Monthly Archives: October 2009

Local Grains and Beans: Detroit’s Eastern Market

Ann Arbor Food

I am back from a trip to Detroit’s Eastern Market. The place was huge, more like a regional distribution center than what I am familiar with at small farmers markets like Ann Arbor and even Portland Oregon. The mission was to stock up on grains and beans from Hampshire Farms. The haul was 26 pounds of assorted grains, seeds, beans and flour.

2# Popcorn
2# Rolled Oats
2# Pastry Flour
2# Bread Flour
2# Sunflower seed
4# Black Turtle Beans
2# Adzuki Beans
4# Green Lentils
2# Pinto Beans
2# Barley
2# Corn Meal

The cost was $40

They had rye grain/flour, whole wheat berry, buckwheat, spelt berry and green split peas (listed on the web site but not at the market)

My focus lately has been trying to create locally sourced meals on a budget of $3-5 dollars. Looking at all of these local ingredients, I see inexpensive meals with a lot of variety. The local beans, grains, seeds and flours sell for $1-2 per pound. I usually use one pound of grains and/or beans for a meal for four, which comes to $.25-.50 per serving.

One thing that stands out is the sunflower seeds because I see as potential for a sunflower oil industry in Michigan. The more people push toward locally sourced food the more I feel we will see a great variety of local food products available like wine, cheese, sauces, condiments, vegetable oils, and other regional specialties.

More $3-5 local meals on the way.

$2.50 Local Meal: Black Beans, Cornbread and Kale

Ann Arbor FoodHere is a cost breakdown of my local meal. I am still trying to find a local source for cooking oil, so I used olive oil. The meal came to $2.58 per serving, but cheaper local beans were available, so the meal could have cost $2.08.


8 servings

14 ounce corn meal $1 Ernst farm

2 cups buttermilk $2 Calder Dairy

1 cup of milk .40 Guernsey Dairy

1 1/2  sticks of butter $1.50 (local)

3 eggs $.75 Farmers Market (FM)

$ .70 per serving

Black Beans

6 servings


2 onions $.50 (FM_

1/2 kaboshia squash $1.50 (FM)

3 carrots $.50 (FM)

2 cloves of garlic .25 (FM)

2 pounds of black beans $6 (but have seen beans for 1.50 per pounds)

1/4 olive oil  .6 (not Local)

1/8 rice vinegar .5 (not Local)

Kosher salt and pepper

$1.55 per serving (with cheaper beans could have been $1.05)

Steamed Kale

6 servings


one bunch of kale, $2 Tantre Farm

pinch of brown sugar

pinch of salt

$.33 per serving

$2.58 Total per serving

Local Food on a Budget:The $3-$5 local Meal Challenge

samplebox1One of the things I hear about local food is that it is too expensive. Nay sayers of the local food movement use this argument to dismiss our efforts. So I am throwing down a challenge.

Introducing the $3.00-$5.00 local food meal deal challenge:

The idea is to create a $3-5 (per person) local meal and either send it to me to post on this site or post your submissions on your blog and I will link to your post.

Why $3.00-$5.00? That is about the cost of a fast food meal, and I figure given a little creativity and research, we can make better local meals.

Here are the rules:

Every ingredient has to be sourced locally (with the exception of spices, salt, and baking supplies like baking powder, baking soda, yeast etc)

sweeteners must be local (honey, maple, michigan beet sugar)

Try to use local Fat and veggie cooking oil (I have a hard time sourcing local cooking oil, but still account for all non-local food cost)

The meal must be balanced and include a serving of protein, a starch and vegetable.

All items and cost must be accurately recorder, and sources provided to be included in the challenge.

Items from your garden, gleaned or wild foraged count. Account the best you can for your garden veggies. For example your packet of seeds for lettuce may have costed $3 and provided 10 servings.

Check out the $3-5 Meal Challenge section for some meals. Most are actually less than $3.00, and one meal I created cost less than a $1.00.

Please send your $3-$5 meal to me for post to:

Iceland Says Goodbye to the Big Mac

Iceland’s only three McDonalds are going out of business. The reason was that they simply could not remain profitable. This was due to the global economic meltdown in which lead to a drop in the value of their currency. And the Iceland McDonald’s owner was bound to an agreement which forced him to source their ingredients from Germany. High tariffs and the drop in the Krona, Iceland’s currency, raise a Iceland Big Mac from an already expensive $5.29 to $6.36, which made it the most expansive Big Mac in the world. The profit was simply not there with the current economics in place.

