The Farm To Fork Project: How We Can Work Together To Achieve Sustainability

“If you just think exclusively about what would be the best tasting or most profitable, you’re just not seeing the big picture”

~ Dan Barber

Sustainability. What does it mean? And why is it so important?

You will get a multitude of answers to the above questions depending on who you ask. It can vary based on a myriad of factors including the environmental, social and economic conditions in a given region.  

The EPA’s formal definition of sustainability is:

“The idea of sustainability—commonly defined as the ability to maintain or improve standards of living without damaging or depleting natural resources for present and future generations—was ingrained as a foundation of environmental law with the signing of the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act.Jun 26, 2018″   ~ United States Environmental Protection Agency

What I know for certain is that instituting sustainable living habits into our daily lives is crucial to our future, and we need to work together to achieve long-term sustainability.

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When Ramen And Michelin Stars Intersect In Tokyo, Japan

“The ultimate ramen is something that exists perfectly in the moment”

~ Quote from the Ramen Heads documentary

On November 29, 2017, Nakiryu was awarded its first Michelin star.  Nakiryu is only the second ramen restaurant in the world to receive this prestigious honor.  Tsuta was the first and they are both located in Toshima, a Tokyo Prefecture.  We visited Nakiryu in early October of 2018.

To be awarded a Michelin star and ultimately be listed in the Michelin Guide is no easy accomplishment.  There are no specific guidelines available for restaurants regarding how to obtain this level of recognition.  Some known objectives are the chefs ability to achieve the highest levels of mastery in terms of flavors and cooking techniques.  Consistency in regards to the food and dining experience are also key.  If the first visit by the anonymous Michelin Guide inspector is favorable, a second visit will take place approximately one year later. The road to a Michelin star is not a rapid one.  Receiving one star is not a guarantee that more stars will be awarded in the future, and restaurants can lose stars if they do not maintain the Michelin standards. The most stars a restaurant can be awarded is three.

At Nakiryu there was a clear reverence for the ingredients and the noodle preparation.  The way the ramen noodles were expertly and visibly laid out on the counter waiting for their arrangement in the bowls elevated our anticipation.  From the precise placement of the noodles, to the ladling of the broth, to the moment the bowl is handed to the customer, there is a sense of ceremony.  This was my maiden voyage to Japan as well as our first visit to a Michelin star restaurant.

There is no question in our minds as to why Nakiryu received their star.  For us, the taste of the ramen and the moments we spent there were impeccable and we won’t ever forget it.

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Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed”

~ Maya Angelou

I was raised in a family where cooking for others is an act of giving that is equated with love.  We were always reminded to be grateful for what we receive, and more importantly, who we are blessed to have in our lives and around our table.  At our house Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to Share.Laugh.Eat.Repeat!

I hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving dessert recipes featured here.  They are just a few of my favorites.  They range in the amount of effort required.  I’ve done this intentionally with the knowledge that while we all want beautiful desserts for our celebrations, we have varying amounts of time to spend in the kitchen. You can find more of my harvest recipes in the November 2018 issue of Southwest Metro Magazine in the article titled Empty Nesters Kitchen Lives Fully.  Included are a skillet apple crisp + wine pairing suggestion, a festive cocktail from J.Carver Distillery in Waconia and my tempting recipe for pumpkin bread pudding (this one is also included here).

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HAFA Farm Tour: Part 1 in a 2 part series

“If you ate today, thank a farmer”

~Author Unknown

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I believe that getting to know the farmers who supply our food is imperative.  It heightens our respect for the dedication and hard work that they put into what we consume.  These interactions make the ingredients on our plates even more meaningful.

Two weeks ago I visited the 155 acre Hmong American Farmers Association Farm (HAFA)  in Vermillion Township.  This is an area that is heavily rooted in agriculture.   The farm is located approximately 15 minutes south of St. Paul.

I learned of HAFA and the variety of programs they have been implementing while listening to Pakou Hang (Co-Founder and Executive Director of HAFA) speak on the panel at a Future of Food Tour event.  This was hosted by Kerry Diamond, Editorial Director of Cherry Bombe. The event was held at the Lynhall in June and was part of their ongoing Wisdom Series.  Shortly after the event I reached out to Pakou to hear more about the organization.  Following our discussion I expressed interest in visiting the HAFA Farm.

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Empty Nester Adventures in Italy: A Photo Gallery of Our 5 Day Visit to the Amalfi Coast

“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life” ~Anna Akhmatova

The hills of the Amalfi Coast are steeped in romance and tradition.  As a travel enthusiast I’m extremely grateful to have the had the opportunity to visit many unique and beautiful destinations.  This particular area of Italy holds a special place in my being that keeps calling me back.  I am of Italian descent so maybe that’s why it feels so much like home every time I return.

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Travel Minnesota: 24 hours in Shakopee

“Every Hundred Feet The World Changes” ~ Roberto Bolaño

There’s something to be said about taking the scenic route, in both life and travel and the lesson here is, you don’t have to trek very far to find an adventure.  John and I had the opportunity to experience a brief but action packed 24 hours in Shakopee, MN last weekend. This historic city is just across the river from our home in Chanhassen but other than our outings to Canterbury Park, or the occasional trip to Valley Fair when the kids were young, we haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time there. The essence of discovery is something that we embrace so we really looked forward immersing ourselves in this mini-vacation.
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Food Month In Review: March 2018

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating”

Lucky for those of us living in the Twin Cities; we are provided with seemingly endless opportunities to not only eat, but to do so abundantly well.  I field frequent inquiries from friends and family regarding restaurant recommendations and I love sharing my culinary experiences so I decided to create a new feature.  It will be a brief overview of our culinary adventures from the prior month.

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