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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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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.”

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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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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. 

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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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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.Read the rest

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