Market Musings Blog

Kraut and Brats: A Marriage Made in Minnesota

brats on the grillLabor Day is just around the corner which means we are heavily into our biggest brat-grilling season. Happily, there’s a vegetable out there that invariably forms a happy marriage with brats: cabbage. Brew up a batch of tasty red kraut in no time at all and enjoy a tasty tangle of it atop a grilled brat wedged into a heated St. Agnes brat bun slathered in whole-grain mustard -an all local meal to make the German’s among us proud.

Cabbage benefits from cooler weather (Minnesota and Wisconsin); it’s tastier when it doesn’t get too much water (California’s drought). You can’t lose with this season’s cabbages, whether they’re regional or from California.

Here’s a very simple kimkraut you can ferment on your countertop for about two weeks to produce a stellar topping for brats, steak or fish tacos, or to stir into a leaf-lettuce salad, soup, or omelet to wake it up. If your household includes children, they’ll enjoy watching the ferment work. Just be sure to leave plenty of headroom in the jar so the kimkraut can heave and bubble!

TASTY RED KRAUT
red and green cabbageThis turns a beautiful fuschia as it ferments. Quantities below make enough for two 1-quart canning jars or one 1½-liter jar (the tall glass ones with glass lids and metal bales). This is a mild kraut—if you want a fierier one, throw some dried Thai chiles into the mix and increase the quantities of garlic cloves and ginger. (This season’s Georgian Fire garlic is already on the shelf in the Produce section.)

Ingredients:
1–1½ pounds red cabbage, outer tough leaves removed
1 tablespoon of sea salt
2½-inch piece of ginger, skinned and coarsely grated on a box grater*
4 garlic cloves, minced
zest of half a Valencia orange; juice of 1 Valencia
2 scallions, sliced in half lengthwise, then thinly cross-cut
¼ cup of red pepper flakes, mild or hot
1 carrot, coarsely grated on box grater or a coarse Microplane

*Don’t use a Microplane for this; it will produce a lot of ginger juice but almost no ginger shreds.

Method:
1. Divide cabbage lengthwise into four sections, then core each section and cross-slice it very thinly (by hand, in a food processor, or with a mandoline). Put cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.

2. Add other ingredients to the bowl, and use your hands to vigorously mix the kraut, squeezing and kneading so that the water flows out of the cabbage leaves. Your goal is to create enough brine from the cabbage’s juice and the salt that it will cover the kraut when you cram it into the jar(s).

3. Wash out two 1-quart jars (screwtops) or one 1½-liter lightning jar in hot, soapy water, rinse thoroughly, dry interiors with fresh paper towels, and divide the kraut between them. Use your hands or anything heavy—a well-washed rock, a kraut pounder, the handle end of your chef’s knife—to compress the kraut. Make sure it takes up no more than 2/3 of the space in the jar. Close up the jar, and next day, if the juice hasn’t risen above the top of the kraut, make a brine of 1½ tablespoons of sea salt and 1 pint of water. Pour enough over the kraut to keep the fermenting kraut beneath the liquid. If you’ve mashed the kraut down well enough, you probably won’t need to add a rock or a plate to keep it submerged, but if it floats up, add something to the ferment that keeps it beneath the brine. Close the jar back up immediately.

4. As soon as you can see bubbles rising vigorously through the kraut (usually 3–5 days), crack the lid once a day to let out any excess CO2. Close back up immediately. Continue to release excess CO2 until the ferment quiets down (usually around 5 days).

5. After 10 days, taste your kraut; the longer it sits out, the sourer it will become. Once you like the taste, transfer the jar to the refrigerator, where it will keep for many months.

Mexico’s Great Plains Food

It’s grilling season again, time to consider the beauties of skirt steak. It’s best cooked very quickly, then cut against the grain, and served norteño style: wrapped in wheat floor tortillas, accompanied by only grilled onions and perhaps a simple, fresh salsa.

