Archive for July, 2014

BFKCOne of the coolest annual events I’ve been hearing about ever since I arrived in Kansas City earlier this year is the Bacon-Fest a celebration of the cured meat of the Gods and a fundraiser for a local cause.

I was looking forward to this event forever, um, it is all about bacon… But my heart dropped when I realized this year’s event was planned for August 23 – when I will be on a trip back to New England.

However, I am excited to call attention to Bacon-Fest – to be held at Kansas City’s landmark Union Station, for anyone in the area or within a ten hour flight…

About Kansas City’s Bacon-Fest: “For the love of bacon, come join the fun at Bacon-Fest: The Other Fundraiser on August 23, 2014! If you love (or even like) bacon, you will have a good time and help out a great cause at the same time – the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City RIKC). Local restaurants will serve up samples of creative bacon fare while you enjoy a cold beer, unique bacon drinks and live music. All guests will receive a commemorative drink cup to enjoy your beer in at the event & a Bacon-Fest t-shirt.”

Bacon Fest will be held on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at Kansas City’s Union Station.

BITDI’ve been to Savannah a few times over the years and loved it. But somehow I missed the Back in the Day Bakery, which is apparently quite the place. Lucky for us the folks that started that local hotspot have written a book: The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Griffith and Cheryl Day.

About The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Griffith and Cheryl Day: “Nationally recognized and locally adored for its decadent homespun desserts and delicious rustic breads, Back in the Day Bakery is a Savannah landmark. As Paula Deen says in her foreword, Cheryl and Griff Day ‘bake decadent treats, but they also bake wonderful memories that stay with you forever.’ To celebrate the bakery’s tenth anniversary, this duo has written a book filled with customers’ favorite recipes. It’s packed with Cheryl and Griff’s baking know-how plus recipes for their famous Buttermilk Biscones, Old-Fashioned Cupcakes, Chocolate Bread, Cinnamon Sticky Buns, S’more Pie, Almond Crunchies, Drunk Blondies, Pinkies Chocolate Lunch-Box Treats, Rustic Cheddar Pecan Rounds, and much more. Irresistible full-color photographs of food and behind-the-scenes bakery shots will give readers a glimpse into the sweet daily life at the bakeshop. Celebrating family traditions, scratch baking, and quality ingredients, The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is like a down-home bake sale in a book.”

In their book, the duo behind The Back in the Day Bakery not only share their own treats they share great stories and photos all served up with a pinch of Southern charm.

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Griffith and Cheryl Day is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

SNPI know it is way too early for stocking stuffers – but I have the perfect small gift item for someone I know: the Seriously? Desktop Pad from the fine folks at Knock Knock.

Seriously?

Seriously!

About the Seriously? Desktop Pad from Knock Knock: “This gratifyingly plump pad offers a contemporary twist on the classic computer-adjacent tablet. Combining modern-day wit and functional elegance, this pad allows you to repeatedly express your ironic surprise while retaining an air of composed professionalism. This classic cube notepad features formality plus frankness. Cool office supplies for bosses and coworkers just as bemused as you are.”

Find all the cool product of Knock Knock here.

b52When I was kid, long before the digital age, I would spend hours with a deck of cards. When not playing card games with my friends (we loved blackjack) or with my mom (hours of gin) I would make card houses. You know – when you lean and stack the cards against each other to build towers and such.

It was a lot of fun, even though it took a lot of patience and my oldest brother would inevitably knock it down just as I reach a new high point.

Anyway, I wish I had the internet when I was a kid, and I wish I had the very cool Build 52 Cards from Urban Canvas too – I would have made some really awesome care houses.

