Archive | Winter 2005

missMarket

ETC…Local “foodie” news & eats Winter 2005

Story by Kathy Couturié
Photographs by Michelle Hueser

I’m continuing to consume the local food scene while writing for EDIBLE TWIN CITIES. We are seeking out unique, local foods in the two short days we have left…a dream come true assignment! Following is a food fanatic’s journal of yet another delicious day in St. Paul and Minneapolis…

Heading to our publisher’s home, I enjoyed a Legacy Chocolates 85% cocoa espresso truffle – a great way to start the day. My partners-in-eating spotted the Riverview Café, and we screeched to a halt for cappuccinos… This is a hip neighborhood café, featuring live music every Friday and Saturday night, and a story hour for kids every Tuesday. There’s even a Wine Bar next door. The coffee is superb… Riverview Café is at 3753 42nd Ave. South, Minneapolis; tel. (612) 722-7234 or visit www.theriverview.net.

missMarket.jpgWe headed west to the Mississippi Market, another fabulous co-op in the Twin Cities area… They feature terrific signage in their produce department, introducing shoppers to local growers such as Riverbend Farm in Delano, Minnesota and Avalanche Organics in Wisconsin… There are easy-to-spot “locally grown” signs, and we browsed the aisles admiring the huge bulk food section, including shoyu and even Reims vinegar. They have hot food to go, a spiffy cheese section, and we purchased a Mississippi Market tote bag and some organic tie-dye socks to take back to California… Mississippi Market has two locations in St. Paul; we visited the store at 622 Selby Ave.; tel. (651) 310-9499 or visit www.msmarket.coop.

Next stop was Cooks of Crocus Hill – amazing. Cooks is a gourmet retail store/cooking school all rolled into one slice of heaven… This store regularly attracts nationally recognized chefs and cookbook writers, and they’ve developed a program supporting Minnesota’s regional, sustainable agriculture. (Visit the “Crop Shares” section of their website for more info on vegetable CSA shares, salad shares, herb shares, pig shares and even pesto shares…) At the Grand store, the cooking school is upstairs, and the retail area is downstairs… I peeked into a cooking class and was awestruck by what a great space they have, only to learn that you can host a private event in one of their state-of-the-art kitchens. cooks.jpgCooks will provide the staff, the food and the drink, as well as the setup and cleanup…what are you waiting for? We browsed for quite a while, agog at the amount of gourmet food products, kitchen gadgets, gizmos, equipment, etc., not to mention a spectacular collection of cookbooks, including books on kitchen equipment and cooking techniques… I was amused to see my son’s favorite food item – panko bread crumbs (a necessity for maximum chicken enjoyment) and jumped for joy when I spotted my favorite chocolate bars from Oregon – Dagoba. They stock our beloved stemless Riedel wine glasses, and I strongly considered purchasing a croque monsieur pan and a panini grill until I remembered neither would fit in my suitcase… I literally had to be yanked out of the store before I signed up for a series of dinner-oriented classes for people who like to eat instead of people who like to cook… Even though I live far away, it would be worth the commute… The cooking class schedule is impressive – we just missed Deborah Madison, who had been in for a discussion of her new book, Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. This is the kind of store that makes you want to relocate to their neighborhood – tomorrow. We visited Cooks at 877 Grand Ave. in St. Paul; tel. (651) 228-1333 or visit www.cooksofcrocushill.com.

Next up: Lund’s Market in St. Paul. I’m green with envy at the sheer number of gourmet markets Twin Cities residents have available. Lund’s bakery section is gorgeous, and I freaked when I spotted the sushi bar, offering not only sushi, but spring rolls – all natural, made fresh daily. The deli features extremely enticing goodies, such as coconut chicken fingers, wild rice with squab, pasta salads, and maple fennel pork loin. I drooled over the amazing array of cheeses, and purchased some Shepherd’s Way queso fresco. Then onto the olive bar, complete with antipasti, and then to the produce section where we spotted Dehn’s potted herbs from Andover, MN. Cedar Summit’s dairy products are plentiful, along with Hope Creamery’s butter. They have Minneapolis’s own Sonny’s Ice Creams, complete with batch numbers… I couldn’t decide on their organic pure vanilla bean or the organic coffee latte, so we bought them both… While admiring the honeys I found Minnestalgia’s whipped blackberry honey spread from Minnesota’s north woods. Fortunately, we met the store manager, Ken Atzmiller, who quickly divined I was from out of town after hearing me oooing and aahing my way through the aisles… Mr. Atzmiller helped us locate numerous local products, and then presented me with a box of Wood’s Victoria Brittle – an exclusive Wood’s recipe for over 50 years… I was stunned by Mr. Atzmiller’s generosity-even more so after I polished off the divine brittle in no time flat… We visited Lund’s Highland Park location at 2128 Ford Parkway in St. Paul; tel. (651) 698-5845, but there are eight others to choose from, or visit www.lundsmarket.com.

