Archive for ‘Slow Food’

March 1, 2013

It Makes a Difference | Askinosie Chocolate Tasting

Tasting SheetIt’s sometimes the unplanned moments that work out to be the best ones in your day.

Take the morning e-mail from a thoughtful Slow Food Columbus member who types a quick joke, makes you laugh and extends an invitation to attend a chocolate tasting with Shawn Askinosie in the Jeni’s Ice Cream Kitchens.

That afternoon.

Well, you have to say yes, don’t you?

I should say yes more often.

Especially when you’re saying yes to hear what Shawn Askinosie has to talk about.  Not only is he making remarkable chocolate that’s traceable from bean to bar, but he and his family are working hard to improve the lot of the farmers who grow the beans, the neighborhood and community in which the factory is located and heck, the lives of every single person who unwraps a bar of what I am starting to think is some of the best chocolate that has ever melted on my tongue.

Shawn takes something that inherently makes people happy – chocolate – and then ups the ante by making it good for everyone along the supply chain.  Good, clean and fair indeed.

His noble work takes him all around the world to the cocoa farmers and co-ops that he trades with directly who reside in that narrow band 20 degrees to the north and to the south of the equator.  There, in far flung locales from Ecuador to Tanzania to the Phillipines, Shawn partners, pays fairly and profit-shares with growers – many of them women – to produce not the rarest beans, but the ones handled with the greatest care.  Askinosie beans are carefully raised, picked, fermented and then sun-dried in the equatorial heat.

Don’t take my word that it’s these careful steps that makes Askinosie among the best chocolate made anywhere.  Listen to David Lebovitz.

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May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day at Pleasantview Farm | Asparagus with Shallots

Mother’s Day afternoon was spent just how I wanted it: out at a gorgeous farm, with good food, family and friends.  Pleasantview Farm is twenty miles outside of Columbus, but feels a world away.  The farm is quiet with vast expanses of meadow and sky.  A working organic dairy farm, it is home to a great many head of beautiful dairy cows and their adorable offspring.

Since it was a potluck, I brought along an easy asparagus salad that was drizzled with a mustard dressing just before serving (a Ball jar works great for this).  It was an easy, no fuss day.  Perfect for Mother’s Day.

Asparagus Salad with Shallots, serves plenty at a potluck

2 pounds asparagus, stringy ends removed

1 thick slice of pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice

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February 15, 2011

Snowville Creamery | Making Crème Fraiche

A little kitchen magic. After 24 hours, thick creme fraiche pours from the heavy cream container.

Slow Food Columbus recently held a free (yes! it was free!) workshop at the North Market as part of their taste education efforts.  It was so wonderful to see a room full of folks eager to learn how to make their own butter.   Warren Taylor, a.k.a., the Dairy Evangelist, lead the class and was a fireball of energy and information.  I learned the differences between the milk produced by the beautiful grass fed ladies Snowville cares for and the product from more intensive methods.  I learned about the difference between pasteurization and ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurization (Why is UHT milk slightly sweet? Because it starts to caramelize at that high temperature. Eek).  Warren even convinced me to switch from skim to whole.  (I’ll move up to 2% first, but I’m doing it.)

But not only did I learn the difference between sweet cream and cultured cream butters (and made them) but I also learned something tremendous: how to make crème fraiche.  Oh yes.

Here’s how:

1 cup of cultured buttermilk

1/2 gallon heavy cream

Mix the two.  In Snowville’s carton, there’s enough room for you to add in the buttermilk and shake it to mix.  Let it sit on the counter for 24 hours.  Voilà ! Crème fraiche.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Then to make cultured butter, pour some of this crème fraiche into a food processor (no higher than the liquid fill line) and flip on.  Process until the butter separates from the buttermilk (it will happen rather suddenly).  Using your hands squeeze out all the buttermilk from the butter (do this over a bowl and save that buttermilk for pancakes or coleslaw dressing), then rinse the butter under cold water until it runs clear (it keeps longer if you do this).

Fun fact: If you make butter from heavy cream, the liquid you press out is not buttermilk, it’s skim milk!  Who knew?

Keep an eye out for crème fraiche in tonight’s dinner.  It’s divine.

Thank you Warren Taylor.  We love Snowville.  We love your pasture grazed cows.  We love their fresh milk and the heavenly cream that rises to the top.

December 3, 2010

Open House at Oakvale Farmstead Cheese

Ladies getting a treat of some corn silage (grown on the premises) and alfalfa.

This morning we drove out to Oakvale Farmstead for their holiday open house.  We were greeted exuberantly by Greta, a golden lab farm dog.  I could tell, it was going to be a delightful morning.  Instantly, Cherub was off and running, enticing Greta to follow her around, which she did without hesitation.

Oakvale ships wheels all over the world.

I met with Dena King-Nossokoff to talk cheese and learn a bit more about how they make their gouda.  The farm is family owned and run.  The King family has a herd of about 20 beautiful and happy dairy cows that provide the milk for their very famous Gouda.  Farmstead cheese, by definition, is made on the farm with only the milk of the dairy animals that live there. 

In their cheese house, you can take a look at the cheese-making room as well as choose from many varieties of cheese including gouda rubbed with Barley’s Russian stout.  We took home a chunk of that, as well as some caraway seed gouda that I’ll use for dinner tonight. 

Aged gouda at the top has a decidedly different look than the young gouda (bottom).

Also swoon-worthy is their

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November 26, 2010

The Official Persephone’s Kitchen Holiday Gift Guide

The turkey coma is fading, the leftover turkey carcass is simmering on the stove for stock, and now you can start thinking about what to do about your holiday gifts.  ‘Tis the season to be giving!  Perhaps you’ve got a friend or family member that loves all things food, or all things Ohio or all things fabulous. 

Persephone is here with a trusty list that’s sure to have them smiling.  Here are some of the things that will be wrapped and given to our nearest and dearest this year, whether it’s under a tree or lovingly pressed into the welcoming hands of a hostess with a houseful of merrymakers.

For the Baker

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October 2, 2010

Dinner, Day One: Fall Fest at Flying J Farm

Photo credit, Ely Brothers

 

Hades, Cherub and I headed to Johnstown this afternoon for some fun on the farm. Cherub enjoys chasing the chickens and enticing Jewel the farm dog to play fetch. 

Hades and I were looking forward to the organic, grass-fed beef burgers for which Farmer Jensen is famous. 

While once again it managed to rain when we were there (same as the Slow Food dinner back August), but the rain never seems to dampen anyone’s spirits when they’re there. Dinner was pot luck, so I brought along a green bean and tomato salad from all the produce loveliness we bought this morning. Original credit for this salad goes to Chef Brian Polcyn, cited in Ruhlman’s Soul of a Chef

This is an easy salad that is great for entertaining and for pot luck meals like this one.  And it could hardly be more local. 

Wishwell Green Bean Salad  

½ pound green beans, tipped and halved if too long (Wishwell Farms

3 oz bacon ends, chopped (from Curly Tail Farm

1 Roma tomato, sliced in strips the approximate size as the beans (Wishwell) 

1 yellow tomato, sliced in strips (Wishwell) 

1 very large green onion, sliced (from Northridge Organic Farm) 

Apple cider vinegar, grapeseed oil, salt and pepper 

In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the beans for 3 to 4 minutes, or until just done. Remove the beans from the water to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. 

Render the chopped bacon ends until crispy. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve the drippings. Yes. Do it. 

In a large bowl, combine the bacon fat, 1/8 c grapeseed oil, 1/8 apple cider vinegar and the salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add the beans (that have been drained and dried slightly), yellow and red tomatoes, green onion, and crispy bacon. Mix lightly to keep the tomatoes in strips. 

For more pictures of Slow Foods Columbus‘s Shake the Hand That Feeds You Dinner, check the Ely Brothers’ Facebook album.

October 1, 2010

Rules of the Game

I figured it’d be best to set some ground rules for the next week of cooking, eating and imbibing.

I’ve looked up the definition of local food, and have been presented with a number of conflicting definitions.  But this week’s theme from Local Matters is OH So Good.  And many people are comfortable saying anything within two-hour drive can be considered local.  Fortunately, we live right smack in the middle of Ohio.  We’ll go with that two-hour rule.

Because I want you to try this, too, even if it’s just for one meal, we’ll follow the “wild card” locavore rules, which are the most accessible of the movement and allow for coffee, sugar, spices and the like.  (Persephone is not a very nice girl if she doesn’t have her caffeine.)

But I am going give up the Coke Zeros.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t locally harvested.

I’ll also occasionally feature Ohio-produced goods this week, like Rossi Pasta or Silver Bridge Coffee, although neither source locally.

In general, I’ll do my best to make sure it’s from as close to home as possible.

All this week, too, in keeping with our theme, I’ll be featuring some of my favorite Ohio music.

The goal of the week is to have some fun, try some new dishes, meet some new farmers and eat some great food.  Thanks for following me on the journey!

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