Tag-Archive for » Michigan «

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 | Author: admin

A little paprika on top adds some color

A little paprika on top adds some color

Michigan has fallen to number three in celery production only because California and Florida can harvest year-round, so I fear the celery I used for this tuna melt came from elsewhere.

Celery was introduced to the United States by a man named Taylor who came to Kalamazoo from Scotland and planted celery seeds he had brought with him. At first, the diners at the Burdick Hotel viewed celery with more curiosity than enthusiasm. I also love the story that food vendors would try to hawk celery to the puzzled people on the trains that went through Battle Creek.

This tuna melt updates the traditional recipe by substituting pepper jack cheese and adding some chopped red and green peppers. The bread in this photo is my favorite, a homemade gluten-free dark bread (click here for a video on how to make it from the Bob’s Red Mill mix). For those who can eat wheat, rye and pumpernickel taste great.

Ingredients & Directions – Makes four sandwiches

2 cans white albacore tuna, drained
1/2 C mayo
1 T red wine vinegar
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 Vidalia onion, peeled and diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 C ripe olives, drained and diced
6 slices pepper jack cheese
4 slices rye or pumpernickel bread
Pickle slices

Add celery, onion, peppers and olives to tuna. Add mayo and red wine vinegar and mix well. Mound the tuna salad onto the sliced bread and cover with cheese. Trim the cheese slices to cover the top of the tuna salad or shred it for easy placement. Place sandwiches under the broiler until the top of the cheese begins to bubble and brown. Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with pickles.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 | Author: admin

These seedlings were planted 10 days ago

These seedlings were planted 10 days ago

Many of you may already know about hoophouses. They are unheated greenhouses that allow growers to harness the sun’s power during the winter to grow veggies. I live not far from Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm, which uses hoophouses for research and to extend the growing season for their farm market and CSA sales. (CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture where members buy shares of whatever the farmer produces.)

My husband and I were so impressed with what this new technology can do that we put up our own 26 by 36 hoophouse, completed this spring. We enjoyed a bountiful (and early) harvest of warm-weather crops, but now that it is time for our fall planting, I am realizing how complicated this new way of gardening can be.

Our hoophouse out in the field

Our hoophouse out in the field

The first decision is what to plant. Then when to plant. And whether to plant seeds directly or start seedlings indoors for transplanting.

And what do you do with the summer plantings that are still producing? That patty pan squash plant is still reliably giving me a new squash or two every week, so do I rip it out? And what plants can follow other plants without increasing the risk of disease and insect problems?

When in doubt, I rely on two trustworthy sources. First is Eliot Coleman, whose book above on “The Winter Harvest” is my bible. The second is Michigan State University hoophouse specialist Adam Montri. Click here for his free handout on fall plantings for hoophouses in Michigan, adaptable to other cold Midwest states.

Mache, also called corn salad

Mache, also called corn salad

Unheated winter greenhouses can produce abundant harvests of root crops, various greens and onions. The trick is mastering the timing. Growth in winter slows dramatically, so Coleman says that you need to have most of your crops close to harvest stage by the time that the daytime sunlight drops to 10 hours a day. Wunderground tells me that we are down to 11 hours and 49 minutes of daytime today, and the day will be 2 minutes and 51 seconds shorter tomorrow. By my calculation, I have roughly one month more before the big slowdown.

I began starting seeds indoors in August, even though it seemed counter-intuitive to use electricity to start plants indoors when the sunshine outside is free. But the problem is that many of these cool- and cold-weather plants find August temperatures too hot for good germination and early growth.

The other problem, of course, is space. My hoophouse in August was filled to the bring with summer plants that were booming.

The picture above (taken yesterday) shows that the romaine, mache, various lettuces, spinach, chard, kale and beet seedlings started indoors and planted two or three weeks ago are doing great. (Mache, also known as corn salad, is a type of lettuce that Coleman recommends, along with minatura, for winter production. I rely on Johnny’s Seeds for these varieties.)

