Archive for the ‘Eating Out’ Category

How Green Was My Garden: Gardening, Social Media & Bacon go to the Fair

Social Media Breakfast MSP 26 is being hosted at the Minnesota State Fair Progress Building on Friday May 21st from 8am to 10am discussing Urban/Organic/ Gardening & Farming.  Your venerable  blogger (yes me) will be trying not to embarass herself as the moderator of a very good panel of guests assembled to discuss how they use social media to promote their businesses, sell their products and connect with their communities.

Panelists include:

* Susan Berkson, Minneapolis Farmers Market (MPLS Farmers Market on Facebook)
* Debbie Morrison, Sapsucker Farms
* Barbara Hegman, PlantJotter
* Lee Zukor, Simple Good & Tasty
* Kirsten Saylor, Gardening Matters

Generous sponsors include Organic Valley and Mother Earth Gardens. At the event will be a mini-market with several vendors and organizations displaying their messages and wares. Please stop by for some bacon and lively discussion of how farmers, growers, advocates, markets and more are using social media in the vibrant world of sustainable growing.

We want street food!

There’s been a lot of griping over the last few years (myself included) about the lack of street food vendors in the Twin Cities and the obstacles the seemingly arbitrary regulations faced by someone looking to start a street food business. (think St.Paul’s rule on taco trucks having to change locations)

Sheila Regan of TC Daily Planet covers the recent bruhaha in Minneapolis with Street vendors coming to downtown Minneapolis?

Minneapolis’s Regulatory Services and Public Works Committee on March 22. After hearing testimony pro and con, the committee voted to forward to the City Council, without recommendation, an amended ordinance that would allow 25 street food vendors to set up their businesses in downtown Minneapolis. In the next two weeks, city staff will make changes to the proposed amendment related to issues brought up at the public hearing.

As you might expect T.C. food guru Andrew Zimmern has something to say and in his column titled Moron Awards he lets loose on local favorite Hell’s Kitchen.

Most ironically the article included a quote from Cynthia Gerdes of Hell’s Kitchen who opined that “I paid $33,000 in rent last month, and now I have to compete with someone who pays $400 a year for their food license?” What a bone headed idea that is. How is this any different than any other business? If you choose (and yes, it is a choice) to pay $33,000 in rent then you are crazy. Second, these types of complainers already compete with those paying less overhead and have been for as long as there have been restaurants. Third, a falafel cart selling 100 sandwiches at lunch helps businesses in the same way that restaurants on the same block help each other to grow business. Fourth, HK is getting into the mobile food game so its unfairly hypocritical, and fifth, based on my visit there last Sunday for brunch, the biggest problem HK has is not the burgeoning groundswell of support for mobile food carts. It’s their own food and service, which have gone downhill in a big way over the last year.

What a disaster of a meal…rude greeting, a 40-minute wait for food, missed items on our order, major service missteps, six out of seven cold plates of food, and inedible items (truly). And the most puzzling of all: Even if you think its kitschy to have your servers wear pajamas, the least you can do is insist they are clean, not pilled, stained, and wrinkled. What a turnoff.

I don’t care what universe you’re from, that’s gotta hurt.

What kind of street food would you like to eat?


How Green Was My Garden: Let’s get it started in here

“Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. — Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Seedstarting. Not too long ago it was only for hardcore gardeners with casual gardeners usually purchasing seedlings ready to plant from big garden centers.  But the rebirth of vegetable gardening, especially urban gardens, has caused a huge surge in seed sales & folks trying their hand at seedstarting. 

Locally Mother Earth Gardens has offered seminars on seedstarting for years but in the past two the free seminars have reached capacity for reservations as soon as they are announced.  Their beginning seminars are full of people who are just starting their gardens as well as those who have never started their garden from seed before.  The seminars were so successful the neighborhood garden store added an advanced seminar. 

Advanced Seedstarting Seminar from Mother Earth Garden

During the advanced seminar we shared stories about how long we’ve been gardening, the best gardening books, and most of the time was spent sharing each gardener’s tips for everything on fruit trees, pruning raspberries and of course pest control. 

Seedstarting is simple once you have the right tools.  The most common mistake is hoping that sunlight in Minnesota is sufficient for good germination & plant growth.  The spring sun locally is not good enough and must be supplemented with grow lights.  There are many more options this season than ever before for setting up the best light system for your seeds.  I purchased hanging lamps  and just use a wire rack shelf from Target for all the trays but if you would rather have a ready-made system there are many options available, though they tend to be a bit expensive. 

The other key to good seedstarting is heat.  I keep my seeds in the utility room next to the water heater & furnace so it gets very warm in there. But there are many heat mats available as well to help you maintain that warmth. 

