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Festival promises a day filled with fun, food and music

29 Aug

MIKE-DUPUY
The Penns Valley Conservation Association (PVCA) is hosting their annual outdoor event “Crickfest” this Sunday, Sept. 2, at the community park in Coburn.

The small village of Coburn is not much different than it was 50, or perhaps, 100 years ago.

Roomy Victorian style houses line the main street, and Penns Creek sits to the south side of the town, winding its way through this very rural part of Centre County.

Finding Coburn is fairly easy if you have a GPS, or even just a basic knowledge of the area, and most who make it there will agree that the journey to the little, old fashioned, looking community is a large part of the joy of visiting there.

The picturesque drive takes travelers through the lush, green, Penns Valley farmland, complete with ganders of not only the aforementioned Penns Creek, but also a spectacular view of its sister waterway, Elk Creek.

Coburn is typically a quiet haven, with the most activity on any given day coming from a group of locals making use of the park with a game of Ultimate Frisbee, but each year, on the first Sunday in September, that changes. Hundreds, and quite possibly upwards of one thousand, people flock to an extraordinary festival in Coburn where art, community and nature all come together on a small plot of ground on the backside of this one horse town.

The festival is simply called “Crickfest,” and it will blow your mind and refresh your soul in one swift, sun-covered, swoop.

This coming Sunday marks the 16th year for Crickfest, and as in years past, it promises to be a day filled with fun, food, and music, and will take place rain or shine from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All of the proceeds from Crickfest will go directly to fund the Penns Valley Conservation Association’s Environmental Education Classes that are taught in the Penns Valley School District. Each year since 2003 the PVCA covers the salary for a part time teacher to educate students about the benefits of preserving the area’s natural resources.

Crickfest 16 will be as terrific as the past 15, with live entertainment and delicious food.

Guests are encouraged to kick back and have a relaxing time and bring along their fishing gear, or just simply play in the beautiful, trout filled waters of Penns Creek. There will be kayaks near the creek’s edge to use at your leisure and an instructor to assist first timers.

As in previous years the menu features a broad selection of cuisines to suit any taste, with everything from barbecue to stew.

EcoVents Catering and UpTexas BBQ in Millheim will be serving up BBQ Brisket and pulled pork from their handmade, steampunk-esque portable roaster named “LeRoy.” EcoVents and UpTexas BBQ uses locally sourced beef and pork as well as local, in season produce and other foods.

For those who want something a bit spicier, Brazilian Munchies from Bellefonte, is cooking up some Brazilian Beef Stew and Pao de Queijo (cheese bread).

And if you are really adventurous, travel to North Africa as Nittany Catering, also from Centre County, offers up the classic dish, Morocco Tagine. This lovely, flavor-filled stew will be served in a waste-free, acorn squash bowl.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, the Sweet Creek Cafe will be on hand with an array of unique and delicious baked goods donated by members of the Penns Valley community.

Kids will find fun, educational crafts and activities in the Children’s Creativity Tent. Helpers will show children how to make hands-on art work using items from the environment.

Other stations for kids can be found around Crickfest with past year’s all around favorite being the “water bottle rockets.” And all youngsters will agree that it’s not Crickfest with out the duck and zucchini boat races.

Volunteers from the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey will be presenting a wildlife demonstration, and Millheim resident, Max Engle will be educating everyone on how to build a bat house.

Master Falconer, Mike Dupuy, of Middleburg, will give a falconry and birds of prey demonstration where he will captivate the audience through his knowledge of the age old sport.

Dupuy has decades of experience and is one of the nation’s top falconry/birds of prey experts. He is a very sought after public speaker who consistently draws his audience into his world by teaching them about the benefits of getting involved in falconry. Through the sharing of his personal experiences, he inspires and motivates others to follow their own dreams.

A musical variety show will begin at 11a.m. and will feature local bands and artists that include the Poe Valley Troubadours, Richard Sleigh, and the Unbanned. The final act of the day will be a Ukulele Jam with Mary Anne Cleary. Cleary invites those with ukes to bring their instrument and a music stand along to join in on a jam session.

As per Crickfest tradition, there will be a silent auction where bidders can try their hand at taking home a hand crafted piece of art or a gift certificate for local businesses along with many other wonderfully donated items.

The Penns Valley Conservation Association serves as a steward for the natural and cultural communities in the Upper Penns Creek watershed.

The event is free and open to everyone, from everywhere.

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This Stranger Things Season 3 Teaser Features An 80s Mall Food Court

24 Jul

Netflix just gave fans a first glimpse at season three of Stranger Things with a clip showing the inside of a new neon-lit mall in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The promo is scarily on point to a real ’80s advertisement too for the Starcourt Mall, and fans are left to question WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??

The promo announces that Hawkin’s is “taking another step into the future” but no other details are revealed about the show’s main plot line. Familiar name brands that are a blast from the past: Waldenbrooks, Sam Goody, and the Gap, are all shown in the teaser, too.

stranger-things-season-3-teaser

Lastly we see Steve Harrington a.k.a. Joe Keery working in the Starcourt Food Court at an ice cream shop called Scoops Ahoy. He’s seen beside a new character named Robin played by Maya Hawke, both in a little sailor outfits.

