Market Musings Blog

Big on bulk

Buying in bulk doesn’t mean dealing with large quantities. At the co-op, we’re big on bulk because buying in bulk means buying products with minimal or no packaging.

The best part is that it’s easier on the earth and your pocketbook.

Bulk rice & beans webLess Food Waste
Research shows that between 25% and 50% of the food Americans purchase ends up in the garbage or compost. Buying in bulk means you can buy only the amount you need– no waste!

Lower Costs, Lower Prices
Without all those packages to design, manufacture and fill, our suppliers can offer us better costs on bulk foods than packaged foods, and we pass those savings on to you.

Less Packaging Waste
Americans discard 570 million pounds of food packaging each day. By bringing your own containers for bulk foods, you avoid much of the waste associated with packaged products.

How to buy in bulk
1 If you bring your own container, weigh it and record the weight while empty. That’s the tare weight.

2 Fill your container with the amount you need. Please use the clean scoops and funnels provided or ask for assistance if needed. We’re happy to help!

3 Record the PLU number from the bin on the container. All the cashier will need is the PLU number, tare weight and product.

Make a mango lassi

Ataulfo mango cutAtaulfo mangos may be hard to pronounce, but this buttery smooth yellow fruit is easy to enjoy. Enjoying this mango straight up is always a win- Carefully cutting around the pit. But for a special treat, try a mango lassi. Ataulfo mangos are similar to the Alphonso variety that is popular in India, so why not try it out in a classic Indian yogurt drink like the lassi?

I’m experimenting now with divvying up the ingredients into pint sized mason jars for quick and easy blending each morning. But so far my family and I end up drinking all of them right away!

Ataulfo Mango Lassi
1 Ataulfo mango, skin cut away and fruit removed from pit
½ cup plain unsweetened yogurt of your choice
1 cup milk of your choice
1 tsp. rose water (found in the baking aisle)
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 pinch of sugar or other sweetener (optional)

Place all ingredients in your blender (or a wide-mouth pint jar for immersion blenders) and blend until smooth. The ataulfo mangos are so sweet now, you might not need any sugar or sweetener! Enjoy, preferably with a straw.

Which CSAs drop at the co-op?

With spring in the air and this article about Community Supported Agriculture in the Star Tribune recently, we figured it was time to list the farms that drop shares at our West 7th store and near our Selby store. The days that each farm drops at West 7th is listed next to its name. If you are interested in purchasing a share from any of these farms, please contact them directly.

FarmDriveway

Avodah Farm – Wednesday afternoon

Blackbrook Farm – Thursdays

Bossy Acres – Thursdays

Featherstone Farms – Thursdays

Green Earth Growers – Tuesdays

Seeds Farm – Fridays

Sylvan Hills – Tuesdays

Treasured Haven – Mondays

Turnip Rock – Thursday afternoons

Women’s Environmental Institute (WEI) – Friday mornings

stones throw Full2Wk11smallFor those looking for a drop site closer to the Selby store, Stone’s Throw Agricultural Cooperative, which drops at Thomas Ave and Dale St. Stone’s Throw Agricultural Cooperative is a producers cooperative that is run and owned by three rural farms (Cala Farm, Agua Gorda Cooperative, and Whetstone Farm) and one urban farm (Stone’s Throw Urban Farm) in the Twin Cities region. We are a diverse group of farmers committed to working together to make farming and local, healthy food consumption more accessible to people of all backgrounds. Our CSA has many options for fresh summer and hearty winter vegetables, pastured meat, raw honey, and local mushrooms. By working together we believe we can support the growth of a stronger and more resilient regional food system. Stone’s Throw offers sliding scale payment options for our CSA. All of our members also have access to a complementary U-Pick selection of herbs, flowers, and sugar snap peas at each pick-up site.

Notes from the field – MOSES Organic Farming Conference

The Selby store's produce manager, Matt, shows a customer our selection of organically grown greens.Matt Olson has worked at Mississippi Market for 7 years and has been in his current position as Selby’s produce manager since 2011. Each year he attends the MOSES conference to connect with growers, learn about what’s new in organic farming, and be inspired by the talks and workshops.

March 1st 2014 was the 25th anniversary of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) organic farmer’s conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin. What started as 90 people coming together in 1989 to talk about organic farming has grown to over 3300 attending this year. It is a great opportunity for farmers, educators, or anyone involved in organic agriculture to come together for a weekend. There is no better place for people to learn, teach, meet, and celebrate all that is happening in the vast world of organic farming.

