Category Archives: Buy Local

Pig. Farmer. Chef. Guest.


We were all there in the kitchen at the same time.

Salt of the Earth restaurant

Chef Matthew demonstrates how to butcher a pig as farmer Darrell and a class attendee observe.

I recently had the opportunity to learn more about butchering. And what could be a better place than one of Bill’s and my favorite local restaurants?

Salt of the Earth, in Fennville, Michigan, offers cooking classes throughout the year. What I liked about “The Whole Hog: Butchering 101” was how it brings me (Guest) closer to the animal (Pig) through the direction of the butcher (Chef Matthew Pietsch). And Darrell (Farmer) is a critical part of the experience, too.

The Berkshire hogs came from local farmers Darrell and Conni at Coach Stop Farm. So while Chef Matthew explained the various cuts of the animal and how to “break down a hog,” Darrell talked about the breed and how his happy, pastured pigs differ from those confined in factory farms.

Bill and I already buy only happy meat from local farmers but I enjoyed the discussion during the demonstration that night, along with the wine….and did I mention dinner followed? Pork, of course! Thank you, Salt of the Earth, for providing this educational venue to help us all–pig, farmer, chef, guest–develop more understand about how we are all so connected and dependent upon each other.

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The only question I forgot to ask is: What is the photo of Christopher Walken doing on the walk-in door?

P.S. – Check out this post over on EatGR.com, which included Life Is Fare in its Monday Mingle (Blogger Link Up) on July 14, 2014.

 

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In Brooklyn: The Farm on Adderley


The Farm on AdderleyWhile on a recent trip to NYC, Bill and I had the opportunity to try a restaurant in Brooklyn that’s right up our alley: The Farm on Adderley. The restaurant aims “to bring thoughtfully produced food and ingredients to our community in a totally accessible way. Much of the way The Farm has evolved has been to pursue the principles of supporting local farmers, artisans, entrepreneurs as much as possible, making delicious food from that, and serving it in a completely honest way.” Those are the principles we like to eat by, at a place that lists its purveyors who supply the food for its ever-changing menu.

We were there after Daylight Savings Time ended, so it was dark. And this photo doesn’t do it justice.
The Farm on Adderley

The Farm on Adderley, Brooklyn, New York

I had the fluke (on the right) and we shared a green bean salad (on the left). Yummy, fresh, and low-key. We felt like we were having dinner at a neighbor’s home.

Located in a narrow old commercial building on Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park, its hidden gem is an outdoor garden in the back. Even on a chilly October evening, it was comfortable and pleasant.

Farmhouse Deli: A Good Option for Homemade


Farmhouse Deli, Douglas, Michigan

Bill and I are lucky to live near several farm-to-table restaurants here in West Michigan. And we do love to cook at home. But sometimes you just want to pick something up quickly to have for lunch or dinner when you don’t have stuff on hand.

The Farmhouse Deli in Douglas, Michigan, is a quick trip down the road for us and the perfect place to get homemade food created from fresh, local ingredients. It’s owned by our friend Chris Ferris, a fabulous chef who catered our wedding reception. The daily soup and specials are frequently posted on Facebook so “like” their page if you live in the area and you’ll be enticed to drop in. The food is irresistible.

I was enticed enough one day to get the Egg Salad artisan sandwich–on a ciabatta roll. OMG, it’s a must-try.

Egg Salad Artisan Sandwich, Farmhouse Deli

Check out the menu to make your mouth water. And stop in for lunch or dinner sometime.

Hutterite Bean Soup


Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

I haven’t posted in a while because of some life changes so I was excited to try a new recipe and have the time to write about it!

Hutterite Beans from Shady Side FarmI’ve never made Hutterite Bean Soup. I had never even heard of Hutterite beans until I saw them at the Holland Farmers Market. Locally grown by Shady Side Farm, the Hutterite variety is a white bean that’s not quite as soft as a navy bean.

Inspired by a recipe I found online, I took the Tuscan route, as I once did with another bean recipe I made.

First I soaked the beans overnight. If you don’t have the opportunity to plan ahead, you can always do the quick soak method, which is written on the back of the bean bag. Just put the beans, well covered in water, into a large pot. Bring to a boil for two minutes and remove from heat. Cover pot and soak for an hour. It’s a handy trick!