I also direct-seeded turnips, beets, carrots and lettuce at various times during the last six weeks, but I am worried that many were planted too late to grow big enough to fare well during the winter.

We have not yet had a frost this fall. Those milk jugs painted black are ready to be filled with water, so that they can absorb solar energy during the day and radiate it back at night as an additional temperature boost at night.

My hoophouse does not enjoy a frost-free water hydrant, so it will tricky deciding when to roll up the hoses before they freeze solid. I visited Adam’s hoophouse last January, and he said that he never had to water during the winter. Let’s hope I don’t have to yoke up the dogs like oxen to carry pails of water in January and February.

glass clocheOnce I begin to understand hoophouse dynamics better, I want to explore other possibilities for small-scale, home winter food production. Simple cold frames or “low tunnel” hoophouses two or three feet high offer tremendous promise as a much-lower price.

Coleman writes that the French placed glass cloches over fall plantings in their fields outdoors a century ago, as many as 3,000 on one farm. Like the hoophouse, the glass would allow the sun to come through and heat the plants during the day. Farmers would also cover them with a blanket of ryegrass to insulate them further. But imagine the hard work it took to prop up each of those cloches on days when the sun got so intense they needed to be vented – and then put them back down at night.

Our production dramatically reduced our summer grocery bills. Meijer for me is now the place to buy toilet paper and root beer (and I have a kit to start making my own root beer as well). Let’s hope my winter production feeds us well this winter.

Friday, August 14th, 2009 | Author: admin

White wine with blueberries and peaches - bruschetta with fresh basil and tomatoes

What a glorious time to eat fresh produce in Michigan. The peaches are ripe, as are the blueberries. Here we put them straight into white wine. In this case, the wine is Trillium, a proprietary blend of whites wines from Good Harbor Vineyards in Lake Leelanau. (Thanks to my friend Therese for the idea.)

To go along with the fruit and wine combination, we made a bruschetta with fresh basil and tomatoes. Slice French bread into rounds, then brush the tops with olive oil and bake at 450 degree for 15 to 20 minutes (or long enough to turn the edges brown). Make a chiffonade of fresh basil, top with some chunks of tomato from the garden or a local Farmers’ Market, then grate some pecorino cheese on top.

Does it get any better than this?

Monday, June 15th, 2009 | Author: admin

Sean Hartwig, store manager of Morgan & York in Ann Arbor, demonstrates how you can make your own fresh mozzarella cheese from curd. The three-part video below captures Sean’s tips and techniques based on more than a dozen years working with cheeses. Morgan & York specializes in fine wines and specialty foods.

Part 1 – The history of mozzarella

Part 2: Prepping the curd

Part 3: Elongating the proteins

Morgan & York sells the curd you can use to make your own fresh mozzarella. If you would like to make your own curd (and other cheeses), there is no place better to visit than the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Cheese queen Ricki Carroll makes cheese-making easy. Ricki was even featured in Barbara Kinsolver’s book Animal Vegetable Miracle, which talks about her efforts to become as self-sufficient as possible in producing the family’s food. Ricki herself has a book on cheesemaking called Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses.

Videos by Bonnie Bucqueroux.

Monday, May 11th, 2009 | Author: admin

The last two nights, there were frost warnings, which made me worry that my recently transplanted hot-weather seedlings – tomatoes, squash, watermelon – might not make it through the night, hoophouse or no. But I am pleased to report that they came through unscathed. (Or maybe it never got cold enough to do any damage anyhow?)

I have already learned that the solar rays on sunny days dramatically drive up the temperature. It can be 65 degrees outside and 90 degrees inside the hoophouse. So I have found myself dashing outside with the trusty pole I use to raise and lower the sidewalls so that a breeze keeps the plants from frizzing.

But the minute the sun goes down, the temperature plummets. My hoophouse has a single layer of 6 mill plastic, so it will cool off more quickly and the temperature will drop lower than in my friend Adam’s hoophouse. His has a double layer of plastic with air blown in between.

