Blueberry muffins and planning

by Patrick Ganey (Duck Fat and Politics)

I was anticipating the winter eat local challenge back in July; that’s when we picked a winter’s worth of blueberries over in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.  This evening my daughter and I hung out in the kitchen and made blueberry muffins for the week, dipping into another bag from the freezer.  The eggs were gathered in our backyard and the flour (wheat and white) is from North Dakota.  Pretty local, but what strikes me as essential to eating good, healthy food in the winter is harvesting it when it’s abundant and finding a way to store or preserve it.  As much as we love blueberries, we wouldn’t be eating them in the dead of winter if we hadn’t picked them in July.

While we’ve been canning and freezing more of  summer’s bounty each year, we still have a long way to go to before we’ll be eating it all through the winter.  The only way I’ll eat more of my own food next winter is by planning now.  As I get ready to start seeds in my basement, I want to think a little more about what things I can plant (or pick or buy)  that will last into the winter.  Blueberry muffins are a good incentive; if an afternoon of pleasant picking can keep us flush with blueberries for the entire year, just imagine what we could do with a cabbage patch!  We’d have sauerkraut for breakfast!  And what about corn?  Could we buy enough in August to last through the winter?  A weekend of work would probably fill the freezer with enough to last until next year.  And so it goes, one food after another.  Last fall I planted garlic for the first time in four or five years; I used to plant a lot but stopped a few years ago; I hope I can eat some of my own during next year’s winter eat local challenge.

Well, I can daydream about my gardening plans all winter long, but I know what’s going in my kids’ lunches this week.



by Patrick Ganey

Duck Fat and Politics

My friend and neighbor Doug shared this wonderful Pannukakku recipe because he, too, raises chickens and has an abundance of eggs; our family is quickly adopting his family’s tradition of eating it weekly! Pannukakku is, besides being a wonderful word, a Finnish pancake that is more popover than pancake. The simple batter rests for a half hour before being baked, and the pan is coated with ½ stick butter. What I like so much about it is that it tastes so buttery; I think it’s because no butter is added to the batter, and the butter in the pan eventually pools on the top of the pannukakku, bubbling right on the surface and making it taste more buttery than it actually is. We still have many pounds of blueberries in the freezer, so lightly whipped cream is a great accompaniment to blueberries heated in a pan for a few minutes – it takes the chill out of them. A few years ago we went through a “Waffle Friday” faze, eating a wide assortment of waffles and toppings for Friday night dinner, so it’s nice to circle back with a new variant. I’ve seen pictures where the edges of pannukakku rise dramatically, like the wings of a spotted eagle ray gliding through the Caribbean.


1-1/2 C flour (I use 1/2 C whole wheat)

1-1/2 C milk

6 eggs

1 T sugar

1 t salt

1/4 C butter for the baking pan

heavy cream for whipping


In a bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients until no lumps remain. Let stand 30 minutes. Preheat over to 450. Melt butter in a 9×13 pan by placing it in the preheating oven. (Remove pan when butter is melted to avoid scorching.) Brush entire pan with melted butter before pouring in the pancake batter. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until edges are puffed high and golden. Top with whipped cream and fresh fruit (or thawed frozen blueberries.) Can also be served with a squeeze of lemon and powdered sugar. Serves 4 – 6.

Local food products I love

Submitted by Penny Hillemann (penelopedia)

slice of bread and labelOver the past two or three years I’ve tried to add more local foods to my regular grocery shopping. What I didn’t anticipate is that I would love these foods so much. Not only are they locally produced, but they’re great by any standards. Some of my favorites include:

  • Whole Grain Milling Co. tortilla chips – These are the heartiest, corn-iest, fullest-flavored tortilla chips I’ve ever had. Once you’ve eaten these, there’s just no going back to the standard brands. I’ve hooked some of my colleagues on these, too. I try to limit myself to the occasional bag of these so I don’t OD.
  • Sno-Pac frozen berries and vegetables – Convenience meets local and organic meets tasty-as-can-be. The corn kernels are the sweetest I’ve encountered in a frozen corn. (Do you get the impression I like corn? I do!) For eating local in winter, how could it be easier than this?
  • Salsa Lisa salsa – This has been my favorite salsa since before I started thinking about local foods. If you like big chunks of peppers and onion in your salsa, this is not the salsa for you. If you like a fresh-tasting, tomatoey, juicy, garlicky salsa of an even consistency– small chunks, not big hunks – this might be the best salsa you’ve ever tried.
  • Dairy products and beef from local, grass-fed cattle – Cedar Summit milk; Pastureland butter; Thousand Hills Cattle Company beef… these are all fantastic. The more we learn about the benefits of pastured dairy and beef cattle, the more it makes sense to invest in these products that are not only exceptionally good-tasting but contain a healthier balance of fats than conventional dairy products and beef.
  • Just Bread – the multigrain bread made for Just Food Co-op by our local Brick  Oven Bakery. This is the best bread ever, in my book, and when, eventually and inevitably, I suppose, they stop making it – hopefully years and years from now – I don’t know what I’ll do. Their other breads are also very, very good.

