Sunday, August 28, 2011

Signs I Love: Ninja Entry

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Everybody is a Genius

Love. It. Okay, so I may not truly believe that everyone is a genius... even in their own way, but I do love the overall sentiment.

Everybody is a genius.
But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,
it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
-Albert Einstein

Friday, August 26, 2011

Iowa week: Van Dees Ice Cream

5915 Merle Hay Rd
Johnston, IA 50131

I felt like a little kid as my excitement grew as we pulled up onto the tiny red gravel pebbles that is the parking lot. For some reason that's a sound etched into one of my childhood memories. Growing up this ma & pa ice cream shop was the place to ride your bike to or work at as a teenager and it's only open during the summer.

I have never been able to find an ice cream cookie sandwich with twisty (vanilla & chocolate) ice cream swirled inside that taste quite as good as theirs. The Big Chipper is what I was looking to get on my trip back to the mid-west.

I went there with my family clan and everything was exactly as I remember it... minus the 2 cow statues that used to sit on the front lawn. People used to steal them as a prank and place them somewhere in Johnston. They must have gotten tired of retrieving them. My aunt said she remembers driving up there with her friend Erika and living off their onion rings while hanging out with friends that worked there. I fondly remember getting to go there as a treat after daycare or after a school field trip. I would always want an orange push pop. As I got older my best friend Megan and I would ride bikes there and I would get a buster bar, or oreo blitz with caramel.. but my fav is still the Big Chipper.

My grandma & me!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Iowa week: Adel Sweet Corn Festival

On my adventures in Iowa I got to eat A LOT of sweet corn on the cob. You can NOT get good sweet corn in Los Angeles. For that matter I don't even know if you can get sweet corn, mostly just white corn on the cob. I had some at the state fair, I shucked some more corn for a family dinner and then again I devoured a few ears at the annual Adel Sweet Corn Festival.

The town of Adel is in the valley on the Raccoon River. It is a very charming example of small town life in the midwest with brick streets, a historic courthouse, turn-of-the-century architecture and distinctive shops.

The festival has the largest parade in Dallas County, a 5k race, food vendors, stage entertainment and a beer garden with dancing at night.

I of coarse go for the free sweet corn on the cob. They go through more than seven TONS of Iowa grown sweet corn! We got there just before the parade ended so we went straight to the line which had already formed about 1/2 a block. The corn started being served at 10a. They usually give you 3 ears at a time but you can really have just about as much as you want. By the time we got our corn, slathered it with liquid butter & salt, and gobbled it down... the line was nearly 2 blocks long.

As we ate we watched the corn process happen. They unload a line of about 12 crates of corn off a semi truck and load it on a giant steamer that gets lowered into boiling water. It only takes about 3 minutes before they come back up.

The line of people serving take the crates and pour them into their metal trough type thing and it's served!

After you get your corn (on a flimsy paper plate) you go over to one of the stations that have the vat of liquid pump butter and sprinkle salt & pepper.

The yummy butter drips and pours everywhere and leaves trails all over the streets.
It was a good time with my mom & grandparents!

Before & After... YUM!

2 kids dressed like corn. The Sheriffs dept has a dunk tank and I just really like the sign that was on the side of their trailer. (Mobile Command Center: Donated By Drug Dealers of America)

Cheese Curds!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Iowa week: The best farmer's market in the world!

I always rave about the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market. It is one of the biggest and best ways to spend an early Saturday morning. And I can say that after living in major cities such as Chicago & Los Angeles. This is one of the few things that can get me out of my bed at 5a on a Saturday. I used to love going when I lived back in my hometown, so of coarse I was game to go with my mom and grandparents on my visit home. It has gotten even bigger and more extensive than I remember.

I bought some AMAZINGLY delicious gouda from Frisian Farms & home made Garlic Chive pasta from Pappardelle's!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Iowa week: Iowa State Fair 2011

Opening day of the Iowa State Fair! 100 years of the butter cow! Fried food on a stick! This is too much to handle in a day... (I mean it is in the book 1000 Things To See Before You Die.)
While I was back home in Iowa I got to relive an old tradition of going to the state fair with my family. (My mom, grandparents, aunt, uncle & 2 cousins) We usually spend a good 10-12 hours strolling the 288 acre grounds.

The History
The state fair has not always been held in Des Moines. It wasn't until 1878 that it permanently moved to Des Moines on East 30th and East Grand.

In 1898, the Fair was cancelled due to the World's Fair in Omaha, Nebraska. The Fair was also closed in 1942 when the military used the grounds during World War II.

The Fair celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2004 and set an attendance record of 1,053,978 visitors. That record was broken in 2008 with 1,109,150 visitors. It's estimated that during the 11 days of the fair approximately $60 million worth of spending occurs (in travel, lodging, restaurants, shopping, etc)

Things To Do
1) The world famous Butter Cow.

The butter cow started in 1911. In 1960, butter sculptor Norma "Duffy" Lyon (known as the Butter Cow Lady) created her first butter cow. In the following 45 years, she sculpted all six breeds of dairy cows, as well as Garth Brooks, a butter version of Grant Wood's American Gothic, the Peanuts characters, Iowa native John Wayne, Elvis Presley, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, various animals and a butter rendition of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. Her butter sculptures were featured in national magazines and radio programs, as well as on The Today Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. Following Lyon's retirement in 2005, longtime apprentice Sarah Pratt took over the sculpting duties.

2) The Midway and its double Ferris wheel.
3) One of world's largest livestock shows. (which include the biggest boar, ram, super bull, rabbit and heaviest pigeon.)
4) The country's largest state fair foods department, arts show and over 600 exhibitors.
5) Contests: sheep shearing, pigeon rolling, rooster crowing, wood chopping, pie eating, monster arm wrestling, outhouse races, cow chip throwing and tall corn and the world's only lawn chair toss competition.
6) Concerts ranging from local gospel choirs and dance troupes to Grammy-winning artists.
7) And you can't forget more than 50 foods on-a-stick!
8) The Bill Riley Iowa State Fair Talent Search. (I always REALLY wanted to do this when I was a kid!)

Bill Riley's Iowa State Fair Talent Search debuted in 1959 and features Iowans ages 2 to 21. In 1996, after 50 Fairs and 37 Fair Talent Shows, Riley retired. That same year, the Plaza Stage was renamed the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. In 2006, Bill celebrated his 60th State Fair. He died in December 2006. It is now hosted by Bill Riley Jr.

Here are the highlights of my trip to the fair in 2011!
The Food!

(1)Me and my roasted corn in the husk. (2)Fried Mac n Cheese (3)Kettle corn & the BEST caramel kettle popcorn! (4)Funnel cake (5)My cousin w/a tenderloin (6)My aunt, mom & I w/our wine-a-ritas (7)Deep fried oreos

New! Fried Butter on a Stick. A stick of butter dipped in a cinnamon honey batter then deep fried. My whole family took a bite. I was skeptical but it tasted like a very buttery cinnamon roll.

Around the Fair!

The Animals!

Get your bull or cow semen...

I always look forward to a good sheep jazzercise outfit. After watching sheep judging, step outside and get your lamb entree...

My mom & me with Cy! My Iowa State University Cyclones tattoo!

My grandpa likes to watch this guy he knows carve with a chainsaw. Very skilled. Him and another guy make a few sculptures everyday at the fair. This time he made a cow.

100 Years of the Butter Cow. The first 2 photos are a recreation of the first butter cow sculpture. The last one is the 100th butter cow. (I really like saying butter cow.)


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