The interesting part of this story for me, as a fan of local food, is that the owner of the three Mcdonalds plans to reopen the restaurant under a new name, Metro and source his food locally. This means that 90 people get to keep their jobs, local food producers get a cut, and the owner can actually make a profit. Everyone wins except McDonalds. (Read a full article on this story)

I like this story because of the “Out with McDonalds and In with Local Food” theme, but there is more here than a local food victory lap. The idea is that McDonalds bailed on a country rather than trying to source ingredients locally. They also lost economically favorable circumstances, which made their business in Iceland possible. Similar favorable circumstances like cheap oil, a drive thru culture, and subsidies to the corn and soy industries make McDonalds profitable here in the US. If they lost favor and had to compete on a level playing field with locally sourced food, they might lose out like they did in Iceland.

Local has become a buzzword in food marketing in that last couple of years, but I never hear it coming from fast food. The economies of scale of fast food makes it hard for them to source locally, and that trend does not seem to be going away anytime soon. Will we ever see a “Local Big Mac?” Probably not, but who needs it. The burger I make from grass fed beef from the farmers market on an avalon bakery bun with Michigan cheddar cheese is way better than McDonalds will ever be, and its about the same price. The rub is that without all of the subsidies, McDonalds would not even cost mush less. In fact it probably would cost more because of the transportation costs.

French Lentil and Kale Soup

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Kale Soup

This Kale recipe is inspired by Diana Dyer’s blog 365 Days Of Kale. Diana is a nutritionist, a gardener, author and cancer survivor. She attributes a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating dark leafy greens like Kale in part to her recovery. I had a bunch of kale in my frig from the farmers market, which made me think of Diana. This soup is vegan, but you can use chicken stock if you prefer.

French Lentil and Kale Soup

serves 6-8 hearty servings or four with left overs for lunch


2 cups of dry French Lentils (can substitute red or green)

1 bunch of Kale, wash and finely chopped (green curly, red curly, dino, or a combination)

1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes with liquid or 6 fresh large tomatoes diced. (I like fire roasted canned tomatoes)

2 onions small dice

2 cloves of garlic minced

8 -10 cups of water or stock

1-2 tablespoons of Olive or vegetable oil

2-3 tablespoons of Miso*

1/8-1/4 Cup rice vinegar or juice of two lemons

salt and pepper to taste

garnish with chopped scallion and toasted sesame seeds.

*Miso is a fermented bean paste. It can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores. There are lighter and darker varieties and a number of variations of grains and beans used. I used a dark 3 year old barley miso for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite miso or what ever is available.


Add vegetable oil and heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute, then add the kale and stir in. Cook in the kale for a few minutes. You might need to add a little water to cooked down the kale.

Next, add the lentils and eight cups of water, cover and  bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour. The french lentils will take more time to cook than red or green lentils. If using red of green lentil, simmer for forty minutes. Taste the lentil to see if they are soft and not crunchy. Cook more if needed. After the lentils are soft, add the tomatoes and simmer for another ten minutes. Turn off the heat.

Mix some of the soup broth or some water in a bowl and smash up the miso paste until is becomes a liquid. Stir the miso into the soup. Add the lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

No Knead Bread

Ann Arbor FoodNo knead bread baking at home has taken off in the last couple of years. I have seen articles in The New York Times, and Mother Earth News and there are a number of books on the process like Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The idea is that instead of the kneading bread dough in order to develop the gluten (the protein in wheat flour) all you need to do is mix the ingredients, and let the gluten develop through a long rising time.

I have seen and used two methods. The first method is to mix the ingredients together and let it sit out at room temperature for 18-24 hours. Another method is to mix the ingredients and let sit out for two hours to rise, and then place the dough in the refrigerator to develop flavor. The refrigerated dough is made in several loaf batches. The dough can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. A portion of dough is cut off from the batch when you want to make a loaf.

After the dough rises and the gluten is developed, the dough is shaped and allowed to rise again. It can be either baked on a baking stone or placed in a preheated cast iron pan. With the pan method, the dough is placed into a super hot pan and the lid is place on top. About half to three quarters through the baking time, the lid is removed to develop a crisp crust.

Why no knead bread? For starters it is really easy. Most breads require about 10-20 minutes of hard kneading to work of the dough. This may take even longer because you might need to work in batches. That may not sound like a huge amount of time, but the kneading step prevents many home cooks from making bread at home at all. I know I bake bread at home more then ever since I starter using the no knead method, especially after a sold my mixer when I moved.

No Knead Bread Pan Method: 12-18 hour rise time.


3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups of water

1 1/4 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast


Mix the the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.

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Stir in the water to form a very wet dough.

