fair food round II review


in case i hadn’t consumed enough calories for the month, i decided to go back to the fair for round II of food. there is only so much stomach room. jane went with me this time, and we went in the evening and into the night, when the crowds are much less stroller heavy.

first stop? BLUE BARN. 

10615625_10101071513385941_7505052055009955383_nif i hadn’t thought the blue cheese corn fritz weren’t good enough for the blue barn being my favorite state-fair-only stop, then the chicken in a waffle cone certainly sealed the deal. enter waffle cone filled with chicken tenders/nuggets, covered with a spicy sausage gravy, and sprinkled with parsley on top. OMG. the only weird part was they actually had a chocolate ball at the base of the cone, like with ice cream, so when i got to the bottom and got a mouthful of chocolate sausage gravy, my mouth did a weird thing, but got over it. 

10659328_10101071536354911_5100939303359064532_nthen it was off to the sky ride, which spit us out at the leinie lodge, so of course jane and i had to get a beer. she got summer shandy and i got orange shandy. we sat on the grass and listened to a cover band play “bohemian rhapsody”, at which point we each called our sibs who weren’t here.


10649440_10101071633964301_6003009960607862414_nnext stop, cheese curds. while jane got the curds, i stopped at the taffy place and picked up taffy for my coworker who requested some. curds were delish, like always. you really can’t go wrong with the tried and true cheese curds.



10641194_10101071634183861_2215291261328031502_nwe wandered over to the ag/hort building, where we checked out the christmas tree exhibit, smelled the piney scent, and got a little too excited for christmas. then we stopped at the apple corner and picked up a cider pop, which was frozen apple cider in a sleeve for $1.25. they could have sold them for more, and i’m sure people still would have bought them, so it was nice to see a low price on something! i tried to take a pic of the pop with the largest pumpkin in the background, but i ended up getting a pic of the largest pumpkin with the pop in the foreground. boo camera phone.

IMG_2068by then we were a little on the stuffed side, so we took a tour of the horse barn and people watched in the grandstand vendor building. then we made our way over to  carl’s gizmos, which apparently are the BEST THINGS EVER according to one andrew zimmern: “If I could pick only one state fair food, this would be it.” verdict? unimpressed. hot dog bun filled with ground beef and sausage, which were mixed with a TINY AMOUNT of sauce, then covered in cheese and baked. either this needed no sauce and more spice in the meat, or much more sauce in the meat. or maybe more cheese. i’m glad i tried it, but it was really anticlimactic.

10525700_10101072793051481_6407597366493582592_nanyway, onward and upward. jane and i decided it was time to make our way back to the busses (it was closing in on 10 at that point), so we made our way over to tom thumb, because can’t go to the fair and NOT get minidonuts. and tom thumb minidonuts are the best. <3





10635950_10101072793555471_3633302461817305836_nnate had requested some martha’s cookies, and jane decided she would take some too to share with her roommate. after seeing the ginormous swarm at the big martha’s on the skyride, we opted for the other location. we stood in line for probably 20 minutes, but we each got our bucket of cookies, mine overflowing. it must be the fact that they come right out of the oven, because the cookie itself? kind of underwhelming. my recipe is 400x awesomer. 

THEN CAME THE FUN PART! we’re walking to the busses with our overflowing buckets of cookies, when it started to rain. thankfully, we had anticipated this and brought umbrellas. so we made our way to the exit through the rain, while people were screaming and running around as if it were the apocalypse. as we got closer to the exit, the crowds running to the exit got huger and huger, and the wind started picking up big time. 

we were like, no way we’re standing in an uber long line for the bus in the rainy windy mess. so we decided to make our way toward a building where we would at least be buffered from the wind. 

we turned, and both our umbrellas flipped inside out. YAY. ran toward the building. i set down the cookies to fix the umbrella, and once it was flipped right side out, it BLEW AWAY. AAAAAUUUGGHGHHHGH. i ran after it, because it was my dad’s umbrella.

let me tell you, he is lucky that i had already set down the cookies.

i ran after the umbrella, and after a couple failed attempts, was able to grab it and bring it under control. the crowd across the way under another building cheered for me.

well, after standing against buildings for about a half an hour or so with the wind calming down, we attempted the bus. we were able get on with no line! back to the parking lot, where it was still raining, and then to home.

i didn’t get home until about 12:30, but it was worth it!


