Tag Archives: FarmerChef

A FarmerChef Breakfast Cookie

30 Aug
by Deanne

August and September are the months for me to focus on a project called The FarmerChef Project.  It all started here on our little blog when Francine was living with us prior to her big move

Last winter, I discovered that there were some mini-grants available for supporting or promoting local food so I applied for the grant.  The idea was to expand the FarmerChef project beyond our restaurant.  This has worked out well since we closed our restaurant on August 17th.  (More on our BIG MOVE later.)

You can follow along with the farmerchef project by clicking on our icon which will take you to the  pinterest page. Logo for FarmerChefs

Today I re-read a recipe from a fellow Minnesota blogger, Carole Jones.  I love to see what’s happening in Carole’s busy household at My Kitchen Escapades.   A recipe called, Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookie caught my attention because these “cookies” have no sugar, no eggs, and no flour. Carole credits Kumguat blog with the original recipe.  It is fun to see how she adapted it.  

When I read the recipe I wondered what would happen if I used Omega Maiden Camelina Oil.  Regular readers know that I am a fan of this healthy organic oil grown by our neighbors here in Southwest Minnesota. Photo of FarmerChef Breakfast Cookies

So….here is my version of the recipe:

FarmerChef Breakfast Cookies
(makes 14 cookies)
recipe adapted from My Kitchen Escapades

  • 1 1/2 C whole rolled oats
  • 1 C coconut flakes
  • 1 Tb ground flax seed  (can be found locally, I buy mine at our local store)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  •  3/4 C  Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/2 C raisins or desired dried fruit
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 C Omega Maiden Camelina Oil
  • 1 Tb honey or agave  ( I used local honey!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large cookie sheet lightly with nonstick spray.  
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add all the wet ingredients.  
Mix well until combined.
Press about 2 rounded tablespoons of the mixture into a  mason jar ring to form the cookie.
Remove the ring and form the next cookie.  
It seems to work to place them close together because they do not spread.
Bake for 25 minutes then cool completely on the pan.

This is a very adaptable recipe….How many healthy ingredients and locally grown ingredients can be added?   If you adapt it please let me know.


Carp – It’s what’s for dinner

4 Jun
Hi there! Today our friend Mike Bartz shares his recent FarmerChef experience.  It is really a FisherChef experience.  We NEVER thought of eating carp but now with this insight it might be a possibility. However, I’d invite myself to Mike’s home before I’d actually catch a carp and gut and skin the fish. :)   Thanks Mike!

Photo of Marinated CarpCarp – It’s what’s for dinner

A few days ago my buddy Kurt called and wondered if I might enjoy a beautiful fresh caught Carp from the Cottonwood River. Now most people shun the ruff fish and most anglers heap them up on the bank hoping to rid the river of the “garbage” fish but Kurt and I know a little kept secret – Carp are quite delicious if prepared right. Here’s how I fix my carp…

Grilled Carp

First, gut and skin the fish. An ideal fish is about 3-4 pounds (just big enough to fit on a charcoal grill, about 2 inches thick across the back). To skin the fish simply slice the skin behind the head and use pliers to pull the skin and scales towards the tail.

Next, “brine” the fish, soak the fish in salt water over-night in the refrigerator – I don’t know is this does anything but the fish seems less fishy…

The next day…An hour and a half before dinner, prepare the marinade. Remove the fish from the brine and let it dry slightly, next “score” the sides of the fish, (slice the side of the fish every half inch or so, along the side. This allows the marinade to penetrate the meat and for ease of grilling. Marinade the fish for 1 hour in a baking pan in the refrigerator…

Start the grill…enjoy a cool beverage…say hello to the neighbors and when they ask you what you are grilling tell them carp and enjoy the funny looks you’ll get…

The grill must be HOT. Don’t skimp on the coals…this is carp not Ahi Tuna…

Grill each side 6-9 minutes, depending in thickness. Turn the fish 1 time. The fish is done when the meat begins to flake. I like to pour the left over marinade over the fish while grilling…

The carp is sure to be tasty and a big surprise for those dining…Most people know carp are a very boney fish however the majority of the bones are in the top half. We eat from the middle to the bottom of the fish and avoid most bones…

Photo of scored carp

I served mine with a fresh cabbage salad and Garden Asparagus gifted from the neighbors, very delicious! Happy eating!!!