Humidity control is also important for good germination of your seeds, so making sure you have the plastic greenhouse lids on your trays until they are big enough for thinning out is key.  Different shapes available from large domes for bigger plants & short ones to greenhouse shaped units

Moisture is the final key to good seedstarting.  The plastic domes will help you maintain good water levels in your soil but you need to maintain tht with proper watering, not too wet (seedlings will rot & be suceptible to damp off) and not too dry.  Watering from above is okay as long as the spout on your watering can disperses the water without disturbing the soil.  Or you can water from below in the trays, just make sure you only water enough for the plugs to absorb & they aren’t sitting in standing water. 

Seeds at Mother Earth

The biggest advantage to seedstarting yourself is the increased selection of plants you can choose.  There are so many heirloom varieties and unique hybrids to choose from when using seeds that would never be available at your farmer’s market or garden store.  I usually purchase some seeds in stores in my neighborhood like Minnehaha Falls Nursery or Mother Earth & supplement those with ordering from garden catalogs.  The best part of February is pouring over my seed catalogs to choose what I will grow this year. 


This year I am adding some new lettuce varieties as well as a melon, interesting cabbage & brussels sprouts & filet beans to my garden, things that would only be affordable and even found through seed catalogs. 

Some good choices for organic seed catalogs include  Minnesota’s own Peter’s Seeds, TomatoFest, Botanical Interests, John Scheepers, Seeds of Change, and Seedsavers

It is a bit late for starting some veggies from seed, like onions & leeks, which I started in late February.  But in the right conditions you should be able to still get your seeds started on most all other vegetables now and early April.  The University of Minnesota Extension service has a great guide for a good seedstarting schedule. 

Because of our early warm weather you can get a jump start on direct sowing on things like peas, lettuce, radish, spinach and carrots.  You can just put those directly in your pots or raised beds, or in the ground if it is in a sunny location and has warmed up enough. It is best to wait just a bit longer on things like squash & beans because as we all know in Minnesota there is always a chance for more cold, including a hard frost or snow. 

So if you have never grown your plants from seeds, it is very easy & affordable with a few tricks & tips.  There will always be crop failures, it happens to nurseries too. But you can still be successful & have the great satisfaction of growing your own food from seed to table and have a fantastic variety of flowers too! So what are you growing from seed this year?

How Green Was My Garden: Ring the Bell for Sustainability

The Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota is hosting a great panel discussion with Local Growers about sustainability & why it is important.  Here is the release:

Sustainable Foods and Farming Local Growers Panel
Tuesday, March 23, 7-9 pm at the Bell Museum Auditorium, East Bank, U. of Minnesota

Why is sustainability important for land and for people?

What is being done in Minnesota to help reduce environmental degradation? Why should we care? Four local growers will share their stories of gardening and farming using organic and sustainable practices, native plants and alternative market structures.

Speakers: Jim Riddle, organic farmer, sustainable agriculture educator Tony Thompson, grower of corn, soybeans and native plants Courtney Tchida, with the U of M’s Student Organic Farm Norm Erickson, a grower of hazelnuts for food and fuel

Tour the Bell Museum’s Hungry Planet Exhibit before the panel starts! Following the panel, audience members will be able to ask questions and share information about opportunities to get involved in the local foods movement in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Sustainability Studies Minor,

How would you like an extra-long Dinger Dog?

I’m sure you’ve heard Twins Announce New Hot Dogs For Target Field, but the names crack me up.

“The four dogs are the Original Twins Dog, the Twins Big Dog, the Dugout Dog and the Dinger Dog.”

The original Twins dog is a seven-to-one, ballpark frank-style hot dog, it’s a skinless hot dog that will be available in various locations throughout the ballpark,” said Peter Spike with Delaware North Sports Service.

The Twins Big Dog is a quarter pound, all-beef dog that officially replaces the former Dome Dog.

“We have the quarter-pound all-beef hot dog, that’s the Twins Big Dog,” said Spike.

An old-fashioned pork and beef hot dog in its natural casing has been named the Dugout Dog and will be sold in the stands at Target Field by retro-attired vendors during all home games.

“And then vended in the seats is a little bit different twist, we’re going retro, our vendors will all be wearing retro garb, kind of back to old Met Stadium days, and its going to be a natural casing hot dog that will be served and assembled, component wise, right there in the seats for you,” said Spike.

The Dinger Dog is an extra-long, pork and beef hot dog which will be available at the Hennepin Grille in Target Field.

“We have the Dinger Dog, which is our foot-long version of the smaller hot dog,”

JD then follows it up with a GQ about eating meat. Good Question: Why The Baseball-Hot Dog Link?

The song may talk about peanuts and Cracker Jack, but everyone knows the food most associated with baseball is the hot dog. Exhibit A: the kerfuffle over the end of the Dome Dog with the Minnesota Twins. So, why is baseball so closely linked with hot dogs?

“There’s something about the smell. You can just smell you’re at a ballpark if you close your eyes because this is how it’s supposed to be,” said Clyde Doepner, the archivist for the Minnesota Twins.

