Archive for the ‘Eating Local’ Category

After conducting my fowl research I decided to order our Thanksgiving turkey from the Golden Fig on Grand in Saint Paul. What sold me is that it is: a.) local and b.) affordable. Some other specialty food stores are selling turkeys for $8.00+ a pound, and to be honest, as much as I love buying from a local farm I just can’t legitimize dropping more than $100 big ones on a turkey…

Golden Fig’s birds hail from Ottis Family Farm and runs for roughly $3.50 per pound. It sounds like the bird range will be 14-16 pounds this year, perfect size.

Now on to the next big decision; to brine or not to brine? That is the question.


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Apple Cider

My in-laws invited us up to their house to try our hand at their new apple press. After overhearing them talk about how much they would like to make their own cider last year, my husband decided to gift them with one as an early Christmas gift. He found it at Northern Brewer in Saint Paul (http://www.northernbrewer.com).

They have a beautiful apple tree in their backyard stocked full of Haralsons. I’ve never made my own apple cider before, and am so appreciative of their offer. There really is no better healthy fall treat than a cold glass of freshly squeezed apples.

Cider is different from juice in that it is unfiltered. So you have a cloudy appearance and a richer drink.

Apple Cider

First, you grind whole apples through an apple grinder. The apple mush is then dumped into the apple press.

Apple Press

A circular block is stacked on top of the apples, followed by several rectangular blocks. You grab onto a long ratchet, and twist it back and forth to slowly press the circular wooden block into the apples, straining the juices.

Apple Cider

It was an ideal way to spend a beautiful fall day, and I’ve been enjoying a fresh glass of cider every morning this week.

Apple Press

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The Curds

Cheese Curds

I know the State Fair is over. But there are other ways to get in your cheese curd fix year-round. The Renaissance  Festivalstill has another weekend. Stop by the Groveland Tap or Casper and Runyon’s Nook in Saint Paul, or Psycho Suzi’s in Northeast, and you’ll find them on the menu.

I don’t care if they are unhealthy. Use in moderation. Smokey and I concur.


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Another take on Bruschetta

So, I was bored with reading cookbooks and we had an uber-excessive number of tomatoes from our backyard to deal with. I was inspired by this recipe from an issue of Martha Stewart’s Body Soul magazine. A writer had suggested to mix edamame and goat cheese and spread it on toast. Interesting combination, I thought. I like goat cheese. I like edamame. Would I like them together?

In the end I added more to the recipe. Did it work? My husband and father-in-law ate all of them, so that was a positive sign. I enjoyed them. Perhaps you will too.


1 small package goat cheese

2 dollops creme fraiche or sour cream

1/2 cup edamame beans

Handful of fresh chives, lavender, parsley

1 half lemon

Sliced fresh tomatoes

Sliced fresh baguette

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush olive oil on baguette slices. Toast in oven for about ten minutes, until edges are golden brown.

Baguette and olive oil
















Mix goat cheese, creme fraiche, and edamame beans in food processor until edamame is thoroughly chopped.

Next, add lemon and herbs and mix more.

While running, add about one tablespoon olive oil. Run until smooth.

Now, spread onto toasted baguette slices. Add sliced tomato, salt and pepper.





Another take on bruschetta

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Cucumber Basil Water

September 2009 130

We have an excess amount of cucumber and basil in our garden right now. Easy way to put them to use? Slice up the cucumber, then add the slices and basil leaves to a pitcher of water. So refreshing.

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Duck Confit


Duck Confit

Hi. My name is Alyssa and I have a problem. If there is duck on the menu, I need to order it.

I’m not sure where this compulsion stems from. That being said, there could be worse addictions than duck-ordering, so I accept it for what it is. The only fault I will admit is being a lover of good food and a little close-minded when it involves menus and duck.

Eventually a learning opportunity was born out of this duck fetish when my obsession lead me to one question.  If you love duck so much, and you love cooking so much, then why don’t you make the duck at home? Yeah. Why not?

Duck ConfitSo, a few months ago I purchased a duck share from Cooks of Crocus Hill in Saint Paul. The share hailed from Au Bon Canard, a duck farm in Caledonia, Minnesota. They specialize in Foie Gras (another guilt-ridden love of mine), and it appears that you can order that directly from them. I’m not sure if they’ll sell you a whole duck directly, or if they distribute only to restaurants and specialty food stores, like Cooks. Worth a shot. Great duck.

It came with 4 legs/thighs, 18 wings, and a couple of balls of duck lard. Yeah, I said it. Duck lard. Naturally, I decided to make a confit. What else is one supposed to do with legs, thighs, and excessive amounts of duck fat?

