Food, Community And All Things Sustainable

August 30, 2011

Cultural Event

Here's a reposing of an article written in 2008 and posted on another of my blogs.  Made me smile when I read it, so I want to share it...again. Links to photos have been removed as they were sadly outdated and I have no other photos to post.

Wow! What an incredible day at the local farmers and artisans market - just imagine one of the largest farmers markets in the area coupled with a car show! Two dynamite events.

My friend J, a Hmong man who came to this area as a teenaged refugee over 20 years ago, sells egg rolls in the booth next to ours. He was surprised to see the turn out at the car show and asked me if I knew the anticipated attendance. I was surprised to hear him use the word "anticipated". I was unaware he knew the word - obviously his English skills have improved greatly in the past few years. So, we chatted about the anticipated attendance, and then he asked what is the purpose of this "car show" gathering?

I stumbled around just a bit trying to explain just what is a car show. J wanted to know if there was a money prize for the best car. At Hmong festivals there is frequently a cash prize for the best soccer team, or badminton team or dance team. He seemed puzzled when I told him no cash prize at this event.

Well, I thought I'd try to explain why the car show was such a big deal that hundreds of classic cars would show up along with thousands of admirers. So I pointed out a 60-something year-old lady who was dressed as a bobby soxer - hair in a pony tail held in place by the folded scarf, white shirt - untucked, of course, blue jeans rolled up into big cuffs, white socks and tennies. I said - that's how she would have dressed as a teenager in 1957 - and that car she's standing next to would have been a popular car in 1957. Ah, J said, nodding that now I get it head-nod. He said, "This is a cultural event - you are showing your children how you used to live."

Ah, yes. Although I've never quite heard of a car show referred to in that manner, J did indeed get it right - it's a .....cultural event

Freezing Tomatoes

Freezing is an easy way to preserve tomatoes, and it takes much less time than canning tomatoes. There is no need to blanch or remove the skin before freezing.

Frozen tomatoes retain their fresh picked flavor, and make a tasty ingredient in any recipe calling for tomatoes - tomato sauce, marina sauce, soups and stews.

For best results use vacuum seal bags, plastic bags or rigid plastic containers designed for use in the freezer. 

Knife – used to remove core and any bad spots
Cookie sheet
Freezer safe containers

Fresh tomatoes

  • Wash tomatoes.
  • Remove the core and cut out any bad spots.
  • Place tomatoes on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to freeze. Note: Taking this step will prevent tomatoes from sticking to one another, making it easier to use just one or two tomatoes rather than having to thaw a block of frozen stuck-together tomatoes.
  • Remove tomatoes from freezer.
  • Insert into freezer safe container.
  • Return to freezer.

How to remove skin from frozen tomatoes:
  • Remove desired number of tomatoes from the freezer.
  • Place the tomatoes in a bowl of cold water.
  • Allow to sit for up to 5 minutes – the skin will begin to crack.
  • Use a knife or your fingers to remove the skins.

August 29, 2011

Freezing Beans - Green, Wax and Snap

A quick and easy way to preserve beans is by freezing.  A few easy steps can make it possible for your family to enjoy beans throughout the winter months. Use fresh picked beans from your garden or the local farmers market.

For best results use vacuum seal bags, plastic bags or rigid plastic containers designed for use in the freezer.  Package according to your family’s needs: pint bags or containers hold 2 cups, quarts hold 4 cups.

The beans should be blanched and cooled before freezing. Lacking a blancher, use a kettle.
A handy chart provided by National Center for Home Food Preservation shows blanching times for various vegetables.

If you are new to blanching or need a refresher, read Blanching How-To

Freezing Beans

Large bowl of cold water
Freezer safe containers
Sharp knife for cutting beans to length

Fresh picked beans

  • Wash and drain beans.
  • Remove stem end and the little “tail” at the opposite end with a sharp knife, or by snapping them off with your fingers.
  • Cut or snap the beans into 1” or 2” pieces.
  • Blanch for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from blancher and put into bowl of cold water.
  • Drain and put into freezer container.
  • Put containers in the freezer.

Canning Action

With help from Tyra, Alysha and Alex, WOOFers at Muddy Pumpkin Farms, this is what went into jars in a five hour period. The final shot is short a few jars. One batch in the canner, and another waiting to go in. Hal and Mark were kept busy bring stuff in and checking on us.

