My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Friday, July 31, 2009

Are You a Land Steward?

My first exposure to the Land Stewardship Project was about four years ago while searching for a way to become more connected to local farmers. I remember reading a sentence that went something like this, “Only 10 cents out of every dollar spent [on non-local produce] goes back to the actual farmer.” While I cannot remember if that was the exact sentence, it was enough to shock me into researching further. I found the rest of the dollar we spend as consumers went to transportation, packaging and storage. Really? Seemed like a big waste to me. There was no way I was going to let 90 cents out of every dollar I spend go to processing. I mean, we’re talking fresh produce here, the kind that grows out of the ground. I can wash the dirt off myself.

Although I was too late in the year to start my first action step, buying into a crop share, I knew I had to plan for the following year. That’s where the Land Stewardship Project came to my rescue. It is a grassroots organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and develops sustainable communities. LSP’s website had a comprehensive guide to local farms and crop shares (also known as Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs) and provided information on what I could do in the meantime while I waited out the winter.

A few years have gone by and I’ve run into LSP members at local events such as the Fresh movie screening and local fairs. I was thrilled when I received an invite to their 8th Annual Open House and Potluck, which Ryan and I attended last night.

It was a great event to raise awareness about LSP’s mission and to meet others in the community. We planted a tree (well, we watched a tree get planted):

We drank Equal Exchange coffee and local beers:


We participated in the largest potluck we’ve ever been to:

We shared. I brought a wild rice salad. You can kind of see it in this picture (wild rice, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, local peas):

And we ate a bunch of food:

Although the evening was very informal, they did put on a short presentation about recent work such as the Farm Beginnings Program, and various action alerts regarding farming policy.

Overall, it was a gorgeous evening. Consider supporting the Land Stewardship Project if you don’t already.

This is my contribution to Fight Back Fridays.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Barley & Lentil Soup with Mushroom Broth

Over at WCCO, I’m writing about an easy for me topic, Swiss chard. While doing research, I did a quick search on my own blog and found I use chard in recipes quite often and they all are delicious one! After finding it for only $1 at Midtown Farmers Market you know I wanted to make my favorite Swiss Chard Quiche Pie. Instead, I added to my list of recipes by cooking up a bit pot of Barley and Lentil Soup:

What makes this soup special is that I used a homemade Porcini Mushroom Broth that is oh so tasty! It calls for a lot of mushrooms (both dried and non-dried) and I’ve been storing mushroom stems and caps in my freezer for the last six months just for this occasion.

Just recently, I received box of dried mushroom varieties from Marx Foods and was told to create great dishes with them. This time I only used the dried porcinis, but I have other plans for the rest of the dried mushrooms. Stay tuned on that front.

(Left to right: Matsutake, Oyster, Porcini, & Lobster)

I started by soaking the porcinis in hot water to reconstitute. Meanwhile, I caramelized the stored mushrooms (a mix of baby Portobello, cremini, and button mushrooms), added some white wine, the soaked porcinis, shallots, garlic, ginger and herbs and reduced it down. After straining, I was left with three cups of delicious mushroom broth and had to resist slurping it right then and there! The broth was not salty and it retained a rich mushroom flavor that was a perfect match for barley soup.

The soup was pretty simple to make but it did require a lot of simmering time, so make sure you have a good hour or so to keep an eye on it.

Barley and Lentil Soup
(6 servings)

1 ½ tsp olive oil
¾ cup chopped onions
¾ cup chopped carrots
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ¼ tsp ground cumin
5 cups mushroom broth (or vegetable broth)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup quick cooking barley
1/3 cup dried lentils
2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme (or other herb)

Heat oil in heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; sauté until onions are golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Mix in cumin; stir 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat; partially cover and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in undrained tomatoes and lentils; cover and simmer until lentils are starting to get tender, about 20 minutes. Add quick-cooking barley, recover, and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until lentils and barley are tender.

