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Great Plates & Great Tastes in Fort Collins

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Fort Collins is known for its wide variety in selections of restaurants and tasty places to eat around town, and the Downtown Business Association and member businesses have teamed up to bring “Great Plates” 2012 to Old Town for the fifth year in a row.

This tradition of eating will continue this year with 30 downtown restaurants that are set to offer incredible dining specials for a full two weeks! Restaurant quality, authenticity, and diversity can be found throughout this list of restaurants that are sure to make your stomachs – and your wallets – happy.

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Backyard Chicks

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Is it spring yet? It sure felt like it a few weeks ago until it snowed. And spring makes you think of… wait for it… baby chicks.

Backyard chickens have become a popular pursuit in Fort Collins. The sustainable and local food movements as well as the desire for fresh eggs have inspired many people to include backyard chickens into their lives. Several of our neighbors have them and of course my 11-year-old fell in love and so now we are thinking of adding to our “brood” this spring.

The City Council of Fort Collins allows residents to have up to 6 hens (no roosters) in the backyard for egg laying purposes. This policy has been in effect since 2008. Now it is pretty common to see a coop while walking the streets of our Fort Collins neighborhood.

The following is an excerpt from the Fort Collins Municipal Code and Charter:

Sec. 4-117. Sale of chickens and ducklings; quantity restricted; keeping of chickens.

(a) Chickens or ducklings younger than eight (8) weeks of age may not be sold in quantities of less than six (6) to a single purchaser.

(b) Except in those zone districts where the keeping of farm animals (as the term is defined in Section 5.1.2 of the Land Use Code) is allowed, the keeping of chicken roosters or more than six (6) chicken hens is prohibited. However, up to six (6) chicken hens may be kept per parcel of property, subject to the following requirements and subject to all other applicable provisions of this Chapter:

(1) If a parcel has more than one (1) dwelling unit, all adult residents and the owner(s) of the parcel must consent in writing to allowing the chicken hens on the property;

(2) Any person keeping chicken hens pursuant to this provision must first have been issued a permit by the Larimer Humane Society and have received such information or training pertaining to the keeping of chicken hens as the director of said agency deems appropriate;

(3) The chicken hens must be provided with a covered, predator-resistant chicken house that is properly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed, cleaned and maintained, and at least two (2) square feet per chicken in size;

(4) During daylight hours, the chicken hens must have access to the chicken house and also have access to an outdoor enclosure that is adequately fenced to protect them from predators;

(5) The chicken hens must be further protected from predators by being closed in the chicken house from dusk to dawn;

(6) Neither the chicken house nor the outdoor enclosure may be located less than fifteen (15) feet from any abutting property line unless the owner or keeper of the chicken hens obtains the written consent of the owner(s) of all abutting properties to which the enclosure is proposed to be more closely located; in which event, the agreed-upon location shall then be deemed acceptable not-withstanding any subsequent change in ownership of such abutting property or properties;

(7) The chicken hens must be sheltered or confined in such fashion as to prevent them from coming into contact with wild ducks or geese or their excrement; and

(8) The chicken hens may not be killed by or at the direction of the owner or keeper thereof except pursuant to the lawful order of state or county health officials, or for the purpose of euthanasia when surrendered to a licensed veterinarian or the Humane Society for such purpose, or as otherwise expressly permitted by law.

(Ord. No. 160, 1986, § 1(35-24), 11-4-86; Ord. No. 73, 1990, § 1, 7-17-90; Ord. No. 072, 2008, § 2, 9-2-08)

Being an ex-city person and knowing NOTHING about raising chickens, we headed to the Jax store in Lafayette for an opportunity to get information about chickens, see some baby chicks, and of course, purchase supplies. We got lots of advice, handouts, and information and now we are making our list of things to do and buy prior to the chicks arrival. We are planning for closer to Mother’s Day when the nights will be above freezing. Our baby chicks will need to be kept quite warm and watched closely to make sure that they are drinking and eating for the first two weeks. Then we will be able to put them into their coop.

We have settled on Australorps, which we are told are docile and good for backyards. They are also black (which I think is cool). We are debating between two or four chicks. My 11-year-old has already picked out names, Izzie or Cricket while the 6-year-old is going to call his chick “Crazy Woman” or “Dark Rise”.

