Lagging Spring

Spring in Town

The country ever has a lagging Spring,
Waiting for May to call its violets forth,
And June its roses–showers and sunshine bring,
Slowly, the deepening verdure o’er the earth;
To put their foliage out, the woods are slack,
And one by one the singing-birds come back…

William Cullen Bryant

 

This is yesterday’s deepening verdure. The winter rye is greening in front of the barn, tree buds are beginning to push forward and it is not only Juncos to the feeder.

IMG_1181

BUT, Mother Nature has halted the verdant splendor and given us a more muted palate. Somehow, more quiet and composed.

IMG_1195

Spring is most surely lagging in this northern state.

IMG_1196

 

 

 

First Seasons at the Farm

EARLY SUMMER

When we closed on the place the end of June, the burdock and thistle were already about four feet tall. By the time we mowed the horse paddock and hill in August, the burdock was well over ten feet tall. Needless to say, we have a lot of weeds we’ll have to convince to take up residency elsewhere. Since I have already learned that trying to master these buggers is next to impossible, I am convinced that green manures, permaculture and any other way to strengthen the soil is what we’ll be trying.

IMG_0689

If our plans are to use the land to grow food, we felt that we had to see what we had so we could start planning. With the incredible weed bed, we could barely see the barns from the house, and as summer progressed, it felt that the ravine moved increasingly towards the house. We have 15 acres that started to feel like a large suburban lot.

MIDSUMMER

IMG_0688

Max used the lawn tractor to mow a trail down to the barn and then on to the ravine so we could explore the woods. With a few trails, we could at least see what we had and get out for a walk. With all the work on the house it wasn’t until Fall that we were able to GPS our property line to see what exactly was ours. It turns out that about eight acres are heavily wooded and seven are somewhat open – “tillable” as they say!

IMG_0682

LATE SUMMER

In August, we finally realized we needed to address the thistle and burr. Much of the land had been horse pasture in the past, and the burdock had taken over. Beautiful purple thistle, milkweed and wildflowers grow in abundance where the original dairy barn once stood. One of the stories we learned this summer from a neighbor is that there once was an old barn that caved in and then was burned by the couple that bought the place in the 80s. Indeed, Jeff found foundation rubble when he and our neighbor finally cleared the land. In clearing the land we also uncovered quite a lot of wire, semi-buried tools and rusted metal. At the edge of the ravine we found the junk pile with a hood from a 1940s Chevy truck.

IMG_0814

Here you can see the tufts of thistle well past the beautiful purple flower stage and well into the annoy-the-neighbor-farmer stage!

IMG_0818

Unfortunately, finding time to clear the land didn’t come until the dry weather had also moved in, so our farm looked like it had a hiney for awhile. The short grass quickly dried to brown and I was sad to see the butterflies and birds move out temporarily. It really was quite shocking to see the flat barren land that had looked so menacing and overgrown.

In addition to junk in the pasture where farm machinery had once been stored we also uncovered a small garden plot with chives, asparagus, and raspberries. These asparagus were taken too late in the season for those who know better, but we just couldn’t resist.

IMG_0810

This garden wasn’t so hard to see next to the house, but amazing how overgrown! In the city, my mulched perennial beds wake in the Spring with not a weed to be seen. Here, I was surprised to find landscape fabric and mulch under the weeds! We pulled and dug until the bed was cleared of crab and quack and then laid another six inches (at least) of mulch. Within two days, grass was popping up here and there. From this experience, I know the “weeds” will win. I have to search for another way to garden – to live harmoniously with the weeds or convince them to locate elsewhere!

IMG_0716

IMG_0799

This is our quiet road with corn beginning to tassle. My grandfather painted a similar picture back in the 40s and I have always called it, “The Road to Nowhere.” Now I have my own road like in the picture, and I know where it goes! I’ve never appreciated this painting like I do now.

IMG_0797

 AUTUMN

IMG_0929

Autumn was glorious here. The light and colors were so vibrant and energizing – perhaps the first Fall that didn’t feel depressing to me!

IMG_0928

IMG_0880

LATE AUTUMN

IMG_0954

This is the riding arena I mentioned in a previous post. We had no idea what the large bushes were that circled the space, or what secrets lay inside this area behind the garage. It was completely overgrown with poplars, wild blackberry and tall grass. Jeff and Max enjoyed many days of clearing and hauling the scraps to the burn pile. The brush pile had grown to the size of four large elephants and we were excited to have a BIG bonfire in December to celebrate the solstice.

