Minnesota Monthly Names Farm to Fork Best Splurge!

Farm to Fork,Reviews

Minnesota Monthly just named Farm to Fork one of the Twin Cities’ Best Splurges! We work hard to make sure that we are an affordable luxury that brings real value to your life. With Farm to Fork our job is to make dinner, but it’s also to make connections between you and what you eat. We advocate for real food, food that is locally-sourced, seasonally-minded, and produced in a sustainable and organic way. We try to help everyone eat better as well as do our part to support local foods and farmers.

From now through December 31st, we are offering new customers 10% off of their first session. We still have openings for November, so give us a call (612) 248-8163, or email farmtoforkmn@gmail.com.

Another popular option is to give the gift of real food! We have a number of certificates available that support any level of eater or cook, or for those in your life who need a bit of help, a push in the kitchen, or are just plain hard to find a gift for!

Dinner for Two: A perfect present for a certain couple in your life, perhaps it’s you and your partner. A Farm to Fork chef travels to the recipient’s kitchen, with food and tools in tow, to prepare a 3-course, seasonal meal. We’re highly interactive and engaging and encourage our eaters to participate in the process or sit and watch, but of course there are some who will be happy just to take a seat, and a breath, and be served.

In-Home Cooking Instruction: A marvelous gift for the cook in the family, or a foodie friend, who enjoys the process but is in a rut. Learn knife skills, how to cook fish, wholesome family-friendly dishes, the foundations of seasonal eating; we have a lot of teaching up our sleeves. Perfect for an individual or couple or for a family or group of friends, we can be flexible. Our most popular gift, these sessions are always fun and unexpected, relaxed and very well-received.

Meals to Store: A really practical but thoughtful present for a new mom and her family, or a friend who just moved, a busy family needing some relief, an ailing colleague, or anyone in transition. We’ll spend a single day in the recipient’s kitchen cooking and storing a variety of wholesome and delicious meals in the fridge and freezer, as we do for our regular clients every week. We’ll clean up, label all dishes, leave a menu and instructions for reheating, and vanish.

Here’s that contact info again for details, pricing and scheduling! It’s farmtoforkmn@gmail.com or (612) 248-8163.





I’m not really a blogger or overt food-chaser, but simply a writer and eater, but if I was the former then I would feel like I struck gold with The Barbary Fig’s bastilla.   The bastilla, or b’stilla or pastila or bisteeya,  however you wish to spell it, is a traditional North African dish complicated by a lot of regional influence.  I remember making it in a hurry in culinary school, swearing all the while at its foreign and elaborate preparation, I didn’t finish it in time.  However, it’s one of those dishes I remember for its unusual flavors, sweet and savory, and absolute deliciousness.  Curse those laborious dishes that do, in the end, deserve patience and devotion.

I forget about this dish, it is only up the hill and to the right from where we live in St Paul, a simple walk for Nate and me on a chilly day.  When you get nearer to The Barbary Fig you are flushed with guilt since you know it’s been too long since you’ve tucked in there.  But you can remember how good the food is, it’s just one of those quiet places you forget and then remember again.  Look at the menu and notice the basitilla isn’t there.  You have to remember its name and order it from the cheerful server who corrects your pronunciation.

Soon, after a perfect bowl of bulgur and chickpea soup in broth, the bastilla arrives.  Wrapped loosely in a thin and crispy phyllo-type pastry is shredded chicken in the traditional custard with gentle spices like cinnamon.  The best bit however is the play between the delicate flavors of the pie and its spooned-over sautéed vegetables and homemade chutney.  It’s a complex and dynamic dish, filling and warming, a perfect dish after an autumn walk.  Eat slowly since the atmosphere demands it and finish with a cup of sweet red tea with mint.

Butter Me Up


Sometimes I feel bad for those who were raised on real milk, garden vegetables, homemade this and that.  Over the years I have envied that upbringing since I was a bit of a hard-knocks kid, and in the realm of eating, I was brought up on most of the foods of industry, including depths of take-out and fast food.   But I wonder if a result of years of those meals has given me a more discerning palate.  This leads me to butter.

I’ve been thinking a lot about butter lately, buying new blocks every other week, noticing distinct shades and flavors, reading labels completely, taking butter for granted really.  More butter, my daughter says every time she sees me smearing it on her toast.

