Monthly Archives: May 2010

Michigan Shrimp Recipe: Garlic shrimp w/pasta and peas

Ann Arbor Food

Shrimp with penne pasta and peas: Serves 4-6


1 1/2-2 LBs medium (18-22 count) Shrimp (Michigan Farm Raise at Arbor Farms)
1 lb penne pasta
1lb frozen peas (organic) or fresh in season
1/3-1/2 cup of olive oil
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4-1/2 cup of cream (optional)
2 pieced of bacon or pancetta crisped and crumbled as garnish (optional)
parm cheese garnish (optional)


In a large pot set to boil about 1-2 quarts of water with a little salt and a splash of olive oil. Rinse the frozen peas in some warm water to thaw. Then, shell, and de-vain shrimp. Peel, take out the sprout, and mince the garlic. Cook the pasta till aldente. It should have a little tooth to it when done. Place in a large serving bowl and add a little olive oil to prevent sticking, and add the full thawed peas. Add salt to tasted

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towel. Heat about half of the olive oil in a large saute pan. add half of the garlic and saute for a few seconds, then add the shrimp in one layer. Cook the for about a minute or so, and flip each one over with tongs. When done, pour into the pasta. Then add the second batch of shrimp and cook. Add those shrimp to the pasta, then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan so all of the fond is removed (the brown tasty shrimp bits). Cook the wine for a few minutes to reduce a little, and add the cream is using. Then add the wine (and cream) to the pasta, peas, and shrimp. Add the lemon juice, and adjust the seasoning. Mix to combine the flavors. I like a lot of pepper and salt in this dish.

Garnish with bacon and/or a little parm if using.

Vegan Option: Omit the shrimp, and add a cup of little toasted pine nuts. Also saute 1-2 cans of artichoke hearts in the olive oil and garlic, white wine, and lemon.

Mushroom Growing at Home: Update

OK. This has been a political month for my food blog, so I figure it was time to bring the conversation back to food. The picture above is oyster mushrooms growing out of a bag of straw in my garage. (See previous post) Just look at those beautiful mushrooms. I cannot take all of the credit, or much for that matter. I bought this bag at the Ann Arbor farmer’s market. It cost I believe $18. They said I should get three harvests about the same size as this. When they bag has exhausted this mushroom production, the straw makes great compost material. This is my third venture into growing mushrooms. No, I did not find any morels this year.

So what do you do with oyster mushrooms?

Well, I suppose you can add to to any dish where a great flavor saute mushroom is welcomed.

I simple saute them for a fancy mushroom cheddar burger, with cherries, and chips.


Boycott BP: Part two

Today was my first day promoting a Boycott of  BP in Ann Arbor. I positioned myself with sign in hand at the Ann Arbor maine street BP. I made sure to be on the side walk, and not on BP property, and I provided enough room for walkers to pass by. This way I was not doing anything illegal. Free speech rocks!!!

In general the boycott protest went well. I was there for a little over an hour and recieived 103 either, honks, thumbs up, waves, cheers, woo hoos, or Damn Rights!.

Three people who had pulled into the BP station to get gas, saw my sign and drove off without getting gas (instant boycott). One guy yelled, “Your right. I should boycott their ass.”

I figure some others might go some where else the next time they get gas. For every thumbs up, I figure there must have been 5 to 10 times as many people who saw the sign. And this was at a slow traffic time.

I also had four people take a picture of me and my sign to I assume to show friends.

It was not all honks, and cheers I am afraid. One guy walking by said, “If you don’t support BP they won’t be able to pay for the spill clean up.”

He walk away before I could ask him if he was serious, but I could tell he was . I thought about it for a second, and realized the crazy logic.

I mean if that was the case then why stop at simply getting your gas at BP to show your financial support?

Why not send BP a charitable donation directly like one would say to the Sierra Club? Or why not ask your representatives to create a special BP tax to mandate our support right?

We are talking about one of the richest, most profitable, most powerful company and industries in the world. They got that way by hiring an army of lobbyists, and having a “cozy’  relationship with the gov’t so they would look the other way with regulations and safety for decades.

