Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- What is your favorite homemade juice???

I haven't done a "Tuesdays Top Ten" in years.  With that idea creating a theme for me this morning, I realize I haven't used certain kitchen tools that I own.... In a number of years too. (Or at least not as much as I used to).

My April 1st resolution has everything to do with rediscovering  the healthy and amazing ways that I can help nurture and sustain my loved ones with the power of food and beverages.  

I confess that convenience has crept its way into some of my weekly routines over the last couple of years.  It's a type of convenience that I have never really wanted to subscribe to- and I'm not going to bore you with the details of it either.  As I would like to say I am making the healthiest choices everyday that I know are right for us, I simply just think I could be doing better- having a baby grow out of infant phase has helped too.

Once upon a time I was going to school to become a Dietician.  I was really serious about this endevour too.  I took every chemistry and psychology class I could.  I even took Statistics (a prerequisite math class) that almost wrecked me and my GPA.  My determination to become this type of professional stemmed from my love and dedication to being a mother.  I wanted my children to have the brightest, happiest, and healthiest start ever.  I knew from the moment they were born it was my responsibility to lead by example, teach them about good choices, and that with a little patience you can discover the most amazing things.  Of course all my energy to accomplish this went into how food could help us achieve these goals.

My mantra was established during this time "We all have to eat to live, so make it something good."  This was a derivative of another mantra we all are familiar with I am sure... "You are what you eat!!"  

Little did I know as I coursed ahead to become a leader in the world of nutrition that a little nagging feeling I had been experiencing would soon take over and send me down a parallel path instead.  I had always wanted to go culinary school and when the College I had applied for put me on the waiting list to start my final years of becoming a dietician, I took that as a sign that maybe I should instead pursue the career that included foods and cooking that I was truly passionate about.  A new idea and mantra swelled to life as my mindfulness to what I truly loved about food came to a full understanding.  I did not want to "tell people how to make good food choices."  What I really wanted was, "Make and create good food choices that people wanted to eat!"

Along this journey I have practiced and practiced and practiced.  I have taken time to understand what works and what doesn't in the kitchen.  I have learned how to work with a team to create some amazing experiences for guests.  I have found ways to transfer these skills to my home kitchen too and be able to quickly whip up a tasty dinner for starving children.  It all brings me back to why I started this concentration on food in the first place.  My children.  

With growing kids it's a daily challenge to provide enough, a balance, and especially complete these tasks with something they actually like to eat.  I am fortunate that we had an early start with a variety of flavors, so that I have children with very developed and adventurous taste buds.  They amaze me now with so many of the things that I showed them when they were little- they have very developed palates for kids I think.   They also have these habits and understanding of making intentionally good choices that I think will help them the rest of their lives.  

It's my hope that as they grow up- even if they get caught up in being busy and having no time that they will remember these practices and choices and always fall back on these things I have shown them.

 I realize now that it is ok that I had to dust off the juicer this morning.  It may have been a while since I have used it intentionally to have a healthy start to our day, but I made a great choice and that is all that matters.  I watched our 9 month old baby's eyes light up with her very first tastes of raw apple carrot juice this morning.  That's proof enough for me to start dusting off even more of the memories and skills I have learned over the years of practicing nutrition and culinary artistry.   I'm excited to explore and practice and this is what leads me to my top ten today:

Top Ten Juice/Smoothie Flavors I want to try and make:

1. Apple Pear Parsnip
2. Blueberry Cherry Blackberry Sage
3. Pear Ginger 
4. Mango Banana Coconut milk with mint
5. Green Juice: Parsley, Swiss Chard, Beets, bok Choy, Carrots,etc....
6. Clean the refrigerator juice- you know when you have produce that needs to get used sooner than later :)
7. Citrus ginger juice- oranges, lime, red grapefruit
8. Beet apple
9. Lemon thyme apple juice

Now here is where I need your help friends......

10. Please share with me your favorite juice combination!!!

Cheers Friends!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This is really something special to me that I want to share......