I have been fortunate to attend a few conferences over the years with other co-workers from the Mississippi Market. Every year I come back excited and reinvigorated. The keynote speakers, workshops, and vendor showcase all offer myriad opportunities for me to learn about the latest happenings in the wide world of organic agricultural. As the produce manager in a food Co-op, it is imperative that I stay on top of the latest trends, concerns, and innovations. Quite frankly there is no better place to do this than MOSES.

Mose logosThis year I came away with new knowledge about nutritional levels in organic produce (studies have proven that antioxidant levels are generally higher), renewed passion to speak out against GMO’s (organic farming produces higher yields through floods and droughts and does not contain harmful pesticide or insecticides that are imbedded in GMO’s), and a renewed reminder that organic farming can feed the world!

While all of the scheduled events are exciting and educational, my favorite part about the conference is seeing people I haven’t seen in a while and meeting new people I have a common connection with. It is a great chance for me to see produce managers from across the region, farmers we buy from, and other people in the industry I rarely get an opportunity to talk with outside of the produce backroom or the sales floor at work. I consider myself quite fortunate to be able to work with such amazing and inspirational people. The MOSES conference is a testament that organic agriculture makes a difference and will continue to thrive, innovate, and grow no matter the obstacles.

From 90 people to 3300 in twenty-five years! No one can know what the future will hold, but I came away from the conference with the belief that in twenty-five years, organic agriculture will be bigger, stronger, and more influential than ever thought possible!

Meet the 2014 Organic Farmers of the Year, the Podoll Family. Theresa and David Podoll presented at the MOSES conference this year. At Mississippi Market, we are excited to be carrying their organic seeds at our West 7th store.

 

A condiment that brings the heat – Giardiniera

Okay, I won’t lie, in my house, we’re a little less than patient for spring to really be here.  Thinking about warm weather makes me think of grilling, which in turn makes me think about condiments.  About a year ago, I discovered my new favorite: giardiniera.

giardiniera soakingIn traditional Italian cuisine, this is simply a medley of pickled veggies, such as carrots, cauliflower, mild peppers, and beans soaked in salt and vinegar.  What I’m talking about, though, is actually a variety that originated in Chicago: some of the veggies above with a healthy dose of hot peppers, soaked in brine and then oil.  This type of giardiniera can is often found as an option to top Italian beef sandwiches, but adding it to most any sandwich/burger/sausage is tasty.  Or steak or chickenOr fish or eggs…or anything, really.  Also, it’s quite easy to make as home, allowing you to put your own unique twist on it.  Last summer, I tried my hand at making giardiniera, and just a few days ago emptied the last jar of that batch—time to make more!

Wanting to make my own, rather than just buying the standard, simple options from a big box store, I did my research into recipes, and opted to synthesize ideas from a handful.  I used this one from Jeff Mauro, but some of my additions or changes are below.

Giardiniera - colorful

  • 1 cup small-diced carrots
  • 1 cup tiny cauliflower florets
  • 4 to 8 serrano peppers, sliced into rings (depending on how much heat you want)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup diced olives (I used a plain green, but any of the olives we sell by the deli would work well)
  • ~2 cups olive oil or olive/canola blend, though most any cooking oil will work.
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prep is easy, though a tad time consuming if you decide to make a large batch, like I did today.

    • Slice the serranos into coins (leaving in all that wonderful spice of seeds) and dice the rest of the veg up nice and small—getting the carrots cut up took the longest, but having big chunks isn’t ideal in the finished product.
    • In a non-reactive bowl, pour on the salt and add enough water to the bowl to just cover everything.  Give this a couple good stirs and let it sit in the fridge for a day or two.
    • After the soak time, drain in a colander and rinse well—the first time I did this, I didn’t rinse as well as I had thought and ended up with a saltier batch than anticipated.
    • Toss the pepper and veggie mixture with fresh ground black pepper and whatever herbs you want to use, and spoon it into mason jars.
    • Add enough oil to the jars to cover, close ‘em up, and let sit for another day to fully marinate.

While most recipes I’ve seen suggest using your fresh giardiniera within a few weeks, I’ve not had any problem with leaving my not-in-use jars at the far back of the fridge—the cold here might solidify the oil (which makes it pretty easy to spread, actually), but a few minutes at room temperature liquefies it pretty quickly.

