Tag 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.

 

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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Asparagus Leek Soup


It began with asparagus season this year. I had learned that you can, in fact, freeze asparagus without blanching it, if you’re going to use it in something for which texture doesn’t matter. Like soup! So I spent most of June freezing bags of asparagus and decided, after eating many meals of fresh asparagus, I’d better try out a soup recipe to make sure I like it. I’ll be making plenty of asparagus soup later in the fall and winter with what I’ve got stored in the freezer.

My recipe was inspired by Jim LaPerriere’s Asparagus and Spring Garlic Vichyssoise. Jim is a local chef who participates in the Chef Series each summer at the Holland Farmers Market. I picked up this recipe from him three years ago.

Since I had missed the window for spring garlic, I decided to substitute sweet candy onion. I also used olive oil instead of butter and homemade chicken stock instead of water. (But this would make a nice vegetarian soup if water were used for the base.) Plus, I skipped the potato. And, I opted for raw milk (with fat skimmed off) rather than heavy cream.

Here’s the recipe:

Asparagus Leek Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 small leeks, chopped
1 lb. asparagus, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup lowfat milk

Rinse the asparagus and snap off the bottoms. (Jim’s recipe, as well as several others I found online, suggest saving the tips and blanching them to use as garnish when serving. Me, I’m too lazy to add another step!)

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and leeks in olive oil until tender, about six minutes.

Add the chopped asparagus and saute for one minute.

Pour the chicken stock into the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cover pan with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer soup for about ten minutes.

Puree in batches. Season with salt and pepper, then add milk.

It’s best to make this soup a day ahead for the flavors to blend. My chicken stock was made from a Spatchcock Chicken so it was full of fresh herb flavor. You may want to consider adding a little parsley or thyme to this soup as it simmers on the stove.

I think this is a delicious summer soup because it’s so light that it doesn’t make you warm and sleepy. Although it’s not an authentic vichyssoise recipe, you could try serving this soup cold. The leeks and asparagus nicely complement each other.

The Perennial Plate: Episode 83


Here’s Daniel Klein’s tribute to Prune Restaurant on 1st Street in NYC via video montage. This was just another stop on Klein’s Real Food Road Trip. (Okay, it was two summers ago, but I’m still catching up on these episodes!)

How to Camp Like a Locavore


Fresh eggs from Good Harbor Farm

When I go camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with my friend Sandy, we often have a theme that drives our meal decisions as well as the activities we do. This year we decided to wing it, bringing few staples from home and relying on the local food choices we could find in Leelanau County, Michigan.

Okay, so I’m not a purely authentic locavore. That would mean I would only eat food that is locally produced, excluding olive oil, coffee, chocolate, and lemons, to name a few of my favorite ingredients. But I try my best to eat in season as much as possible and support our local economy here in Michigan. So what are staples for Sandy and me on a camping trip? Popcorn, olive oil, and coffee.

The first step to camping like a locavore is heading to the local winery (or grocery store) to get some sparkling wine. One of our favorites is Moonstruck from Good Harbor Vineyards. After picking up some provisions, such as eggs and asparagus at Good Harbor Farm, we headed back to our campsite to pitch the tent. But first we popped the cork on the Moonstruck.

Moonstruck sparkling wine from Good Harbor Winery

Then we had some cherry pie that we picked up at The Cherry Hut in Beulah, Michigan, on our way to the campground.

Moonstruck and cherry pie

Then we put the tarp down.

Camping step two: Put down tarp

And finally, the tent went up.

Camping step three: Put up tent

The first night we went out for dinner at Good Harbor Grill, which is not our normal practice. But the Cherry Pecan Whitefish on the menu was enticing. (What’s with all the Good Harbor this and Good Harbor that? D.H. Day Campground, a rustic campground within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, resides along Good Harbor Bay, one of the most beautiful harbors in Lake Michigan—with no marinas. It’s a nature lover’s paradise.) After dinner we made popcorn over the campfire.

The next day, we headed to the beach at—you guessed it—Good Harbor Bay to make breakfast, which was an Asparagus Frittata and pressed coffee (and leftover Moonstruck).

Frittata ingredients

Red onion and fresh asparagus for frittata

Asparagus frittata and Moonstruck at Good Harbor Bay

Moonstruck sparkling wine from Good Harbor Winery

Good Harbor Bay, Leelanau County, Michigan

After relaxing at the beach, we toured some wineries, including one of our favorites (L. Mawby), where we shared a flight of sparkling wine with whitefish pate.

Sparkling wine flight at L. Mawby

Then we headed back to camp for some R&R. I had brought a few ingredients from home to make Lavash Pizza Over a Fire. The base for the pizza was Stinging Nettles Pesto that I had made a few weeks earlier and froze. The tomatoes for one pizza were from the Holland Farmers Market and the goat cheese came from Dancing Goat Creamery. We put Manchego sheep’s cheese and parsley from my garden on the other.

Lavash Pizza Over a Fire

And in the morning? Fried egg sandwich paninis with Stinging Nettles Pesto!

Fried egg and pesto panini

The challenge is always to find ways to use up the ingredients that you find locally and bring from home. The only leftovers we had were pieces of cherry pie. But that was easy. They were nicely accompanied by cups of coffee from Gemma’s Coffee House at the beach in Empire, Michigan, on the way home.