The keys to our (coffee) hearts.

You know, we live in Northeast Minneapolis: land of Greenies, <a title="Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge. Tiki drinks, Nye’s jumbo cocktails… are you noticing a theme here?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m the #1 fan of our uniquely NE bar scene, but what about when you get up in the morning and are nursing that dull ache that comes after one too many ______ (fill in your favorite Northeast adult beverage here)?

I mean, if the ibuprofen and Gatorade aren’t cutting it for you, you need a cuppa.

Java, Joe, coffee, kids.

When I lived in Linden Hills, I could wander over to Rustica/Java Jacks. If I happened to land in Uptown, Muddy Waters was right there (OK, it’s not in the same place anymore, but it still EXISTS).

Here? Eh, not so much.  We’ve taken to making coffee at home anyhow, being grown up, frugal, and whatnot… so my search has turned from, “Where can I get a double to-go?” to, “Where can I get beans that blow my mind at 7am when I hop in the car for my commute?”

Let me tell you: we lack serious beans in this corner of town.

I’m a big fan of Bull Run. And by big fan, I mean I’ve considered setting up a restaraunt LLC just to be able to buy their beans wholesale. I beg my uptown-dwelling friends to bring me coffee when they come up my way. It’s the Official Bean of Girls Weekend. God, I love that stuff.

Also: I will beg, borrow, and steal for Dogwood beans. Perhaps I’m driven to Dogwood because they are embedded within Rustica (and honestly, the chocolate/pistachio pastry and a latte? This is clearly what God will put on my breakfast table daily when I get to heaven). They also have their roots deeply embedded with Bull Run. Anyway, I love how seriously their baristas take their coffee. If you are going to drink something, you may as well be an expert about it, and these guys are the experts.

Both of these options, however, are inconvenient. My convenient options include picking up beans at the grocery store (ick), chain coffee shops (double ick), or a couple of indie coffee shops that don’t do their own roasting (mostly, meh).

So, imagine my delight when our lovely local corner restaurant, Hazel’s, offered to sell us a bag of True Stone roasted Costa Rican beans.

I brewed up a pot this morning, with a sweet tension headache brewing, and to my surprise, I actually had to pull the package out of the cupboard to ensure Dave hadn’t, in fact, purchased Bull Run beans. Yum! And walkable! Be still my Northeast heart, there is caffeinated salvation to be had in my neighborhood.

If you haven’t yet visited Hazel’s, especially for brunch, get it on your docket. It’s so good: warm, friendly, casual, delicious food served simply and without pretense. Have a couple of cups of coffee when you’re there, and take home a bag of beans to try for yourself.

I raise my travel mug to better-tasting caffeination. Cheers!

Minneapolis, Food City.

It’s always busy during May for us. So I’m probably more excited than usual to get to the Mill City Farmer’s Market for the first time this season.

Mill City has been “our market” since we met five years ago. It’s not the biggest, and it’s not the closest to our house, but it’s a fantastic bike ride over the Stone Arch Bridge. The Chef Shack is there. And there’s a ton of really high-quality food to bring home, to boot.

And it offers a list of food that makes my mouth water… case in point, this week’s list of goodies (it’s so helpful that the market is offering a Produce Planner this year!):

  • Asparagus
  • Morels
  • Green garlic
  • Ramps
  • Rhubarb
  • Radishes
  • Arugula
  • Spring salad mix
  • Spinach
  • Nettles
  • Fiddlehead ferns
  • Herbs
  • Salad turnips
  • Dried peppers
  • Baby bok choy

Drool. That is all.

sunshine is fine.

It’s shaping up to be an idyllic week here in Northeast Minneapolis… and waking up to find this delicious lemonade recipe in my inbox (courtesy of a fabulous little hotel in New Prague MN called Schumacher’s — which, by the way, we highly recommend; excellent food, amazing accomodations, and a great bartending staff)… well, it’s just sort of the inspiration I needed to get this summer started.

Thanks, Schumachers Hotel and Grill 212!

Summertime Lemonade Recipe from Chef John

Chef John's Summertime  Lemonade RecipeThis is a refreshing summer treat. There’s lemonade, and then there’s Lemonade! Guess which one this is?