We headed to the Wedge Co-op, the first certified organic store in Minnesota. This is a huge market, featuring bright yellow “Certified Organic” signs that enable one to easily locate organic produce, as well as many other products. We admired signs featuring the Gardens of Eagan and Riverbend Farm in the produce section, then moved on to the bulk section that has snacks such as popcorn, trail mixes, etc… I lurked in the bread section, marveling at the array of French Meadow breads including Healthy Hemp, Men’s and Women’s breads, along with the bakery’s delicacies… The Wedge features the first certified organic meat department in the USA, and I admired delicacies such as Beeler’s pork chorizo, bison, garlic and shallot sausages, and marinated free roam chicken breasts… The Seafood section is a thing of beauty, offering a variety of wild-caught fish including Dover sole, cod, squid and yellowfin tuna… I desperately wanted to sample some of the smoked fish from Everett Fisheries in Northern Wisconsin, and I had a hard time restraining myself in the deli section… The Wedge Co-op is at 2105 Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis; tel. (612) 871-3993 or visit www.wedge.coop.

We stopped at the Kramarczuk Sausage Co. to admire the amazing displays of sausages and other gourmet goodies first thing, as I am a Sausage Lover. The shop was already packed with fans, and I drooled over sausages such as smoked Italian, andouille, French apple, Krakowska Polish and more. They also stock a range of breads, Inglehoffer mustards, Consorzio’s delicious marinades, Clarendon Hills butter, and more, so this is a quick and easy one-stop shop… The guys behind the counter are terrific – very kind about offering tastes of whatever it is you’d like…which, in my case, was plenty. Loved their home-made mini-sausages, which I purchased in bulk to sustain me through the plane trip back to California. By all means do not miss the delicacies at Kramarczuk Sausage Co. at 215 East Hennepin in Read More

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landSchoolHarvest

Grower’s Profile: The Land School

Story and photographs by Vina Kay

landSchoolHarvest.jpg Harvest Festival at the Land School

I first visited the Land School just over five years ago. It was August, and we followed the directions I had written on a scrap of paper: Baldwin exit off of I-94, drive through Baldwin, turn right at Highway 64, left at County Road Q, left after the sheep farm, go up the hill…

This was like no other school I had been to before. My husband and I had just enrolled our three-year-old son in a Minneapolis Montessori school called Lake Country School, and this 160 acres in rural Western Wisconsin was somehow part of what we had signed up for. We had fallen in love with the beautiful classrooms, the calm teachers and the happily busy children at the school in Minneapolis, and that environment was what we wanted for our son. What we didn’t realize was that this other environment was going to reach out to us, pulling us out of our city lives into the life of the land.

It was a breezy late-August day, and as we stepped out of our car, we felt a cool breath of air. It was ten degrees cooler here than in the city. There was a hint of fall in the brilliant blue sky, in the yellows mixed with greens in the rolling landscape. The old red barn, the color of fall apples, stood tall and sturdy-just the picture that comes to a child’s mind when we talk of going to a farm. Chickens rushed over to greet us, in their head-nodding, meandering way. My three-month-old baby stared with wide eyes. A burly, brown dog came running up, too. Then, from the farm house came Jen, one of the Land School managers, with a welcoming smile. This would be the only time, being our first meeting, that Jen greeted us with a handshake. From then on, we were old friends, and only a warm embrace would do.

Both schools are the visions of Larry Schaefer, and his wife, Pat Schaefer. They founded Lake Country School in South Minneapolis in 1976. The preschool and elementary programs grew from their spaces at the Basilica of St. Mary to a permanent building at 38th and Pleasant Avenue South. The school now serves three hundred students, from preschool through ninth grade. Over the years, the school was able to create the kind of beautiful and orderly environments that are central to the Montessori way of learning. Pink wooden towers stack neatly in Children’s House classrooms, along with chains of beads and trays of cursive letters. The elementary classrooms are filled with shelves of books and objects from around the world. Common spaces include areas for cooking, as well as art and music. The junior high students have access to a woodworking shop, and an English classroom complete with a tattered sofa and cozy lamps and a wall plastered with photos of writers. But missing from all of this, as Larry Schaefer knew, was another environment necessary to adolescent learning and growth: the land.

