December 2011

Time For Reflection

Ahh yes! It is that time of year when we rush, rush, rush and then finally, with a sigh, settle down. The quiet and peace always seems more profound after the push to get to the actual holidays and hopefully, some time off. 

At Simple, Good and Tasty we are grateful for such a wonderful community who cares about good food, equality, fairness, learning, sharing and togetherness. I have learned many profound lessons from my time running this website from the amazing writers, generous sponsors and you, the readers. I hope to amplify this throughout the next year by bringing more in-depth articles and stories to give help and hope. 

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When Life Gives You Chestnuts...Make Soup

My other half visited the River Market Co-op of Stillwater and brought home yummy delights, both familiar and some not so. The foreigner to our kitchen were chestnuts, from Iowa. He was excited, and I curious. “‘Tis the season to have a chestnut," he declared.


Cold air creeping in through the cracks raged it’s battle with the warm air wafting from the fireplace. Dinner was consumed, the kids were in bed, and all was quiet except for the rockin’ tunes played by none other than 89.3 The Current. Nat King Cole’s version of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”’ cycled through our heads. Admittedly, our fireplace is the fool-proof version that turns fire on and off with a simple flip-of-the-wrist switch. So, roasting chestnuts on an “open fire” would not be an option.

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And Then There Were Ducks: Raising and Roasting a Muscovy

Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness were the themes of universal admiration. Edged out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family…”

~Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’


We came to poultry later in our grand scheme than we had originally intended. After purchasing day old chickens from the Murray McMurray Hatchery, and having some success with eggs and meat, we decided to try our hand at ducks. While attending a local auction, we ran across our fainting goat breeder (more on that story later) and found she had brought a hatch of Muscovy ducklings to the auction.


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In Search Of a Nut: A Locavore Goes To Texas

Leaves had fallen and forecasters told ghastly stories of a fast-approaching cold front with resulting snow. While the neighbors switched out their wardrobes, strung their Christmas lights and tapped in their snow-markers, we were busy packing our bags full of t-shirts and summer pajamas. My family was heading out of town, we were going down south for two weeks. Houston, Texas was the get-away destination.


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Have Yourself a Filipino Christmas

According to that old chestnut of a Christmas song, everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright. That is, everybody except those of us celebrating in the Philippines, where mistletoe is a mystery and the fowl most likely to grace a holiday table is a pork-stuffed chicken.

Here, snowflakes are made of paper, brightly colored lights adorn palm, not pine, trees and Jack Frost is probably nibbling on mangoes instead of nipping at noses. Nevertheless, some of the trappings and customs of Yuletide, such as colorful light displays and the exchange of gifts and greeting cards, have been adopted in many parts of Asia. But nowhere else is it celebrated with such a fascinating combination of religious adherence, secular exuberance and multicultural touches as it is in the Philippines.

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How SGT Saved the (Holi)Day: SGT Writers Share Their Favorite Local Gift Ideas

Right after Thanksgiving, I started to notice that everyone was talking about local gifts. I was too, but being a little slow on the uptake, I felt like everyone had already taken the spotlight. Then I remembered my best resource, the thing that I am most thankful for when it comes to SGT, the bread and butter...the writers. Who was I to try and suggest locally sourced gift ideas when I had a whole cache of brilliant writers brimming with ideas about all things local?

I crafted an invitation (begging really) for them to share their favorite local gift ideas...and with no further ado, here they are:

Kristin Boldon

I try to go double local if I can, by buying local items at local, independent shops. 

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Farmstead Chef: Cookbook Review

I know lots of food nerds who read cookbooks for fun. Farmstead Chef is one that might be sitting on the coffee tables and nightstands of those same nerds. John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist of Browntown, Wisconsin, have made sure that their charming book is full of stories from local farmers who are living their dreams on the land. This is definitely the part of the book that captured my attention. From success stories of local farmers finding their niche to articles about finding inspiration when faced with a CSA box full of daikon radishes, this book radiates with the idea of shared learning and community. Even the recipes have nice, personal introductions explaining why they love them or which farmer contributed to the dish.

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The All-Mighty Holiday Potato: Latkes, Hashbrowns and More.

Something about the holidays seems to encourage an annual ritual of overeating. Maybe it’s because up here in Minnesota we’re wearing so many layers that nobody will notice the extra 10 pounds we carry over the winter while our bicycles gather dust in the garage. I’d sure hate to spend the winter solstice in the south where you get the mountains of holiday food and can't hide yourself in coats and scarves.


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Globally Aware: Learning About Food Issues From Another Hemisphere

Once a month, when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s in Minneapolis, my entire family would pile into the car and head over to North Country Coop on the West Bank. We would go into the ‘back room’ where giant blocks of cheese waited for someone to cut and wrap them. In exchange for our contribution as working members of the coop, we received a sizable discount on our organic fruit, vegetable, dairy and bread purchases. This was my first exposure to the culture of organic and sustainable foods and the cooperative system of bringing this food to the public. It was not fancy or grandiose. In fact, it was more like a warehouse than a grocery store. 

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Greening Your Holiday Table

As I looked out over the bounteous spread at Thanksgiving this year, I saw all the colors of fall and winter: red, orange, yellow, brown, and white. But there was a distinct lack of green.

Oh, OK, there was a green bean dish on the table, but it was the baked one topped with fried onions, and we can all agree that it doesn't count as a green vegetable, right?

The turkey and all the starches were delicious, but they weighed heavily in my stomach. For December's holiday gatherings, I wanted to put some green on the table, to add color, vitamins, and fiber.

When I tested the first recipe, for roasted Brussels sprouts, my sprouts ended up a little more brown than green in color. I had small sprouts, and left them in a little long. If you're a more attentive roaster than I was, you'll end up with a greener dish than I did.

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