*Since burning the brush pile, I have learned much about Permaculture and see now how the brush could have been used in raised bed berms. Fortunately, finding brush, fallen limbs and logs is not a problem on this property!

IMG_0962

 WINTER

IMG_1071

Our farmer neighbor has a “skidster” and helped with the burning by first plowing a path and then pushing the pile together over the course of a couple of days. We enjoyed many days around the fire the end of December. In fact, we were surprised that the pile burned for two months! The end of February we still saw tendrils of smoke spewing up from the crater. Now we have a small pile of dirt and ash we’ll take down to the edge of the ravine to bury.

IMG_1068

Winter weather was amazing to watch from the huge kitchen windows. We had many days of frost covered trees, drifting and blowing snow from the north and many bright, crisp sunny days. Winter is not the same from the city!

IMG_1075

SPRING

This shot was taken yesterday (4/2/14) . Most of our snow is gone, the winter rye is greening near the barn and many of the trees and bushes have their first burgeoning buds. Today we expect four to six inches of snow, so I’ll have to push my dreams of gardening to rest for a few more days!

IMG_1172

FARM FUN

IMG_1171As many of you know, my husband is an avid biker. He loves the road bike, but one of his main priorities for our ravine is to establish a mountain bike trail system. He started last fall to mark the trail and even began to clear a bit. This project will not only give us access to the woods, but will help open the canopy to provide light for the cultivation of our sugar bush. There are lots of little maples out there and we hope to one day tap for syrup. My mom made this wall art for Jeff’s garage. I think she intended it as a trellis, but we felt it needed an unobstructed view. This is the view from the farm road, in fact. We may have just “branded” ourselves!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Farmhouse Revised

To make sure the full impact is felt, make sure you look at yesterday’s post about buying  a farm. In that post you will find the “Before” pictures. We began this project nine months ago, and while much of the house project is “done” there is quite  a bit of fine-tuning left to work on. Of course, the acreage and outbuildings will keep us very busy for years to come!

We’ve lived in the city for many years with turn-of-the-century oak woodwork, and while beautiful, it is very dark. I’ve been craving light for years, so am thrilled to have been able to highlight the incredible light of the farm. We added windows to both enhance the view as well as to open the house even more to light.

For the interior I chose a monochromatic white color scheme to keep it fresh and clean feeling. Walls, ceilings, floors and trim are all the same white. For dimension, I was strongly influenced by the concept of “farmhouse coastal.” I added beachy splashes with a sea-foam marble for the wood stove heat wall, painted the office ceiling, crown molding and stairs a turquoise blue and have lots of sand colors resonating throughout the fabrics and fixtures.

I also wanted to add a bit of “farmhouse” especially as the house has two large barn wood beams to remind us of the old-timers who hand-sawed the huge timbers that once covered this land. My darling husband was commissioned to create beds, fridge panels, a stove hood and farm table to help the house celebrate its roots! Our laundry, bathroom and mudroom will eventually look like a tack room complete with a sliding barn door. That will be our next project. To complete, in fact, will be a screen porch, a covered porch that will become a solarium and the renovation of the bathrooms.

In terms of interior design, the space is minimally filled. I have yet to decide about window treatments, additional furniture and other objects of interest. I figure I have lots of time to find interesting pieces to fill the space. I’d rather have things I love and that are “perfect” than just fill the space for the sake of it.

Click on the first picture to see the gallery in a larger format. It may take a moment to load.

 

 

Vegetarian Perspective and the New Farm

We bought a farm!

This is actually old news, but I’m finally getting around to share this with the world. First let me introduce you to the country getaway-renovation project-to keep me busy-house! 15 acres and a few outbuildings is definitely a foodie fantasy, of course the incredible views were highly motivating, but the light and potential of the farmhouse are ultimately what sold me. To the west, huge windows look across a ravine to the neighboring farms on the ridge, to the east we have five-mile views of the Lake Pepin and Rush River Valleys and the whole place is surrounded by the pastoral rolling hills of this “Driftless” area of Western Wisconsin. Our place sits on a hill with ample windows to the west and south allowing for flooding sunlight throughout the day. In the city, rays from the sun are blocked by our neighbor’s two and a half story homes and close proximity.

House Day of Closing

The house

View of Neighbor

Our neighbor to the south

Well House and Ravine

The overgrown hill looking out to the ravine

Our Road and Views

View of Lake Pepin and Rush River valleys

While the stinkiest house we have ever renovated, I could immediately see the potential. The house was originally built by a homesteading family in the late 1880s or early 1890s. It stayed in that family until 1986 when it was sold to a young couple. They set to renovate the place with new windows, an open floor plan and new paint, carpet and other basics. In 2003-4, after divorcing, the woman decided to make some big changes to the house by building an addition that would accommodate two new bathrooms, a mudroom and a laundry room. Unfortunately, she fell on hard times, many projects were left unfinished and eventually she lost the home to foreclosure. We were the purchasers.

