Tag Archives: Food

What if ….more commercials showed people cooking?

19 Feb

I love it when I see commercials showing people cooking with real food.  It would be great if it were as common as the commercials that show people opening a box.  I don’t know about you but for years I was convinced I was too busy and too tired to cook.  So I bought a lot of convenience and processed foods.

Ponder the possibilities of our consumer actions leading to good results for your body, your family, your community, and our world. That is what we will do right here once a week. ♥ We’ll explore
  • choices made in the home
  • choices made in our places of worship, schools, and other institutions
  • our everyday career, dining, and shopping choices

Send us ideas and comment on suggestions.

 

What if ….more people noticed fake food?

5 Feb

When  my kids were young I often used the Jiffy muffin brand.  It’s an old fashioned looking, blue and white, small box.  Francine told me, “I remember thinking, wait how can these little blue things be blueberries?Jiffy Mixes: Blueberry Muffin Mix

I came across this article recently and it made me remember those crunchy fake blueberry bits. Every time I see those mixes in the store I feel slightly amused. Don’t worry, I am not one to beat myself up over the past.  Not too much anyway. I am more likely to laugh, since I can’t do anything about the past.  But I do notice how my views have changed the more I have learned over the years.

Young moms like Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, impress me.  She models how to feed her family on less processed food and has a following of over 1.2 million on Facebook. 

There does seem to be a mini trend in the works. More and more people are noticing fake food. Does it matter what we feed ourselves and our families?  If so, why do you think it matters and what will be the result of this new trend?

Ponder the possibilities of our consumer actions leading to good results for your body, your family, your community, and our world. That is what we will do right here once a week. ♥ We’ll explore
  • choices made in the home
  • choices made in our places of worship, schools, and other institutions
  • our everyday career, dining, and shopping choices

Send us ideas and comment on suggestions.

 

Verdant Tea: Minneapolis, MN

14 Nov
by Deanne

Verdant Tea: Minneapolis Tasting RoomPhoto of Verdant Tea

The last time I wrote the word verdant I was speaking of my garden and all the possibilities when it grows with abandon in midsummer.  This time, I am referring to a place I heard on MPR about the growth of the Seward neighborhood for good food. We had a quick trip planned to Minneapolis so I looked up Verdant Tea. Intrigued by the elegant selection of offerings, we arrived for breakfast last Saturday morning.

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 3

Verdant Tea does serve local food.  They have partnered with Birchwood Cafe which many readers will recognize from our past reviews.  Verdant’s focus is on tea.  They source their teas from small farmers in China.  The business began as on online tea business and has now expanded to include the tasting room.

Flavour: 5

We ordered chai tea and another kind of tea that we didn’t quite catch when it was given. Both were good, but the food was what we enjoyed most.  I ordered the sweet Congee, Steve had the Soba Noodles, and Luke ordered the Birchwood Granola with Fruit and Yogurt. Photo of Rice PorridgeCongee is a porridge and the sweet version had wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, burdock root, gogi berries, walnuts, and a coconut ginger sauce.   I was able to sneak a taste of the two other options and was equally impressed with both.  The yogurt was excellent.  It appeared to be the kind of yogurt one makes at home on the counter rather than the kind one dumps from a plastic container.

Photo of Hot Soba Noodle

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

The food was surprisingly good.  Since it is a tea room that has food we were not really sure what to expect.  We went hoping the food would be decent.  It was stellar!  We talked about it for days afterward and discussed how to recreate it at home.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 4.5

When we walked through the doors we were greeted immediately.  The environment is serene and makes for a peaceful calm retreat or gathering place for quiet conversation.  The staff was friendly but a bit more explanation about the options would have been helpful. They explained that they didn’t have tea flights at that time and they were in the process of changing their menu.  Having owned a restaurant, I have sympathy toward the situation they are currently finding themselves but others might be more put off by that kind of response.