There’s no doubt malls just like this one were actually big hubs for teens of suburbia to hang at in the 80s. Only time will tell what’s going to go down there in the third season of the sci-fi drama for Mike, Will, Dusty, Lucas and the rest of the gang. Is it next summer yet?

General Mills Sounds Inflation Alarm for Food Industry

18 Apr

Packaged-food companies already are struggling to respond to a shift in consumer preferences toward healthier, simpler foods. Now they also have to contend with higher input prices.

BN

General Mills GIS -8.85% shares fell nearly 9% Wednesday after the company lowered operating-profit guidance for its full fiscal year ending in May. The maker of Cheerios cereal, Yoplait yogurt and Progresso soups now forecasts adjusted earnings-per-share growth of zero to 1% for the period, down from its earlier guidance of 3% to 4% growth.

The company cited higher commodity prices—including grains, nuts and dairy—as well as rising logistics and freight costs. On a conference call, management was contrite for not catching the trend of accelerating inflation earlier, and it outlined plans to respond by cutting costs, reconfiguring logistics networks and raising some prices.

But analysts on the call voiced skepticism that General Mills has room to pass higher costs on to consumers in the current tough environment. Among other factors, discount grocery chains are taking market share and pressuring suppliers to keep prices low. Shoppers also are increasingly willing and able to compare prices online. During a previous bout of commodity price inflation a decade ago, companies like General Mills raised prices stealthily by shrinking package sizes, but this approach has inherent limits.

While sounding pessimistic on costs, General Mills talked up its sales performance. Having shrunk for several quarters, organic net sales growth turned modestly positive over the past two quarters. This was aided by new products like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios. But this success shouldn’t be exaggerated. The company’s guidance for the full fiscal year is still for flat organic net sales.

The acquisition of natural pet-food maker Blue Buffalo Pet Products will help flatter overall sales growth in future quarters. It won’t do much to aid cost efficiency, though, since pet food is a new product segment with few expense synergies.

Shares of rival packaged-food companies fell along with General Mills Wednesday, with Campbell Soup down by 2.2% and Kellogg falling 4%. For investors, weak sales and rising costs make for an unappetizing mix.

The flu-fighters martini

22 Feb

3792
This alcohol-free bug-buster is the perfect tipple for cold evenings, and a great one to get you through the last weekend of dry January.

Serves 1

80ml coconut water (preferably raw)
50ml fresh orange juice
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml fresh lime juice
20ml elderflower cordial (organic, for preference)
20ml pure aloe vera juice
1 thumbnail-sized piece root ginger, peeled, plus 1 slice extra to garnish
1cm-wide slice large red chilli

Put everything in a blender, blitz smooth, then pass through a sieve (it’s fine unsieved, but the drink will then be spicier because of all the little chilli flecks through it).

Put a handful of ice in a shaker, add the blitzed mix and shake hard. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a slice of fresh ginger.

Recipe for a potato and porcini bake

18 Jan

6000
Having spent three days ill in bed, putting three potatoes into the oven felt like quite an achievement. As did the scent that filled the flat with a kind of “husky wellbeing”, even though I felt far from it. You have to marvel at the transformation of baked potatoes, and with so little effort: from cool hardness to edible, a chewy jacket and soft insides.

Every time baked potatoes are cut open with a puff of steam, a discussion takes place in our house: that of olive oil versus butter, as if we were defending our own garden. My partner Vincenzo is for olive oil, the deep-green elixir that we buy from a Sicilian friend called Pina in tin cans the size of a toddler, our biggest expense and kitchen fuel. I am not saying he is wrong. I am right, though, in believing that, when it comes to a baked potato, a slice of butter mashed into the already buttery flesh is best. Salt and pepper on top. I can measure my life in baked potatoes and still eat them in exactly the way I did as a child, the ritualistic mashing and scooping motion, the extra butter slid into the empty skin, the final pinch to close it, like a taco.

Recovering appetites are cautious and specific, and the following day it is potatoes again: patate al latte e burro, a northern-Italian dish in which three dependable ingredients work some magic together in a sort of stove-top dauphinoise. There is something tender about the whole process here: the purity of colour, the nurturing associations, the way the milk is assimilated by the other ingredients like a kid gulping a glassful (although I was never that kid). Milk rounds the edges of whatever it is cooking, be that rice, pasta, fish or potatoes, leaving just enough creamy sauce to feel like a luxury. Always on the lookout for similarities, I appreciate the way both English and Italian recipes pair nutmeg with such dishes, its simultaneously spiced and fresh flavour cutting through the lactic sensibleness like a naughty joke. The porcini are my addition.