MMmmmm mmmmm, nothing like the smell of hot weiners . . heh.
I really should grow up, one of these days . . . one of these days.


Food is a four letter word

The Heavy Table has been getting a little bit of guff over their use of some naughty language in a story.
In a write up on The Gopher Bar opens up with

“Fuck you,” says the guy behind the counter. “I’m not talking to you. Fuckin’ middle of lunch.” Behind him a grill covered wall-to-wall with charred hot dogs and buttered buns sizzles and spews a cloud of smoke so thick it’s audibly choking the overhead exhaust fan. The guy takes a swig from a bottle of Bud, sets it back down next to a pack of Marlboro Reds, and squints at us like we’re wearing panties on our heads. “Talk to my wife.”

The post then goes on to capture the crude language of the owners while describing the bar’s atmosphere in scary detail.
Some of the commenters disagree

Peter says:
03/01/2010 at 6:49 AM
I don’t think this piece is appropriate to Heavy Table. Being barraged with the profanity-laden quotes of a bar-keeper isn’t food journalism.

while my favorite comment comes from

Max “Bunny” Sparber says:
03/01/2010 at 9:21 AM
The owner is a world-class crank — the one and only time I went, the bar was loaded with anti-immigration slogans and related expressions of pure assholishness. The service was likewise belligerent and poor, the drink selection miserable, and the food half-assed. Places like this would close except, I presume, other miserable people who have been 86ed from every other bar for their sheer douchiness have found it and continue to support it. I imagine they spend a lot of time there aggravating and abusing each other, and think they are rebels and heroes for doing so.

Well, at least the bar serves an important function: It’s like flypaper for jerks.

Wait. He is talking about The Gopher and not having Mnspeak flashbacks, right?

As for my thoughts on the article I think the language usage in true to the establishment and I have no problems with the occasional swear. The best thing about the review is the amazing drawings, check them out.


Keep your hands off my weiner.

The Strib reports on the food choices for the new Target Field and they are sounding delicious.

We’re talking pork chops on a stick, walleye on a stick and cheese curds a la State Fair. But we’re also talking wild rice soup, Juicy Lucy burgers and a Murray’s steak sandwich that marries ballpark grub with Minneapolis steakhouse fare.


Though there’s one point of contention that is getting fans all worked up.

Still undecided, however, is whether Minnesotan’s darling — the Dome Dog — will make a comeback at the new park. “It’s the Number One question that I get asked,” Spike said.


Dare the new food services mess with the the quarter pound beef hotdog known as the Dome Dog?

Should Hormel lose the battle for top dog I’ve heard some other brands tossed out there, Schweigert: Old Fashioned Coarse Ground W/Natural Casing Wieners would be delicious, but can they top the beloved Dome Dog?

What do you think?


Naked Award Winner – Jamie Oliver wins TED Prize


Jamie Oliver, who revolutionized how many people cook with his groundbreaking “Naked Chef” television series and cookbooks has been named the recipient of the 2010 TED Prize.  With the prize Oliver wins $100,000 to grant a wish to “change the world.”

Changing the world is nothing new to Oliver, who as a very young chef took his training in Great Britain and Italy and showed that food can be stripped down to its very essence, “Naked” and enjoyed by all.  His father owned a pub in Essex where his love of cooking began to be fostered.  He went onto Westminster Catering College and then trained in France. And after time at prestigious restaurants it was while a documentary was being filmed at the River Café where Oliver’s irreverent style and what he calls “cheeky” nature found the cameras.  Soon after “The Naked Chef” was born and Oliver became one of the newest and certainly youngest of the celebrity chefs.

jamies-america-largeBut the British kid who plays drums in a rock band didn’t just cook food. He was passionate about it, where it came from, and especially how food was affecting the youth of Britain.   With his celebrity Oliver launched a campaign to improve the food in UK school lunch programs. He filmed a multi-part documentary and worked with the British government to change policies about what was being served to the UK children in his battle to fight obesity and ensure they were eating healthier foods.

Oliver didn’t stop with school lunches, he founded the Fifteen Foundation a program that exists to help disadvantaged youth, now across Europe, assisting them to build careers in the restaurant industry. The concept is based on an apprenticeship model with a working restaurant, foundation and training program all together.  The  Fifteen program has graduated 159 students at a cost of $49,500 each through the start of 2009.

He also took his love for good food to the British television airwaves in a documentary to dramatically demonstrate how chickens live and die to reach consumers’ plates in the UK. Olivers’ “Fowl Dinners” on Channel Four has directly lead to a dramatic increase in the demand for free range chickens at grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury.

