Tag Archives: food

Lucasville Swap Meet & a Visit to The Ribber

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The Lucasville Swap Meet is a Southern Ohio gem and one of my favorite summer traditions. It’s held three times a year at the Scioto County Fair Grounds – this year being the second weekend in April, the first weekend in June, and the second weekend of October. There have been times when I have slept in my clothes the night before just to get up early enough to be in Lucasville before the crowd hits. I should have done that this past weekend, because by the time we made it to Lucasville, parking was outrageous. We had to hike a little to get to the fair grounds, but it was well worth it. Swap Days are only held on Saturday and Sunday, and most vendors try to start packing up around 2:00 on Sunday, so get there early! It’s only a little over an hour’s drive for me, but thousands of people travel from out of state just to attend this ginormous event.

What is the Swap Meet, you ask? Well, it’s only miles and miles of the most interesting and varied goodies. You can literally find anything here from live peacocks to an early edition of a comic book. It’s like the best flea market you’ve ever been to got stretched out so far that it takes your whole day to see every booth or vendor, and even then you’re not sure you saw everything.

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Yes, they even have some taxidermy. Creepy, but fun. More often than the taxidermy though, they have live animals. Tons and tons and TONS of live animals, and I don’t just mean cats and dogs (although there are plenty of those!). Like I said, there are peacocks, but there are also parrots, teacup pigs, pygmy goats, flying squirrels, baby raccoons, baby skunks that have had the stinky gland removed…and one of our personal favorites… SUGAR GLIDERS!

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Check out his adorable white cowboy hat! I found it rather cute that his sister was wearing a beaded necklace. These little critters are just too adorable. We got to hold them both and watch them “fly” to Mister and myself. Mister wants one so terribly bad, but I just can’t help but picture them as a very expensive toy for the cats. They are adorable though and incredibly soft!

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This is Ava! She wasn’t for sale, but we spotted her crawling circles inside a tire at a vendor’s booth. Their son had left her with them the night before so they were babysitting this precious turtle and were more than happy to show her off to us. They let her out onto the grass to show us her speed, and I’ve definitely never seen a turtle move that fast. Mister has two turtles – a paint turtle and a box turtle – and while I have no idea what kind of turtle Ava is, I do know she will get to be much bigger than either of ours. The vendors told us that Ava would be upwards of 300-500 pounds, and that their son had others that big at home. I can’t even imagine!

But there aren’t just animals at the Swap Meet. It’s also home to some of the strangest goodies you can find. Things you never expect to see. Like this…

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At the same booth as Ava, I spotted this treasure poking out from between some other household items. I couldn’t help but go into nerdy girl mode, grabbing Mister and going, “Austen…that’s Jane Austen…oh…my…Jane…” while trying not to jump with joy at this ornate find. How much did the Jane Austen tile door hanger set me back? Oh, a big whopping 50 cents. My absolute favorite find of the day.

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I guess since I was all hyped up in English Major glory at the find of the Jane Austen hanger, it took everything in me not to pull out a permanent marker to correct this to “PEN”, but I still couldn’t help but get a giggle out of it. Only at the Swap Meet…

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I’m pretty sure this guy never ages. He’s been at the Swap Meet since I started coming when I was younger. He never changes a bit. He’s a walking talking infomercial for these as seen on tv knives, and if you stick around for the demo, you’ll get a free knife and maybe even a juicer gadget. We definitely came home with a couple of free knives. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Here’s Mister (toting my pink “satchel” – isn’t he cute?) digging through some nifty kitchen utensils. I’m pretty impressed with the spatula he’s holding, since with the press of a lever it fans out to three spatulas to flip some extra big burgers. Can’t wait to try it out!

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It’s all kinds of people from all walks of life selling all sorts of random things…from the hippies I bought my new favorite purse from, to seeing the lawn game that was discontinued for being too dangerous (and seriously considering purchasing it if we’d had a little more cash), to the spice man who gave me the excellent idea to add mango extract to my next batch of homemade bread. The experiences you have at the Lucasville Swap Meet are one of a kind. We may not have bought much, but it’s the fun of searching through odds and ends and meeting all sorts of new people. What did we come home with? Well, here’s a photo of our total haul:

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And now for the other part of our trip! – THE RIBBER!!!

