Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NOVEMBER 2009 FAMILY FOOD EVENTS ACROSS THE NATION

National Peanut Festival, Oct 30-Nov 8, 2009 (Dothan, AL)
Florida Seafood Festival, Nov 6-7, 2009 (Apalachicola, FL)
Chocolate Festival of Texas
, Nov 7, 2009 (Houston, TX)
Local Flavor Harvest Lake Stroll at Skytop Lodge, Nov 7, 2009 (Skytop, PA)
5000 Egg Giant Omelette Celebration, Nov 7-8, 2009 (Abbeville, LA)
The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show, Nov 7-8 (Washington, DC)
Rayne Frog Festival, Nov 12-14, 2009 (Rayne, LA)
Holiday Chocolate Festival at the Broadmoor, Nov 15, 2009 (Colorado Springs, CO)
Harvest Bounty, Nov 22, 2009 (Elk River, MN) 


Thursday, October 29, 2009

PUMPKIN SEEDS: The Truth is Out There (Recipe)

by Janice Decker
There are many basic recipes to make home-roasted pumpkin seeds. They all seem practically the same with minor variations. Problem is, if one recipe says to bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes and an identical recipe says to slow roast at 300 degrees for only 20 minutes, which is right?

I invented a unique recipe that will give you perfect seeds with gorgeous autumnal color. To rinse or not to rinse? Do I boil the seeds first? Do I really need to dry them for 24 hours before baking? Certainly not! This recipe is easy, fun, and the seeds are DELICIOUS.
RUSTIC PUMPKIN SEEDS (Recipe)
  • Remove seeds from a fresh pumpkin
  • Immediately remove only larger pieces and filaments of pulp
  • DO NOT RINSE
  • Place seeds in large plastic (gallon size) bag
  • Pour a little corn oil over seeds
  • Massage the bag until all the seeds are coated and the pumpkin residue takes on the quality of beaten egg yolk
  • Make sure all the seeds are coated with this pumpkin “glaze”
  • Line a large 3/4" deep cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  • Spray foil lightly with cooking oil and sprinkle with fine SEA salt
  • Distribute pumpkin seeds evenly (one layer only) on foiled cookie sheet
  • Sprinkle again liberally with SEA salt
  • Bake at 300 for about 15-18 minutes - definitely less than 20
  • WATCH THEM!
  • Once seeds begin to turn color, use a spatula to shuffle them. You will notice autumn leaf-like coloring and speckles that look like seasoning appear! That’s the magic of this recipe.
  • Set timer and bake for only 2 minutes more
  • Remove from oven
  • Lay seeds out on paper towels
While the seeds appear dry, you will see the oil get absorbed on the paper towels. Let cool. Store in air-tight container. If packaging in paper Halloween bags, line bags with wax paper. This is easy: cut a strip of wax paper a few inches wide (the width of bag), fold in half, slip into the bag using a small spatula, spoon your cooled-off seeds inside, fold and staple! Great treat bag.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cooking Up a History Lesson

by Giovanna Kiballa & Ellen McGlynn

Is there any better way to learn about history than to eat your way through it?  With school now at fall peak, textbooks in full bloom, and holiday ovens set to pre-heat, it might be a good time to check out some of these great historical cooking lessons from Capstone Press:



More delicious titles from Capstone:
Though geared toward grade school readers, these books are a treat for the whole family!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CHILDREN'S COOKING CLASSES, HARRY POTTER, AND AN EASY RECIPE FOR TREACLE TARTS

by Ellen McGlynn

This week I am busy planning a Harry Potter themed cooking class for nine neighborhood children, ages 5 to 11. I’m always excited at the prospect of entertaining kids in this fashion for one sole reason: they seem to love it! There is one comment I always hear from the parents whenever I post pictures of my cooking classes, and that is how focused and interested the children look. I used to think it was just my child with the inordinate interest in food, but it turns out I am surrounded by food-inspired children. Could it just be the neighborhood I’m living in? That’s a strong possibility, but I don’t think so.

All around the nation, a movement has been brewing for years, and its foundation lies in not just talking about children eating better but actually involving children in more hands-on food activities to help drive them away from processed foods and make them more discriminating eaters with a genuine appreciation for  food sources and food history. Cooking is but one way of accomplishing that task.

