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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#IPADay 2012

IPA Day Logo 2012

To all my beer loving friends out there... A reminder that this Thursday, August 2, is IPA Day 2012. This means it is a day to celebrate beer! Specifically, India Pale Ale.

Created in 2011, IPA Day encourages everyone who enjoys beer have and share some IPA's on Thursday. It's a good time to educate your fellow beer drinkers, who may enjoy a limited, lite variety of "beers", about how there ARE craft beers that they can enjoy! Here is the website that explains it all, including an event calendar for that day:

So, get out there, my friends... grab some IPA's of your choice, seek out local when you can, and enjoy a day to celebrate beer and the great culture that surrounds it. When you enjoy your beer, Thursday, be sure to saturate your social media feeds with posts, pictures, reviews, descriptions, etc. Get out there, in force, on Facebook, Twitter, Untappd, your blogs... When posting, be sure to add the #IPADay hashtag to your posts, so that others can search out everyone who is talking about it, and participating.

So, what are YOU going to do for IPA Day 2012? Tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Frankly Food Porn: Zucchini Herb Casserole

When someone talks about growing zucchini, I almost always chuckle inside. When I was a kid, my father planted zucchini for the first time. Apparently he didn't know what many already know... about the bounty it produces. He planted eight hills! We had zukes all over our house... ground up for zucchini bread, zucchini cake, zucchini relish, fried zucchini, and on and on and on!

Well, if you have some of that pesky, extra zucchini harvest this year, here's a great recipe for some of it. Often, I'll saute zucchini with yellow squash, onions and garlic for a quick veggie side. Sometimes, I'll grill slices of the same, with some eggplant for a good summer dish with a grilled chicken breast or steak. This weekend, I found the recipe for this zucchini herb casserole on All Recipes. Give it a try!

Zucchini Herb Casserole

1/3 C. uncooked long grain rice
2/3 C. water
2 Tblsp. vegetable or olive oil
1 1/2 lb. zucchini, cubed
1 C. green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 C. chopped seeded tomatoes
2 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1.  Combine the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 
     approximately 20 minutes, or until tender. 
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole or baking dish. 
3.  Heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium to medium high heat. Cook the zucchini, green 
     onions, and garlic for about 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Season with the garlic salt, basil, paprika, and 
4.  Stir in the cooked rice, tomatoes, and 1 C. of the cheese. Continue cooking until heated through. 
5.  Transfer to the casserole dish and top with remaining 1 C. of cheese. 
6.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, and the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Frank's Notes:
1.  You can use a rice of your choice. We used brown rice. Just prepare it according to package directions. I think I used about 1 - 1 1/2 cups. 
2.  I would use a little black pepper for seasoning, as well as the herbs and garlic salt. You could even use 
     cayenne to give it a slight kick. 

Frank Reviews... Caldone's Restaurant in Joplin, Missouri

When I was planning out ideas for a food blog, part of it was to include reviews of food & drink related venues, occasionally. Last week, I met my wife for a lunch deal at a local Italian restaurant called Caldone's, in downtown Joplin. We had never had the opportunity to check it out. We thought it was a great time to try it, since my wife had claimed a Facebook deal for two lunch buffets including teas, for $7.99. After our experience there, I decided to type up a review for Urbanspoon. I'd like to share it with my Frank About Food readers:

July 27, 2012

I was meeting my wife for lunch, today, and she had an offer from Facebook for buy one get one free on their $7.99 lunch buffet. So, we decided to check it out. We had never had the opportunity to dine at Caldone's, before. And I'm very supportive of eating and drinking locally.
When I arrived at the restaurant, my wife already had seated herself and was waiting for several minutes for the one server to come take a drink order. The buffet comes with ice tea. She opted for water. I asked for unsweetened tea. I was informed that they don't have unsweet tea. So, water it is... and neither of us got our lemon we asked for in our waters.
The buffet was nothing like I had expected. When we walked up to it and looked around, we wouldn't have stayed to eat, but we weren't paying much, with the deal, and thought we would try it. There was a chafing dish of hot dog buns on one table. The salad on that table was a bowl of lettuce on a small bowl of ice, alongside two multi-compartment dishes, not chilled with the salad toppings. There were only two dressings: Ranch and Raspberry Vinaigrette (which was an odd pinkish creamy dressing). There was only one spoon for all the toppings, including the cucumber slices and tomato slices that were not fresh looking, at all, soggy and not appetizing. The pizza selection was pepperoni, sausage, a combo of olives, onions and sausage, and a pineapple/Canadian bacon pizza. My wife was fortunate enough to get a slice of BBQ chicken pizza. There were also cinnamon rolls that my wife enjoyed. The pizza was fairly average, and the crust was not much to our liking, and hard. One slice of my pizza had a light colored whisker baked into the cheese. I originally thought it was a string of cheese, until I found the follicle on the end of the hair. Wasn't happy about that finding.
The other table had a three pot warmer with marinara, chili, and pesto alfredo, and a chafing dish with the hot dogs and a fettuccine. The pasta was rather dry, and stuck together. The hot dogs seemed to be all beef, and were actually really good. The chili was good. The pesto alfredo sauce was bland, and broken. I think perhaps the warmer kept the sauce too hot, and caused it to break. It was thin, and not very flavorful. So, the pasta was disappointing, as well. The hotdogs were good. I even observed another patron ask someone about any other dressings for the salad... "maybe an Italian dressing, or vinegar and oil?" The gentleman came back from the back, empty handed.
There was one server for the entire lunch rush, but it was never that busy, besides, it was a buffet. It shouldn't have been too hard to keep up. We had to wait a long time for water refills, had to track her down for silverware and napkins, and when we finally got our ticket, it was incorrect. She still charged for two full price buffets, and a Coke that no one ordered. She got it corrected for us, and offered an apology for the whisker pizza topping.
I won't be going back for their lunch buffet, ever. We would like to give them one chance for dinner, sometime.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Frank About... Local Farmers Markets!

