Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An American Classic - The Hamburger!

There is something very American about a hamburger. I might be an anglophile, but I will never give up the want or need for a thick, juice patty of ground beef...usually slathered with cheese, pickles, mustard and ketchup for me.

On a recent business trip to Ohio, I came across a Johnny Rockets in the Columbus airport. I ordered, sat and enjoyed. As I took one juice bite after the next, I took in my surroundings. For those that have not been to a Johnny Rockets before, they are a homage to "the Good Ol' Days" - the 1950's soda shops. There are Coca-Cola ads with kids enjoying a tall drink, pictures of candy apple red hot rods scattered all over the walls and a wonderful mix of Doo Wap and Jukebox music filling the air.

What do you think of when you think of a big juicy burger? Do you imagine a soda jerk bringing you a hamburger, milkshake and fries? How about the joy you felt when you were 5 and got a happy meal from McDonald's when you achieved a goal? What about summer barbeques with fresh corn, burgers on the grill and chips on the table?

The Hamburger is mixed to a lot of very American memories and emotions. But...how did it all start? Well, what could be more American that at a County Fair? According to Wikipedia, there are a couple of legends. One is that residents of Hamburg, New York, which was named after Hamburg, Germany, attribute the hamburger to Ohioans Frank and Charles Menches. According to legend, the Menches brothers were vendors at the 1885 Erie County Fair (then called the Buffalo Fair) when they ran out of sausage for sandwiches and used beef instead, naming the result after the location of the fair.

Another also includes a Fair. The Seymour Community Historical Society of Seymour, Wisconsin, credits Charlie Nagreen. Now known as "Hamburger Charlie", Nagreen was fifteen when he reportedly made sandwiches out of meatballs he was selling at the 1885 Outagamie County Fair (now the Seymour Fair), so that customers could eat while walking. The Historical Society explains that Nagreen named the hamburger after the Hamburg steak with which local German immigrants were familiar.

One more fun fact before we go...For us in NYC - in 1921, due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during World War I, an alternative name for hamburgers (remember Hamburg, Germany?) was salisbury steak. Following the war, hamburgers became unpopular until the White Castle restaurant chain marketed and sold large numbers of small 2.5-inch square hamburgers, known as slyders. They started to punch five holes in each patty, which help them cook evenly and eliminates the need to flip the burger. White Castle was the first to sell their hamburgers in grocery stores and vending machines.

However you enjoy your burger...I hope you take as much joy as I did with my BBQ Burger on a cool Tuesday afternoon at the airport in Columbus, OH!

Thank you Wikipedia for your info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Foodie Books - On the Light Side

I have to tell you...I am obsessed!! Joanne Fluke writes the Hannah Swensen murders...It's like Jessica Fletcher meets Mrs. Fields.

A few years ago I was searching for something that was a light and easy Christmas read. I love to cook (duh) and I love mysteries, so I picked up The Sugar Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke. I started to read it...and honestly, wasn't impressed. I was simple and easy. Hannah's constant correction of her sister's grammar and the long winded descriptions of things that had nothing to do with anything started to bother me. I was about 1/2 way through the book and only pages away from finding out who the murderer was. What was going on? I found out who it was, was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't who I thought it was and that the book had left me all the clues, and then turned the page to find that 1/2 the book was a cookbook! Cool!! It's stayed with the cookbooks in my kitchen first and then my mother's kitchen.

Fast forward to last month. I was looking for something to grab my attention. I needed an escape. My mom is my source for my books. She had picked up another one of the Joanne Fluke books and had read through it in just a few short days. She's fast, but not that fast. She had gotten so caught up in the serial aspects of the books that she has gone out and bought three more the next day. She passed them off to me and sure enough, the same thing happened to me!! In less than a month I had read 4 books (rereading the one Christmas book) and was hungering for more.

Hanna Swensen is a 30 year old cookie shop owner. She has a knack for finding the bodies of those that meet a murderous end. I liken the books to a good Sunday afternoon Lifetime Movie Channel 2-hour mystery series, like Mystery Woman or Murder 101. In fact, when reading, I have thought about how to stage the whole thing and if I was a movie maker how I would do it!

Fluke welcomes you into a world of county fairs, small town cops, snow up to you eyeballs, and a cat that has more personality than my cats combined. This being said - YOU WILL GET ADDICTED!! Reading one on it's own you can enjoy it, but when you read the series in order, you see that she starts to develop plots 2-3 books ahead of time with subtleties. I'm usually surprised by who did it, but not in the Murder She Wrote way where there was something Jessica knew but noone else did until she revised it. She leaves you all the clues, you just have to figure it out.

There is also a bonus - EVERY BOOK HAS RECIPES IN THEM!! And they are good!! They average about 10-15 recipes per book (except The Sugar Cookie Murder which was 1/2 a recipe book)

So the short of the long post above - I recommend the Hanna Swensen murder mystery series, but with a warning - you will want to read them all! Just start at the top and work your way down. I promise you'll be done before the Apple Turnover Murder is available in February!

A Challenge!

