chili. Ice cream. Vegetable juice. Hot tea. Culinary seminars.The Incredible Food Show delivered samples of all of this as well as so much more on Saturday, November 27 at Heritage Hall in Lexington. It’s the second time I’ve attended and I continue to spread the news about the event to foodie friends because it was once again a marvelous taste and learning experience for me.
I want to highlight some of the area farmers, cooks and service providers who I find to be especially great sources for anyone who is concerned with good health and local food. There were also many more at show. You can find all the exhibitors listed at
Cheese:  I continue to look for local sources of good cheese and found a new source in Heavenly Homestead Cheese. Lindsey and Dustin Perkins brought plenty of samples from the cheese they make from their Jersey Cows in Windsor, Kentucky. Although they aren’t officially designated as an organic farm, it’s clear when talking with them that you are getting an organic product in which you don’t have to worry about hormones, steroids and antibiotics. All that, plus the cheese tastes great! For more information, go to

Shitake mushrooms: I first encountered the Stickney family from Irvine, Kentucky at the Mushroom Festival in Irvine this past spring. They grow their mushrooms organically on logs that come from a sustainably managed forest.  I’ve long read that Shitake’s have anti-cancer properties. For further nutritional information, you can find information at  If you’re interested in buying mushrooms or a log on which to grow them, call Jack, Teresa or Caleb Stickney at 606-723-6856. 

Cookbooks and authors: Thanks to Joseph-Beth Booksellers, show attendees could also purchase cookbooks and meet local cookbook authors. One of those was Rona Roberts, author of Sorghum, Sweet Sorghum. Rona loves to share information about sorghum, including the fact that it has more nutritional value than sugar cane, as well as recipes. Since it’s a locally produced sweetener, I need to delve further into sorghum recipes to see what I can produce. The fall and winter seasons seem like an ideal time to do that.

Nutrition: If you wonder about the nutrition of the products available at the food show, you could ask Paula Antonini of Simply Nutrition. I originally met Paula at a professional women’s luncheon and enjoyed talking with her about food. She enjoys helping people lose weight. She’s a good source for all sorts of information about how food relates to our health and wellness and she was at the show to share some of what she does.

Celebrity Chef: Of course, a post about the show wouldn’t be complete without a few words about celebrity chef Tyler Florence and his presentation. He was as entertaining and down-to-earth on the Kentucky Proud stage as he is on television. He did his part in promoting local foods by creating a Venison Bourguignon Recipe. For that and his Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie, go to the Celebrity Chef Information page on the Incredible Food Show web site.

Are you now enticed enough to attend next year? I was definitely well-fed and picked up plenty of information from producers that I’ll follow up with. If you want to try it out for yourself, be sure to check the website next August for the dates of next year’s show.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nature’s surprises

I’m just in from scouting the gardens for flowers to liven up the house on this gray day. A couple of weeks ago we were supposed to have a hard frost so I picked and cut every living tomato, pepper, flower and herb that I thought could be harmed. The frost did come but it didn’t get everything. I now have a few late-season zinnias in one vase and a single, pink rose surrounded by lavender in another.

There are also blooms on one of the tomato plants.

As always, nature is unpredictable. One of the things I love about gardening is that it keeps me in touch with what’s going on in the world outside my door. When a gray day with no sunshine comes along, it’s easy to work inside with a hot cup of tea and feel content. But stepping out the door to feel the wind against my face and to hear the leaves crunch underfoot heightens all my senses, even when I’m back inside.

As the days get colder, don’t be a wimp. Breathe in that air (unless it’s going to make you sneeze) and commit to memory. When the ground is white, you’ll be happy to think once again about these days of fall, even the gray ones.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Assessing this year’s garden

The shelf is filled will tomato juice, whole tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce, green beans and various other gifts from the garden that we’ve preserved. Pinto and kidney beans fill three jars and one basket of dried bean pods sits waiting to be hulled. In the refrigerator, bagged green and yellow peppers await their turn to become jelly and roasted yummies. Now that I can take a small break from the garden and the kitchen, it’s a good time to assess how the garden performed this year.

I’m one of those people who is  big on setting goals and steps to reach them as well as determining how I’m doing as I progress along my journey. The garden has been an ongoing journey for years. Too often I’ve left my lessons in my head rather than writing them down so I can easily refer to them again. Here’s this year’s list of do’s and don’ts to remember for the future.

1)      1) Companion planting. I tried this again to increase the yield and diminish bugs. The tomatoes, peppers and greens fared very well. The beets didn’t come up, even after a second planting, and squash beetles demolished all of those beautiful plants. Did it work? I can’t say I saw a huge difference. I’ll keep a copy of this year’s garden map and continue studying the best way to implement companion planting.

2)      2) Herbs to ward away mosquitoes. The bugs are usually a big problem for us so I planted lemongrass, scented geranium and mountain mint. When I rubbed the mountain mint on my skin, the little biters stayed away for about an hour before I needed a refresher. If I sat next to the scented geranium, it seemed to help. However, its power didn’t travel far beyond the plant.

3)      3) Bean teepees. A couple of years ago Jim and I collected reeds from a friend’s farm so I could make bean teepees for the plants to climb up. Last year, we lashed them together into something more like a trellis. That was time consuming to take down and disassemble. This method was much easier to create and to take down but about half of the “tents” fell over multiple times (we do tend to get winds on that side of the house), making it difficult for the beans to actually climb on them. Again, I need to look for a better method.

4)      4) Organic fertilizer. The plants loved it! I bought a special organic blend that I’ll try again. They also like the seaweed and fish fertilizers I’ve used but this one was even better, or perhaps I applied it more diligently and at the right times. If I only had recorded applications days, rains and yields, I would have a better idea. Even though that’s a good idea, I’m not going to pressure myself. I need some time simply to enjoy being in the garden and away from paper and pen.

Those are enough lessons for me for today. Do you have any lessons from this year’s garden that you would like to share?