Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Local Feed on Roasted Root Vegetables

Recently on WYCE's The Local Feed I spoke about one of my favorite cold weather meals - roasted root vegetables.

Listen above or read below. (If your email software does not show the audio link above, click on the blog title to get to the page.)

There are many Michigan root vegetables: parsnip, potato, sunchokes, rutabaga, sweet potato, carrot, and beet. I use about 3 pounds of root vegetables. There’s no need to peel the potatoes, sunchokes, or carrots; they’re just fine as they are.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Then, prep the roots by cutting them depending on the size and shape of the vegetables, cut them into one-quarter to one-half inch disks or one-half to three-quarter inch chunks. Put them into a 9 by 13 baking dish. Stir in one-half cup of extra virgin olive oil, coating the pieces.

Bake them covered for a half hour while you are prepping other ingredients. Depending on availability, I add in chopped red bell or other peppers, four minced shallots, and a handful of fresh herbs. The kind of herbs depends on what I have around, but rosemary, chives, oregano, and thyme all work well.

After the half hour, add the other ingredients to the pan and bake another 45 minutes for 1 and a quarter hours total – or until the vegetables are all soft.

As you serve, pour a dash of balsamic vinegar on top. I serve this with hearty Michigan bread and Michigan butter for a warm me up meal. You can also puree it in a blender and use it to stuff home-made ravioli.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

August’s Kitchen Vegan Dinners

It was easy for me to assume that August Treu from August's Kitchen had been a chef his whole career, but as I got to know him I learned that he went to chef school, graduating in 2008, after a series of successful, unrelated careers.
I’m glad he did, because I have enjoyed watching his business grow. We met at the Fulton Street Farmers Market when he started selling there in 2011. He sells breakfast foods, fine pastries, and baked goods, such as quick breads, cookies, and pies. He also makes cheese and cans jellies from Michigan fruits. He purchases fruits, vegetables, and milk at the market. When the market building opened, he moved inside. 

Along with classes, August hosts Chef’s Table events at his space on Diamond Avenue in Grand Rapids. The menus vary – and food from his farmers market friends and Ingraberg Farms in Rockford are incorporated. 

The menu themes vary; I recently went to his first Vegan Chef’s Table Dinner. It was a seven-course meal at a fair price of $45.00. And, there’s no charge for the fun! The dinner was promoted by Vegan Grand Rapids, so Kolene and Jon were there too. Kudos to them for filling the event with hungry plant-based eaters.

The Menu:
Tom Yum Tofu Soup
Broiled Vegetable Terrine
Crispy Vegetable Pakoras w/ Tamarind Ginger Dipping Sauce
Grapefruit & Fresh Greens w/ Sweet Fennel Lime Vinaigrette
Sourdough Bread w/ Herbed Tofu Spread
Eggplant Gratin w/ Mushrooms & Artichokes
Orange-Scented CranApple Cobbler

I dined with my friends Medha from Medha Rode Art and Sue from Stir the Pot GR, and I met blogger Sarah from Happy to be Raw. A small venue filled with like-minded people brings out the best in all of us and is great fun. 

The next Vegan Dinner is being planned for May 2014. Sign up for the email list for more information on all of the August's Kitchen events. 

THANKS to Vegan Grand Rapids for the photos below. 

Tom Yum Tofu Soup
Broiled Vegetable Terrine
Crispy Vegetable Pakoras w/ Tamarind Ginger Dipping Sauce
Grapefruit & Fresh Greens w/ Sweet Fennel Lime Vinaigrette
Eggplant Gratin w/ Mushrooms & Artichokes
Orange-Scented CranApple Cobbler

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Catching up with The Local Feed

My colleague, Chef Shawn Kohlhaas from Culinary Cultivations, has been busy doing interviews for The Local Feed on WYCE. Catch up with who he's been chatting with below.

If your email browser blocks the radio links below, click on the blog post name to get to the web version. 

Listen above for the interview with New City Urban Farm.

Listen above for the interview with Chef Tommy Fitzgerald from Kitchen Sage.

Listen above for the interview with Jerry Adams from Farm Link.

Thanks for reading and listening.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Local Feed on Basil in the Basement.

Have you been yearning for the flavors of summer? How about basil? I was, so this week on The Local Feed on WYCE, I spoke about Growing Green Family Farm.

Listen to the link above or read below.

If your email browser blocked the radio link above, click on the blog post name to get to the web version.

