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Local authors out with new books -

Several local authors have new books out or titles that are due out soon.9780873518949

Original Local, focusing on indigenous foods, stories, and recipes from the Upper Midwest, spans traditional American Indian treatments and creative contemporary fusion. The book, published in November by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, is by Heid Erdrich, author of five books of poetry and coeditor of Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community. The book features 135 home-tested recipes that are paired with stories from tribal activists, food researchers, families, and chefs. More information can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society Press website, www.mhspress.org.

The ‘flavors’ of Lake Superior norton_lake

A new book due in April from the University of Minnesota Press, Lake Superior Flavors: A Field Guide to Food and Drink Along the Circle Tour, is dedicated to telling the stories of Lake Superior food culture, taking its readers on a culinary tour around the lake. Author James Norton and photographer Becca Dilley—a husband and wife creative team—offer the book as half guide and half journal of their voyages around the lake. For more information, visit the publisher’s website: http://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/lake-superior-flavors

Gluten-free optionsPasta-CVR6_Layout 1

Gluten-Free Pasta: More Than 100 Fast and Flavorful Recipes with Low- and No-Carb Options, by Robin Asbell, a Minneapolis private chef, freelance writer, and recipe developer, is a new book to be released in March by Running Press. The book offers an amazing variety of recipes and approaches pasta three ways: with recipes for homemade fresh pastas, recommendations for store-bought brands, and veggie “pastas” that serve as guilt-free noodle stand-ins. Traditional Italian favorites are well-represented, but Asian noodle soups, pasta bakes, and even wheat flour-free appetizers for entertaining are included. Visit Asbell’s website at www.robinasbell.com.… Read More

Get back to your roots at two SFA conferences -

Yes, the temperatures have been FRIGID this month, so, what better time to start thinking about crop and livestock production, seed saving, soil health, and other warm-season topics than now, right?

Well, our friends at Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA) have two informative conferences coming up that will give you ample time to talk about planting and harvesting, even though winter is still howling outside your door.

 SFA’s annual conference, “Back to Our Roots,” is set for Feb. 8 at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph. Cost is $55 for members, $65 for non-members.

 In addition, SFA’s Midwest Soil Health Summit is Feb. 19-20 at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. The Summit’s featured speaker is Gabe Brown, a pioneer in diverse cover cropping, who has used no-till techniques for two decades at his Brown’s Ranch in Burleigh County, North Dakota. Cost for the two-day conference is $100 for SFA members and $150 for non-members. For more information, visit www.sfa-mn.org.Read More

Fresh Bounty…In Winter: Eat local vegetables year round -

By Andy Greder

When a late fall frost hits the carrots in the fields of Featherstone Farm, the snap only makes them sweeter.

And now more local food consumers realize you can eat that favorite food from the southern Minnesota farm—in January.

About 10 farms now offer winter CSAs (or Community-Supported Agriculture) shares in the form of routine deliveries of produce during the winter months, according to the Land Stewardship Project directory.

A few years ago, only about three farms offered CSAs, and before that, “virtually none,” said Brian Devore, communications co-ordinator for the Minneapolis-based Land Stewardship Project. “It’s an interesting little trend. Another way to keep people interested in local food year round.”

Featherstone Farm, a 250-acre certified-organic farm in Rushford, began offering a CSA in about 2009 and the number of cus-tomers has tripled in recent years to more than 360 shares this winter.

“We’ve had really good growth in the winter CSA,” said Greta Sikorski, Featherstone Farm’s business manager. “It attracts differ-ent people–other growers and people that garden and like to produce their own foods, but don’t have the storage capacity that we do.”

Featherstone bills itself as a “true winter CSA” with food they can preserve and store. That means onions, cabbage, and—of course—the delectable carrots in “pretty much every box,” Sikorski says. Also in the mix: fresh greens, broccoli, kale, squash, rutabagas, radishes, and maybe some dried peppers.

“With a winter CSA, people see that they really can eat at least a majority of their vegetables locally in the winter,” says Sikorski of the $425 investment for nine deliveries from November to the end of February. “It does also underlie consumers making a commitment to local because… it is truly what we can produce.”

Devore said new technology has contributed to the increase in winter or “frozen” CSAs by incorporating hoop houses or high tunnels.  “They are a low-cost way to extend the season,” Devore says.

Besides vegetables, other Minnesota CSAs offer meats, cheese, eggs, canned goods, breads, jams, and baked goods.

“Maybe (customers) are not thinking about the farm, but this is a way to connect with local and sustainably-raised foods year round,” Devore says. 

