Tag Archives: local food economy

Size Matters

Gas ranges and stack ovens in main cooking work area, GIA Kitchen (my photo).

Main cooking work area (my photo). Ranges are on the right side.

Big prep area with sinks, facing ‘cooking area’. This is one of 3 separate prep rooms. (my photo)

JUST CHECK OUT those XXL gas ranges at my new digs, GIA Kitchen, the “incubator” kitchen in St Paul.  Talk about sexy, spacious, stainless steel heaven!  Doesn’t this make you home cooks drool?  All that counter space makes me swoon.

And, this is only one of THREE prep rooms, one of which is designated gluten-free. Yes, more counters and sinks. Can you stand it?  I’m even not including photos of the various walk-in freezers and coolers.

This is what I’ve been dreaming about. Now I’ll be able to handle more delivery & catering clients! And, hopefully, I can start offering cooking classes here next year!

Fellow tenants at GIA Kitchen at GIA Food Fair Nov 2: the artisanal toffee man and Kathy of Brody’s 569 Gluten-free muffins (my photo).

Mark your calendars! GIA Kitchen is holding another HOLIDAY FOOD FAIR on SUN DEC 2, 2pm – 5pm.  It’s a great opportunity to sample tasty treats from local food entrepreneurs as well as see this facility for yourself. We’ll be offering Special Holiday Sales, too. One whole room will feature Gluten-Free products!  

Please see Nov 5 post “Incubating Good Food” for more photos of me and other fellow food entrepreneurs at GIA’s first Food Fair on Nov 2, 2012.

I’ve posted a few more photos of the kitchen on my Facebook page — go to www.facebook.com/pages/One-Dish-at-A-Time  — “Like” and Share!  I post news, pics and cooking tips daily.


Transforming school lunch

Not your father’s lunch line. Photo from iatp.org; used under creative commons license from USDAgov.

Gov Dayton has proclaimed September as official Farm to School Month in MN! Paraphrasing the IATP blog (Institute of Agricultural Trade Policy): “Farm to School initiatives link school-age children with local foods and the farmers who produced them. At 145 school districts serving two-thirds of Minnesota’s K-12 students, students are learning where their food comes from, trying fresh foods they haven’t eaten before and learning to grow food in school gardens.”  Read the press release here.


IATP created a terrific video of a Farm-to-School project in Arlington MN “Sibley East High School: Growing a Better School Lunch” which includes comments by student farmers and the Lunch Ladies who’ve learned to use fresh produce for lunch and also freeze the bounty for later.

 It’s a wonderful year with all our fresh fruits & vegetables… Our students here really really like it. Yes it is more work but when you see the faces of the students — “oh is this from the garden?! — and [the news] goes down the line… So they give really good feedback.

I enjoy eating the food we grow cuz it’s like we’re getting back all the effort we put into it, says a senior.

Students, and probably adults too, are “trying fresh foods they haven’t eaten before” — now that is what I like to hear! Very cool things are happening all over MN. TONS of info, resources & tool-kits on Farm2Schoolmn.org.

Nice job, St Paul Public Schools! from School Food Focus.

Another great resource organization: School Food FOCUS (transforming Food Options for Children in Urban Schools).

And, UK chef Jamie Oliver’s infamous attack on unhealthful food served in public schools and his resulting Foundation.


Field Trip to Strauss Farm

Unistar campers on a tour of hoop-house led by Anton Strauss. They’re looking at eggplants; tomato vines are behind and peppers on the sides.

My cooking lesson week at Camp Unistar were wholly based on which seasonal veggies were being supplied by the camp’s local source, a Mennonite farmer, Ivan Strauss. He had a good selection; it was interesting to note differences between what grows well in northern MN and in south-central Twin Cities. All week long, we were utterly spoiled by the quality of his super-fresh beauties. Seriously terrific veggies, including the best tomatoes some of us had ever tasted.

