Summer in the Cities

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Well, it’s been a beautiful week in St. Paul.  The garden plants and flowers have really shot up excitedly.  My heirloom tomatoes are beginning to perk up, small and green, but nonetheless.  The nasturiums are expanding and just about strangling everything else in the garden and my pole beans are climbing up quickly my vertical twine.  This is all very encouraging. 

I wanted to report back on my visit to the new Global Market on Lake St. in Mpls.  My friend Kristi and I nosed about on Saturday admiring the place.  I noticed that there is still quite a lot of space to fill in the market and that it may take time to really become warm and fluid and jam-packed and full of character, quite like an indoor market should be.  We both ate torso-sized falafel sandwiches from Holy Land, which were delicious of course and quite messy, but I was disappointed that I still couldn’t find any fresh or dried curry leaves anywhere.  Maybe I’ve given up on that. 

I want to continually offer book suggestions here.  I’ve a list of cookbooks to not be without and will include those soon.  Let me start with a few that have recently caught my attention.  This week I’ve been salivating over a few Donna Hay cookbooks.  She’s the australian food stylist and chef who puts together really gorgeous, sexy cookbooks.  She tends to take recognizable recipes and then modernizes them or pares them down, such as an easy summer squash lasagna and cleverly revised coleslaw salad.  Give a browse at her books on the Powells site. 

Also I recently plucked from the shelf at Micawber’s Books in St. Anthony Park a book called simply Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.  A shocking book that reveals what a week’s worth of food for a few dozen families from round the world literally looks like.  Each family is pictured in their kitchen or eating space with an entire week’s worth of ingredients before them and included in each section is a breakdown of how much has been spent on that food, the nutritional content, and many other statistics related to the food consumption of that culture.  Fascinating, sometimes disturbing.

And of course, as if you haven’t heard enough about Omnivore’s Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.  I’m still in line for this one at the library, but I can’t wait to read this book that seems so fitting for our times.  If you haven’t heard of this one, smart fellow Pollan explores deeply the why and how of our current and past eating habits and shines a harsh light on standards of eating in America.  Prepare to be incredibly bewildered and enlightened. If you’ve already devoured this book, let me know your take.

 

Pipelines, Markets, and Roasted Rhubarb

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Maybe you’ve heard or read about the announcement by the Minnesota Pipe Line Company to build a crude oil pipeline right across the famous local Gardens of Eagan organic farm.  This is something.  If this were to happen the land Gardens of Eagan has spent years nurturing and preserving would be irreparably damaged.  The State’s Office of Administrative Hearings is now considering alternative routes for this pipeline and this is the time to be vocal.  You can contact Administrative Law Judge Beverly Heydinger at Beverly.Heydinger@state.mn.us and you can also visit the Gardens of Eagan website for more information and a sample letter.  Also, you should be able to pick up something at your local co-op, a letter to just sign and send in and more information on the this story. 

I’ve found out a bit late about the new Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis near Lake Street and Chicago Avenue.  This Saturday I hope to round up a few folks to move around there with me.  Located in the former Sears Building, the market includes something like 60 businesses all under a single roof.  It sounds like the food represented reflects the amalgam of cultures that exist in the Twin Cities; food from Mexico, the Caribbean, Somalia, Finland, Nepal, and on.  Not only are there the many vendors, but Farm in the Market has a stall of locally grown produce and goods.  How lucky we are, hope to see you there.

Finally, I’m going to roast this rhubarb that’s been waiting in the ‘cellar’ for the past few days.  I think I’ll put it on Nate’s and my whole-wheat pancakes tomorrow morning, or save it to put on pizza with a bit of pulled pork and asiago cheese.  Many options with this recipe, for it can be served warm (over vanilla ice cream), room temperature or chilled.  I’ve added a bit of orange zest to this recipe too because I just love that combination.  Watch how simple.

Roasted Rhubarb with a bit of Orange

2 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1in. pieces                                        

1/2 c. sugar

bit of orange zest, 1-2 tbs.

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and zest.  Put the mixture into an baking dish and roast in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for about a half hour.  Serve warm or store in the fridge and enjoy it chilled. 

WELCOME to FRESH

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I’ve good intentions here.  I want Fresh to be a place where I share about books I’m reading (mostly all food-related at this moment in time), a venue where I can alert you to various local CSA farms (oh, there are so many), links to timely and curious articles I’ve come across, recipes that I find particulary wonderful, constantly rotating menu samples, and just a place where I can write and reflect.  Importantly, I hope that you’ll have a chance to participate in what appears to be a monologue and post comments in reply.

Today, Thursday, I’m coordinating a gathering at the opening on Saturday of the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis located near the stunning new Guthrie Theater.  Charlie Kersey, the farmer at La Finca CSA farm where I worked as a farm hand a few years back, will be displaying his goods along with other hand-picked local farmers who stress sustainable and organic foods.  Cheers to those, such as Brenda Langton of Cafe Brenda and Spoonriver Cafe, for creating such a market in Minneapolis.  Hope to see you there.