Monthly Archives: April 2010

Weekly Menu Planning

Do you have a plan for dinner for the week? For a long time I just kind of winged it for dinner. I bought what looked nice, added a few staples, and then made dinner. The problem with my approach is that sometime it worked and other times it did not. There was also extra effort in trying to figure out what to do with all of the ingredients all of the time like I was on a TV food challenge show. So eventually, I started creating the weekly menu. The idea is to create meals with balanced plates of protein, starch/carbs, and a vegetable element which includes a green vegetable. Now I know some popular diets philosophies tend to favor one food group over the other like for example high protein and little too no carbs, but speaking for myself, I find that omitting one group from a meal leaves me feeling like there was something missing in the meal. And unfortunately veggies tend to be the third wheel in our Meat and Potatoes culture. The slogan is “Where’s the beef?”, but how about “Where are the Vegetables?”

Once the weekly menu is created, the family weighs in. Are their too many baked items? Is the menu too heavy on meat and not enough on vegetables. Am I falling back on the same thing week after week? Ideas, suggestions, and preferences start to take shape. For example broccoli is always a crowd pleaser, so I know to fit that in. I like to mix up the menu with various cuisines like Asian, Mexican, Italian, Comfort American, and others.

Suggestions are noted and a final menu is drafted. The family gets excited about the week’s meals and preferences are met. This strategy can be a good way too bring kids into eating healthier. If they have a say, they are probably going to eat it.

The other great thing about weekly menu planning is leftovers. I usually make a little extra for dinner which then becomes a quick reheat lunch the next day. Dinners do not have to be fancy, or entirely made from scratch. I run to can beans, the occasional frozen veggie like peas, and sometime center a meal around jazzed up ramen noodles.

Here is this weeks menu:

Baked Chicken with roasted potatoes and greens (saute kale and onions)

Beans with cornbread and salad w/dressing

Brown Rice Risotto w/seafood and peas

Turkey burgers w/salad and baked sweet potato fries

Vegetable Stir fry with rice

please feel free to share your weekly dinner menu.

CB

Michigan Lemongrass

I have been using Lemongrass for years. It imparts an complex citrus flavor to soups, curries, and meat dishes. It comes in the market as a long fibrous grass full stalk more than a foot long, or sold in the fresh herb section with the bottom root end. Most recipes call for using the bottom part of the lemongrass stalks, but when I went to The Spice Merchants in Kerry Town, they were selling the green grassy tops in dried form for marinades, and teas. As best as I can tell, lemon grass is not eaten, but use like an infused herb like say bay leaf.

Emily has become a big fan of chewing on the fresh intense lemon flavored grasses. When I starter thinking about eating more locally, I thought lemongrass, a plant from India, and use in my favorite Thai Coconut soup was out. But you never know what can be grown in Michigan until you try. So I bought a few lemon grass plant at the farmers market, and grew them last season. It is a tropical plant, and would have done better in a green house, but I managed to get a good crop. The stalks were not as thick as what you see in the store, but they still worked well in soups.

Here a link on where you can get the seed. I got my plant at the Ann Arbor, Michigan Farmers Market which was a lucky find.

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/search.aspx?SearchTerm=lemon+grass

Thai Coconut Soup: serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 Cans of Coconut Milk
2 Cups of chicken stock
2 five inch stalks from the bottom of the lemon grass, brushed,
1 pound of chicken breast, small strips
1/4 fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced into strips
2 inch piece of ginger (or Galangal) slice thin
5 kefer Lime Leaves
Juice of 6 limes
6 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Thai curry paste
garnish with cilantro

1 1/2 cups of white jasmine rice (cooked)

Procedure:

Add the chicken stock, one can of coconut milk, the ginger or galangal, and the lemongrass to a pot. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the lemon grass and the ginger/galangal. Add the other can of coconut milk, the chicken, fish sauce, lime leaves, and mushrooms. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Crush the chili paste with some of the soup liquid to make a thin paste and stir into the soup. Add the lime juice and taste. Adjust the soup with more lime, chili paste or fish taste as desired.

