Sunday, June 10, 2018

Worthington Farmer’s Market

Every summer I have high hopes (or at least I jot it on my summer 'To Do’ List) of going to a Farmer’s Market having only attended the Hilliard one a few times. Since most of them seem to be during the week and aren’t open too late, that’s been my excuse for not going. However, a couple weekends ago I did some research and made a list of where all the local markets are and the hours they’re open. Although it’s still a bit early in the summer for some of them, others, like the Worthington Farmer’s Market are open.

Probably our main reason for going was so I could see where the Griswold Senior Center is located since I plan to drive out there on Thursday to attend my artist friend’s lecture there. Since gasoline is now $2.90 a gallon, I hated to waste the gas without visiting somewhere in Worthington while I was there. By the way, downtown Worthington has charm coming out of its ears and it’s only a shame we don’t visit there more often.

The Farmer’s Market is held in the square every Saturday from 8am until 1pm. By the time we arrived it was getting near 11am, so we didn’t have a lot of time, but my husband Andrew doesn’t like to linger anyway, so he’s good at keeping to a schedule.

What seems fairly typical these days is that a Farmer’s Market isn’t solely about fruits and vegetables. There were probably as many, if not more, stands selling bread and pastries, which kind of corrupts the whole reason for going. However, my husband, my moral compass, kept me on the straight and narrow. All we bought of that sort of thing was: a jar of rhubarb blackberry jam with limoncello, a packet of biscotti, a small pie, (which I should have photographed before we cut into it)

and a box of gourmet chocolates (almost too pretty to eat!).

As far as nutritional items, we bought a small basket of strawberries, a small head of lettuce, a bundle of asparagus, a block of cheese made from sheep’s milk, a package of butternut squash raviolis, a bag of chocolate cherry coffee (and an ice coffee from a different vendor), and a wooden sign that says, “Coffee Keeps Me Going Until It’s Acceptable to Drink Wine.” 

(After reading this Andrew commented that the items I have listed under nutritional items really aren’t that healthy; true, but let’s not quibble : )

What was as much fun to me as buying lots of lovely sustenance, was talking to the various vendors. That’s partly why we bought the pie. Andrew said he felt he had to buy something after the long chat I had with the lady selling various pastries. She explained that her two teen/tweenie aged children helped her bake, as boredom has set in for them already (from being on summer break from school). I congratulated them on their efforts as our pie (mixed berry with a lattice crust) is so cute and tasty! I told her about helping out in the garden while growing up and how much I hated raking up apples since there were always so many yellow jackets buzzing around the sometimes rotting fruit. Plus, I never liked apple dumplings (still don’t), or applesauce (I’ve come around on this one), which is where most of the apples ended up. Had we had more ambition we probably could have started our own apple pie business, but the thought never once occurred to us. Anyway….

Andrew and I got to split a chocolate glazed donut from another vendor gratis as he gave us one as a free sample.
That was certainly a nice compliment to my ice coffee. We also sampled various breads. In return (for not buying anything), I told some of the vendors about the annual Bread Festival held in October in nearby Dublin. Since it will only be the third year for it this fall, it’s still new enough none of them had ever heard of it, but said they’ll look it up. I hope to see some of them there (and maybe then I’ll buy some of their starchy goodness).

At any rate, it was a lot of fun and I think we scored some nice produce and goodies to enjoy over the next few weeks. I look forward to attending again, and will definitely make sure to arrive a lot sooner (and bring plenty of cash, though you can use your credit card at a lot of the booths).

Sunday, June 3, 2018

5th Annual Grandview Chocolate Walk

“Enjoy a walking tour of Grandview Heights with chocolate stops at participating businesses, to benefit the GHPL Foundation’s Endowment Fund.”

I saw this event listed in the spring guide of events going on at Grandview library whilst I was a volunteer there back in the winter. I wasn’t able to get tickets until just a few weeks before the event, but I eagerly anticipated it all winter and spring.

My husband, Andrew, was unable to accompany me due to a work commitment, so I decided to go it alone and hope to maybe meet some new people (which I did, Thanks Joe & Allysa!!!).