I was raised on always-creamy margarine from a large plastic tub; my grandma, who mostly fed me, called it olio.  I can recall that silvery, sweet, tangy sting from that spreadable stuff and know distinctly that it’s nothing like its unadulterated cousin: real butter.  Real butter, that is traditional butter made from pastured (or grass-fed) cows and their milk.  Real butter, like real milk, is a highly nutritious food, full of vitamins, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, beta-carotene and high in the beneficial fat CLA.

In Real Food by Nina Planck, a book I think is fabulous at laying out for you the beauty, history and health of whole foods, writes this recipe for margarine: Begin with a polyunsaturated, liquid vegetable oil rancid from extraction under high heat.  Any oil will do, but about 85 percent of hydrogenated oils are soybean.  Mix with tiny metal particles, usually nickel oxide.  In a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor, shoot hydrogen atoms at the unsaturated carbon bonds.  Add soaplike emulsifiers and starch to make it soft and creamy.  Steam it yellow, and add artificial flavors.

Here are a few (local) butters worth checking out, all of which fall into most of the categories of traditional butter: Rochdale Farms hand-rolled butter, Hope Creamery Butter, and my newest favorite Organic Valley Pasture Butter (a limited edition butter made from milk pastured last May-September).


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I’m ashamed at the gap between my last blog entry and this one.  It appears even more dramatic when summer falls away so quickly and fall seeps its way in, as has happened this year.  How do we apply such fast change?  I’m not ready to cut down the garden and reap so little from my morning harvest, but there’s also that mid-western spirit engrained in me that’s already making soups and braises.  Alright, fall, let’s do this thing.

That’s my daughter, Riley, above.  She’s quickly becoming my sous-chef and takes pleasure in making her own pretend breakfast spreads in her own short, plastic kitchen.  But her favorite thing to do with me in my kitchen, besides stealing produce from the counter basket and taking juicy bites, is to measure flour.  Give her my flour bucket and she could work there all day spooning flour into the 1-cup measure back into the 1/2-cup measure, back and forth, sometimes spooning some onto the passing-by cat.  As well, she never tires of my spice basket, of smelling all the jars, and then building skyscraper towers with them.

But let’s reflect (since I’ve gotten to you so late, that we can no longer call this summer):

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Here’s a photo of an August harvest in our garden.  I’m proud to say that my garden’s first year has really been something to brag on.  To brag: I feel it to be true that I am a tomato whisperer.  We grew twenty heirloom tomato plants and they each kept their health and happiness all season.  My herb garden, my prize, is still glad to be around and I am still gathering, for my clients and my own family, bunches of basils, thyme, lavender, sage, marjoram (my favorite), rosemary, chives, and parsley.  The cilantro and dill pooped out a while ago (not to mention all of my peppers and eggplants) but such is life.  Overall, the garden grew and faired well.

Now that it’s late summer into fall, it’s certainly time to keep the soup pot on the stove for supper.  This week it’s smooth butternut squash soup with coconut milk and lemongrass (and don’t forget to shred extra ginger in to perk it up and keep the sniffles away) and a quinoa chowder with greens and feta cheese.   Soup is quite possibly one of my favorite foods because it is genuinely versatile (depending on what’s in season or what’s in your cupboards), and has great potential to be nutritious, economical, filling and warming, and besides that it freezes beautifully.

Speaking of soup.  Now that it’s getting a bit cooler out, I encourage you to head to Lowertown in St. Paul and visit my old kitchen at Tanpopo, where they are famous for their Japanese homestyle noodle soups.   If you’ve never been there before, I suggest the Nabeyaki, a steaming crock of soup (straight from the stovetop) with udon noodles, egg, fish cake, spinach, chicken, and  a single tempura shrimp.  (As well, I just noticed that they have a new happy hour with specials from 5-6pm; don’t forget to order tuna rolls and a draft beer.)

Soup will be on the agenda this fall for my hush-hush rogue cooking classes in my own home.  I’ve begun teaching small-scale, cozy-like courses in my kitchen and they have been fantastic.  In a nutshell, I can only take 4 persons at a time in this intimate setting, but I plan on holding one class per month based on subjects such as soup, salt, eggplant, and more broadly, a forgotten skills course.  Don’t get me started now, but I’m entirely excited and hope you’ll have time to join me for one. I will send out more information on these classes and my thinking behind them with my upcoming fall newsletter.

Here’s a recipe for the week, now that apples are falling.  As a matter-of-fact, I taught this recipe in one of my recent classes.  So delicous, swift to make, and uses what fruit you have on hand.

