Tag Archives: Ann Arbor Food Blog

Roasted Potatoes

Ann Arbor Food Potato Harvest

Long after the garden has been put to bed, there are POTATOES.

Above is a picture of some of the potatoes a grew this year, this crazy garden year. It is almost Dec and I am still enjoying my garden.

Ann Arbor Food Pan Roasted Potatoes

Ann Arbor Food Pan Roasted Potatoes

Looking at my potatoes and preparing my standard recipe pan of simple roasted, I wondered about looking into other potato recipes.

Emily asked why.

Why indeed. I can eat roasted potatoes for the rest of my life and not want for any other potato.

Here is my recipe:

1) Wash and rinse as many potatoes as you feel like. (for my that is about 5 pounds)
2) cut them into about 1 inch size pieces.
3) Place in a pan one layer deep (get as many pans as you need. I usually make two pans for leftovers)
4) drizzle some oliver oil on them
5) shake on some salt and dried thyme or rosemary or both

And bake in a 400 degree oven until they are done (45-60 minutes-ish)

Taste and add more salt if desired.

I use yukon gold and red potatoes. I grew red Pontiac and yukon gold this year.

Enjoy

 

Local Food: Tell a Friend

I am a big fan of local food.

I picked up my Thanksgiving Turkey this year from the farm it was raised. And the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cranberries, eggs and corn meal in the meal were all local.

With that said, I really, really want to see the local food movement grow.

But do Local Food Eaters really want it to grow?

I have been thinking about that lately and part of me thinks NO.

The reason I say this is because I question the incentive for individual local food eaters to bring more people into the fold.

Are local food eater like myself telling friends, increasing our numbers, dragging reluctent friends to the farmers market?

A few years back, I belonged to a food club that offered raw milk. The club was kind of secretive, and I got the feeling that most in the club wanted to keep it that way.

More local food eaters means more competition for the limited supply of locally produced food.

Would the good nature local food eater (myself included) feel OK when they can’t get into a CSA, or they can’t get local eggs, or they get shut out of a community garden plot, or if there is a wait list for chicken when it once was easy to get?

Promoting local food feels like shooting ourself in the foot.

It’s like telling everyone about our favorite restaurant, which results in us never getting a table.

The incentive to not share in our good thing is strong.

But this mentality has a risk because we need more local food eaters.

Without more local food eaters, the movement is sunk because more local food eaters means more local farmers and larger/more farmers markets to meet demand, more local food restaurant, more prepped food products and more access all around for locally produced grown food.

There currently is not enough farmers market shoppers in my town to buy up the current farm production.

There are simply more food shoppers shopping some where else then from local farmers at the farmers market.

So perhaps the current group of local food folks have little to worry about, but that is my point here.

I feel that local food eaters and the movement enjoys the current size of the local food movement and I am one of them, I have to admit.

There is plenty of local food for us now, but not if our numbers grew.

Indeed local food access has grown. It is easier to eat more locally (in some areas). And without the work of local food advocates for years, the current folks like myself who enjoy access to local food would not be able to enjoy their local Thanksgiving.

But I do feel that the movement is vulnerable to stall because of an inclussive and hoarding mentality.

What I say, eventhough it may be shooting ourselves in the foot in the short run, is to tell a friend about local food. Get more folks to eat more locally.

This means dragging your friends to the farmers market until they become regulars, and then not complaining when it gets hard to get some of your local food items.

Be patient supply will grow to meet the increased demand and that is better for all of us.

Should you have a garden to support local food or just buy local food

I have been into the local food thing for a few years now.

It feels good, but I have to wonder if my efforts are making a difference or if they are largely symbolic.

Is there a better way to go about it?

My thoughts take me to my garden this year. I had a huge garden, which unlike other years produced a small yield for the space/time spent.

Most years, I grow so much that I cannot eat it all nor do I have the time to cook what I can eat. I have tried to grow foods that stores longer as a result.

But I end up giving a lot away if I can. I never plan for the excess, so my donation effort is pretty random and not very efficent.

In recent years, I find that I am growing more flowers instead of food to avoid the excess. At least the bees are happy, which is kind of a big deal too.

This year however, the hot weather destroyed my Spring crops. The grass burried my smaller crops regardless of long hours weeding. And the late start of the garden left me with no yield for my sweet potatoes.

With that said, I discovered that even extremely split cabbage still tastes good and flowering arugula tastes great too, which I had figured it to be done for. So maybe my yield was a little better then I thought.

I did not do the farmers market with my sprouts and bake goods this year, so I found myself as a shopper instead of vendor.

As a shopper, I noticed that I found that my garden competed with the market vendors. Instead of buying their produce, I had my own in my garden (sort of).

I never thought about it until this year, but did having my own garden make sense on a local food movement level?