Photo of Birchwood Granola

Overall Rating: 12.5+

I strongly recommend visiting Verdant Tea.  I look forward to returning and learning more about tea next time I visit.  In addition to partnering with Birchwood Cafe, they also sell Sweet Science Ice Cream.  We heard about them last year at an event for new food producers.  I look forward to trying some interesting flavors like salted caramel or toasted coconut.

Verdant Tea on Urbanspoon

Kitchen Table: Omaha, NE

8 Nov
by Deanne

Kitchen Table: Omaha, NE

logo for kitchen table

When I hear about the possibility of a road trip, I start searching for a restaurant worth reviewing.  Eating at a restaurant that serves real food, added with the bonus finding a place that sources local food, is my kind of fun.  A few clicks of the computer produced a few possibilities but I was drawn to Kitchen Table because I liked their font.  Yes, a font is a small thing, but that is how advertising works. I also found a favorable review from the Omaha World Herald.

Slow food fast is how they described themselves on their website.  Once we arrived in Omaha, I took a quick drive by and yes, the place looked worth visiting. They have nice windows in the front of the restaurant and the building looked interesting. Photo of Kitchen Table's thoughts on food

Everything was in place for me to love this restaurant.   However,  I have been disappointed before so you never really know till you walk through the doors and finally taste the food.

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 4

Kitchen Table does support local, sustainable and organic businesses to procure their food. It is cool to discover new farms such as:

Big Muddy Urban Farm, Blooms Organics, Blue Valley Aquaculture, Branched Oak Farm, Burbach’s Dairy, Camp Creek Acres, GreenLeaf Farms, Myo Lean Piedmontese – Moenning Family Farm, Plum Creek Farm, Soup-N-More, Squeaky Green Organics, Truebridge Foods, Turner Acres.

As I look through these different companies I think about how a small restaurant has the potential to introduce people to many individual family owned business.  Each business is unique and worth checking out.

Flavour: 5

The dinner special was a choice of regular grass fed beef or a vegetarian burger. We ordered the vegetarian burger. We have been ordering vegetarian more and more because we find that vegetarian chefs create flavors that are more inventive and interesting.   I guess when you take away the fat and salt with many meat-y meals you have to add some seasonings and use great cooking techniques.  We also had  a sweet potato jam sandwich which came with popcorn. It was served on a excellent whole grain bread that might have even been sourdough.  A kale salad with a lemon dressing was good because of the flavor and the way the kale was cut.  The food was GOOD!  If there were any improvements to be made, it would be in the choice of bun for the burger.  It was a little crusty which works perfect for a juicy burger, but not so good for a vegetarian burger that falls apart on first bite.  It is a complaint I have explained before.  I left feeling full, satisfied and wanting to go back the next day.

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

The flavor of the popcorn was a pleasant surprise.  I noticed a bit of a licorice-y flavor which made me think:  Fennel.  When Steve stopped by to talk with the chef about the carrot “bacon” he mentioned the seasoning for the popcorn being the same as the seasoning he used to make the bacon.  “Bacon” made from a thinly sliced carrot and baked with spices and added to the burger.  See what I mean about vegetarian chefs being inventive.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 5

When we walked through the doors we were greeted immediately and directed to the menu on the wall.  The two specials were described in fine detail.  The restaurant is in a long narrow space with exposed brick on one side, concrete floors, and wood covered walls and a bit of green from the plant display.  The kitchen is open and one could easily see what is happening. When our food arrived the whole staff delivered it to our table so as to make sure it arrived as quickly as possible.  They did live up to their pledge of serving slow food fast.

While ordering I noticed a business card for a company that takes down old barns for no charge.  Later I discovered that this company made all their lovely wood tables.  It all made sense, the name:  Kitchen Table.  They serve real food on real plates, and we sat at real wood tables.

Overall Rating: 14+

One thing that made me sad about my visit to Kitchen Table was that there were very few diners enjoying the place.  Perhaps they are busier at lunch time since it is located in the Old Market District at 1415 Farnam Street.