While we feel extremely grateful for what we have acquired, it is hard to think about the previous owner and her dreams for this place. One day last summer she tentatively stopped in to introduce herself. She was very emotional, but shared her story with us which ultimately gave us a deeper appreciation for the land and the home. We learned that she loved animals and had a couple of horses. She even created a riding arena behind the garage with highbush cranberry. The bushes are 14-16 feet tall now and form a perfect rectangular arena. Poplar seedlings had overpopulated the space, but once Jeff cleared them out, the arena became obvious. If she hadn’t told us about that space and it’s purpose, we may never have discovered it. After the horses died, the land went fallow, burr, thistle and other perennial weeds took over, so we’ve had our hands full with clearing, and I anticipate many years of maintenance and management.

South View

South side with perennial bed

House Day of Closing

Southwest view

North Exterior

North side addition

West Exterior

West side view

These pictures were taken the end of June on the day we closed. I was thrilled to find lots of perennial flowers, flowering bushes and fruit trees. It was obvious that somebody loved gardening as much as I do. However, the gardens and plants were nearly impossible to see for the invasive grasses that have taken over the beds. The farm seemed so overgrown that we thought it had been abandoned for many years. We were surprised to find that the previous owner had only moved in February, and now understand how pernacious these country weeds truly are!

Peonies Buried in the Crab Grass

Peonies in the grass

Hosta and Roses

Hosta and Roses

Pink Peonies

White Peonies

White Peonies

Light Pink and Yellow Peonies

Weigela and Highbush Cranberry Mess

Weigela and highbush cranberry

 

Mock Orange

Mock orange

Yew, Hosta, Spirea and Smokebush

Yew, hosta, spirea, smokebush

Maple Baby

Sour Cherry

Iris and Crabgrass

Iris

Everyone asks if we’ll have animals or grow crops, but what we’re going to do with it is yet to be seen. We have lots of ideas and tons of ambition so anything seems possible. What we do know is that we have 15 acres to renovate, rebuild and restore. We closed last June with the intention of renovating the house as a country getaway. While others would have dug into the land right away, it was more important to me to first create a peaceful and relaxing space. Here are the before pictures:

Kitchen to Livingroom - Day of Closing

Looking into the living room from the kitchen

Kitchen Cabinet

The old kitchen cabinet – I save this for later!

Window to Porch from Kitchen

Old window looking out to porch

Window to Addition - now removed

Blocked off window never removed after north side addition added

Heat Vents and Beadboard Ceiling

Main floor has beadboard ceilings and heat vents

Wood Stove Pad and Wall

Wood stove pad and heat-tiled wall

Large Timber Beam

Large timber beam between kitchen and living room

Office to Livingroom View

Main floor room to become office

Office - Day of Closing

Another view of the office where the desk will go

Beam and Looking to Kitchen

View of beam looking into kitchen

Master Bath Doorway

Master bath doorway

 

Master Bedroom

Master bedroom

A Good Reminder When All Runs Off Electricity Here

A good reminder!

Lofted Space to be Bedroom

Lofted space to become bedroom

Loft and Stairs

Loft and stairs

Stairs and Exit Sign

Stairs and exit sign

Six-Inch Pine in Master

Six-inch pine original to master bedroom

Master Bath and Bedroom

Master bath and bedroom

Master Closet and View to Loft

Master has double closets!

Office and Wallpaper

Main floor plaster never finished – this is future office with wallpaper

Original Fir Floors

Main floor has fir floors

New Windows and Victorian Trim

New windows and Victorian trim

Bottom of Stairs & Fir Under Living room Carpet

Bottom stairs show fir under living room carpet

Two Steffes Units Heat in Winter

Laundry room and mud room addition heated with Steffes electric units

Laundry Room, Bathroom and Closet Addition

Mudroom closet in addition

Laundry Room

Laundry hook-up

Main Floor Bath

Main floor bath

Vent for Electric Basement Furnace

Vent for electric basement furnace

Kitchen Sink and Bay Window

Double sink – maybe move to summer barn kitchen?

Porch Door to Kitchen

Porch door to kitchen

Workbench and Kitchen Window

Workbench, window and door to kitchen

Porch Door to Yard

Porch door to yard

In addition to a lovely house, we have a few choice outbuildings that one day will gleam and shine. Right now they are rather battered and bruised.