In 1986, Lake Country School purchased a 160-acre farm near Glenwood City, Wisconsin and started the Land School, giving Lake Country the chance to fulfill the vision of providing adolescents with the larger environment of the land. For younger children at Lake Country, the Land School has become an important learning environment for day trips, and even an occasional camping trip. But for the junior high students, the Land School is an integral part of their learning.

Maria Montessori envisioned adolescents learning from the rural environment, and engaging in work that was not only academic, but physical and economic in nature. In the fall of 2004, that vision was fully realized with the completion of the Homestead, a building that provides dormitory, classroom, and common space for junior high students. In September 2004, eight junior high students boarded the bus to spend the first six-week residency at the Land School.

Greeting the students when they arrive at their six-week home are Jen Bush and Andy Gaertner, Farmstead Managers; Nadine Wetzel-Curtis, Land School Residential Coordinator; and Bryan Curtis, the Kitchen Manager. Also happy to see the students is little Isaiah, Nadine and Bryan’s two-year-old son, who is never hungry for attention while the students are present. During their stay on the land, the four adults act as guides and teachers, parents, and friends. The students each choose an occupation that becomes their’s for those six weeks. The choices vary with the seasons, but they include gardener, naturalist, shepherd, chicken wrangler, maple syrup harvester, and cook. Not only do those become the students’ jobs, but they become the source of some of their learning-their integrated project. They dig deep into their work, interviewing local farmers and other experts, and write paperabout their experiences. “We make every effort to keep the work of the head and the work of the hands connected in a meaningful way,” says Wetzel-Curtis.

For Rosie McCarty, an eighth-grader spending her first residency at the Land School, the experience is unique. As shepherd, she is not just cleaning out the sheep pens, but learning to take care of the sheep with the right diet and by setting up veterinary care. All of this requires research and asking experts for advice. “I wouldn’t be doing work like this anywhere else,” said Rosie, as she sat knitting while selling pumpkins at a recent Harvest Festival.

Fellow resident and eighth-grader Kimi Goldstein, who was also knitting and working the pumpkin stand, agreed with Rosie’s assessment. “Our main theme during this residency is sustainability, and we are focusing on the sustainable kitchen. So that means we are learning all about preserving seasonal produce so that we can enjoy that produce later in the year. We wouldn’t learn that kind of thing back in the city.” As the resident engineer/handyperson, Kimi must also figure out how to fix the roof on the granary, and make plans for a tree house the students want to build.

William Berestka, Harris Mueller, Amal Flower Kay, and Max Pardo

The experience at the Land School does not take students away from academic work. Each day includes two three-hour work periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Time is dedicated within those work periods to their integrated projects, math, French, research, occupations, community work, and self-expression. Students set aside a half hour of “practice” time each day, to spend playing a musical instrument, dancing, or pursuing another interest, or simply taking a walk or reading. Mealtimes are organized by the kitchen manager, but all take turns in preparing the food and cleaning up.

For Lake Country families like us, with young children, the Land School provides another layer to our urban education experience. Each year, some fifty shares are sold in a community supported agriculture program at the Land School. CSA members go there to work at least a couple times during the season, to plant, weed, and harvest, but also clean out llama pens or attack the ragweed forest on the side of the barn. The reward is an abundance of fresh-picked vegetables with a real connection to their beginnings. My son calls Read More

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RoseMcGee

In the Kitchen: Rose McGee – Cultivating Her Roots through Food

Story by Beth Jones
Photographs by Carol Banks

RoseMcGee.jpg Rose McGee

Rose McGee is a woman who understands that food provides both energy, and meaning to people’s lives. As owner, and sole employee of Deep Roots Desserts, McGee is a woman of action (try pulling all-night baking sessions on both of your days off), and reflection about what her baking means.

Take, for instance, the company name, Deep Roots. When McGee and a former business partner were working at St. Paul Academy, they planned to bring in samples of sweet potato pie for Black History Month. McGee thought, “Since we’re getting this thing going, we need a catchy little name.” Around that time, McGee and her son were riding in the car listening to a rap that struck a chord with her. A particular line popped out that said, “Nappy roots are going to be OK.”