Winter Markets

Along with the CSAs, the advent of winter farmers’ markets has the organizer of the popular Minnesota Grown directory thinking of ways to track and present the new offerings.

Jessica Miles, the agriculture marketing specialist, said 14 winter farmers are available for customers this winter, but she is unsure how many there have been in previous years.

“Not something that we started tracking until this year,” says Miles, who can rattle off that there are 163 farmers’ markets in this year’s printed directory.

Given the new presence, the number of winter markets—from Duluth to Minneapolis and St. Paul to Maple Grove—will likely continue to grow, but not to the extent of seasonal markets when the amount of produce is much higher, Miles says.

“That is one thing about why we are starting to track that number,” Miles says.

“Internally, we are saying that it’s growing. While I can give you numbers on wineries, farmers markets, and CSAs, soon I will be able to say, ‘In 2013, we had this many, and 2014, we had this many.’ It will be a great way to look back.”

The Mill City Farmers’ Market looks back to 2011 as the first year they plowed into part of that winter. the market’s vendors were successful in selling their bounty that year, so they’ve held a market on the second Saturday from November to April in the Mill City Museum.

“People were looking to continue buying local food,” says Martha Archer, the market’s executive director. “We decided to roll out a monthly market because the year before we were successful.”

Last year, the Mill City market had about 25 vendors and this winter they will have about 40, Archer says. During the traditional market, about 55 vendors partake.

“Our vendors are seeing that people are coming in and are having better sales on a Saturday once a month, in some cases, than they will in two or three or sometimes four weeks in the summer because people are really stocking up on meat and root vegetables and cheese from the vendors,” Archer says.

While Minnesota Grown and Mill City have seen growth, lack of awareness and misperceptions still exist.

“I would like to put together a write up explaining what people can expect when they go to a winter’s farmers’ market,” Miles says about what might be included in next year’s directory. “The type of product that you will find there. The atmosphere is very different.”

 Read More

Garden Fresh Farms: An Update -

Entrepreneur Dave Roeser and his Maplewood-based Garden Fresh Farms keep garnering awards and, as the Star Tribune recently reported, are also raising some serious expansion capital.

Roeser and Garden Fresh Farms, which were also featured in the Nov.-Dec. 2012 issue of Edible Twin Cities, have won entrepreneur awards from the Minnesota Cup and Midwest Region Clean Tech Open. Plus, in November, they won the National Sustainability Award at the Cleantech Open Global Forum in San Jose, California.

Now, as the Star Tribune reported, Roeser, 57, a building owner who started the company with his wife partly because he had a vacant warehouse to fill, has raised $300,000 from individual investors and is starting the first of several “farms” inside an abandoned building the company is acquiring near St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. It’s twice the size of the Maplewood location.

As he told Edible Twin Cities in 2012, “Food is recession proof; everybody has to eat. And local, green, and natural are all trends that are here to stay.”

In 2011, Roeser started Garden Fresh Farms, a high-density aquaponics operation producing basil and lettuce from his self-designed systems.Read More

Healthy snacks for Black Friday -

By Amanda McKnight

Black Friday is coming.

Many of you will likely skip the madness, but there may be a few of you who love a good bargain and will venture forth accordingly. Well, be warned. You may think you’ll make it through the day (or night) just fine fueled by Thanksgiving leftovers, but you might want to rethink that notion. Think about it—do you really want to stand in line behind dozens of other Black Friday goers in a busy mall to get a temporary energy jolt from a latte? Not to mention the food court! That truly sounds like the seventh circle of, well, you know.

We found a great source for Black Friday snack ideas—not only do all of these snacks sound delicious, but they are also hearty, filling and generally healthier alternatives than whatever you might find at a food court. Here’s the link:

http://www.thekitchn.com/packable-snacks-to-survive-bla-132515

 … Read More

Leftover Turkey? Make Turkey Shepherd’s Pie or Turkey Fajitas -

By Carol J. Butler

The sight of my mother making turkey soup, separating leftover meat from the bone, is as much a Thanksgiving memory as the actual feast itself. She always looked forward to making the turkey soup, and my father always gave her the highest praise. Unfortunately, as a vegetarian, I share neither my mother’s fondness for picking over the bones nor my father’s appreciation for the soup. I do, however, have a turkey-eating family of my own now, as well as a few ideas about what to do with that leftover bird.

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

The original pot-pie, hailing from England, Shepherd’s Pie is a catch-all hot dish that capitalizes on food found in the fridge. Though traditionally made with mutton or beef, making a turkey pie with thanksgiving leftovers is easy, and sure to comfort the carnivores in your family.

