Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why didn't I think of that?

I've thought before if I could just think of an idea to break into the Minnesota State Fair then I could work for 12 days a year.... perhaps a few more with preps.... and be done. FOR the year. People love to come here, love to work here, and LOVE to spend money here.

A nice brother and sister team from our viewing area came up with the idea. Actually, the family which has a local diner says it was always their dream to have a booth at the state fair. It took them three years of small carnivals, other fairs, and even getting a contract to sell their product at Target Field before they got the green light to sell "Deep Fried Pies" at the State Fair. While people somehow think fried pies are a new concept here, I've laughed because you can buy these at most any mom & pop diner down south. I used to stop in Lewisville and buy a hot peach fried pie at Burge's for a buck.

They are called Minneapple Pies and have cinnamon and apples and are served with ice cream and they are a big hit. Many people I interviewed had a list of all of the new foods at the fair and were going around testing out each one. This one was a hit and even the Food Network's Andrew Zimmern stopped by the fair to sign off on them.

My state fair standby so far has been cheese curds... not any stand, but the original one on the south side of Dan Patch between Underwood and Nelson. They are yummy and not greasy.

But my coworker turned me onto a new favorite-- a turkey sandwich that's the best I've ever eaten in my life. Juicy with great flavor. I could've eaten two. Sold, of course, right across from the Poultry building.

Ma Schwartz came to visit and we spent 4 hours walking around the East side of the fair. We drove by fiddle contests, Spamville, Alphabet Junction, and the Creative Arts buildings and didn't get to stop.... but we did eat some state fair faves like the Oklahoma Cinnamon Roll (my request), Lefse, mini-donuts, nachoes from a stand that's been selling them since 1940-something, german root beer, and fresh french fries from THE fresh french fry stand. There are so many things I would still love to see...or eat.... but we snacked and left when Jack went to sleep and crowds got too think....and ate salads for dinner.

The great (Sweet Martha's) cookie caper

I was not a very popular person at the station after the first day of covering the Minnesota State Fair. It's somewhat of a tradition for the first team covering the fair to bring back a bucket of Sweet Martha's Cookies.

Since 1979, this St Paul company has mixed and baked up thousands if not millions of cookies at the state fair. You buy them piping hot by cone or bucket and then rush over a few blocks to the $1 All-You-Can-Drink-Milk stand and eat them. They melt in your mouth and are truly delicious.
I set out good-naturedly to the fair to bring back a bucket of cookies. We went out of our way to get to the cookie stand. As I was about to get in line, I spotted the price. $15 a bucket. Wow. Granted, it's always a heaping bucket, but still. I didn't have the cash or frankly the inclination to buy a $15 bucket of cookies for the breakroom. So I left.

And I'll be darned if every. single. person. didn't ask me when I got back in the station where the cookies were. I finally told the Cookie Ringleader that you don't send the girl that does the "money saver" segment to the fair and expect her to fork out $15 for a bucket of cookies and if they wanted some, they could pitch in because guess what I'm going next week for another story. Most were flabbergasted to learn the cookies cost that much, but they weren't above clammoring for what was, in their mind, state fair cookie justice. The day of the next story, the Cookie Ringleader offered to buy the bucket. I had pity on him, so I pitched in and my photographer pitched in and we came back to cheers because we were bearing a bucket of Sweet Martha's.

But before we made it back, we grabbed our ice cold milk and decided to level off the bucket before walking outside the fairgrounds. You know, commission and all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Babies and crafts

I've had several friends have (or are in the process of having) new babies recently. And with new babies, comes new crafts. My crafty friend Laura made this cake for her daughter's christening. That stuff on the top isn't lace my friends. It's something edible that looks like lace. Since I'm not good with small and intricate stuff that require careful precision, I'm totally impressed with this. I would never be able to pull this off.

Since my plate is full, I've also committed to allowing myself not to be overly crafty for everyone. Oh sure, I have ideas for each friend and new baby. But I make myself have an out so if I don't have time to be crafty and produce the present in a polite time frame, I order something online. And that's plenty okay.

But I did crank out this gift this past week for a co-worker who is the biggest out-of-the-closet New Kids on the Block fan I've ever met: It's a onesie and matching pink tutu for her future little girl...complete with a butt patch. Finding a retro logo to print out and adhere was the hardest part of the process. But seeing her reaction at the shower was priceless. She started doing the NKOTB dance moves.