Archive for September 14, 2010

Bad Change, Good Change, No Change at All

   “It’s just not the same.” That was the observation of a friend who’d revisited the Minnesota State Fair after having lived in Texas for ten years. “I am exhausted, having spent yesterday afternoon breast-stroking my way through a sea of humanity.” That was my observation to another friend the day after my husband and I participated in that “Great Minnesota Get-Together” following our own long absence from the event. 

I used to love the Fair for its otherwise forbidden deep-fried goodies-on-a-stick, and for the delicious people-watching opportunities and free entertainment. But when you can’t even see past the wall of trudging bodies to note which annual attractions you have just been swept by, and when you can’t even walk side-by-side with your sweetie, but must form a single file human projectile to cut a path through the density, it’s overwhelming enough to drain all the fun out of it. 

I also don’t care much for spending eight bucks for a pork chop on a stick or five dollars for half a sandwich. (It seems that paying a hefty entrance fee at the gate buys you the privilege of paying more hefty fees at every turn, once inside.) “Change” in the form of record-setting attendance figures may have transformed the Fair-going experience, but don’t expect to get any back from that twenty you just handed your thirteen-year-old. 

At least the weather was good for our day’s outing, with enough cloud cover to keep the temperatures in the mid-seventies and the need for a sun-shielding parasol allayed – although it might have come in handy as a defense against those aggressive mommies with their armored strollers. Skinned a few toes in that losing battle. 

Today, however is windy, rainy, and on the cold side; either our thermometer is broken or we’ve taken a 40 degree nose dive from last week’s mid-90s. Writing, reading, or cooking. It’s hard to choose between the three as my pet grey day activity, so I do a little of each. My favorite escape literature is Jan Karon’s Mitford series, and I recently treated myself to her Cookbook and Kitchen Reader – a great gift idea, by the way, for you or someone you like a lot. So here I sit, writing about my reading and cooking adventures of this afternoon. 

Since the cool weather invites us to crank up the oven and leave a large, bubbling pot on a slow simmer all afternoon, my menu for this preview-of-autumn day includes my very own Ham and Crowder Peas with Zucchini and Red Onion; a takeoff on Rick Bayless’ Jicama Salad as a refreshing counterpart; and Iron Skillet Pumpkin Corn Bread – the result of applying a few changes of the positive kind to Puny’s cornbread recipe. You’ll have to explore the Mitford series to get acquainted with the charming character, Puny. 

Meanwhile, try your hand at this cool weather menu and start to like the idea of summer – and over-crowded fairgrounds – being left behind. (more…)

September 14, 2010 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

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