Friday, July 10, 2015

Great Fishing at a Great Park! And win a Great Parks parking permit.

I had the opportunity a few days ago to try fishing at Lake Isabella, located just of I-275 near Montgomery and Loveland, one of the Great Parks of Hamilton County parks system.

The setup is great for a day -- or a weekend -- of family fishing.  Great Parks stocks the lake multiple times each spring and summer with trout, bluegill, catfish and perch starting in March with the final stock of trout released in November.  You can find the schedule here.

I chose Lake Isabella because it was the closest of the fishing lakes (the others are Campbell Lakes, Miami Whitewater Forest, Mitchell Memorial Forest, Sharon Woods, Triple Creek, and Winton Woods) to my home, and it was a happy choice.  The lake feels surprisingly rural, even though I-275 rolls right past it just out of sight.  Once I wound around the drive, I felt as if I were out in the country instead of just inside the beltway.  Trees and picnic tables surround the lake, and there's a well-stocked shop with bait sales and equipment sales and rental.  The staff were great -- sold me some red wigglers, gave me a refresher on hook-baiting, showed me how to find a good spot, and told me a lot about the lake.  I caught a bluegill!  Very exciting.

The parks system runs multiple events for fishermen throughout the year -- contests, classes, and fishing camps for kids who want to learn to fish.  Lake Isabella offers Friday Night Grillouts throughout the summer -- families can catch dinner and grill it right there on site.  On Saturday August 8th from 8am - 4pm, they're holding their annual Market Trade event, a kind of flea market for fishing enthusiasts to sell or trade used fishing gear.

I threw my bluegill back in -- he can grow and become a bigger meal for someone else -- but if I'd had a mind to clean and filet him, here's what I'd have done:

Bluegill Parmesan
Serves 4

1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c dry bread crumbs
1/3 c grated Parmesan
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 t salt
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t basil
1/4 t pepper
1 pound bluegill fillets
1 lemon, cut into wedges.

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9" baking pan.

Place butter in a shallow bowl.  In another bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, herbs and spices and mix well.  Dry fillets, then dip into butter and then in breadcrumb mixture, coating both sides.

Bake, flipping once halfway through, for approximately 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Great Parks gave me a couple of 2015 parking permits to give away -- leave a comment here, and I'll randomly draw two winners on July 17th.  Either check back to see if you won or include your email so I can notify you!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

DIRT: A Modern Market

Findlay Market is opening a year-round market place for producers of locally grown foods and other agricultural products. DIRT: A Modern Market will open at 131 West Elder in June.

DIRT will be a full-time retail store selling only locally produced fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, dairy products and cottage goods. It will function like a consignment store where growers and producers rent space by the week or month, set up their individual display, set their own prices, and are reimbursed 70-80% of their gross sales.  

Findlay also plans for this space to become the informal hub of local food initiatives at Findlay Market and to provide an informal community center, hosting meetings of local organizations and presenting classes on topics such as gardening, healthy cooking, food preservation, crafts, and issues relating to sustainability.

For more information, visit the website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Food Truck Festival June 24 Fountain Square

Local non-profit Josh Cares will hold their third annual lunchtime festival and fundraiser, Food Truckin’ for Josh Cares on Wednesday, June 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati. 15 food trucks will participate.  

Guest celebrity judges, including Reds Executive Chef James Major and Donna Covrett, Executive Direction of Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic, will determine the winning dishes for the Golden Spatula Award for Best Entree and Best Sweet Treat.  Past years' winners include Eli's Barbeque, C'est Cheese, and Street Pops.  

Josh Cares provides companionship and comfort to children hospitalized in critical and chronic care units at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Proceeds from the event help fund the work of Josh Cares Child Life Specialists.

Tickets can be purchased at the event for $2 each and redeemed for items at any of the participating food trucks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Okara and Veggies/Meatless Main Dish Recipe

Anyone who makes their own* soy milk or tofu knows about the okara problem: what to do with the 'soy lees' or okara -- the leftovers after all the soy milk has been squeezed out of the ground beans.  We know this stuff is full of protein and fiber, so isn't there a way to keep it out of the compost pile?

Most American recipes I've found try to shoehorn okara into baked goods or meatloaf as a filler or meat substitute.  Most Asian recipes call for ingredients I can't find even at my local Asian supermarket.  I adapted this one from a couple of Japanese recipes that treat okara as a main ingredient and don't try to hide it.  My non-tofu-loving family went back for seconds (before I told them what they were eating) and have admitted they'd be happy it if I made it again.

It's March, so I used root vegetables, frozen edamame, and dried shiitakes, but you could substitute any number of seasonal vegetables in this recipe.

Okara & Veggies
Serves 4

1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
1 T olive oil
1# golden beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 T salt, divided use
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4" dice
3 T soy sauce
1 T mirin
1/2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T sugar
1/2 c broth or stock
12 oz shelled edamame
1/2 c sliced leeks or onions
3 c cooked soy lees or okara**
1-2 T sriracha sauce to taste
1/4 c mayonnaise

Cover shiitakes with 2 c boiling water and leave to soak 1/2 hour, then drain through a cheesecloth or very fine sieve (reserving liquid), remove and discard stems, and slice thin.  Set aside in large bowl.  In the meantime heat oil in a 6-QT or larger sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add julienned beets and 1/2 t salt, stir, cover, and lower heat.  Allow to sweat 15 minutes or until barely tender and add to mushrooms in bowl.

In same pan place diced potatoes and 2 1/2 T salt and add water to barely cover.  Place over high heat.  Once boiling, lower heat to lowest setting, cover, and cook until barely tender, 3 - 5 minutes.  Drain and add to beets and mushrooms in bowl.

Return pan to burner and set to medium high heat.  Add reserved mushroom liquid, soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, sugar, broth, edamame, leeks, and okara/soy lees.  Stir gently until combined and bring to a bare simmer.  Lower heat and cover, stirring occasionally, until leeks are barely tender.  Uncover and continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add 1 T sriracha sauce, mushrooms, beets, and potatoes and heat through.  Taste and add more sriracha if desired.  Remove from heat and add mayonnaise.  Serve hot.

*And you should consider making your own soy milk at least.  It's much, much cheaper, and you know exactly what went into your food.  Tofu is a bit of a process, but it's not difficult, again it's a lot cheaper, again you know what went into it, and the end product is better than what you can buy at the supermarket. And, bonus: if you make it yourself, you end up with okara.

**If you made your soy milk in a soy milk making machine, your okara is cooked.  If not, you need to cook it.  To cook, break okara up, wrap in a linen or cotton dishtowel, and set onto a steamer basket.  Place steamer basket into a sauce pan with 1/2" of boiling water, cover, set heat to lowest setting, and allow to steam for 25 minutes.  Cooked okara will keep 3 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Get Up and Garden at Gorman Heritage Farm

Are you considering growing a vegetable garden this year but not sure where to start? Local horticulturist, Cheryl Shelby, is offering a class atGorman Heritage Farm that focuses on topics such as when and how to start seeds, cool and warm weather crops, containers vs. ground crops, extending the seasons, and protection from predation. Saturday, February 14th, 2015, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm. For more information or to register, visit the website

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pork + Bottle Dinner at Metropole

Metropole in the 21c Museum Hotel is serving up a Pork + Bottle Dinner pork-themed ala carte menu available nightly from 5:30pm to 10:00pm Sunday, January 25ththrough Saturday, January 31st. Reservations 513.578.6660.

The Pork + Bottle Dinner is an ongoing installment of the Metropole's Fork + Bottle Dinner series.