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Cover the bowl with tin foil and let it sit out at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

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After 18 hours, you will see a very wet and bubbly dough with large gluten strands.

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Wet bubbly dough after 18 hours

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close up of bubbles

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface. Plat the dough flat into a rectangle shape. Fold the wide sides of the dough over each other like an envelope. Let rise for 2 hours.

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Preheat the your a 5-7 quart cast iron or le creuset pan for 30 minutes at 500-515 degrees.


Open your oven and take the lid off your pan. Place (throw) your dough into the pan seem side up.

Bake for 20 minutes with lid on and then take off the lid and bake for 10-15 minutes with the lid off.

Take the bread out of the pan, and let cool on a rack. It will crack and crackle a little when cooling.

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My FM@Selma

FM@Selma with Guest Cook: Me

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Buttermilk biscuit w/pork sausage and country gravy

Here is a picture of my breakfast special I made as volunteer guest cook for Friday Mornings (FM) @ Selma.

The daily special I offered was a fresh buttermilk biscuit with pork sausage, and country gravy. Diners also had the option of having an egg and cheese biscuit and an egg, cheese and bacon biscuit. Some also opted for an off the menu sausage, egg and cheese with country gravy biscuit. The sides were both white potato and sweet potato home fries, country greens, and a small serving of apple crisp.

I spent most of the time at the biscuit making station and behind the stove. The guests I did talked to love my meal. It was a lot of fun and I was happy I was able to contribute to the great work that Lisa, Jeff and the rest of the Volunteers are doing at FM@Selma. The hard part for me was waking up that early.

Jeff and Lisa are always looking for people to help out in various positions: guest chef, thursday night prep cook, servers, friday morning cooks, dish/clean up. Some of the guest chefs/cooks work in restaurants, while others like myself are home cooks. All are welcomed, so if you have an idea for a FM@Selma and want to guest chef a meal run it by Jeff and Lisa. Volunteers get free food and it is a lot fun. Any amount of time offered to help out is appreciated. If interested contact Lisa: or (734)-417-1144

Here are some pics and a buttermilk biscuit recipe.

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Lisa’s Sister on KP potato detail

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sausage prep

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Cooking off the sausage

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Ready for Breakfast

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Potatoes for 70

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Home fries in action

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Biscuit: The Star of the Show

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Jeff and Garin in action

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Tribute picture to bacon

Buttermilk Biscuits:
Make 7-9,  using large size or soup can size biscuit cutter. Recipe can be doubled.

I was too busy at selma to take a pictures of each step. The next time I make biscuits, I will update this post with step by step pictures. I provided a few local Ann Arbor, Michigan sources from ingredients. Biscuit can be a favorite food item that for the most part can be sourced locally and enjoyed year round.


2 cups Westwind white pastry flour

1 cup of cold Calder Dairy buttermilk

1/2 stick of cold Calder Dairy unsalted butter

4 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

Melted butter


Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Chopped up the butter and add to the dry mix. With your finger, pinch and break up the butter until the flour and butter mixture has a sandy, combined consistency with a some pea size chunks of the butter mixed in. You can combine the dry ingredients and the cold butter in a food processor with a metal blade and pulsing to combine.

Make a well with your dry ingredients and butter mixture in your bowl. Add the cold buttermilk and mix together with a fork just until they come together, about 10-20 strokes. It will be very wet and sticky.

On a very well floured surface, dump the out the dough making sure to scrap the sides of the bowl to get all of it. Flour the top of the dough/blob and gently pat it down flat with very well floured hands. Fold the dough in half and gently knead together. Dust with a little flour and fold and gently knead again 2-3 more times. Flour your surface under the dough and flatten out your with a well floured rolling pin dough to a thickness of 1 1/2 inches, to 1 inch depending on how big you prefer.

Fill a small bowl flour. Using a biscuit cutter or a clean soup can, place your cutter into the bowl of flour, then in a straight down then up motion cut out a biscuit from your flatten down. Don’t use a twisting motion at anytime when cutting out your biscuits. This will create a seal around the sides of the biscuit and prevent them from rising result in dense and not light fluffy biscuits.

Cut out all of the biscuits you can from your first pass with the dough. Place the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, placing them right next to each other close but not toughing in a 3 x3 pattern.

Take all of the scraps and knead them together, flatten, and cut for a second pass. These biscuit from the second pass with be slightly more worked and not as light, but they are still great. Form, knead and cut the rest for a third pass. If there is any remaining scraps, I like you roll it into a snake shape and place it on the side of a row.