We were fortunate to be able to visit the source. Mary Ellen, the camp’s Food Service Director, organized a field trip to the Strauss farm west of Bemidji. Mary Ellen has been cultivating a relationship with Ivan for several years and now orders most of the camp’s vegetables from him.

Bountiful vines, clipped to vertical & horizontal wires with pulleys so you can let down each vine to harvest, then pull it back up. No ladders!

This family is old-order Mennonite, so they’re off the electrical grid and don’t drive motor vehicles. All farm operations are done by horse, gasoline, solar and lots of human power supplied by Ivan, his wife and the older of their 5 sons and 4 daughters, who range from age 21 to 3. A few of the boys were our tour guides around the fields and hoop-houses. They were harvesting tomatoes in the hoop-houses, wearing the Mennonites’ signature hats and woolen britches.

Everything is harvested by hand. We learned it takes 3 draft horses to pull the potato harvester, with a person or two behind to pick up the potatoes. Mary Ellen raved about their Yukon Golds.

Besides their rapidly expanding vegetable business, the Strauss family also raises hogs, Siberian Husky pups and makes hand-made wooden patio furniture.

Following this field trip, I was hoping to squeeze in a discussion about supporting local food economies and sustainable farming methods, but it didn’t happen. Next time!

Crocus but not Asparagus

Okay, Okay, spring is here. I have stopped resisting it. Unfortunately, that does not mean spring vegetables are here in Zone 4, despite how it feels like they should. Besides, as my clients know, I do not include ‘spring’ veggies in DDoW menus until they are more abundant (and cheaper) at local farmers’  markets. Perhaps May will be the new June? For the time being, we’re relegated to eating veggies from far away, and you’ll still see ‘winter’ veg in DDoW menus.
Catering clients, on the other hand, will see more “springy” food choices from me. Why? Because in smaller quantities these more expensive ingredients are feasible. Speaking of catering, I am getting spring & summer bookings for fundraisers and parties (graduations, showers, weddings, anniversaries et al). If you’re thinking of hosting a gathering and would like to explore the possibility of having it catered, do contact me!  I do partial and full catering. Just think of how nice it would be if you didn’t have to spend 2 days shopping, prepping, and dealing with the aftermath!
This photo shows a lovely dinner I catered last year. FYI, I am working on a new Catering page (finally) with sample menus and service descriptions. But in the meantime, just email me.
Meal of braised chicken with peppers & capers, brown rice, beet lentil salad

A flavor-filled dinner: tossed salad with carrot/jicama/radish/grapefruit, braised chicken in capers peppers & wine, brown & wild rice, roast beet & lentil salad in balsamic vinagrette; and lemon poppyseed pound cake with strawberries.

Alert: DDoW is taking spring break the first week of April.  No deliveries. 

Firecracker Slaw: the prettiest slaw you've EVER seen!

Other Events & News: 
  • In my “Aunty Oxidant” cabbage hat, I handed out lots of “Firecracker Slaw Shooters” (beets & carrots in smoky chipotle vinaigrette) this past Thu at the League of Women Voters’ Healthy Legacy Forum “Growing Our Local Food Economy”, and met lots of cool folks. As usual, mine was the only superfood on the plate but that’s partly because I bypassed the ‘finger-food’ suggestion and made a salad instead. Hence, the ‘slaw shooters’ in little sample cups. 


  • This week I’m teaching a class for residents of Next Step Housing, run by Ascension Place transitional housing for women based in North Mpls. We’ll make easy healthful foods that stretch the budget!
  • For Earth Day I’ll be heading a team of volunteer sous-chefs to make lots of fresh healthful chopped salads for an event titled “Harvesting Justice”, which will focus on the links between our food economy and immigration i.e. migrant workers. 
For more newsflashes about my catering, teaching & demo activities plus food/ nutrition/ sustainability issues & opinions, check out www.facebook.com/pages/One-Dish-at-A-Time/ or follow me on Twitter @onedishatatime. I don’t tweet often so rest assured. :^)