In my search of an image of the book I'm reading currently (Key Lime Pie Mystery) I came across the blog post by Bloggin' 'bout Books (http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/2009/05/my-light-fluffy-fluke-thon.html) Her experience was so similar to mine that I had to reference her. She has decided to start a FLuke-A-Thon for herself. Now, I don't have anywhere near the following she has (Is anyone reading me?), but I thought why not, right? I have added to the sidebar my own Fluke-A-Thon tally. I'll keep you up on how I'm doing. If you want to...please join me!


My Fluke-A-Thon official starts today! The ones I have read are in BOLD

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
2. Candy for Christmas (a novella that appears inside special editions of Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.)
3. Strawberry Shortcake Murder
4. Blueberry Muffin Murder
5. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
6. Fudge Cupcake Murder
7. Sugar Cookie Murder (I reread this one)
8. Peach Cobbler Murder
9. Sugar and Spice (novella/short story - part of a collection)
10. Cherry Cheesecake Murder
11. Key Lime Pie Murder (currently reading)
12. Carrot Cake Murder
13. Candy Cane Murder
14. Cream Puff Murder
15. Plum Pudding Murder (released September 2009 - only in hardcover)
16. Apple Turnover Murder (to be released in hardcover February 2010)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Cuppa and a Scone - Irish Style

When you think of the Greek Fair, do you immediately want a hot dog? Not usually. When you are at NYC's San Gennaro Festival, do you desire Zeppolis and Sausage and Peppers? Yes!

Last weekend was the Great Irish Faire of New York at Coney Island. This means two things to me...Coney Island - Nathan's Hot Dogs and Irish Faire - Guinness!

Nathan's was not a problem and definitely a great choice (I actually had a corn dog, but I'm a sucker for their sweet meaty taste on a stick!). The wait was about 1/2 hour, as expected, and as always, it was worth it. I think it might actually be sacrilegious to not go to Nathan's if you are in Coney Island.

The surprise came from the Irish Faire...the GREAT Irish Faire...the GREAT (no Guinness or other Irish Stout) Faire. There was Harps and Hard Cider, but it's not Guinness. What did I get? A cup of tea and bit of Irish Soda Bread. Can I tell you...It was all amazing! I have tea every day, but this was tea, with a soda bread scone made lovingly by the fine AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) surrounded by the Celtic tunes emanating from the stage made it the perfect Cuppa and the "Irish" experience I was looking for.

What is my point? I think that there is something to the concept that Italian food tastes better in Italy. Food is a function of so many of our senses. When setting up a restaurant, there is a lot of planning that goes into the design and layout. One of the most important parts of that is atmosphere. What do you want the feel of your restaurant to be? Where to you want people to imagine they are? Do you want people to remember they are in a strip mall surrounded by a dollar store and a bagel shop, or do you want people to think they are in the ivy covered terrace of a bistro on the French Riviera? The reason for this is the simple fact that the chef is the same, the ingredients are the same but still, food served in the atmosphere of it's origin creates a whole experience making the food, in a sense, taste better!

In trying to make everyday a little journey into culinary exploration, I think that the weekend helped me to truly understand this concept. Coney Island is the place for a Hot Dog and an Irish Faire has the best Cup of Tea and Soda Bread I've tasted.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Perfection leads to delays

When I started this blog I thought of all that it could be. I would be the next BIG food writer and the New York Times would be knocking on my door for my recipes and insight. Uh, yeah..No!

In focusing on what it could be I had lost the site of what it was...a forum to express my thoughts and achievements on food. There is one dear friends (Cat's Litter Box) and one awesome sister (Will Travel For Wine and Food) that also have blogs. They are true outlets for what makes them happy. They are not money makers or a place to hit it big (though the practice is not bad). They are places that they share what they love. I feel like I have lost that concept recently.

I look to both of them to take a new approach to The Non-Foodie Foodie. I am getting married in a year (YEAH!). I hope to share what I learn on my journey to the alter and maybe a few cool food things along the way!

So I, Heidi, promise to chill out on the perfection and profoundness of every blog posting I do and to post more often! Perfection is what leads to delays because, truly, nothing is ever perfect!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Employed and Making Cakes When I Can

I'm embarrassed! It's been 9 months since I have posted anything. What a terrible Blogger I am!

In the last 9 months I have looked for a job, found one and loved it. I also completed all of the Wilton's decorating classes and even taught for a couple of months. Not as easy as it looks (which didn't surprise me) but the joy on a student's face when they create something they love is priceless! I'm just sorry that my schedule didn't let me teach any more.

December was a good cake month. I new I was starting a new job in January, so with that stress off my back, Christmas was a super creative month for me cake-wise. Here are three of the creations I made for the holidays:

I have been engulfed in starting my new job, so not until a dear dear friend of mine requested I make the cake for her son's first birthday party did I get my fingers back into the clay like fondant. She asked me to do a NY Yankees cake. What do you think?

I also made sure to make the birthday boy his own little confection to enjoy and destroy...and that he did!

I hope to keep the creativity flowing and the confections rising! Happy Summer (what's left of it, at least!)

Snowman Pancakes - Simple and Fun!

photo: Non-Foodie Foodie Over the summer we traveled the Ohio River Valley visiting family. One of our stops was to visit my Aunt Cathy...