Bake in a preheat 450 degree oven for 10-15 minute until golden brown. Brush with melted butter (optional). Cut apart and cool slightly before eating.

Top with your favorite toppings, butter and jam, ham and cheese, honey or sorghum syrup, sausage and gravy, fried chicken and gravy, or eat with a hearty soup.

Come to Friday Morning at Selma: Oct 16, 6:30-10:00

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Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwiches @ Selma

FridayMornings@SELMA invites you to pull up a chair and share your vision for the future of food.

Brian Steinberg makes his SELMA debut with a real get-warm seasonal special.  You may have met Brian here at SELMA or at the HomeGrown Festival where he debuted his new mini-farm: Inchworm MicroGreens.  

Buttermilk Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich served one of three ways – either with house-made sausage and gravy, egg and cheddar or bacon, egg and cheddar.  Which ever way you take it, it will be served up with a side of roasted sweet and red potatoes, a bit-o-greens and will wrap up with an apple-hazelnut crisp.

Don’t forget our “fruit seasonal” perennial breakfast choices: waffles or Lisa’s pear bread pudding both served with bacon, or the granola-yogurt parfait.  Fruit this week: gingered apples and raspberries.

Suggested donation for breakfast is $10 – $15.  All proceeds go to the farmers and producers of your food and our small farms-small farmers initiative.  SELMA is here for you every week 6:30 to 10:00 am – 722 Soule – check out: Repasts, Present and Future for more information.  Early arrival is suggested for those on the go.  FM@SELMA is all volunteer.  We need your help to sustain this local-foods breakfast salon.  Please reply to this email or click here to let us know what you are thinking, and how you would like to participate.

Thanks and see you soon, Jeff and Lisa.

Pickle Contest: DownTown Home and Garden

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Ann Arbor Food

It was the first Annual Pickle contest at DownTown Home and Garden. I entered the contest with my Spicy Dulse Sauerkraut. I did not win and the top three winners were dill pickles. Like the Jam contest, the most popular, and familiar items per contest like raspberry jam and dill pickles, tend to win. I wanted to win for my offering, but feel that for the most part my offerings were great, but not as popular to win these contests. The positive reactions overheard from the taster of my jam and kraut were reassuring.

One thing I would say is bring something to drink. They did not offer water, or bread with the pickle tasting, and after 30 salty pickles you will need something to drink. I bought some bread. They sell zingerman’s bread and pastry at Downtown Home and Garden.

Growing Mushroom at Home: Oyster, Shiitake and Wine-Cap

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Oyster Mushrooms Ready to Harvest

After a complete wash with hunting for Michigan morels this year, I only found one small morel after days of searching, I decided that I was going to learn how to grow my own mushrooms this year.

The opportunity came up when I heard about a class being offered here in Ann Arbor by Matt Demmon. The class was hands on with the seven of us in attendance participating in both log growing and ground growing mushroom methods.

The real trick for me with growing mushrooms is to find the hardwood logs. You need to use logs that are as fresh as possible and that have bark. Oak seems to be a good all around log for log growing mushrooms like Oyster and Shiitake. The thing is, they do not sell fresh cut oak logs with bark at the hardware store.

One of the advantages of log growing mushrooms is that you can take it with you. Log can last for a few years, and travel well. I usually rent a community garden plot, which means that every year around October, I have to pack everything up, and restart again, but with a mushroom log, I can bring my garden with me.

The log method shown in the picture below is pretty straight forward, and I feel is a good place to start for beginners. By contrast, other forms of mushroom cultivation are very involved with many exacting variables, and laboratory conditions.

Here is a picture summary of the class. I will have updates in the spring to see how my mushroom log turned out.

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Oyster Mushrooms growing out of a log
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White spot at end shows a well inoculated log

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Oyster Mushrooms on a log not ready for harvest

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Hardwood Logs

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Drilling the Logs

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Hammering oyster spore inoculated wood dowels into the logs

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Bag of Wooden Dowels

Here is a link to Fungi Perfecti about mushroom spore dowels

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Mushroom Growing Party

The only step I did not take a picture of was the waxing. After drilling, then hamming a dowel into the log, it is coated with wax, in our case melted Beeswax.

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Wine-cap Mushrooms grown in Wood chips on the ground

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Bed of Wood chips with Wine-cup mushroom spores

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Oyster Mushroom Log from class in a shady spot in my yard

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Fine Hardwood Mulch Bed (wood chips are better, but we will see how this batch turns out)

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Wine-cap mushrooms broken up on mulch (Newspaper underneath to prevent weeds) 

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Close up of Wine-Cap Mushroom (Go Spores Go!!!)