The onset of the weekend has me thinking about something you can find in your area, almost everywhere, especially this time of year. Farmers Markets are on my mind! 

There are so many great benefits to visiting your local farmers market, and making some purchases: you support farmers in your area, you can obtain some fresh, non-manufactured foods that are chock full of nutrition and healthiness, and really have some great, family fun. Most markets feature ONLY locally grown, locally prepared foods. You know that the vegetables and fruits you are getting were planted, tended, and harvested by the same person from whom you are buying it. Often, the produce will be grown with little or no pesticides. 

Farmers markets are also often full of family fun. For example, one of the local markets here, the Webb City Farmers Market, features live music at each of their markets on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. My son loves to listen and dance to their tunes. At the Webb City market, you can even find days when the historic street car is giving free rides around King Jack Park. Sometimes, you can even find demonstrations at your local market. Demonstrations on canning, jelly making, or healthy cooking from market goods are popular topics. 

Any given market day you could pick up lettuce salad mix, onions, garlic, tomatoes (even heirloom varieties), peppers (some even roasted right in front of you in a fire cage), honey, baked goods, some incredible berries and peaches, responsibly raised livestock such as lamb, bison, beef, poultry, delicious, healthy date bars made into a huge number of varieties, smoothies and fruited & herbed teas and lemonades, farm fresh eggs, some beautiful flower arrangements, starter plants for your own herb and produce garden, and much, much more. 

Do some research around your area, to find your own local farmers market. I challenge you to face the heat this weekend, get out early, and visit a local farmers market. Anytime we travel, I enjoy visiting their local markets, as well. 

Here are a couple of resources that may help you look up local markets and farms: 
If you are a Joplin area visitor to this blog, there are markets all around the Four State Area: Galena, Joplin, Webb City, and several more. The schedule for the Webb City Farmers Market is: Tuesdays & Fridays 11am-2pm and Saturdays 9am-12pm. It is located under the pavilion at the Main Street entrance to King Jack Park. 

So, if you've never been to a farmers market, get out there and try it out. You can go in with a list in mind, or just grab some random produce and research some projects you can make with them (or request some help from me!) If you are a regular market goer, kudos to you!!! Continue to support local, my friends! And definitely come back and comment on your experience! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Frankly Food Quickie: Blackberry Cobbler

A couple weeks back, I picked up some great homegrown blackberries from a vendor at the Webb City Farmers Market. Finally, I had the opportunity to turn them into a delicious cobbler for Fourth of July, served up with a nice vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Blackberry Cobbler

1 C. butter, divided
1 C. sugar
1 C. water
1½ C. self rising flour
1/3 C. milk, room temperature
2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar

1.  Melt ½ C. butter in a 10" round or oval baking dish. Set aside. 
2.  Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan over low to medium heat, until 
     completely dissolved. Set aside. 
3.  Place the flour in a mixing bowl, and cut in the remaining ½ C. of butter, until fine crumbs form. 
4.  Add the milk and mix with a fork. Continue mixing until the mixture becomes a good sticky dough, and 
     pulls away from the sides of the bowl. 
5.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead three or four times.
6.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 11" x 9" and ¼" thick. 
7.  Sprinkle the blackberries over the dough, and sprinkle with the cinnamon. 
8.  Roll the dough up like a jelly roll. 
9.  Slice the roll into approximately ¼" thick slices. Place them directly in the dish, atop the melted butter. 
10. Pour the sugar syrup over the slices. 
11.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the top, and continue baking another 15 minutes.

Frank's Notes:
1.  If you can't find self-rising flour, never fear! It's just a simple mixture of flour and baking powder. So, you 
     can substitute 1½ C. all purpose flour with ¼ teaspoon salt and 2¼ teaspoons baking powder. 
2.  Don't worry when you pour the syrup on top. It WILL look like it's going to overflow and go 
     everywhere... but trust me; that delicious nectar just gets absorbed and makes it a rockin' awesome