Following the chicken across the road, Oliver also launched a fight to save British pork in his series “Jamie Saves our Bacon.” Which discusses UK pig breeding and the heritage of local pork.   His other special focuses on getting people back into the kitchen. Oliver’s “Ministry of Food” shows how simple healthy cooking is just as easy as nuking frozen school-dinners-featuredinners and is an important part of a good diet; how making your own food is most often less expensive than buying pre-made, pre-assembled and pre-packaged foods. Oliver has also fought for clear and accurate food labeling in supermarkets and grocery stores in Great Britain.

Jamie has launched his own wines and foods as well as dinnerware and other products like most celebrity chefs. Unfortunately for us Yanks, the food and wines do not seem to be available in the United States yet and shipping on most of the other products is obviously spendy, but it can be well worth it.

Of course, the cookbooks are still his bread and butter,excuse the pun. In fact the Fifteen Foundation is funded entirely by an endowment from sales of one of his cookbooks. Oliver continues to come out with unique approaches to food to surprise and entertain.  His latest, Jamie’s America, includes his take on American cuisine after filming recent specials and a BBC Series in the United States.  He is also about to launch his fight against childhood obesity and toward healthy foods for children in schools across the pond to the American market in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA to be aired as a television special on ABC.  You can sign Jamie’s petition for better food in US school lunches here.

As the  recipient of the TED prize, Oliver is certainly one person who use that $100,000 prize and take “One wish to change the world”, he has already done so in so many ways.

Talking Minnesotan – 01/31/2009

It’s the end of another year and Minnesotans,much like people everywhere, are making lists.

There are lists for music and lists for food
lists of fashion and lists that are rude
there’s a list for this and a list for that
be thankful, a list alone can’t make you fat

there’s a list for events and a list of regrets
and a list of things we’re not supposed to forget

Yeah there’s a list there, but no list here
I just wish you a Happy New Year.

A toast made to kindness

Yup, lots of lists. And the world keeps moving around the sun.
MPR wonders about “School levies passing in a weak economy? An odd reason” Think about it.
Starting tonight @FirstAvenue will debut their newly expanded sound system on New Years Eve. More bass for 2010 and I like the sound of that.

And soon…very very soon @spclassiccookie will be opening the greatest of new stories a cookie store. Act now, they are having a contest.
I asked Katie the question “How awesome is it to sell cookies?” and she answered it up

Pretty darn awesome!
I am passionate about scratch food, especially baked goods and cookies was the one thing I was always interested in mixing and baking since I was a young child. With cookies there is so much potential for creative expression, whether in the kind of cookie you are making, or in how you decorate it, there are never ending possibilities to create.
Basically we are ecstatic to be able to reopen and once again have the opportunity to make the most delicious cookies, muffins, cakes, and other baked goods.

Saint Paul Classic Cookie: 2386 Territorial Rd., St. Paul & the cross street is Raymond Ave.

C is for Cookie, and that’s good enough for me.

Another toast

Let’s close it all out with a video by our own Todd Pittman on December 26, 2009 at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis, Minnesota
City on the Make – Chicks on Bikes


Talking Minnesotan – 12/18/2009

It was eerily quite in Minnesota this week. No major media brawls, no yelling at kids to get off the snowbank, no polite discussion about the weather, it was strange. All told there were maybe three words uttered in the entire 7 days, but my team of fact checkers were unable to verify they actually happened.

I suppose this is part of an inevitible shift towards texting and twittering all communications.

Though, Minnesotan Al Franken has had a few things to say in D.C. and my homies at In The Loop made this video in his honor.
Night Before Christmas (Joe Lieberman -style)

Finally, someone is speaking again. Now maybe now we can get back to the accustomed “Cold enough for ya?” and “LEARN TO DRIVE YOU MOTHERF*&$#NG SON OF A WH@RE” that usually permeates the air this time of year.

Speaking of air, The Uptake has real time Climate Conference video and check out their tweet bar for some sweet data. mmmmmm data.

Need some food-N-Booze? SOTC has Holiday Cocktails and Beyond

Have you heard that They think they found Dark Matter at the bottome of a Minnesota mine? I’m sure it’s either that or a hockey puck.

Marrina ponders beauty MeiselPic: What Your Facebook Friends Might Look Like If They Were Super-Hot Models

Want to hear something cool? Cathy Wurzer of Minnesota Public Radio brings us the Minnesota Beatle Project

a new CD that features 16 Minnesota-based artists interpreting Beatles songs. One of the more intriguing tracks in the collection is a version of “Norwegian Wood” by Jeremy Messersmith and Zach Coulter.

Sadly, I wasn’t invited to sing; even though it’s widely known no one in Minnesota can cover McCartney like I. JET! Whooooo ooooooo JET!
Though I’m not bitter,but there will be blood. Fake blood made of pistachio pudding and and boiled okra.
Using fake blood clots to train real nurses

Blood not your thing? Fair enough, not really mine either so let’s calm down Minnesota style with some Owl City.

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