Garage

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

ImageI’m excited to post the “after” pictures of all our projects. We’ve been here for just over 9 months and have accomplished quite a bit. In addition to renovating much of the house, we have started seedlings for a summer garden, have plans to trench the electric lines, we will finish off the deck and screen porch we started last summer, start a colony of bees, and begin plans for a large-scale permaculture farm. This summer my challenge will be to find a way to live harmoniously with the weeds!

May is Salad Month! Aparagus Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

photo(20)

Did you know that today is not only Cinco de Mayo, but it is also Cartoonist Day, Childhood Stroke Awareness Day, Oyster Day and Chocolate Custard Day? Tomorrow is National Crepe Suzette Day, Nurse’s Day, No Diet Day and No Homework Day! If you were wondering why everyone went around with Princess Leia earmuff buns yesterday, it’s because it was Intergalactic Star Wars Day! This is really important stuff to know. With the lists at http://www.checkiday.com/ I will finally have a purpose, a focus and a guiding light for each day of my life!

Salad month for me is actually SALAD YEAR. I eat salad everyday. Sometimes my salad is interesting, but often it’s just a handful or two or the various greens from the fridge topped with nuts, fruit and other veggies. One thing is it is always delicious.

We have nothing green yet in Minnesota, but thank goodness for spring in nearby places – eh hum – California and Mexico. If I were posting locally grown fare today, I’d have to serve last year’s applesauce, canned tomatoes or frozen pesto. Longing for green and fresh, I opted for the spring flavors of asparagus and mint. This is a light and fresh salad with a surprise layer of flavors. Perhaps I’ll use the Salad Month idea to inspire more interesting salads!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 head read leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, steamed
  • 1 handful mint leaves, thinly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped white onion

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Chop and steam the asparagus for 2 minutes. It should be bright green and crisp. Chop the lettuce, mint, red peppers and onion. Mix the mint with the lettuce in a serving bowl. Top with the peppers, asparagus and onion.

Mix all ingredients for dressing in a blender until well mixed. I always taste to see if it needs more salt, oil or vinegar.

Energy Bars

photo(3)

I’m not sure that any of us really need any more energy, in the sense of calories, in our lives! The calorie is easy to find around these parts, but it is nice to have a treat now and then. I’ve been making way too many of these, so trust me, if you want to put on weight, this is what you should eat. These are very densely packed calorie bombs that will surely keep you moving if you know what’s good for you! This would be a great snack to carry with the road bike crew or mega run in prep for a marathon. Of course, a bite or two for your average teacher is a good thing too! These are stored in the freezer and best to eat when frozen.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Coconut Banana

  • 2 cups Medjool dates
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut

Chocolate Cherry

  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 2 cups dried cherries
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • pinch of sea salt

Apricot Orange

  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 1 cup dried pineapple
  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 mandarine oranges zested and juiced
  • a pinch of sea salt

Lemon Coconut

  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 1 cup dried pineapple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • a pinch of sea salt

Orange Cinnamon Chocolate Apricot

  • 2 1/2 cups dried apricot
  • 2 cups Medjool dates
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sprouted and dried buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 cup dried pineapple
  • 2 clementines zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions: Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together. If the mixture is too dry, add more dates or a dash of water. Pour the mixture onto parchment paper to form a flattened square. A pastry blade is helpful to shape the edges. Wrap in parchment and place in a baking pan in the freezer. When frozen cut into one-inch cubes and store in the freezer.

Green Smoothies

DSCN4114

Wow, I’ve come a long way since I began this food blog! I started it with the idea that I would review restaurants from the “vegetarian perspective,” but that was frustrating, so I decided to start posting recipes. That was really fun, but after cooking and eating lots of rich food, I realized I couldn’t live that way forever. My pants got tighter and I felt miserable. Then I watched the movie, I’m Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and knew that my problem was food. I immediately went on a juice fast and my life changed overnight. After the fast I began to eat smoothies and salads and mostly follow a raw food diet. It has been the best thing for me. I lost 20 pounds and I feel great…but I don’t cook anymore. My family eats a gigantic salad every night for dinner and I drink juice and smoothies for breakfast and lunch. I snack on almonds, walnuts and fruit if I get hungry. Every now and then I will have a sprouted grain sandwich or wrap, perhaps a bowl of soup or a sautéed vegetable mix with quinoa or brown rice. But, I basically try to limit my intake of grains to one or two servings per week. I’m not totally converted, however, as I relax a bit on the weekends. Sometimes we have pizza or go out for dinner. I figure I can stay focused during the work week, and on the weekend indulge a bit.