In our neck of the woods, there is not much available in the way of hands-on children’s cooking classes, which is why I have taken it upon myself to help fill in the gaps. If you are interested in cooking classes for your child, check out the following great websites. You may actually get lucky and find a class near you.
One of my personal favorite websites, and not only because it’s a product of one of the best cooking schools in America, is CIAkids.com. This is a great website for homeschoolers and it also provides links to children’s classes that are available at the Culinary Institute of America. Take a look!

If you are a business or program that currently offers regularly-scheduled classroom-style children’s cooking classes, and you have a great website you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you. Just click on the light orange Comments link below this post. Your website’s link may get posted on our sidebar under Children’s Cooking Classes.
TREACLE TART WITH ROLLED OATS (Pictured Above)

Use any packaged pie crust mix, roll out thin and cut large enough to line 4" tart pan. Sprinkle 1 level Tablespoon rolled oats in bottom of tart shell. Add a pinch of ginger and a pinch of lemon zest. Pour 1/4 cup golden syrup over oats (I was able to find mine in the United Kingdom section of Wegmans International Foods department). Add one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice on top of the syrup. Sprinkle one more level Tablespoon of oats over the syrup and lemon. Add another pinch of ginger and another pinch of lemon zest. To give it that real Harry Potter feel, add moon and star cutouts on top. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. One box of pie crust mix can make four to five tarts.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

PUMPKIN MUSHROOM BISQUE (Recipe)

by Ellen McGlynn
The pumpkin carving season is upon us and, dare I say, even the snow is upon us. This morning’s wintry weather forecast put me in wood-gathering mode and set me to thinking about what comfort foods could be had from the pumpkin mash and juice left over from last night’s carving ceremony (one pumpkin was sacrificed for the greater good: our stomachs). What I ultimately created was a bisque version of a Curried Pumpkin Mushroom Soup recipe found on www.cooks.com. The pumpkin mash and juice used in this recipe were created using my handy dandy Omega J8005 all-purpose juicer (this is an amazing appliance!) which I had set to separate juice from pulp. For future reference (both yours and mine), I wanted to know just how much juice could be had from a large pumpkin, so I juiced the peeled flesh of 1/4 large pumpkin, and came up with a measure of 4 cups of mash to 1 cup of juice.
PUMPKIN MUSHROOM BISQUE
½ lb. mushrooms, sliced
½ cup minced onion
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. curry powder
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb. fresh pumpkin mash
2 Tbsp. fresh pumpkin juice
1 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 cup light cream

Garnish: Pumpkin juice and scallions
Melt butter in stock pot to lightly fry mushrooms and onions. Add flour and curry to pot and stir constantly over medium heat for several minutes. Add broth, pumpkin mash and juice, honey, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until all items are mixed well. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove soup to blender and puree until smooth. This may need to be done in two batches. Return to stock pot and add light cream. Heat until hot, but do not boil. Serve with a swirl of pumpkin juice on top and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

PIEROGIES (Recipe)


In honor of NATIONAL PIEROGI DAY, celebrated October 8th (see post dated 10/08/09, 5:02pm).

This recipe makes 2 dozen pierogies.

Dough:  2 1/2 cups flour
            2 eggs
            1 teaspoons salt
            Water (enough to form a nice firm dough—approximately 1/2 cup)

Let dough stand 5 minutes in a ball. Roll out and fill. Drop in briskly boiling water and let boil for 5 minutes or until done. Top with butter and onions.

     Filling:  3 medium potatoes
                8 oz. extra sharp cheese (the sharper the better)
                Salt to Taste

Mix flour, salt, eggs, and water to form a nice firm dough.  Divide dough in half and work each half separately until fairly smooth.  The dough should be wet enough to hold together yet dry enough to leave no sticky residue on the hands or in the bowl.


