Monday, September 27, 2010

Country Living Fair 2010

This fair is HUGE!  Talk about sensory overload! I wanted to go last year but the good or shall I say the 'bad' husband refused to take me so sadly I forgot all about it until 'Miss Amy' from Verde Farm blog invited me to join her.  Yay!  There was no stopping me this time so off we went.

The weather cooperated and surprisingly the traffic wasn't too bad considering the throngs of women walking towards the entrance gates.  There weren't many men at all.  I could just imagine being with the bad husband and hearing the typical 'you don't need that!' mantra as I would attempt to get a closer look at something cute.
As we reached the ticket booth, Amy discovered her camera wasn't behaving.  Oh no! After a few worrisome moments, I got it going and we began trekking towards the tents.  Goff Creek Pottery from upstate New York proved to be our first find! I found these tasteful but very heavy cow figures for my kitchen.  Reasonable pricing afforded me two and thankfully, they held our bags so we didn't have to lug additional weight around.
The crowds began to thicken and the lines grew to extreme lengths.  One vendor had the longest wait to purchase which was a complete turnoff so I didn't spend much time with them knowing there would be that punishing delay....and I so wanted those straw pumpkins!
Did you know there are hundreds of 'war dogs' saving our soldiers from bombs that are killed? So very sad, I could not be a soldier, love a dog and see it die for me...I hate war!

There were all sorts of crafters.  Cute pumpkin pillows, scarecrows, aprons, and vintage linens attracted me but one of my favorites was a woman who featured dried florals.  Very different from the norm.  I didn't get any photos but did notice she had participated in the Philadelphia Flower Show.  I really wanted to buy some of her arrangements but due to too many bags I feared the delicate beauties would be crushed to bits by the time we reached the truck.  I loved her Fairy Grass.  And speaking of dried plants...Sweet Annie was all over the place.  I hadn't heard of it until I read about it on a blog a week ago.  I think I will grow some next year.  Its' distinct scent had a mix of mint and floral and a kind lady told me that it is exceptional at repelling insects. 

Nancy Drew Birdhouses!  I wanted one!!

A few reanactors in a small colonial house.
I wanted that cute scarecrow too!
Lunch was easy and quick and we were lucky to find a table.  We met two separate sets of folks who shared our table from Indiana and they were so friendly! Kudos to Indiana! We stopped in the Country Living store and finally found those green floral canvas bags that so many were carrying.  My fingers were relieved that the blood could now flow ending the purple hued tips.  Seriously, my bags were full!

I loved seeing all the pumpkins and gourds everyone was friendly and mannerly which was nice.  I don't think it was layed out well though and for 'nubies' like us, colored tent tops would have helped so we could know what areas we already visited. You know, blue over there, orange near the food area, etc.  'Bag Check' tents should have been installed (i think there was only one) and scattered throughout and I would have paid to store mine.  It began to get tiresome to always put down my bags in order to take a pic or examine a potential find and it prevented me from further purchases.  Crafts can be bulky!
 Boo! No hanging animals!!
 Overall it was a blast and I am so glad we went.  Amy and I are a lot alike especially when we ooohed and aaahhhed over all of the neat 'eye candy'.  The bad husband always mocks me when I exclaim over something unique, insisting that I sound like Edith on Archie Bunker....thanks honey, such a nice thing to tell your wife! Now I feel better as Amy is even worse and I told her we were like the folks at Mayberry (Andy Griffith show) who have never been out of our small town.  We just couldn't help ourselves as bad as we tried to control it!  For those of you further south, Country Living is having this same fair in October near Atanta at Stone Mountain.  If you attend, I am sure you will not leave empty handed, unless you bring your husband! ; )

Monday, September 6, 2010

Prepping Pumpkins

Have you noticed that there hasn't been a can of Libby's or Stokely's pumpkin on the shelves of your favorite market since last Christmas?  Usually nobody notices, unless you love eating pumpkin goodies throughout the year like me.  Originally I thought it was a regional issue and asked a Walmart stock person and he told me due to last year's growing season not being up to par, the pumpkin crop was diminished and they ran out during the end of the Holiday season.  I even asked a Walmart stock person in a huge city and they said the same thing.  I looked online and I found cans costing upwards to $10!  Wow! 

How thrilled I was when we stopped at a farm stand near Columbus, Ohio to see cooking pumpkins stacked in a large box.  No jack-a-laterns, just small cooking pumpkins.  Evidently they ripen earlier at that farm or were planted earlier for the fall season.  I bought three just to try it out.  They were $2.75 per pumpkin.  I also found a cute little recipe booklet which offered printed directions as to how to prep these orange beauties.  A no brainer, really, just wanted to be sure...

There are two ways to cook them.  Boil or bake.  I choose bake since I didn't want to fool with tough skins or lose precious vitamins to boiling water.  So, I cut one pumpkin in two, removed the stem, and put the halves face down in a pan.  The directions say to cook for 40 minutes, but it took about an hour before mine were evenly done. 

I scrapped off the fiberous flesh and made sure I didn't go through the soft skin and get any tough pieces.  I put mine in a large blender, turned the indicator on high and let it work for about a minute. 

It tastes and looks squashy as does organic pumpkin  in the can.  Not as dark orange as the Libby's nor as dense and contains a bit more water, but SO healthy with no preservatives, no chemicals from the can (the white interiors of cans contain that BPH that leaches into foods and can be found in our bodies) and it costs a little less.  I got almost 4 cups!

I froze my pumpkin and will thaw it out to see how it tastes in November.  The next processed pumpkin I will use immediately for maybe a pie, a loaf of bread or some cookies!   Oh, and I saved the seeds.  Hopefully I will be successful unlike this year at growing pumpkins.  I didn't notice many honey bees on our farm this year which really worries me.  We have a new cell tower nearby which I learned 'confuses' the bees.   One can self pollinate and I may have to try that next year.  I got several blooms this year and one tiny fruit that died.  Anyway, I am a happy girl now that I have my pumpkins!