About the Build 52 Cards from Urban Canvas: “Urban Canvas has taken classic playing cards to a totally new level of fun! Children will be delighted to use their artistic talent to create a custom deck of playing cards. Each card is printed with the standard numbers and letters, but leaves plenty of room for a child to add their own designs and symbol system to make a unique deck of playing cards! The fun doesn’t stop there. Each Build 52 card has slots that interlock, bringing a whole new meaning to ‘house of cards’. This three-in-one toy is sure to keep kids busy and their imaginations active. Build it! Decorate it! Play classic card games with it!”

See all the modern and very cool products of Urban Canvas here.

WTPI love the iconic vintage water towers that still grace the roofs of New York City. They add something very cool to the skyline and allow you to step back in time even if just for a few seconds in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

This summer, some of those water tanks are being covered in artwork to call attention to the global fresh water crisis. Nearly a billion people don’t have access to a safe water source and the folks at the Water Tank Project want to fix that.

About the Water Tank Project: “Launching summer 2014, The Water Tank Project will transform the New York City skyline. Artwork by acclaimed artists and New York City public school students will be wrapped around rooftop water tanks throughout the city, celebrating the talents of established and emerging artists, and calling attention to the global water crisis. The Water Tank Project is part art exhibition, part awareness campaign. For the duration of the project, art above will be complemented by action on the ground through educational programs, public tours, social media activities and a symposium dedicated to inspiring fresh views on global water issues.”

Learn more about Water Tank Project and how you can help provide clean water to people all over the world here.

CBSThe butternut squash has been showing up in droves at the farmers markets and I love it.

Although it screams autumn to me, I love Butternut Squash and I am always looking for new ways to use it in recipes. Find a use for Butternut Squash in a recipe that is basically macaroni and cheese with bacon, and I would say we have the perfect recipe.

Well then, the recipe for Cheesy Butternut Squash Cavatappi Bake I found in Better Homes & Garden is, well, perfect.

About Cheesy Butternut Squash Cavatappi Bake from Better Homes & Garden: “Healthy macaroni and cheese? With bacon? Yes, it’s possible — thanks in part to vitamin-A-packed butternut squash. It replaces some of the cheese and adds creaminess to our healthy, mushroom-laden macaroni and cheese recipe.”

Find the recipe for Cheesy Butternut Squash Cavatappi Bake from Better Homes & Garden here.

Find all the great recipes and other cool features of Better Homes & Garden here.

FF: The Cold-Pressed Juices of Juice Generation

jj1I got on the juicer bandwagon a few years ago and went crazy juicing everything in sight for few glorious days. Until I realized it took longer to clean the juicer than it took to make the juices. So why make your own when you can get great Cold-Pressed Juices from Juice Generation?

About the Cold-Pressed Juices of Juice Generation: “Juice Generation juices are made to order on efficient, centrifugal juicers which extract juice from fruits and vegetables by spinning them through blades. The bottled cold-pressed juices on sale in our store refrigerators are made in a labor-intensive method at our USDA Certified Organic production facility. This method presses produce under great pressure to extract the juice, which preserves the highest nutritional content possible and delivers pulp-free juices that are superb for detoxification programs. At Juice Generation we offer both made-to-order centrifugal juices and cold-pressed bottled versions because it’s a question of taste and convenience!”

See all the Cold-Pressed Juices of Juice Generation here.

Learn more about Juice Generation here.

FF: The Tomato Clips from Happy Cat Farm

HC1It is that time of year… the tomato plants are drooping over with their ripening harvest – which means it is time to secure these great Tomato Clips from the fine folks at Happy Cat Organics.

About the Tomato Clips from Happy Cat Farm: “Tomato Clips- If you spend the day with me you are likely to find one of these clips during the day, either in the house, in the truck, in the shed, with our tools. I have them everywhere and use them for everything. Made to clip tomato or other vines to trellis work (we use about 10,000 for tomatoes a year) these clips are a great and inexpensive to hold up your prized tomato plants, along with a thousand other uses. And they can be re-used the next year and then the year after that.”

See all the great garden products of Happy Cat Organics here.