Wrap each individual dough ball in plastic wrap and set aside for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Grate cheese and set aside.  Peel and cube potatoes and boil in salted water until soft for mashing (1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water). 
Place dough on floured cutting board.
Roll dough thin like a pie crust into a 14-inch round and cut into 3-inch (approximately) squares with a pizza cutter.  It is important that the dough be rolled very thin because of its density.  It may take a while to roll out because of its elasticity.  If rolled too thick, it will be too chewy and never seem done even if boiled for a longer period of time.
Drain potatoes and mash together with cheese to form a creamy filling. 
Salt to taste.  Add extra cheese if not sharp enough.  The key to this recipe is its sharp cheesiness.
Spoon warm filling onto each dough square.  Filling may also be prepared a day ahead of time, refrigerated, and rolled into balls before placing on squares.
One by one, fold each dough square into triangular pockets and pinch ends together.  If dough edges are too dry to adhere together, keep a small bowl of water nearby to dip fingers before folding. 
Lay out folded pierogies in single layers with no edges touching, and cover with a clean linen until ready to boil.  Covered pierogies can be set aside for hours if necessary before boiling.  At this point, pierogies may also be frozen in single layers in an airtight container.  Each layer should be sprinkled lightly with flour and separated with wax paper. 
Add pierogies to boiling water (1 teaspoon salt per quart).  Once pierogies float to top, boil for an additional 8 minutes.  Up to several dozen pierogies can be boiled at one time depending on the size of the pot.
While pierogies are boiling, fry 1 large onion and 1 stick butter (1/2 cup).  
The finish is actually the secret to a good old-fashioned pierogi.  Rather than drizzling the butter and onions over finished pierogies (as shown), place butter and onions in a large stock pot.  Add pierogies.  Place lid tightly on pot and hold lid in place while shaking gently to coat all pierogies with butter and onions.

Pierogies can also be served without butter and onions, but that would be a sacrilege.


This recipe was derived from my mother's little black recipe book, dated 1953, the year my parents were married.  It's the only pierogi recipe our Ukrainian family has ever followed.

HAPPY PIEROGI DAY!

Today is National Pierogi Day.  Bet you didn’t know that.  I didn’t, until I looked at my daughter’s school lunch calendar this morning. Now that’s how you know you are heavily embedded in a culturally rich community. Northeastern Pennsylvania, while markedly Irish and Italian, carries with it a very deep Slavic heritage most popularly represented by the Polish, Ukrainians, and Russians--the folks who brought pierogies to America. I happened to grow up in a Ukrainian household and am one of the few remaining American-born purebreds under 45. That pierogies (vareniki to Ukrainians and Russians), basically potato-cheese dumplings, would find themselves on a national celebration register delights me to no end. With just a tiny bit of digging on the suspicion that Mrs. T’s had something to do with this, I was able to reach a representative of the company to confirm.

“We took the initiative to register it in Chase's Calendar of Events," acknowledged Gary Lauerman, Director of Sales and Marketing for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. “We filled out the paperwork and got it approved.”

Along with over 12,000 other special events celebrated internationally, pierogies now have their own special day in what is considered the most authoritative special event register in the world.

“We decided on October 8th because it was on this day [57] years ago that the first box of pierogies was sold commercially in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Today, Mrs. T’s sells a half billion pierogies per year,” said Lauerman.

To celebrate this inaugural year for National Pierogi Day, Mrs. T’s conducted a special flag raising ceremony and provided a catered lunch for all of its employees.

To tie in with National Pierogi Day, Mrs. T’s also sponsors a hunger drive for the first two weeks in October wherein portions of proceeds from pierogi sales are set aside to support local food banks. Mr. Lauerman estimates that Mrs. T’s will be able to donate $50,000 toward that cause this year, which was only piloted regionally in the northeast. Next year, Mrs. T’s hopes to expand its two-week food bank program nationally to coincide with National Pierogi Day thereby further heightening awareness for both events.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

Visit the Mrs. T’s website for recipes, coupons, and more consumer information.....and Happy Pierogi Day!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a step-by-step pictorial on homemade pierogies. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CHOWDER SEASON: A Spicy Red Crab Recipe for the Soul


It’s chowder season again, and I am reminded of a crisp weekend in December some years ago when I was visiting the tiny historic seaside town of New Castle, Delaware, to attend a Colonial holiday party at The Arsenal for which I was to be a guest of honor. I had arrived early for the event with hours to spare, and so I took to the sidewalk to reflect upon the year’s events. Among the quiet bustle of mid-afternoon visitors and the distant melody of a young fife and drum corps playing Christmas carols, I decided to check into a cozy little gift shop where I was instantly called by the aroma of a spicy red crab chowder, the likes of which I had never seen nor tasted before. It was served piping hot, and the Old Bay spice was like medicine for the soul on that cold autumn day. I had begged several store clerks for the recipe, but it was almost as if the soup had appeared by magic in their tureen because no one seemed to know the answer. Returning home that weekend, I set out to reproduce what, to me, still stands as the most satisfying red chowder I have ever tasted.