Does this sound something like fajitas to you? Read more …

Fish Friday: A Tea Take on Tuna

My last contribution to Market Musings was all about tea, and ever since there’s been an ever so quiet whisper in my head to actually cook with matcha powder again.  This powdered form of green tea has a very distinct flavor, and, if used correctly, can yield itself a magical secret ingredient in a number of dishes.  Read more …

Hoppin’ John for good luck in the new year

New Year’s Day in the American South is celebrated in many families with Hoppin’ John, a stew made with black eyed peas. Some people add a penny or other small trinket to the beans when serving them. Whoever finds it is promised especially good luck in the new year. As many recipes can be found for Hoppin’ John as there are cooks who make it, so use this one as a foundation for creating your own version. Read more …

Thanksgiving Central

Cranberry_Pecan_Skillet_Stuffing_vertictal web

photo courtesy of strongertogether.coop

Digging through dozens of recipes? Reading Thanksgiving recipes until your eyes weep? We’re keeping it simple! Here’s what we think every memorable Thanksgiving meal needs: Read more …

Warm breakfast ideas

I had a realization this week. I looked down at my staple summer breakfast -a bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola- and was no longer satisfied. It just wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I wanted something heartier. I wanted something… warm.

Luckily I work here, where everyone is talking about (or eating) food, all the time. Apparently, I wasn’t the only craving something different for breakfast. As I strolled around the office, I noticed that Lauren had unpacked her Oatmeal-in-a-jar and Luke was eating a hot breakfast sandwich at his desk.

Beyond those two stand-bys around here, I was also pointed to these two recipes, both warm & hearty, yet satisfying in different ways. Read more …

Notes from the Field – Hill & Vale Farm

Jay visits Hill & Vale 005Benjamin, one of our in-house butchers, and Jay, our West 7th meat & seafood manager, made the trip to Wykoff, MN to visit Joe & Bonnie Austin, the owners of Hill & Vale Farms. After their visit, Jay said, “We always knew that Joe and Bonnie cared about their animals but being able to talk to them face to face and see their farm really drove it home that they not only take great care of their animals, they also care deeply about their land.”

 

Wykoff MN map

Hill and Vale is a 380-acre farm in southeastern Minnesota that supplies food co-ops with beef and lamb. All of the animals are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Their diet primarily includes pasture/hay, with grains added in the later growing and finishing process. Read more …

Adventurous Eating for Omnivores – Offal

Humans have eaten offal (the internal organs of slaughtered meat animals) throughout recorded history, but doing so fell out of fashion in this country following World War II, except among cooks and diners retaining traditional foodways. My Minnesota German mother and her siblings relished headcheese, blood sausage, and other foods that left my San Francisco-born sister and me faint. But we loved beef or calf liver and onions, chicken hearts and livers, and tongue sandwiches. In this, we were a minority. Only the most recent immigrants managed to keep the sale of tripe, pork intestines, kidneys, and chicken feet in somewhat lively commercial circulation, largely in their own communities’ meat markets.

nose to tale eatingAnd then, in 1999, the London chef Fergus Henderson published Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking, and the next thing you knew, every northern European and North American chef under forty, along with plenty of home cooks, rediscovered offal. And a good thing it was, because these formerly discarded odds-and-ends from the meat trade are inexpensive and very tasty.

At the same time, there’s no question that many of them are acquired tastes for those who didn’t start eating them young. Because organ meats are particularly strong in flavor, the easiest way to develop a taste for them is to take down their flavor a bit by first soaking them in lightly salted water; I’m thinking here most particularly of kidneys and liver.

Definitely the go-to offal meat for first timers is beef or calf’s liver. Fifty years ago, it made a weekly appearance on a majority of American dinner tables, accompanied by fried onions and/or bacon. Children either loved it or hated it, and most adults tucked into it with zest. Liver is very high in iron (and cholesterol), and it’s not something you want to eat daily, but it’s a terrific meat to try—low in cost (because low in demand), and because Mississippi Market’s beef liver comes from Thousand Hills’s pasture-raised cattle, it’s a powerhouse of nutrients and flavor, with less saturated fat than that from feedlot beef liver.

Calf’s liver is milder in flavor and slightly tenderer in texture, but beef liver is a better value. If this will be your first venture into cooking beef liver, here’s how to prepare it. If you’re feeling hesistant but committed, fry up some bacon along with the liver; the two complement each other beautifully.

Beef Liver for Those New to It
Soak the liver first, using 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 quart of water, for 1 hour. Pat the liver dry before searing it in a cast-iron skillet or a broiler. Beef liver and fried onions go together like salt and pepper, so be sure to include onions when you cook the liver.