Duck Confit melts in your mouth. No need to fork and knife it. Mine would have fallen apart from the bone if the wind blew the wrong way. Duck Confit is cured duck leg and thigh that is slow cooked in fat. I know, I know. It sounds kind of gross. But it tastes so good.

Making Duck Confit takes two days. Don’t be scared, you really just let it sit overnight and in the oven for 12 hours. You can go about your daily routine while the duck feast is being made.


2 duck legs with thighs attached

Excess duck fat

2 cups olive oil

 Handful of dried bay leaves



Recipe: Duck Confit

 Generously salt non-skin side of duck thighs. Press Bay leaves into one of them, and sandwich the two together.

Now salt outer, skin side, of duck portions.

Put fat in bottom of a coverable container. Place sandwiched duck thighs on top. Cover, and store, refrigerated, for 24-36 hours.

The next day, turn oven to 200 degrees. Remove duck from air-tight container. Remove bay leaves and set aside. Rinse salt off duck and pat dry.

Place bay leaves and duck fat on bottom of cast-iron pot. Place duck thighs, skin side down, on top. Salt generously. Add some pepper too.

Cover and cook for 12 hours.

Remove and pull duck meat froDuck Confitm bone. Separate fat. Store in an airtight container and pour liquid from pot on top until covered. Duck can remain refrigerated for future use for a few weeks. When you’re ready to eat it, take out however much you’d like and warm up in a pan. You can eat this alone or put it in another recipe.


Duck Confit

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Phil and Alyssa Fish

Initially I thought I would have more time to post this prior to summer ending. But with the recent change in weather, and the impending fall season pounding on our door, I decided it was high time to get this online. We woke up to a very chilly morning today, perfect for a few cups of steaming hot coffee and a solid hour of reading the NY Times. Looking at the calendar and outside our window, I would assume it was still summer. It’s not. I’m only a little bitter. Fall is my favorite season, but it’s really not fair for it to start in August.

My husband and I caught a lot of walleye this summer at my family’s cabin on Lake Vermillion. The walleye was named in honor of, guess what, its eyes. They reflect light and look luminescent. They have sharp eyesight and are therefore able to see clearly in the dark, deep waters of a lake. They’re also delicious, and during the summer season it’s on nearly every menu in the city.

I think a state residency rule should exist as follows; If you haven’t fished for walleye, eaten walleye, or used Shore Lunch to cook walleye, at some point in your life, you can’t call yourself a Minnesotan. It is our state fish, after all.

Earlier in the summer, our buddy Phil, a fishing guide in the area, took us out for a day of walleye nabbing. Phil’s been fishing in the area for 30 plus years.  He’s a lake lifer and a lover of the outdoors. If you’re ever in Northern Minnesota and interested in  fishing all the honey spots plus having a second pair of experienced hands do all the dirty work, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Phil. His contact info and bio are at the following site – first guide in the directory.


Mike's FishAlyssa'a FishWe like to cook it up in the classic fisherman style. Shore Lunch all the way. I also made a cilantro/scallion coleslaw to accompany the fish. You can eat this on the side, or pile it up in a walleye sandwich.  Thick, toasted hoagie, shore lunch walleye, melted cheese, fresh sliced tomato, coleslaw…. yum.


 My only recommendation in using Shore Lunch is to soak the fish in egg and milk for at least two minutes prior to breading and frying. Also, practice makes perfect with the heat. I found this out the hard way when I unintentionally made three different styles of walleye.

1. Version One:

  • The oiled pan was too hot. So I cooled it down. Went from high to low. The result was mushy breading, longer cooking time.

2. Version Two:

  • Then, it was too cool, so it turned it to medium/high heat. Result? Perfectly crunchy breading, flaky white fish.

3. Version Three:

  • Eventually became too hot, and I just left it. The fish was a darker brown than I would have preferred it to be.

Unintentional experiment conclusion? Even if you’re in a rush, don’t immediately turn heat to high. Keep it at medium/high and then after a few minutes turn it down to slightly above medium. Walleye

Tartar sauce is always a sweet go-to dipping accompianment to this fish.

Here’s the recipe for the coleslaw. I found it in the Summer Entertaining edition of Cooks Illustrated. I also added some chopped pea pods from our garden. Nice addition thanks to the added crunch. This recipe serves 12.


3 pounds red or green cabbage, shredded

3 medium carrots, shredded

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sour cream

1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice

3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

3 or 4 scallions, sliced thin

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon salt


Toss cabbage and salt  together in large bowl. Let it wilt at room temperature for about an hour.

Rinse under cold water, and press to drain. Dry with paper towels.

Mix cabbage and carrots. Stir the rest of the ingredients together and pour over cabbage, carrots, and anything else you might have added. (Remember the pea pods?)



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