Hunting for Dinner: Foraging for ramps, and the best onion dip recipe ever

ramp onion dip

After a long winter like the one we just suffered through, most of us here in Minnesota are anxious to get outside and enjoy some nice weather. Last week, I had the opportunity to get out trout fishing with my 2-year-old son. We walked along a river bank south of Rochester and didn’t catch a thing but we were outside and it was wonderful. As we went along, I couldn’t help but notice all the broad green leaves sticking up out of the ground. They were instantly recognizable as ramps and my trout-fishing day turned into a ramp-picking day.


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Darn Good Dough: Minneapolis-based flour company makes ditching gluten easier

GF cookies

Culinary whiz Christina Vanoverbeke kicks off one of Simple, Good & Tasty's new sections, in which our writers take locally produced products on a test run. 


Baking is always science, but it isn’t necessarily experiment. 


Most baking consists of following a series of carefully tested steps to the gram. But throw a variable into the plan – say, trying to make grandma’s pound cake, but making it gluten free – and the results can quickly turn inedible. Getting the right balance of flour alternatives is tricky, can be expensive, and often doesn’t result in anything even close to what you wanted.


When a line of flours promises to be an easy, cup-for-cup replacement to the standard flours that so many recipes call for, I hear angels playing trumpets in the heavens. And then I assume it’s too good to be true. 


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Kitchen DIY: Mastering homemade yogurt

Homemade yogurt

Today’s post is kind of like a public service announcement: Make your own yogurt. Honestly, I can’t believe it took me this long to start making yogurt at home. For some reason I was under the impression that it was more complicated. I don’t know if I thought it required fancy equipment, took up too much refrigerator space, or what. Turns out it’s only two little ingredients and a very simple process.  And given the amount of yogurt we eat, this discovery ended up being a game changer.


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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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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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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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Make it Local: The perfect Bloody Mary

bloody mary

Culinary-minded Taylor Ellingson kicks off one of Simple, Good & Tasty's new sections, Make It Local, in which our writers attempt everyday dishes and drinks with the challenge of creating an all-local recipe. With spring and summer brunches just ahead, it seemed only fitting to start with a drink that features food on a stick. 


Let's be honest — it's just not brunch without a little somethin' somethin' to take the edge off from last night. Whether it's a mimosa, a Summit Saga, or a Bloody Mary, the proper drink turns breakfast into brunch. So in preparation for your next stretch of mid-morning lounge time, challenge yourself: can you make a Bloody out of only local ingredients? Here's my attempt.


Step one: the drink

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Kitchen DIY: Making cultured butter

Mmm…homemade butter

The first time I made homemade butter I was eight years old, sitting in a circle in Mrs. Peterson’s second-grade class, passing around a quart jar filled with fresh cream from a fourth-grade girl’s family dairy farm. 


Each student shook the jar to exhaustion, and then passed it to the next. Hand-to-hand, that jar moved around the circle until it suddenly transformed. Mrs. Peterson spread a bit of that golden butter onto a saltine cracker for each of us to try. It was amazing! 


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Tradition, Memory, and Cinnamon: Making My Grandmother's Beef Soup

My grandmother's beef soup, recreated

I grew up on a small dairy farm in western North Dakota, and I still get terribly homesick from time to time. Even though I've spent more of my life away from there, it still has my heart. It's still my home. One of the hardest parts of growing older is wanting those comforts of the past, but coming to terms with the fact that they'll never again be as you remember them. It's the pull of nostalgia, I suppose, to miss being that carefree kid running around the farm and seeing childhood friends, to miss regularly seeing my aunts, uncles, and cousins. To miss talking with my grandparents, who have all passed away.  


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