So, now that they screwed up, “we” the gas buying public, according to this guy, need to bail them out because they could not afford to clean up the spill without it? That is his argument, and it sound like the greatest public relation spin for BP of all time. BP has the money believe me. They had a record profit year before this happened, and have been doing great for years. Anyone remember the illogical gas price hikes during the last eight years?

Another one yelled, “They [BP stations] are independently owned.” In other words, it is not Joe BP station owners’ fault. They just happened to be in bed with an evil parent company. For one, independent or not, they still benefited from Parent BP’s practices of cheap, unsafe oil extraction. So they also take the PR hit when the company screws up.

I figure by boycotting BP stations, we affects BP’s and the independent station owner’s bottom line. This will get the independent BP station owners who have some pull, and probably are not too happy about the spill to go after their evil parent. The station owners who lose money from the boycott can also sue parent BP just like the share holders are doing for gross mismanagement which lead to a loss of stock share value, or customer at the pump.

In fact, a boycott at the pump can nudge independent station owners to flex some muscle, and if these station owners are truly independent and against there evil parent company, they can always switch brands of gas they sell. Maybe they can hang their shingle with a company that is not responsible for the worse US environmental disaster in my life time. Maybe, just maybe BP’s action may lose them the right to do business in the US, then all of the independent station owners will need to shop around for a new supplier, more responsible supplier.

Super weeds: Giant Pig weed in the American South

As some of you may know, I am starting the Ann Arbor Sugar Beet Project. The idea is to create a local source of non-gmo beet sugar for Washtenaw County. The purpose for a gmo crops is to be resistant to herbicides, the most popular being roundup by monsanto. These crops are often referred as roundup ready. So with a gmo food you are getting a sprayed non-organic plant. If that is not enough, there has been a concerned that air pollinate crops like gmo beets can transfer their roundup ready traits to not only organic beets making them worthless to the organic consumer, but to also weeds. This in effect would create a super weed that is resistant to roundup. A farmer can spray all the round up they can, but the super weed will still be there.

This logical fear has become a reality I am afraid. May I introduce the Giant Pigweed, our super weed. The video piece (Pigweed Story by ABC NEWS) shows this prolific crazy weed that is so strong that it can break heavy farm equipment. Monsanto, the company who created roundup throws the blame on the farmers saying they used too much roundup, which created the situation where the weed developed. Further comments from a company spokes person said that a fix would not be ready for seven years. Their argument makes little sense. The plant took on the resistant traits period, and then spread it to their friends.

Entire fields are being abandoned where the weed is out of control, and heavy equipment is useless.

In a 2009 article by France 24: “Palmer pigweed is the one pest you don’t want, it is so dominating,” says Culpepper. Pigweed can produce 10,000 seeds at a time, is drought-resistant, and has very diverse genetics. It can grow to three metres high and easily smother young cotton plants.

According to the article 100, 000 acres in Georgia has been infestation with pigweed. 10,000 acres of production farm land were abandoned without harvesting.

The only solution to this problem is hand weeding. Yes good old fashion handing weeding, and hand harvesting because machines can’t get into the fields. So much for the big ag advances in farming. This weeds stem is as thick as a baseball bat, and can lock up combines.

But this is down south right? We are safe in Michigan, right?  Wrong. There is pigweed in my backyard in Ann Arbor. I cannot say it is a roundup ready super weed, but since I do not use herbicide it does not matter. It is just another weed to pull. Perhaps our hard frosts may delay the migration of the super weed strain, but that seems like only a matter of time.

Back to beets, most of the sugar beets grown to make Michigan beet sugar use gmo-roundup ready seed, and the accompanying roundup herbicide. The question is if this practice will/has already created a Michigan comparable super weed. Let hope not, but is there a back up plan if one develops? Are we ready to go organic, and hand weed? Has big ag bet all of their chips on roundup and gmo seed only to show us their cards to a losing hand? It certainly would appear so.

After all, why buy roundup when you have to still go back in and hand weed, and hand harvest? Remember it will be a seven year wait until they figure it out, and by then maybe another super weed will show up to create a maddening endless cycle.

Boycott BP: Ann Arbor

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my excitement with local Michigan Shrimp. At the same time Michigan is starting to farm shrimp, the gulf coast region is being bombard with environment destroying oil, not to mention a oil dispersant that was banned in England that is being used by an English company. Don’t you just love a company with ethics and integrity?