Giardiniera - jars

Like most anything by way of homemade condiments, giardiniera lends itself well to personalization.  Want some extra heat?  Toss in some red pepper flakes or a little of your favorite hot sauce.  If you’re a fan of smokey flavors like this guy, try substituting some of the regular salt with the applewood smoked salt that we have available in both packaged grocery and bulk herbs (I tried this this time around—haven’t tasted it yet, but brining in smoked salt certainly imbued the veg mix with the aroma!).  If your household prefers more mild flavors, nix the serranos in favor of sweet peppers.  Grab some small jars and use this as homemade gifts for family and friends—if you can bring yourself to sharing!

Ben Zamora-Weiss is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. As mentioned above, you’ll also find him at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find.

Kickin’ it with kimchi

green cabbage

Napa or Chinese cabbage is traditionally used for making Korean winter kimchi, but it’s far from the only vegetable you can use for that purpose. At this time of year, good old green cabbages are available from Minnesota and Wisconsin growers in sizes ranging from the very small to the immense. While making kimchi from these is a little different from using the thinner-leafed, flexible napa cabbages, it can be done, and the results are just as tasty.

Traditional Korean kimchi varies by season, as you’d expect, but it usually includes several common elements: ginger, garlic, and a pleasing array of colors. Some incorporate fruit; others are limited to vegetables; many incorporate fish or fish pastes. One of the delights of kimchi is tailoring it to your own taste or to that of the people you feed. I’m fond of kimchi that’s heavy on ginger, garlic, and chiles. But because most of the folks I feed homemade kimchi to are Minnesotans, I add less heat than I did in California.

Traditional Korean kimchi that uses dried peppers incorporates varieties grown in Korea (gochugaru). You can buy gochugaru at United Noodles, Shuang Hur, Dragon Star, and other Asian groceries in Frogtown. Contemporary Korean kimchi plays with the much wider variety of dried peppers now available worldwide. A visit to El Burrito Mercado on the West Side will reward you with an amazing array of dried chiles from Mexico, some mild and deeply flavored, others medium or very hot, all flavorful.

kimchi ingredientsIf the thought of incorporating chiles into your kimchi makes you feel faint, don’t bother with them! You can create zingy kimchi with nothing more formidable than fresh ginger, some Wisconsin hardnecked garlic, and scallions to spice it up. This wonderful ferment can be as traditional or as personal as you want it to be. Just be sure to choose vegetables that create a lively melange of colors.

Like other fermented foods, kimchi needs to be kept away from air while it undergoes its transformation. To start with, I suggest you use a 1-quart/liter lightning jar (the kind with a glass lid attached with a wire bale). With green cabbage, salt the cabbage first in a big bowl so it becomes flexible enough to cram into a jar, add the other vegetables/fruit and seasonings, then pack everything into the jar as firmly as possible. Within 24 hours, the brine should provide a cap to the ferment. Keep the jar as close to 60° as you can; a counter near a north window is a pretty good place, as is a cool basement. Your kimchi should be ready to taste in about 3–6 days; as soon as you like its flavor, simply refrigerate and enjoy it.

Kimchi is the food of a thousand uses: you can add a dollop of it to scrambled eggs, omelets, tacos, burritos, vegetable and/or meat stir-fries. A bowl of rice or rice noodles with kimchi and some soy sauce makes a quick, tasty, and healthy lunch or breakfast. Add a little kimchi brine to a soup to brighten its flavor. A jar of homemade kimchi in the fridge is like having a culinary ace up your sleeve!

A simple & mild green cabbage kimchi

This kimchi is quite mild—its heat comes chiefly from ginger, not chiles. Don’t overlook other vegetables when you assemble it. You can add bok choy and other greens, radishes other than daikon, carrots, turnips, scallions, tat choi, fennel. If you’re a chile head, go for dried reds, but be sure to grind them into small bits before adding them.
Makes 2 quarts.

Ingredients
1 pound of green cabbage
1 pound of daikon or other radishes (e.g., watermelon, black Spanish), sliced thinly
3 tablespoons of kosher salt
3 tablespoons or more of finely minced, peeled fresh ginger (I use about half a cup)
1½ tablespoons or more of tasty minced garlic
5 scallions, white and green parts, finely crosscut
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1½ teaspoons of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of ground pepper , Mexican chiles, or fresh hot peppers, slit
lengthwise and left whole

Method
1. Core cabbage and cut crosswise very thinly; place in a large mixing bowl, add salt, cover, and allow to sit until salt pulls the moisture from the cabbage, leaving cut cabbage flexible (about 3–4 hours).

2. Peel radish, cut in half lengthwise, then into narrow crosswise slices.

3. Mix ginger, garlic, scallions, brown sugar, and salt in second bowl; add cayenne or peppers and mix well. Mix in with cabbage.