Names aside, we will be taking this new endeavor very seriously. We are hoping for some nice pets as well as some nice eggs is a few months. And we are looking forward to joining this new backyard chicken community.

Chicks

Written by Elisabeth Aron

February 28th, 2011 at 6:33 am

Sustainable Living Fair is fun for the entire family

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Kermit the Frog used to say, “It ain’t easy being green.” Today, however, it is easy being green as long as you have the knowledge and the skills. You can learn how to green up your life at this weekend’s 11th Annual Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins.

The goal of this popular fair is to enlighten and inform so that people can make educated decisions about how to live their daily lives in a more sustainable way. It was first held in 1999, and continues to grow each year.

This year’s jammed packed two-day event will feature four keynote speakers, 100 workshops, over 250 exhibitors and vendors, hands-on demonstrations, a kid zone, a Zen zone, lots of healthy food, live entertainment and a beer garden. There is even an area for parents to care for their infants in a private environment with a fully stocked changing station.

Speakers include author and political reporter from the Oregonian, Jeff Mapes, who wrote “Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities.” Also from Oregon, Heather C. Flores, who authored “Food Not Lawns,” will talk about urban gardening.

Andrew Harvey, poet, novelist, founder of Institute for Sacred Activism, and subject of the 1993 BBC documentary “The Making of a Modern Mystic” will also be a featured speaker.

Lastly, the author of “Farewell, Subaru” will be speaking about the triumphs and tribulations of living an eco-friendly life. Doug Fine’s best selling book has landed him an appearance on the Tonight Show. In addition, he works as a correspondent for NPR.

Foodies and fans of locally sourced fare will have lots of options at the event, both edible and educational. Even the kiddos can get into the act with Beet Street’s Youth Adventures in Food. Children age 5 and up can participate in this interactive workshop. Chef Scott Hapner of Chef’s Happy Gourmet will instruct the children how to prepare healthy, locally sourced, fun lunch box foods. Tickets are $15 and include an interactive cooking class, meal and drinks. To purchase tickets visit Beet Street here.

The Sustainable Living Fair has such a vast array of events that it’s impossible to list them all here. For a full and comprehensive schedule visit www.SustainableLivingAssociation.org

The fair runs Saturday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8, and children under 12 are free. The Sustainable Living Fair is put on by the Rocky Mountain Living Association, a non-profit organization committed to applying their vision and expertise toward a sustainable future for all. 

Written by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

September 16th, 2010 at 8:10 am

‘Hot Mulled Cider’ by Beth MacKenzie

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A few weeks ago the folks here asked me to write a guest post on what “harvest” means to me. “Harvest” and the Fall season have taken on very different meanings for me each time I’ve moved to a different place.

I went to college in New England, where people looked forward to the leaves turning colors almost as much as the forthcoming holiday season. On the evening news, the weather report would include information about peak “leaf-peeping” times for towns all along the Eastern Seaboard. I spent weekends taking walks through the changing foliage, picking apples in orchards and drinking hot mulled cider during the cold evenings.

After college, I lived in DC, where fall is also anticipated, but mostly as a relief from the oppressively hot summer. After a few months of darting from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building and trying to keep my clothes from sticking to me, I finally started to enjoy being outside, when the cooler weather of September rolled around. I also managed to make a couple of wine tasting trips to the local vineyards.

I’ve only been living in Colorado for a year or so, so I’m still learning about fall here. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that the weather seems much less predictable then on the East Coast. Sometimes I think the daily temperature is determined via a roulette wheel.

There is one thing that I always think of when I think of “Harvest”, however, regardless of where I am, and that is apples, or more specifically, apple cider. When I was growing up, we knew it was fall when my mom would pick up apple cider from local farms. The robust flavor of apple cider just says ‘fall’. Even better than apple cider is hot mulled cider. Hot mulled cider is the drink my mom would make for the holidays and other special occasions. Not only did this drink satisfy a crowd, the aroma would infuse the entire house with its luscious scent. This is a recipe I know we will be repeating as the weather gets colder!