Lemon Base
2 cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated peel of 2 lemons
Lemon Cubes
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemonade
1/4 cup lemon base
3 ice cubes
1 lemon cube
8 oz. cold water

  1. For Lemon Base, combine sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel in large saucepan; heat to a boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator in covered glass container until served.
  2. For Lemon Cubes, freeze lemon juice in ice-cube tray. When frozen, transfer to resealable plastic bag.
  3. For 1 tall glass of Lemonade, combine base, cubes and water. As cubes melt, they keep each drink full of flavor. For pink color, add a little cranberry juice to lemon juice before freezing.

10 servings.
Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Ready to serve: 1 hour, 10 minutes.

CHEF’S NOTES:
• The most important part of this Lemonade technique is to remove all white membrane from lemon peel with a potato peeler. The white membrane will make the Lemon Base bitter.

Meal Plan (and CSA box 2)

I am delayed in publishing this week’s menu… May is our month of madness with mother’s day, gardening picking up, and two daughters with birthdays 5 days apart. Yeesh!

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

5/13: pork stir fry with peanut sauce (kind of a riff off this)

5/14: The 7-year-old’s birthday party. To maintain sanity, we outsourced much of the food this year.

5/15: for our oldest daughter’s birthday, she requested (as is her usual) bacon and pancakes. I’d publish my secret recipe for pancakes, but then it wouldn’t be so secret anymore, would it?

5/16: Nettle manicotti (recipe forthcoming)

5/17: grilled chicken breasts with goat cheese and morels

Everybody, eat now!

It’s a little like Christmas this week, because tomorrow our CSA share starts up again (after the long winter hiatus from mid-January to early May).

Both adults in our house cook (and I bake). But there’s something, at least for us, about not having fresh food (from the CSA, or that we’ve grown, or that we’ve procured from a local market) our household finds de-motivating.  Sure, we freeze soups and preserve fruit and freeze veggies. We’ve eaten through our backlog of pickles and sauerkraut;  we have made short work of several cans of peaches and applesauce (and frankly, have more to go in some of these categories).  But there’s only so much frozen broccoli and snap peas you can eat before it all just tastes routine, at least to our household’s palate.

2010 marks our third year of participating in a CSA and committing our family to eating local, in-season produce. It’s a little stunning to me how our eating habits (and preferences) have evolved in the last 3 years. I’m just thrilled to get the sorrel in this week’s CSA box; I can’t wait to pick up a few morels at the Mill City Farmer’s Market this weekend. These are foods I definitely wasn’t experiencing as a 2 or 7 year old (like our daughters will); and frankly, until I married a fellow foodie, I had no real reason to search after such things myself.

Anyway, we’re once again exited to cook and plan and eat in-season at the Green Toews estate, and if you want to join in, we’ll be posting weekly meal plans (complimenting what’s in our CSA Box) for the foreseeable seasons to come.

Happy local, in-season eating!

Spinach and Ramps and Rhubarb - oh my!

What’s in The Box this week?

  • Ramps
  • Spinach (this spring spinach is the best stuff on earth)
  • Saute Mix
  • Rhubarb
  • Asparagus
  • French Breakfast Radish
  • Sorrel
  • Sweet Overwintered Parsnips
  • Sunchokes
  • Overwintered Red Russian Kale
  • Chives
  • Dogwood or Willow

And what are we cooking?

Thursday:
Chicken stir-fry with saute mix, chives, sunchokes, broccoli, etc. (recipe to follow)

Friday:
Ramp, asparagus, spinach and feta frittata with french breakfast puffs (recipe to follow)

Saturday:
Blueberry muffins; then to the Farmers Market!
Salads and sandwiches, rhubarb cobbler

Sunday:
Mother’s Day Picnic

Monday:
Meatloaf, roasted parsnips and kale

(Typically we spend Tuesday and Wednesday cleaning up leftovers, so it will be rare to see meals planned on those days.  Plus, we’re working extra-hard right now to clean out our freezer of soups and stews from this winter so we’re able to start preserving anew once the garden gets going).