June 28th, 2012 § § permalink
Trying to get back in the swing of things this week after 10 glorious days of vacation has been somewhere between excruciating and misery. I keep thinking about this:
And gorgeous dinner plates like this:
I’ve been diligently editing the 1800+ photos the kitchen partner and I took in California this week. I never finished the photo album from our Yellowstone trip last summer and I’m committed to nothing else until every last page is done. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday and the weekend is on its way. Time for playing catch up! In the meantime, what did you think of the guest posts?
June 24th, 2012 § § permalink
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A“. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a seasoned local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Simon Helgeson, a friend of the kitchen partner and I who also writes at 20Food.net. Simon is one of my favorite people to cook/dine with. He has great stories about cooking, growing, and traveling in the United States and in South America. So glad he’s able to answer some locavore questions for us!
Photo Provided by Simon Helgeson
Eating local means creating better habits, getting creative, and filling your life with the joys of food you can feel good about. Luckily, the Twin Cities and farmers are making it easier than ever to find high quality, healthy, sustainable food without going out of your way. That’s why summer is a great time to make local eating a way of life.
Q: Which farmers’ market do you shop at and what are your tips for successful market trips?
A: One of the great incentives for eating local is to make grocery-shopping fun. For me, that means visiting the Saint Paul downtown market on Saturday or Sunday morning. Last year I made the trip extra fun by biking to the market. When I arrive, quickly survey all the booths to see what is for sale. Every week brings something different to the table. I think about how I might utilize the available produce to make at least a couple different meals and buy accordingly. I try to only plan a few meals for the week ahead, because inevitably life will happen, and that perfect plan for cooking a huge bag of produce will fall apart. Resist the temptation to buy more than you will have time and energy to prepare. For a directory of local farmer’s markets try checking out the Simple Good and Tasty directory.
Q: What are other ways new or interested locavores can be more involved and engaged in the community?
In addition to having fun at the farmer’s market, you could purchase a share of community supported agriculture (CSA)
. This summer I will be utilizing the overflow produce from my friend’s share. A CSA brings new colors and flavors to your door each week—a handy option if you are extremely busy or there is not a market nearby. If the CSA offers an opportunity to visit the farm, take advantage. Last year, in addition to the annual thank you dinner hosted by our CSA, I had the opportunity to attend an event organized by Dinner on the Farm
, which involved a meal prepared by a local chef at a local farm. It was a fantastic experience, not only for the food itself but to see where it was grown, meet the growers and talk with like-minded folks. I also plan to attend a few of the monthly dinners hosted by the nonprofit Eat for Equity
. These are great opportunities to make new friends who share an interest in eating local.
Q: What are your suggestions for new locavores in the kitchen? What about preserving and canning?
One of my favorite summer activities is picking seasonal fruit at a farm. In the next couple weeks it should be time to go collect a big box of strawberries and make some homemade jam. Be sure to check out Amy’s strawberry freezer jam video
on 20food. In July, it will be time to go for raspberries and blueberries. Last year on a family trip to Michigan over Labor Day, I found the peach orchards bursting with perfect fruit and ended up picking and canning 35 pounds of delicious peach butter and jam in addition to enjoying many fresh from the tree. Be sure to check out the Minnesota grown directory
for farm locations and seasonal availability before you visit.
Once you’ve got your local food groove going, I highly recommend making your own salsa. It is easy and super delicious. I tend to make a batch almost every week in the tomato season. Fruit salsa makes a special treat—sweet, spicy, and salty—what more could your taste buds ask for? Check out Mark Bittman’s video
for a primer.
When the summer heat turns up I will seek out some fresh Minnesota dairy from my local co-op to make a batch of delicious homemade ice cream. A good ice cream maker can be found for less than $50 and the reward of a fresh ice cream loaded with the season’s best fruit is definitely worth the cost and effort. For directions check out my Strawberry Angel Food Cake Ice Cream post or Amy’s Vanilla Ice Cream post.
Q: Anything else?
A:Eating local is a lifestyle and enjoying food culture is a lot of fun. Eating should never be just a chore. Once you start to visit farmers’ markets, meet farmers, and get creative in the kitchen, you won’t want to stop. It is fun, affordable, healthy, and delicious. What more could you want from your food?Amy’s commitment to local food is outstanding and this site is a fantastic resource for Minnesota foodies. Kudos to Amy for her hard work and thanks for giving me the opportunity to write a guest post.
June 23rd, 2012 § § permalink
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A”. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a seasoned local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Jeni Hill from An Herbalist Eats and Like a Fish out of Fargo. Jeni also contributes her recipes and thoughts on food to 20Food.net, where she and I had the chance to meet. Jeni calls Fargo, North Dakota home and has been documenting the challenges of eating local in a smaller community than the Twin Cities.
Q: What is the easiest part of eating local? The hardest?