2 Limes – squeezed

Small bunch of chives – finely chopped

5-7 Cloves of garlic – minced

Teaspoon Cumin

Cup of Cilantro – chopped

¼ cup olive oil

Sea Salt to taste

Dash of heat (cayenne or other pepper) – if desired

Photo of Plated Carp

Oatmeal Applesauce Cake

14 Mar
by Deanne

Photo of Oatmeal Applesauce Cake

Hey there FarmerChefs, it has been awhile since Francine and I shared a FarmerChef recipe with you.  This is a good one for all of you plan-ahead-types who purchased or picked local apples last fall and made applesauce… kinda like Luke (son/brother) did for the first time in his video.

Three cheers for keeping the art of food preservation alive in your family.  If you didn’t make applesauce last fall, you can always add store purchased applesauce.  Click on the image to see up close what my Fooducate app recommends for a pretty clean label applesauce.Screenshot of Fooducate App Fooducate can be downloaded for free on your tablet or smart phone.

Next fall, when the apples are falling from the trees, use this recipe from PBS to get your kids in on the process of making applesauce. 

Oatmeal Applesauce Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 9×13 pan

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 and 1/2 cup applesauce

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup salted butter 

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1  teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

Start by cooking the oatmeal in a pan with the applesauce and water.  Cook until done and set aside.  (Follow the oatmeal package for cooking time.)

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. 

Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until well beaten. 

Combine flour, salt, soda and cinnamon mixture in a bowl. 

Add dry mixture and oatmeal applesauce to creamed mixture and gently mix. 

Spread evenly in pan.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes clean. 

For a gluten free version you can use Francine’s grandma’s recipe for gluten free flour mix and use one cup in place of regular flour.  We used this flour mix before when we made brownies.

MJ’s Gluten Free Flour Mix

makes 4 cups

1 and 1/2 cup white rice flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

1/4 cup potato starch

1/4 cup corn starch

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Can You Make a Drink from Watermelon Juice?

31 Aug
by Deanne

Each week we share our successes and failures in our FarmerChef project.  This is a challenging little project we started last spring. We take whatever is growing in our garden, or available from our local farmers, and create something in the kitchen.  Our goal is to get through a whole year making something that is or was grown locally. 

This week I took a watermelon from last Saturday’s farmers market and pressed all of the juice out of it.  I was a able to get about 3 quarts of juice from one big watermelon.  Photo of Watermelon Drink

I was inspired to come up with a watermelon drink from this blog post from Putney Farm.  They suggested a lovely watermelon drop cocktail. 

While I like cocktails from time to time, I prefer non-alcoholic drinks and since I didn’t have all the ingredients, I tried adding seltzer water and lemons.  My drink didn’t really work.  Luke, my son came to the rescue by by adding limes instead of lemon and he also added basil.  It was a nice touch and he captured for us to share with his digital camera.  Thanks again, Luke!

Have you ever made a drink from watermelon?

A Fair Day for FarmerChefs

29 Aug

On Sunday, we found our way to the Minnesota State Fair.  We had a specific goal in mind.  No, it wasn’t to discover how many “foods” are served on sticks. Although we did see more than a few.

Photo of Lamb Chop on Stick

Our aim was to see the good folks at River Rock Coffee in St. Peter. They were invited to cook in a day long event created by the Minnesota Farmers Union called Minnesota CooksSteve and I, along with his parents, were excited to attend this 10th annual event for our first time.