I do tend to make more smoothies than juice as the blender takes less time to clean. In the mornings when I’m pressed for time to get out the door by 6:45, a quick clean-up is nice. Smoothies are a quick and filling breakfast and lunch meal replacement for people with busy schedules. I thought I would share a few smoothie ideas with you.

First, if you want to lose weight, use the smoothie as a meal replacement. I make enough smoothie to fill my blender container which is probably a little more than 40 ounces. People are surprised by the quantity, but you want to drink enough so that you don’t get hungry.

Second, plan for a good smoothie container. I have a couple of 32 ounce water bottles with large openings that work okay, but I prefer to drink smoothies with a straw. I drilled a hole in a lid for a quart-sized canning jar and often bring that to work to sip on throughout the morning. It looks a little odd, but works great!

Anything can go in a smoothie. I like to have two fruits and two veggies as a general rule. Then I add in healthy fats and proteins. Play around with ingredients until you find what you like. I usually use a banana as a base with either spinach or kale as one of my veggies, then anything else you might like.

Here are a couple of recipe ideas:

This one is a filling smoothie with high fiber kale and ground flax. High in vitamins, calcium and minerals it also offers lots of Omega-3 fatty acids. The coconut water is a good source of potassium and magnesium – much better for you than Gatorade or other sports drinks.

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 fresh peach, nectarine or pear sliced
  • 1/4 cup clover sprouts
  • 1 – 2 cups kale
  • 2 Tbs. ground flax
  • filtered water to just below the level of the produce in blender
  • a few ice cubes (optional)

Here’s a lighter version of the first that uses the softer leaf spinach and no seeds. The mango, banana and avocado combination result in a smooth and creamy texture.

  • 1 banana
  • 1 large mango
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1-2 cups filtered water
  • a few ice cubes

And finally, a very high fiber Berry Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • 1 cups spinach
  • 1/4 whole lemon, washed with peel
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs. chia seed
  • 1-2 cups filtered water to blend

Plum Galette

Do you ever wonder what happened to good old-fashioned pie? Do you occasionally crave it, then find the slice that sits in front of you to be woefully inadequate? What happened to that thick slice of pie chock full of fresh fruit with a richly flavored, not-too-dry yet flaky crust?  I sometimes dream of that pie, but so often forget it can’t be found in a bakery. We can all find lots of mediocre pie at chain restaurants and grocery stores but if you want to find the real thing, you might be looking forever. Perhaps some nice old Finish lady in Northern Minnesota could hook you up, but if you’re looking in a store or pastry shop, you’re probably out of luck. I feel bad for kids these days because I don’t think they’ll ever know what pie really is. There is just something about old-fashioned pie that can’t be replicated in the bakery kitchen.

Having grown up with a nice old Finish lady to show me the ropes, there are a few things I know. First, butter is a must. I am a practicing vegan except when it comes to pie – no margarine allowed. The dough has to be cold, cold, cold so leave it in the fridge for a good long rest before you roll it. And finally, don’t roll your crust too thin. It’s just a beautiful thing to eat a slice of pie from tip to crust – to end with a generous chunk of flaky dough lightly kissed with caramelized fruit juices and sugar. Mmm mmm!

I know that one problem with pie is that it seems too difficult. So many of us just don’t have the time anymore, so I made a galette instead of pie. Galette is a fairly easy alternative allowing for free form rather than fussing with a pie pan and crimping edges. Fortunately, with a galette, we still get that old-fashioned sense of the pie!

Ingredients:

Crust: For a really clear and easy-to-follow recipe, see Elise’s directions at Simply Recipes.

Filling:

  • 6 red plums
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 beaten egg
  • turbinado sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the plums either into small chunks or thin slices. Place them in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add flour, sugar, nutmeg and lemon juice and mix.
  4. Roll out the pie crust to about 1/8 inch and place on parchment covered cookie sheet.
  5. pour plum mixture into center of pie crust. Push all the plums together into a tidy flat circle.
  6. Fold the pie crust up over the plums crimping the dough where it doubles over itself.
  7. Brush the dough with the egg wash and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes until the dough is browned.