To make a turkey Shepherd’s Pie, save those mashed potatoes for the top crust, blending with a little milk if you need to stretch the spuds. Parsnips, rutabaga and turnips can also be boiled and mashed in with the potatoes, or try using the left-over sweet potatoes, mashed with a little butter, and leaving off those mini-marshmallows.

To make the meaty filling, start by sautéing onions, carrots, and celery in a bit of butter or oil. Add to that pieces of torn turkey meat, and any leftover gravy or sturdy vegetables such as Brussels sprouts or green beans. Soft vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower can get overcooked, so choose accordingly. To make your sauce, place 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or 2 tablespoons of flour into a lidded jar, along with some spices – onion powder, basil, salt, pepper – and about half a cup of turkey broth, milk or water. Shake, pour and stir into your meat and vegetables just until thickened. You may need to add more liquid if you don’t have much gravy; if you’re short on vegetables, a bag of frozen peas can fill in nicely. Pour the filling into a greased baking dish, top with the mashed potatoes and bake at 350 degrees F until hot and bubbly.

Turkey Fajitas

Traditionally made with strip steak served in tortillas with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream, the word Fajita means “little belt.” To substitute turkey or chicken for the steak, pull the meat from your bird in long strips, and slice your bell peppers and onions to length accordingly. You can marinate the meat in lime juice, olive oil and spices, but I usually skip this step in favor of a saucier fajita. Using the same jar-method, start with a tablespoon of corn flour to serve as your thickener, and blend with a more lively assortment of spices such as chili powder, garlic and cumin. A few tablespoons of turkey broth here capitalizes on all the poor bird has to offer. It’s easy to set the bones in water on a slow simmer, allowing the bullion to condense and then using it as a base for flavoring other sauces and gravies.

To finish your fajitas, sauté your strips of vegetables in a grill or sauté pan, add the cooked meat and pour your small jar of sauce over the mixture. Cook just until thickened, and serve in warm tortillas with your favorite accompaniments. 

 Read More

Thanksgiving: ‘It’s all about the pies’ -

By Amanda McKnightpie

Thanksgiving dinner is one of those meals that is practically guaranteed to be delicious, but deep down aren’t we all most excited about dessert?

Thanksgiving is known for its traditional desserts—pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie. Like Taya Kaufeberg says, “It’s all about the pies.”

Kaufeberg, culinary manager at The Wedge Co-op, says she and her staff make around 75 percent more pies this time of year than any other time.

“We sell hundreds of pies right now,” she says. “And lately it’s been more vegan and gluten free pies.”

Vegan pies can be made with raw sugar and soy milk substitutes, while gluten free pies can be made with rice or coconut flour.

While Kaufeberg isn’t sure what it is about pie that screams “Thanksgiving!”, she ventured to guess its because pumpkins and apples are seasonal.

“It’s just tradition,” Kaufeberg says. “The odd ball out of the popular pies is banana cream.”

The Wedge makes its pies with all organic, fresh ingredients, which Kaufeberg says only make the pie taste better.

“We use organic ingredients, so (the pies) are very clean and fresh,” Kaufeberg says. “We have a farm where a lot of our ingredients come from. The ingredients are the freshest you can get.”

If you’re making your own Thanksgiving pies and don’t have access to organic ingredients, at least try to get fresh ingredients. Kaufeberg swears that pie tastes better this way.

“It doesn’t matter what brand of pan I use or what spatula I have,” she says. “It’s about the ingredients.”Read More

Duluth area startup egg producer could be sitting on golden egg -

By Andy Greder

A northeastern Minnesota startup that produces eggs from pasture-raised hens could be sitting on a golden egg.

Locally Laid Egg Company, about 25 miles outside of Duluth, announced recently that its 15-month-old business is one of four finalists for a professional TV commercial to air during the Super Bowl.

Married co-owners Jason and Lucie Amundsen say its ethos of providing eggs from humanely raised birds fed non-GMO grain drove its charmed status among the initial 15,000 entries.

In October, Locally Laid was named one of 20 semifinalists in the contest from Intuit QuickBooks.

 “This has to be screwed up. Our little company can’t be doing this well,” Amundsen says of the 2,500 hens producing for some 30 locations, including about 15 in the Twin Cities metro.

Then, on a chilly and snowy day in early November, an entourage of slick-dressed businessmen and a camera crew arrived, via a private jet, at the farm in Wrenshall. Bill Rancic, winner on “The Apprentice” and best-selling author, emerged, high-fived Amundsen and told him he was a finalist. “I was too stupid and too cold to have any emotive response,” Amundsen jokes. Until Dec. 1, public voting at smallbusinessbiggame.com will determine the winner. Read More

Holiday Drinks Warm Up Family Gatherings -

[NOTE: This story and recipe first appeared in our Nov.-Dec. print edition.]