Hot Mulled Cider

First, you will need a crock pot. Fill it with apple cider – preferably unpasturized. Then, and this is important, add 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks and an orange cut into wide slices and studded with cloves(add the cloves before you cut the orange, it’s much easier that way). Turn the crock pot on high at first, and then reduce to Low to keep warm as guests help themselves. It’s not a scientific recipe, but it is definitely satisfying! Happy Harvest!

Beth MacKenzie is MackAttack on her healthy living food blog http://www.fatbustermack.com. She and her husband of (almost!) one year have recently moved to Colorado and are exploring the state through the restaurants and local grocery stores.

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our Homegrown Fort Collins program, we have been featuring the Homegrown Blog over the last couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

The Meaning of Food by Christine Driscoll

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The Meaning of Food My life experience with food has been a roundabout passage, leading me full-circle through different phases. I was raised by parents who, aside from being wonderful cooks, firmly believed in the importance of feeding their children healthy meals made completely from scratch. Having grown up on an island, where healthy food was not prevalent, I realize my brother and I ate better than most, if not all, of our friends. Nevertheless, I did not appreciate it at the time and cooking was certainly not something I enjoyed.

I came to the States for college and with my newfound freedom, quickly took to a much different style of eating. Cafeteria food, frozen dinners, and chain restaurants took the thinking out of eating and became my way. Needless to say, I gained the freshman-fifteen in a matter of no time! During these years, I worked as a waitress in a Sysco-supplied restaurant and then a French bistro. I also surrounded myself with friends who were strictly meat and potatoes people. This period allowed me to enjoy a variety of new and different foods, although my awareness was not focused on what happened to each bite after I swallowed.

It is said our taste buds develop when we are young and eventually, we return to the foods we were fed as children. This certainly turned out to be true in my case. For me, all it took was a little self-exploration, combined with being conscious of the true needs of the human body (I am a CMT with a BA in Kinesiology). It became apparent to me that the foods I ate had had a direct influence on my sense of wellbeing. As I became more body-aware, I found it was not just organic or natural labeled foods that made the difference, but whole foods prepared in a way that preserved the integrity of each ingredient.

I am now continually told I am a picky eater, as people can’t understand why I politely decline food they normally wouldn’t think twice about eating. My response is simple: I choose to eat that which comes from the earth and retains its essence, as nature intended. Like all other living organisms, we must consume to function, so why not eat foods our bodies were originally designed to process? Eating a bag of Doritos may provide me with energy, but it’s not a quality of energy conducive to real nutrition. I live by the Mantra: “I give to the Earth and the Earth gives back to me.” This exemplifies my style of cooking, as I simply want to get as much out of my food as I can. One’s body is truly a vehicle, designed to take one where he or she desires to go. My advice then, is to explore the way one feels after eating different foods. Track common ailments and see if there are any patterns or missing links to be found. I used to get headaches almost daily, but once I started to cut down on wheat, they declined rapidly! My digestion also improved dramatically by eliminating processed foods. Optimal health begins in the intestines, which rely on the foods we put through them.

It’s funny to reflect on the past and where our experiences have taken us. At 26, I have come a long way in discovering what is “food” and how it affects me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I now live to eat and eat to live, but in a whole new way. I have been living in Colorado for just under 2 years and every morning I wake up thankful. I can honestly say my beauty radiates from the inside out. These feelings are very satisfying and are much due to my explorations with food. I hope I have inspired you to look for the deeper message and to consider what is your meaning of food?

-Christine Driscoll http://shteyndl.wordpress.com/

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Milehigheater.com Guest Blog- Harvest

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Hi all,
 
My name is Jonathan, and my wife Barbara and I write the milehigheater.com blog and we were asked by Beetstreet to write about what harvest time means to us. If you had asked me a few years ago I would have said not much really except that cooler temperatures are going to be here and soon and the end of hot summer days. But over the last few years my perspective has changed through interactions with chefs, and food.

He says:

For several years prior to starting up the blog we had been closet foodies, watching the shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef, but never really going to restaurants of the caliber that would serve the kind of food we saw on those programs or daring to try to make it ourselves. Then came a trip to New York and we finally went to a great restaurant that used fresh ingredients and our world opened up.