Plating:

Place a scoop of rice in a bowl, ladle soup over the rice and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Ann Arbor Farmers Market: Sat April 10

Organic Popcorn and Wheat

It is still pretty early in the season. There seemed to be more people selling crafts and plants than actual food to eat. A quick list of what I noticed: Spinach, shittake mushrooms, salad greens, eggs, beef/buffalo, wheat, popcorn, cider, potatoes, and jams.

Frog Holler Plant Starts

Frog Holler Plant Starts

Red Velvet Cupcakes Minis

Lemongrass Starts

TT Super Club

I attended another great charity dinner party hosted by Tammy of Tammy’s Tastings in Ann Arbor. Tonights meal was to support F.O.O.D Field of Our Dreams. This organization preforms the vitally important function of bringing fresh food to residence of Detroit. Organization like F.O.O.D help bridge the gap with Food Desert where access to fresh produce is limited. I am a big fan of what they are doing and I encourage others to support them in their efforts.

Here is a recap of the meal

Tracklements Smoked Salmon w/celeriac-apple slaw, sorrel and chive garnish

Home made Spaghetti with Ramps (wild leeks)

White Bean Soup with crispy kale and coppa

Lamb Chops w/horseradish-mint-mustard glaze, spinach and pommes dauphine

Spring Greens w/ herbs, blue cheese and balsamic Vinaigrette

Cheese Plate featuring my toasted pecans

lle Flottante: Slow baked meringues with creme anglaise, chocolate and mint oil

Petit Fours: Strawberry Pate de Fruit, Tarragon Truffles, Candied Grafefruit Peel

To attend a TT supper Club meal contact Tammy:

Next supper clubs: May 22, and June 12 (Only seats 8 so reserve ASAP)

Related Posts:

https://lastoneeating.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/help-stop-american-food-desserts/

https://lastoneeating.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/an-oasis-in-an-urban-food-desert/

Inchworm MicroGreens Farm Update: CSA Information

Owner: Brian Steinberg
Phone:

Email:

Season: June 3 – Sept 9
Pick-up: Thursday 4:00-7:00PM at the Westside Farmers Market in Ann Arbor in the Zingerman’s Roadhouse parking area
Cost: Full share $180, Half share $90
Cost per week: $12 Full/$6 half
Total number of Membership: 50 full shares or 100 half shares
Growing Practice: Organic Practices: Use of Organic soil and amendments, and use of organic seed when available
Please Email me to request a membership sign up form.

What is in a share?: A full share consists of a Full standard size grow tray (11 x 22 inch) of Microgreens. The picture above shows full trays of Pea Shoots, and Sun flower shoots. Half shares consist of one (11 x 11 inch) size trays of Microgreens. Members can choose two half trays to make a full share.

What types of Microgreens are offered: Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, and Wheat Grass are the standard offerings, and available each week. I will also feature basil, cilantro, radish and various other microgreens, with availability announced in the CSA Newsletter throughout the season. This is our first years, so I will be growing a lot test trays.

Can I customize my share?: Yes. Membership shares can be customized. There is a place on the sign up form where members can specifically request which variety of microgreens they want for each pick-up. For example a member can requested all pea shoots for the entire season, or all wheat grass. Another option can be peas shoots one week, and sunflower the next. I am very flexible, and only need a two week lead time to accommodate ongoing share requests. But I do prefer requests up front in the beginning of the season from the sign up form.

Do I have to sign up for the entire season, or can I sign up for a flexible CSA membership consisting of specific pick-ups?: Members can sign up for as little as one week, or a specific number of weeks, and even specific pick up dates during the 15 week season from June 3-Sept 9.

Can I get a double share (two full, or four half trays) or more?: Yes. Members can sign up for as many as they like. They can even increase their share (another half or full tray) during the season.

Can Members decrease their shares from Full to half during the season?: I prefer that members stick it out with the membership they signed up for. Members can always donate or trade their share to friends. When I was a CSA member, I would donate veggies my family did not like to appreciative neighbors. With that said, I ask at least a two week lead time with any changes.

If I cannot make a pick up can I get a refund?: Sorry, but no. I suggest having a friend pick up the tray. Trays are started 2-4 weeks in advance for members, and once started I and the member is lock into that tray for pick-up. Microgreens, unlike say storage crops, have a short shelf life, which means that once started, me, the farmer most likely cannot find another home for the tray. My policy is more flexible than most CSA which commit members for the entire season without options. If you know you will be out of town, I suggest sign up for a custom CSA share.

