News & Views

Vino 101: It’s not easy being green

green wines

Unless you’ve been asleep for the past twenty years, you know that Americans are eating differently these days. Once upon a time, price was pretty much the only factor in our food purchases; that attitude helped spur the growth of industrial-scale agriculture built on petrochemical fertilizers, monoculture, and efficiency over quality. (Hello, grainy and flavorless supermarket tomatoes!) 

 

Today, we’re more conscious of how the food we eat impacts the planet and our own bodies. Consumers are increasingly demanding more information about how their food is grown and made, and a large and growing number prefer to buy local and organic whenever possible. 

 

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Cooking on the Clock: 5 tips for speeding up meal prep

clock

When it comes to creating a savory, amazing meal on a weeknight, most people think you have to stay home from work to cook for a few hours, but it's more than possible to put together sumptuous dishes in the same amount of time it would take to heat up a frozen pizza. You just have to put the right strategies in place. Here are five tips on getting speedy without sacrificing taste:

 

1. Create a real pantry. Most of us don't do long-term menu planning, and that's fine, but being aware of what's available in your house and stocking your cupboards with go-to items can be a boon for quick meals. Think about dry goods that will serve you well and that will store for weeks, if not months: instant polenta, cous cous, dried fruits, nuts, spices, flavored oils, etc. I like jarred items like pesto, anchovy paste, and olives, that you can throw into a dish easily but don't need refrigeration until you open them.

 

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Vino 101: Provence in a different light 

cezanne provence

Ah, summer in Provence. Even for those who've never been, the mere mention conjures images of lavender fields, azure seas, and quaint villages stacked on hilltops or hugging the coast. Food lovers dream of a sunny cuisine based on the ample fruits of the land and sea — ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and pan bagnat, preferably in a seaside café, all of it washed down with a classic Provençal rosé. 

 

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Vino 101: A reconsideration of Deutschland wine

germany map

Several weeks ago, when Germany won the World Cup, the New York Times ran a story proclaiming the victory a symbol of "not just the country's dominance of Europe, but its global prominence." The Times suggested that Germany's win "will usher in an era of further prosperity for Europe's economic powerhouse." It may have been a bit of a stretch to predict a surge in a nation's global economic strength based on a soccer game. After all, the two prior Cup winners were Spain and Italy, and last I checked things are not going so well for those two countries. But there is no question that Germany has seen a remarkable economic turnaround in recent years, recovering from the 2008 recession faster than nearly any other country in the world (our own included).

 

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Vino 101: A few (not fifty) shades of gray

pinot grigio

This marks the debut of SGT's new wine column, by one of our favorite oenophiles. Cheers!

 

At a recent tasting, I was pouring a glass of Oregon Pinot Gris, and someone asked me a perfectly sensible question that wine pros hear all the time: "What's the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio?" Responding to this question is tricky, because the answer is both perfectly simple and kind of complicated.

 

The simple answer is that there is no difference. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are simply two names for the same grape. Gris means "gray" in French, and Grigio is the Italian word for — you guessed it — gray. The name comes from the color of the grape (more about that later). 

 

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Community Effort: 5 tips on dealing with food restrictions

cupcakes

I have long prided myself in having no dietary restrictions. After spending half of my life limiting what I could eat and eliminating all pleasure that eating could bring, removing all restrictions was the most therapeutic way for me to approach my relationship with food. When my friends and colleagues identified as vegan, Paleo, raw foodists, and gluten-free, I gladly enjoyed all foods. Honestly, for a while, cooking for and going out to eat with people with food restrictions kind of irritated me.  

 

Oh how humbling life lessons can be!

 

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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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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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Paleo vs. Vegan: What side are you on?

paleo vegan

When I was about fifteen years old, I was a “red meat vegetarian,” because I wanted to be something but didn’t want to be a vegetarian. I just knew that something about a conventional omnivore diet felt boring to me, as though I needed the way I ate to say something about who I was. Like most things at that time, I dropped it after several months and just ate whatever I wanted for a number of years before temporarily swearing off meat entirely. 

 

During that time I often felt off, and even more often felt very ill, until I became acquainted with Paleo.

 

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Talking With Your Mouth Full: How We Communicate With Food

Quick, think of your favorite comfort food. Is it the green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, or Chicago style pizza, or dim sum?

 

Now think about why it is a comfort for you. Is there a nostalgic memory of the happy dinners your family shared on a particular holiday, or does your comfort food bring you peace after a stressful day?

 

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