By Beth Dooley

My grandfather loved the Holidays, especially Christmas. A self-taught pianist, he played every carol come the day after Thanksgiving, over and over and with glee.  His annual Christmas party, held the night before Christmas Eve, welcomed the entire family (about 20 of us, grand kids and great grand kids), friends, and neighbors, literally hundreds squeezed into his rambling colonial home in West Orange, New Jersey. We ate my grandmother’s meat balls and the ham sent up from an old relative in Virginia and the kids took turns sitting on Santa’s knee.  Joe McGuire, a distant uncle, was game to dress up, and patiently listen to our wishes and dreams.

My grandfather was a serious, formidable businessman. On work days, he dressed mostly in a gray suit, with striped vest, and a pocket watch. But come this party, he donned a goofy red plaid sports coat (it hardly buttoned over his tummy) and played through the night, shouting out the names of the songs (and often their lyrics) as we crooned the night away.

Of Austrian descent, my grandfather was proud of his special Gluhwein. Directly translated “glow wine,” it was a traditional mulled red wine, spiked with cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange peel, and sugar. My grandmother kept it simmering on the stove in an enormous stockpot to ladle into special thick stoneware mugs. Her specialty was eggnog.  A second generation Scot, she whipped up this rich eggy, creamy concoction so that it was light and custardy, topped with fluffy whites. The children were treated to mulled cider and cocoa topped with plenty of whipped cream. The drinks warmed us all and infused their home with spicy aromas that mingled with the freshly cut pine.

The trick to these glogs and nogs, is a balance of flavors matched to the spirit. If the glog is too warm, the wine turns harsh and bitter. Too often eggnog is cloyingly sweet. Be warned that both can be wickedly strong (because they are so flavorful you can’t taste the alcohol). Use a light hand. How well I remember the year, Santa Joe, nodded off after too much nog and fell asleep on my grandparent’s couch. He drove home early the next morning fully dressed and in character. Just think of the kids who spied St. Nick driving a blue Cadillac.

These recipes from my grandmother’s collection can be tailored to your own tastes and traditions. In these parts, Tom and Jerry is more popular than eggnog. It is a drink I’d not heard of until we moved to Minnesota and one you won’t see outside the region. It was devised by British journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s to publicize his book and play – “Tom and Jerry or Life in London”. This variation of the classic eggnog is served hot in a mug topped with whipped cream. How it came here is something of a mystery, but I suspect its popularity is due to the comedian Yogi Yorgesson, who wrote and performed the song, “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas.”  It goes, “Down at the corner the crowd is so many / I end up drinking ‘bout twelve Tom and160945218 Yerry.” 

HOT MULLED WINE (pictured)

8 servings (easily doubled)

4 cups apple cider

1 bottle red wine (Pinot Noir)

¼ cup honey

3 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, zested and juiced

4 whole cloves

3 star anise

            Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer for at least 10 minutes.

CLASSIC EGGNOG

Serves 6 and easily doubled

This recipe cooks the eggs slightly so they’re safe to eat. (Omit the egg whites if you’re concerned about raw eggs and float meringues on top instead.)

4 egg yolks    

½ cup sugar

2 cups whole milk

Pinch ground cloves

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup Cognac (optional)

4 egg whites (optional)

            In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until they’re light and slowly beat in the sugar until the mixture is fluffy.

            In a thick-bottomed saucepan, slowly heat together the milk, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg until steamy hot, but not boiling. Slowly add half of the hot milk to the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour this back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Cook over medium nigh heat, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to thicken, and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Let cool, then refrigerate. Stir in the vanilla and Cognac (or, you may also set the bottle on the side so guests can mix in their own). Chill until ready to serve.

            If using the egg whites, whip until stiff then fold half in to the eggnog and layer the remaining on top.

TOM AND JERRY

            To make the eggnog into this classic drink, serve the mixture warm and top with whipped cream.Read More

Thanksgiving sides: A brief history of cranberries -

By Amanda Lillie

Although cranberries are touted as having been part of the original Thanksgiving feast, most historians say it is unlikely cranberries were served as their own dish until years later, reports the website, Cranberries.org

It is true, though, that the Pilgrims learned to use cranberries from the Native Americans, who used the fruit for food, dye, and medicine.

The antioxidant properties of cranberries became so popular that by the 1800s sailors would carry cranberries on their ships to avoid scurvy.

Some cranberry vines existing today in Massachusetts are more than 150 years old. Growers do not usually need to replant the vines because an undamaged vine will survive indefinitely.