As the days went by and the “Long Shot” attempts to fix the leak failed, again and again, I waited and hoped that the oil did not reach shore. It has.

News started coming out how BP willfully made unsafe decisions towards securing the well on the Deep Horizon Rig. This is not the first time they willfully, and criminally violated safety standard to increase profits. They are actually being sued by share holders for gross mismanagement. (Read Article)

At the same time that I was waiting to see what happens with the well, I noticed business as usually at the Ann Arbor BP gas stations. They were full of customers getting gas. My question was, Where is the Protest? There has got to be at least one pissed off person in this protest happy town who was frustrated, and angry enough to stand in front of a BP and hold a protest sign. But there was not. I had to wonder what was going through the minds of the people getting gas at a BP. Don’t they watch the news? Are they happy to pay their hard earned recession dollars to the company who basically willfully ignored safeguard to create Americas Trinoble? We are not talking out of sight, out of mind here. This is daily headline news, and it is still going on.

Well I say enough is enough. The Federal Government is seriously considering barring BP from any federal contracts on US controlled water or land (Read Article). Better late then never I say. Lets is if they have the guts to do it.

And I say we too should bar our contract with BP, or as I like to call them Big Polluter. I made this sign tonight, and I will be stationed in front of various BP’s around town this week. I invite concerned citizens to make their own signs and join me. If you see me this week, please give a supportive wave and honk.


Michigan Morels: Or Bust


Michigan Morel 2011 Report
Michigan Morel 2011 First of the year

OK. This is not a picture of Morels that I actually successfully hunted, and found. The place I search for morels was a bust again this year. Many, too many, people know about it. I scored a huge bag a few years ago, but since nothing. I found one morel stump after a few hours of searching. So I am finding a new spot. I am not sure where, but I am on quest this year to find a michigan morel this year.

Related Posts

Growing Wine Cap Mushrooms
Growing Oyster Mushrooms from a Kit
Growing Mushrooms on Logs

Growing Mushrooms at Home: Take two

There are a few ways to grow mushrooms at home. The first is by finding a fresh hardwood log, drilling holes, and hammering inoculated plugs into the holes, and covering with wax. Another other way is to use the method shown here. Straw has been boiled (distilled), place in a bag, and then it is inoculated with a mushroom spore. In this case oyster mushrooms. Holes are poked into the bag, so mushrooms can grow through.

I did not go through this process myself. I purchased this from a vendor at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. The instructions were to put it inside in a dark area like in the basement, and make sure to keep it moist. This advise was well in good, but the house I live in has all wood floors, and I a lot of wood furniture. And for anyone who has tried to grow mushroom in the house, there is always the possibility that the mushrooms will decide to plant themselves on other carbon IE wood sources. So I am growing mine in a plastic tub in the garage. The vendor told me that I should get some mushrooms in a few weeks, and up to 3 more harvests. Sounds good to me. The leftover straw and mushrooms spore makes great compost.

I will post updates in the weeks to come.

related Posts:

Michigan Shrimp: Farm Raised and Local

I have been curious about Michigan Farm Raised Shrimp for a while now ever since I read that there was a farm being started about 60 miles from Ann Arbor in Okemos, MI. So when I saw local shrimp for sale at Arbor Farms, the only grocery where I have seen them, I immediately bought some. They were mid size probably 25-30 count per pond, but the farm is also raising larger ones.

So how were they? Great, and different. The word the fam used was clean. These shrimp were fresh with shrimp flavor, but not what I was used too. I can’t account why the shrimp were different, but they were. Maybe this was the first time I had truly fresh shrimp, and this is what they really taste like. This is like being a new gardener and having your first fresh, picked that day potato, after years of having months old storage crops.

More than just a local food novelty, this local shrimp farm represents food security given the recent tragic events of the oil spill in the gulf, which threatens to destroy America’s shrimp, oyster, and other seafood industries. I can’t help but feel that we were trading risky cheap oil extraction for the seafood industry down there. In the end, the financial loss of the $6 billion annual seafood industry alone, not including tourism will be massive.