Most people like to eat liver pink in the middle; the times given below are for medium-pink.

Ingredients:
1–2 slices of bacon (optional)*
¼–½ onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Beef liver (4 oz. per serving)
* If you’re not using bacon, fry the onion and liver in mild olive oil.

1. In a cast-iron skillet, fry the bacon first on MEDIUM till it’s almost crisp; remove bacon slices to a side plate and cover to keep them warm. (You may want to chop the bacon up after it’s cooked.)
2. Fry the onion slices in the bacon fat until they soften and start to brown. Scrape them to the side of the skillet and add the liver.
3. Raise the heat to MEDIUM-HIGH, add salted and peppered, dried-off liver, and fry it on one side for about 2 minutes. When it’s nicely browned, turn it over and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
4. Put the bacon back in the pan and swab the slices or chopped pieces over the onions and liver. Remove the liver, onions, and bacon from the pan.
5. If you’re broiling: Broil the bacon first about 3” below the heat source, remove from broiler pan, then put onions, swabbed with olive oil, in broiler pan and cook until bubbly and slightly golden on each side. Salt and pepper the liver, then broil it for 1 minute per side; combine all ingredients off the broiler.
6. Serve with a simple side of greens (cooked spinach, chard, kale, &c., garlic, and red pepper flakes, finished with sherry vinegar or lemon juice).

Hey, cat lovers – Eat Local Month’s not just for humans

It’s not at all uncommon for people to pamper their pets, sometimes by way of treats, toys, special grooming, or young children (oh, I already said toys). Among these other ways, our cats are also pampered in their everyday food.   When we adopted a pair of sibling kittens just about a year ago, we did some research into what the healthiest and most natural food out there was (and one that would still fit into our budget).  It seemed clear to us that the way to go was to simply make our own raw meat cat food at home.

Cats are, by design, hunters—pull out a feather toy or laser pointer or watch them around a bug and you’re sure to see the instincts kick in—but their teeth and digestive tract are set up to process raw meat, and little else.  We read over and over that dry-only diets are the worst for cats, and are the leading cause of obesity and other health issues…because they simply didn’t evolve to eat such stuff.  Canned wet food is a step up, no doubt, but even the varieties we sell at Mississippi Market have filler and are bound to utilize meat scraps and some form of preservatives, and this highly processed mush doesn’t give a cat’s teeth the same cleaning that chewing into fresh meat does. We discovered that it’s really not difficult to make a simple, chicken-based chow that our kittens really enjoy.  And when I say ‘really’, I mean they complain quite vocally if we run out and substitute canned food instead.

Most ingredients for making your own cat food can be found at Mississippi Market.

Most ingredients for making your own cat food can be found at Mississippi Market.

The recipe we work from we found online at Cat Nutrition and it’s pretty simple, almost everything is available at Mississippi Market, and all of the meat and eggs are locally produced!

-Raw muscle, bone-in meat:  We usually use Kadejan or Schultz whole chickens.  We’ve also made a batch using a rabbit from LTD Farms, but that was some costly meat.  Dark meat is more nutritious than white meat, so adding in some leg quarters is wise.  Essential nutrients are found in bones, and if you don’t grind these in, additional dry supplements will be necessary.

-Organ meat: cats will usually eat their entire kill, and vital vitamins, minerals, and proteins are only found in certain organs.  US food laws only allow sale of whole animals after certain organs have been removed, so you’ll need to get some chicken hearts and livers to supplement; Kadajan also offers these, and can be found in the meat freezers or special ordered.  Our cat Porter really enjoys a plain heart as a treat, too!

-Egg yolks: we almost always buy Schultz eggs in bulk.

-Water: while cats will drink water from a bowl, much of their hydration should come from food (one reason the dry-only diet isn’t ideal).

Cat food #2

A meat grinder is necessary. We found one online for about $120, it works great & has uses for human food, too.

-A variety of vitamin and mineral supplements: since skin, hair, and many organs have been removed from the meat we grind, essential oils and other nutrients won’t be present in the above ingredients alone.  Of what the website lists, almost everything is either readily available in the Wellness section of our stores or can be special ordered.  I think the only part of this recipe we couldn’t buy at Mississippi Market was the glandular supplement, but this is relatively inexpensive to order online.