pickles and a story of a cookbook


pickles and a much-coveted cookbook in the back.

pickles round two happened. and i followed the recipe i used for the first batch of pickles i ever made, which were really yummy. let me tell you a story about that recipe.

many years ago (let’s say, six), i was at goodwill and, lo and behold, found a copy of joy of cooking on the shelves. i snatched it up because JOY OF COOKING amirite. i’d been searching for a while since i didn’t want to pay full price. not only was it JOC, but it was from circa 1972 and included recipes for rabbit. (you know it’s gotta be good when there are rabbit recipes.) so when my garden came in with cucumbers, i looked up the canning section and used the recipe listed for kosher dills. the pickles were delicious.

the only downside to the cookbook? it was a small paperback, which meant when you laid the book down with the pages open, they didn’t stay open. 

well, a later perusal of goodwill tossed up a hardcover version of JOC, so i snatched the bad boy up and sent the paperback back to goodwill.


the new JOC was revised for “today’s lifestyle” circa 1992. meaning low-fat everything, no canning or jelly recipes, and absolutely no rabbit recipes.

in other words: no fun for anyone’s mouth. (except the cheesecake recipe. that is out of this world.)

so last week, my coworker jenee forced me to go to an estate sale (well, force may be a bit excessive). estate sales for me are hit or miss. my taste in old stuff is pretty exact, so looking at a bunch of really old stuff i hold no interest in is kinda meh. 

but i always enjoy the kitchens. 

and guess what was in this kitchen.


not only that, but it was TWO DOLLARS!!!!

happy days are here again, especially in pickle land. (and if i ever want to cook a rabbit.)


fair, round II

so, my stomach isn’t big enough to hold all the fair food i want it to hold. hence, a return trip.

this time!

  • gizmo
  • cider pop
  • chicken in waffle cone
  • maybe more blue cheese fritz
  • real cheese curds
  • taffy for my coworker
  • chiliquiles??
  • nate wants jello salad ice cream (><)

i might get something else at the blue barn, too. that place is the bomb.

fair food: a review

i had grand plans for fair food! 

turns out, my stomach can only hold so much food. alas.

bluefirst stop: the blue barn for blue cheese fritters with chimichurri sauce. DELISH. this was my top choice of the day (although it could’ve had something to do with me not eating for 14 hours). the blue barn also had some other appetizing looking food, like the chicken in a waffle and pierogies, but i was on a mission.



pumpkinsecond: minneapple pie. i’d seen this stand all over the place and decided it was time to finally just stop and get something there. i did not get the apple pie; i opted for the pumpkin with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. it was pretty good, but not roll-on-the-floor with drool running out my mouth in awesomeness. maybe if it were right out of the fryer? maybe if it were october? who knows.


third: the shrimp dog. i had SUCH HIGH HOPES for this guy. i really did. unfortunately it was such a dud. the shrimp was there, but you couldn’t tell it was shrimp by looking at it. it was dipped in corn dog batter, which made for a beyond weird combination. then, to top it off, i got a piece of shrimp shell in a bite.


salamitime for a stop in the food building, which was CHAOS. nate was having agorophobic convulsions. but we made our way over to the chocolate salami, a mix of chocolate, nuts, graham crackers, orange flavor, and rolled in powdered sugar. it tasted like a crunchy chocolate orange. it was pretty good, but nothing i’d go back for.



fourth stop: crab fritters. my former landlord runs concessions through the summer, and this was from his stand. last year we stopped and they were delicious. i don’t know if they changed the recipe this summer or what, but it just wasn’t the same level of deliciousness as it was last year. still good!



ugh; i was getting full at this point. but i soldiered on. next up was the pretzel curds at o’gara’s. i actually think it was a beer-batter version of crushed pretzels, but it was pretty good. i wouldn’t put them in the same ballpark as regular cheese curds, but i’d eat them when no other curds are present.


