Tag Archives: fresh

Israeli Salad Decked Out!

With mostly freshly picked home grown vegetables, I assembled Israeli Salad sans the peppers (my plants were started too late), then spruced it up a bit with sliced hard cooked eggs from my dear Welsummer ladies.  Had some mushrooms that needed using, so sliced a couple of those as well to add.

Israeli Salad with eggs

 

Farm Fresh is Best

Oh, i suppose there are many, including farmers, who could somehow find a way to argue with the title of my blog (which is also the title of a great article in the latest issue of Missouri Life magazine written by Corin Cesaric).  But, the arguments will need to be pretty convoluted and perhaps mostly fall into the fallacy department.

Anyway, this is a beginners guide to exploring and discovering fresh food in Missouri.  If you live in another state, the same guidelines can be applicable.  No one is guaranteed a meal, nor is it even easy to find actual food in this country anymore.  It takes planning, a change of diet (more seasonal or simply eliminate them from your diet), and exploration.  Where is this great food?!  The home manager/economist must take up the important mantel of “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.  She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” (Proverbs 31:14-15)

Now, i’m not one to worry with eating out, but if that is your thing, there are meals out there provided by restaurants committed to purchasing and serving fresh, in season, local as possible.  Don’t forget to buy from your neighbors!!  As the saying goes, “Costco doesn’t buy Little League t-shirts for your community.”  Guessing that is true, but i’ve never been in a Costco or other big box store – i think there is one in Columbia (1 1/2 hours away)

On the rare occasions when I decide to make a home-cooked meal, it doesn’t take more than a five-minute drive to my one-stop-shop to gather all of the ingredients. I can find pretty much everything I need at my local Gerbes, and although there are many organic options, there’s hardly anything from local producers. The bigger the chain store gets, the more apparent this is.

A lot of people, myself included, are realizing how important it is to live sustainably. So I decided to attempt to eat only locally sourced food for seven days. I was excited, but also a little nervous. Would I have to dedicate a lot of extra time to sourcing my ingredients? Would I find everything I need? What ended up happening was that I gained a newfound appreciation for local business and learned a few life lessons, too.

Before I plunged into my recipes, I did some research on farming in the United States. According to the US Department of Agriculture, for every dollar consumers spend on food, only 7.8 cents goes to farmers.

“We believe that farmers should have not only the cost of production for raising livestock independently, but also a living wage on top of it,” Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) Communications Director Tim Gibbons says. Patchwork Family Farms, established by the MRCC in 1993, purchases hogs directly from local, independent family farmers in Missouri and pays farmers above market price.

One of the biggest advantages of buying local food is supporting these farmers and your local economy. Missouri relies heavily on agriculture, so if you love the town and state you live in, this is an easy way to support it. In 2016, agriculture and other related industries in Missouri had an $88.4 billion economic impact and contributed 378,232 jobs.

Luckily for me, Missouri is home to more than two hundred farmers markets across the state, so with that in mind, my first stop was the Columbia Farmers Market. I headed there late last summer when it was in full swing with about ninety vendors. I got a decent haul, met a lot of local farmers and producers, and had some ideas in mind for the following week. I found that knowing exactly where your food comes from makes cooking quite a bit more fun. I was taking my time and cared more about the end result of my meals.

Of course, there were some things that I wasn’t able to find from our state, but in the middle of summer, most things were accessible. Here you can see what I ate each day during the week.

Monday

I started out with pretty simple meals so that I wouldn’t get in over my head. For breakfast, I had honey bread from Fiddle & Stone Bread Co. topped with apple butter from C & J Baked Goods, located in Paris, Missouri. C & J sells fresh-baked bread, pies, jellies, and jams along with some other snacks that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. I can’t stress how delicious this apple butter is. It’s essentially highly concentrated apple sauce, but it has a sweet and caramel flavor. It immediately became one of my favorite morning snacks. As of now, Fiddle & Stone doesn’t have a permanent location, but you can find this homemade bread at the Columbia Farmers Market every week.

