Cooks of Crocus Hill

An Interview with Elissa Altman, Food Blogger and Author of Poor Man's Feast

Elissa Altman started her food blog, Poor Man's Feast, in 2008 after years as a cookbook editor, food columnist, personal chef, and caterer.

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Food: The Universal Gift

Today is my birthday and despite my being removed from childhood or even adolescence by a good many years, people still buy me presents. I'm not big on getting a lot of "stuff", so I have tried to have years where I refuse gifts, I include on party invitations the words, "no presents necessary", I even use ALL CAPS. I also know how hard it is to feel obligated to find someone a gift. I wanted none of that for my friends and relatives. Alas, it seems that our society is stuck on the idea and forever there will be wrapping paper and bows coming my way. The good news, there is an answer. A million dollar, never get stuck at the mall again idea. Food (That's it...the idea is food). Brilliant, yes. Simple, yes. Easy to justify and feel good about. I think so.

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Good Food for Everyone!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

- Confucius

I live in Minneapolis, where eating lots of local food is not at all strange. Many of my neighbors are CSA members, and we have been known to share ingredients, recipes, and restaurant recommendations. On my block, nearly everyone seems to know how to cook kale and how to grow tomatoes. It's easy for me to think that this is normal. It isn't.

In the past two weeks, I've had the opportunity to attend two events focused on good food. Both were excellent, and left lasting impressions.

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Taking the Torch

Simple, good and tasty? What better words to describe what food should be. I am all too excited and grateful to be taking on the challenge of continuing the dialogue that Lee Zukor has started with this food blog/resource that is Simple, Good, and Tasty. My hope is that I can continue to provide access to insightful articles and useful resources for Minnesotans and food lovers everywhere. Although Lee will continue his interest, writing and support for SGT, I know that it will be you, the subscibers and contributors, who will help keep the website alive and vibrant.

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A Letter to Our Readers: SGT is Changing Hands

Dear friends, family, allies, partners, and supporters,

When I started Simple, Good, and Tasty on February 26, 2009, I had no idea what it would become. Over the past 2 ½ years, my desire to connect average eaters with spectacular food producers and preparers has introduced me to people and ideas that have enriched my life considerably. 

I’ve eaten delicious food, helped on organic farms, met passionate social entrepreneurs, worked with terrific writers, written for lefty publications, spoken with big ag, started a loyalty program, worked at the farmers market, been on the radio and TV, entered the health care arena, built a world-class team of designers and developers, and more. I’ve even grown my own garden and started composting. It’s amazing how many “firsts” I’ve experienced because of my involvement with SGT -- including starting a company.

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Judith Fertig's "Heartland" Cookbook Celebrates Local Food in the Midwest

Judith Fertig's Heartland: The Cookbook is big and beautiful, filled with lovely farm photos (like the one on its cover) and cozy stories from cities and towns across the Midwest. It's the kind of book that anyone with an interest in farm-to-table food in the Midwest would be happy to give -- or get -- as a gift. Just having it on my kitchen counter makes me feel good.

Heartland's terrific photos and engaging stories would make it a perfect coffee table book, if it were just that. But at its core Heartland is a cookbook, and an excellent one at that.

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The Seedy Side of Gardening: The Best Seed Catalogs for This Summer's Garden

The unofficial rule dictates that you don’t start browsing through seed catalogs until well after the New Year. They’ve been on my bedside table since before Christmas, but that’s only because the first ones started arriving in November. They’re playing dirty with my resolve; in Minnesota, that’s a full six months before planting.

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Cooking Up a Special Valentine's Day: What to Skip, Do Instead, and "While You're There"

“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
  - Harriet Van Horne

I’ve always said that Valentine’s Day isn’t for the faint of heart. Between the overpriced roses, over-pinked shopping, and overly dramatic search for restaurant reservations, it’s enough to give any girl – or guy –  indigestion. And more than ever, I’m really thinking about the true value of gift giving, because, frankly, I just don’t need any more stuff.

What I truly want to give – and receive – for Valentine’s Day is a great experience to share with the one I adore. So, how about cooking at home this year?

With this in mind, I set out to find some great gift ideas for you, your honey and your home that just might lead to a romantic evening in. Let’s get started!

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Minnesota Honey: The Essential Ingredient in Greek Baklava

There’s nothing like the taste of raw honey. That musky, grainy, slightly tart explosion of sweetness is the most important part of my morning routine. Thickly spread between a slice of toast and a thin schmear of almond butter... and, ahhhh, who needs coffee?

It’s because I’m half-Greek, you know. We Greeks grow up with the taste of honey in our mouths. We get honey in warm milk to help us sleep; honey and lemon juice in hot water to soothe our sore throats; honey straight up to calm our coughs. All that honey almost makes us look forward to the next cold or flu season.

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What Gives? Tracy’s Guide to Last-Minute Gifts

Isn’t it great to be done with your shopping in plenty of time? You can sit by the fireplace, relax, and sip a mulled something-or-another? Wait, what? You’re NOT done? Well have no fear, I can help. But first, understand that there are a three levels to this problem; the key is knowing which level you’re in.

Yellow-Level Alert: You’re here if you still have a day or so to whip together a gift. You have time to make and/or pick up something, though it’s got to be quick.

Orange-Level Alert: You’re here if you have just a few hours, as in: my aunt is coming over this evening and I’m thinking I should have gotten her something! If this is you, then all you really need are a few basic supplies either from home or the nearest grocery store to turn out a great gift with a homemade touch.

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