For the Winter Eat Local Challenge, I plan to supplement all of the above, plus other local dairy products, eggs and perhaps some chicken, with some tomato sauce I made last summer, as well as some Sun Gold cherry tomatoes I oven-dried and froze.

I’ll probably do less gardening this year because we’re splitting a CSA share with another family, but I can’t imagine not growing my own tomatoes. So I’m hoping to have plenty to eat fresh as well as enough extra to do some freezing or canning to add to next winter’s pantry.

I was raised on Potato Buds

Posted by Joey Robison.

I used to live off of junk food. It’s true, I did. I was raised on processed foods, and I wasn’t taught how to cook anything. I didn’t know mashed potatoes began as anything more than a “bud” until I was in my double digits. My awkwardness in the kitchen was balanced only by my mad microwaving skills.

You can read about my journey to local food over on

Point is, it’s a process to get from a diet of processed foods to eating a decent amount of local and whole foods. But I did it, and you can too! Taking the Eat Local Challenge is a way to try it out for a short period of time, exploring and discovering along the way that there are actually a lot of local foods available to you, even in winter.

We’ve had a few really good requests from Facebook fans for materials that will help folks be more successful at taking the Winter Eat Local Challenge. We’re going to create a list of the local foods available right now. We’ll also put together a “quick meal” guide, giving you suggestions for quick and easy meals and snacks that meet the 50% local goal. And we hope you’ll keep coming back here to read about the progress of your bloggers during the week of the Challenge!

The amazing standard egg-bake dish

I dedicate this post to my very good friend Karen Olson.

Her recipe from a yellow-sticky note..the ONLY part of the recipe besides salt and pepper not from within 150 (100?) miles of my home.

Chop and saute in 1/3 c butter one onion and a few garlic cloves. Add 12 oz spinach, fresh or frozen.

Beat one dozen eggs, 24 oz cottage cheese, 1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese, 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese. Add sauteed items and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a buttered 9×12 cake pan and sprinkle 1/2 c shredded cheddar over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. (Serve warm, but also OK cold.)

THESE are the IDEAS to SHARE at our upcoming Eat Local Potluck 3-4-10. Bring favorite locally-sourced-ingredient-prominent recipes.


ELC potluck at the Coop 3-4-10 5:30 pm

Several groups in town will be hosting a Winter Eat Local Potluck Thursday 3-4-10. We’ll start gathering at 5:30 in the Community Room; please bring a dish to share that meets or exceeds the ELC criteria (!), and plan on staying for a presentation by Carleton MPIRG about local food policy they have been chasing our county commissioners around the table about.

The event is being co-hosted by  the Northfield Food Action Network, Transition Northfield, and Just Food. We hope to seat/sort people according to their own particular burning local food agenda items: so far I have a recipe exchange table request. Other topics? How about Michelle Obama’s a garden in every schoolyard? Or, fieldwork in exchange for CSA shares? Or, community gardens and community gardening projects like Backyard Harvest in the Cities or garlic patches in neighborhood yards? Or, asking the Downtown gardeners to plant edible landscapes? Or, or, or…send ideas, bring your thoughts.

See you on the 4th!


My Strategy

Posted by: Stuart Reid (coopstew)

Canned, dried & fermented...

My local food strategy for winter is pretty old fashioned… grow it in the summer and save it for when you need it. Here it is January and I still have fresh beets, turnips,onions, garlic and potatoes. Dried tomatoes, apples and plums, jam, pickles, kim chee, and a handful of hazelnuts all await their culinary destinies.  My sauerkraut is at its peak, canned and frozen greens just need reheating, brussels sprouts, green beans, yellow crookneck, peas, strawberries, raspberries… all grown with the care and respect they deserve and sitting on the shelf. Add a couple of dozen chickens from the yard, pork and beef from nearby friends, and all I need is a rice paddy and a coffee tree.

Summer on Ice

I have not always been able to enjoy so much winter bounty. Now I am fortunate to have room for a large garden, fruit trees and chickens. I started pickling when I was in high school (pickled crab apples,) drying food in the 80’s, fermenting in the 90’s, and pressure-canning just last year. None of these practices are difficult, but they can be time-consuming. Think of it as your nutritional savings account. You do the work in the summer, “deposit” your earnings and withdraw your assets (plus interest!) in the winter.

If your winter diet needs an infusion of summer, now is the time to start planning for next year. Order a few seeds, get a couple of library books on preserving food, collect canning jars, and watch for the great workshops that the co-op offers.