Today, cranberries have become a common flavor, juice, and ingredient. Many American families simply buy canned cranberry sauce for their Thanksgiving dinners, but there are thousands of flavorful, homemade chutney and relish recipes that will make the cranberry portion of your meal much more enticing.

The following recipe is from Taste of Home magazine, and incorporates other autumn flavors that will meld deliciously with the rest of your meal.

Serves 16, yields four cups

1-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

2 large tart apples, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (optional)

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Carefully stir in the cranberries, apples, onion, raisins, brown sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, salt, allspice and cloves.

2. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until desired thickness, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in walnuts. Serve warm or cold.Read More

Minnesota Cup kicks off new food division -

A festive group of nearly 200 gathered Thursday night at the Mill City Museum for the Minnesota Cup Food, Agriculture & Beverage Division Kickoff event, designed as a way for our region’s food community to support and foster our industry’s entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas.

Ten invited exhibitors, including small businesses such as Nots, Red Head Creamer20131114_185755y and Far20131114_181411 North Spirits, offered samples of their products, and General Mills, the lead sponsor for this new division of the Minnesota Cup, made a presentation on innovation in the food industry.

The Minnesota Cup encourages the development of breakthrough ideas from across the state. Since 2005, the Minnesota Cup has attracted more than 7,000 entries and is now the largest new venture competition in the country. However, previously, Minnesota’s entrepreneurs, inventors and small business people could only submit ideas in divisions such as High Tech, Social Entrepreneur and Life Science & Health IT, among others. The Cup did not have a separate food  division. With last night’s kickoff, that now has changed. Several speakers during the presentation noted that this was long overdue, given the state’s heritage in the food industry. Those speakers made a point of quoting University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, who has said that “Minnesota is the Silicon Valley of the food industry.”Read More

A Wild Thanksgiving -

The editors at Field & Stream magazine call Thanksgiving the “hunter’s holiday,” referring to the fall hunting season for wild turkeys. Yet some hunters say that the best time to hunt for turkeys is actually in the spring, not fall. And, as local cookbook author and frequent Edible Twin Cities contributor Beth Dooley recently pointed out, who really knows what those Pilgrims ate at Thanksgiving: turkey, geese, ducks, pheasant, quail?

With these thoughts of wild game in mind, we offer two alternative recipes to the traditional, store-bought Thanksgiving turkey. The first, from those same Field & Stream editors, is for a grilled wild turkey breast. The second, from Beth Dooley, is for venison, a Minnesota favorite.

Wild Turkey Breast with a Coffee-Coriander Rub

From Field & Stream magazine

Serves 6

Ground coffee has been a “secret” barbecue rub ingredient for years. Mixed with ground coriander seed, it’ll give your grilled turkey breast a smoky, exotic, and eye-opening kick.

2 wild turkey breasts

2 tsp. finely ground coffee

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 Tbsp. freshly ground pepper

4 Tbsp. kosher salt

1. Using a whisk, a fork, or (best) your fingers, combine the coffee, coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture into the turkey breasts, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.

2. Set up for indirect grilling. For gas grills, this means heating one side of the grill and cooking on the other side. For charcoal grills, divide your red-hot coals into two piles on the sides and cook in the middle. Lightly oil the grates. Place your gas grill’s drip pan directly below the cooking area. If it doesn’t have one, or if you’re grilling with charcoal, use a disposable aluminum roasting pan. Pour 3/4 inch of water into your pan. (This will help moisten the mean. It’s an optional step but a worthwhile one.) When the grill is ready, set the breasts on the grate and cover the grill.

3. The size of the turkey breasts will determine cooking time, so have your meat thermometer handy. Remove them when the meat thermometer reads 150 degrees. Cut into 1/4-inch slices.

 

Venison Loin in Pancetta with Cranberries

By Beth Dooley, from Edible Twin Cities: The Cookbook

Serves 4

¼  teaspoon coarse salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 pounds venison, silver skin removed

8 ounces pancetta, cut into strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, coarsely chopped

¼  cup orange juice

½ cup fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix together the salt, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl and rub into the meat.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the venison and brown on all sides, then transfer to a baking dish (Reserve the skillet). When the venison is cool enough to handle wrap the pancetta strips around the middle and ends of the meat and secure with toothpicks.

4. Roast the meat until the internal temperature registers 135 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the meat from the oven to let rest while you make the sauce.

5. Return the skillet to the stove and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the orange juice and cranberries and cook until the cranberries begin to pop, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the honey.

