Although we seem to be on the other side of the Polar Vortex, all those mini-mountains along the sidewalks remind us that summer vegetables are still months away. Thankfully, winter farmers markets continue to give us a taste of those salad days. With the Mill City Farmers Market about to hold their next indoor market, we asked marketing manager Kate Heilmann to give us her list of 10 not-to-be-missed items.
Grass-fed bison. Raised without the growth hormones and antibiotics often found in beef, bison also tends to be leaner than beef and is a delicious choice for homemade meatballs! Nicholas Heimer from Buffalo by Bike delivers 100 percent grass-fed bison meat to the market by bicycle, making this tasty lean meat even more sustainable. Be sure to catch Saturday’s special cooking demo by Market Chef Heather Hartman who will be sampling Wild Rice Bison Meatballs.
Small-batch, certified-organic barbeque sauce. Created from scratch and refined to perfection over 15 years, Triple Crown BBQ Sauce has won three blue ribbons at the MN State Fair. It's the perfect staple for summer grilling. Try it with Grill-Smoked Chicken if summer ever arrives! Chef Heather will also be using it with her bison meatballs on Saturday.
Wild Rice. You might be surprised to learn that his highly nutritious grain is not actually rice, but an annual water-grass seed. Richly abundant in the cold waters of Minnesota and Canada, wild rice was the staple in the diet of the Chippewa and Sioux Indians, and is the only grain native to North America. Northern Lakes Wild Rice carries on this indigenous tradition using canoes to gather the grain in northern Minnesota's pristine lakes. Try using this high protein, high fiber grain in this yummy breakfast dish: Wild Rice Breakfast Pudding.
Dark chocolate. You’ll feel like you’re falling in love when you try these chocolates. No, really, you will actually feel like you’re falling in love. Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain releases when you're falling in love. Inspired by the delicacies of Southern France, French Nugget is a high-quality dark chocolate product made from only four all-natural ingredients: 100 percent dark Belgian chocolate, almonds, raisins, and honey. Each bite is loaded with flavor, antioxidants, and PEA, making French Nugget delicious and guilt-free. Plus, Fred Golchin is just so darn charming I dare you to say no to his tempting varieties, such as my personal favorite, “Coconut Dream.” Bon appetit!
Cold-expeller-pressed sunflower oil. Straight from the driftless region of Southwest Wisconsin, this delightfully nutty oil is suitable for frying, excellent for salad dressings, and is high in vitamin E and low in saturated fat. Market founder Brenda Langton likes to use this local oil in baked goods and nutty vinaigrettes. Make sure to pick up a bottle of Driftless Organics’ “olive oil of the Midwest.”
Kiss My Cabbage kimchi. Adrienne Logsdon’s passion for lacto-fermentation is evident in her infectious enthusiasm at the market and in the fruits of her labor: handcrafted, super-fresh sauerkraut and kimchi. I like to put kimchi on eggs in the morning and in brown rice bowls for dinner. These yummy krauts and kimchis improve digestion and increase vitamin/mineral absorption. If you’re sitting there thinking, "lacto-fermen-what?" then just ask Adrienne when you see her at the Market. She’ll be thrilled to explain the process.
Single-source local honey. Local hives aren't buzzing quite yet but our farmers at Ames Farm have lots of tasty honey left over from last season that you should use to sweeten your tea or your homemade salad dressing. If you can’t decide between the many varieties, like alfalfa, buckthorn, or dandelion, I’m sure Brian Fredrickson will give you a sweet spoonful of each.
Goat cheese curds. Specifically, the dilly garlic goat cheese curds from Singing Hills Goat Dairy. These are the perfect twist on this Midwestern specialty. But beware, they go quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed over to their table only to be met with extreme disappointment when I peek into the cooler and see that all my cherished curds have been snatched up. Try this delicious recipe to wow your guests for brunch: Scrambled Egg Cheese Curd Bruschetta with Grilled Spring Vegetables.
Bliss granola. I put Lesley Powers’ wholesome granola on and in just about everything: atop Greek yogurt, blended in smoothies, and by the handful. My personal favorite is the cherry almond variety, but all flavors are equally delicious. What I like most about this granola is that it’s not too sweet or drenched in butter. Instead, it’s loaded with wholegrain oats, flax seed, olive oil, and dried Wisconsin cherries and cranberries.
Free-range eggs from Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm. Farmer Mike
and son Brandon are amazing stewards of the land. Their chickens are free range and fed all-organic grains. A rich source of omega-3 and protein, eggs are also one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. One of the most versatile proteins there is, you can boil, scramble, poach, fry, bake, or, my personal favorite: devil. Try this heavenly recipe for Deviled Eggs.
The Mill City Farmers Market will be held this Saturday, March 15, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. With over 40 vendors, you're sure to get your farmers market fix. Got other plans? Then look for these and the other fabulous Mill City vendors when the market starts its regular schedule on May 10th.
Kate Heilmann is a born-again Minnesotan after stints in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Costa Rica. She completed her Masters in Urban Planning in May of 2013 and is currently the Marketing and Events Manager at Mill City Farmers Market. Recently, she has decided to stop worrying about the olfactory consequences of garlic consumption and celebrate her awkward yet intriguing dance moves.