Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pennsylvania State Farm Show

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in America. Every January Harrisburg celebrates everything grown, raised and made in the state of Pennsylvania. I have been hoping to take the kids to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show for the past few years and I finally did it this year. I loaded the kids up for a night at grandma and grandpa’s and a day at the show.

The kids got to see all sorts of chickens, ducks, and some turkeys. They were amazed by the incubator full of baby chicks and the tom turkey who strutted his stuff non stop. The show rabbits were off limits for petting but they had a table where they had some petting bunnies and a guinea pig they kids had fun petting. The cows were fun to see and to pet, when they were lying down. Selena thought they were a bit too big and scary when they stood up. One person had a cow and her calf who was only hours old. There were pigs, sheep and goats galore to watch and pet. We arrived as they were trying to get one batch of pigs from the show floor back to their pens and a new batch for the judges to check out to the ring. The kids thought it was great fun to watch the people try to get the pigs to go and stay going in the right direction. The grandparents steered us to the 4H animals since they are much more use to having kids around. The sheep were fun to pet. Several of them were begging to pet. There were sheep in traditional covers and some wearing ‘Speedos’! The kids even got to pet an alpaca, baby goats, a mini African cow, and other animals.

William wanted to see the room full of tractors. He thought it was sort of cool that there were tractors with tires so big they were taller then grandpa. Both kids were amazed by the size of the farm equipment on display. They also liked the free seeds, coloring books and candy they found in the same room.
The kids’ area kept them entertained for awhile. There were bins of dried corn for the kids to scoop up and pour out like sand. They also had chicken puppets and a few other things for the kids to play with. They walked by a stand raffling off baskets of goodies grown, raised and/or made in Pennsylvania and you would never guess who was there speaking to people as they passed by. A talking chicken! Yes, a talking chicken. The kids thought that was so cool. They kept chatting with that chicken until grandpa finally bought a raffle ticket for one of the baskets. I guess the marketing people were smiling.

The Pennsylvanian Dairy Farmers will be happy to know the biggest hit at the food court was the ice cream. Each kid (big and small) had fund lapping up as much ice cream and milk shake as they could. Appropriately each kid got a new dairy farm t-shirts as souvenirs. They kids have proudly worn their shirts each week and announcing they love their cow and car shirts from grandma and grandpa. I’m just glad we got them a little big since they are going to be worn and loved for awhile

The grand parents treated the grandkids to a day with the grandparents, lots of animals and other cool stuff. I think kids loved seeing their grandparents, all of the animals, tractors, and the kids play area.

Gluten-Free Cheese Cake, Crumb Coffee Cake, and Brownies

I’ve tried to more of the Lean on Me Baking Company dishes. Today’s lunch ended with a Reduced Fat, Wheat & Gluten Free Original Cheese Cake. It was just barely okay. It had good texture but the flavor was not wonderful. I grew up in the greater Philadelphia area and there is nothing like a good Philadelphia Cheese Cake and this one wasn’t even close.

Growing up mom made this wonderful crumb coffee cake. I remember always trying for the piece with the most crumbs on top. I spotted a box of Gluten-Free Pantry Coffee Cake mix and decided to give it a try. I made it a weekend we had company and they loved it. It was good but I think my childhood memories of mom’s cooking were just a bit too high of a standard to expect them to match while still being gluten-free.

This past weekend I had a craving for a chocolate brownie. I had picked up an Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free Brownie Mix I have been meaning to bake up. It was very easy to mix up, as easy as mixing in eggs, oil, and water. The harder part was waiting for it to cool and cool down enough to sample. The brownies had a very nice rich chocoately flavor. The chocolate chips were a bit on the crunch side but were very tasty. The down side is the texture. The flours used to replace the traditional wheat flour are a bit grainy. It’s not like eating sand but it doesn’t have a smooth texture most people are use to, because there isn’t any gluten. If you never had a ‘traditional’ homemade brownie then you won’t know what you are missing. I’d buy it again and make it for the next brownie craving.

For all 3 of these products I think I’m just going to get mom’s recipe and try substituting spelt for the wheat flour. Yes, spelt is an ancient relative of wheat but luckily different enough it doesn’t send my body into a nasty reaction.