Category Archives: slow food

Kickstarter Food Projects

I have been getting into kickstarter since I talked with the folks at the who are planing to start a vegan lunch cart.

here are some of the projects I have been following.

Support this project

Last year, you helped fund The Perennial Plate — a weekly documentary series that went from a small Minnesota website, to a nationally syndicated show with over 12,000 weekly viewers. We created 52 episodes, from Squirrel hunting to community gardens and morels. Our hope was to entertain, learn and draw you closer to the people, animals and land that bring food to your plate.

With a year of making these films under our belt, we want to take The Perennial Plate to the next level. By traveling across the US (and into Canada), we hope to share the inspiring stories about alternatives to mainstream food with as many people as possible. As in Minnesota, each week I will be hunting, farming, fishing and foraging with these food heroes and then cooking up a delectable feast. Each week the videos will be posted on Huffington Post,, Serious Eats as well as at

Support this Project

Great news for food lovers in Ann Arbor, and especially for vegetarians and vegans: you will have a terrific new dining option this spring! The Lunch Room is opening a food cart downtown that will offer healthy, delicious and economical vegan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, sides and baked goods. Our cart will be nestled among several others in a new courtyard on W. Washington between Ashley and First streets. The courtyard is slated to open in late April and will operate through mid-November.

This is the time to show your love for the Lunch Room! You may have eaten our food, you may have a personal connection with Phillis or Joel, or you may have an interest in delectable, wholesome, plant-based foods. Whatever your motivation, we need your help to bring our food cart to life.

Support this Project


Our goal is to raise enough to purchase and retrofit a 25-foot school bus, convert it to run on biofuel, and have the whole shebang up and making market stops and school visits around Washington, DC in early summer 2011. The Mobile Market will be where food is needed — in low-income neighborhoods known as “food deserts” — bringing healthy, local food to the places people naturally gather. And we need YOU to help make it happen!


Imagine a brightly painted school bus running on recycled cooking oil and retrofitted with wooden crates bursting with fresh, local fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheeses, and humanely-raised meats. We’re collaborating with local farmers and communities across the region to bring fresh food, recipe ideas, and nutrition information to schools and neighborhoods in a healthy variation on the trendy food truck.

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.


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.

Restaurant Hosted Local Food Charity Events: It’s a small wins for Local Food

I have listed two local food charity events this month on my Events page. One is on March 29th host by Seva in Ann Arbor, a vegetarian restaurant landmark. The other is at The Grange Kitchen and Bar on March 30th. Both will donate a portion of the nights proceeds to benefit a Local Food organization. The Grange is donating to  Growing Hope. These are starting to become ongoing events, and an opportunity to support local food institutions, while having a great meal.

Lake Perch at the Grange Kitchen and Bar

I wrote a post a few months ago about how charity/fundraiser dinners say in the form of secret supper clubs like Bona Sera, privately hosted tasting menu events like Tammy’s Tastings, and “Breakfast Clubs,” like fridays@selma provide an opportunity to enjoy locally sourced prepared meals. My hope was that other local food cooks would take up the call and start more of these local food venues to create a grassroots locally sourced and prepared meals. The idea was to transform our kitchen tables into micro, one time or ongoing, local food restaurants.

But I never thought about the obvious, which is why not also ask an already established restaurant to host a charity meal night? The Grange Kitchen and Bar for example donates 10% of their Tuesday sales to a local food organization.

"Pig's Head appetizer at the Grange Kitchen and Bar

I love this idea for a few reasons. For one it does not take that much extra work in order to set these events up. A simple posting on the restaurants web site and say an announcement by the organization receiving the charity is about all the promotion that is needed. 

The other factor is the price. Many charity/fundraiser meals tend to be on the pricy side, and for good reason. The idea is to raise money, and in order to do that expenses and more have to be met in order to collect funds for donation. Some of these local meals can range from $50-$150 or up to $500, which can price me out of these dinners especially if I want to bring Emily along.

I try to attend a few of these events a year to have a special food experience, but more often I do not because of price. I still regret being priced out of the Portland Oregon Farmers Market dinner every year when I lived there.

 I do not want to be negative about these fundraising dinners. There are plenty of people who can afford to attend these dinners, and provide their yearly charitable donation dollars with their attendance. And the meals at Tammy’s, Bona Sera and fridays@selma are better than what can be found at even the best restaurant, and the money collected goes to worthy causes.

What stands out with the Restaurant charity/fundraiser dinner model for me is the minimal/average cost. A meal at Seva can run $10-20 per person, and at the Grange $20-35 for say an entree. I feel these price ranges may open up more people to attend a charity/fundraiser dining event. There may be less money raised per diner, but there may be more diners participating to perhaps equal things out.

Spicy Fried Chick Pea appetizer at Grange Kitchen and Bar

I see the restaurant charity/fundraiser dinners movement as a great small start win for the local food movement. I tend to think of the BIG WIN like an entirely locally sourced restaurant, bigger farmers markets, or better yet a locally sourced region restaurant chain. But in thinking of the big win, I over look the small win like a restaurant hosting a once a month locally sourced menu, or even just featuring a locally sourced weekend dinner special.

Asking a restaurant or a chef to go all/mostly local can be an overwhelming proposition. But asking a chef to take on a locally sourced menu for a night can be a fun challenge, and one which an adventurous chef may take on. And if a local food night is successful and supported, the chef might do it again, even if they are not known as a local food place.

In other words, just about any independent restaurant from large or small, high end or burger/sandwich joint, can be a potential venue for the local food movement charity/fundraiser meal, or at least feature a local menu item like a local sandwich special, or salad.

The big local push in Ann Arbor is for a %10 locally sourced food goal (see 10 percent Washtenaw) A large portion of food is eaten out, so in order to reach this goal, I feel that we will need to get more restaurants to offer some locally sourced food. The charity/fundraiser dinner event can be a way to convince other independent food service establishments to get a taste for going local, while supporting local food/garden organizations. These venues could create a larger demand for locally sourced foods, which in turn will motivate the creation of more locally sourced food suppliers.

Related posts


Mozzarella Cheese Making

I came across this great post about homemade mozzarella cheese making and want to share it. Check it out.