We wandered in and out of the event throughout the day.  The food samples were outstanding and we appreciated the creativity and discussion on the impact both from a sustainability and a health perspective for using locally sourced foods whenever possible. We left at the end of day with calendar featuring the recipes and lots of inspiration for our own little FarmerChef project.

Photo of 2012-13 Mn Cooks Calandar

The event took place on an outdoor stage with two chefs on the right side of the stage and four or five celebrities and/or farmers on a tasting panel to the left of the stage.

It was hard to really see what the chefs were cooking, but we were entertained from the interaction provided by morning emcee Mary Lahammer from Twin Cities Public Television and afternoon emcee JD Fratzke of The Strip Club Meat & Fish.

A memorable discussion from the morning sessions was about questioning the sustainability of eating meat, especially beef that is fed grain rather than grass.  For those that didn’t study ruminant nutrition, like my husband Steve did, grass is a cow’s natural food. 

Todd Churchill at Thousand Hills Cattle Company reminded us that when we eat grain fed beef our bodies are getting  more Omega 6 fat than Omega 3 fat.  Omega 3 is considered more difficult to attain than Omega 6 fat.  Both are considered necessary for optimal health.  Omega 3 is often called the “healthy fat” and is more abundant when cattle eat grass. If you want to know more about this subject, here is a link to a good article from Cooking Light magazine.

Todd also predicts that in the future we will not be able to raise grain fed cattle because of the economics.  Steve, who is my resident expert on the cattle business, explains: 

“Because grass is the beef animal’s natural source of energy, feeding cattle grain is most feasible when grains are relatively inexpensive.  Cattle are the least efficient animals when it comes to converting grain in order to consume animal protein in our diets.  An increase in the use of corn for ethanol production and overall world grain demand has made corn very expensive and therefore grain fed beef expensive.”

Mike Phillips of Three Sons Meat Co. prepared Salami Bread Salad using pasture raised pork from Lori Brinkman of Elm Brink Farm.  Mike expressed his belief that at first seems strange for a meat purveyor, “We use too much animal protein!”  He designed his recipe to use salami as one favorable, but small component of the dish, not the dish itself. This is a healthy trick we have been teaching our cooking class attendees.  We will continue to feature recipes that are closer to vegan than the french fries and hamburgers we have been eating for years and selling when we operated our restaurant.   The more we read and learn, the more we realize this old diet was not serving its true purpose, to nourish our bodies.  There is so much to share about this idea so we’ll expand in later posts.

One highlight from the afternoon was seeing Paul Berglund of The Bachelor Farmer preparing what he called Bachelor Farmer Summer Harvest Salad, Soft-Boiled Farm Egg with The Bachelor Farmer Rooftop Herbs featuring produce from Dayna Burtness of Laughing Loon Farm.  (Wow, that is a long description but I didn’t want to leave anything out.)  We liked that he was a expressing  what we call his “FarmerChefiness” in the most extreme ways by growing herbs on a rooftop garden in urban Minneapolis.  This picture is from the restaurant’s website of the garden.

Photo of Rooftop Garden at The Bachelor Farmer

Another interesting discussion aligned with our new business focus.  Stephanie Meyer, a writer/blogger was on one of the afternoon discussion panels .  She mentioned her frustration with the gluten-free product boom. We agree and see what she is seeing, a steady stream of overly processed new foods now slapped with a gluten-free label.

While we are working on producing gluten-free and reduced allergy products ourselves, we feel there is a niche in the marketplace for items made from real food, not additives, that compliment a whole foods plant based diet.  We encourage our students and readers to be careful not to transfer an overly processed food diet to the gluten-free world.  We look forward to following Stephanie’s blog for continued inspiration.

We had a great day at the fair!  There were so many interesting people we heard and saw.  In our opinion, our time spent at the Minnesota Cooks event was much more fruitful than eating fried fruit on a stick or standing in line for Sweet Martha’s Cookies.

How about you, does your local or state fair have an event that highlights healthy cooking and sustainability?

What have you done lately to express your FarmerChefiness?