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my second-to-last stop was to pick up some tom thumb mini donuts for the ride home or later on that evening. because even 2-hour-old minidonuts are still the most delicious thing ever. and way better than NO donuts.





my last mouth-watering item to get before leaving the fair was my old tried-and-true: the deep-fried milky way. this is the reason i forgo my corn syrup boycott when i enter those fairgrounds. it is so delicious! 





i think i need to go back for round two of fair food. i can see where living in the area would be beneficial so you could do round one in the morning, go home and nap/digest, then head back later in the evening for round two. unfortunately for fair time, i live almost two hours away. 

what have we learned? blue barn wins the day. go there if you go anywhere.


in exchange for working on saturday, i’m taking tomorrow off and going to the state fair. 

prepare for FOODBLOG.

the great thing about the fair? it’s the one day a year i set aside my anti-devils-syrup agenda and just eat what i want, including a deep-fried milky way (the only time of year i eat a milky way mmmm). 

i’ve bookmarked my food vendors in the state fair app. here’s what nate and i are going to try to eat tomorrow:

  • snoribbons
  • gizmo
  • deep-fried candy bar
  • chilquiles – chips covered with chili verde sauce, chicken, and an egg
  • minneapple pie
  • pretzel curds
  • crab fritters
  • cheese curds
  • chocolate salami
  • deep-fried buckeyes
  • blue cheese and corn fritz
  • shrimp dog

whoa – that’s a lot of food. hope my stomach doesn’t explode!

my favorite tomato

the first year i planted tomatoes in earnest, meaning more than one plant, i ordered a sampler pack of heirloom transplants from the seed savers exchange in iowa. i didn’t have a garden yet, so i planted them in large pots and watched them propagate over the summer. i got a really mealy red tomato that grew huge fruits but were only good for making sauces; a yellow pear grape tomato, which i didn’t like the taste of; mexican midgets – decent-tasting tomatoes so tiny it took three of them to equal a normal sized grape tomato; a couple other duds; AND the best kind of tomato i’ve ever eaten: the green zebra.

zebrawhen i planted the sampler pack five years ago, i didn’t label the tomatoes, so i kept waiting for these guys to turn fully red (and maybe a little bigger) – which they never did. finally, after realizing they were getting so soft they were bordering on overripe, i picked a bunch and cut them up. 

the first bite is a little earthy; the second few bites elicit a little zingy/tangy taste; and it ends on a really nice sweet note. i love these tomatoes – they are definitely eating tomatoes.

i bought a pack of seeds a couple years ago and finally got around to using them this spring. i started about 9 plants, lost 3 or so in the early stages, and ended up with two in the ground that actually produced fruit (thanks, black walnut trees). the one pictured above is the first one i picked so far. it’s not 100% ripe (it does get a little orangey on top), but i couldn’t wait.


ATK: the white cake

my sister liz is the cake person. i am the cookie person. but, when she has a birthday, i guess i become the cake person by default! she requested this cake because it was the best recipe she’d found for white cake (and she’s been through a lot). 

cake_recipeso, not being a cake person, i had to be told that the weird thing about this cake is that you don’t stiffen your egg whites. i didn’t know that stiffening them was the norm. instead, you beat your egg whites with milk until they’re mixed, then add it to the batter later on. the weird thing, in my opinion, was that after mixing your dry ingredients, you added chunks of butter and blended it like you would a pie crust (those i know!).

cakeflouri even went all out and bought actual cake flour. 

the EPIPHANY OF THE YEAR: greasing and flouring your cake pans, then lining the bottom with parchment rounds.

pansOMG i will never make a round cake again without doing this. taking the cake out of the pan has never, ever been easier.



seriously – run a knife around the edge, and this just plops out of the pan. peeling off the parchment is no big deal, as you can see.

regardless of the parchment thing, which is awesome, this is pretty darn good white cake. it didn’t really rise in the middle – in fact, it kind of sank – and it was dense, but not too dense. plus it was delicious; i could have eaten the entire bowl of batter and been ok with it.

i made a chocolate ganache for the frosting (i cup heavy cream + 10 oz. chocolate chips + vanilla), and because i was pressed for time, it was a little messy. if i’d made this earlier, it would’ve been more frostingesque.

piecepoint: ATK






i am so not ready

this summer has been really awful for running. i’ve been going three times a week, but they’re short runs, and i have a 10k coming up in a couple weeks that i’m really hoping i can pull off.

as it is, getting a run in outside by the time dark falls is starting to be a challenge. no longer is the sun out until 9 p.m. 🙁 i’m not looking forward to treadmill running.

so, next week i have to ramp it up and hopefully get some real miles under my belt. the weather’s supposed to be somewhat decent, not like this humid, hot week, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. praise calliope.

i ran 6 miles once this summer so far, so i know it can be done. it’s just a matter of doing it. here’s hoping!