About 10 miles back down the road from Lucasville, we made our stop for dinner in Portsmouth, Ohio. Normally we’d stop at a little diner named Hickie’s, but being Sunday it was closed. I knew of one other place I was dying to go, since it’s rare that we are up that way. A couple of months ago, my family discovered The Ribber thanks to some co-workers suggesting it to my sister. We didn’t know what to expect when we finally found the place. A small building off the main road a little ways and close to the river. There didn’t seem to be much special about the building itself, just a brick building in small town Ohio.

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You might not even give this place a second glance…if it weren’t for the arsenal of smokers they have going out back, 3-4 going on a regular basis for the restaurant and their own fleet of portables ready to go when needed. When I first saw the smokers a few months ago, I knew there was going to be something worthwhile about this place, and believe me, I was right. We’ve been making trips to Portsmouth ever since just to come eat at The Ribber. The best part about getting to go after the Swap Meet was that Mister had only ever tasted their food when I would bring it home for him. This time he would get the full Ribber experience in person.

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Even on the inside, you start to wonder what has people so crazy about ย this place. Sure, it’s a small local restaurant with as many seats crammed in as humanly possible and a bar that seems to always have every stool full. It’s dimly lit and packed to the brim with all the small town characters you’d expect. But what makes The Ribber such a hit?

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The first time my family and I went, there was a rather long wait for our food, but even the menu warns that that will usually be the case because of the smoking process. It just had us curious because people were tripping all over themselves to get into this place, so wouldn’t they balk at a long wait for their dinner? Why would people keep coming back if they had to wait so long? …Well, let me tell you this, and believe me even this is an understatement…it is worth every single minute you wait for your food. There is absolutely nothing better. I have never been more impressed with a little local restaurant than how blown away I was by the Ribber.

Why was it so impressive? Well, unfortunately when I first went, I only had my iPod to take a picture of my food… which by the way was a 32oz ribeye that I split with my mother. It comes as two 16oz ribeyes, but I really wish there’d been a scale handy because I’m pretty sure everything weighed double what they say it does. There was no way even between the two of us we could finish it off. We ended up taking one whole steak home and splitting it again at another meal. Let’s see if I can dig up a handy dandy iPod photo of this bad boy…

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Doesn’t ย even begin to do it justice, but quite literally one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It’s even better if you ask for a cup of the “drippin’s”, basically the au jus of delicious steak juices. Incredible.

So to start our meal off, Mister and I ordered a cheeseball appetizer. I know, right? A restaurant serving a cheese ball as an appetizer. You don’t see that very often. Usually you just see the ones you make at home to bring to parties, but oh buddy…is this one delicious cheeseball. I’m not sure what they are doing to it that makes it so different from cheeseballs we’ve made at home, but whatever they are doing, they are doing it RIGHT.

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As tempting as it was to get the steak as I’ve done every single other time I’ve visited The Ribber, I finally opted to try something new. Both my sister and my father have had their “ribs” and highly enjoyed them. I exaggerate the “ribs” with quotation marks because these aren’t exactly what you think of when someone just tells you ribs. Ribs, those bony little things you have to eat like a whole rack of to get full, right? No. Not at all. Not at The Ribber, no sir, cause that’s just not how they do things. Don’t look at the menu and say, “Two piece rib dinner? Pshhh…forget that. Give me five.” That would be an overwhelming mistake. Why? Because these ribs are country style and about the size of pork chops.

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Again, I ate for two days on my dinner. Although, I can’t help but giggle because one of my ribs seems to be shaped like a rather lewd anatomical part. Sorry! Had to say it! You know you were thinking it, too. Anyway, I also adore those wonderful Ribber fries, the crispy fried potatoes that are somewhere between a chip and a french fry. Delicious! The Ribber is one of a kind, and the food will definitely have you coming back for more. It’s certainly worth the trip.

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All in all, a very fun and fantastic day we shared at the Swap Meet and Ribber. I’d consider it a success. Oh, and check out our matching tie dye shirts from the previous Creative Chronicle post! Aren’t we just a-dork-able? Until next time, go out and have some adventures of your own (or come to the next Swap Meet and have some adventures with us!) !

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LEXINGTON TRIP – Boyd’s Orchard (Versailles)

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As you read in the previous post, last weekend Mister and I spent some time in Lexington for the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show. As you can tell, it was an amazing experience. Once we’d consumed as much free food as we could and visited every booth in the show, we decided to head out and find what else Kentucky had to offer. After a quick call to my former-Lexington-resident-sister, we set the GPS for Boyd’s Orchard in Versailles, KY (a few miles outside of Lexington). I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting – maybe just a simple country orchard known only to locals where you could pick your own apples – not so! It was an all-in-one attraction. Sure, there was apple picking, but also a market, kiddie train rides, live music, an entire kid entertainment playground, and a petting zoo with all my favorite country critters. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Tee-hee! A ride on this tiny train was oh so tempting! 