What do I do with the tray(s) after I harvest my Microgreens?: Members are asked to return the tray with the soil during their next pick-up. I reuse the trays, and compost the soil to grow more Microgreens. I require a $10 refundable tray deposit with CSA Members, which they will get back when they return all of their for their last pick-up.

Can I order more trays before and after the 15 week CSA season dates?: I may have more microgreens available possibly into October and even November depending on the weather. I will be running a few test tray before the season and may some some available. I will provide updates on this site, and in the newsletter with extended season news.

Can I request a special custom tray of a variety that you currently do not offer?: Yes. Like I mentioned, I will be doing a number of test this year, and I encourage requests for microgreen varieties. Special requests will take some lead time to find and order seed, and to start a tray.

I am a restaurant, school, hospital, Co-housing development, or planning an large event. Do you take large orders, and what about delivery?: Restaurant and large orders are welcomed and encouraged. I prefer that trays are pick-up at the regular Westside Farmers Market date and times. Special arrangements can be made if that is not an option.

What is the story behind Inchworm Microgreens Farm? How did you become the microgreens farmer we know and love?: I have been gardening for 10 years, and I love to share the food that I grow. The thought was to buy a farm one day in the future, but I have been thinking of what I could do now. The opportunity happened with microgreeens. I was traveling last summer, which meant that for the first time in years, I was not able to have a garden. When I got back into town, I still wanted to grow something, and I discovered microgreens. I started a few trays late last season, and featured them at the Home Grown Festival, at Bona Sera Secret Super Club and Tammy’s Tastings in Ann Arbor. The positive response inspired me to start my Microgreen farm and offer a CSA.

Dandelion Greens: Wild Foraging on Your Lawn

I was taking a walk around Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, which seemed to have become a recreational park on weekends. There are tennis courts, a walking track, and newly created paved connector paths to adjacent neighborhoods. I noticed someone walking the grounds foraging for plants, and I ask her what she was looking for. She told me dandelion greens. Most see this tasty plants/flowers as weeds. In fact dandelions removal is a huge industry. I could not find sale numbers, but when I worked for a large box store’s outdoor department, I sold tons of weed killer. The need for a perfect green lawn is very strong in our culture, but to offer an alternative perspective, I encourage people to look at the demonized dandelion as tasty gourmet eats, and a beautiful flower. For that matter, why not let the lawn, or a good portion go wild. Let wild flowers come up. Provide a habitat for wild life, and save money on lawn care.

I have purchased dandelion greens, but I have never harvested any myself. So I walked around my lawn and easily found some. I tasted a leaf and to my surprise it is sweet like baby lettuce, and only mildly bitter like most raw salad greens. The older leaves are very bitter, but taste better cooked.

The flowers are also edible too. I have not eaten the flowers, but I found a recipe for Dandelion Flower Fritters which I plan to try when the season hits. For now pick some baby dandelion leaves around your lawn (if you do not spray) and eat them like salad greens. If you do spray, maybe this can the year you stop spraying the lawn. You can never tell who sprays, so I only harvest from places you are sure.

Gourmet Easter Chocolates: An Ann Arbor Tradition at Sweet Gem Confection

Easter is one of the “Chocolate Holidays” like Valentines Day, and Halloween. I was at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market last week, and I meet up with Nancy of Sweet Gem Confections. She had made these huge chocolate Easter Eggs. I meant to post a shout out to her Easter Chocolates earlier, but forgot. But this is still time!!! Here is a quick post of her chocolates.  She is always making new flavors of truffles. I am have a mission to try every flavor.

Update: Tried the blueberry and milk chocolate caramel (awesome)

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Truffle Packages

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate Pecan Turtles

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

“Food of the Gods” Spiced Chocolate Almonds

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate toffee

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Honey Cherry Cacao Nib Nougat Bars

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Handmade Caramels

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate Gift Basket

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Cacao Nib Bar

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate Making 101

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Spiced Hot Chocolate

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chardonnay Oak Smoked Fleur de Sel Caramels in Chocolate

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Spring Easter Basket

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate Bunny

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Cream Caramel Filled Egg

Ann Arbor Food Sweet gem convection

Chocolate Souffle Filled Egg