I arrived at the library with less than 10 minutes to spare before the 6pm walk started. Having not been on it before, I wasn’t sure if it was like a group activity, or if we would be handed a map and left to our own devices. It was the latter. We were given a brown bag, a plastic cup, and a listing of all the participating businesses on a lanyard.
Since I decided to grab Andrew’s bag and cup I had to quickly figure out how to carry two bags, a bottle of water, and my purse so that I could walk around comfortably without feeling like a pack horse. While picking up the bags I met a young couple (Joe & Allysa) who were nice enough to let me accompany them on the walk, for which I am forever grateful. After all, experiences are more meaningful when shared with someone else.

Grandview isn’t that big a city, so it’s quite walkable. There were a few businesses on the same street as the library, which we saved for last. Otherwise, the vast majority were located on Grandview Avenue. Our plan of attack was to start on the west side of the road, proceed north, then cross over to the other side and head back saving Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for last. I agree with Joe and Allysa that it felt like Halloween for adults.

Our first stop was at the only chocolate shop on the tour, Pure Imagination Chocolatier, which have occupied the space for the last 17 years according to what I read on Yelp. Andrew and I have been in there several times, and my last visit was to buy him a box of chocolates for a Christmas present (very well received as you might imagine).
Joe's tray of strawberries & chocolate
Unlike my traveling companions, I managed to not successfully execute drizzling hot chocolate over semi-frozen strawberries so I could then eat them. I wasn’t told to just pour the chocolate into the reservoir in the corner of the plastic tray they gave us, which is what everyone else seemed to do. I guess my greed got the best of me (that and worrying about how to get a tray home for Andrew). What happened is the chocolate quickly solidified and became one big hunk of strawberries smothered in chocolate. I gnawed at the edges a little before giving up and chucking it into my bag to save for later.

Our next stop of note was the Grandview Theater, which has been under new ownership for the last few years after the previous owners, Jennifer Stancel and David Nedrow finally called it quits after renovating/updating the cinema and struggling to make a profit. Although they will be missed, I think the OSU students and residents of Grandview are probably happy about the changes made to the cinema with the addition of a bar (which seems common in most cinemas these days, at least in Columbus). The cinema also houses Central City Church on Sunday mornings. 

It’s probably apropos that the theater served bags of popcorn with M&M’s mixed in. Apparently you can order that at the snack bar too. I agree with Joe that it was a good choice to mix salty & sweet. All I know is we each had a hard time setting aside our bags of popcorn when presented with other options.

Some shops went more out than others when choosing what item to present in the chocolate theme. Among other things we sampled were: chocolate chip cookies, tiny cupcakes, brownies, chocolate covered strawberries (certainly one of the prettiest items), chocolate mousse (I liked the avocado chocolate mixed one at Alchemy), candy bars:
and truffles, the choice of a chocolate-based drink (at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters), a chocolate scented candle (Candle Lab), chocolate geodes (expertly painted/dusted chocolate made to look like rocks)
from Accent on Nature, and chocolate ice cream (Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream), etc.

It soon became obvious that we would probably blow up like Violet in the Willy Wonka movie if we ate every single item handed to us. Allysa figured this out sooner than me as she starting saving more of her chocolate items than I did. I only figured this out after I started filling up.

Probably the most interesting experience of the evening was the hand and arm massage Allysa and I got at Avola Lanza Hair Studio. If nothing else, it just feels good to be massaged and touched by someone else in a therapeutic way. Also, you left smelling good from the lotion they used.

In spite of several stops to chat with friends along the way, we still finished in the allotted two hours, which was just as well since I was pretty weighed down with chocolate, etc. having to carry two bags worth along with a stash of coupons, brochures, and a couple newspapers.

All in all a great evening out, and we were blessed with a beautiful night for it – temps in the low 80s, and a bit humid, but not too insufferable. I would definitely like to do this again (with either Andrew or my sister, though she doesn’t have a sweet tooth like I do). I would make sure to eat an early light lunch, (skip dinner, obviously), leave work an hour early to get there in plenty of time, wear a dark colored shirt (I only got one tiny spot of chocolate on my white t-shirt, so I did pretty well), and carry less crap with me to not feel too weighed down. It also probably helps to not eat chocolate for several days before so that you can enjoy a similar experience to that of Lent being over when you can finally indulge again.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Coffee versus Wine...

