This Little Piggy Went To Market…

Don’t forget there are two more days to enter my Baby of a Giveaway contest!

As I mentioned earlier this week, Saturday Beloved and I made the 45-minute drive up to Cleveland to visit the historic West Side Market.  It is Cleveland’s largest publicly owned market, which technically puts it under the purview of the Parks and Recreation division of the city.  And for someone like myself, recreation it is.

West Side Market

Reminiscent of a European market, West Side Market is home to over 120 tenants selling produce, meats, baked goods, fish, spices, sauces, and even some prepared foods.  The ninety-seven year old bazaar consists of an indoor market, selling mostly meat, bakery and dairy goods and an adjacent semi-enclosed “outdoor” market, filled with produce, grain, and fresh flower vendors.  Originally created as a neighborhood ethnic market, it still fulfills that function – we purchased such diverse items as black sticky rice, chorizo and medjool dates (to say nothing of the first real brisket I’ve seen since moving to Ohio, which we immediately smoked the next day.  Oh.  My.  GAWD.).

Fresh Fish

We went to the West Side Market in the first place because I had a yearning to visit a real “gourmet” type grocery store, which were abundant in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (oh, Central Market how I miss you!) but are sadly lacking in Podunk.  Nor was I disappointed, for we left with things like white truffle oil, fleur de sel, pomegranates and fingerling potatoes.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the area surrounding the market, either, which consists of additional ethnic food markets, ethnic restaurants, and a brewery – there were even street performers, if you can classify a classical clarinetist and cellist as “street performers.”   It was all quite charming and I can’t wait to go back and explore the surrounding area some more.

Fresh Fruits

If you’re ever in the Cleveland area – and certainly if you live somewhere within driving distance – the West Side Market is more than worth a visit.  Hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  They are open year-round.

Artisan Breads

Pastas

For more fun places to visit, head on over to Pseudonymous High School Teacher and read all of the Travel Tip Thursday posts!

Travel Tip Thursday

Of Tomatoes and Pizza Omelets

Baby Heirloom TomatoesYou’ll have to excuse the lack of coherency of this post; I haven’t slept in 24 hours and my laser-like powers of observation and expression are a little off target today.

It’s okay – go ahead and laugh.

At any rate, I’ll just ramble a little more than usual today and tell you that I was going to post a recipe for a Pizza Omelet, but then it occurred to me that it was a little silly – you make an omelet and fill it with the toppings from leftover pizza instead of something else like ham and cheese.  Very simple and very impressive, especially when you serve it to a 14-year-old boy who considers pizza a major food group (along with potato chips, Mountain Dew and Nestlé Crunch Bars) for brunch on Sunday morning.

The reason we had pizza omelets for brunch Sunday morning is because we had leftover pizza from Saturday night, when we experienced two of Podunk’s dining traditions – Papa Bear’s Italian Restaurant, which makes Beloved’s (and now The Young One’s) favorite pizza and then Taggart’s Ice Cream, a darling little ice cream parlor/diner that has been in business for over 80 years.  The reason we went out to dinner Saturday night – a fairly rare occurrence – is because Beloved and I spent the afternoon at Cleveland’s historic West Side Market and I didn’t have time to cook.  I’m going to write more about this for Travel Tip Thursday this week, but let’s just suffice to say it is a huge, publicly owned market place with dozens and dozens of produce/meat/dairy/bakery/specialty vendors inside where you can purchase anything from sweet potato orzo to pomegranates to fleur de sel to brisket.

And we did.

Among our purchases were a small basket of concord grapes and a small basket of baby heirloom tomatoes.  Both are absolutely delicious, but does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with them, beyond simply popping a couple in our mouths every time we pass the counter they are sitting on?  Oh, and suggestions for a pomegranate would be welcome, too.

I hope you’re all having a lovely Monday, and I look forward to any help you can give with my grape/tomato/pomegranate dilemma.