This is the closest I have ever come. Enjoy!

NEW CASTLE SPICY RED CRAB CHOWDER
Makes 4 quarts

2 Quarts seafood stock
1 Quart stewed tomatoes
4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 large onion, minced
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
12 ounces baby corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
12 ounces lump crab meat (2 - 6oz. cans)
10 ounces cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour 2 quarts seafood stock and 1 quart stewed tomatoes in large stock pot. Add 4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning.

Melt 3 Tablespoons butter in a separate pan and add minced onions until onions take on a translucence. Turn off burner and add 2 tablespoons of flour to butter and onions until all the butter is absorbed into the flour. Add mixture to stock.

Add 12 ounces baby corn kernels, 12 ounces lump crab meat (drained), and 10 ounces of cut beans to stock pot.

Simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Chowder is done when beans are tender.

Pack this chowder in a thermos for a chilly fall picnic. You won’t regret it!
Serve piping hot!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

OCTOBER 2009 FAMILY FOOD EVENTS ACROSS THE NATION

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Sept 25 - Nov 8, 2009 (Orlando, FL)
Harvest Day
, Oct 3, 2009 (Preston, MN)
California Avocado Festival, Oct 3-4, 2009 (Carpinteria, CA)
Taste of Rhode Island, Oct 3-4, 2009 (Newport, RI)
Chowderfest Chowder Cook-Off
, Oct 4, 2009 (Long Beach Island, NJ)
International Pickle Day, Oct 4, 2009 (New York, NY)
Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, Oct 8-10, 2009 (Zwolle, LA)
38th Annual National Shrimp Festival
, Oct 8-11, 2009 (Gulf Shores, AL)

Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
, Oct 8-11, 2009 (New York, NY)
Kiepersol Estates Harvest Fest and Grape Stomp
, Oct 10, 2009 (Tyler, TX)


Taste of Georgetown, Oct 10, 2009 (Washington, DC)
Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival
, Oct 10-11, 2009 (Port Angeles, WA)
Taste of Atlanta
, October 10-11, 2009 (Atlanta, GA)
Chowderfest
, Oct 10-12, 2009 (Mystic Seaport, CT)

International Oktoberfest
, Oct 10-12, 2009 (Newport, RI)
International Rice Festival
, Oct 15-17, 2009 (Crowley, LA)
Apple Butter Making Day, Oct 17, 2009 (Preston, MN)
St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, Oct 17-18, 2009 (Leonardtown, MD)
Wellfleet Oysterfest, Oct 17-18, 2009 (Wellfleet, MA)
Barbecue Festival
, Oct 24, 2009 (Lexington, NC)
National BBQ Festival, Oct 30-31, 2009 (Douglas, GA)
Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, Oct 31 & Nov 1, 2009 (Boston, MA)
National Peanut Festival, Oct 30-Nov 8, 2009 (Dothan, AL)



October Food Dates to Remember

Oktoberfest, Sept 19-Oct 4, 2009
National Pierogi Day, October 8, 2009
World Food Day, October 16, 2009
Halloween, October 31, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

OKTOBERFEST AT THE PENNSYLVANIA RENAISSANCE FAIRE: An Authentic Taste of Germany (with a To-Die-For Recipe for Potato Pancakes!)