Garden Veggie Indian Dish: A FarmerChef Takes On New Flavors

24 Aug
by Deanne

After a busy week of cooking the final meals for customers at our restaurant, we closed down restaurant operations on Sunday.  When the clock struck 9pm, we were tired but uplifted because of the overwhelming support from the community during the past week.

The following day Steve and I celebrated our freedom in the most American of ways – we took a road trip!  We headed south to Des Moines, Iowa to visit Steve’s sister and her family. After a pleasant afternoon visit with family, we ate at an Indian Restaurant we scoped out earlier that day via online reviews.  We have had very little experience eating Indian cuisine in the past, but we’ve been intrigued by the cuisine due to it’s reliance on vegetables and plant-based proteins, perfect for the budding FarmerChef! Needless to say, our dining experience sparked an even greater flurry of interest towards Indian flavors.

In our research after the fact, we found a website about herbs and a terrific explanation of  the confusion I have personally experienced over the term“curry.”  For example the term actually comes from a southern Indian word, kari, which means sauce. When our world traveler daughter, Francine, returned from a trip to India last year, she tried to explain that curry is a word used to describe a sauce rather than a distinct herb.  

A few days later Steve, expressing his passion for combining flavors and ingredients, came up with this surprisingly simple and tasty dish.  It’s loaded with veggies from our garden and carries an enormous amount of flavor too! It also has protein from three difference sources – chickpeas, peas, and tofu. For those of you who are concerned about the spice, don’t worry, this is a mild curry (sauce).

Garden Veggie Indian Dish

makes 4 servings
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 carrots, coined
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 can chick peas (15.5 ounce)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 package firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 5 scallions

Dice the carrots, onion, green pepper, garlic, ginger, cucumber, and tomatoes and keep in separate piles before starting to cook.

Heat skillet or pan over medium heat, add canola oil and carrots.  Saute until they start to soften.

Add onions and green pepper and sweat until softened.

Add ginger, garlic, tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to break down.

Pour the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. (Add water or soy milk to thin if needed.)

Return mixture to pan and add drained chick peas, peas and curry powder.  Stir to heat.  Adjust for salt depending on your tastes.  (1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp)

Add cucumber and tofu at the last minute and serve the dish over rice of your choice and garnish with cilantro and scallions.

The dish is easy to make and this time of year it is a novel way to use tomatoes and cucumbers which are abundant.   I didn’t even know there were tomatoes in the dish till Steve wrote up the recipe!

What is your experience with Indian cuisine and curries?

Have you ever chosen not to eat a dish because of popular culture?

Solar’s Sunny Watermelon Basil Salad

16 Aug
by Deanne

We purchased some yellow seedless watermelon from Tomschin Produce and couldn’t wait to share its sweet flavor and surprising  color with our customers. It was the first time we’d ever had such a treat! 

As we sampled our first few slices, we pondered…..how did the watermelon get to be both yellow and seedless?  Was it genetically modified or bred in the normal manner of hybrid plant breeding?  Curious? Read this post to find out.

As you can see from the picture, we chose to create a sunny salad for a bittersweet day.  Our hint of sadness comes from the fact that this was our last day of serving FarmerChef recipes to our restaurant customers. Creating FarmerChef Specials has been challenging yet invigorating experience because each Wednesday we make something that is from either our garden, farmer’s market or other local producer.

Photo of Watermelon Basil Salad

We are closing our restaurant on Sunday, and we are excited about lots of new ideas.  One plan is to keep creating and sharing ideas for healthy eating though our blog and our cooking classes.

Solar’s Yellow Watermelon Basil Salad

makes 8 servings
  • 1 small yellow seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 3 tbsp canola or another vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • a few basil leaves, diced

First wash and cut the melon into bite sized cubes.  Place in a serving bowl.  Use a smaller bowl to make a dressing with the rest of the ingredients. Mix together and pour over cubed watermelon before serving.

Have you ever had yellow seedless watermelon? 

What do you think, would this be good with regular watermelon?