6. Slice the meat into ½-inch slices and arrange them on a serving platter or individual plates. Drizzle some of the cranberry sauce over the meat and pass the rest of it.Read More

Thanksgiving: Vegetarian alternatives to turkey -

By Amanda Lillie

Not many people will argue that Thanksgiving is the most food-centric holiday of the year—hence why we will all inevitably gain five pounds this month.

But Thanksgiving is geared toward carnivores, considering the main course is typically turkey. So what can vegans and vegetarians choose?

Bill Williams, deli manager at Seward Co-op in Minneapolis, says plenty of meat-free options are available that are the veg equivalent of Thanksgiving turkey.

Mushroom-walnut loaves are a popular choice because the texture and flavor of mushrooms is very meaty.

“When you think about mushrooms, they lend themselves to meaty flavors,” Williams says. “That is the meat of the dish.”

Lentil loaves are also an option, but Williams cautions that they fall apart easier than the mushroom-walnut loaves.

If you plan to make something from scratch, make sure to have sage and thyme handy as those are popular Thanksgiving spices. Thyme-roasted beets may be a good option as a side dish to complement the flavor of whatever loaf you choose.

If Thanksgiving isn’t complete for you without gravy, consider making mushroom gravy to go with the meal. It’s veg-friendly and adds a delicious flavor to the meal.

“Mushroom gravy is great,” says Williams. “It’s got some soy in it and is very savory.”

Thanksgiving meals are relatively easy to alter and make veg-friendly, according to Williams. For instance, pumpkin pie recipes can be made with soy milk and organic, raw sugar. “A lot of these (dishes) lend themselves to being vegan.”Read More

Nov.-Dec. issue is here: Holiday ‘Spirits’ -

Our Nov.-Dec. issue is now available throughout the Twin Cities area. Click here to view a list of our magazine outlets.edibleTwinCitiesNov-Dec2013.indd

http://edibletwincities.com/find-a-copy/where-to-find-us/

We focus on a theme of holiday “spirits,” showcasing our area’s “liquid assets,” an assortment of holiday drinks and libations. So, among a number of articles, you’ll find a story on holiday cocktails that includes recipes; features on gin, vodka, and aquavit, all distilled my local artisans; and a profile of a brew pub that features organic food. We also do a couple of food pairings with local beers—recipes are from our book Edible Twin Cities: The Cookbook. Plus, veteran food writer and cookbook author Beth Dooley shares some Edible Holiday Traditions.

 Happy Holidays, everyone. Cheers!Read More

Re-Discover Your Kitchen -

edibleTwinCitiesSept-Oct2013.indd[NOTE: This story and recipe first appeared in our Sept.-Oct. print edition.]

BY CAROL J. BUTLER

Many of today’s contemporary cooking shows stress the importance of quick-n-easy, with a focus on getting you out of the kitchen as soon as possible, as if the kitchen were a terrible place to be.

Michael Pollan, author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, says Americans are spending less and less time in their kitchens, a trend that studies correlate to our growing waistlines, because, apparently, the less work we do to prepare our meals, the more we tend to eat. In an interview with Tracie McMillan for The Slate Book Review, Pollan concludes that not cooking causes a ripple effect of troubles, affecting “the health of our bodies, our families, our communities, and our land.”

It’s clear that cooking gives us many benefits, but perhaps what we need to adjust is our expectations about what cooking requires of us. Real cooking using real ingredients – whole vegetables, meat, legumes, and grains not processed in jars, packages, or cans – takes both mind and muscle, but here’s the thing: That’s what makes it fun. There is a certain thrill that comes from rising to a challenge, breaking a sweat, making it yourself, and doing it well. I’d like to help reverse the idea that being in the kitchen is some kind of medieval punishment. Here are several suggestions on how we can get more out of cooking—not by spending less time in the kitchen, but by enjoying more the time that we are there.

Obstacle #1: I’m too tired

I am of the belief that happy cooks make better food. If you are a working parent like me, sometimes coming home to make dinner is the last thing in the world you feel like doing. My solution is to begin with Happy Hour. Start with small appetizers such as a salad or set out vegetables with hummus. I usually don’t prepare anything too elaborate, but I always come up with something, either beverage or snack or both, to serve myself and entice the kitchen help. I suggest limiting the snacks to plants, such as vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as the goal here isn’t to fill up, but simply to take the edge off the hunger—and maybe the edge of your day, as well! I like to serve raw vegetables (and red wine) because they are both healthy and easy to prepare. My husband installed a pair of kitchen speakers for me, and the music I hear goes a long way toward keeping me light both on my feet and in heart.

