Archive for the ‘Local Food’ Category

Fall Flavors: Apples and Brussels Sprouts

Recipe:Bangers and Mash with Apples and Brussels Sprouts

I’m one of those people who had to be convinced to try Brussels sprouts – that only happened a few years ago. Now they are one of my all-time favorites and just like kale, something you can always find in my refrigerator this time of year.

I’m pretty sure my Mom never tried to feed me sprouts – like, mushrooms, cabbage, any green but iceberg lettuce, chilies, and salmon, they ranked high on the list of things my father wouldn’t eat, so really, why would she have bothered? And since even Alton Brown was reluctant to take on the sprout, I can’t really blame her.

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A Five Dollar Fairy Tale

Recipe:Black Bean Soup with Roasted Corn and Indian Spices

Slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. This was the tag line for Slow Food USA‘s recent $5 challenge: sharing a fresh, healthy meal with loved ones, friends, or strangers for less than $5 a person.

I’m not sure how much of a challenge it was – the reality is that anyone who participated in the challenge, is probably already a slow food cook; someone who has the knowledge, access,
resources and the time to cook from scratch with real ingredients. If you work a 16 hours just to make ends meet, or live in a food dessert, a cooking challenge from Slow Food USA is about as interesting as a green energy tax credit. It’s a fairy tale.

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Stop, Smell and Eat the Roses

Recipe: Strawberry Rose Cupcakes

I’m not a big fan of the house we’ve been renting for the past 10 months. It’s a vanilla-bland subdivision, 3-car garage, late- twentieth century sprawl-special. The dogs get a lot out of the ¼ acre yard, but being surrounded by such relentless, plastic same-ness depresses me.  I can’t wait to live in an old-fashioned neighborhood again.

But I will miss the roses. The property has six rose bushes– and four of them are prolific bloomers. I haven’t lived with roses like this in a long time. My father loved roses. The entire south side of my childhood home was covered in them. Dad kept them blooming May through November, most years.  And every few days, he cut bouquets for me –even when I was 17 and he and I could barely have a civil conversation.

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There’s No Place Like Home

Recipe:Black Pepper Potatoes

Comfort food has been in high demand around here recently.  Prompted by our landlord unexpectedly putting this house on the market – July turned into a month of big decisions– stay or
go – and a lot of stress. For the first time ever, K.M. and I both completely forgot our wedding anniversary.

Right on cue, the garden started to produce potatoes: All Blue, Red Lakota, Yukon Gold and Red Lakotas. Mashed, fried, baked, and of course in the form of a fry –potatoes are reliable, easy to cook and acompliment to everything else on your plate.  Native to South America, the potato’s domestication dates back at least 7000 years.

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Moving Plants to Center Stage

Recipe: Cold Carrot Soup with Chilies and Avocados

The first time I tried vegetarian cooking, it was a trial by fire. My mother-in-law was coming to visit from India, and at that time was a full-fledged vegetarian.  This was in 1996, in East Central Illinois; a place where a grocery clerk once asked K.M. why he was buying fresh spinach, when you could “get that in a can.”

I had no idea what I was doing. We muddled through, eating a lot of pasta.  Eating out, in that time and place was nearly impossible.  People actually would say things like, “Well, it’s nearly vegetarian. You can pick the bacon out.”

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Garden Class Harvest: Arugula and Radishes

Last night on the farm we picked arugula and radishes.

This morning, they made an outstanding breakfast with home-cured bacon, an egg and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Fresh Sausage:Grinding it out for Charcutepalooza

Recipe: Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Chilies

I’ve never spent much time thinking about sausages. Eating them, you bet, but really thinking about what goes into making one – not so much, at least not since I read The Jungle as a teenager. We read Upton Sinclair’s classic in history class; and at the time I believed that concerns about food safety, contamination and inhumane conditions for meat packers were just a part of history. And I probably never stopped to think about the lives of the animals. What can I say?  Clearly I was a child of the eighties.

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