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Love for Local Vino: 5 reasons why Minnesota wine is better than ever

Grapes

While Minnesota (or the Midwest, for that matter) may not be the first region that comes to mind when it comes to wine, many Minnesotans don’t realize that our state’s history with grapes and winemaking actually spans more than 150 years.

 

And today, with the invention of cold-hardy grape varieties, the Minnesota wine industry is thriving. If you’ve never given Minnesota wine a try, or if it’s been awhile, here are five reasons why you should check it out.

 

Like us, our grape varieties scoff at cold weather

What’s unique about winemaking in Midwestern states, such as Minnesota, is that because of the climate, cold-resistant or cold-hardy wine grapes are used. 

 

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Curing Picky Eater Syndrome: Get your kids to eat kale (seriously!) by letting them play with their food

dinosaur kale

Vegetables can be a scary item on your picky eater’s plate, eliciting cries of, “Broccoli, yuck. Beans? No way. Kale? Don’t even think about it.” What’s a parent to do? I’ll let you in on a little secret — kids will eat their vegetables if they play with them first. So, it’s time to show your kids that vegetables are something they can love instead of hate.

 

Here are some activities you can do together with your kids at the dinner table — remember, the ultimate goal is to have them eat their veggies at the end of play time. It helps if you play along and eat the vegetables alongside your kids, and hey, it’s good for you too!


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Spring Ahead: Ideas for lamb and goat meat

Lamb kabobs

Lamb and goat meat aren’t as easy to find as beef and chicken or even bison, but they are worth seeking out from the growing number of local producers. There are more than 3,000 sheep farms and more than 1,500 goat farms in Minnesota now. Lamb loves flavors from around the Mediterranean, all the way from Morocco to Greece: fresh and preserved lemons, cinnamon, mint, garlic, cumin, coriander, yogurt, and dill. Use these in marinades, rubs, toppings, and sides and you almost can’t go wrong. 

 

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Farm to Teacup: Verdant Tea shows that hospitality and sustainable growing are universal

tea house

Not surprisingly, the first phrase that Lily and David Duckler offer after saying hello is: "Would you like some tea?" But it's not the usual teabag thrown into a cup; for them, sharing tea with a visitor is an exercise in hospitality, cultivated half a world away.

 

As the owners of the charming Verdant Tea "tasting room" in the Seward neighborhood, the Ducklers often refer to the large photos lining one of the cafe's walls. Images of farmers, smiling over tea harvests, aren't just decoration — they're reminders to the Ducklers about why they're sitting here, in Minneapolis, offering a single visitor six different types of teas. 

 

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Kitchen DIY: Ridiculously easy homemade mustard

Homemade mustard trio

We’ve only dipped our toes into spring, but in my house, we’re embracing it with open arms. For us, the first hint of the change in season means a few things: we’re pouring gin and tonics, counting our freckles, and — above all else — starting the grill. 

 

Yes, we wait for the first warm April day to fire up the grill each year; we are not the truly rugged type who will stand outside in our boots to grill a steak during the winter (I’m looking at you, mom). And so, the next six months will see our lawn chairs pulled up alongside the grill more often than not. We’ll be happy campers sitting by as our dinner roasts over the flame: burgers, brats, a chicken cutlet or a big portabella cap, a basket full of charred veggies on the side. We’ll do this often, and with enthusiasm. 

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Hunting for Dinner: Thoughts on why I hunt

Jamie Carlson in the blind

My last post for Simple, Good and Tasty was about cooking and eating beaver. I figured it would bring a few juvenile comments, but I didn’t expect to start a debate about cruel hunting practices. One reader took offense to the use of traps in killing the beaver, and it started a good conversation about ethical hunting and trapping practices, and making sure the animals we hunt don’t suffer unnecessarily. 

 

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Make it Local: Cream of asparagus soup

Cream of asparagus soup

After our long and very cold winter, I can think of many good reasons to be excited for spring, but one in particular comes to mind: fresh asparagus is almost here. When I first see those crisp green stalks for sale at the local farmers markets, I know spring is here to stay. I have remind myself to exercise some restraint and only buy one or two bunches at a time; after such a long hiatus, I tend to forget that I can always buy more the next week. And the week after that. And the week after that. 

 

I grew up eating asparagus simply boiled, but in recent years, I've switched things up a bit. Nowadays, I lean toward roasting, grilling, sautéing, or making a rich, flavorful soup. Fortunately, it's not difficult to source as locally as possible, too.

 

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Bone Broth 101: On chicken feet, healthy bellies, and a super long simmer time

bone broth

Whether you’re testing out this Paleo business, diving into the autoimmune protocol or, like me, are trying to reduce waste and use every part of the animals that you buy, bone broth seems to be one of the buzz terms in health food right now.

 

So what is it and why should you be on the lookout to score your own chicken feet and beef knuckles as soon as possible?

 

Here’s your Bone Broth 101.

 

What is bone broth?

Simply put, it’s a mineral-rich broth made by slowly cooking a big batch of bones in water until as many of the minerals as possible have been leeched out of those bones and into the liquid. It’s different from a stock in that it’s cooked much longer and often with added parts, like chicken feet, to maximize its gelatinous, nutritious wonder. 

 

Why bother? 

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