Written & Photographed by Ellen McGlynn

Sidetracked only by a few acrobats and one sword swallower at Pennsylvania's annual Renaissance Faire, our mission this past weekend was to find a place to celebrate Oktoberfest, and that’s exactly what we did. Briefly escorted through the crowds by the Faire's resident sword swallower, Damien Blade, we found what we were looking for perched on a hillside under a red and white circus-sized tent on the perimeter of the Faire's weekly attractions. Left off with only the recommendation of trying the potato pancakes, we couldn't help but wonder if this was the recommendation of a guy who, by nature of his profession, might be just a few taste buds short or one whose golden throat made him a connoisseur. Alas, we turned, and he was gone. Gentle fellow that he was, we decided not to waste time judging his food credentials--afterall, sword swallowers are people too--and apparently his throat doesn't lie, for it was under this red and white circus tent we discovered the holy grail of potato pancakes.

As we approached the tent, it was not immediately clear that there were two lines and that we happened to be standing in the longer one. Not coincidentally, it was the line was for the potato pancakes. Eventually greeted by the sizzle of an active griddle, several hard-working cooks manned their stations churning out plate-sized pancakes two by two. The line moved quickly, and we were apparently in the hands of experts who knew how to move things along.

The food tent was indeed hosted by experts. The Lancaster Liederkranz, a local German choral group and cultural society established in 1880, has been hosting banquets and Oktoberfest celebrations for over 30 years at their own club as well as for other local festivals like the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. At one time only open to men of German heritage, the Liederkranz is open to both men and women, and prospective members need not be of German heritage in order to join. Non-members are also welcome to dine at their club located at 722 South Chiques Road, Manheim, PA, though non-members must be accompanied by a club member. Click here for a sample of their weekly menus. You may find yourself wanting to be a member sooner than you think.

I couldn't help but notice that the price for all of the delicious Liederkranz food we ordered, which included a giant bratwurst, weisswurst (veal sausage), sauerkraut, two super-sized potato pancakes, cherry kuchen, and apple strudel (all made from scratch)—came out to be less than $20. $19 to be exact. When I innocently commented on how reasonable the prices were, it was as if I were holding the golden ticket to the secret world of potato pancakes. A few friendly exchanges and one business card later, I was quickly shuttled to the frying area where I was able to meet the head chef responsible for the Lancaster Liederkranz's yearly following at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire's Oktoberfest weekend.


Anneliese Martin (shown far left with Glenn Yanos), a native of Minz, Germany, has been cooking for the Lancaster Liederkranz since they began hosting Oktoberfest celebrations at their club in 1974. Once serving as head chef, she is retired now but still volunteers for events like Oktoberfest at the Renaissance Faire, and clearly still holds a position of power as head of the kitchen. The celebrated potato pancake recipe that draws crowds to their tent year after year was brought to America by Anneliese where it has become a featured item on the Liederkranz menu. She and her fellow co-workers were proud to share with us what makes these potato pancakes so special.

“We make them with coarsely grated potatoes. We also add green onions in addition to regular onions, carrots and plenty of pepper. Just a little bit of flour, not too much, keeps the batter from turning black.”

Glenn Yanos, assisting Anneliese at the griddle, having just returned from Oktoberfest in Germany, was quick to boast the superiority of Anneliese’s recipe over those served at the Munich festival. Cooked to crispy perfection in Wesson vegetable oil, this recipe makes for both a delicately spicy and colorful pancake.

KARTOFFEL PFANNKUCHEN (POTATO PANCAKES)
Recipe by Anneliese Martin, Lancaster Liederkranz


3 med raw potatoes, peeled and rough grated
1 med onion, small chop
1 carrot, grated
2 green onions thin-sliced
1 egg
1 T flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying


Mix all ingredients together. Heat oil in large frying pan. Carefully drop large spoonful of potato batter in oil and form pancake. Fry, and turn until golden brown and crisp on each side. Good served with applesauce.

In order to secure large batches of fresh potato pancake mix for high-turnout events, the Liederkranz staff prepares their recipe in multiple 5-gallon buckets. To keep the batter from turning black, each 5-gallon bucket of mix is topped with flour that is then blended into the potato medley only after the bucket is opened for use at the event. According to Anneliese, this year it took 10 people, all over 80 years old, to peel the 750 pounds of potatoes it took to make the 200 pounds of potato salad and 500 pounds of potato pancakes they sell over the course of the Renaissance Faire’s two-day Oktoberfest celebration (roughly 1,000 pancakes per day). By comparison, the Liederkranz also prepares over 500 pounds of bratwurst and 300 pounds of weisswurst for the same event (pictured at grill, Dave Reinfried).