For lunch, I had a salad with bell peppers and onions with ingredients that I found at the farmers market, and I topped it with Italian dressing. I got all of my bell peppers for the whole week from The Backyard Farmer at the market, which is run by husband-and-wife team Jay Vang and Nou Lee from Sedalia and their five children.

The family is made up of their youngest, Crystal, who is thirteen, and their oldest, Jenny, who graduated from the University of Missouri and now works in IT in Columbia. Their three other children, Vicky, Nicholas, and Daniel, currently attend MU.

“We do a little bit of everything to pay for our kids’ tuition and rent a place so they can stay [in Columbia],” Jay says. This year is The Backyard Farmer’s fourth year in business.

I topped my salad with cheddar cheese from Hemme Brothers Farmstead Creamery located in Sweet Springs, and I ended my day with tacos. I used ground beef from Altai Meadows in Higbee with bell peppers, onions, and fried potatoes on the side. It was a simple meal, easy to whip up.

The money made by The Backyard Farmer, a family business, goes directly to helping the children while they are at school in Columbia. The family of seven all help out at the market when they can.

Tuesday

The next morning I used the bread from Fiddle & Stone Bread Co. again, but this time I made what I like to call “Lazy French Toast.” I learned how to make this in college. I’ve always liked it because you can make it in ten minutes or less, and it only takes three ingredients. Instead of adding cinnamon and sugar to make the meal sweet, I just slice bread, dip it in an egg mixture, and fry it. The eggs were from Buttonwood Farm in California, Missouri. I topped my Lazy French Toast with apple butter instead of syrup, ate it way faster than I should have, and headed to work.

I purchased the eggs from Root Cellar in Columbia, which is one of the best local resources in town. The market, owned by Chelsea and Jake Davis, sells locally sourced food and offers subscription boxes full of local ingredients that can be delivered straight to your door.

“Jake and I are both farm kids. We grew up in Southwest Missouri, so we have a deep passion for agriculture,” Chelsea says. “Growing up on independent family farms, we know the values that farming has and also the great food that the state of Missouri actually produces, which is really wide and diverse.”

They bought the grocery store in 2011 when the previous owner was selling it and immediately added the year-round subscription boxes. “We’re farmers ourselves and we want to make sure that farmers have an outlet for their products,” Chelsea says.

When lunchtime rolled around, my anti-cooking mentality kicked back in, so I started to search for places around Columbia that offered locally sourced meals. Places like Barred Owl Butcher & Table and Sycamore popped up—two of my favorite spots—but Le Bao is what caught my attention. This Asian eatery opened in 2018. Not everything on the menu features locally sourced ingredients—it would be pretty hard to find seaweed here—but the pork ramen uses meat from Patchwork Family Farms. I’ve never been a huge pork eater, but in order to eat local, I ordered it. I can say firsthand, this pork tastes different in the best way. It wasn’t fatty or overwhelming in taste and it really complimented the noodles.

“The way that corporations raise their hogs nowadays is in big buildings over slatted floors with the waste lagoon underneath the building,” Tim says. “This industrial production model not only negatively impacts the property rights of rural communities and their water and air, but also the taste and quality of the meat. Livestock raised by independent family farmers the traditional way respects their neighbors and results in a superior product. You can taste the difference.”

For dinner, I made baked eggplant with the ingredients I purchased from the farmers market. This is one of my all-time favorite meals, and like usual, it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, my Italian bread crumbs were not locally sourced, neither were the salt, pepper, and spices I used during the week.

When I couldn’t find something sourced locally, I was able to easily find it at a grocery store. If I hadn’t had access to those stores, my meals would have looked and tasted a lot more plain, and I would have had to travel much more around the state to find exactly what I was looking for. I wouldn’t have been able to use basic things like salt and pepper or the Italian dressing I used for my salads.

If I truly didn’t have access to anything outside of our state’s borders, this week would have been more challenging, but still possible.