Add chard to soup; cover and simmer until chard is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme. Season soup with salt and pepper. Thin with more broth or water, if desired.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Picture Perfect Wrap

Have you ever seen a great picture of food in a magazine and say, “I want to make that!”, only to find that the recipe and the picture do not quite match up? Recently I splurged on a cooking magazine (it was $9.99 and I should have never purchased it) because some of the pictures looked great. I was so excited about a wrap that was pictured, but the recipe was completely off and even used pita bread instead of the tortilla wrap in the picture. Frustrated, I decided to create the wrap on my own and came up with this which looked very similar to the picture:

I found these awesome sun-dried tomato wraps from American Bakery Products and used that as a base. I started with some Creamy Hummus from Vive le Vegan, sprinkled some pine nuts on top and layered roasted red peppers, grilled onions, grilled zucchini, and baby lettuce. It was all rolled up and wrapped in wax paper for lunches (haha, I wrapped the wrap…get it?). Ryan came home with rave reviews that echoed my own thoughts. It was so simple to prepare and traveled well because both the zucchini and lettuce still had a great crunch to them after sitting overnight.

I plan on making more wraps with grilled zucchini because I picked up a lot at the Midtown Farmers Market over the weekend.

Can’t wait to try a few more zucchini and squash recipes. It’s never been my favorite vegetable, but it is so plentiful in the summer that it’s hard to resist using it in tons of recipes.

This is my contribution to Fight Back Fridays with Food Renegade!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Recipe Favorite - Sweet and Sour Broccoli and Tofu

A few days ago I mentioned Enberg’s Produce, where Ryan picked up some tasty veggies, one of them being broccolini. It was awesome in one of our favorite meals, Sweet and Sour Broccoli and Tofu. This time we threw in some carrots (also from the farm) and peppers, but totally forgot to cook rice for our dinner.

We used the no-rice excuse to enjoy some ice cream as an after dinner treat, so I assume it was meant to be.

I’m off to think about some kid-friendly foods as I’ll have my nephews for all three meals tomorrow. The six year old has requested a picnic with tacos. Think I can get away with making quesadillas instead? We’ll see!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Granola to the Rescue!

Well, I made it back from Florida. I’m so happy to be home and Ryan was very sweet to park and pick up my luggage for me.

I definitely missed Minnesota while I was gone. Florida is one hot and sticky state! Although most of my time was spent inside in air-conditioned meeting rooms, I did venture out for some activities like taking a ride on the famous Jungle Queen and sneaking away to the pool for a couple hours on Saturday where I got a great tan while dripping with sweat.

Remember all that granola and dried fruit I stuffed into my suitcase? It sure came in handy when the breakfast offerings were pastries, muffins, and sweet breads each morning.

I was able to enjoy a nice bowl of granola and milk which kept me going until lunch. I love the figs and apricots together with the crunchy almonds. Yum! I also toted around a bag of prunes to all my meetings to munch on. Prunes are fantastic little bites of sweetness and snacking on them helped me eat sensibly at each meal.

While I was gone, Ryan picked up some awesome veggies from a farm so I could get right back into eating well. We’ve made a few dishes using the carrots, broccolini, kohlrabi and potatoes, but Ryan took the camera to a work event so I’ll have to report back to you later.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Me Want More Mee Kah Teeh

Before I left for Florida, Ryan and I had a fantastic dinner thanks to a fellow Minneapolis blogger, Rhymes with Vegan.

We had been craving some take-out, but wanted to make it at home. This Mee Kah Teeh dish hit the spot. Using Meagan's suggestion to use tofu instead of seitan, we resisted the urge to simply fry the tofu and set it aside for later. We followed the recipe and let the tofu simmer in red curry sauce and soak up all the flavors.

We also got to use our delicious fresh shelled peas from the farmers market. I shelled them while watching Law and Order, great multi-tasking, right? (I know, it’s just an excuse to watch Law and Order, you caught me.)