Though a rainy weather forecast may have been a deterrent for this year’s crowd at the Renaissance Faire in general, Liederkranz club president, Paul Stanavage, did not look worried. Poor weather typically sends fairgoers seeking shelter under food tents, which means extra cabbage for vendors. He was also happy to report a stellar crowd at the club’s own Oktoberfest celebration under sunny blue skies just a week before. Not so fortunate this time around were the festival's folk dancers and young Topfschlagen players (a German game where participants are blind-folded, spun around holding a large wooden spoon, and left to locate an overturned pot harboring a secret prize) who were forced to give up some of their activities on the Faire’s large open-air chessboard.

Unfortunately, the PA Renaissance Faire's Oktoberfest festival runs only one weekend per season, so when you miss it, it's gone. Plan to attend next year's event even under the threat of gloomy weather because, rain or shine, no matter how you slice it, Oktoberfest at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is no small potatoes.

For more information, visit www.lancasterliederkranz.com and www.parenfaire.com.

Oktoberfest 2009 runs from September 19th to October 4th. With still several days left to plan your celebration, be sure to whip up a batch of Anneliese's Kartoffel Pfannkuchen for an authentic German plate your family and friends will never forget! 

Friday, September 25, 2009

OKTOBERFEST IN AMERICA

As September draws to a close, the question is, “Where will you be spending your Oktoberfest?”

Oktoberfest, a 199-year-old Bavarian tradition originating in Munich, Germany, runs for 16 days from mid-September to the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the length of the celebration was modified to include German Unity Day, celebrated each year on October 3rd. Should Oktoberfest traditionally end on either the 1st or 2nd of October, the celebration is then extended to end on German Unity Day. This year Oktoberfest runs from September 19th to October 4th and, as we speak, crowds around the world are celebrating this joyous festival honoring the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later to become King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, who were wed October 12, 1810.

Epicurean Family Magazine will be celebrating Oktoberfest this year at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in Manheim, PA. Presented with the promise of all the old world charm the Faire is so famous for, we expect this event to knock our lederhosen off. We’ll be back next week with pictures (and recipes) of all the weiner schnitzel, bratwurst, black forest cake, and spaetzle we can lay our hands on.

Drop us a line and let us know where YOU'LL be celebrating Oktoberfest. If the celebration you are attending has its own website, we would love to include it in our growing list of family-friendly food events.

Sources:  www.wikipedia.com and www.britannica.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

OCTOBER FOOD FESTIVALS HUGE ON EAST COAST

October looks to be a huge month for HUGE food festivals, at least on the east coast.  Though many of the star-studded venues at Food Network's NYC Wine and Food Festival are already sold out, there are still plenty of things to see, do, and taste, so pack up the family, and have a great time!

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Sept 25 - Nov 8, 2009 (Orlando, FL)
Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
, Oct 8-11, 2009 (New York, NY)
Taste of Georgetown, Oct 10, 2009 (Washington, DC)
Taste of Atlanta, October 10-11, 2009 (Atlanta, GA)
Taste of Rhode Island, October 3-4, 2009 (Newport, RI)
International Oktoberfest, Oct 10-12, 2009 (Newport, RI)
Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, Oct 31 & Nov 1, 2009 (Boston, MA)

Always be sure to check our January archives for a more complete and concise calendar list of events for your state.  Also, our Google search tool makes for easy access to any linked items throughout our blog site.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NEW FALL LOOK


Hello everyone, and welcome to the NEW face of Epicurean Family Magazine. In a nutshell, we've changed our look so that we can enjoy the pleasure of publishing at whim. Nothing seems to kill creativity faster than the threat of a deadline (as with our former quarterly format), so now we just publish whenever we get a great idea (which thankfully happens more than four times a year).

Our mission here is still the same, and that is to be your resource for fun, family-oriented food events to help expand your
family's palate and maybe even inspire some future chefs along the way. We also aim to provide you with suggestions for places to vacation and dine, books and movies to trigger the tastebuds, and tips for entertaining at home. Our main philosophy is that families should engage in a more cohesive gastronomic experience. Children shouldn't always be relegated to the kids' table with mind-dulling menus, and parents shouldn't always be forced to give up the wine and cheese.