Harvest Dinner Series at Black Star Farms is Wednesday March 12th, 2014 at 6:30 and there are still open seats available. I am inviting you to join us for this memorable and unique dining experience that I am apart of!

 It is certainly an interesting time of year to think that we are coordinating a dinner that is featuring what is in season on our farms-especially when we are currently buried under 5 feet of snow still and the temperatures have hung out in the single and negative digits over the past month regularly.

Photo Courtesy of Greyscale Group

"The Harvest Dinner Series" used to only be a dinner series that was open for our guests to attend May through October.  It was very easy to pick a featured harvest in these months because naturally everything is growing nicely in this area from late spring to early autumn. From "Morels in May" to "Squash and Apple" Dinner in October we had a beautiful array of vibrant and beautiful products to work with.  It was too easy to create the menu really- and so the challenge of producing a specialty dinner in the winter and early spring months transformed from our passion to show people that the Harvest can be featured every calendar month.

  This is the first year that we have expanded the monthly dinner series to 11 months with the hopes that we could share with our guests and friends the beauty of the harvest year round.  The methods of storing, canning, curing, pickling, freezing and preparing foods in the bountiful and verdant harvest months for the use of them later is as old as our world- and a practice that is important to our survival in these northern areas where our land becomes mostly dormant and sleeps under a white blanket for sometimes almost half the year.

The things that we are doing on our own to work with what we raise and grow requires planning and intention, knowledge and work to assure they will make it through the months to be available later.  When we want to work with food sources outside of buying the industrialized products and vast array of fresh produce transported from thousands of miles away, we have to work with our community if we want to work with variety.

Photo Courtesy of Greyscale Group

I love this part because it involves building relationships and developing friendships with people who are working to achieve the same thing as we are- a sustainable community of people and products.  A community with skills to create a food system that provides everything we need to be healthy and happy.

So what in the world will we feature in March for our Harvest dinner.  This one is really cool in my opinion and I can hardly wait to share it with all who will attend in a few days.  The March Harvest dinner is featuring "Goose and Winter Greens".  Five courses with a wine pairing experience that is dedicated to displaying what can be creatively made from everything goose and everything greens.  Even the dessert will have greens and goose!  Trust me when I tell you that it really is quite a challenge to create a goose and winter green dessert compared to October's dinner when we use apples and squash.

Geese who were born and raised on the farm this past summer will be used.  These are geese who ate our prep kitchen veggie trimmings and played in the mini swimming pool on the hot August days.  Who were harvested last fall with much honor and appreciation for giving their life.

The winter greens that we will work with really are a specialty because they grow in hoop houses (a beautiful system that farmers build to capture the solar power and warmth of the sun to extend the use of the soil year round)  Micro greens are another winter green that are found at the winter farm market and grown lovingly by farmers who understand our need for the vitamins and minerals that come from leafy green plants.

Chef Jonathan Dayton really devotes his creative imagination into the building of these harvest dinner menus.  He uses his experience and understanding of flavors to build dishes that are truly innovative and definitely delicious.  We have the fortunate opportunity to then pair these special dishes with the wine that is created by the talented Black Star Farms winery team for an food and beverage experience like no other.

I have helped host these dinners for the past few years now too, and it is an honor to represent our agricultural community at these dinners.  It is easy for me to share with the friends and guests who attend the Harvest Dinner Series what I know to be true about every part of the menu that is being presented to them over the course of the dinner experience. 

I confess it has taken me some time and lots of learning to understand how I could become a helpful member of my community.  To be able to work together with others to share the best of "what I am able to do" and develop it to fit into "what we can do".  

I want to be apart of a team that represents thoughtful care in everything that we pursue.  The Harvest Dinner series may ultimately be just a monthly dinner, and another chance for people to eat good food and drink good wine together.  I tend to think it is just a little bit more than that though when you consider all of the people who are involved in making it even possible.  That is the true spirit of community to me and one that I definitely want to be apart of.