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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.

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TARRAGON-LEMON MAYO

Recipe by Beth Dooley
Makes 1/2 cup

Whip this up to serve as a dip for blanched, chilled asparagus. It’s terrific on a plate of cold roast chicken and asparagus as well.

1/2 cup good quality prepared mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon, or more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Whisk together all of the ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Our next issue is out next week!

Our May-June 2013 cover.

Our May-June 2013 cover.

Our May-June issue will be out next week, and we’re eager to have you see it. You’ll find four compelling “Edible Destinations” to read about, a profile of organic pioneer Jim Riddle, ideas on what to do with all of those veggies you’ll be getting from your CSA, and Beth Dooley’s column in praise of asparagus. Plus lots of fun recipes to try. The magazine hits the streets next week (May 13-17). For a list of where to find Edible Twin Cities, go to http://edibletwincities.com/find-a-copy/where-to-find-us/

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Plant an extra row in your garden

Minneapolis gardeners are being encouraged to plant an extra row this spring and donate their extra vegetables and fruits to a food shelf that helps the needy.

Homegrown Minneapolis, the city’s local-food initiative, noted in its May newsletter that food shelf managers and recipients appreciate the fresh produce, but that the supply usually doesn’t meet the demand.

The Minneapolis Health Department’s Healthy Food Shelf Network is trying to change that by connecting gardeners with food shelves so that healthy food gets into everyone’s kitchen.

Nearly 100 gardeners have already committed to planting an extra row this year, according to Homegrown Minneapolis. You can, too, by learning more about the program at http://www.healthyfoodshelves.org.

It’s this easy:

  • Connect with a local food shelf to learn about the types of produce they want most.
  • Plan an extra row (or two) in the garden.
  • Gather seeds and supplies and start planting.
  • Share high-quality produce with a local food shelf.
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