Read It and Weep

BooksThis week’s Spin Cycle is “Favorite Books” and since I’ve written about this subject before and am yet again (still?) overwhelmed at work, I have decided to repost this.  Written nearly a year ago, the first half of the post is still relevant.  The second half?  Well, let’s just say that I read the saga I mentioned, and was singularly unimpressed. In fact, the books in question alternately amused, disgusted and pissed me off.  Would I recommend them?  Not for their intended audience, no.

~~~~~~

Further Proof I Am Weird

If any is needed.

I love to read.  I’ll read just about anything – books, magazines, blogs, cereal boxes, junk mail…even the Podunk Suppository, when I’m in need of a good laugh or feel a burning desire to bathe in provincial ignorance.  To say the local newspaper isn’t exactly a hotbed of unbiased, professional journalism is something of an understatement. Oh, the culture shock…

But I digress.

Mostly I read books, a passion Beloved and Darling Daughter both share.  Two walls of our family room are literally covered in books, and our next large purchase in the way of furnishings will be custom-built bookshelves.

Before I met him, Beloved read non-fiction almost exclusively.  Oh, he’d read everything Ayn Rand ever published, including her cumbersome novels,  as well as a good many of Gore Vidal’s historical novels, but that was about it.  And while I have introduced him to the likes of Stephen King and Jean Auel, non-fiction remains his chief source of reading material – because of that, we have books on such diverse subjects as economics, American History, philosophy, religion and quantum physics on our bookshelves.

I read my share of non-fiction, although it is mostly in the form of cookbooks (which are a marvelous source of information on other cultures), web development and associated software, biographies, paleoanthropology, medieval history, art and film, but to be honest, most of my reading material is pretty damn plebeian.  I don’t read “mainstream” literature very often, although I own everything ever written by Stephen King, Jean Auel and J.K. Rowling, but most of the books I own are of very specific genres, and the authors I read reflect that: Robert B. Parker, J.R.R. Tolkein, Philip Jose Farmer, Anya Seton, Kenneth Robeson, Ed McBain.  We do have a lot of the “classics” on our shelves as well, which simply means that when the kids are required to read them for school we don’t have to hunt them down (nor are they permitted to get away with Cliff Notes).  We’re also fans of Shakespeare and have several volumes devoted to his works and the analysis of them.

Not that I’m claiming weirdness because I read – I’m well aware that I’m not alone in my love of books; it’s more a matter of what I read, which is sometimes pretty damn obscure…even if I am poised to read all of Stephenie Meyer’s teenage vampire novels (hey, you can’t pass up what’s being hailed as the “next Harry Potter”). (*Note – yeah, you can.*)

One of the reasons I’m only poised to read Twilight and it’s sequels is because of Beverly Lewis.  The covers of her books claim she is a NY Times bestselling author, but I’d never heard of her until I moved to Ohio.  Basically, she writes fiction (I suppose you could call them “romances”) about the Amish.  I’ve seen her books on countless shelves in stores down in Amish country, where they are prominently displayed; in Podunk, she’s been relegated to the tiny “Christian fiction” section of Borders.  Her books are a wealth of information about the Amish, who are absolutely fascinating…at least as far as I’m concerned.  She also writes very well, and really knows how to tell a story.  So much so, she has me – the least religious of people – picking up each new book in the Abram’s Daughters series, exclaiming things like, “Oh, I hope that bitch of a sister of hers gets what’s coming to her in this book!”

Probably not exactly in keeping with the steadfastly held Amish beliefs of forgiveness and pacifism.

And yes, I am ALL caught up in what amounts to an Amish soap opera.  In fact, I finished the third in the five book series last night, and since I found myself out and about today at lunch, I decided to see if they had the remaining two on hand at the local Borders.  They didn’t have both, but they did have the fourth, so I’m good for at least another two or three days (they’re very quick reads).  While I was there, I picked up the first two Stephenie Meyer books – I’d have bought all four, but they were out of the third book in the series and I’m positively anal about things like that.

Checking out was interesting.

Clerk:  Did you find everything you needed?

Me:  Well, you didn’t have all of the books I wanted in stock, no, but you had enough.

Clerk:  Oh, we can look for you – what did you want?

Me:  The third in this series of vampire books and the last in this series of Amish romances.

Clerk: …Oh, well…I suppose we can check…are these gifts?

Me:  No, they’re for me.

Clerk (eyeing me warily):  Okay…(pushes a piece of paper and a pencil towards me)…just give us your name and phone number and we can notify you when they arrive…

Me:  Nah, that’s okay – I’ll just check back in a few days; I’m still looking for “Nuclear Armament for Dummies” and the collected works of Anton LaVey.

I don’t know WHY he ran off like that…

And So It Begins…

I have a confession to make.

I am a sucker for Christmas.

Yes, tough, cynical old broad that I am – I adore Christmas.  I love the sights, the sounds, the smells – I love everything about it.  I love the eating, I love the cooking, I love the shopping, I love the wrapping, I love the decorating, and most of all, I love having the kids here and I love watching them open their gifts.

The gift wrapping and giving has been absolutely ridiculous in years past – I swear we have pictures of the Christmas tree that stood in the living room of our house in Texas that look like a present factory had exploded there.  In retrospect, it would have been far easier to forget about the tree and just stack the presents in one huge pyramid and throw tinsel over them.  Now that they’re all older, those days are in the past.  Which is not to say that the whole shebang is any cheaper – their toys, while fewer, have simply gotten more expensive.  *sigh*

