Buttered, Fried, and On a Stick: Regional Fair Food


8/22/13

In the summertime, Milwaukee can  be expected to smell like popcorn, funnel cakes, and sweet corn. It is the land of festivals: from Festa Italia! to Bastille Days, every culture is celebrated through dance, music and most importantly food.

I went to a number of these festivals, but the most popular by far is the Wisconsin State Fair.

If you’re expecting to have fresh and organic food at a fair, don’t bother. It doesn’t exist. Even at Greek Fest, the most popular food item was a deep fried pastry–Not exactly the most authentic Greek food. But we all need our fix of fried food once in a while; this is where to get it.

State fairs may not be the place to go for healthy food, but it’s certainly the place to go to eat interesting concoctions of fried things on a stick.  The newcomers every year always make people talk. This year at the Wisconsin State Fair, some of the interesting creations included a Thanksgiving Waffle, fried gelato on a stick, and a Krispy Kreme Burger with Spicy Pig Candy. Now that’s kicking it up a notch!

But, every state fair has a famous staple food that everyone has to get.  For 89 years in Wisconsin, it’s the Cream Puff: a delectable fluffy puff pastry with soft cream in the middle. This sought after item even has its own drive-thru window.

The one thing that all of these festivals and fairs had in common was the fact that beer was everywhere: cheap beer sold for a small fortune.

Festivals and fairs are all about binging on food that isn’t good for you, but it’s delicious all the same. And in college, you have those days where you need to eat food that’s exactly that. State fairs may only last a week or two, but here’s a way to bring a little bit of the fair into your college apartment.

Wisconsin Cream Puff

Puff Pastry:

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

4 Large Eggs

2 Tbsp. Milk

1 Large Egg Yolk

Cream Filling:

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/8 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once and stir until a ball forms. Remove from the heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  2. Drop ¼ cupfuls of the puffs onto baking sheets. Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape.
  3. As they cool, beat the Heavy Whipping Cream with until it begins to thicken. Add sugar, vanilla and cream of tartar Split cream puffs; discard soft dough from inside. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Published in College & Cook Magazine.

Out of Town: Emmitt James


8/1/13

Seeing Hip Hop artist Emmitt James perform, is like being at a spiritually moving and intense concert, one whose artist is passionate about his work and just as equally as passionate about those that surround him.  The audience soaks up with James’ energy and leaves the concert feeling electrified and renewed as if they had just experienced something for the first time.

And that’s exactly how James’ wants you to feel.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., James (20) is not only a Hip Hop artist, but also a nationally acclaimed spoken word poet, something that has clearly influenced his music. In high school, he was introduced to spoken word poetry, which made him realize that his words had power.

“I love poetry,” James said. “But I’ve always loved music.”

James, currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, wanted to balance these passions.

“When I got to college I said I wanted people to identify me just as much as a poet as a hip hop artists,” James said.

James has been successful in doing so, releasing his second EP: “Until I’m a Dead Poet” in 2012, following his first, “Are You Listening Yet?” This past year, James has been performing around the country from his hometown of Milwaukee to New York.

Through his music, James hopes to send an inspiring message to his listeners and audience.

“You can only go as far as you want to be…A struggle can be a beautiful thing,” James said.

His past also heavily influences his writing and music, which is so personal sometimes that it almost makes you uncomfortable—is he really sharing all of this with you? The answer is yes, and that’s what makes James so electrifying.

James’ electricity translates when he’s performing on stage. He wants his audience to experience new things. Going to a school in the middle of Wisconsin, James struggles with finding diversity. But he’s embraced that. He wants to introduce people to hip hop who have never been really exposed to it before.

He wants his audience to leave saying, “I thought it was a hip hop concert and that’s what I was expecting, but it was so much better than I thought.’”

Usually when performing, hip hop artists, play a recording of their track and sing over it. James takes a step back from this in his performances, oftentimes having concerts with live bands which also allows him to collaborate and support other artists. He doesn’t plan on having a band at all concerts, however in future performances, he plans on having a DJ and a live drummer.

James is changing  the hip hop world one honest and hard-hitting lyric at a time. He’s changing it with contagious performances that highlight musicality and knowledge of what gets a crowd to move.

For James, his career as a musician and performer is just beginning. Currently he is excited about a new track entitled “Mama’s Favorite” which he says will be the “birth of a new project.”

James’ new music video is scheduled to release on July 5. He has upcoming shows booked in Milwaukee as well as Stevens Point, Wis. For full listings of shows and upcoming events, check out his Facebook page: Emmitt James Music and Twitter: @Emmitt_James.

Published in The Grey Estates Zine.

Bringing Greece Home: My Culinary Quest


2/12/13

I spent last summer riding ferries over turquoise waters and buses over rolling hills. I hiked to ancient theatres and temples on seaside cliffs, and rode donkeys down to hot springs. Most importantly, I tasted beautiful mixtures of spinach and feta pies paired perfectly with aged wine–I tasted the Mediterranean and fell in love.

Through the study abroad program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I had the irreplaceable experience to study culinary journalism in Greece.

And through all these experiences I realized that the cuisine truly reflects the simple tradition and rich history of the land and its people.

This was increasingly apparent when I arrived on the peace Greek island of Kea.  There I had the opportunity to visit Agalia Kremezi ‘s culinary school. Kremezi is a former journalist turned cookbook author that holds her school at her vine and flower covered home.  There I learned how to make stuffed  grape leaves,  herb flat bread, and paper-thin phyllo dough, and I learned that no meal is complete with a wine glass that is anything less than half full. The food we made was very traditional. Most of the ingredients used were straight from Kremezi’s garden or from other local farmers.  It allowed you to taste the true flavors of the land and experience the culture of the people around you, making it a genuine food experience.

Genuine food is hard to find in America. Fast food is uncommon in Greece, only making its presence known in large cities such as Athens.  In the States, go out to eat because we’re lazy and want to save time. In Greece, they go out to eat to have rich conversations and savor every bite.

But then as soon as it started, the trip was over and I was back in America. And the first thing that greeted me? A McDonald’s in the airport. After spending time in a country that prided itself on local flavors and culture, I was back in a society that cares too much about the cheapest and the fastest.

I also started to suffer from something I think is common for most who go abroad. I started having withdrawals from the flavors I once experienced on a daily basis. I was soon craving feta and baklava like no other, but I had nowhere to go to find them. It was up to me to bring what I learned from Greece back to America, which is easier said than done. However, I managed to recreate, to the best of my abilities the food that I learned to love in Greece back in my college kitchen (and budget).

For the article and recipes go to: http://www.collegeandcook.com/