-Lastly, a meat grinder is necessary.  We bought a simple stand-alone unit (as in not a Kitchenaid attachment) for about $120 online, and it has worked flawlessly for us, bones and all, for the past year.

The recipe calls for mixing the yolks, water, and supplements into a slurry, which is then mixed in with all the ground up meat (we use a medium-size grind head).  When using whole birds, we remove the skin to cut excess fat out of the recipe when there’s white meat included….and this helps the grinder from getting clogged up.  I’ve had friends around during the process who’ve asked what I was making because it looked quite good.

Cat food #3

Need a reason to buy Talenti gelato? Their containers work great for reusable storage!

If you’re busy or don’t want to walk through the entire process multiple times a month, it’s simple stuff to store and freeze. We usually make a double batch of this recipe, and that’ll last us right about a month for our two still-young cats. And, what better reason to buy Talenti gelato? The sturdy plastic containers are excellent for re-using for storage (Heads-up – Talenti will be on sale for part of September! Perfect!) Each of these containers is about two days-worth of food for two cats, at two-servings a day.

After our first batch, we cost it out to see if it would be a cost-effective venture to keep up with. Not counting the grinder (which can be used for a plethora of other human-food tasks!) or Talenti, buying all the raw food and supplements works out to be about the same as buying a similar quantity of any of the cans of cat food we sell when they are on sale. And if you snag meat or supplements when they are on sale or otherwise discounted, all the better. The whole process (cutting apart the chicken through the final cleaning) for a batch the size we make is usually a two hour process at most, but we only need to do it about once a month.

Finding the benefits of raw cat food isn’t hard, from helping avoid kidney and weight issues, a healthier coat, a more active personality, to just knowing what’s going into the food this extension of your family is eating. Oh, and they won’t be able to get enough.

Cat food #4

We discovered that it’s really not difficult to make a simple, chicken-based chow that our kittens really enjoy. And when I say ‘really’, I mean they complain quite vocally if we run out and substitute canned food instead.

*Disclaimers: While cats’ systems are tuned to digest raw food, all precautions should be taken with making sure what they eat is as fresh as possible. Only thaw what they will eat within 2-3 days, and be sure to clean all hands, surfaces, containers, and implements that come in contact with raw meat immediately. Transitioning a cat from a dry-only or canned food diet should be done gradually. There is always the risk of injury from a bone fragment being too big or sharp, but this is nothing that a cat wouldn’t also risk hunting on their own outdoors.

Co-written by Ben & Jess Zamora-Weiss, staff members and bloggers for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. You’ll also find Ben at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find and Jess at the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and taste amazing!

Locally-raised goat? Perfect for stew!

While my role at the Market is the Frozen and Bread Buyer for the Selby store, I was also raised as a meat-and-potatoes guy…and with the freezer doors right next to the meat cases, my eye always catches on sale signs and discount stickers.  This week, I saw the Shepherd’s Song ground goat meat marked down, so I thought I’d give it a try.

local goatMy project for this afternoon was to find something I could do with the goat and our large selection of CSA produce before leaving town for the weekend.  Peppers and onions were plentiful on our counter and we had almost a fridge bin full of a variety of greens, so a simple stew came to mind.

Four diced hot peppers (jalapeno and Serrano), a pair of bell peppers, three small sweet onions, and a few cloves of garlic made for an aromatic kitchen once cooked in with two packages of the goat meat, some salt, a few diced tomatoes, and a healthy dose of garam masala.  This cooked for about an hour or so on medium low heat.

My wife turned me on to sautéed greens…the preparation for I’ve come to really enjoy: fold the leaf, cut the spine off, stack a couple leaves, roll, and slice into strips.  Fill a large pot, we usually use a 2-gallon model (I’m not even joking), with the green ribbons, a bit of extra water, and a pinch of salt (sometimes I’ll add onion, garlic, or turmeric to the greens, too), and wilt it all down to al dente.  To add a third color to the meal, we halved then sliced four summer squash to salt and sauté. Enjoy!

Ben Zamora-Weiss is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. You’ll also find him at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find.