The other day I was thinking about the subtle differences between coffee and wine. Both can be addictive and damaging to your health, but in very different ways. I used to be a wine enthusiast (and still am when my husband and I drive up to Northeast Ohio – wine country) eager to try different varietals and interested in the background (terroir, etc.) of each. To be honest, I used to love to drink wine to soothe me after a bad day at work or to prepare me for the week ahead. We’re only talking a couple glasses a week, by the way, so I am hardly an alcoholic.

Nowadays I have a job I enjoy a lot more, but still find it difficult to always be as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I need to be to conduct my duties with accuracy and efficiency. This is where coffee comes in. I started drinking coffee gradually and infrequently over the last couple of years or so hesitant to become too dependent on caffeine for fear of suffering from caffeine withdrawal headaches on the weekends (like my husband, aka ‘Mr. Crabby Pants’ sometimes did). So far I have found just having a cup or two (probably far less than a pint) doesn’t seem to create that situation. However, I have been told that if I switch to something stronger – like Turkish coffee or espresso, that might indeed cause me a lot more misery later; advice I am heeding for now.

I have already toured several wineries, a few microbreweries, a distillery, and last summer in Kansas City, MO, a coffee production plant (The Roasterie). That’s where I learned the difference between brewing coffee with a Cafetiere (French Press) or a Cone Dripper. I think I prefer the Pour-Over (Cone Dripper) method where you place a funnel shaped cone over top of your coffee mug, dump in a few scoops of coffee, then gradually pour boiling water over the grounds until you’re satisfied with the strength (and you don’t overflow your mug).

I received a Cone Dripper for Christmas and brought it to work with me to try it out at my desk. That cup of coffee could best be described as ‘Heaven in a Mug.’ Okay, so partly that was because I chose my bag of Gevalia Chocolate-flavored ground roast (thanks for the recommendation Tina!), but I was also proud of myself for my success in making a decent cup of coffee on my first try.

My husband and I picked up an inexpensive Cafetiere from Ikea on a visit over Thanksgiving weekend and have been using that on and off as well. The nice thing about that is the volume of coffee you can make, which is enough to fill a decent sized thermos (if not a little extra to have a nip before taking the rest to work).

I am enjoying shopping for coffee whenever I go to a different grocery store and have so far amassed a collection of nine different flavors of coffee (not including the two or three I gave to a neighbor since I didn’t care for them) with my favorite being Folgers Chocolate Raspberry. There’s just something about the combination of Chocolate Raspberry whose flavors complement each other and make for a very enjoyable cup of coffee. I will definitely buy another bag once this one runs out (won’t be long!).

Since summer seems to have arrived early here in central Ohio, I finally got out the Cold Brew Coffee Maker I received for Christmas. It’s super easy to use and is just another way to make a less run-of-the-mill cup of coffee (though you need to allow time for it to steep overnight in your refrigerator). We’ve used it twice so far and I think it largely depends on what flavor coffee you choose and what you later add to your cup when you go to drink it. This time we just chose a plain flavor of coffee (Seattle’s Best Coffee – Born in Seattle). Andrew heated his up, while I chose to just add a bit of milk and a dash of choc syrup and a spoonful of sugar. It’s not the most exciting of drinks, but still refreshing on a hot summer (spring?) afternoon like we had today (and all weekend). I also enjoy Ice Coffee, which is just coffee poured over ice and flavored with cream or whatever (I like my Starbucks!).

Have a good week everyone and stay cool!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Book Club"

On Friday night I decided to see this new film after having seen a poster for it in a local cinema. It stars a Who’s Who of senior Hollywood actresses: Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, and Jane Fonda. All more or less play themselves as far as personality traits go. Ms. Steenburgen’s character is a wife who wants to spice up her 35 year marriage. Ms. Bergen is a federal judge who tries online dating while also trying to get over her husband after a long-ago divorce. Ms. Keaton is a widow whose daughters treat her like a doddering old lady (but she has the last laugh after a romantic tryst with her pilot boyfriend). Jane Fonda is nothing if not a strong lady both in reality and in this movie. Thus, it’s not surprising that she’s reluctant to completely give herself over to an old romantic flame she runs into after 40 years. Although this movie is nothing if not predictable in every way, it’s still quite entertaining and a good evening out with a girlfriend (extra points if you’re a guy and want to please your lady). Looking around the cinema that’s exactly what I saw – pairs of ladies and one or two gentleman out with their spouses/dates for the evening. Take a chance on love and take a chance on this movie. You won’t be disappointed.