We hope you enjoy the new format. Our archives are still in the process of being transferred with an expected completion date of October 1, 2009. Please drop us a line and let us know what you think. And don't forget to check back often!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK

While the weather is still warm this fall, why not do something crazy like hop a bus to New York City where you and the family can catch a Broadway matinee, soak up the city sights, and relax post-show at one of the wonderful sidewalk cafes overlooking Rockefeller Center. With the New York City Explorer Pass in your pocket, you not only save on admission to many of New York's finest attractions (including 10% off Broadway tickets), you also save up to 20% off of your entire dining bill at a number of the city's fabulous restaurants.  Explorer Passes are also available for other major cities across the United States.  Visit www.smartdestinations.com to explore your possibilities. 

Before deciding that buses are not your style or that city life is not for you, check out the American Bus Association's spectacular list of the Top 100 Events in North America in 2009. Many of the events on this popular list are culturally strong with food playing a major part in the festivities. The list is published every year, and 2010 has already hit the press.



AT THE MOVIES: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

If there was ever a time for you and your family to hit the local trattoria for a heaping helping of spaghetti and meatballs, this would be it. As luck would have it, there just so happens to be a trattoria right next to our local Cinemark, so deciding where to have dinner on opening night was pretty much a no-brainer. If, however, you don't happen to have a trattoria next to your local cineplex, don't despair. Any hamburger joint, hot dog stand, steakhouse, or sushi bar will do. This movie sets the mood for just about any type of food you're likely to find on any menu, anywhere.

First published in 1978, the children's story Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett has been a favorite in our family since it arrived in a Christmas box several years ago from a very conscientious book-buying friend. Now Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation have taken hold of the enchanting storyline and transformed it into a delicious 3-D masterpiece, turning it into what might arguably be the most advanced 3-D animation to date. Though it doesn't quite achieve that certain je ne sais quoi of Ratatouille, it is nonetheless one of the more enjoyable movies of the year. Afterall, who can't sink their teeth into the idea of raining food? A clever storyline mixed with a heightened level of unbelievability and just the right amount of 80's nostalgia, it is the perfect appetizer for any meal. Despite the "weightiness" of the plot, you will leave the theater feeling light as a feather and longing for a Pickles to Pittsburgh sequel.

Be sure to let the kids check out the movie's very cool website at www.cloudywithachanceofmeatballs.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

STONE MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA: A Lesson in Themepark Hospitality

Written by Meg Dempsey
Photographed by Ellen McGlynn



“Stone Mountain WHERE???” Unless you live in the state of Georgia, you may never have heard of this incredible site or the theme park that has grown up around it. However, for families looking for an alternative to the long lines, lousy food and surly employees found at the average amusement park, it is the ideal destination.

The namesake of the town is indeed a huge stone mountain whose carvings of Confederate War-era heroes covers an area equal to almost three acres. This “Mount Rushmore of the South” boasts the largest relief sculpture in the world, but that is just the beginning of the sights, sounds and TASTES that await visitors to “The Rock.”

A one-day Adventure Pass includes a ride in a cable-guided gondola to the top of Stone Mountain, where the whole family can romp safely around rocks and craters resembling the surface of the moon (and up almost as high). After a short ride back down, the fun really begins. The most popular attraction is the “Sky Hike,” an obstacle course through the trees where participants are secured by a harness and cable as they wind their way around three stories of rope, wood, and steel in every possible configuration. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes if you plan to partake. We sent up one seven and one nine year-old by themselves and were very pleased with the helpful guides, who made sure the youngsters were comfortable with the ever-increasing difficulty of the course. Although even little ones (45 inches and above) can enjoy the sky hike, there is also a smaller, grounded course with a zip line for young children. In the same area are two rock-climbing walls that were popular with children, teens and adults alike. We were traveling with four children, ages seven to ten, and all gave these attractions a big “thumbs up.”