As a food lover, and lover of the environment, my heart sinks with the continuing bad news of this disaster. The “booms” did not work in Alaska or in the Gulf to prevent oil from reaching the shore, and the other methods we keep hearing “Have never been tried before at these depths.” Great, so BP set up an oil pipeline a mile under water, 40 mile from the coastline without a clue of how to fix it? But, I bet they knew much they could sell the oil for.

This oil spill is a trade off in the name of creating a cheap commodity. In the end, we all may lose out on the economic and environmental impact which could persist indefinitely.

The word capitalism has been thrown around as a political and even patriotic football lately. Especially on the the political right, which interestingly are the leanings of the Gulf coast states. My question is if people are going to declare their political allegiance to big C “Capitalism,” meaning the huge multinational kind like BP, then will they also “own” up the the reality of the oil spill, and all of the trade offs to sustainable resources that short term thinking, and lax regulation creates? The any government, hands off my fill in the blank arguments don’t sound so passionate and deviant when it is the same big/small government whose laws and regulations should have prevented this from happening, and will make sure the parties responsible will pay for the mess. Maybe this event will be a wake up call to the political right that protecting the environment is not just for “Anti-business, un-American, liberal tree huggers.”

Obviously, BP did not have safeguards in place. In effect, they were gambling our coast lines, seafood, tourist industry, and a life time of sustainable ecology, and natural resources. And for what? I few months of worth of heating oil and gas for our cars. Like the Wall Street folks, who gambled with our financial future, now they are gambling massively with our natural resources. This is the ultimate fallout in my opinion to the era of deregulation or lax regulation, which is typified by the all too popular catch phrase by the previous administration, “Industry Voluntary Regulation.”

Without governments to look after our interests with strong laws and regulations, and not the quick multinational buck, we see what we get.

Is having some regulation in place to prevent America’s greatest ecological disaster the mark of a government take over? I say No. Is BP going pay back every shrimper, fisherman and lost tourism dollars that this spill created, not to mention the lost of habitat.? If the Alaskan spill is any indication the answer is no. I do not see BP paying billions a year for years to make up for the damage done to the fishing and tourism industry, but the should and we the people should demand that our elected officials hold them too that.

BP may get off easy with a few billion in pay outs, which if I think about it, if I was gambling and only had to risk say 1-1/2% of the cost of screwing up, I would bet the house on every hand. Why not? In effect BP put mine and all of our beloved Louisiana (and Texas, Florida, and Alabama) shrimp on the gambling table, and rolled the dice with them for profits.

What does this have to do with local shrimp in Michigan? Everything.

Everything, because the hunger to feed the unsustainable, and often corrupt form of “CASINO CAPITALISM” has lead to the unregulated, lets cash out before the crash, spill, or other names crisis, system of economics we have now.

And it is a local food system in part which can help to ease that hunger, and create a system where we local food, and small “c” capitalist that can sustain resources like farm land, water ways, wild life areas, and the cherished regional food traditions that we love, and that make this country something special.

Hopefully, out of this unprecedented ongoing environmental tragedy, some strong reform, and hard looks at alternative, less risky solutions for our energy will be established. Or we will sit around and wait for the next big thing to happen.

The Westside Farmer’s Market in Ann Arbor Michigan

This is a quick shout out the The Westside Farmers Market in Ann Arbor. I have been talking up this market a lot lately because I will be a vendor there this year. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about this great market. The Westside is the new kid on the block, compared to the downtown market. No disrespect to the downtown market. They do a great job, and I am there all of the time.

The Westside Farmer’s Market is located in the Zingerman’s Roadhouse parking lot, on the corner of Jackson and Maple Rd.

It starts June 3-Sept 30, on Thursday 3:00-7:00PM.

Here are few great reason to come to the Westside:

1) I will be there selling fresh cut microgreens this year (smiles: shameless plug)
2) There is a great mix of vendors
3) Great easy parking
4) You can’t over sleep and miss it (like I sometime do with the downtown market…Yes, I am a farmer who sleeps in)
5) Thursday is a perfect time for gathering food for the weekend.
6) They participate in Project Fresh, a program to help provide fresh food to low income families
7) They also accept the Bridge Card
8) Perfect for shopping after work
9) You can drop off your library books, before/after you shop because there is a branch in the same shopping center.
10) No lines to get Zingerman’s Baked Goods