Sunday, July 8, 2012

Birchwood Cafe

This weekend I had brunch at Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis, whose slogan is "Good Real Food." Fantastic Real Food would be a better description of my meal: an asparagus, fontina, and quinoa waffle, topped with treats like hazelnut honey butter and rhubarb.

Birchwood features many local and organic ingredients. I was also excited to find that they sell seed packets to support Northfield's Grow a Farmer Fund! A quote on their wall struck me as an apt reflection of what I've learned from Food Truth: "Innumerable measures bring us this food; we should know how it comes to us"- Zen Meal Prayer.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Open Farms

I recently spent an evening volunteering at Open Farms in Belle Plaine, MN. I was blown away by the farm's beauty and the organization's wonderful mission! Open Farms is an organic farm run by the nonprofit Open Arms of Minnesota ( The produce grown there is used to cook delicious and healthy meals for people with life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers cultivate the vegetables, prepare the meals, and deliver them to people in need. 

In the Real Food movement, we talk about food that "truly nourishes" consumers, producers, and communities. The meals that pass through Open Arms fulfill that ideal splendidly! This week I pruned tomatoes, and I'm excited to follow those tomatoes from the earth, to the kitchen, to the table as I continue volunteering.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rotblatt + ice cream! TOMORROW

Who can't wait for ice cream tomorrow (more like a few hours from now) at Rotblatt??? Who cares if it's gonna be cold; there's nothing like a nice helping of altruism to make you feel like a good person while you guzzle down some traditionally Rotblatt-y refreshments. Come eat delicious, homemade ice cream and support beginning Northfield farmers. All proceeds go to the Rural Enterprise Center's Grow a Farmer Fund, which provides loans to local, low income farmers to start poultry production.

This was from an email that Dylan Gessner sent me when I asked if fundraising was allowed:

"We on Rotblatt Crew like to think of ourselves as altruistic people, what with all the funsiez we give out in the shape of 12 oz. cans o' beer. So yes, of course, please bring your good cause to our fine event, and we'll all have a grand ol' time!"

Read "5.26" instead of "5.22 & 5.23" and "Rotblatt" instead of "Sayles." Also - TOPPINGS :)
Follow up will be coming tomorrow (or more like Sunday)

Also, stay tuned for a fiery post from Taylor Owen regarding Stevie P. and the Real Food Commitment...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stir-Fry: Cooking 101 with Bon Appétit!

I wish it were last weekend again. Even if the weather was as dreary as it was today, at least we didn’t have the dismaying prospect of Monday classes dampening our moods. Even better was that last Sunday we could look forward to celebrating the last few hours of our daylong vacation cooking yummy food with fantastic people. Last Monday afternoon, Bon Appétit and Firebellies joined forces to launch Cooking 101, Carleton’s first-ever campus-wide event that gives students the rare opportunity to use the LDC facilities while learning to cook a meal from scratch. With the generous help of Executive Chef Michael Delcambre, Executive Sous Chef Daniel Watrin, and Dining East Sous Chef Gibson Price, the twelve of us learned how to prepare our very own stir-fry.
Chef Michael teaching us how to cut chicken

Chef Daniel explaining how to cut veggies
The chefs enthusiastically demonstrated everything from proper knife-handling form to preparing our own stock to peeling ginger with a spoon to tossing stir-fry with gusto. The eclectic ingredients in our cornucopia consisted of naturally fed chicken from Ferndale Market; fresh vegetables including baby bok choy, mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks which are awesome and can be found in the arb), peapods, ginger, garlic, and more; and a delicious concoction of a sauce that carried a hint of teriyaki flavor with a secret ingredient: orange.
Divided into three teams that were each lead by one of the chefs, we embarked on our delectable mission. Vayu, Taylor, and I, assisted by Gibson, elected to make a vegetarian stir-fry, in which we replaced the chicken with seitan. I was fascinated by the artistry with which Gibson flipped the stir-fry into the air with such precision and adroitness, and I hope to one day gain even an iota of that skill.
Left to Right: ramps (yum! so fresh and crisp, with a peppery aftertaste), garlic (of course!), ginger (crucial in azn cuisine)
Tori + Yawen + mushrooms + baby bok choy (d'aww)
Stir-fry was originally invented by the Chinese to be quick and delicious, which proved to be true for us. Ideally, the actual stirring part of stir-fry takes about three to four minutes because all of the ingredients are parboiled. This means that they are partially boiled beforehand and therefore cook sooner when they are introduced into the menagerie in the scathingly hot wok. For us, the stir in stir-fry took about ten minutes, and the whole cooking process took less than half an hour. We were able to enjoy the fruits of our labors in no time.
Chef Gibson and his cool flippy skills
So triumphant
Stay tuned for the next installment of Cooking 101 next midterm break. Anybody have any scrumptious ideas for what to cook then? Hope to see you all there joining in on the fun!
Yes, you're hungry now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

we all got them. and inn accordance with Marika-gets-hurt-within-the-first-2-weeks-of-moving-to-a-new-country-where-she-cant-speak-the-native-language, I hurt my feet. 
I ran in the imperial palace grounds, which are lovely and line with cherry blossoms and full of people walking their dogs, ext, but is unfortunately a trail made of small black sharp rocks that are hard to run on. 
I tried last monday, with my roommate Jojo, the day after we moved to Kyoto and realized my feet hurt a few hours later. 
I didn't run again after that, but proceeded with the usual adventuring... aka walking 5 to 8 miles a day and over the weekend climbed to small mountains. Needless to say my feet hurt a lot more come monday, so I rounded up my friend BIll (who speaks way better Japanese than me, and went to a walk in clinic.

tell me again why we do not have government subsidized health care?
I don't even speak the language or have insurance, yet I get an appointment for the same day, talk to them for like 15 minutes in broken Japanese and they give me the best possible treatment.
two steroid anti-inflammation drugs direct injection into the foot tendons which have apparently developed tendonitis. I did not know this was possible, but apparently it is.
yesterday my feet still hurt, but today they feel great. bang up job Japan.

so yeah. All's well now. and for people suffering from other problems with inflamation, ask your docotor about injections! they are great.
yay medicine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

federal subsidies

Federal farming subsidies: where are they going? are we feeding people 'real food'? or feeding the pockets of big ag? 
This figure makes me cry a bit inside. If you want to look more into the complexities of lobbying and how it determines consumer food intake, I recommend reading the introduction of "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating" by Walter C Willett M.D. 