Having worked up an appetite, we decided to stop for lunch. Dreading the usual theme-park fare, we were pleasantly surprised by the dining options available. We settled on Miss Katie’s Sideboard, a full-service restaurant serving traditional Southern dishes in an equally traditional setting. Great attention has been given to the d├ęcor, which was reminiscent of a large Depression-era country kitchen. Lots of baskets, washboards, and gingham; even a bathtub suspended from the ceiling. Imagine John-boy Walton’s dining room on steroids. We were greeted by our charming waitress, Angelica, with a complimentary plate of fried appetizers, including Vidalia onions, cinnamon-spiked sweet potatoes, and, of all things, pickles! The combination of salty, sweet and sour tastes did its job of whetting our appetites and kept the kids occupied while we placed our orders.

Angelica returned, living up to the restaurant’s moniker, “Home of the Hand-Tossed Roll.” Toting a basket of fresh-from-the-oven rolls, she yelled, “Catch!” as she tossed a piping hot roll to each of us, delighting everyone in our party! Not just a gimmick to entertain, the rolls were delicious. We had to stop ourselves from eating too many of these slightly sweet treasures. We didn’t have to wait long for our entrees to arrive. They included chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, pot roast, and barbeque ribs. The food was tasty and the portions were generous. Northerners should be prepared for very smoky- tasting ribs. We sampled them throughout this region, and extra smoke seems to be the preferred method of preparation. The pot roast was tender, the fried chicken crisp, and the dumplings were a comfortable taste of home. By this time we were stuffed, but managed to share a peach cobbler for the table. Overall, the meals were definitely the best ever eaten by us at a theme park.

We continued our day with a visit to The Great Barn, a four-story structure loaded with flying foam balls, slides and interactive games. Once again, everyone, from toddlers through adults can enjoy this attraction. Thousands of foam balls, launched from stationary air guns and other devices, are scooped up and deposited into various contraptions. Points are accumulated and tallied through the bar-encoded wristband each visitor receives upon entering the Barn. There are no prizes awarded to those with the most points, only the thrill of victory and your name in lights. This was more than enough to send us scrambling in every direction--up, down and across for more than an hour. While the kids showed no signs of slowing down, this adult was exhausted!

Next, we slowed down with a visit to the Antebellum Plantation. This site is made up of actual pre-Civil War buildings relocated from various places around the state of Georgia. Adults will appreciate the historical artifacts and kids will love the costumed guides and petting barnyard, complete with friendly sheep and goats. We thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided tour which allowed us to linger around the more interesting areas (the barnyard and the privies, according to the children in our group). Also included in the price of admission is the Scenic Railroad, a five mile excursion around the mountain in a 1940’s train; an 18 hole mini-golf course; a backyard circus (where kids are the stars of the show); a 4-D movie and many other attractions, which we did not have time to enjoy. The park closes at 8:00pm to prepare for the Lasershow Spectacular. After dark, the natural hillside amphitheater remains open for what is billed as the largest laser light show in the world. The combination of lights, lasers and fireworks set to popular music and patriotic tunes is the perfect end to a wonderful day.

Our family would highly recommend a visit to Stone Mountain, Georgia. Although it contains more attractions than anyone could possibly see in a day, the frenetic pace and ear-piercing noise found at many amusement parks is, thankfully, absent. At least half the attractions involve active participation rather than passive “riding.” The many employees at Stone Mountain were, without exception, the friendliest and most helpful that we have ever encountered. Perhaps most important to some families in these tough economic times, is the reasonable price of the all-inclusive tickets.

Do yourself a favor and stay at the beautiful Marriott Stone Mountain Inn. Just steps away from the park entrance, the Family Escape package offers incredibly spacious accommodations, a delicious breakfast buffet, relaxing outdoor pool, passes to the park, and VIP lawn space for the laser show. Their elegant dining room also offers a delicious Southern-style dinner buffet at a reasonable price until 9pm, complete with a full array of fabulous desserts including fresh Georgia peach cobbler and red velvet cake. Stone Mountain will definitely keep Georgia on our minds!

Visit www.stonemountainpark.com to plan your trip today.




Published just this summer, you can now enjoy the vintage artistry of Stone Mountain Park through Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series.  Written by Tim Hollis, this book helps answer all of those little nagging questions left lingering in your mind about the history of this unusual place.