Wednesday

On Wednesday morning, I made scrambled eggs for breakfast with Hemme Brothers cheddar cheese. Lunch was also easy since it was my leftover dinner from the night before, but I’m not complaining. Eggplant really is one of my favorite meals, and many of the vendors carried the fruit—that’s right, I even learned that eggplant is technically a fruit.

The dinner I made on this day turned out to be my favorite meal for the whole week, and I’m not just saying this because I was proud of successfully cooking something. It really was delicious. I made stuffed peppers with homemade meatballs. I made the meatballs with ground beef from Hormann Meat Company in Springfield combined with mild sausage from Patchwork Family Farms. I cut some leftover peppers I had from the market in half and stuffed them with the meatballs and put them in a pot on the stove, then topped everything with local tomatoes and organic marinara sauce and added mashed potatoes on the side. There were plenty of leftovers I was happy to pack up.

Missouri Life Associate Editor Corin Cesaric cooks stuffed peppers with local ingredients from Root Cellar and Columbia Farmers Market.

Thursday

I headed to Main Squeeze for breakfast. This vegetarian restaurant has been known for its local and healthy meals since 1997. I opted for the breakfast tacos made with eggs from Share-Life Farms in Napton, jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, and salsa on corn tortillas with some greens on the side. This year, the restaurant will be replacing the corn tortillas with local flour tortillas from Tortilleria El Patron in Columbia.

“I would estimate we have spent more than a quarter million with local farms in the past twenty-two years,” Leigh Lockhart, owner of Main Squeeze says.

When local isn’t an option, they choose certified organic products instead. Eggs, potatoes, feta cheese, bread from Uprise Bakery, pecans, and blueberries are always locally sourced.

“It seems like a natural extension of running a conscious business that you would want to support the local economy because you live here,” Leigh says.

Leigh didn’t grow up in agriculture, but she found her passion in creating meals in a sustainable business. As the owner, she does a little bit of everything around the restaurant and is the mastermind behind her tasty menu.

“I may not cook every dish that comes out of the kitchen at Main Squeeze, but I’m the one at home figuring out how to make something taste eggy even though it doesn’t have any eggs in it,” she says.

For lunch, I pulled out my leftover peppers to have them again and froze what was left for another meal later in the week. Around dinner time, I realized I needed to become a little more creative with my meals. I decided to attempt a lasagna. Instead of seeking out locally made noodles or the ingredients to make my own, I decided to use what I already had bought from the North Village Arts District Farmers and Artisans Market in downtown Columbia, which was a whole lot of zucchini.

To say this meal was an experiment might be an understatement. I don’t have a vegetable sheet cutter, so I sliced the zucchini horizontally. Some pieces were thick and others were thin, so I made half of them into a lasagna like planned and the other half into zucchini roll ups. Despite the challenges that came with this meal, it still turned out pretty tasty. I purchased the meat from Root Cellar, and it came from Prairiebird Pastures.

Prairiebird Pastures is a private brand owned by Root Cellar that only carries 100 percent grass-fed beef with the Audubon certification seal. The Audubon Conservation Ranching Program works with local ranchers who raise cattle to help with Audubon’s mission. Since grazing cattle restores the land, the program fits with Audubon’s goal of protecting the habitat for native birds.

The Root Cellar and Columbia Farmers Market made grocery shopping simple.

Friday

The breakfast trend became bread with apple butter because it was so quick to make. It’s sweet, but not too sweet for breakfast, and I got the Thai Caesar Salad from Uprise Bakery for lunch. Uprise Bakery is another great spot in Columbia to find dishes with locally sourced ingredients.

For dinner, I had my zucchini leftovers, which still tasted pretty good. I’m proud of how my creation turned out and it provided enough food for three separate meals. Plus, I learned how to get water out of zucchini—and that it’s a necessary step!