FF: The monthly artisan food subscription box by Mantry

FFqA couple of months back I posted about some of the great finds in the trend of subscription box services. I found another great subscription box, Mantry – featuring a monthly selection of fine artisan foods. This is a great gift for that special man in your life who may or may not be celebrating a milestone birthday very soon.

About Mantry’s artisan food subscription box: “Mantry is the food gift that brings months of surprise and excitement to any food lover. Each Mantry includes 6 full size artisan food products delivered to their door. Packed in a Handmade Wooden Crate and custom Manual detailing product stories and recipes.”

Learn more about Mantry’s subscription service here.

AA.KS3The other day I posted about my visit to Missouri’s Confederate Memorial State Historic Site located about an hour east of Kansas City, MO. I made that trip last Saturday. Last Sunday I took a day trip in the opposite direction, about two hours southwest of KC to the truly awe inspiring Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.

As a boy who comes from the mountains of New England, seeing the expanse of the prairie, much like the vast majority of the Midwest looked like two hundred years ago, was a revelation. I loved following the Preserve’s many walking and hiking trails and looking to see if I could spot some of the bison that have been reintroduced to the prairie. Unfortunately I did not see any bison, but I saw plenty of bison “evidence”.

About Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: “Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4% remains, mostly here in the Kansas Flint Hills. The preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie and its cultural resources. Here the tallgrass prairie takes its last stand.”

Here’s a gallery of some of the photo’s I snapped while touring the Preserve and the historic building nearby – including a genuine pioneer-era one room schoolhouse on the prairie. Click the thumbnail below to see the full photo.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located in northern Chase County, Kansas on the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.

cb7I love food. I love the American South. I love Southern Food. These things make me the perfect audience for the wonderful Southern food anthology: Cornbread Nation 7: The Best of Southern Food Writing edited by Francis Lam,

About Cornbread Nation 7 edited by Francis Lam: “How does Southern food look from the outside? The form is caught in constantly dueling stereotypes: It’s so often imagined as either the touchingly down-home feast or the heart stopping health scourge of a nation. But as any Southern transplant will tell you once they’ve spent time in the region, Southerners share their lives in food, with a complex mix of stories of belonging and not belonging and of traditions that form identities of many kinds. Cornbread Nation 7, edited by Francis Lam, brings together the best Southern food writing from recent years, including well-known food writers such as Sara Roahen and Brett Anderson, a couple of classic writers such as Langston Hughes, and some newcomers. The collection, divided into five sections (‘Come In and Stay Awhile,’ ‘Provisions and Providers,’ ‘Five Ways of Looking at Southern Food,’ ‘The South, Stepping Out,’ and ‘Southerners Going Home’), tells the stories both of Southerners as they move through the world and of those who ended up in the South. It explores from where and from whom food comes, and it looks at what food means to culture and how it relates to home.”

This book is hard to describe, but let’s just say anyone interested in regional food and the seemingly dying local cultures of this country will find plenty to celebrate here… the grand traditions of Southern cuisine and Southern writing are alive and well.

Cornbread Nation 7: The Best of Southern Food Writing edited by Francis Lam is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

hammHAMBelieve it or not, today, July 22, 2014 is National Hammock Day in the U.S. I am not sure what one is supposed to do on this special day. However, lounging in a hammock seems like a great idea to me right about now.

You would be all set to celebrate the day if you had the Quilted Sunbrella Hammock I found at LL Bean.

About the Quilted Sunbrella Hammock from LL Bean: “Designed for summer relaxation, our hammock is quilted for cushioned comfort. Made of breathable Sunbrella, a fade- and mildew-resistant acrylic fabric. Quick-drying polyester batting is bonded to prevent bunching or shifting. Reversible with stripes on one side, a solid color on the other. Our high-quality construction also features long-lasting polyester rope and the strongest grommets in the industry, carefully spaced for optimum fabric distribution.”

See all the hammocks from LL Bean here.

Learn more about National Hammock Day here.