Would both I, and the vendors (and the local food movement) be better served if I did not grow a garden, but instead bought from a local farmer instead?

I don’t have the exact numbers, but a garden can be a costly endeavor. There is the community garden rental, the cost of adding nutrition to the soil and then there are the plants and seeds, equipment/tools, plant supports (tomato cages) and fencing, not to mention the garden time.

I am not sure how much I spend in a given year, but it must be a few hundred dollars unless I found crazy good deals or started my own seedlings.

If you are willing to get your plants in late, you can find great end of seedling season deals at the farmers market.

Which again begs the questions, do farmers selling seedlings at the farmers market compete against themselves by promoting home gardens?

I figure that gardeners are the same customers who shop at the market, and they end up buying less because they bought seedlings.

I guess it ends up being a matter of timing because farmers end up having seasonal produce available before the gardener has theirs, but eventually they catch up with each other.

All of this has me second guessing my garden.

Of course, not all gardeners grow enough and many farmers market shoppers do not gardener at all.

Part of me thinks that at least on a local food movement level that I should still grow a garden, but I am starting to think about growing a high yield, low labor, low cost donation garden if I want to push local food to donate.

And that buying from a local farmer would make more sense.

Is the local food movement about growing more local food as efficently as possible and getting that food to more local mouths?

Are we simply playing a numbers game?

To a large extent, I think it is.

When I go to the farmers market, I still see tables of produce left at the end of the day.

If the local food movement is so big and growing, wouldn’t there be a run on local food with every vendor selling out?

After all only a small presentage of the food produced and consumed in any given area is local.

So it stands to reason that if the local food movement is so big given the huge amount of media dedicated to it, we would hear about fights over the last cartoon of eggs and shoving matches at farmers markets over a bunch of kale.

I could be wrong here, but it looks like the local food movement is having a hard time creating a demand for the current yield of food that is being produced let alone pushing for larger growth.

At least that is what it looks like at the farmers market.

The local food movement needs more mouths I figure reagrdless if I have a garden or not.

Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes

Ann Arbor Food Gluten Free Buckwheat pancakes

Gluten Free Buckwheat pancakes

Buckwheat pancakes are a great example of a traditional gluten free dish. These light and floffy flappers will have folks wanting more and not missing their wheat flour.

Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancake Recipe: Makes 6 large pancakes

1 cup of Buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp maple syrup (optional)

In a bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and maple syrup. Combine the buckwheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into the mixture. Stir until mixed.

The batter is on the thick side, but the pancakes come out fluffy

Scoop in about 1/3 of cup of batter onto a hot onstick skillet (if you have one).

Cook on one side until the side look dry and the top starts to bubble. Flip and cook for about another minute.

Butter and serve right away or keep warm in a 300 degree oven.

Serve with butter, maple syrup and fruit and berries.

Vegan Option:

1 cup of Buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup soy buttermilk (squeeze half a small lemon into soy milk, let sit for 30 minutes until in cuddles)
2 Table spoons of apple sauce or pumkin puree (instead of egg)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Serve with veggie margerine, maple syrup and fresh fruit and berries

Follow the same in cooking instructions above

 

Gluten Free: The Evolution of Classic Cuisine

Ann Arbor Food Gluten Free

Gluten Free Brownies at WCC Sweet Shop Bakery

Readers of this blog who have read my pizza making at home post and a series of baking recipes including posts about my pie business might think what gives with the new gluten free focus.

Well, I am trying to go gluten free to see if it helps with my arthritis. It has been a few weeks now going gluten free and it has not been as hard as I thought.

And it is too early to tell, but I do feel my arthritis on my hands is better (less symptom, more range of motion.)

At home, I have been using my rice cooker on over-time and I still have a ton of potatoes and squash from the garden to satisfy a carb fix.

The hard part is outside of the home. The world seems to be gluten obsessed. The center piece of American cuisine is breakfast pastry, sandwiches, pizza and bread/cookies/cakes/cup cakes…or battered fried foods.

So can one live a happy, healthy gluten free life?

My thoughts on the subject turn to my culinary arts school days when I was obsessed with learning how to make awesome sauces.

I read Escoffier, the founder of classic french cuisine and what stood out was that he predicted that toasted flour and butter roux, the traditional thicker for three of the five mother sauces, would eventually be replaced by pure starches like corn starch, arrow root or kuzu…etc.

Well, that never happened, cause in point, we were still using roux, but Escoffier had a point.

Flour in sauce has always be a cheap fix, which is what Peterson said speaking about the history of sauce.

For me, most sauces I make these days are pans sauces.

Pan sauces are made by simply deglazing the pan fond (dry tasty bits in the pan after searing meat) with some wine and thickening it with some starch if needed.

So what does my rant here mean for the foodie who is O-pinning for his Gluten mother sauces.