Hutterite Beans

Here they are all plumped up with water, rinsed and drained.

Hutterite Beans

In the stock pot I sautéed a whole onion (chopped) and a couple cloves of garlic (minced) in olive oil.

Chopped onions and garlic

Then I added a ham hock. This one happened to be fresh, not smoked, so the meat looks more like pork than ham.

Fresh ham hock for Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

I browned the ham hock in the olive oil after pushing aside the onions and garlic. Then I added about 2 1/2 quarts of water. It would be great to use stock if you have it. Instead, I added a teaspoon of organic chicken bouillon, which is my back-up plan when I don’t have stock on hand. I also added dried sage (fresh would have been better!). Then I simmered the soup on the stove about two hours, until the ham hock meat was tender.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Once the meat was done, I removed it from the pot, pulled the meat off the bone, and returned the meat to the soup.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Then I added a bunch of lacinato kale, stems removed, leaves chopped.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Simmer another half hour or so until the kale is tender, and it’s soup! Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This could easily have been an excellent vegetarian recipe. With the beans and kale, you have a very nutritional meal easily devoured from a bowl.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Downtown Market: Access for All


Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

I’d been looking forward to checking out the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids ever since it opened earlier this summer. With 25,000 square feet of market space, it’s the first LEED-certified market in the country. That’s a big deal! And, it’s designed to be a year-round hub of activity, offering a restaurant, a brewery, a farmer’s market, retail shops, a commercial kitchen, a rooftop greenhouse, and the country’s first hands-on kitchen for kids.

For now, the market is only offering outdoor vendors. So Bill and I stopped by on a recent evening and were pleased to see a number of familiar faces from the Holland Farmers Market, as well as new ones from areas around Grand Rapids–all situated under a permanent outdoor shelter.

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But what I really love about the Downtown Market is its location. This market offers urban dwellers another option for fresh, local produce and food items.

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

This makes it possible for more people struggling with lower incomes to have access to fresh food, which means healthier options for all. And, it was great to see a van right there in the parking lot, ready to deliver donations to Heartside nonprofit organizations that help residents in the neighborhood.

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, MI

Can’t wait to see what the Indoor Market Hall offers when it opens later this summer!

Show Your Love: Farmers Market Celebration in Full Swing


I Love My Farmers Market Celebration

American Farmland Trust is the founder of the I Love My Farmers Market Celebration and is the only national nonprofit dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

Between now and September 9, show your love for farmers by pledging to spend $10 at your local farmers market. You can pledge once each day and you can support more than one market.

I’m excited to see the support for Michigan markets. Check out where your state ranks in pledging. And remember to support your local farmers!

For Your Picnic: Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich


Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

If you’re going to the beach, on a hike, for a bike ride, or on a road trip, the Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich is a good companion for a picnic lunch. And now is the perfect time to buy its ingredients in season at the Holland Farmers’ Market.

You can buy everything there (except for olives). Seriously. Even the feta cheese and the bread. And if you need oil and vinegar to make the vinaigrette, just run up the street to Fustini’s.

What I love about this recipe is that it begs for improvisation. Don’t like tomatoes? Try fresh Bell peppers instead. Not a fan of olives? Leave them off and add some capers. Substitute chevre for feta cheese. Numerous combinations are possible!

I was headed to Pereddies’ restaurant and deli in Washington Square to buy kalamata olives for the sandwich, so I decided to try their olive oil bread instead of a big round loaf of sourdough like the recipe suggests. It’s the perfect vehicle for this sandwich!

Below is the original recipe from Southern Living, along with a slideshow of the ingredients and process. It serves 4-6 people.

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Ingredients

2/3 cup vinaigrette

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (8-inch) round sourdough bread loaf (about 16 ounces)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

1 large tomato, sliced

1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

1 medium cucumber, sliced

1/2 medium-size purple onion, sliced

1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

Whisk first 4 ingredients. Cut bread in half horizontally. Scoop out inside of bread halves, leaving 2-inch shells; brush inside with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette mixture. Layer lettuce and tomato in bottom half of bread, brushing tomato with remaining vinaigrette mixture. Layer cheese and next 3 ingredients over tomato. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 hours. (Place a large plate on top of sandwich, weighting it down with cans, if necessary, to compress sandwich.) Cut into wedges.

Wrap it up and go!

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