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My new friend says “Hello!”

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Couldn’t resist the photo op! ๐Ÿ™‚

I get irresistibly giddy around critters of any variety, so we spent a good amount of time here before taking off towards the apple orchards. We did make a quick detour to check and see if any grapes were still left, even though we had unfortunately missed the season. While there weren’t many that were great for eating, they did make for lovely photos.

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Finally, we headed to the orchard. It was slightly disheartening as we entered the orchards to hear a man on his cell phone loudly exclaim to whomever was on the other line, “Don’t even waste your time coming to the orchard. There’s not a single apple on any of the trees!” Thankfully, he was wrong. While most the apples in the section he had been in had already fallen from the trees or started to rot, with a little bit of walking we found some perfectly ripe apples. My brother in law later informed me that there was supposed to be a nifty gizmo we should have been given to pick the apples out of the tree, but we didn’t receive said gizmo and instead opted for the natural method of plucking apples from the trees.

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We collected so many different varieties of apples, and I believe our total was 22.3 pounds. While we are still working on eating all those delicious apples, we did consume an entire half-gallon jug of the orchard’s own apple cider while out picking apples in the sun.

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Doesn’t this look like the poison apple from Snow White somewhat? Half red, half white.
We even found what we dubbed our “poison apple tree”…

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I would love to come back to Boyd’s Orchard, especially when peaches are available – or strawberries, asparagus, or any other wonderful produce the orchard has growing during the year. It was an incredibly fun experience for both Mister and myself. If you are ever in Versailles, be sure to stop by!

LEXINGTON TRIP – Incredible Food Show

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Last Saturday ended in absolute disaster – my car breaking down in middle-of-nowhere-Kentucky a little more than an hour from home. It was a horrible experience that has led to a devastating amount of stress this week (if you’re curious, no, the car did not live to drive another day). Finally, though, I am trying to take some time to put all that out of my mind and focus on a good, solid update of just how amazing Saturday was before my breakdown fiasco. 

Mister and I were up and out of here before 6AM, hitting the interstate towards Lexington, Kentucky. Why? The INCREDIBLE FOOD SHOW!  I’d never heard of it before until my sister, a former Kentucky resident, sent me a link to the website. Mister and I took one look and knew we just had to be there. Free food? The Voltaggio brothers? More free food? Well, you had to know we couldn’t resist…

Here are a few of our highlights (and a few pictures as well!):

– BEER CHEESE! –

I  wish I had a picture for this, but sadly, I was too busy stuffing my face to remember my camera. Beer cheese is a type of cheese spread that is typically only found in Kentucky. In fact, Mister and I had never even heard of beer cheese until the Food Show. This delicious spread is slightly spicy and often found in mild, medium, and hot varieties. There were several -and I mean SEVERAL- merchants who specialized in beer cheese, but Mister and I ended up purchasing from Us Two Girls – Hop’n Pop’n Beer Cheese. These two lovely ladies came to the Incredible Food Show as guests last year and decided to try their luck as vendors this year. Their beer cheese is absolutely delightful. Mister got the hot, and I got the medium – which I may or may not be currently dipping my pretzel sticks in while I type ๐Ÿ˜‰

-WINE, WINE, WINE, …and PEACH BELLINI?

Yes, please! Lots of wine tastings happening at the Incredible Food Show, and while we all know I’m a big wino, Mister had me beat! He sampled just about every wine that was offered at every booth. I tasted quite a few, but I was completely struck on the Lovers Leap Vineyards booth. Why? Because they were serving peach bellini – an absolute favorite of mine! Simply delicious, to say the least. But what makes it even better? They had these nifty stemless wine glasses for only $1! Be jealous.

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-Voltaggio Brothers-

Hilarious! That’s all I can say about this duo. They were the winners of Top Chef, which I never watched, but now I wish I had. The vegetable landscape they created on the spot was slightly wacky, but the banter between these brothers was priceless. It was very reminiscent of Mister and his brother, since they both work in a kitchen together and act eerily similar to the Voltaggios. 