Linden Hills Farmers Market

It’s a happy day in Linden Hills! I don’t know about you, but walking over to the new market today felt like going home after a long absence. Some of us miss the co-op as it used to be, and now, to take its place is one of the best markets I’ve seen in Minneapolis. I know, I know, the farmers market is not going to take the place of the co-op, but I believe it will foster something that has been missing in Linden Hills since its move a couple of years ago. This little market is sure to bring a crowd of local, veg-loving, farmer supporters to Linden Hills downtown once again. Compared to other markets, this one will act as a not only a catalyst of support for local farmers, but will also bring business to downtown in general. I don’t think many other markets in the metro area have that dual ability. When the co-op was in its old location, community gathered. People walked downtown, stopped by the library and had a cup of coffee at Dunn Brothers. Unfortunately, its new location doesn’t provide that same sense of community. The new co-op tends to be a drive in and drive out affair, at least for me, so I’m elated to be able to return to my old stomping grounds!

Last year when I heard about the Fulton Market I was so excited about having a market within walking distance. I anticipated being able to find a variety of veg from local farmers, but when I got there, I was disappointed to find very few farmers, and an overabundance of breads, pastries, prepared foods and preserves. I ended up spending the summer going to the Kingfield market instead. So, when the announcement came that Linden Hills was planning to start their own market, I was a bit more cautious in my enthusiasm. For the last few months I envisioned a tidy little market with lots of young farmers, a variety of veg, some vendors with heirloom plants, a few purveyors of packaged products like honey and cheese and maybe even somebody selling sprouts. Every time I found myself thinking about the Linden Hills market opening day, I had to remind myself that I may end up disappointed. Boy, let me tell you, this market lived up to my wildest dream! If I were giving awards, I would say it is the best market in the city! Of course, I am biased, but it is true.

I was awed by the number of farmers there today, and thrilled to see so many young start-ups! Perhaps the lack of vendors available for new markets was a blessing in disguise for us, as this market may have pulled a few newbies out of their shells! The variety of veg was not overwhelming, but satisfied my raw food dreams. There were snap peas, lots of salad greens, radishes, spring onions, bok choi, rhubarb, strawberries and hand-snipped-with-a-scissors sunflower sprouts, pea shoots and other micro greens! The amount of respect and admiration I have for a farmer who will do that for me is unquantifiable. In addition to edible greens and other veg, there were quite a lot of plants for sale. I saw a good variety of perennials, herbs and many heirloom veggies. As I tend towards beauty in life, I noticed that many of today’s displays were creative, tasteful and eco-friendly eye-candy! Green was a common theme!

In fact, to my delight, green things ruled today’s market. The balance was not tipped by too many breads or pastries, and I thought there was a nice blend of vendors with value-added products. Packaged goodies didn’t steal the show as they do at the Fulton Market. Star Thrower Farm impressed this vegetarian with their extreme respect for the animal. They brought to vend cheese, meat, soap, wool yarn and sheepskins. The honey vendor, Bare Honey had a lovely variety of herb and spice infused product – something you don’t see much. One of the farmer’s mothers is enamored with drying strawberries – what a delectable treat for a cold winter breakfast over oatmeal or granola! Not that we want to think of that yet.

I just about cried when I saw that Foxy Falafel was only selling sauces today, but then quite relieved to find that Foxy was at her brother’s wedding this weekend and will bring the food truck starting next week. If you haven’t tried Foxy’s Falafel yet, you’re in for a treat!

To those of you who organized this market, BRAVO! To the farmers who chose to vend in this location, A MILLION THANKS! You have returned a missing piece of life to Downtown Linden Hills and can be assured that we will support you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Frozen Organic Strawberries

Rumor has it there is a bumper crop of strawberries coming out of Florida lately, so prices are running a little lower than last year. Bad news for the farmers – great news for those of us crazy for smoothies! The warm weather has also reportedly upped the sugar content making the berries sweeter than in the past. Frozen strawberries add a luscious creamy texture to smoothies and when combined with pineapple, banana and spinach, it’s pure delight!

All winter I waited patiently for Spring’s delivery of this lovely fruit, so when organic strawberries began to arrive at Costco a few weeks ago, I knew what I had to do – buy in bulk and freeze so I could enjoy the berries all winter long! This is definitely a cost-saving measure as organic frozen berries run about $4.00 per pound compared to these at $2.80.

The process is really quick and easy:

  1. Wash the berries and cut the stems off,
  2. Place the berries on a cookie sheet,
  3. Allow them to dry to avoid freezer burn,
  4. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours,
  5. When they are frozen, place strawberries into freezer bags,
  6. label and store for up to one year.

Sprouted Wheat Pizza Dough

Winter came to Minnesota yesterday and as the seasons have changed, so has my pizza dough recipe. Some of the renovations included a gradual increase in the ratio of whole wheat to white flour, I moved to warm water and regular yeast and now only let the dough rise once. You can check out my first recipe here, but I may never change again! I hope this doesn’t mean winter will never go away because I’d like to sit out on the patio again one day.

