Recipes

A Few Weeks With "The Northern Heartland Kitchen"

It isn't very often that I use a cookbook. I tend to gaze at them now and then, often for inspiration more than to study how something is done or to check measurements. Therefore, I am surprised at what I am about to say: I love The Northern Heartland Kitchen and since it arrived in the mail, nary a day has gone by when neither my wife nor I has picked it up.

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Low Sugar Preserving For The Jam Lover

I love homemade jam. When we were kids, my brother and I used to stand outside next to the garage with steak knives, whacking the leaves off of rhubarb stems (in hindsight, this probably wasn’t terribly safe). Ever since then, I have delighted in standing over the pot, watching berries or peaches or rhubarb become a delectable condiment…with the assistance of a LOT of sugar. The sugar never bothered me then, and it usually doesn’t bother me now. But, as I’ve gotten older and my taste buds have shifted, I’ve definitely been using less of it. 

 

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Some Pig! The Real Dirt on Raising Pigs

“Of all the major livestock species, none is more misunderstood and less appreciated than the hog.”

So starts Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs by Kelly Klober. Pigs are very often considered dirty animals (have you ever called your kid’s room a “pigsty”?), and generally have a bad reputation in the public eye. As much as I love pork, it was with much trepidation that I traveled to our local pig breeder to bring home two new additions to our growing menagerie. We’d prepared a pen, purchased feed, and read the books (Storey’s Guide, Versa Press 1997 and Raising Pigs Successfully, Kathy and Bob Kellogg, Williamson Publishing, 1985). Nevertheless, my husband Doug understood that if I didn’t like pigs, they wouldn’t be my responsibility. 

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Turkey Leftovers? A One-Dish Wonder

In the days after preparing (or even just eating) a big Thanksgiving meal, I don't want to spend much time in the kitchen, especially on a weeknight. As I looked ahead to post-Thanksgiving meals, I found a gem in Pam Anderson's book Perfect One-Dish Dinners. (NB: This is Pam Anderson, formerly of Cook's Illustrated, not Pamela Sue Anderson, formerly of Baywatch.)

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Fall Foraging: A Return To Our Roots

Header photo: Burdock by Shastared

The day might have made a magnificent postcard. Spring was staining trees with subtle hints of summer. A stream was carrying on an animated conversation with raindrops. Rocks were locked in a shining dual with water. Some humans, armed with buckets, boots, and plastic suits, stumbled toward the stream. They worked in silence, selecting tender sections of watercress. Then one of them spoke: "This is beautiful. It looks like a rain forest." I shot a surprised glance at the speaker. Blood sucking insects and relentless rain had clouded my beauty sensors. But the world in which we waded was indeed exquisite.

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Cranberry Apple Jam and the Last of Canning Season

Last May I started some serious planning for canning season. I had lists, recipes, and all the right plants for the community garden plot. Armed with the Ball Blue Book and a brand new water bath canner, I had dubbed it the year of the Mason Jar. This was going to be the canning season of all canning seasons, with more than 20 different recipes to try. It’s easy to get overly ambitious after being shut in the house for a long Minnesota winter.

 

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A Gluten-free Thanksgiving

Stuffing. Gravy. Pie. For those with celiac disease, the holiday feasts this time of year represent special dietary challenges. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting approximately 1 out of every 133 Americans, is characterized by the body’s inability to digest gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains including wheat, barley and rye. Unfortunately, health problems associated with gluten cannot be treated with a prescription. The only solution is a lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.

 

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Homework Never Tasted So Good!

Being a student again can be a humbling and invigorating experience. It's a fact that there will always be more to learn. This is true for all subjects and especially for anything food and cooking related....or at least its true for me. There are always new ingredients, techniques, tools and not to mention endless and conflicting information about food politics. Now that I have completely overcomplicated the subject of cooking, let's break it back down.

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Pick A Side! Potluck Season Prep

A wise chef once told me to never cook a dish for the first time to serve it to others. Make the meal for yourself first to ensure the meal's delectability. Good point. For me, there is nothing better than the smile and happiness that comes from other people enjoying and savoring a tasty, nutritious dish that I provided. This is a true sense of accomplishment - especially when the good food is good for you. 

Fall is a time of abundance and variety. Fruitful harvests across the state make for a colorful table and produce aisles with plenty of variation to choose from. Since we are on the heels of potluck season, I see no reason for anyone to focus primarily on the staple side dishes of one's holiday kitchen but tis' the season to try new recipes and ingredients to bring something new to a friend's table on the needed occasions.

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The Last CSA Box of the Season: Savory Autumn Stew

Delicata Squash

I deliberately didn't write "the last CSA of 2011" (CSA stands for community supported agriculture, where individuals can subscribe to a farm and in return receive shares of produce). Many farms offer winter shares of root vegetables, storage crops, meat, or prepared foods.

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