Two sauce gurus all but say it’s fine to have your classic french cuisine a la gluten free and eat it too.

I say that the time may be right for Escoffier’s roux-less (gluten free) sauce vision to be realized.

Why not simmer your beef/veal stock longer and make a demiglaze?

For Bechemal or Veloute’  (Milk  or Stock gravy/sauces), why not use half and half instead of milk or finishes it with a pure starch?

Does the toasted wheat flavor add a lot to the finished dish? And if it is the taste of toasted grain is all you want, why not add a little toasted rice tea to the stock with the shachet?

It seems weird to spend hours skimming a stock, cooling it, and scrapping the fat off, so you can have a clean product only to add a scoop of butter and flour later to oil and cloud it up.

Why not simply go for a clean cooked down stock and thicken it with a pure starch like corn starch?

Butter or cream can be added if you need some extra richness or you can thicken it with an egg york.

In other words, we can make many tasty dishes without missing the wheat flour, and I am not talking a handful here. I mean us gluten free folks can have most if not almost all of the classic french library.

But what about the crispy breaded coating for dredging meat, fish etc?

I say think Rice flour. Rice flour is used for tempura batter and many o-fish-n-chips use rice flour instead of wheat.

As for the world of bread, that is another story.

I had not ventured too far into the gluten free bake good world. Dare I even say gluten free pizza.

The thing is, like most on a new diet/lifestyles, there is a tendency at first to want to gravitate to a like version of the food we just gave up, or even to want to eat the same way.

A classic example is a vegan eating “fake meat.”

With gluten free it maybe Gluten free bread (which are well….I am not sure yet.)

On other programs it is the health bar. Every lifestyle seems to have their own candy like health bar that fits into their new diet, high carb, low carb, vegan, gluten free, carob

These “fake” substitutions help make the transition easier, but the key word is transition. The transitional foods eventually will be limited or mostly phased out.

For example, I would much prefer beans over tofu.

For me the idea is to transition towards the new diet/lifestyle.

To do this I feel the best strategy is to limit the faux food for traditional foods/recipes that already  fit with the program.

So think foods that are already gluten free.

Here is a quick list:

Risotto
Polenta
Posole
Southern Grits
Southern corn bread w/B B Q
Pad Thai Noodles
Roasted Potatoes w/baked chicken and green beans
Wild rice pilaf with fish
Paella
Saag Paneer (Cream spinach with fresh cheese) most indian dishes can be made gluten free
Nic’e salad
Grill meat or seafood w/veggies
Roasted veggies
Slaw
Sushi (with tamari instead of soy sauce…soy sauce has wheat)
omellets
100% buckwheat pancakes

Ice Cream
Flan
Rice Pudding
Chocolate Pudding
Indian Pudding
Short Bread cookies (w rice flour traditional)
Chocolate (Yes, a Gluten Free life includes Chocolate…Hell Yah!!!)
Gelatin and aspics

And for the most part, many traditional dishes could be made with a simple thickener substitute like chowders and cream soups could use potato or corn starches.

So to my Gluten Free Brothers and Sisters out there, take hear there is still a huge world of good eat waiting for you.

Gluten free recipes are on the way.

Extend the Harvest

Ann Arbor Food End of Year Garden

End of Year Garden: Extend the Harvest

The garden is looking pretty spars for the most part, but not my collards. My Collards are huge, look great and taste great.

I wish I had the foresight to grown my whole green in Collards.

There is a garden concept to extend the Harvest. This does not mean extending the growing season.

To extend the harvest in places like Michigan that means growing winter hearty crops in late summer and early fall like broccoli, cabbage, mustard, kale and collards.

While the plants will slow or stop growing at this point, they stay tasty and fresh into winter. Even with snow on top, these veggies keep going and can be harvested long after the garden is usually packed up for the year.

Ann Arbor Food Collard's and Tofu with garden roasted potatoes

Collard’s and Tofu with garden roasted potatoes

Ann Arbor Food Arugula Flowers

Arugula Flowers

Ann Arbor Food Garden Spider

Garden Spider: It looks scary, but it is a beneficial insect

 

Fall Beet Slaw Recipe

Ann Arbor Food Fall Beet Slaw

Fall Beet Slaw

Fall Beet Slaw: Serves 4

3-4 medium size golden beets peeled
1/2 Diakon radish peeled
3 medium sized carrots peeled
1 inch piece of ginger fine minced (makes about 1 tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon of Tamari (gluten free) or soy sauce (contains wheat)
1 Tablespoon Rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

Grate in a food processor and mix ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes or longer. Stir to combine. This recipe can be doubled and it taste even better the next day. It is light and gingery and works great with heavier items especially fried food like tempura.

Serve with rice, and grilled tofu, fish, tempura, nori rolls