Recipes

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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Honey Candy Apples

As another Halloween rolls around and I am faced with the specter of a 5 year old crazy with sugar and the excitement that comes from anticipated treasure, I am again reminded of my own early childhood. I feel like I was just coming into my trick or treat years when suddenly parents became aware of the "dangers" of strangers giving their children treats. 

 

Homemade cookies, candy coated pretzels and snack mixes started disappearing and I was left with nothing but a popcorn ball which my parents questioned the validity of. I'm sure, as a kid, I must have thought these treats a bit of a rip off anyway. My goal was to be able to recreate the candy section at the local store in my bedroom. Nonetheless, I try and ignore that fact in order to let a more ideal nostalgia creep in. Plus, I would much rather bake a batch of cookies than have to go and buy sacks of candy to hand out. 

 

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Oils and Fats: An Overview Without Fear

Photo shows from left to right: Olive, Coconut, Toasted Sesame and Butter.

Look, its time we got over our fear of fats and started accepting them for the healthy, necessary part of our diets that they are. They are as necessary as any other element of food in order to have a nutritious, balanced diet. As a chef, I am able to see the value and deliciousness in all fats. As a realist, I understand that too much of anything can hurt you and that of course, there are some things it would be best not to form a habit around. See, I can appreciate a piece of baguette dipped in extra virgin olive oil AND a glazed donut fried and dripping in who knows what blend of hydrogenated and processed oils.

 

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On Becoming a Farmer

Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes that’s the prime thought in my mind, especially when I’m staring at a bushel basket of carrots and the prospect of a day of canning ahead of me when I’d much rather be doing ANYTHING else. Well, this is what I wished for and dreamed about for years, and for the most part, I am not sorry I made the decision to move from the suburbs to the country.

 

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Roasted Tomato Soup for a Fall Supper

If you’re wondering why I would be talking tomatoes in October, you can rest easy. I’m not talking just any tomatoes. I’m talking ugly ass tomatoes. And I mean that in a nice way. Ugly ass tomatoes are like rainy days. Bear with me – this is a super tortured simile. You know how when it’s sunny, you feel guilty if you’re not outside? After a while, a rainy day comes as a relief because you don’t have to feel bad about poking around inside the house, right? Well, in August, when the tomatoes are gorgeous and bursting with life and flavor, you probably feel guilty eating them any way but raw. Turning a beautiful August tomato into sauce seems wrong somehow. But right now, giant buckets of ugly ass tomatoes are being sold for a song at the farmers markets. You don’t have to feel guilty about roasting them, simmering them, or cooking them into sweet caramelized submission because they are cheap, plentiful and so very ugly ass. And, like a rainy day, what a relief!

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Celebrating Squash at Prairie Garden Farm

My trek from suburbanite to flower farmer extends over two decades, dozens of how-to books and magazine subscriptions, and the practical (read “backbreaking”) experience of digging in dirt and watching things grow. My friends and family sometimes question my sanity, but walking to the barn in the early morning, hearing the turkeys call from the wetlands below and watching a bald eagle soar above assures me that I made the right choice. Part of seeking an “idyllic” country life stemmed from the wish to produce and preserve much of the food I eat. From chickens to grass fed beef to chemical free garden produce, I have tried it all and have been rewarded with healthy, abundant food for going on ten years.

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The Code of the Mason Jar. A Canner's Manifesto, Part II

It’s beautiful to me to have traditions that tie me to the seasons. Progress has gone to great lengths to insulate us from the natural rise and fall of the year; air conditioning and gas furnaces keep us the same temperature all year; car trips extend that same homogeneity to travel; it doesn’t much matter when the days get shorter because the lights are always on. The cumulative effect is that we feel we can effectively ignore the sun, the moon, and the weather almost all of the time--except as the subject of light conversation. The year grows flat and featureless. 

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