Obstacle #2: It’s just so easy to order take-out

Yes, take-out is easy, but it can also get boring, and in my experience, even pre-packaged food items can hinder creativity. Instead of re-lying on the same old bag of pre-shaped carrots, give a weird vegetable a try. Visiting farmers’ markets and joining a CSA are easy ways to expose yourself to an adventure in produce. Food coops also do a great job of offering variety. Bringing home just one new item or trying one new recipe a week can go a long way toward building anticipation and excitement in the kitchen.

Spices can also liven things up. The Coop spices available in bulk allow home cooks to try just a little bit of this or that; Penzeys Spices offers larger quantities in bags with a variety of blends; Wayzata Bay Spice Co. is a local distributor of bottled spices available at Kitchen Window, Lund’s, and Coastal Seafood. You can also broaden your horizons by trying combinations from other countries, or visiting spe-cialty markets such as Holy Land or Pooja. 

Obstacle #3: I don’t have time

Lack of time is the number one reason most people cite for why they can’t cook. Ironically, the more time you spend in the kitchen, the faster you will get at cooking. Most of the work done preparing meals involves chopping or cutting of one kind or another. Learning how to wield a big knife is the most important thing you can do to improve your efficiency in the kitchen. If you don’t have a chef knife, get one, and get chopping. The better your skill, the more enjoyable cooking will become. Learning other skills such as sautéing, whisking, flipping, and frying can also broaden your horizons and add variety to the list of things you can comfortably prepare. Watching a cooking show can give you a few tips and pointers here, but practice is the only way to develop the skill yourself. To quote Julia Child, “You get good at flipping it by flipping it!”

AMMA’S VEGETABLE STEW

By Carol J. Butler

 “Amma” is Icelandic for Grandma, and when it comes to cooking fresh in our family, she leads the way. This recipe utilizes many of the fall finds for the season, though you can make substitutions, add onions, and try other kinds of beans. A vegetarian dish, it can be made ahead of time and frozen for an easy meal on a busy night, as the flavors will only meld and improve. It is also thick enough to serve over whole grains such as rice or quinoa for a change of pace. Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients:

1lb pinto beans soaked overnight (1lb dry beans = 6 cups cooked)

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

Assorted vegetables:

rutabaga, 1 medium

turnip, 1 medium

parsnips, 3 to 4

zucchini, 2 to 3

celery, 4 to 5 stalks

garlic (two to four cloves)

1 yellow pepper

1 red pepper

1 orange pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or half jalapeno, depending)

One bunch of kale, Swiss chard, or other greens, chopped

2 small cans or 1 big can diced tomatoes with their juice

1 box organic vegetable broth

1teaspoon cumin

1tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Drain water from your soaking beans and cover with fresh water, allowing at least two inches of liquid to cover the legumes. Boil for 1 ½ hours, check-ing water level. When tender, drain into a colander, rinse, and set aside. Meanwhile, wash, your vegetables. Peel, slice, and cut rutabaga, turnips, and pars-nips into chunks. Slice your celery, and dice your zucchini and peppers. Mince your garlic and jalapeno (if using.) In a Dutch oven or large pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter or oil, and sauté your vegetables to soften, starting with garlic first, and going from your smallest to largest vegetable pieces. Add water to cover, salt, and cook over low heat, allowing the vegetables to create a flavorful broth. When tender, add your cooked and drained beans, spices, and canned tomatoes with their juice. Lastly, chop your greens and add to the pot with the broth, (you do not have to add all the broth if you prefer a thicker stew) stir to combine, and simmer about 20 minutes to meld flavors.

Taste and correct seasonings. Ladle into bowls, and serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream. For vegans or for a dash of color, garnish with fresh ci-lantro or chopped green onions.

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Sept.-Oct. issue is here: Cooks and Cooking! -

edibleTwinCitiesSept-Oct2013.inddOur Sept.-Oct. issue is now available throughout the Twin Cities area. Click here to view a list of our magazine outlets. http://edibletwincities.com/find-a-copy/where-to-find-us/ We focus on a theme of Cooks and Cooking, so, among other stories, you’ll read about ways to “re-discover” your kitchen, the Cooking Matters education program, and Zen and the art of intuitive cooking. In addition, two local chefs are profiled, and you’ll get a fun glimpse behind the scenes at Lucia’s. Plus, read about several flourishing food coops that are adding locations. Beth Dooley writes about meat, beer, and food fests, just in time for the fall season. Finally, you’ll find some tasty ideas from Becky Poss for enjoying all of those apples that will soon be available. For more apple recipes, click here: http://edibletwincities.com/category/recipes-2013/. And enjoy!Read More

Minnesota schools expand fresh, local offerings during Farm to School Month -

September is Farm to School Month in Minnesota, designed to highlight partnerships between school districts and local farmers that bring fresh, local food to K-12 students and children in childcare. Weekly themes that put the spotlight on certain local foods and activities for students help schools build on the momentum that has established Minnesota as a national leader in the National Farm to School Network.

