09 September 2014

Organicfest Offers View of Organic Lifestyle

Organicfest took place on the Roger McGuire Green of Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville on Sunday, September 7.  The event hosted a number of booths featuring area organic purveyors and health and wellness specialist.  The family-friendly event offered a sampling of local organic products (my personal favorite was the coconut bacon from Coconut Organics) and kid-friendly activities (hoola hoops, weaving, seed ball making and music).  Several craft vendors were also on hand with fair trade and organically themed items.

Bee City USA organized a “Pollinator Parade” which wound its way through Organicfest as an effort to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and their declining populations.

This year marked the 13th anniversary of Organicfest which is intended to educate “consumers about the ways in which it is possible to choose organic when it comes to both edible and non-edible products.”

03 September 2014

Hickory Nut Gap Farm - Fall Season

Hickory Nut Gap Farm kicked off its fall season activities over the weekend (their fall season will run through November 2, 2014).  The farm has a blanket admission ($7 a person or free for kids two and under) which includes access to the corn maze, tricycle race track, tire swings, culvert slides, and a whole slew of baby animals.  Hay rides, horse rides, and kiddie carts are also available for $5 a person.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day to visit the farm with gorgeous weather and generally low crowds.  Animals on display included goats (with a loft set up that you have to see for yourself), baby chicks, horses, and turkeys.  The culvert slides were a hit with my girls (ages 3 and 4) and the tricycle track was a big hit with everyone involved.

It looked like we were some of the first people through the corn maze (which proved to be a little more challenging than it originally looked!).  Farm trivia helps orient the wandering hoards through the maze, and a wrong answer will result in some back tracking.  The girls had fun in the maze, but hitting it after several hours on the farm was a mistake on our part as exhaustion was starting to set in.

In addition to the featured attractions, Hickory Nut Gap Farm has several nice places to enjoy a picnic lunch (including picnic tables right by the creek).  The Vieux Carre food truck was on hand to serve up cajun and creole cuisine while we were there and the farm store had fresh apples, ciders, and Hickory Nut Gap Farm meats available for purchase.  There were also a number of other items available for other area food producers available at the farm store.  The girls spent most of their time hanging out in the creek on the way to the farm maze, taking time to wade around and get some relief from the hot weather.

I’d definitely recommend the trip out to Hickory Nut Gap Farms, we had a blast and I also got to enjoy the solace that comes along with an exhausted three and four year old (i.e. nap time was a rare success).  Schedule a couple of hours so that you’re not rushed while you’re there.

01 December 2013

Recreating the Ramen Burger

I saw mention of the ramen burger some months ago on the internet and wanted to play with the concept.  After scouring AllRecipe’s Roku channel for new culinary adventures while waiting for my kids to finally fall asleep, I ran across the video below.

I decided to try out the concept for myself, and have a few tweaks on the recipe provided in the video.
  • For my noodles, I actually didn't use instant ramen (we had a hard time finding any vegetarian flavors).  Instead I used ramen noodles from the Asian food store and cooked them in Tom Yum paste (a sour/spicy flavor).  I preferred the ability to control the flavor of the noodles.

  • I used duck eggs from Happy Acres Homestead (aka my backyard) instead of chicken eggs as the binder.  Duck eggs have a much richer yolk and work better as a binder.
  • Instead of placing the noodles in plastic wrap as directed, I just stored them until they were cold in a glass bowl with a cover (post mixing the egg in).  There isn't really a need for the plastic wrap and I'm of the opinion that if you can avoid wrapping your food in plastic you probably should.  Instead of pre-forming the ramen "buns", I used egg rings to hold them into the desired shape as I cooked them.

  • Instead of a burger, we used Morningstar Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers (for no particular reason other than it was all we had and I really wanted to try the recipe and I hate going into the grocery store when other people are there).

The end product is exceptional, but it's also pretty heavy.  Personally, I decided to forego the egg because I felt that it was a bit much.  Arugula is a really nice touch (I also recommend coating the bun in chow chow or another similar sweet relish and Siracha).

31 October 2012

Ghost Face Killah

I'd just like to give a shout out to Twisted Pine Brewing for their spicy beer Ghost Face Killah beer.  I don't think it needs an explanation simply because you ought to buy it based on name alone, but it's a new personal favorite.  It's got some pretty pleasant (intimidating but not tortourous) heat to it, and a pretty solid flavor to it.  It certainly complemented my dinner of chili and jalapeno chips.

For the Asheville people, it's now available at French Broad Food Coop and Bruisin' Ales.

31 August 2012

Managing for People Who Hate Managing - Book Review

Honestly Managing for People Who Hate Managing (by Devora Zack) started off with a bit of a quirky feel that I had a hard time getting used to.  I wasn’t expecting a comfortable, humorous, and engaging approach; I was expecting more of the “I’m a hard core business professional – emulate me” approach that’s so often the case with professional development titles.  However, about 20 pages in, I was able to relax and let the material sink in.  Once I got used to the informal and somewhat “in your face” style of presentation, I found the text to be extremely conversational and enlightening. 

I think it’s important to note that from a management perspective there is often this focus on professionalism and over-academic communication (you know rigidity, lack of human emotion, and the separation of work from one’s personality).  The book ultimately bumps into the edges of that approach – which I think is excellent.  In my opinion, management is about dealing with and communicating with people rather than actually “managing” them (“managing” sounds way too much like directing the incompetent which is often not the case). 

The major theme within the book is the use of the “Thinker”/”Feeler” paradigm without highlighting one mental process as supreme.  “Thinkers” and “feelers” of course being two of the major categories which Zack uses to show that management is not one size fits all and that we must recognize individual styles in our approach to people. “Thinkers” are the introverted analytical types among us, while “feelers” tend to be the more extraverted and emotional folks.  It’s refreshing to see a management text not engage in dichotomies but to highlight the fact that all behavior exists on a gradient and no one is absolute.  I think this theme is extremely well-developed and it provides a lot of perspective.  In other words using “Thinkers” and “Feelers” without diving into the politics of which approach was more “work appropriate” really helped me step back and look at how I have dichotomized the concepts to legitimize my own approach to life.

Managing for People Who Hate Managing has an amazing potential as a professional development text that can be used in a group setting.  The presence of different thought paradigms extends its usefulness in such a setting because it would be nice to be in a group where someone could say, “Shut up “thinker” you’re missing the point, this is how we “feelers” see the world.” 

Ultimately this book is a really approachable tool for people that are leery of management as a concept.  I enjoyed reading it and I felt like I gained a lot from a personal development standpoint.  I found that the book was applicable to everyone regardless of their tenure in a management role.  Zack’s use of vivid examples, narratives, cheat sheets, and opportunities for self assessment gives Managing for People Who Hate Managing a highly interactive feel that puts the reader in charge of their own progress.  In contrast to other similar titles, Zack avoids any absolute declaration of subject matter authority and instead empowers readers with the opportunity to grow on their own, enabled with a new outlook.