Do you go to your state’s fair?
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We do every year, but only for the photography
For readers not native to Iowa, our State Fair is one of the largest in the US (if judging by the sheer number of visitors) with over a million people passing through the gates every August.
One of the most popular exhibits they’ll be able to see can be found on the third floor of the Cultural Building, where 1,200+ photographers from all over the US have submitted nearly 4000 (!) 11×14 matted prints for the fair’s 75th annual Photography Salon. Of the photos entered, about 900 are on display.
“Show us the world as we’ve never seen it before” ~ Charley W. Starnes, Superintendent Iowa State Fair Photography Salon
The theme for 2014? A salute to Andel Adams, and as such, each entry is in black and white.
(From Iowa Public Television, 2013. A behind-the-scenes look at how the photography is judged.)
There’s something breathtaking and timeless about black and white. The image stripped down to its essence, and these were the best of the best. For a few hours this afternoon, as we slowly took them all in, time as I knew it, seemed to standstill
I couldn’t help but wonder the backstory. Where was the photographer standing? Who was the subject? Did the church, with its stunning architecture, have personal meaning? How did one find themselves with a camera inside an old penitentiary? Were they afraid as the storm clouds approached? The farmer in his field that knelt in prayer, how long had it been since the last rain?
“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop” ~ Ansel Adams
“Do you have a favorite?” He smiled, knowing the answer to the question before it was even posed. Handing me this year’s book with a copy of all the entries.
My mind went from one to the next, each unique in their own way. Some for the photo itself, others capturing the time and place in such a beautiful way. Then there were those that gave a window into the soul
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed” ~ Ansel Adams
If you ever have an opportunity to see the exhibit .. please do. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
In honor of State Fairs that offer everything on a stick, I thought it might be fun to feature a great kebab.
Satay is a street-food favorite served throughout Southeast Asia and Indonesia. These strips of skewered, grilled meat are typically eaten with an interesting dipping sauce. Here, the sauce swaps more traditional peanuts for cashews, which bring an ultra-creamy texture and flavor.
Typically satay is served as a snack or appetizer, but if you add a side salad, it’s a wonderful summertime meal.
ps: Don’t forget to cut your ingredients into uniform pieces and leave a bit of space between them as you thread them onto the skewer. That way they’ll cook at about the same rate and brown evenly on all sides
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~ Adapted from Eating Well
Indonesian Beef Satay with Spicy Cashew Sauce
- 1 ½ lb sirloin steak
- 1 Tbsp lime zest, finely grated
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp tamari
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 ½ Tbsp honey
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- Cashew sauce
- ½ cup unsalted cashews, roasted
- ⅓ cup chopped shallot (~ 1 large)
- 1 medium lemongrass stalk, bottom 5" only, remove the tough outer layers and thinly slice the stalk
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 large clove garlic, chopped
- 1 small fresh red Thai chile, stemmed
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted, but not hot (or olive oil)
- ⅓ cup coconut milk, canned
- 1 Tbsp tamari
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup water
- Grilling and Serving
- Skewers soaked in water for ~ 30 minutes if using wooden
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil as needed
- 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil (or olive oil)
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
- Marinate the Steak
- Trim the steak, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 15 minutes (to make it a bit easier to slice).
- Slice across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces about 1" wide and 4 to 5" long.
- In a large bowl, combine the lime zest and juice, tamari, fish sauce, ginger, honey, garlic, coriander, and cumin; add the steak and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours (overnight is best)
- Make the Cashew Sauce
- Pulse the cashews in a food processor until finely ground; transfer to a small bowl.
- Next, pulse the shallot, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chile until finely chopped.
- Heat the coconut oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot mix and cook, stirring often, until it's starting to brown (~ 3 -4 minutes)
- Add the ground cashews, coconut milk, tamari, honey, fish sauce, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (~ 5 minutes)
- Transfer to a blender. Add the lime juice and salt; blend until smooth. (Make-ahead: You can refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)
- Grill the Satay
- Thread a slice of the marinated steak onto each skewer like a ribbon, stretching it out a bit. But at the same time, making sure they're not too flat.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Oil the grill grate and grill the satay in batches, over medium heat, turning often and basting once or twice with coconut oil until the surface is slightly charred, but the center is still slightly pink (~3 to 4 minutes total)
- Transfer to a platter, tent with foil, and keep warm while grilling the remaining skewers. Stir half of the cilantro into the sauce, and sprinkle the satay with the remaining. Serve with the lime wedges and the sauce.