 

What started in 2006, with 10 districts engaged in Farm to School has expanded to more than 150 districts around the state and more than a half million students.

“We’re thrilled to see such dramatic growth in Farm to School,” said Erin McKee VanSlooten, Local Foods senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). “Small- and mid-sized farmers connecting with the lunch plate means more local dollars stay in Minnesota, strengthening our economy, while at the same time offering good food to our students and an opportunity to learn how their food is grown.”

IATP’s past work on helping build Minnesota’s Farm to School Network has included conducting surveys, working with schools and local farmers to remove roadblocks to Farm to School and strengthen Minnesota’s network. IATP continues to work in partnership with current state lead organization University of Minnesota Extension to strengthen Minnesota’s Farm to School movement.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has provided funding to build the foundation for the future expansion of Farm to School in Minnesota.

To learn more about this year’s Farm to School Month, visit http://www.farm2schoolmn.org.Read More

Urban ag tour set for Sept. 27 -

Mark your calendar for Friday, Sept. 27 for the 5th Urban Agriculture Bus Tour, coordinated by University of Minnesota Extension.

The event is sponsored by University of Minnesota Extension, NRC SARE in Minnesota, and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

This year’s tour focuses on urban agriculture sites in Minneapolis with a theme of  “What happens because of urban agriculture activities?”

The tour will explore what changes happen in a community when urban agriculture activities occur, according to a university news release. The tour stops have seen changes in employment, nutrient flow, policy, physical activity, eating habits, community engagement and more.  Some of these sites and groups have been tour stops before, but the group will discuss how and why they have evolved over time.

The tour begins and ends at Harriet Brewing in South Minneapolis. Stops include Beez Kneez Honey House, McKinley Community CSA, California St. Farm, Project Sweetie Pie, Gandhi Mahal restaurant and urban farming project, and YEA Corps headquarters.

This tour is designed for learning about urban agriculture in Minnesota and the impact of urban agriculture on a community, discovering how tour attendees can support urban agriculture of all kinds, and networking with others working in urban agriculture.

For more information, contact Betsy Wieland, Extension Educator with questions at 612-596-1175 or eliza003@umn.edu.

 

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School lunches: The local angle -

At Minneapolis Public Schools, students these days are dining on grass-fed beef, fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains and school-made Italian sausages using free-range turkey meat.

This good news was reported recently by Foodservice News, a publication that covers the region’s restaurants and food service industry. The publication featured an article focusing on how students at Minneapolis schools are finding more locally sourced food in their school lunches, thanks in large part to the efforts of Bertrand Weber, director of culinary and nutrition services for the district. The district includes 71 schools with 32,263 enrolled students. Weber is a vocal advocate for local-food sourcing for schools and has quickly built a reputation for making this happen in the school district he serves.

His ideas, the article states, “are changing the way food is prepared, served and consumed.” Gone is the prepackaged food of the old days. Meals are now created from scratch. The idea, Weber tells Foodservice News, is to let kids know what they’re eating, so there’s no more infamous “mystery meat.”

Bertrand buys food items from a number of area farmers and growers, such as Ferndale Market, which raises free-range turkeys near Cannon Falls. Ferndale was featured in the March-April issue of Edible Twin Cities.

To find out more about what’s cooking at Minneapolis public schools, visit this website:

http://nutritionservices.mpls.k12.mn.us/ Read More

Garlic fest heats up Hutchinson Aug. 10 -

Get ready for the 8th Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival, set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Minn.

Coordinated by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, ticket prices are as follows: Adults: $5, Kids under 12: $3, stroller/carried babies free; $1 Parking per vehicle.

The Minnesota Garlic Festival, according to the festival’s website, is the “premier event for lovers of garlic, great local foods and good times!” Family friendly, fun filled and fragrant, the event features fantastic foods, celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations, marvelous music, area artisans, goofy games…and lots of GARLIC – all in support of a healthy environment, sustainable farms and vital rural communities in Minnesota.

Warners Stellian, Minnesota’s home and kitchen appliance store and Garlic Festival sponsor, will be giving away a top-of-the-line gas grill at this year’s festival. This will be the very same grill used by Mary Jane Miller for the Chef Demo Stage, and she will be awarding it to some lucky festival fan.

For more information and details, visit www.mngarlicfest.com.

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