A: I am relatively new to the locavore movement. Similar to many other families, eating local wasn’t a priority when I was growing up. Eating local or seeking out local products wasn’t in our consciousness. In Apple Valley in the 90’s, I didn’t know of any families raising backyard chickens or tending to vegetable gardens. Now I know a lot.
Eating local is a change in worldviews. It’s still not automatic, so my fiancé and I have to be intentional about consuming more local products. We are not great or even good, by any means, at eating mostly local foods, but we’re being more intentional about supporting local producers, restaurants that prepare local foods, and trying to grow our own food.
For me, the hardest part of eating local is having to put more effort into finding local products. We were surrounded by co-ops in the Twin Cities. A few stores in this community sell local produce but their selections are unpredictable (though Sidney’s welcomes special requests). I have been impressed with the local grocery chains that also incorporate some local products. For example, I can easily find local honey, flour, and sacks of potatoes. Purchasing local, organic, and grass-fed meats in grocery stores is cost prohibitive. I could buy directly from farmers, which would require a lot more foresight and planning (not to mention freezer space).
Q: Summer is in full swing. How are you planning to eat local this season?
A: Soon the farmers market will be open and local farms offer CSA’s. We are very excited about purchasing our first CSA share this summer, which will ensure organic, local produce each week. In addition, I tried my hand at container gardening on my balcony. I have a horrible track record at keeping plants alive and this was no exception. All of my seedlings died so I replaced everything with arugula and herbs. Lots and lots of arugula. I look forward to the challenges of using all of our CSA produce and balcony “garden” and am proud of our two baby steps towards eating more local.
June 22nd, 2012 § § permalink
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A”. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a season local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Amy Peterson from Green Your Plate. Amy’s blog was one of the first Minnesota food blogs I started reading when looking for local, seasonal, and sustainable recipes. She’s a working mom so I love that her recipes are fast and functional in a busy lifestyle. Thanks for joining us Amy!
Photo provided by Green Your Plate
Q: Why do you choose local?
A: There are so many reasons, but the #1 reason for me is taste – I think that local food is fresher and simply tastes better. I also like supporting smaller producers and keeping money in the local community. Local food feels more meaningful to me.
Q:It’s farmers’ market season. Which market do you shop at and what are you most looking forward to buying this summer?
A: Though I shop sometimes at the Audubon, Northeast and Mill City markets, I tend to go to the Lyndale location of the Minneapolis Farmers Market the most. I appreciate the wide selection of vegetables, herbs and plants sold there and the bustling nature of the market. I’ve gotten to know some of the vendors, and that personal connection makes shopping fun. It seems like I always run into people I know at the Minneapolis market.
Every summer, I get super excited about the arrival of local strawberries and tomatoes – you can really taste the flavor difference. Throughout the season there’s always something to look forward to: in May, it’s ramps and morel mushrooms; in June, my favorites are sugar snap peas and strawberries; in July & August, local tomatoes and corn excite me; and in September, I can’t get enough of red peppers. It’s all good!
June 21st, 2012 § § permalink
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A”. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a seasoned local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Dorothy Stainbrook from HeathGlen Farm and Kitchen near Forest Lake, MN. Dorothy and her family business sell artisan jams, preserves and syrups from fruit grown on their own farm. I first spotted her stand at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market. She also blogs about her adventures as farmer/preserve maker at Farm to Jar and Tomato Headquarters. So excited she’s guest posting today!
Q: What is the easiest part of eating local? The hardest?
A: Easiest part of Eating Local:
1) There is a huge surge in the availability of neighborhood farmers’ markets, making it easier than ever to find a local market near your home. In fact, the number of markets in the Twin Cities and the surrounding area is almost depleting the number of farmers available to supply them all. Minnesota Grown (www.minnesotagrown.com) has a fairly comprehensive database of the large and medium sized famers markets, but there are new ones sprouting up all of the time.
2) Grocery stores, delicatessens, and local gourmet stores like Golden Fig, Surdyks, etc. are all placing a high priority on offering local food products. If a local store near you does not carry local produce, talk to the manager. They are actually quite interested in providing the customer what they want, and it doesn’t take many voices for the store to make a change.
Hardest part of Eating Local:
1) We live in a climate with a fairly short growing season for many types of produce. That doesn’t mean however, that there is not local food available in the winter. It does mean a shift in our eating patterns and becoming more aware of the beauty of root vegetables and greens that can extend our local season offerings.
2) While there has been a resurgence of eating local, the desire and ability to easily cook for ourselves at home has not kept pace. People have such busy lives and many of us didn’t grow up learning to cook, so it is not that easy to just pick up some local produce and know what to do with it. Farmers, cooks and the media need to keep educating people with “easy and quick” meals they can make with local food to get people back in the kitchen again on a consistent basis.