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Vino 101: It’s (relatively) easy buying green

organic wine sign

In my last post, I wrote about how difficult it is to grow grapes and make wine in an environmentally responsible manner, and how rare organic and biodynamic winemaking remains today. 

 

Now I want to focus on the brighter side: while “green” wine still accounts for a small share of the industry, that share is growing quickly, and it isn’t terribly hard to find wines from makers who are genuinely trying to be responsible environmental stewards. 

 

But first, it’s important to nail down the terminology used by winemakers to indicate environmentally friendly juice. 

 

Organic

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Kitchen DIY: Homemade enchilada sauce

enchilada sauce

Lately, my mind has been drifting towards cool-weather comfort food. You know, those meals that you can settle in to and cozy up with in the evening. 

 

I’m ready for less running about, more family meals at the table, and that smell that you greets you at the door and permeates the house, when you know something delicious awaits you for dinner. Yes, I’m ready to eat hot soups and sip hot drinks. I’m ready to braise things again.

 

Enchiladas may seem like an odd place to start, but for me, it’s a perfect seasonal-transition meal. It’s warm, substantial, and very much a comfort food. I’m a big proponent of making homemade sauces since it takes just a little extra effort, and the results are almost always worth it.  

 

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Hunting for Dinner: Fried panfish spring rolls

spring rolls

For many fishermen, visions of a 30-inch walleye or a 50-inch musky are what drive them to get out there and fish. I love catching a big fish just as much as the next guy, but for me the real trophy is what ends up on the plate. A huge walleye would look great hanging above the fireplace, but more than likely it wouldn’t be that great to eat. Here in Minnesota the walleye is king, everybody loves catching them and most everybody loves eating them. I am the exception to that rule. I would rather catch a stringer full of perch or sunfish. 

 

There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, they are usually easier to catch. Small pan fish like perch, sunfish, bluegills and rock bass are usually the first fish we catch when we are little. When you get into a school of pan fish, the action is usually nonstop and you can catch them one after another and end up with a limit of good eaters in no time at all. 

 

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Vino 101: It’s not easy being green

green wines

Unless you’ve been asleep for the past twenty years, you know that Americans are eating differently these days. Once upon a time, price was pretty much the only factor in our food purchases; that attitude helped spur the growth of industrial-scale agriculture built on petrochemical fertilizers, monoculture, and efficiency over quality. (Hello, grainy and flavorless supermarket tomatoes!) 

 

Today, we’re more conscious of how the food we eat impacts the planet and our own bodies. Consumers are increasingly demanding more information about how their food is grown and made, and a large and growing number prefer to buy local and organic whenever possible. 

 

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All Treats, No Tricks: How to de-junk Halloween for kids

halloween kid

With jumbo candy bags for sale everywhere right now, and ads blasting sugary treats to give out next week, it's easy to associate Halloween with "fun size" giveaways. But what I've discovered in teaching cooking to kids is that they can definitely be swayed away from that deluge of junk — you just have to get them in the kitchen.

 

When kids make up their own treats, they quickly catch on to the idea that it's okay to have them in moderation, especially if you create savory foods at the same time. Even in my adult classes, I've found that having a larger variety of dishes is most popular, leading to guilt-free portion sizes for desserts. 

 

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Cooking on the Clock: 5 tips for speeding up meal prep

clock

When it comes to creating a savory, amazing meal on a weeknight, most people think you have to stay home from work to cook for a few hours, but it's more than possible to put together sumptuous dishes in the same amount of time it would take to heat up a frozen pizza. You just have to put the right strategies in place. Here are five tips on getting speedy without sacrificing taste:

 

1. Create a real pantry. Most of us don't do long-term menu planning, and that's fine, but being aware of what's available in your house and stocking your cupboards with go-to items can be a boon for quick meals. Think about dry goods that will serve you well and that will store for weeks, if not months: instant polenta, cous cous, dried fruits, nuts, spices, flavored oils, etc. I like jarred items like pesto, anchovy paste, and olives, that you can throw into a dish easily but don't need refrigeration until you open them.

 

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Hunting for Dinner: Squirrel and dumplings

squirrel

It's been almost two years exactly since I wrote my first article for Simple Good & Tasty, about taking my mother squirrel hunting for the very first time. Over the past two years, I've received some very good feedback about that article and best of all, I ended up meeting Mike Pugsley.


A career musician in his 50s, Mike has been an avid shooter for most of his life but only hunted a couple times 20 years ago. He was interested in getting into hunting and doing some research online when he came across my squirrel article, in which I noted that I frequently take new hunters out and introduce them to the outdoors. After he called, and talked about squirrel hunting, we set up a time to go out. 

 

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Mallmann on Fire: Red and golden beet salad with radishes and soft-boiled eggs

mallmann dish

In honor of an upcoming Twin Cities visit by world-renowned chef Francis Mallmann, we provide this selection from his new book. Behold, the power of fire. 

 

This is one of the few fresh vegetable salads you can put together all through the winter. It is a favorite at my restaurant in Garzón, even in the summer. Very crunchy, very fresh. The eggs make it a complete light meal. I first had it on a trip to Australia with a number of other chefs, including David Tanis. If you don’t know David, he has had a very interesting life: For many years, he spent half the year as the chef at Chez Panisse and the other half of the year as a private chef in Paris. Now his recipes appear every week in The New York Times Dining section, and they are a highlight of my Wednesday morning reading. 

 

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