Kitchen Table on Urbanspoon

Moose & Sadies: Minneapolis, MN

31 Jul
by Deanne

Moose & Sadies: Minneapolis, MN

Another Monday off from our running our cafe, led Steve and I to Minneapolis/St. Paul to pick up Joia Soda Pop and to visit United Noodle (that fun Asian grocery store that Francine introduced us to after she returned from living in China.)  We also had time to visit a new-to-us cafe. We selected Moose & Sadies because it was located near one of our stops and the online menu looked interesting.

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 3

Moose&Sadie’s supports local/sustainable/organic purveyors and on  their website they have a list with some links: 

Larry Schultz:  organic chicken and eggs
Tim Fischer:  hormone-free/humanely-raised pork
Riverbend Farm: organic produce

Flavour: 3

We ordered two items and were quite satisfied.  We had a Black Bean Burger with chipotle gouda, roasted green pepper-avocado spread, vidalia onions and alfalfa sprouts on a toasted bun and a salad called Greens Vinaigrette.  The burger did not have quite the right bun.  It had too hard of a bite for the squishy-ness of the black bean burger. Imagine this… pick up the burger, take a bite and black beans land on your new shirt.  You get the picture. The burger was good and flavorful and in my opinion needed a soft bun rather than a hard roll.  We solved that small challenge by eating the burger with a fork and noshing on toasted hard roll with our hands.  

m&S1

Even though I rate the flavour as a three, to match our criteria, I would come back again to try other items.

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

Our last trip to the Twin Cities got off to a bad start with a disappointing visit to a restaurant that was highly rated on some of the online communities. We were served greasy, sloppy food.  It wasn’t even worth mentioning or remembering.  This food was enjoyable and didn’t leave us feeling like we needed a shower to remove all the grease.  It made for a great start to our day off and our little adventure to the cities.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 5

Photo of sunny patio at Moose and Sadies

Awesome is the best word to describe the service.   I say that because that word was used three to four times  by my order taker during the process of ordering. 

The decor of the place is a two tone, cool cucumber green with my all time favorite decor choice: painted brick.  The white brick with matching white painted exposed beams added comfort. 

We ate outside in the sun on a perfect summer day.  Not hot, not cold and no bugs.  What is more perfect than that? 

The server who delivered the food was not Ms. Awesome, but she was equally friendly and exuded her own form of awesomeness. 

Overall Rating: 11+

Moose & Sadies, in the warehouse district of Minneapolis is a place we look forward to stopping the next time we are in the neighborhood.

Moose & Sadie's on Urbanspoon

Verdant Possibilities: A Midsummer Minnesota Garden

24 Jul
by Deanne

While we are in the midst of running our café for the summer, I have fallen into a pattern of reporting what is called a Solar Forecast each morning on my business facebook page. I thought of the idea from the title of a children’s book called: Cloudy with a Chance of MeatballsCloudy_with_a_Chance_of_Meatballs_(book)

It is a playful way to share our our featured wraps, rice plates, and soups.  The “weather” sometimes reflects the real weather and often describes other things that are going on in our space.

Verdant1

Today I wanted to make a post to describe the state of our garden and I thought of the word verdant to express what is going on in the raised beds next to our restaurant. According to this online dictionary verdant means:

 

1 a : green in tint or color

b : green with growing plants <verdant fields>

2: unripe in experience or judgment

I think both definitions fit our garden. It is green with growing plants and I am unripe in experience or judgment when it comes to growing things. Luckily I don’t do the soil amendments and planting.  I leave that to my husband who studied soil science and agronomy.  

Photo of Berry

So far this year my job has been to pick berries, peas, and beans.  I do it in the cool of morning while my amateur agronomist  is inside sheeting dough for our wraps

But even then, I am not sure when to pick things. 

Does anyone know when green beans done? 

Photo of green bean plants

Photo credits:  Amanda Petersen Photography

Garden Tour: Late May 2013

5 Jun
by Deanne

It is time again to share our garden updates like we did last summer. Luke took photographs in Late May 2012, Late June 2012, Late July 2013, and Late August 2012.  Living in a northern landscape like Minnesota makes one truly celebrate the growing season.