We started to try some of the restaurants here in Colorado and fairly often the meal item we remembered the most was something that was locally harvested and in season, such as fried squash blossoms stuffed with locally made goat cheese at Frasca that had come from the farmers market that day. Or a mushroom soup at the Black Cat made with mushrooms that had been harvested that week from a local farmer, among many examples. 

Another major turning point was when chef Skokan of the Black Cat in Boulder took the time to walk me around his garden, sampling this and that and speaking of how different things are harvested at different times of years and how he incorporates that into his cooking (in fact, during the summer 70-80 percent of the produce used in his restaurant comes from the chefs own garden and farm). Harvest changed from the fall for me to a ever changing day where things became ready to eat at their best. Be it the first strawberries early on in the year to the  lettuce, squash, beets, peaches, corn and the rest of the huge variety of items we have here in Colorado to look forward to.

I guess to sum it up Harvest to me is a day by day celebration of food at its best and a reminder that we here in Colorado are so very lucky to live in a place with such a huge variety of great food that we can get fresh and at the peak of its flavor at a local farm or farmers market right down the road from any of us.

She says:

Hi, Barb here, the other writer of the milehigheater.com.  If you would have asked me this question 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you. Jonathan and I have only started to enjoy and understand fine cooking since we started our blog, which originated from that trip to New York and our dining at Daniel’s, Le Bernardin and Per Se. Ever since we’ve started going to these kind of restaurants, my knowledge of harvest has been awakened. For our servers to let us know exactly where our food has come from is very interesting now to me. And their knowledge of the farms and famers is outstanding.          

Learning the names of the local farmers and how prolific they are and how cohesive the chefs work together with the farmers around the area, I have a new appreciation of the whole process from garden to table. I know Jonathan had a great time with Chef Eric Skokan of the Black Cat in Boulder at his house and garden. Even visiting the Black Cat and having Eric come out and talk about all the things he’s planting and how excited he gets telling you about his plans makes the meal that much more enjoyable.

I guess the biggest thing about harvest for me is the collaboration between farmer and chef and how developing that relationship and nurturing and growing it makes the food special in a way that is hard to describe. The relationship is special and it shows on the plate.

 http://www.milehigheater.com

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

‘Experience the Harvest Season at Miller Farms’ by Chelly Vitry

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Fall is in the air. Warm days and crisp nights make my mind wander toward thoughts of cider and baking pumpkin pie. The changing of the season always reminds me that it’s harvest season and that at the markets, the sweet fruits of summer are about to be replaced with brightly colored piles of beets, carrots, corn, squash, peppers, tomatoes, beans, cabbage, garlic and pumpkins.

A time of celebration, fall is when farmers finally see the product of their labors and reap the riches of their fields. The Harvest Festival began in English churches where produce was piled high and prayers of thanks are given. This quiet ritual was encouraged by local ministers to replace the pagan farm-based Harvest Suppers which were primarily an occasion of excessive drinking, eating, and dancing (sounds like more fun). 

Today, in celebration of the season, Platteville’s Miller Farms is hosting a Harvest Festival of their own, a fun family experience designed to bring you closer to nature and reacquaint you with Colorado’s agricultural heritage.
 
Colorado’s eastern plains are bursting with the products of our own local farmer’s efforts. But when we only see the end product – clean, dirt free and sanitized for our protection in uniform stacks at the grocery store, we don’t think about where our food comes from and what goes into growing it. Fall is the perfect time for a field trip to get some dirt on your shoes and meet the people who work to put green veggies and fresh, smooth fruit on your plate.

Miller Farms is a third generation family run farm, committed to keeping you connected to the land. They participate in 40 different farmer’s markets each week and offer a flexible and generous CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, bringing their locally grown produce directly to Front Range consumers. 

Their Harvest Festival is a great day out. It’s a chance to learn about farming and to see how a working farm operates. They have a corn maze, hay rides, fire trucks, tractor pulls, animals, chile roasting and best of all, a trip through 180 acres of ripe fields, where you can dig up your own potatoes, carrots and onions, choose squash and peppers, and pick your own perfect pumpkin. During October, every evening at dusk, the farm has a Haunted Hay Ride through the fields, complete with ghost stories, spooks and scary apparitions, finishing up with hot chocolate served around a bonfire.