Some things never change, though, and never will.  Every year, I give them each a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament.  Yes, I love those overpriced little bits of plastic and glitter, far more than they do, I’m sure.  But I go to a great deal of trouble every year, pouring over the selection at the local Hallmark store, to make sure the ornament suits the recipient.  The kids have gotten ornaments as diverse as the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Sam I Am (and that other guy) from Green Eggs and Ham, Scarlett O’Hara in her dress made from the drapes, a wine bottle and glass, and an absolutely awesome faerie whose fiber optic wings glowed when you stuck a bulb from the strand of ligts up her butt.  (If I can’t find one that “fits” the kid, I have no problem with going for the disgustingly, cloyingly cute, because, hey – cute never goes out of style.)

Yesterday was my annual pilgrimage to find and purchase just the right ornament for the right kid, and I must say that the pickin’s were lean this year.  Oh, I found some okay ornaments (that I can’t post about just yet because all of the rotten little finks precious little darlings read my blog), but nothing that just reached out and grabbed me by the boo-boo, if you get my meaning.  I’m also sorely disappointed that there was nothing there that I just had to have for myself, either, because I’ve never had a problem with purchasing one for personal use, trust me.  I nearly gave the saleswoman a seizure with my shrieking the year before last when I found one in the shape of a crate with the word “Fragile” stensiled across the front.  Because, yes, when you opened it, it was full of straw and the infamous “leg lamp” from A Christmas Story.  And it lit up.

Now THAT is a Christmas tree ornament.

Oh, and the little guy in the pic up there?  I bought him last year for myself, and he’s is just about the cutest thing on the tree these days – I just adore him.  Twenty sushi points and some link love to anyone who can tell me what he is.

And my family better keep quiet, or Santa may just close up shop and never leave the North Pole this year.

Further Proof I Am Weird

If any is needed.

I love to read.  I’ll read just about anything – books, magazines, blogs, cereal boxes, junk mail…even the Podunk Suppository, when I’m in need of a good laugh or feel a burning desire to bathe in provincial ignorance.  To say the local newspaper isn’t exactly a hotbed of unbiased, professional journalism is something of an understatement. Oh, the culture shock…

But I digress.

Mostly I read books, a passion Beloved and Darling Daughter both share.  Two walls of our family room are literally covered in books, and our next large purchase in the way of furnishings will be custom-built bookshelves.

Before I met him, Beloved read non-fiction almost exclusively.  Oh, he’d read everything Ayn Rand ever published, including her cumbersome novels,  as well as a good many of Gore Vidal’s historical novels, but that was about it.  And while I have introduced him to the likes of Stephen King and Jean Auel, non-fiction remains his chief source of reading material – because of that, we have books on such diverse subjects as economics, American History, philosophy, religion and quantum physics on our bookshelves.

I read my share of non-fiction, although it is mostly in the form of cookbooks (which are a marvelous source of information on other cultures), web development and associated software, biographies, paleoanthropology, medieval history, art and film, but to be honest, most of my reading material is pretty damn plebeian.  I don’t read “mainstream” literature very often, although I own everything ever written by Stephen King, Jean Auel and J.K. Rowling, but most of the books I own are of very specific genres, and the authors I read reflect that: Robert B. Parker, J.R.R. Tolkein, Philip Jose Farmer, Anya Seton, Kenneth Robeson, Ed McBain.  We do have a lot of the “classics” on our shelves as well, which simply means that when the kids are required to read them for school we don’t have to hunt them down (nor are they permitted to get away with Cliff Notes).  We’re also fans of Shakespeare and have several volumes devoted to his works and the analysis of them.

Not that I’m claiming weirdness because I read – I’m well aware that I’m not alone in my love of books; it’s more a matter of what I read, which is sometimes pretty damn obscure…even if I am poised to read all of Stephenie Meyer’s teenage vampire novels (hey, you can’t pass up what’s being hailed as the “next Harry Potter”).

One of the reasons I’m only poised to read Twilight and it’s sequels is because of Beverly Lewis.  The covers of her books claim she is a NY Times bestselling author, but I’d never heard of her until I moved to Ohio.  Basically, she writes fiction (I suppose you could call them “romances”) about the Amish.  I’ve seen her books on countless shelves in stores down in Amish country, where they are prominently displayed; in Podunk, she’s been relegated to the tiny “Christian fiction” section of Borders.  Her books are a wealth of information about the Amish, who are absolutely fascinating…at least as far as I’m concerned.  She also writes very well, and really knows how to tell a story.  So much so, she has me – the least religious of people – picking up each new book in the Abram’s Daughters series, exclaiming things like, “Oh, I hope that bitch of a sister of hers gets what’s coming to her in this book!”

Probably not exactly in keeping with the steadfastly held Amish beliefs of forgiveness and pacifism.

And yes, I am ALL caught up in what amounts to an Amish soap opera.  In fact, I finished the third in the five book series last night, and since I found myself out and about today at lunch, I decided to see if they had the remaining two on hand at the local Borders.  They didn’t have both, but they did have the fourth, so I’m good for at least another two or three days (they’re very quick reads).  While I was there, I picked up the first two Stephenie Meyer books – I’d have bought all four, but they were out of the third book in the series and I’m positively anal about things like that.

Checking out was interesting.

Clerk:  Did you find everything you needed?

Me:  Well, you didn’t have all of the books I wanted in stock, no, but you had enough.

Clerk:  Oh, we can look for you – what did you want?

Me:  The third in this series of vampire books and the last in this series of Amish romances.

Clerk: …Oh, well…I suppose we can check…are these gifts?

Me:  No, they’re for me.

Clerk (eyeing me warily):  Okay…(pushes a piece of paper and a pencil towards me)…just give us your name and phone number and we can notify you when they arrive…

Me:  Nah, that’s okay – I’ll just check back in a few days; I’m still looking for “Nuclear Armament for Dummies” and the collected works of Anton LaVey.

I don’t know WHY he ran off like that…