This summer, I was the catering manager for Rock River Farm, a flower farm in the central U.P. They are focusing their efforts on flower production, so they don’t need my services in 2019. After being asked a few times if I’m sad they are done catering, here’s the truth: I’m stoked to see farms find their niche. This said, I will be going back next summer in the same way I got started there: as a volunteer who is in it for the beautiful drive, lack of cell service, the company and inspiration they provide.
For me, food has always been a source of connection, a tool to communicate love, and a way to pass on family traditions. Some of my most vivid memories involve shared meals and many dishes are connected to specific loved ones in my mind. For example, my mom is chicken, rice, and carrots, whereas my dad is graham crackers dipped in milk. Apple pie and sharp cheddar cheese bring to mind my grandmother. The foods we made on our first date, kimchi and sauerkraut are my partner. These dishes provide comfort and a reminder to slow down.
Food has always been an important part of my life; however, it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Italy that I really fell in love. We toured a Parmigiano Reggiano facility, learned about Balsamico di Modena on a small family farm, and tasted traditionally cured prosciutto. Specifically, all the foods we encountered were part of a movement to preserve culturally significant foods and their traditional production practices: Slow Food.
As our state becomes blanketed in snow, it is easy to think life on the farm grinds to halt. Fortunately for us eaters, however, many farmers utilize hoophouses (aka high tunnels or passive solar greenhouses) to grow a variety of cold hardy winter greens: collards, kale, and spinach are commonly available year round. If you’re normally not a fan of greens, and even if you are, I dare you to try the winter kissed varieties and not fall in love.
This is a baked kohlrabi fritter. It can be served over greens or used as a patty for a veggie sandwich. It’s very versatile and tastes great at any temperature.
Crunchy leaves. Campfires. Football. Sweaters. And an abundance of squash! Fall is here.
When you hear Gaylord, people from downstate will list the golf courses they have played and the beautiful outdoor activities they have participated in. When you’re looking for the up-and-coming food scene, people tend to go more towards Traverse City or Petoskey area. We, at Main Street Bistro, are trying to change that.
Protect your health and environment by making conscientious food choices. According to the Center for science in the Public interest, “eating healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way” is important to repair our food system. spending some of your food dollars on food produced locally secures our food system by decreasing pollution from long-haul transportation and health scares created by cheap, industrial-scale agriculture. The advantage of knowing where your food comes from, who grows it and how they treat the land, and knowing your money is going right back into your community is significant. The freshest, ripest, best-tasting foods are easy to find right now at your local farmers’ markets and community farms.
A cooperative living community of farm workers, food service employees, culinary students, agri-business entrepreneurs, and other local food and farming partners could address the intersection of several problems and potentials related to affordable housing in our region. This living community would be open to anyone involved in or serious about getting involved with local food work, and could help lay the foundation for a new generation of farmers.
Total disclosure: I have never made risotto before, but I saw a recipe for Butternut Squash, Leek, and Basil Risotto from Bon Appetit magazine and had to make it.