When you bring your freshly dug up veggies home, weary from a day “working” and playing in the fields, plan a special harvest dinner using the fruits of your labor. Kind of like growing food in your garden, you will have a new respect for the humble carrots and beautiful squash on your counter. Freshly picked, they will have a depth and flavor that is somehow missing from the usual grocery store produce.

It’s a great way to gain a whole new appreciation for fall’s delicious flavors.       

Need an idea to use up all of that wonderful fall produce? Try this great soup – it’s smoky and delicious. Serve it with a salad and some crusty bread.   

Spiced Squash Soup

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Onion, diced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb. Winter Squash, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. potato, peeled and diced
4 cups of Water
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
Sour Cream and Chives to Garnish

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add carrots and onion, cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin and red pepper flakes. Saute 5 minutes. Add squash, potato and water. Simmer, covered about 30 minutes. When the squash is soft, puree the soup in batches in the blender. Add Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sour cream and chives. Enjoy!

Miller Farms Harvest Festival is open everyday from 9 am – 6 pm and runs through November 24. Tickets are $15 per person, or $50 for a family of 4 with additional tickets just $10. Haunted Hay Ride tickets are $7 per person. Children under three are free for all events. Directions and information at www.Millerfarms.net         

Chelly Vitry writes the food blog, Rolling in Dough, and spends her time seeking out great local food experiences.  http://www.rollingindoughbaking.com

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

‘Harvest Vegetable Pizza’ by Jennifer Fochek

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This harvest season marks the first anniversary of my return to Colorado.  After several years’ absence, I longed to feel a connection to my city and the people around me.  One of the first things I did to begin the process of making the place I had chosen to live feel like “home” was to go out to the local farmers’ market.  As a person whose life tends to revolve around food, I could think of no better way to ground myself in a new community, support the local economy, and meet some fantastic people.  Bringing home gorgeous produce was icing on the cake.

To celebrate the arrival of this year’s harvest season, I thought it would be fun to prepare something that incorporated Colorado’s fall bounty.  I settled on a harvest vegetable pizza, something that would be warm and comforting as the days grow shorter and the nights become crisp.  Never one to pass up a good opportunity for a “foodie” field trip, I put my ingredient list together and headed out to 

Berry Patch Farms in Brighton to experience some of the best produce Colorado has to offer.  I wasn’t disappointed!  I walked around their produce barn in gape-mouthed amazement, admiring the incredible colors and unique varieties.  Blue potatoes, yellow carrots, and purple beans are certainly new to me, as are Delicato squash, cipollini onions, and kohlrabi.  Talk about food heaven.

Berry Patch Farm visitors have the opportunity to pick certain fruits and vegetables straight from the fields depending on the season, so I ventured out for raspberries and strawberries.  Once I had a full flat of fruit, I gathered up the ingredients I needed for the harvest vegetable pizza (and everything else I couldn’t resist in the produce barn) and headed home.  After a bit of chopping, roasting, kneading, and baking (see recipes below), I had a perfect fall meal.  The carrots, onions, and squash were delicately sweet, and I loved the hint of smokiness from the charred tips of the vegetables.  For as wonderful as the pizza tasted, the texture was out of this world; the crust was tender, the vegetables were perfectly roasted, and I really enjoyed the mix of creamy ricotta with more traditional mozzarella.  Knowing that all of the delicious produce incorporated into the meal came straight from Colorado fields made the experience even more satisfying.  Happy harvest, everyone!

Harvest Vegetable Pizza (adapted from Martha Stewart) 

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil (for drizzling)
  • Flour (for dusting surface)
  • 1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough (below) or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough (fresh, or thawed if frozen)
  • 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Fall Vegetables (below)
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, whisked to loosen
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Brush a large, rimless baking sheet with oil or line it with parchment.  (A pizza stone can be used instead of a baking sheet, if desired.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough to fit the baking sheet or pizza stone.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet or pizza stone.