Saturday

On the weekends, I usually sleep in a bit later, skip breakfast, and go straight for lunch. This weekend was no different. I went to my hometown Festus, but made a quick stop on the way for lunch at Lulu’s Local Eatery in St. Louis. This neighborhood cafe is known for its sustainability. According to its website, the restaurant recycles and composts 95 percent of the waste, offers a 100 percent plant-based menu using all-natural, local, and organic ingredients whenever possible, and offers 15 percent off to customers who ride their bike to the restaurant, among other eco-friendly perks. I ordered the buffalo cauliflower wrap.

When I made it to Festus, I stopped at one of my favorite produce stands in town, Richard’s Produce, and picked up a Missouri Melon. It’s similar to a regular watermelon, but a little smaller and a lot sweeter, and of course, they are all grown right here in the Show-Me State. At dinner time, I was still pretty full from lunch so I snacked on some locally sourced food that was around the house, like more of the Missouri Melon and a whole lot of Billy Goat Chips that are made in St. Louis.

Richard’s Produce has been in Festus since 1989. You can find fresh fruits, veggies, and various seasonal items here.

Sunday

I had brunch at Rooster in St. Louis. It’s hard for me to pass up crepes anywhere, but I usually opt for sweet ones. On this day, I went with the Mo. Made savory crepes. This daytime cafe has two locations in the city and supports local producers. The Mo. Made crepes are made with Missouri-made sausage, spiced apple, and cheddar.

When I got back to Columbia, I defrosted my leftover stuffed peppers and had them for a third time. I thought about making something new since I still had some local ingredients, but I decided to save them for the following week.

I’ve always known the importance of eating ethically produced food, but these seven days opened my eyes to other factors. There’s the obvious advantage of eating fresher, healthier food, but helping your local farmers, neighbors, and makers supports them and your community at a time they need it most. Although eating local all the time isn’t easy, it’s definitely worth doing more often.

Farmers Markets Around the State

C-Street Market, Springfield
City Market, Kansas City
DeSoto Farmers Market, DeSoto
Ferguson Farmers Market, Ferguson
Hickory County Farmers Market, Hermitage
Overland Farmers Market, Overland
Pulaski County Farmers’ Market, Waynesville
The Sedalia Area Farmers Market, Sedalia
Soulard Farmers Market, St. Louis
Wildwood Farmers Market, Grover
More at agebb.missouri.edu/fmktdir

Grocery Stores With Local Food

Clovers Natural Market, Columbia
Dutch Bakery and Bulk Food Store, Tipton
Local Harvest Grocery, St. Louis
Market Fresh Produce, Nixa
McGonigle’s Market, Kansas City
South Side Sales Amish Market, Clark
Weaver’s Country Market, Inc., Versailles

Photos // Drew Piester, Corin Cesaric, Columbia Farmers Market, Jesse Epple

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Mom’s Goulash

September’s meal for Refuge Ministries, Mexico, Missouri was an old favorite of ours which was published in the Centennial Baptist Church cookbook shared by Frankie Levingston, the mom of my dear high school chum, Sharie Levingston.

Mom’s Goulash 

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground beef (i use our home raised fully grass-finished beef)
2 cups pasta
3 cups chopped tomatoes or 1-15 oz can sauce
1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped peppers (we prefer green beans, okra, or such)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup cubed cheese (use your favorite)

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare pasta as per package instructions, drain, set aside.  While pasta is boiling, brown ground beef in a large skillet with chopped onions, add tomatoes or sauce, with optional vegetables.  Stir to just mixed, then add pasta.  Mix carefully then sprinkle about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over top along with the cubed cheese.  Replace lid and put on low heat until cheese starts to melt.  Serve over bed of lettuce if desired.

Prep time:  25 minutes

Servings: 6

Author:  Frankie Levingston, Centennial Baptist Church (Mexico, MO) cookbook.

My photos show this recipe multiplied by 10 to prepare enough for the Refuge plus have some meals to deliver to friends and neighbors who are recovering from surgeries.