“It was talking about the struggle that black people go through,” McGee explains. “I kept thinking about that, and the ‘roots’ just came out. I just wrote it-Deep Roots.” McGee notes, “It had such a carry-over meaning. People who know sweet potatoes automatically think I named it because a sweet potato is a root. But it’s more than that. It’s about heritage. It’s about the richness of traditions. It’s just deep. Food has that kind of impact in every culture.”

McGee has written a story about the history of Deep Roots. “Somewhere in (the process) I began writing what this really means to me. I thought about my grandmother and my great-grandmother who raised me. The tradition of cooking is something that has been very much the core of our culture, whether you’re rich or poor. And this whole thing with the sweet potato became so fascinating to me.” McGee now has an agent, and is working on a book about the cultural importance of the sweet potato pie.

When McGee began selling her desserts at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market two years ago, she was surprised by people’s attitudes about her product. “Particularly black people’s attitudes,” she says. “I didn’t realize how sacred this dessert was to people.” On her first day at the Market she set out samples. “A black woman came by, and I couldn’t even get her to stop,” she explains. “A couple of other black women came by and they looked at it and just kind of snarled at it. That’s how the first day went for the most part.” McGee tells of one man’s loyalty to his mother’s sweet potato pie. “This young black couple came by, and the woman tried a sample and said, ‘This is good. Honey, come try this.'” He said, “I don’t eat anybody’s sweet potato pie but my mama’s.” McGee told him, “You’re welcome to try it. You don’t have to buy it.” He came up and took a deep breath, brought the sample to his mouth, stopped, and said, “I can’t do it,” and walked off. The wife looked at McGee, stunned. McGee simply said, “I understand.”

“It wasn’t insulting anymore. Now when an older black woman tastes it and says it’s good, it really makes me feel good.”

McGee has become part of the community of the Farmers’ Market, working with other vendors to create new products, and supporting each other’s businesses. McGee even buys her sweet potatoes at the Market. She explains, “When I started selling pies, I had a young man who would buy one of my desserts every week and one day he said, ‘Have you met Mr. Hall?’ He took me over and introduced me, and he was just wonderful.” McGee began ordering sweet potatoes from him each week, and he would deliver them right to her house. Hall, who died last October, started selling at the market when he entered retirement. His sons are now running the business.

It would seem that running Deep Roots Desserts would take up all of her time, but McGee, who is a teacher at the Urban League Academy in South Minneapolis, has made time to bring food into her classroom. The Urban League Academy is an alternative high school for students who are having difficulties in traditional school settings. McGee admits that when she started, she was called every name in the book. “That’s just the way it is, and nobody was interested in listening to me. But I learned it’s not personal . . . the only way to get to them is to establish a relationship.” To do that, McGee brought in a bowl of candy, and students began dropping by her office throughout the day. This year she tried apples, and the response has been good.

makingPies.jpg Rose, making pies

Last spring, McGee began a nine-week girls’ program, which took students into schools to read to young children. The girls also read Alice Walker’s classic The Color Purple, and participated in role playing and discussion of the book.

When McGee first gathered the girls for the program, she was adamant that at the end of the nine weeks they would celebrate with a tea party. McGee laughs, “The girls said, ‘We’re ghetto. We don’t have tea parties.'” There was also some concern about having to eat cucumber sandwiches.

McGee invited all the women on staff to join the party. She brought in her own dishes and tea sets, and had the students prepare the food, and decorate the school cafeteria in pink tablecloths. One student even volunteered to give a speech about the program. She explained that she expected it to be boring, but when she saw the expressions on the children’s faces it changed her mind. The party, and the program were a huge success, and McGee has even heard that some of the girls had their own tea parties over the summer. “For centuries, woman have been having tea parties and strategizing,” explains McGee. “That’s where some of the most powerful decisions were made.”

For McGee, food is energy-energy to do your work, to tell your story, to teach. She says, “I do believe that it is very much a part of who we are.”

DETAILS

Deep Roots Desserts Telephone: (763) 544-9366 E-mail Rose at: rtist528@aol.com

Offering: Sweet Potato Pie, Chocolate Sweet Potato Pie and Mango Cobbler-all in either full pies or mini-pies. Rose also makes custom gift baskets.

You can also look for her pies at La Patisserie at 1570 Randolph Avenue in St. Paul, and Café Tatta Bunna at 2100 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis.

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