Sprinkle the dough with half the mozzarella.  Scatter the vegetables on the dough and dollop with ricotta; top with the remaining mozzarella.  Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.  Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 – 25 minutes.  Cut to serve.

Roasted Harvest Vegetables (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • ½ pound red new potatoes, well scrubbed and quartered
  • ½ pound medium red onions, peeled, quartered, and layers separated
  • ½ pound carrots, halved lengthwise (if thick) and cut into 1 ½-inch lengths
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place vegetables and garlic on the baking sheet.  Toss with oil, 1 teaspoon of coarse salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper.

Roast until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them halfway through.  (Vegetables can be roasted up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.  Drain any accumulated liquid before using.)

Basic Pizza Dough (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • ¼ cup of light-bodied white wine
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of flour

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the water, wine, yeast, honey and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring until combined.  Let stand until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 ½ cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until everything is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Continue adding the flour, ¼ cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky.  You may not need all of the flour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil the mixing bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.  Punch down the dough before rolling out the crust.

Blog written by Jennifer Fochek, author of Sweet and Saucy, http://sweetandsaucy.wordpress.com

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

‘Using My Backyard Grocery Garden Harvest’ by Vikki Lawrence-Williams

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I love my “backyard grocery” garden! From the radiant plump raspberries to fat green zucchini to juicy ripe sweet tomatoes… eating from such a convenient grocery was unfathomable to me just a couple of years ago.  But I’ve worked hard and learned a lot, while making mistakes and experiencing intense pleasure and joy.  When I harvested my first homegrown blueberry, the burst of sun-warmed juice filled me with gratification.  I couldn’t imagine ever NOT growing at least some of my own food.

We are a family of picky eaters.  Two of us can’t have wheat.  One of us can’t have dairy.  One of us is pre-diabetic.   And one of us will eat almost anything while two of us don’t like cooked veggies (one of these is me… the cook and chief gardener!).  So I dehydrate almost everything we harvest.

Because I dehydrate most of our veggies, I had to come up with ways to use them.  Sometimes I slice the tomatoes, dry them, store them, and later rehydrate them to use on homemade pizza.  Same with bell peppers. 

All-Vegg Powder:
Most of our dried veggies are used to hide nutrients.  I slice thin (or break apart into small pieces), dehydrate for recommended times and sometimes a little longer to get them extra crispy and fragile.  Once dried, I place in baggies and then in a canning jar, label, screw on the lid and ring, and put them on my shelf, waiting for the next batch.  When I have enough of every veggie, I start to powder them.

I use a twist-top blender to grind the veggies.  Each veggie is done separately.  Here’s a rough proportion count:
2 cups dried tomatoes
1 cup dried carrots and cauliflower (each)
½ cup each of dried eggplant, okra, sweet pepper, etc.

When I’ve make a fine powder from a veggie, I place in a quart-size baggie and go on to the next veggie.  I add this to the baggie and continue until done.  Seal the baggie.  Shake to mix well.  Place the baggie in a large mason or other canning jar with a dried bay leaf laying on top of the baggie.  (Most kitchen insects don’t like bay leaves.)  Add the lid and ring. Label.  Place on a shelf.

Consider using: eggplant, okra, tomato, sweet pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, carrots, squash, parsley, pumpkin.  Sometimes I add onions and garlic too!

Clean a small used-but-empty herb or spice-shaker.  Should have a top.  Dry well.  Fill with the all-vegg powder.  Use to sprinkle on foods (either at the stove or on the table).  Use to add nutrients to anything: mashed potatoes, stews, soups, spaghetti or pizza sauce, stir-frys… your imagination is the key!

This is perfect way to eat your vegetables when your garden has a thick blanket of snow or ice, and you are anxiously awaiting Spring to start planting all over again. 

Hot Pepper Powder:
I make a special seasoning with hot peppers! I don’t add these to the All-Vegg Powder because not everyone likes heat in their food, and you can’t hide heat!  So I dry the hot peppers and radishes separately.  For the radishes (let them grow a little too big and they become spicier and hotter), I slice thin, dry, powder, and store in a labeled baby-food jar.  For the hot peppers, I put on gloves (very important!), harvest them, slice them in rings, keeping the seeds and ribs intact, and lay on the dehydrator to dry. Once brittle, I turn them into powder and stored in a different labeled baby-food jar.   (Wash the dehydrator trays and grinder very well to eliminate any residue that might heat-up your next project.) 