This is the pyramid backed by the USDA. 
notice there is no distinction between types of meat dairy or oils, just the relative amounts of each that should be consumed. 

In his book Dr. Willett re-examines the USDA approved food pyramid and compares it with the most up to date, reliable meta studies on human nutrition and disease prevention. This is the pyramid he came up with:

notice a difference? The food groups more heavily subsidized by the US government are much larger on the USDA pyramid than on the one published by an independent source. 

read the introduction of Dr. Willett's books to see how the meat and dairy producer lobbyists were able to get the current pyramid approved by federal oversight. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Put this in your purse: a follow-up from Megan's post


So I'm logged in as Lindsay, but this is actually Megan, because Lindsay is too busy vigorously mixing rock hard butter and powdered sugar to write. That's right, ya'll, we're makin' frosting.

The two of us have had some interesting baking adventures during our time at Carleton. There was the time we forgot sugar for the cookies and the time we burnt the chocolate sauerkraut cake (trust us, it's better than it sounds), but today tops the list. We were  going to bake brownies, which then turned into chocolate chip cake, and then we forgot the baking I guess it's...brown goop. With frosting! To our delight, we found that brownie/cake/goop is actually quite good without baking soda. It's just slightly more dense. Who knew?

Even though our mistakes may not yield the most delicious results, at least we're learning. What is baking if not a giant chemistry experiment?

Until next time...
Megan and Lindsay

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What We Learned from Squash: Reflections on the Carleton Student Farm

The fact is, we didn’t know anything about gardening before we started working as the interns of the Carleton Student Farm. At noon on the hottest day of the summer we decided it was a good time to head up to our plot of winter squash and replace the little squash plants that had already died of dehydration.

The Carleton Farm is comprised of 1.5 acres of vegetable garden in the yard of Farmhouse and on a large plot behind the softball field (where our longest hours were spent—by the end of summer, hacking through all the weeds up there was like visiting the Heart of Darkness). The Farm interns spend each summer learning about organic, small-scale farming techniques and raising produce to sell to the dining halls. Students enjoy veggies fresh from our own campus all of fall term, and in return, we use the compost produced by the dining hall in the garden for next year’s crops!

On this particular day, however, we were feeling pretty down on the whole Local Food concept. It was a million degrees—at least! And the dry, dusty dirt blew into our eyes and collected in the creases in our necks. It was too hot to wear long sleeves, so we worked in tank-tops and shorts. (Totally worth it because we got the pleasure of peeling each other’s backs over the next few days.) The sun reflected off of the white row-cover cloth that protected the dying squash plants from dehydration (ha!) and the hard ground scratched our knees as we knelt down to replant seedling after seedling of acorn, butternut, buttercup, and Table Queen squash.

As we realized that we were going back over a row we had already planted, when we also knew we had hours and hours of weeding and planting to do, the futility of the Farm project hit us full force. The conversation had died off hours ago because we were too grumpy to even look at each other. Finally, as she watered a new transplant squash that was already wilting, Ellen said “Well, aren’t you glad we aren’t subsistence farmers, hoping to make it through the winter?”

The truth of this comment hit us like a brick, and we dissolved into laughter.

Laughing at our mistakes was one of the many things we learned to do during our time on the farm. We learned the basics of planning and caring for a garden, gained a greater understanding of the hard realities of organic farming and now understand vividly why food from small farms is so expensive, but so worth it. We soon learned that organizing our lives around the natural biorhythms of the Earth is critical to raising healthy crops and producing natural food, and quickly learned that attempting to fight these rhythms results only in sunburn and dead squash plants.

We saw firsthand why farmers would want to use monoculture techniques and herbicide-resistant crop varieties. After working all day, literally in the weeds, we realized that committing to producing organic, local food is a job too big to do alone. We needed each other’s encouragement and creativity, and when the going got really tough, students from all sides of the Carleton campus came out to lend a hand, proving that community support is critical.

The Carleton Farm serves our campus community by providing local, organic produce to nourish our bodies and raising student awareness of food and environmental issues. But more than anything, we felt nourished by the Carleton community in their support of our project on the Farm. From the chefs at Bon Appetit who greeted every load of veggies with enthusiasm and friendship, to the Grounds staff who lent us tools on the weekends and carts in the mornings, to the students who came out when we needed some extra hands… it was clear that our passion for food justice is supported at Carleton. And despite the challenges (we’re glad we’re not subsistence farmers at this point), we both feel this was the most rewarding job we’ve ever had.

The moral of the story: Farming is not meant to be done alone. Small farmers need a community around them, reminding them of the big picture, and why it’s essential that someone do this job. We encourage Carleton to continue supporting local food at the college and in Northfield. And, in case you were wondering, we ended up with 2000 lbs of squash out of that sad little plot – thanks everyone!

~Sophie Daudon '13 and Ellen Drews '13