The recipe: soak 20g dried porcini in 150ml warm water for 20 minutes, then drain, saving the liquid. Peel 800g potatoes – ideally more waxy than floury, not too large and evenly sized – then slice into 5mm-thick rounds. Peel and cut two sweet white onions or a bunch of spring onions. In a deep frying pan over a medium flame, warm three tablespoons of olive oil, add the onion and a tiny pinch of salt, stir and cook for a few minutes. Cover the onion with a layer of potatoes, then the porcini, then another layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and nutmeg, then cover with whole milk and some of the porcini soaking liquid and bring to a steady simmer for 15 minutes. Dot with 40g butter in nuggets, then lower the heat and cook until the potatoes are tender and bathed in a creamy sauce; keep an eye because, towards the end, that sauce evaporates with disconcerting speed.

Scatter with chopped parsley, and not just for colour: its bright, grassy flavour is welcome, too. Let the pan sit for a few minutes before serving with a crisp salad or smoked fish, grilled bacon or a fried egg, or both: a combination that proves – to steal a line from food writer Niki Segnit – you don’t need to be an oligarch to eat like a king.

Recipe for scones with green kiwi fruit jam

20 Dec

1499
The humble kiwi fruit occupies an unfairly neglected position in the minds of most home cooks. Before a 20th-century rebranding by savvy New Zealand farmers, it was known as the Chinese gooseberry, but beyond the tartness of flavour and the acid-green flesh, the comparison to gooseberries might seem a bit far-fetched. Once cooked down into a jam, however, the taste is uncannily familiar. Perfect for a batch of scones fresh from the oven.

This is one of the easiest jams I’ve ever made. I’d usually rely on my trusty kitchen thermometer to reassure me that it has reached the correct temperature to set properly, but that’s currently out of action, so I had to rely on more traditional methods instead. The combination of fruits are so full of pectin (responsible for the jelly-ish consistency of jam) that it’s virtually impossible to undercook. Your efforts will be rewarded with a deliciously tart jam, speckled attractively with little black seeds.

Afternoon scones with green jam
For the green jam
Prep 10 min
Cook 10 min
Makes 1 jar

6 kiwis
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and grated
Juice of 2 limes
250g caster or granulated sugar

For the scones
Prep 10 min
Cook 12 min
Makes 10 scones

200g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g caster sugar
60g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
100g natural yoghurt
50g dried currants
1 egg, to glaze (optional)

Peel the kiwis, trim the ends, then quarter lengthways. Remove the white inner flesh along the spine of each quarter and put the fruit in a saucepan.

Add the grated apple, lime juice and sugar, and cook on a medium heat, giving it a brief stir every now and then, so the sugar is evenly distributed. Leave to bubble away for a couple of minutes, then use a potato masher to break up the fruit.

Cook the jam for another five minutes or so. Knowing when it’s done is more a question of consistency than exact timings: once properly cooked, it should have lost most of its water and traded its initial vivid green for a more muted tone. If it has started to brown slightly, it’s just starting to pass the perfect set point, so take off the heat immediately and pour into a sterilised jar. (Or use the cold plate test: spoon a little of the mix on to to to a plate – it should cool rapidly, and allow you to assess the texture; you’re aiming for something thickened and spreadable.)

For the scones, preheat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Sieve the flour, salt, bicarb and sugar into a bowl, then add the butter and rub in until there are no big lumps left.

Spoon in the yoghurt. Cut it through the mix with a blunt dinner knife: the aim is to disperse it evenly without doing any heavy-handed overmixing of the dough (to avoid lumpy, tough scones). Scatter in the currants, then give the mix a very brief knead to form it into a dough.

Lightly flour a worktop and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough into a 2.5cm-thick disc. Use a 5cm round cookie cutter to cCut out the scones and lay these on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Gather the offcuts, roll out and cut again until all the dough has been used up.

Lightly brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg (if using), then bake for 12 minutes, until the tops are a rich, nutty brown.

Zoe Adjonyoh’s corned beef stew

22 Jun

4849
This recipe brings back so many memories of childhood. It’s such simple and economical fare and yet so good for the soul. Don’t be put off by the idea of using canned corned beef; you can buy corned beef from the butcher, but the canned variety is just so handy. My mum also loved this one because it was dinner done and dusted in 20 minutes.

(Serves 4)

For the chalé sauce
600g tinned chopped tomatoes or 375g fresh tomatoes
45g (3 tsp) tomato purée
1½ onions, roughly chopped
7½cm piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 or 2 red scotch bonnet chillis, deseeded
1½ tbsp dried chilli flakes
1½ tsp sea salt
4 garlic cloves (optional)

For the stew
2 tbsp rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp extra-hot chilli powder
1 tsp curry powder
350g tinned corned beef
2 carrots, peeled (if not organic) and diced
75g peas
4 soft-boiled eggs

Make the chalé sauce by putting ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until you have a smooth paste.

For the stew, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, chilli powder and curry powder, and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chalé sauce.

Divide the corned beef into four equal pieces (which avoids arguments over portions later), or break it up into the sauce, then add the carrots and peas. Leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes. You may find that the sauce starts to dry out, so add a little water if necessary.

Peel the boiled eggs and slice in half, then add to the stew. Cook for a further five minutes.

Serve with boiled yams and plantain or rice – either way, it will vanish in no time.