4. Sterilize two 1-quart (or one 2-quart) canning jars at a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Cool on a wooden surface or towel.

5. Push the cabbage mixture into the jars as compactly as possible; cover with enough of the brine to top the kimchi. Leave at least 3 inches head space below lip of jars. Attach a lid, loosely; stand the jar in a glass bowl or saucer, because it may drool while fermenting.

6. Put your jar in a cool corner of the kitchen for 3 days. Watch for bubbles, which should start rising in your kimchi; fermentation is slower at this time of year because houses tend to be cooler. Once you can see bubbles at work, wait 3–4 days, watching for the bubbles that signify fermenting. Thereafter, you can start tasting your ferment. When it tastes good to you, store it in the fridge. Kimchi is almost immortal: it keeps well and becomes more complex and tasty with time.

Find more recipes for kimchi in our 3 Days, 3 ways recipe program - cooking tips designed to help your food purchases go further, featuring a new ingredient each month.

Fish Friday: A Tea Take on Tuna

Tea Tuna cooking webMy last contribution to Market Musings was all about tea, and ever since there’s been an ever so quiet whisper in my head to actually cook with matcha powder again.  This powdered form of green tea has a very distinct flavor, and, if used correctly, can yield itself a magical secret ingredient in a number of dishes.  On top of this, my wife and I have been trying to add more fish into the meal rotation and went looking for a simple and new fish-based recipe that I could make something unique out of.  Google brought me to this recipe for seared tuna with a wasabi butter sauce, which seemed like it would be pretty easy to modify…and all but one ingredient can be found at Mississippi Market (PS, dear MN legislature, please let grocery stores like co-ops sell wine):

One handy feature of the recipe’s site was the ability to adjust the portion; I set the recipe for 4 servings so that I would be sure to have extra sauce to add if needed.  The ingredient list I used was a little different:

¾ cup of white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced scallions (the green bits sliced and set aside for garnish)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2/3 cups unsalted butter
Tea Tuna cooked web1.5 teaspoons of wasabi powder (more or less to your own taste)
1 tablespoon of matcha powder
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 ahi tuna steaks
~2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

I followed the directions given on the recipe, which is all pretty simple—less than 40 minutes from start to finish for everything.  I used scallions and garlic instead of shallots and left out the cilantro (because, sadly, it was the one thing I forgot to put on the shopping list).  Towards the end of making the butter sauce, I mixed the wasabi and matcha powders in a small bowl with just enough water to make a thin slurry, then added this in with the wine and butter mixture—this way there was no risk of the tea flavor cooking out.  For side value, I cooked up a bit of white rice, asparagus, and red peppers.  After plating up all the solids, we drizzled the matcha wasabi butter sauce over everything, and it turned out to be a very tasty meal.

Tea Tuna plated web

A quick cautionary word on matcha: If you’ve ever had green tea made from this powder, you know it can be an acquired taste.  It’s almost like green tea concentrate—a little can go a *long* way.  This being an experimental recipe on my part, I just guessed at using a tablespoon, which turned out fine for us.  It’s certainly the type of thing you can start with just a little, and add more in any time before you actually dish up—the same goes for wasabi powder.  Be warned: this sauce as we made it has a very strong flavor.  Not spicy or pungent, just bold in the way matcha and wasabi can be.  It works *very* well on the tuna, but we found it quickly overpowering when paired with rice alone.

Put hot sauce on it!

Dans Prime hot sauce web

While Mississippi Market staff cannot come to a consensus over which hot sauce is the best (Cholula? Dave’s Prime? Sriracha?), we CAN agree on this list of our favorite foods to adorn with hot sauce when we’re feeling the need to spice things up.  It may only be just starting to warm up outside, but our bellies are on fire!

  • Eggs
  • Mac & cheese
  • Breakfast sandwiches from the deli
  • Corn chips
  • Pork tacos
  • Curry
  • Rice, beans & greens deal from the deli
  • Fried chicken (or any kind of chicken)
  • Alexia sweet potato waffle fries
  • Pizza
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Fried fish
  • Peanut butter + hot sauce on noodles
  • Literally, everything
  • Popcorn
  • Bloody Mary
  • Banh Mi sandwiches
  • Celery sticks and carrots
  • Nachos
  • Mangos
  • Barbecue anything
  • Steak
  • French fries
  • Hash browns
  • Ketchup + hot sauce for dipping
  • Mayo + hot sauce for dipping
  • Ranch dressing + hot sauce for dipping
  • And finally, ice cream?

