Seasonal Pick: Garlic scape chimichurri

garlic scape chimichurrie

Ah, summer. Farmers markets are hopping, CSAs start up again, and access to über fresh and local produce is finally easy once more. Except that in the first days of summer, the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and squash we love to gobble up aren’t ready yet. Instead, vegetables and herbs that may be less familiar — pak choi, fiddleheads, ramps, and garlic scapes — still grace the stands. 


I’ve learned two tricks over the years when it comes to approaching cooking with new foods and both have served me well. First, ask the vendor. What is this? To what is it similar? How do you like to cook with it? They almost always steer you in the right direction.


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Kitchen DIY: Mastering quick pickles

quick pickles

Whenever I make up a batch of quick pickles, I think about my grandmother, who had such a lush, amazing garden, and the food preservation skills to match. She had little in the way of finances, so she was always very frugal about using whatever was on hand so we could enjoy the tastes of her garden throughout the long, cold Minnesota winter months. I remember zucchini, squash, tomato salsas, even fruit pickling. If she grew it, she canned it.


When I grew up and became a chef, I never forgot the way my grandmother would make sure to use produce wisely so that there wasn't any waste, and of course, I never forgot her quick pickles. 


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Eat Your Weeds: 3 foraged plants that are ready for dinner


Although there are numerous fresh herbs this time of year — and it's only going to get better from here until those first wintry flakes — what you find in your garden or farmers market is only part of the medicinal and culinary mix of options. 


In other words, try eating some weeds. 


What many people consider weeds could be the start of a beautiful herbal relationship. Once you start recognizing these once-reviled weeds, you'll begin to see your yard in a whole new way. Here are three that are often saved from my lawnmower's wrath, with many making their way into our dinners.



Outstanding for allergies, nettles (sometimes called stinging nettles) are usually abundant in both urban and rural settings. Just when I was planning on going out to forage them in the woods, I realized I had some growing just under my flowering cherry tree. 


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Seasonal Pick: Strawberry rhubarb baked oatmeal

oatmeal bake

I went to the farmers market last weekend for the first time this year with three things in mind: tomato plants, rhubarb, and donuts.  I came home with two out of the three.  The tomato plants and rhubarb were a breeze to find, but sadly the donuts were all sold out.  


Despite my donut fail, I was excited about my other two finds. I’ve been dying to get my hands on some fresh rhubarb, and there was plenty to be found at the farmers market. Since I returned home sans donut, I was pretty hungry for breakfast.  I decided to put my rhubarb to use and whip up an oatmeal bake.


I absolutely love oatmeal bakes because oatmeal is amazing, and you get breakfast for the rest of the week! What is easier than heating up some leftover oatmeal bake and drizzling it with some milk to “rehydrate” it, and calling it breakfast? Not much, friends.


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Foraging for Dinner: Ramp and asparagus risotto


I have never really considered myself an expert at anything, but if I were an expert at something, I would have to say it is foraging and using ramps. Ramps are the wild version of onions that grow in shady and sandy forest areas, often near rivers and streams, which is why I usually come across them while I am trout fishing. 


Years ago, I would go out looking for ramps and not find a single one. I must have spent an entire season looking for ramps and didn't find any. Now it seems like they are all I see. If there are ramps around, I can find them.  


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Kitchen DIY: Homemade tortillas


The more I experiment in the kitchen, the more I learn how easy it can be to make stuff from scratch that I never thought about making before. Homemade tortillas are a perfect example. I’ve always bought them from the store and haven’t really given them any more thought than that.


However, I recently made a pulled pork recipe from a new cookbook, and while it didn’t call for tortillas, I thought that not only would they be a great excuse to try making them from scratch, but also that they’d be a great addition to the recipe. And they were! 


These are ridiculously easy to make, with ingredients you probably already have on hand.


Homemade Flour Tortillas

Recipe makes 12 6-inch tortillas

2 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp shortening

3/4 cups water


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Welcome, Spring: Lemony artichoke chicken salad with carrots

chicken salad

As usual around this time of year, I find myself in a bit of a food rut. It feels like we should be eating local fresh asparagus and ripe sweet strawberries, but our finicky Minnesota climate just can’t decide if it wants to launch into full-on spring or not. 


So, I wait patiently for these beautiful gems to show up at the farmers market, because nothing comes close to tasting as good. In the meantime, lighter fare is slowly creeping into my subconscious, and I find myself using my Dutch oven less and less.


Back in my college days (many years ago), I worked as a caterer. I really enjoyed working the events and learning about different foods. One of my favorite dishes we did was one that is similar to the salad I’m sharing today, commonly known to us then as the “president’s salad”, because it was the president of the university’s favorite salad and he always requested it for his catered functions. It was delicious.


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Earth Day Every Day: Thoughts on seeds and farming


Just in time for Earth Day, farmers have spring fever! All the good things about being a farmer are happening right now: planting, growing, the smell of soil, birdsongs, longer days, and muscles flexing after winter rest. The maddening, exhausting and difficult things about farming are dim memories from past years and small clouds on this season’s distant horizon. 


So, while we enjoy the warmth of the greenhouse and plow through routine tasks like potting-on and thinning, our minds have plenty of time to ponder. Good time to speculate on the future of our niche in food production.


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