“The greatest lesson came with the realization that food cannot be reduced to single ingredients. It requires a web of relationships to support it” ~ Chef Dan Barber
Sultry summer winds carried the enticing aroma of local ingredients cooking over an open fire, while guests who share a mutual appreciation for sustainable food sourced close-by, strolled around the vast property before sitting down to enjoy a much anticipated dinner together. This is the type of event that I daydream about during the brisk Minnesota winters. Last month we attended our first farm dinner of 2021 at Iron Shoe Farm in Princeton. Carla Mertz, owner and operator of the farm is known for raising her animals ethically and for her firm commitment to sustainable agriculture. Her partnerships with nearby farmers and chefs are numerous and highly regarded. These farm dinners are a way to showcase fresh, locally grown ingredients through the creation of innovative and flavor-filled dishes. Carla’s association with local chefs, Minnesota Cooks and the Minnesota Farmers Union are the types of farm to fork relationships that give prominence to the essential nature of our local food community.
“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you” – Steve Jobs
When we think about sustainability in the food and beverage realm, spirits haven’t typically been at the forefront of what comes to mind. Until now. Back in January, I attended the launch event for a USDA certified, Non-GMO organic vodka at Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis. From seed to bottle, their vision and commitment to the creation of this ethereal spirit via the use of organic grains is something to be celebrated. Following that event, I had the opportunity to meet with Co-Founder and Chief Officer, Jon Kreidler for a tour and discussion. I am thrilled to be able to share the narrative of this organic vodka journey, as well as the various ways that Tattersall Distilling is making sustainable spirit production a central part of their mission.
“Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people” ~ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bushel Boy Farms is at the forefront of innovative indoor agriculture and has been “extending Minnesota’s growing season” for the past 30 years. Jay Johnson launched this business in Owatonna, Minnesota in 1990. Mr. Johnson began growing high quality tomatoes in his backyard and offering them to locals. As the demand for his distinctive tomatoes grew, he started selling them via food stands and to grocery stores in town. Bushel Boy amassed a large following and began building green houses in order to expand the thriving business. In 2018, Bushel Boy Farms was acquired by another Minnesota company, Shakopee-based Rahr Corporation. Rahr has provided the support to expand the assortment within the tomato category, but also look beyond tomatoes. Their drive to build off the rich history of growing premium quality tomatoes, along with the dedication to continue to innovate, has led to perhaps the most exciting 18 months in the company’s history. What follows is the story of how Bushel Boy Farms came to be one of the most well known and respected produce companies in MN.
“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the simplicity of our forefathers” ~ Herbert Hoover
Hello from the land of 10,000 Lakes! Growing up, I spent a lot of quality time fishing with my father and grandfather on our annual summer outings to lakes and cabins throughout the state. Those memories are so precious! Regretfully, I haven’t been fishing in many years. It’s lucky for us that we have incredible friends, Anne and Wayne Minske, who happen to be phenomenal anglers. Last week John and I were invited to their home for a viewing party and the ultimate fish fry. The scents and flavors of the walleye and northern wafting from the fryer brought me right back to my Minnesota childhood.
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.
“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. Continue reading Travel Minnesota: 24 hours in Shakopee→
“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back”
There is an ever-present and intense drive amongst artists, restaurateurs/chefs, food writers and influencers to be creators of beauty and nourishers of souls. The new Artists In The Kitchen Exhibition, happening now at the Textile Center, hits both marks in the most remarkable way. The exhibit highlights a magnificent display of 50 works by women artists inspired by 50 women chefs and restaurateurs (see the list of participants at the end of the article). The artists ability to translate unique and powerful culinary experiences through the use of textiles is extraordinary and the outcome is well worth seeing.
Comfort: The definition of comfort as noted per dictionary.com is to soothe, console or reassure; bring cheer to.
The kitchen is a place of absolute comfort for me and I like to imagine that the dishes I create bring that feeling to others, which is why bread pudding is frequently on the menu at our house. It is my ultimate “comfort food”. There is something about the chunky cubes of brioche, challah or French bread soaked in custard and baked that takes me to a place of instant contentment.
John and I traveled to Thailand last summer and fell in love with the fascinating culture and the stunning food climate. Since that experience I have been craving Thai food regularly. While I do plan to do a lengthy blog post on that trip, today I am writing about a hidden gem of a restaurant that I found tucked away in an unassuming strip mall in Golden Valley. My oldest son and I try to meet for a meal when I am in his neck of the woods . Usually those outings take place in Golden Valley, close to his job.
The desire to try something new for lunch last week had us yelping nearby restaurants. Nong’s Thai Cuisine popped up. The restaurant was close in proximity to our location and the reviews were consistently above average so we gave it a try. My impression: insanely good! The incredible menu made it hard to choose just one dish. I’ve found that a long menu doesn’t always correlate with high quality, favorable food choices but at Nong’s I truly could not decide what to order because there were so many fantastic options. I ended up with the Sukiyaki Soup found on the noodle page. Ingredients included: glass noodles, egg, Napa cabbage, onion, green onion, celery and special sukiyaki sauce. The flavors were addicting. The choices on the spice scale were mild, medium, hot and thai hot. I am a spice girl so I opted for hot and loved it. The portion was extremely generous which I appreciated as I had the remaining soup for lunch the next day. I don’t refer to that as leftovers, I call it: same soup, different day….