Co-op on a Budget: The Value of Education

This is the fouth post in our Co-op on a Budget series, which explores the different ways that we can shop co-op effectively and affordably. Also check out the first post, on shopping bulkthe second post, on the Wedge Co-op vs. Cub Foods, and the third post, on Eastside Food Co-op vs. Rainbow.

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A Minnesota Canning Bee: How to Host a Home Canning Party

Two years ago on a sunny Saturday morning in October, my husband and I pulled up to a church in North Minneapolis with a flyer, some produce from our garden, and a carload of anticipation. Earlier that week, a friend had forwarded directions to a canning bee for anyone brand new to canning. There was one typed line in the email: “This sooo sounds like the crazy stuff you’re always trying!”


My friends know me well; I called right away to register for the last two spots in the canning bee. From 9:30 am to 5:30 pm that day, our group of 10 quietly listened and scribbled down the canning expert’s notes, poked our heads over steaming pots of pickles and salsas, and had silly full-teeth grins every time we pulled a jar from the hot water bath.

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Local Food All Year Starts Now!

The weekend farmers markets are upon us again and I am already thinking about what I am going to be buying. I imagine bartering for the huge, unpriced box of pickling cucumbers sitting under someone's market table. Will 30 heads of garlic really be enough. How much kale is too much? If I buy 10 boxes of beans, will I get a deal or just a funny look.


No, I'm not planning a party, but almost as soon as the summer begins, I start to squirrel food away. This year, it started with strawberries. Both from my own plants and from the local market, I managed to slice and freeze about 3 gallons of strawberries. I totally missed out on peas, but I intend not to let bean season pass without doing some late night blanching, freezing and pickling. 


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The Urban Cellar: Storing Veggies in Your Home with a recipe for Root Veggie Cakes.

Last January I was ogling my co-worker’s lunchboxes as they enjoyed citrus, bananas, and vegetables from places I could only dream about living. Gone were the red ripe watermelons and fresh salads that made local eating easy in June, July and August. Just after the New Year, we had to start rationing our 10 remaining bags of frozen broccoli, what we thought was enough to last us through a Minnesota winter. Last January I was completely unprepared for the wintertime locavore life.


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

Making homemade pickles has been a whimsical annual tradition in my family since I was a boy, and when I first lived with my bride-to-be out West, we thought it would be nice to carry on the tradition despite being far from home. The enthusiasm that produced those first few jars of pickles soon begat small batches of jams and jellies, experiments with dilly beans, a few stewed tomatoes, some apple sauce, and so on and so forth. 

We have always cooked and gardened together, and soon found out that canning is very much a logical, aesthetic, and creative extension of those activities. Each year we have done a little more of each, and each year the three pastimes have fed one another, producing always more abundant, delicious, and inventive results. This trend has continued happily and unabated into our marriage and through our move home to Minnesota, but recently I’m growing concerned about its proportions.

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Book Review: Ana Micka’s "The Fresh Girl’s Guide to Easy Canning and Preserving"

I grew up in rural Minnesota, where my parents have a big back yard with an abundant vegetable garden, and where every summer brings a plethora of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. My mom is a canner, and she taught me there's really only one way to deal with all of these summer foods: canning. My mom spends plenty of time in the kitchen in August and September, peeling, chopping, and stewing the season's bounty. After all is said and done, several clean, hot jars of salsa sit on towels on the kitchen counter. My mom waits in the other room, listening for the sealing “pop,” counting to be sure each jar has properly sealed itself.

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Simple, Good, and Tasty's August Bookclub Selection: The Minnesota Table

How many times have you unsuspectingly picked up an amazing cookbook, tuned into the Food Network, or flipped through a copy of Bon Appétit and found yourself with a rumbling stomach and watering mouth? Well, this month’s Simple, Good and Tasty book club pick is just about guaranteed to put you in the same state.

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Sealing in Summer

Despite my crushing love for good food and an ongoing affair with Williams-Sonoma, I’m actually not much of a kitchen gadget fan. I’m a firm believer in getting the best kitchen basics you can afford and using them to death. Why do I need an asparagus stripper thing when I have a perfectly good, sharp knife? Or a flour sifter when a basic strainer does the same job? On the other hand, there is a time and a place for certain gadgets and appliances.

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