Caramelized Fruit Skillet Tart

Serves 8

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

3 cups fruit (chopped into 1/2 inch cubes) such as pineapple,

apple, pear, nectarine, mango, banana or any berries

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour (or additional all-purpose flour)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup white sugar

1 large egg

¾ cup plain, whole-milk yogurt (or buttermilk)

Turn on the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the middle.  Melt the butter in a large (10-inch) skillet, with an ovenproof handle, preferably nonstick, over medium heat.  Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pour it into a medium-large bowl.  Without wiping out the skillet, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom.  Top with the fruit in an even layer.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Add the white sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in the egg, then yogurt.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones and stir only to combine.

Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet.  Slide the skillet into the oven and bake about 35 minutes, until the tart is golden brown and springy to the touch at the center.  Remove and let cool 10 minutes.

Invert a plate over the skillet, then, holding the plate and skillet firmly together with towels or pot holders, invert the two in one swift movement.  Remove the skillet, and the tart is ready to serve.

Eat well and Be well,


3R’s of Spring


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  • Perennial Plate project/site
  • Yes, Jamie’s Food Revolution (Jamie Oliver that is)
  • Food Declaration.org
  • Learn to Cook, Just a Little

You know, I’ve had letters on my mind lately.  This is because my toddler, Riley, who is 2 1/2 now, has enthusiastically discovered the letter R.  Yes, it begins her name and she just loves that.  Every day she points out the many R’s, on the bus or on signs across town, in any book I’m reading to her, or on the cereal box.

I got to thinking that the first foods we see in Minnesota in the spring all begin with R and how perfect and timely that is for us.  So what are they, you ask?  Radish, rhubarb, ramps.  Look out for these soon, if you haven’t already tasted them for the first time this spring.  Mostly, they are coming from Wisconsin, but soon they will perk up in our own back yards.

More bits.  You know, again I’m a late-comer to the perennial plate, another impressive local food site.  Local chef and sustainable food advocate, Daniel Klein, has begun a well-done online, ongoing film documentary that captures the foods of Minnesota.  He butchers, tours, cooks, and eats within the seasons at local farms and with local producers around the area.  Quite clever and addicting to watch.

I just finished watching the end of the first season of Jamie’s Food Revolution on television.  (You know, this is the reality show that documents the infiltration of Jamie Oliver into one of our country’s unhealthiest cities, Huntington, West Virginia, and excrutiatingly follows his attempt at making change in the way the community eats.)

Not one for the tv usually, but I found myself entirely drawn into this one.  I’ve always had a great deal of respect and awe for Jamie and his food and philosophy.  What struck me about this latest project of his is his absolute sincerety and sheer exhaustion at making it happen.  As well, it’s a given our food system is broken and embarassing, but seeing it outright on this program, in the school cafeterias, in the homes of citizens, behind the scenes, was impressive and touching.  What a worthwhile cause this revolution is; it just cuts through misinformation, politics, and gets to the nitty-gritty.  Thumbs up.

If you’re looking to keep up with food and politics, besides the televised revolution, a good place to receive information, especially on what’s happening in Washington, on the subjects of food and farming, sign on to www.fooddeclaration.org.  Besides receiving petitions and updates on the latest  political happenings, you’ll get updates on what’s happening across the nation on real food and farming advocacy.

Finally, as of late, I’ve been sculpting a new component to my own food philosophy.  It’s come with teaching.  So many questions on what to eat, how to eat, and helping folks to sort through the clutter of information on healthy eating and living has lead me here.  It’s a simple idea: we need to start cooking.  What?

I’m coming to understand that if an individual can take the opportunity to learn to cook, even a few simple and basic recipes, they can quickly make large-scale changes to their health, their wallet, their understanding and connection to the land and therefore community, and general well-being.  In my classes I always end up with this thought.  Forget about diets, label-reading, fancy feasts, Food Network pomp and intimidation–just get cooking!  Quite a simple piece of advice, but oh, I’m learning myself that this is just the best food advice I can possible give right now.

A recipe for one of my R’s, from Madhur Jaffrey’s lovely book, World Vegetarian:

Ukrainian Radish Salad (serves 4)

1/2 pound radishes, thinly sliced into rounds; 1 scallion, cut crosswise into very fine rounds (both green and white portions); 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; 1 cup sour cream; 1/4 teaspoon bright red paprika

In a bowl, combine the radishes, scallion, dill, olive oil, salt, and cayenne.  Mix well.  Now add the sour cream and paprika.  Mix again.  Serve chilled.

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