Best estimates are that a hoophouse can add 4 to 12 degrees at night, though some folks argue it can actually get cooler than in the open air. (Come again? Not sure how that could be.)

One idea I plan to experiment with for cold nights in the spring and fall is using water jugs to radiate heat. I plan to collect plastic milk jugs, paint them black and then nestle them among the tenderest plants. The idea is that the jugs will absorb solar energy during the day and radiate it back at night, making just enough of a difference on some nights between heavy frost damage or none.

My only challenge is to gather enough milk jugs. I now make all of our own soy milk and almond milk. (I bought a Soyabella milk and tofu maker on Amazon. I love it, though I wish it were a bit easier to clean.)

Making our own nut and soy milks makes me feel wonderfully smug about being green about their plasdtic for me. How green is that?


Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Author: admin

Michigan currently has 16 confirmed cases of illness from eating alfalfa sprouts in the City of Detroit, as well as in Oakland, Livingston, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Salmonella saintpaul is responsible. From a news release issued today:

“Anyone who eats raw sprouts may be at risk for exposure to Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7 bacteria,” said Dr. Gregory Holzman, chief medical executive for MDCH. “We want to alert people to the risk of illness with the consumption of raw sprouts.”

Monday, April 13th, 2009 | Author: admin
Jr Iron Chef

I received a copy of this announcement. Sounds cool! — Bonnie

We are excited to invite high school students to join the first Michigan Junior Iron Chef Competition! This competition gives students hands-on cooking experience and teaches them about local foods and healthy food choices. It starts with a recipe contest (entries due May 8th, 2009) and ends with a cook-off competition on September 19th, 2009. Michigan Junior Iron Chef is sponsored by the Michigan Nutrition Network – Michigan State University Extension and the C.S. Mott Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University.
Here’s how it works:

Part 1. We challenge teams of 3-4 high school students to work with an adult coach to make one tasty, healthy school lunch meal featuring Michigan-grown and commodity foods. A list of these foods along with rules for participating are available on the Michigan Junior Iron Chef website listed below. Recipes should be easy and practical for school food service to use and meet nutrition guidelines for school lunch. (See rules on the website for more details.) To enter, teams submit an application and recipe for their meal by May 8th, 2009. Recipes will be judged by creativity, use of local foods, nutritional quality, and practical use for school food service. Winning recipes will be shared with schools throughout the state in a Michigan Junior Iron Chef Cookbook. To participate, student teams must be from Michigan schools which have at least 50% free and reduced-price meal participation. We ask that teams that enter the recipe contest be made up of 9th-11th graders so they may cook as a team at the competition in the fall of 2009.

Part 2: Teams that win the recipe contest will prepare and cook their meals on-site at the Michigan Junior Iron Chef Competition on September 19th, 2009. Teams will also create a nutrition education and marketing packet to present with their meals at the cook-off. Meals will be judged by an expert panel on taste, presentation, creativity, use of local foods, nutritional quality, and practical use for school food service. Prizes will be awarded to three winning teams for Best in Show (best overall), Best Use of Local Foods, and Best Nutrition Education and Marketing Packet. Prizes for the first place team, Best in Show, will be worth up to $150 per student team member and will include an award of $500 to the food service program of the team’s school! Reimbursements for travel for one vehicle per team and up to $100 for ingredients for practicing recipes will also be provided to teams that compete in the cook-off.

The event will also include a cooking demonstration and a healthy lunch along with tours of some of Michigan State University’s farming and food production facilities. Local farmers who provide ingredients for the event will also be invited to attend.

Spread the word! Help us recruit creative student teams for this exciting event! For more details and resources, go to our website at www.mnn.fcs.msue.msu.edu. Thanks for your help in promoting healthy eating habits and celebrating Michigan foods!

Michigan Junior Iron Chef Planning Team
Michigan Nutrition Network, MSU Extension
2100 Anthony Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
mnn @ anr.msu.edu