THE BEST PIZZA DOUGH EVER – All in the name of JUICING!

In the interest of increasing enzymes in my diet, I’ve turned to sprouted grains. Since changing my eating habits last summer to a more raw foods diet, I have a hard time eating heavy breads and grains, and this includes the pizza that had been coming out of our backyard behemoth! The last couple months, our baking parties have become sparse, but that won’t be true anymore. Last week I ordered some sprouted wheat flour, milled to order, from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co., and experienced complete bliss. This flour made the most amazing pizza dough!

The first thing I noticed about the dough was that it was incredibly easy to stretch and shape. Other doughs have always been stretchy and easy to shape, but this was amazing. We were actually able to stretch it so thin that we made some fourteen-inch pizzas out of the same size dough ball normally used to use for a ten-inch. Other doughs have sometimes tended to tear when they start to get thin, but not this one. The gluten held together like a rubber band! It came out of the oven thin, crisp and chewy perfection. I suspect this was due to the fact that the flour is fresh, milled to order and has a nice moisture balance because of that.

The flavor was spot on and the dough seems to leave me feeling a little less full.

This recipe is really easy to make in a stand mixer. Once the dough is mixed, all you need to do is form twelve balls, set them on a proofing pan or cookie sheet and leave them covered in the refrigerator until about two hours before baking. Two hours before baking, set the dough out to rise. Remember, pizza dough is a tiny bit sticky so you’ll need a little flour to form it on a peel.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp. regular yeast
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 7 cups sprouted whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white flour

Directions: Using the mixer paddle, mix yeast, water, oil, honey and salt together until dissolved. Next mix in three cups of the whole wheat flour. (If using a stand mixer, switch to the hook at this point.) Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time and let the mixer run for seven or eight minutes. If you are hand mixing be careful not to add too much flour. The trick with the stand mixer is to watch to see that the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl yet sticks to the bottom. If the dough is too sticky, add a small spoon of flour one at a time until it is the right consistency. If it is too dry, add a few dribbles of water.

Once the dough becomes smooth and the gluten has lined up, remove it from the bowl and form into a large ball. With a pastry blade, cut the dough into twelve equal pieces. I form the dough into a round flat disk, cut it into fourths, and then each fourth into thirds. I can see where a scale might be nice if you want your pizzas uniform.

Roll or knead each piece into a ball, coat it lightly with flour and place it on a cookie sheet. Once you have all twelve pizza doughs prepped, cover the tray with plastic wrap and return to the fridge until two or three hours before baking. Set the dough out on the counter at room temperature to rise. The balls will soften and become very easy to work.

While the dough rises, preheat your oven stone and prep your toppings. Enjoy!

Honey Balsamic Dressing

This is the salad dressing we serve on arugula to top the pizzas. It’s is a crowd pleaser. It’s a great all-purpose dressing that tastes great with any green, can be used on sandwiches or as a bread dip for appetizers.

I make this in a large bottle and store it in the pantry – no need to refrigerate. Makes approximately one quart.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3 tsp. salt

Mango Banana Pear Smoothie

Nothing like a little taste of the tropics on a frosty fall morning in Minnesota! A friend of mine started juicing and making smoothies a few weeks ago and made an interesting comment. She said, “It’s like this stuff just wants to burn fat!” So true and so amazing. All the enzyme action of the fresh fruit and veg will have the pounds melting off before you know it. What are you waiting for? Let’s take on this obesity epidemic with some really simple and delicious foods.

Don’t forget “smoothie” means you make it in the blender. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1 pear
  • 2 cups Vitacoco coconut water
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Sunrise Over Miami

Cheezy title, I know, but the grapefruit made me think of Florida, so there you have it! This is a beautiful silken juice that will definitely brighten your day! The grapefruit flavor comes through strong and the apple and carrot give it a nice sweetness. Look at all that vitamin A and C! Simply prep the fruits and veg and run through your juicer. This recipe makes about 32 ounces of juice. Drink as much as you like or share it with a friend! If you want to lose weight, drink the juice as a meal replacement.

Ingredients:

  • 2 grapefruit, peels cut off
  • 8-10 large carrots
  • 4 whole apples

Green Juice For Life

This was breakfast. Not breakfast for six people – breakfast for two. Can you imagine the workout trying to eat all this veg in one sitting? It’s a daunting task to think about, but not if you’re a juicer. I juiced this lovely bowl of veg this morning for breakfast and with that was able to get closer to my body’s daily requirement for vegetables. You see, I found out the hard way, exactly how many fruits and vegetables we really need to stay healthy and fit – it is a lot!