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Brown the ground beef along with the chopped onions.  Oh, if you forget to put the onions until after the beef is browned, it’s okay, just go ahead and add them.
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My garden produced bunches and gobs of Asian Long Pole Beans, so i chose them for my recipe.  Fresh beans need to be precooked before adding to Mom’s Goulash.  Mine are cut into 1/2 inch length pieces and I added 1 gallon of them.
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Pasta, pasta – Here i’ve placed 14 cups dried pasta to boil, still had to add water and as you can see just BARELY had enough room in this huge pot.  Be careful, pasta really expands.
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Thankfully, a friend had given me a 33 quart canning pot a few years ago.  Always enough room to stir together all the ingredients.  I did soften and melt the cheese before adding it.
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Filled my roaster with Mom’s Goulash to take to Refuge Ministries and prepared the rest for delivery to neighbors.

Hope you enjoy preparing and serving this easy, inexpensive, and tasty dish.

Cheers!

tauna

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Grinding Fresh Berries

As i grind pound after pound of hard red winter and white winter wheat, i wanted to know the best use for the various varieties.  I also have some Einkorn berries, an ancient grain with original DNA, which i’m finding difficult succeed with using it by itself.  But i keep trying.  It’s a lovely nutty flavour.

What a fabulously helpful article written by Julia Debes and provided by the Kansas Wheat Cooperative

Posted December 2, 2014

Six classes of U.S. wheat

You stuffed yourself with Thanksgiving pie and warm rolls in November. And the smell of Christmas cookies baking fills the air in December. You know you can count on your family’s special baked good, shared year after year, during the holiday season. But, you might not realize that each product may require a different type of flour, maybe even a different class of wheat.

Image: U.S. map of the 6 classes of wheat.

American wheat farmers grow six classes of wheat. Each wheat variety fits into one of these six categories based on the growing season (winter or spring), hardness (hard or soft) and color (red or white). While munching on holiday treats this year, stump your relatives with these class differences.

Hard Red Winter (HRW)

Ninety five percent of the wheat grown in Kansas is hard red winter (HRW). In fact, Kansas farmers grow more HRW wheat than any other state.

With high protein and strong gluten, HRW wheat is ideal for yeast bread and rolls. But, this versatile class is also used in flat breads, tortillas, cereal, general purpose flour and Asian-style noodles.

Hard White (HW)

About three percent of wheat grown by Kansas farmers is hard white (HW) wheat. This class is grown primarily under contract.

HW wheat is used for whole wheat white flour, due to its naturally milder, sweeter flavor. Bakers also use HW wheat in pan breads, tortillas, flat breads and Asian-style noodles.

Soft Red Winter (SRW)

Less than 1 percent of the wheat planted by Kansas wheat farmers is soft red winter (SRW). Farmers east of the Mississippi River often double crop SRW wheat with soybeans.

Soft wheats have lower protein and less gluten strength. This makes SRW ideally suited for cookies, crackers, pastries, flat breads and pretzels. SRW wheat is even used in Maker’s Mark and Twizzlers.

Soft White (SW)

Pacific Northwest farmers grow primarily soft white (SW) wheat – both winter and spring varieties. SW wheat has two sub-classes. Club wheat has very weak gluten and western white is a blend of club and SW.

SW wheat has low moisture, but high extraction rates. With a naturally whiter color, SW wheat is used for Asian-style bakery products, cakes and pastries. Fun fact, Triscuits refer to SW as the “cashmere” of wheats.

Hard Red Spring (HRS)

Northern plains farmers require a shorter season crop wheat crop. Hard red spring (HRS) wheat is planted in early spring, rather than the fall, and does not vernalize or go dormant over the winter.

HRS wheat has high protein and strong gluten, perfect for artisan breads and rolls, croissants, bagels and pizza crust. Internationally, HRS is often blended with domestic wheats supplies to improve the strength of a flour blend.

Durum

Durum is the hardest of all six wheat classes, produced in two areas of the United States. The northern plains grows hard amber durum, while the desert southwest (Arizona, California) grows Desert Durum® under irrigation.

With a rich amber color and high gluten content, durum wheat is used primarily for pasta, couscous and some Mediterranean breads.

By Julia Debes

Wheat classes

Faith, Family, Farm

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