October 31st, 2011 § § permalink
The kitchen partner and I belong to a postcard exchange website called Postcrossing.com. The basic idea of the exchange begins when you register for an account and receive an address for another user. When this user receives your postcard in the mail they register it on the site. For each postcard you send, another stranger around the world is given your address and in return sends a postcard back to you. We’ve been in the exchange for a few years now and have postcards from over 40 countries.
Many times the messages are about the weather or the scenery, but occasionally the writer shares something about local food. Recently, a postcard came from The Netherlands with a recommendation to try Borenkool Stamppot. I plugged it into Google and tonight we had a hearty Dutch potato and kale dish that will definitely become a regular on our winter table. We’re also making this up for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration in March (the Irish version goes by the name Colcannon.)
The Dutch version we made is traditionally served with a steamed ring of smoked sausage, but without any on hand tonight, I went for a vegetarian version instead. I’m certain it’d be fantastic with a handmade local sausage. With a little more research, I found stamppot can be made with other root vegetables like celeriac or parsnips in combination with potatoes. Other greens (endive, spinach, turnip greens) and other meats (smoked or fried sausages, brats, stewed meats) also popped up as options. I can find most of these ingredients at the co-op or winter farmers’ market this time of year too. A great locavore side dish when the local produce options are running low!
Stamppot (Dutch Mashed Potatoes with Kale)
3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1 lb. kale
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic
2-3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
1. Quarter potatoes and place them in a large pot with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 8-10 minutes or until tender. While potatoes are cooking, wash kale and remove leaves from thick stems. Roughly chop.
2. Heat oil in a sauté pan with garlic. Add kale and cook 1-2 minutes until tender. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.
3. Place potatoes, butter and garlic powder in a large bowl and whip using an electric mixer until smooth. While mixing, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until potatoes reach desired consistency. If you like chunky potatoes, use less milk. For smoother texture and consistency, add more milk.
4. Gently mix in kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
October 28th, 2011 § § permalink
A few farmers’ markets around the area will still be open this weekend with the last of tomatoes, pumpkins and squash for fall meals. The kitchen partner and I are headed to Wisconsin to visit family and help with the last of the gardens there. Can you believe we’re already to the last of October? How is everyone planning to spend it?
October 25th, 2011 § § permalink
Izzy’s ice cream makes me swoon. On two separate occasions this month, I’ve bumped into a spoonful of Izzy’s homemade goodness. Both satisfied my locavore affection for ice cream and Minnesota-made beverages. Thought I’d share my encounters today as a reminder that good (and local) things often come in pint-sizes.
First Izzy’s Encounter: I was cruising the freezer section at Mississippi Market and landed in front of the shelf of ice cream. Right next to the vanilla was a flavor I’ve never seen before: Summit Oatmeal Stout, made with Summit Brewing Company’s Oatmeal Stout beer. Both Izzy’s and Summit are St. Paul icons. To see them combined in one container completely rocks my world. So much so, I even stole a spoon from the deli salad bar at Mississippi Market so I could sample it on the drive home.
Now I know that beer and ice cream don’t seem like natural companions at first, but Izzy’s Oatmeal Stout is my best combination of ice cream for this time of year. Pleasant nutty oatmeal flavor with a subtle hint of stout beer. Plus, the caramel color just asks to be scooped on a plate with a slice of warm apple pie. Delicious.
Second Izzy’s Encounter: Between glasses of wine on a recent trip to Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls, MN I stopped for another dish of Izzy’s. This time it was a sampling of Bootlegger Cherry, made with Cannon River’s robust Bootlegger’s red port wine. It was a special feature for the State Fair this year (served in the Ag/Hort Building) and is a limited edition. My scoop was filled with chunks of cherries in a perfectly textured ice cream with a rich port flavor. Cross your fingers Bootlegger’s becomes a regular flavor. Delicious.
In case you haven’t heard enough about my Izzy’s obsession today, be sure you check out the online Flavor Up!, which updates the current flavors in the case at their Marshall Avenue location. It refreshes every 3 minutes and includes the “Certified Local Flavors.” they are currently serving. I must find my bowl and a spoon. It’s ice cream time.
