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The Latin Tongue: Restaurants in the Twin Cities

A nice spread from El Bravo

It is obvious to anyone paying attention that Americans have an obsession with Mexican food. Simply take a look at our fast food chains, food courts, strip malls and everywhere in between. You cannot say the same about any other ethnic cuisine. Sure, Italian is right up there, but besides pizza (which is mostly Americanized anyway), Italian cuisine has not quite taken over like the rampant spread of tacos, burritos and other notions borrowed from Latin culture. What is less obvious to me is, why?

 

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Veg Out: A primer on community supported agriculture

csa box

Although there's plenty of winter left — remember, as the wise Prince sings, sometimes it snows in April — this is the perfect time to start thinking about tomatoes. And cabbage, and green beans, and kale...

 

Whether you've made a New Year's resolution to eat healthier or not, maybe this is your year to consider a share in a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. I'm pretty biased on the subject, since my partner Karla and I have a farm that runs a CSA, but since we're taking this year off, it's my last chance to sound somewhat objective so I'm going for it. 

 

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Kitchen DIY: Cooking with acid

kinilaw

Cooking is simply defined as the preparation of food, typically using heat. In a biochemical process called denaturing, high temperatures from various methods such as grilling, braising or steaming alter proteins in meat and seafood, making them firmer (as with egg whites) or breaking down tissue to make them more tender (as with tough cuts like shanks). 

 

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Hunting for Dinner: Sandhill crane au poivre

jamie carlson at cooks

I have been working with Cooks of Crocus Hill on a setting up a wild game cooking class and earlier this month, my first class took place. It was a huge step outside my comfort zone and I will admit that I was nervous as hell going into it. I think as a cook I am always afraid that I don’t know as much as I think I do and that I am going to fail. Or worse, one of my dishes is going to fail. 

 

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Extra Credit Gardening: Growing pineapples in Minnesota

pineapple in snow

Ten years ago, my husband and I escaped the January cold and spent a week in Costa Rica. We stayed at a beautiful but rustic lodge on the edge of the jungle, where the kitchen staff spoiled us with scrumptious meals made from the many local foods. Every meal was served with large chunks of fresh, juicy pineapple, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Perhaps it was the surrounding rainforest, or the sounds of birds, animals, and ocean waves on the beach that accentuated my pineapple-eating experience, but whatever the reason, I fell in love with fresh Costa Rican pineapples.

 

But all vacations must come to an end, and we were soon home in snowy Minnesota. Still in that post-vacation glow when I headed to town to stock up on staples, I was delighted to see that our local grocery store had pineapples on special. I bought four and looked forward to once again having fresh pineapple with every meal.

 

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New Year Resolution: Cook like my great-grandmother

alice

I'm something of an industrial-size resolution creator. I love the huge, sweeping type of resolutions that involve dismantling my normal way of thinking or operating in the world — and I don't reserve them for New Years, although that's a traditionally fun kickoff for some of them. 

 

Even though there are approximately 5,000 blog posts out there right now about how resolutions don't work, I think the inclination to make these simple vows is tempting for a reason. Who doesn't love a fresh start, a sense of improvement, a brighter way forward instead of gloomy regrets? I do agree that some types of goals seem almost thwarted from the start, particularly those that are too vague — "I'm going to be a better person this year!" — or perhaps too ambitious or restrictive. 

 

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Kitchen DIY: Homemade beef broth

bone broth

Not long ago, my little boy was sick for a few days, so my usual cooking routine was interrupted. I absolutely don’t mind the interruption, and like having him home with me all day again, but I just hate it when my little ones are sick. Since he hasn’t been eating a whole lot (sore throat), I’m so thankful to have frozen broth at the ready for both the ease and the nourishment that it can give to him. I guess this is as good a time as any to post this recipe, then.

 

Making broth isn’t a new concept, but it seems as though the foodie/health world has rediscovered it lately. There’s a good reason for that. Making broth is simple and it offers so many healthy benefits that store-bought versions simply do not. They also taste so much better. Make a homemade broth and then do a taste-test with a store brand. I have. The difference is stunning.

 

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Vino 101: Drinking the stars

champagne

With the holiday season upon us, your mind is probably fizzy, and not just from the stress. Sparkling wine has been a celebratory drink for generations, and it is especially synonymous with Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

 

But which one to get? A wall of sparkling wine can be overwhelming, especially to someone who only buys the stuff once a year. 

 

Well, have no fear. I’m going to give you a basic overview of the different kinds of sparkling wine and provide examples of each type. 

 

Champagne

Mention sparkling wine, and Champagne is the first thing most people think of. In order to be called Champagne, a wine has to come from a specific region (in regulatory parlance, the Champagne “AOC”) in northern France, and must be made using a very specific method.

 

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