Celebrating Mardi Gras

A good meal can offer a transcendent experience for those who truly enjoy food. If you’ve ever shared a really good meal with friends, or been transported to your childhood just by smelling your mom’s chicken noodle soup, you understand the power food has beyond the ability to nourish us physically. I view food as a kind of social glue, it is a tie that helps bind us to our communities and our cultures.

As a transplant to the Twin Cities, often the only connection I have with my Louisiana heritage is through the creole and cajun food I recreate in my own kitchen. My cultural connections have become especially important to me as I grow older and finally understand the need to connect to my personal and communal histories. While many of us in the Twin Cities are bundled up to face another icy day, many people in my home state will already be reveling in the warmth of Mardi Gras festivities.

king cake web

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, may have some detractors because of its association with drunken debauchery but I have so many wonderful memories of this holiday that have nothing to do with alcohol or Bourbon Street. Mardi Gras for me will always call forth memories of colored beads, fantastical parades, masks of many colors, and of course, delicious King Cake covered in gobs of gold, purple, and green sprinkles.

Since I can’t make it down this year for a real Louisiana version of the King Cake, I decided that I’d try my hand at making one myself. The name of this confection is a bit of misnomer since the process of making a King Cake is less like making cake and more like making bread. I usually try to describe it as a cinnamon roll that’s been made into a ring and then covered with glaze and colored sugars. If you’re interested in turning your boring Minnesota Tuesday into a bona fide Fat Tuesday, you can try your hand at the recipe I found to be most successful. Or, if baking bread in the middle of the week is more than you have energy for then try a simple jambalya. Either way, enjoy the connection that food helps you make with cultures, yours or the many others surrounding you.

You’ll also find Jess at the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and tasting amazing!

There’s oatmeal, and then there’s oatmeal.

oatmeal3_fullOunce for ounce, oats have more fat and more protein than most grains, making them perfect fodder for our keenly cold late winter. With their fat and fiber, they stick to your ribs, as people used to say. Folk wisdom has it that the Romans and the English believed that the invincibility of the Scots in battle was because of their oatmeal-heavy diet. True or not, the old ways aren’t wrong about oatmeal’s warming and filling effects. So while the cold winds howl and the temperatures hover south of 0°, here a few cozy oatmeal dishes to keep you full and cozy:

 

  • Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats with Tasty Toppings
  • Oatmeal Pancakes

Cooking tip: There’s oatmeal, and then there’s oatmeal. The most nutritious, and tastiest oats are whole (oat groats): these are the entire oat package, roasted, so they have a lovely flavor to them. Steel-cut oats are oat groats that have been chopped into several pieces by whirling steel blades, so they remain high in food value as well. From there, the nutritional and taste values decline: rolled oats, quick rolled oats, and instant rolled oats offer less fiber and flavor. For the recipes here, use the oats specified.

Slow-cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal

Makes enough for a week’s breakfasts.

Ingredients:
8½ cups of water
2 cups of steel-cut oats
1¾ cups of whole milk
½ cup of brown sugar
½ teaspoon of sea salt

Put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 7–8 hours. Be sure that your cooker remains above 140°F. while the oatmeal is cooking. Once the oatmeal is done, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and stir it in.

Tasty Toppings
• Chopped dates, toasted hazelnuts, a dollop of  plain whole yogurt, topped with a thinly sliced    kumquat
• Orange zest, plain whole yogurt or mascarpone, dusting of cinnamon, and chopped dried
prunes
• Toasted walnuts*, plain whole yogurt or heavy cream, maple syrup

* The most reliable way to toast nuts is in the microwave. Put them in a glass dish and toast them, uncovered, for 2½ minutes, then taste them to see if they’re crisp enough.

Oatmeal Pancakes

This is a very old recipe from the Mother Lode country of northern California that yields the tastiest pancakes imaginable. The only catch is that you need to soak the rolled oats for at least 6 hours. Overnight soaks are just right.
Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:
2 cups of buttermilk
2/3 cup rolled oats
Refrigerate for at least 6 hours

Then, mix in
1 egg
Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/3 cup of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of oil
Stir together until batter is as smooth as oatmeal batter can get.

Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet until hot. Add 2½ tablespoons of oil or clarified butter; spoon the batter onto the hot surface, and cook until each pancake’s sides are slightly frilled and the center has mostly set. Flip over and cook the second side.

Taste it!

Sample overnight oats made with local Whole Grain Milling oats on Sunday, Feb. 23 from 11:30am-3:00pm at both stores.