The hard way? You ask. Let me back up.

I recently discovered I suffer from inflammation which over the years has caused my body to fight against itself. My cells have been attacking the high acidic foods I eat so my white blood cells, in constant combat position have had no time build my body’s immunity. Over time, my body began to show symptoms that something was wrong. I began to gain weight – especially belly fat, I often had migraine headaches, I had trouble waking up in the morning, I was grumpy much of the time and I developed red tingly toes. If you google red tingly toes, they’re a symptom of many illnesses like obesity, diabetes, lymes disease, heart disease, nerve damage, depression and inflammation.

Since my husband has Lyme’s Disease, I decided to start with a visit to the doctor in order to rule that out as well as other concerns like allergies, a possible thyroid problem, vitamin or mineral deficiency issues or some unidentified ailment. Blood tests and other diagnostics showed that according to mainstream thought I had nothing wrong with me. My doctor was left stumped and unable to provide an answer. I knew from my obsessive love of food that diet can often be the underlying cause of diseases and ailments, so I decided to take treatment into my own hands.

At the same time I was experiencing these weird symptoms, Jeff’s Lyme’s disease was causing him to suffer excessive fatigue and pain. In researching how to help him, we both stumbled across information regarding ph neutral diets and the connection to decreased inflammation. Diet, not buckets of medication, seemed to be the answer. I also watched a couple of food documentaries that prompted me to address my symptoms with diet – they were, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives and Crazy Sexy Cancer. It seems that there are a couple of factors that come into play when you eat a mostly raw diet. First you feed your immune system lots of vitamins and minerals and secondly you are getting enough enzymes to aid digestion. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is very high acidity and low enzyme and that seems to be what causes most of our ailments – everything from type two diabetes, heart disease and many cancers.

So here I am today, twenty pounds lighter, unbelievably happy, and symptom free! And, it was easy thanks to green juice and smoothies! I love vegetables, but I’ve always reached for breads or other grains first to satisfy hunger. Juicing helped me to cut all food cravings out of my life. I find the juice so satisfying that I don’t need much else. I started with a juice fast of about ten days. I wasn’t a purist about it as I had a few salads and a couple of sprouted grain veggie sandwiches over the course of those ten days, but overall, I drank freshly made vegetable juice and I drank as much as I wanted.

During that phase of the plan I also drank HUGE amounts of water and a cup of Smooth Move tea each day. I had read that some people get constipated when they first start a juice fast, and part of the idea is to remove all the toxic build up from your body. You want to sweat it out, flush it out and brush it off your skin, so exercise, drink lots of water and exfoliate the skin. Two days into the fast I felt happier than I had felt in years and I began to lose weight right away! It was very exciting as I had never been able to successfully diet in my life.

Once the fast was over, I simply continued to juice using juice as a meal replacement for breakfast and lunch. For dinner we eat huge salads with greens, chopped veg, nuts and my homemade balsamic dressing. Fats are important to consume so oils from nuts and seeds, olive oil and avocado are all completely acceptable and necessary. Notice the diet is mostly raw foods, however we do eat roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes as well as a variety of cooked beans. I have found that a small amount of sprouted wheat breads don’t bother me, so I love to eat hummus sandwiches with sprouts, avocado and tomato. I’m sure as the winter months approach we’ll be adding soups to our diet as well.

I cannot express enough how satisfying and liberating this style of eating is. Menu planning is simple, grocery shopping is simple and food preparation is a breeze, but the most amazing thing is how good we feel. This has not been a diet for me, but a lifestyle change.

Here’s the quick and dirty of what I learned and what I do:

Cut Out:

  • most grains (except a small amount of brown rice, quinoa and wild rice)
  • potatoes
  • sugar
  • coffee
  • alcohol
  • dairy products
  • animal products
  • any processed food
  • any food containing white (white flour, white rice, white pasta, white tortillas, etc)

Eat Organic:

  • fresh vegetables and fruits – as many as you want
  • nuts and seeds
  • sprouts
  • olive oil
  • green tea and herbal teas

Do:

  • Meal replacement with freshly made juice or smoothies
  • Make your own sprouts
  • Exercise 3-5 times per week

Green Juice Recipe I

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples
  • 2 peeled lemons
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 small chunk fresh ginger

Green Juice Recipe II

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 fennel bulb with stems and fronds
  • 1/2 bunch celery
  • 1/2 head cabbage

Directions: Wash and prep the vegetables then run through a juicer. (We have a Breville Juice Fountain Ikon.)