Sprinkle a little radish powder on a salad to spice it up!  Add some hot pepper powder (not too much!) to your favorite chili when it’s snowing outside.  Hmmmm yum!

All-Fruit Powder:
The same procedure can be done with fruit.  Once powdered, sprinkle on desserts, cereal, granola, oatmeal, etc.

For more information, please check out my blog at www.survival-cooking.com.  Thank you for reading!  Vikki Lawrence-Williams

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

It all started with baby food by Kristin Mastre

without comments

While busy in the kitchen, the aroma of baking acorn squash filled the house.  Sweet potatoes were boiling on the stove top and the baked peaches that had just been pulled from the oven were cooling on the counter top waiting to be peeled.  The windows were open to let the crisp breeze come through and upbeat music was playing to keep me grooving and singing.  It was autumn, harvest season, and I was up to my elbows in fruit and vegetables making baby food.

My baby (who is now in Preschool) was beginning to eat solids as autumn came around.  We had just moved to Fort Collins and were struggling on a very tight budget.  It was a difficult year, but I found great happiness in those days of making baby food.  We didn’t have much but I felt an ample amount of satisfaction having our home filled with the rewards of our local Farmer’s Market, providing our family with healthy, delicious meals made from scratch and from the heart.  Even now when I open my refrigerator or pantry and see the shelves filled with food, I truly feel fortunate.  Every year since then when I see the signs of autumn at our Farmer’s Market, the memories of nourishing my family come flooding back and that familiar happiness grows within me like the food on the vine.

This year our family is experiencing the riches of harvest season with the abundance of Palisade Peaches taking over our kitchen counters.  Palisade is in the south-west part of Colorado, east of Grand Junction.  Often called the “heart of Colorado’s fruit and wine country”, Palisade is well-known for their amazing peaches that have been growing there since the late 1800’s.  Peaches are a favorite fruit of mine and after being very disappointed with some of the selection at local grocery stores – tough, flavorless and dry, it was refreshing to have juicy, tender, fragrant, meaty peaches, ripe for the eating.  With the peaches being a local food picked ready-to-eat, you can absolutely taste the difference.  We’ve been eating peaches every day and enjoying every last dripping bite.

There’s something about harvest season that brings people in our community together.  I think we all feel very lucky to live in a city where we are surrounded by agriculture, where the concept of “from farm to table” is readily accepted.  With the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables we find, people all around seem to have a stronger connection with one another while talking about the bounty of delicious produce they’ve purchased and discussing different recipes they enjoy.  Recipe swapping is something that many of my friends and I love and it always leads to some lively conversation where our families reap the wholesome rewards.

Experiencing a plenitude of peaches, it’s been fun figuring out how to incorporate them into our daily meals.  We’ve been eating them fresh and raw, baking them, blending them in smoothies and even grilling them.  I’m all for simple dishes that are kid-friendly (especially now that our family has grown to two kids) and recently found a recipe that I’ll use every year that we find ourselves with a bumper of peaches – Peach Caprese Salad.   Simple and classic with a twist, it’s also very healthy and perfect for those who have limited skills in the kitchen.  Using fresh local ingredients makes this mouth watering meal one that friends and family will request for years to come.

During the celebration of harvest season in Fort Collins, I hope we spread the good feelings of camaraderie by sharing some of the ways we enjoy savoring all that we grow in our land of abundance. 

Peach Caprese Salad

Credits:  Serious Eats – Dinner Tonight
-serves 4-

Ingredients
3 ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
Olive oil to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Salt
Pepper
Procedure

1. Halve each peach, remove the pit, and slice. Slice the mozzarella and tear the basil leaves.

2. Arrange peaches and mozzarella on a large plate. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste (aim for a 3-to-1 ration of oil to vinegar). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil.

Kristin Mastre is a wife of 10 years, a mother to 2 boys, a personal trainer and the author of feastingfortcollins.com, a local restaurant review blog.

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!