Photo of raised bed-spinachAs a reminder, Steve built raised beds  outside our restaurant building during the summer of 2011.  We utilize our garden for what we call FarmerChef specials. 

Since Luke moved to Los Angeles earlier this year, we have been working with Amanda Petersen Photography.  We love the images Amanda has captured of our space.  You will know if a photo comes from her work if you see her  signature….we will be using many shots in our blog.  

Photo of lettuceOur little lettuce plants get going during our cool month of May.

photo of strawberry plantsThe strawberry blossoms are a good sign if we hope to have delicate sweet berries in June.

Eager little pea plants establishing themselves and claiming their space.Photo of pea plants

Photo of raised bed twoWe look forward to crisp radishes soon!

Photo of tomato plantsHow big will our tomatoes grow this year?

Photo credits:  Amanda Petersen Photography

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!!!

Marinade

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

Camelina: Seed to Oil

8 May
by Deanne

Last March, after looking in the Minnesota Grown directory, Francine and I drove out to a little farm just south of Lamberton and met Kathleen Smith.  You might have read our posts about this local grower’s product.  From that original meeting we have created some great tasting recipes like the Sunshine Grilled Chicken Salad, Rhubarb Scones, and Two Sister’s and a Friend Salad in a Jar.  The one ingredient these recipes have in common is an American grown oil that comes from a tiny little reddish brown seed called the camelina seed. 

Camelina-Blog-Post-530x350

Last summer our son/brother, Lucas Bryce decided to capture their family’s story.  While editing the production he got excited about their message and the beauty of their family farm and decided to submit it to the 2013 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.  It was selected as a film to be shown for their Earth Day, Minnesota Made category.

When you submit a film to a festival you are not able to show it publicly until it premiers during the festival.    Now we are finally able to make it available here.  It is titled Camelina: Seed to OilWe hope you enjoy watching the film.

Deanne’s Favorites of 2012

1 Jan
by Deanne

This Real Local Cooking journey has been a fun way to record the things I learned in 2012 and having a blog to chronicle all this learning allows for many moments of reflection.bagel

2012 was a year of change in terms of my awareness about food (something I’d previously never thought much about).  It was also a year in which I (and my husband) put our values into action and  decided to close our drive-in restaurant in August. 

Cooking is where it all began .  I took an interest in cooking again after many years of seeing it as a chore.  I cracked open my Joy of Cooking book and made Chicken Cacciatore and learned how bagels are made by making a batch in our kitchen.

In March I reached out to meet people who care about local food.  I discovered that Kathleen and her family live nearby and they grow and produce Omega Maiden Camelina Oil onA photo of the oil used in the dressing their farm. We’ve enjoyed creating recipes, like scones and dressings, with camelina oil.  We’ve also enjoyed the friendship of Kathleen, her husband Justin, and their sweet daughter, Amana and we got to know the rest of her family when we held our first Veg-In in September.

Saying good bye to Francine in April was a difficult but an important step in my growth as a mother of adult children. 

When Francine moved to England, I had a chance to learn about another culture in many of her posts…this snapshot post stands out as an early memory for me or her first month in her new home.  I also learning about cobnuts in her A What Nut post.

A photo of the granola

In August, the Minnesota Cooks event at the Minnesota State Fair turned out to be educational when I unexpectedly learned more the importance of adding Omega 3 to our diets.  Go Omega Maiden!  (It is a great source of Omega 3.)Photo of 2012-13 Mn Cooks Calandar

As Steve and I dream about the future of our business and clarify our vision for opening a new restaurant this summer, we remember the visits we made at various UK Farm Shops in November.  It was wonderful to  discover that the English have found a nice marriage between restaurants and locally grown products.  

Photo of Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop

Now, as the new year begins, Steve and I visiting family in California.  We peeled our first pomegranate and made a toast to our dreams for 2013.   

Cheers everyone and here’s to a wonderful 2013!A photo of a pomegranate

Pomegranate Cocktail

(from the book we purchased yesterday, The Art of Real Food)
  • 1 bottle sparkling wine
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds