Tag Archives: st. louis food culture

Favorite kitchen gadgets

When I turned 40 several months back I asked for a manual hand mixer.  I have wanted one for quite a while and thought that any request I made on the eve of 40 would be met with a yes. In retrospect, maybe I should have asked for more. Ha ha.  Seriously, I  do love this kitchen gadget.  It’s great for scrambling eggs, banana bread, making pancake mix, and a wonderful way to introduce kids to cooking.  It’s fun and easy to use and you don’t have to worry about that wacky electricity and fingers getting caught in rotating beaters. 

Beck after a succesful waffle mix session. Notice the flour on the shirt!

For bigger jobs I will pull out the big ol’ Kitchen Aid Mixer, but it’s heavy and not really needed for simple mixing.  I know that the hand mixer came from Home-Eco which is on Macklind.  I’m sure you can get them other places, but Home-Eco is a great place since they are a “Green General Store.”  www.home-eco.com

My other favorite kitchen tools are my pressure cooker and immersion blender. My in-laws got us the pressure cooker about six years ago and it has been a favorite.  Sure, it’s not total “slow” cooking, but I can make dried beans in one hour without any pre-soaking.   Kale cooks up perfectly in about three minutes.  And lentils are ready in as little as ten minutes. It makes cooking from scratch a little easier for me.

 I know some folks have bad memories of pressure cookers, but these are easy and safe to use.  I highly recommend getting a pressure cooker cook book to go along with your pressure cooker as it gives you lots of information about what you can cook and suggested times.  

And lastly, the immersion blender. We got this right before our son was born because I was insistent on making all of his food.  I’m happy to say I did make most of his food and  still do (this is probably the only thing I have really stuck with of all my pre-baby ideas of how I would parent–as my friend Amanda says,”You’re the best parent you are ever going to be before you actually have kids.”) The immersion blender made it so much easier. 

I made all kinds of concoctions when he was little–broccoli, barley, tahini, brewer’s yeast–that I blended to a smooth consistency so he could eat it easily.  I use it now to make smoothies or blend a soup or pasta sauce. 

There are a million kitchen gadgets out there.  My suggestion is to think of your per cost use.  How many times you will use it–weekly, daily, every five years?  The more you use it the more your cost per use goes down.  And if the item really will help you eat more healthy foods then it might be worth it. 

Yours in cooking and eating and supporting local food.

Maddie

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Bulk-up in the New Year

bulk-photo1That’s right I wrote Bulk-Up.  Of course I’m referring to our ever expanding bulk section. In the coming weeks we hope to add several varieties of loose leaf tea, more varieties of nuts and possibly even flour if space and equipment permits.

Locally grown bulk items included: pecans in the shell, popcorn, Black-Eyed Peas (great for New Year’s), Lima Beans, Crowder Peas, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Kidney Beans and a lovely Heirloom Red Bean.  We also carry almonds, pinenuts, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds and crystallized ginger.

We welcome your suggestions for other products.

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Meet our farmers–the Edwards

edwards-pecans1

Ethan, Clark, Marie and their pecans

This week we welcomed a new farm to our store–Edwards Farm from St. Claire, Illinois which is also known as Shiloh Valley. Marie Edwards grew up on the farm. She, her husband Clark and their son Ethan, who recently returned home, run the farm. We are super excited to introduce their dried beans and peas. We don’t have them all out yet as we’re still obtaining jars for our newly arranged bulk section, but we do have the black-eyed peas, crowder peas, and shelled pecans available for purchase now. Soon you will find their lima beans, kidney beans, black beans, and an unnamed heirloom bean.

We were also so happy when they also showed up with beautiful sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and butternut squash. As you can guess, it’s hard to find local produce now so this was a special treat. Not as special though as this family. Seriously, they are such a warm, friendly, and genuine group that I want them to permanently hang out at our store and cafe and just visit with people.

Last night they came with a load of pecans for us. They were on their way to see their son Ethan play cello with the St. Louis Philharmonic Symphony. Seriously! I learned a lot in our short visit last night. Here are the highlights and they revolve around pecans. They brought two varieties of pecans–yes varieties of pecans. I think we all get used to thinking that there is one type of everything–carrots, bananas, nuts, tomatoes, etc, because that’s we’ve learned from large chain grocery stores.

Well, last night I was introduced to River Bottom Pecans and Grafton Pecans. We did a little taste test and I was so amazed at the difference. The River Bottom Pecan is a much smaller pecan with a hard shell. It has a very intense pecan flavor–and I mean that in the best way. I can imagine that a pie made with these would be unbelievable. The Grafton Pecan is larger and has a mild earthy flavor. Also delicious.

Marie told me that her grandfather planted the the River Bottom Pecan trees about 150 years ago. The Grafton Pecan trees are probably 90 years old. And I learned that when they were building the Mid-America Airport they passed an ordinance that said no building could be taller than the tallest River Bottom Pecan Tree on the Edwards Farm. I love that.

Meeting this family is another reminder to me about why buying local is so important and a reminder about how much I love the mission of our store and the people who make it possible.

Yours in local eating and sustainable farming,

Maddie

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St. Louis Food Culture book signing.

this Saturday i got the pleasure of hearing Pat Corrigan read from her new book, ‘Eating St. Louis: The Gateway City’s Unique Food Culture’ at Vin-de-Set’s beautiful event space, Moulin.

Local Harvest had a table – giving out samples of our (almost famous) hummus and our new bread pudding.

it looked a bit like this:

Joanna and Sam from Clavarach Farm and Vineyard were there sampling their wines, Sine from Berhanu was sampling her delicious Ah!Zeefa lentil dip, Volpi was featuring their new all-natural salamis, Pasta House was giving away their St. Louis style salad, Companion was tasting bready goodness, Schlafly had their holiday beer flavors on hand (i tried them all and i can recommend the E.S.B. – bitter and delicious) and even the Goody Goody diner was there.

it was a nice little event. Pat’s book is for sale now at the grocery store for $29.95, it’s a good read – full of lots of fun facts about St. Louis. (and we are even featured on page 77)

yours,
clara

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