We're going to call it a good day's work.

August 27, 2011

Farmers Market Action

Action at the farmers market. Particularly like that Bijou Hills Grassfed Meats posts their Mission Statement for all to see. Watch for LeAnn Werner of Muddy Pumpkin Farm showing off a double goldie heirloom tomato - 3.5 pounds - and a "pinocchio" eggplant. Happy Hydros' "Buy Fresh Buy Local" signage is almost as awesome as their hydroponic produce!

August 26, 2011

Sauted Green Beans

Serves four. A new way to serve an old standard - green beans. Easy and delicious gourmet cooking right at home.

Blancher or kettle
Bowl of cold water to cool green beans after blanching
Saute pan

One-half pound fresh green beans (two good handfuls)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Sea salt

  • Blanch beans for 2 minutes 
  • (Lacking a blancher: Put enough water in a kettle so that it will cover the beans. Put on medium heat and bring to boil. Add beans and blanch for 2 minutes.)
  • Remove beans from water and put into cold water.
  • Drain beans.
  • Place saute pan on medium heat.
  • Add olive oil and garlic.
  • When oil is warm, add beans.
  • Saute, stirring frequently, until beans are crisp-tender, about 5 - 7 minutes.
  • Add bread crumbs,stir and saute an additional 30 seconds.
  • Plate up and enjoy!

Fresh Corn Salsa

Four ingredients, all fresh from the garden or the local farmers' market.

A sharp knife for removing corn kernels from the cob
Kettle for par boiling corn
Tongs for removing corn from kettle
Pan of cold water for cooling down corn after par boiling

2 cobs of corn
4 medium sized heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 medium sized purple onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
Sea salt (optional)

  • Husk corn and remove silk
  • Place a plan of water on medium high heat and bring to a boil
  • Carefully place corn in boiling water, using tongs
    Par boil corn for 2 - 3 minutes
  • Remove corn from boiling water and place in cold water to stop the cooking process
  • When cool enough to handle, use sharp knife to remove corn from cob
  • Place corn kernels in a bowl
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Mix
  • Enjoy!

August 25, 2011


Nothing says summer fresh garden like Gazpacho, a cold Spanish soup of garden fresh vegetables and bread.
A few ingredients fresh from the garden or farmers market, a bit of peeling and chopping and there you have it...gazpacho.

Food processor or a sharp chef's knife to finely chop all ingredients

1 cucumber
6 red and yellow tomatoes
3 red and yellow peppers
2 garlic cloves
1 medium purple onion
1 small bunch cilantro
Sea salt

  • Peel, seed and chop cucumber
  • Peel, seed and chop tomatoes
  • Peel and smash the garlic
  • Pick over the cilantro to remove any damaged or dead leaves. Use only leaves, reserve stems for another recipe.
  • Put all items into food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached.
Pour into glass and enjoy. Store is covered glass jar in refrigerator. Eat within a day or two.
Gazpacho by the quart

August 24, 2011


Over run with pear or cherry tomatoes? 

Make tomato marmalade.  

What does one do with tomato marmalade? Spread it on toasted herb bread, or place a dab atop a slice of goat cheese on a cracker, or use as a condiment for a beef sandwich.  So goood......

Tomato marmalade can be simple – tomatoes and sugar boiled together until thick.  Herbs, such as rosemary, oregano or thyme can be added, and will enhance the flavor.

The formula:
  • For every pound of tomatoes, use a pound of sugar.
  • For every pound of sugar, use ½ cup water.
  • For every pound of tomatoes, use one bunch of herbs, ¼ cup or more, optional.
  • Yield: 1 half-pint jar for every pint or .75 pounds of pear or cherry tomatoes.  
  • One pint of tomatoes equals .75 pounds.
  • One pound of sugar equals 2.25 cups.