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-Breakfast-

The whole reason Mister and I left at 6AM and rushed to get to Lexington was to be one of the first 300 in the door so we’d receive a ticket to the Kentucky Proud breakfast that was being presented by Students from the culinary school at Sullivan University. It meant a lot to me to be there, since before I attended college I actually toured Sullivan’s culinary school. I opted against it just being too scared to be so far from home on my own. It was a pleasure to see how much it has grown since I first saw their program. So many students now! The breakfast was simple – scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, and a corn muffin. The eggs though were quite delicious and new to me though because it was a combination of chicken and duck eggs.

-Vito’s and the Sausage Queen-

Vito’s Italian Sausages was my personal favorite of everything we sampled. A 100 year old recipe that advertised “NO MSG, NO NITRATES, NO PRESERVATIVES, NO FILLERS, NO GLUTEN, NO SUGAR. OR CARBS!” It was perfection. I ended up purchasing two packages of the robust sausage, and I’m wishing there was a way to have more shipped to my home. When we returned home, we cooked up some of the sausage with red and orange bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and roma tomatoes then tossed it in some fettucini with a homemade creole butter sauce. Delicioso! Plus, we got to meet the Sausage Queen – a wonderfully fun lady with a crown of sausage. 
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Those are the major highlights, but here are a few more memorable Food Show moments my camera captured:
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If you want a good time and some great food, I really recommend checking out the Incredible Food Show when it comes around next year!

Mister’s Simple & Quick Calzones

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Mister has worked in pizza kitchens for the majority of his life, so when I had a hankering for calzones, I knew it was best to just let him take over in the kitchen. I love homemade stromboli and calzones not just because they are delicious, but because they are so cheap to make. I normally have my favorite toppings on hand, so all it usually requires is the dough, cheese, and sauce. Here’s the recipe:

For ONE Calzone

– 1 can of pizza dough (Pillsbury makes an exceptionally good one!)
– 4 Tbsp. canned pizza sauce (more or less to taste. Mister and I sprang for the pricier sauce just because it was so yummy.)
– handful mozzarella cheese
– Your yummy toppings (I’m a pepperoni and banana peppers kind of girl, and Mister goes for ham and pineapple)
– Olive oil/vegetable oil (whichever you have on hand)
– 1 Tbsp. melted butter
– dash of Italian seasoning
– sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese

Ball up the pizza dough and then press out onto an oiled, circular plate until dough is flat and can be stretched without tearing.

Add sauce, cheese, and toppings to one half of the dough – careful not to overstuff.

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Fold the other half over top of the toppings. Secure the edges of the dough by crimping with your fingers.

Cut 2-3 slits in the top of the dough. If you like, top calzone with reserved toppings to show what deliciousness is inside.

Brush with melted butter, then top with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.

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Pop it in the oven (preferably on a baking stone!) at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until golden).

Enjoy your delicious pizza-y treat.

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(Hint — for a delicious dipper, mix a few Tbsp. of Catalina dressing with a squirt of ketchup to make the famous red sauce often served with calzones.)

Yum-o!

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Still in the process of checking multiple projects off my list, but I took this weekend to relax with Mister and have a fantabulous time. Instead of my own little projects or my own adventures in the kitchen, I’ll be sharing his this time. I’m rather proud of him, if you couldn’t tell.

He’s been wanting to learn to paint for some time now, so instead of giving him any instructions, I handed him a few blank canvases, said “Create”, and set him free. One of our first “dates” was simply driving around on country backroads belting out Beatles songs in the night air. It’s still something we do frequently, since we both love and appreciate all Beatles music. That love extends to the film Across the Universe, so it’s no wonder he picked the strawberry icon from the film for his painting to me. Adorable, isn’t he?

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Monday I had a -very- long day at work, and left Mister at home all day to prep for a dinner that he refused to give me any details about. One thing is for sure, I love surprises…especially where food is concerned. When I came home, a snack was waiting for me before my shower: a basil and bacon cheeseball – Delish!
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Fresh from the shower, I was ready for more yummy eats. The appetizers were awaiting me – banana peppers stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried and a spinach salad with toasted almonds and cranberries. Can you say YUM?
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Finally – the main course! The big surprise came in the form of Mister’s signature country tomatoes (layers of tomato sandwiched with cream cheese with garlic and basil and breaded in panko bread crumbs and fried), bacon wrapped filet mignon, and then two -count ’em- TWO kinds of jumbo shrimp – coconut and panko breaded. The pictures don’t even begin to do the meal justice.
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Quite literally the best meal of my life. I literally went into a food coma immediately following the consumption of all this goodness. I laid in the floor outside the kitchen and snoozed due to a totally stuffed belly. I’d say I’ve found the perfect personal chef, for sure.