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This photo was taken in Lanesboro, MN last weekend where my husband and I had a small getaway.  Too bad this dear, sweet old train-car diner wasn’t open, but we did eat well and locally at a nearby cafe called Pedal Pushers in this sleepy, little old-fashioned town.  Lanesboro is worth investigating if you’re feeling simple, slow, and eager to take some quiet walks and bike rides.

But on to other holidays…My mother, always early and eager, asked last week for our Christmas lists.  Besides warm socks, I want what I always want this time of year, a food gift from Zingerman’s.  I’ve rambled on about this mail order food company before.  Hand made and/or hand picked jams, breads, cheeses, meats, chocolates from around the world, all dressed up in clever boxes sent to your doorstep.  Really, you’re sure to be bear-hugged after giving one of their gifts.  (Don’t overlook their Christmas box for Christmas morning…).

I mentioned in October’s post that I would be spotlighting favorite food products or producers each month.  This month I think it’s fitting to recommend Penzeys for spices for your cupboard or for holiday cooking and gifts.  They have wonderful wood box sets of spices and beautiful pepper and salt mills.  All of their spices, extracts, and salts are great, but my favorites are their vanilla extract, cinnamon, Spanish sweet paprika, and their dried oregano.  They also happen to carry boxes of my favorite all-purpose salt, Diamond Crystal Kosher.

One last note before I hand over a cold-weather recipe.  If you haven’t already tuned in to chef Daniel Klein’s perennial plate online, you must take a gander.  I’ve written before on this weekly video journal on eating in Minnesota; it is such a well-done capture of local food growers, artisans, issues, and of what’s available in the way of Minnesota eating.  Two recent videos struck me in particular: his hunting and preparing squirrel and a day on a turkey farm where light is shed on the process of raising and slaughtering turkeys.  Take a look, they are only five minutes or so per film.

Alright on to our November recipe.  Pesto anyone?  Listen, I’ve included a pesto recipe before, and in its appropriate season, summer.  But if you remember that recipe you’ll notice that you can use a wide variety of greens as alternatives to the typical basil.  Here’s a new one for you:


You can eat pesto in winter too; just use winter greens and add it to bean soups, eggs, on toast, on grilled chicken or however you like.  (Also, this is really a great way to get your greens!)

1 large bunch kale; 3 tablespoons pine nuts; 1 garlic clove; 3/4-1 cup olive oil; 6 tablespoons finely grated  Parmesan cheese; salt to taste

Once you’ve sliced out the rib of each kale leaf, rinse under water, and blanch it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes.  Cool the kale down in ice water and gently squeeze out all the water.  Chop the kale coarsely and add it to the bowl of a food processor with the pine nuts and garlic.  Pulse this mix a few times to combine and then slowly add the olive oil slowly as you continue to pulse.  You want to make sure that the pesto is somewhat smooth and well-broken down.

Remove to a bowl and fold in the cheese and season to taste with salt.  (Don’t forget that pesto freezes well; and I encourage you to freeze it in ice cube trays so that you can just take what you need from the freezer.)

Eat well and Be well,