Growing Green Family Farm grows basil, cilantro, and microgreens in an environmentally controlled basement. They take care to maintain the right lighting, airflow, humidity, and temperature – so we can have basil in March!

Microgreens are small greens; usually no more than 2 inches tall. They are not sprouts, but are rather a young plant that is in between a sprout and an older green.

They also grow kale, lettuces, wheatgrass, and beet greens in a greenhouse.

No herbicides and pesticides are used. They aren’t really needed in the winter anyway. And, the fertilizer used is an all-natural mix of plant and mineral materials. The water is filtered rainwater.

So, what to do with basil when there are not a lot of other summer veggies around? How about paring them with dried tomatoes? Did you dry tomatoes last summer? If not, think about it for the upcoming summer.

And, you can always make a pesto sauce with walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

I also send a small bunch of basil through the juicer when I am making a juice blend from other greens. It really adds a summery punch.

You can purchase fresh, Michigan-grown basil at the Fulton Street Farmers Market on Saturdays. They are open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Coconut PSA

Coconuts are NOT grown in Michigan. But, if you read much about healthy diets, you’ve undoubtedly come across them in recipes. Since I experiment with raw food diet meals and drink smoothies regularly, I use them frequently. So, I am providing a ‘public service announcement’ about how to open a young Thai coconut.

Coconut water is very popular now, and the best tasting water I have found is in young Thai coconuts. Make sure that when you buy them, they are fresh. Usually, the freshest ones are in Asian markets with a high turn-over. Ask the produce manager when the coconuts arrived at the store.

The demonstrations that I have seen have made opening a coconut seem like a grade B horror movie – you need to hack it with a knife. But, recently a friend showed me this kinder, gentler method. I'm sharing it with you.

Slice off the outer shell following the angle of the coconut.
Looks like this afterward.
Score with a serrated knife it in an area that is the dark color. 
Starting in the scored section, use the knife to cut around the top.
Peel the top off.
Pour into a glass or jar. I use my canning funnel.
Now, you have coconut water. 
Scrape out the coconut meat with a spoon. If there are specs of brown shell
 on the meat, scrape it off with a wet spoon.

Enjoy coconut water as a healthy, refreshing beverage or as the base for a smoothie with fruit and greens.

The coconut meat is also tasty in smoothies; I use about one ounce for a 16 - 20 ounce smoothie. It is also used in raw food recipes. Coconut meat can also be frozen for future use.

If you blend the coconut water and meat together you have a coconut milk. (You can blend the meat with plain water to get milk,also.) I’ve found that the coconut water and meat mixture can be quite thick. So, it’s a good base for a vegan pudding base. Or, you can dilute it with water or juice and add it to a smoothie.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Local Feed on Visser Farms

This week on The Local Feed on WYCE, I spoke about my trip to Visser Farms. I toured the farm in late fall to find out where all those wonderful root vegetables are stored over winter.

Listen to the link above or read below.
If your email browser blocked the radio link above, click on the blog post name to get to the web version.

Do you ever wonder where your veggies hang out over the winter? I did. So I took a truck tour of Visser Farms with Phil Visser. They farm a total of 200 acres in Zeeland and Jenison.

It turns out that some vegetables can stay in the ground. Weather is always a factor, but kale, rutabagas, and turnips usually stay in the ground over winter and are harvested when there’s access to them, and then they’re stored temporarily before market or delivery. Broccoli likes the sudden warm days of autumn and springs back to life. It stays in the ground until damaged. So, it’s available when there is an occasional, very mild winter. (Well, not this year!)

Root vegetables, such as carrots, onions, potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, sweet potatoes, celery root, and beets are stored in a nearby facility over winter that’s about 38 degrees.

The farm started in 1902; currently the fifth generation is working it. They do their best to keep sprays to a minimum and use natural fertilizer. Also, they plant cover crops, such as rye, in the fall to prevent soil erosion and to replenish nutrients into the soil when plowed under.  The crops are regularly rotated to ensure that the soil is healthy and not stressed or stripped of nutrients.

Find the Michigan root vegetable mainstays at restaurants in Grand Rapids and Holland and the Fulton Street Farmers Market. The market is open on Saturdays 10:00 am to 1:00 pm from January to April.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Market

Here’s the link to my latest article on The Rapidian. I appreciate their support of my work and for local food! Included in the article is the audio link from last week’s segment on WYCE.

The Fulton Street Farmers Market is open on Saturdays through April from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

See you there!

Additional photos below.