Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Maggie's Local Food Diet

Here's a posting from Maggie's Local Food Diet.

Local Food Thanksgiving

Today’s the day before Thanksgiving. Already! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! There really is so much to be thankful for.

Dennis and I are doing ok on the local food diet. We ate out with friends last night and saw a great music concert at Brigid’s Cross Irish Pub in Bemidji. I think Dennis is at home right now cutting up a quarter of a deer (a gift from Tom and Heidi—Dennis didn’t get a deer this year).

Pretty much all of our garden is in now, except for a little kale and a few “volunteer” suiho greens. Once they’re gone the garden will officially be put to bed. That’s one thing to be thankful for—being done with gardening for the year! It’s fun work, but time-consuming. However…after this our fruits and veggies will come out of the cellar or the freezer or a jar (except for some cilantro in pots, and some seeds to sprout).

Dennis pulled up the parsnips yesterday. They’re in a wheelbarrow on the porch, waiting to be scrubbed and put in the cellar. This is the first time we’ve ever grown parsnips. Joel Rosen said that for maximum sweetness we should wait until there have been temperatures in the teens before picking them. That was a little tricky, because when the temperature heads to the teens the soil starts to get a little stiff (as in frozen). But it worked, and they’re in the wheelbarrow now.

I’ve cooked parsnips before, but just a little bit, mainly adding them to stir-fries or putting them in soup. This morning on the radio I asked if anyone knew how to cook parsnips. Don Boese said to peel them, slice them thinly, and caramelize them in butter. Missy Roach sent some recipes from a Williams Sonoma website that looked great—including mashed potatoes with parsnips and horseradish, glazed parsnips and carrots with sherry, and parsnip and carrot soup.

Ann Sliney from Bemidji sent the following:
When I was a little girl, my mother peeled parsnips, parboiled them, sliced them lengthwise in flat strips, and sautéed them in butter until they were a lovely brown. I thought they tasted so good, they could be served as dessert.

Ann continued: Are you familiar with Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables by John Peterson and Angelic Organics? Bill and I discovered it when several recipes from it appeared in the Park Rapids Enterprise. We liked them so well, we ordered the book from Amazon. I see that Farmer John has quite a bit on parsnips...

Today on the Morning Show Scott and I got to talk to local food producer Roger Hanson of R & R Hanson Turkey Farm in Aitkin County. Roger and his brother have the only remaining commercial turkey operation in Aitkin County (although in the past Aitkin County had many turkey producers—hence the name of the Aitkin High School mascot—the Gobblers).

They just shipped out the last of the 136,000 turkeys they raised this season. Some of their turkeys are “natural’ (meaning they are not fed meat-based feed and are not treated with conventional antibiotics) and some are conventional (the feed contains meat and bone meal and if necessary the conventional birds are medicated). The Hansons sell their natural birds to Trader Joe’s.

Turkeys are harder to raise than other fowl because they are more susceptible to certain illnesses. The Hansons have a confined turkey operation. Roger says confinement keeps the turkeys from picking up diseases from other birds and wildlife. Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state in the nation. According to Roger, this is because of our proximity to sources of feed and Minnesota’s perfect turkey-rearing climate. The Hanson farm is a “small” operation. Some farms in this state raise millions of birds.

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