Yield: 4 half-pint jars

Kettle for cooking marmalade
Canner with jar rack and lid
4 sterilized half-pint jars with lids and bands
Jar lifter
Magnetized lid lifter
Small kettle for preparing hot lids

Herbs, optional
4 pints or 3 pounds pear or cherry tomatoes
3 pounds or 6.75 cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
Sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar, optional

    • Wash tomatoes and remove stems.
    • Remove dead leaves from herbs, wash.
    • Put water, sugar and herbs (optional) into the kettle.
    • Put kettle on medium heat and stir to keep sugar from sticking.
    • Bring mixture to boil and boil for 1 minute.
    • Add tomatoes.
    • Leave lid off and do not stir.
    • Allow mixture to simmer, without stirring. The liquid will become clear as the tomatoes begin to sweat out their juice.
    • Cook until thick. Decreasing heat if necessary.
    • When the mixture begins to carmelize – taking on a brownish color - add a splash of sherry vinegar and stir.
    • Ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving ½” head space.
    • Wipe the rim with a clean damp cloth.
    • Apply a hot lid and band.
    • Using a jar lifter, put jars into a boiling water bath canner.
    • Process in a boiling water bath: 10 minutes for half-pints.
    • Using a jar lifter, remove jars from canner and place atop a towel in a draft free area.
    • Listen for the ‘ping’ that indicates the jar is sealed.
    • When cool, press on the center of the lid to check for a seal – lid will be concave and have no “give.”
    • Remove band and reuse. 
    • Wipe jar and store in pantry.

    If you are new to canning or need a refresher, check out these articles on Sustainable Dakota Digest:

    Home Canning: How to Get Started

    First learned about tomato marmalade at Culiblog. Have been a fan ever since.

    August 20, 2011


    Another good day at the farmers market with Muddy Pumpkin Farm touting the benefits of beyond organic, food as community and food as a connector.

    August 18, 2011


    One of the demonstrations at the farmers market last week was constructing a rain barrel from a plastic garbage can.  Amy zipped through it so fast that I was not able to get down there to take photos - we had a gaggle of customers to take care of at that very moment.

    So Amy stopped over at our booth to show off the newly constructed rain barrel.  She says she hangs out at the market on Saturday because it's a really cool place to be. She is right!


    The foray to the farmers market on Saturday was incredible on many levels.

    Plenty of vendors, good product, live-radio broadcasts, sustainable demos - canning and rain barrels, and a totally festive atmosphere.

    One customer brought over a sample of kale chips she made with kale purchased the week before.

    Delicious!  And she shared the recipe she adapted.

    Sorry, no photos.  Too busy making and enjoying kale chips.

    Kale Chips

    Amazingly these kale chips taste as if they are sprinkled with cheese.  Yet, cheese is not an ingredient.

    1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
    1 or 2 bunches curly kale
    1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours
    1 large tomato, seeds removed
    Juice of 1 large lemon
    1/3 cup nutritional or brewer’s yeast
    Sea salt and pepper to taste

    1.       Remove stems from kale and use in another recipe.
    2.       Tear kale into bite size pieces.
    3.       Rinse to remove any dirt and spin dry in a salad spinner.
    4.       In a food processor, process cashews and lemon juice into a paste.
    5.       Add the red bell pepper, yeast, salt and pepper
    6.       Process until smooth.
    7.       Place kale pieces and half of the mixture in a large bowl.
    8.       Massage the mixture into the kale pieces – massage each leaf individually.
    9.       Add more of the mixture as needed.
    10.    Place kale pieces on dehydrator trays being careful to not overlap pieces.
    11.    Dehydrate at 110 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 6 hours.
    12.    Store in air tight container.

    Adapted by Beth J

    August 17, 2011

    Canning extravaganza as community building

    Canning extravaganza and the building of a community.

    That sounds like a good title for an article on the value of creating good food and sharing that with a community of willing learners. The article is coming, the photos are here.

    August 13, 2011

    Mitchell Farmers Market - National Farmers Market Day

    The Mitchell Farmers Market continues to grow and expand. It celebrated National Farmers Market Day with live radio broadcasts, demonstrations and plenty of vendor action. Here's some shots. Sorry, too busy at the height of the market to get any good crowd shots. Believe me there were crowds today.

    August 12, 2011

    Vacation Bible School

    Trinity Lutheran and United Church of Christ, Chamberlain, SD. Performance at Trinity Lutheran, followed by an ice cream social.  A total energy night!

    Apologies for the dark shots - camera was not on its best behavior. And then the photographer was too busy eating ice cream to get a good shot of the room packed with fellow ice cream eaters.

    Farmers Market

    Chamberlain, SD - wonderful produce, meats, and baked goods. End of market day shots.

    Bent Spatula
    Happy Hydros, LLC
    Platte Hutterite Colony
    Bijou Hills Grass Fed Meat (Larry Wagner)
    Muddy Pumpkin Farms