October 23rd, 2011 § § permalink
Here’s what I’ve been up to this week:
The kitchen partner had a birthday and I made the biggest cake I’ve ever attempted. His special request this year: vanilla cake with strawberry filling on the bottom, carrot cake with cream cheese filling in the middle, and poppy seed cake with custard pudding filling on the top layer. By the time it came to candles and cutting the cake I couldn’t even look at the thing. It gave me strong appreciation for the folks who regularly tackle cakes. I don’t have the endurance for it.
Later, a quick weekend visit to Duluth to enjoy the last warm days of October. I. Love. Duluth. I love walking in Canal Park. I love the soups at Amazing Grace Bakery. I love Lake Superior. I love that the kitchen partner takes me there after super stressful weeks. Best place ever.
I drafted a business plan and finally put my day dreams of a sustainable, green, locavore media company on paper. It’s color-coded and fondly called “The Warren Buffet–or how my crazy hippie eating habits take over the world.” More to come with this later…
I made cranberry apple donuts with my brand new donut pan. If you don’t own one of these, add it to your wish list today. Recipes popped up all over in the past few weeks for homemade cake donuts. Baking them is as easy as muffins, far less intimidating than a pot of hot oil, and in the end still as tasty. The fresh cranberries and applesauce combine for a moist cake donut perfect with a cup of warm tea.
Cranberry Apple Donuts
1 ½ C. whole wheat flour
¼ C. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil
¼ C. plain yogurt
½ C. chunky applesauce (I used our homemade sauce, instructions here)
1 C. fresh cranberries, washed and roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Lightly spray donut pan with non-stick spray.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add egg, maple syrup, oil, yogurt and applesauce and mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries.
3. Pour batter into donut pan, filling wells 2/3 full. Bake 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick poked into donut comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing donuts to a cooling rack.
*Note* I glazed half of the donuts with a confectioner’s sugar/milk frosting, however enjoyed the un-frosted donuts just as well. If you need some extra sweet, mix 2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar with 1 tsp. of milk and drizzle over warm donuts.
October 17th, 2011 § § permalink
Cranberry Marsh in Warrens, WI
The kitchen partner and I are unpacking today from a weekend with friends at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. It was nice to put on the swimming suit in chilly October, even if it meant chasing the kitchen partner up and down water slides all weekend. He never gets tired on vacation. I swear. He’s like a five-year-old with a full wallet turned loose at Chucky Cheese.
To make up for his “excitement”, on the way home he drove us through Warrens, Wisconsin. Located 155 miles Southeast from St. Paul, right off I-94, Warrens is the self-proclaimed Cranberry Capital. It’s home to the World’s Largest Cranberry Festival and more than 2,500 acres of cranberries. Betcha’ didn’t know that Wisconsin produces more than half of the U.S. supply of cranberries each year, did ‘ya?
Cranberry Discovery Gift Shop
Our first stop was The Cranberry Discovery Center, in downtown Warrens. Although a cute history museum fills the downstairs level, I was most excited about the cranberry-themed gift shop upstairs. The clerk informed me that more than 90% of the shop’s products (jams, candles, wines, glassware, etc.) were made in Wisconsin. Way to go Wisconsin Locavores! We picked out a bag of dried cranberries to munch on the drive home and some locally made gifts to tuck away for the holidays.
When the kitchen partner asked about buying fresh cranberries, we were directed 4 miles outside of town to Wetherby Cranberry Company. There were cranberry bogs on both sides of the road, a few flooded for harvest with red berries bobbing on top. Wetherby has been family operated for more than 100 years and sells fresh cranberries and cranberry wine on-site and by mail. We drove up to purchased a 5 pound box of berries right from the back of the farm truck–freshly picked that morning. It doesn’t get much better than that for a locavore.
The box of berries came with a small book of recipes which I’ll be cruising through this week. Cranberry salsa and cran-apple jam caught my eye. A secret confession: I like walking by the refrigerator and popping a fresh cranberry in my mouth. The sour crunch hits that point between tangy-good and tangy-uncomfortable that makes me feel alive.