This dish is also chock full of cilantro and bean sprouts. We reduced the noodle amount by half and it worked for us. Serve it garnished with peanuts and lime family-style:

Or, on individual plates:

Be sure to check out Meagan’s Rhymes with Vegan site. She makes some awesome food over there and even has some instructional videos.
This is a contribution to Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heaven in a Jar

Right now I should be on a plane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida…that is if two things happen: 1.) My plane takes off on time & 2.) Blogger actually posts as scheduled.

I go to Florida with mixed emotions. While I’m very excited to see all the friends I’ve developed over the years serving on the board of directors for a service not-for-profit, I’m nervous about being away from my home kitchen for almost a week. I rarely eat out as it is, so how am I going to survive on hotel food and eating on a pre-determined schedule? I stocked my suitcase with staples such as granola, dried fruits and nuts, so hopefully that will help.

I will also miss all the strawberry goodness that is still happening in my house. Ryan and I zipped down to Hastings for a visit to Wyatt’s Berry Farm, this time picking about fifteen pounds of gorgeous strawberries. While we found these berries to be a bit smaller than Lorence’s Berry Farm, they were just as juicy and delicious. We used the newly picked berries to make 8 jars of strawberry jam, which my sister calls “heaven in a jar”.

We also made Strawberry Lemon Bars. I love lemon bars, so I figured strawberry lemon bars had to be divine too.


Unfortunately, although the strawberry lemon bars were good, they weren't what I had hoped. These ain't your mama's lemon bars! Anyone have tips or tricks to share with me?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Swiss Chard Strudel

It’s July! Wow, can you believe it? I’m not ready for the 4th of July weekend, but since I do not have a special ability to stop time, I should just be accepting of it. As much as Ryan and I would love to celebrate with friends and family, we’re on lockdown. He’s taking the last section of the CPA exam in less than a week and I leave for a convention in Florida in just a few days. He has tons of studying to do and I have tons of presentation prep to do.

However, amidst all the pressure, I can’t deny one last run to the strawberry farm. After already picking 20 pounds of strawberries at Lorence’s, we’re going to Wyatt’s in Hastings for a refill. I’d like to dehydrate more strawberries to stash in my suitcase and try making jam. More on strawberry related foods in a later post.

Remember that Swiss chard I harvested? Well, I harvested some more and made an awesome struedel from a recipe I found in Real Food at Lunds/Byerly’s.

First you sauté some chopped onion, garlic, rosemary, and chard stems.

Then add in the chopped chard leaves and cook until slightly wilted.

Transfer to a bowl and add eggs, Gruyere, and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. At this point, the recipe said to wrap all of it in the phyllo dough. I quickly saw that this was enough to make THREE strudels, so I divided the mixture into thirds.

Much better! Spray with olive oil and cut slits into tops and they are ready for the oven.

Cut into slices and you’re all ready to dig in!

Here’s the recipe. I altered it a tiny bit from the original.

Swiss Chard, Sun-Dried Tomato and Gruyere Strudel
(4 servings)


1 lb. chard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped
6 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 large eggs
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly cracked pepper
18 pieces filo dough

Preheat oven to 400°. Place chard in a clean sink or salad spinner and fill it with cold water. Wash chard well, and then spin dry. Strip leaves from stems, keeping them separate. Thinly slice stems and chop the chard.

Put a pot over high heat and when hot, add olive oil and onion. When onion starts to sizzle, reduce heat and sauté until tender. Add garlic, chard stems and rosemary; sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook until wilted and soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, pressing it against side of pot to leave any extra juices behind. Let cool.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, Gruyere, and eggs to greens in bowl. Add salt and pepper and stir. Divide filling into thirds.

Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place one sheet of filo on baking sheet, then spray with oil. Repeat, layering filo in a stack until you have six pieces stacked. On the half of the rectangle of dough closest to you, spread the chard filling, leaving an inch at each end to fold in. Fold the ends over the filling, then roll up from the bottom to make a long cylinder. Place it seam side down on the baking sheet pan and spritz top and ends with oil. Cut slashes across the roll. Repeat with remaining filling and filo.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with no raw egg on it, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

This is my advance contribution to Fight Back Fridays!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...