3 Bear Oats Oatmeal at Mill City Farmers Market

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Therese Moore loves oatmeal. As in, looooooooooves oatmeal. She loves it so much that she began playing with it, treating it as the grain it is and not just as a receptacle for copious amounts of sugar and cream. Friends and family told her that her oatmeal creations deserved a wider audience, and thus 3 Bear Oats was born.

Moore now sells her creative oatmeal dishes ($5-$8, depending on size) at the Mill City Farmers Market, and they’re a welcome addition to the other prepared foods available there. She cooks up big batches of organic steel-cut oats to the point where they’re done but still sturdy, deftly avoiding the sadness that is overly mushy gruel. Then she creates a variety of options, sweet and savory, sourcing her additional ingredients locally as much as possible (including items from several other Mill City vendors). She buys the oats themselves from the Wedge Co-op, which in turns brings them in from Canada, but Moore is on the hunt for locally grown, organic steel-cut oats to use in the future.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

On a recent visit, we tried the five flavors she had available and were delighted with the wide range of flavors. Little Bear’s Breakfast (above) was perhaps the most traditional of all, with cinnamon-coated apple chunks, granola, honey, and walnuts, a great mix of textures and a not-cloying sweetness offset by the generous amount of cinnamon.

Serious Jam

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Serious Jam has been available most weeks this summer at the Mill City Farmers Market. With such a, well, serious name, you might not expect to find the smiling face of Heidi Skoog, maker of an extensive line of inventive, even playful liquor-and-herb-infused jams. On any given Saturday, she has at least a half dozen flavors, some standard and some seasonal, and she’ll gladly share a sample of as many as you’d like to try. We took home raspberry rhubarb Pimm’s and a blueberry bourbon sage ($12 per 9-ounce jar).

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The raspberry rhubarb Pimm’s is more sauce than jam, with chunks of rhubarb swimming in raspberries. It has the bracing tartness of rhubarb, the sweetness of ripe berries, and just a hint of the medicinal quality of Pimm’s. The blueberry bourbon sage has the prominent spice of bourbon and whole, cooked blueberries. With its sage, this jam would lend itself well to a savory application, though both jams were excellent on whole grain or sourdough bread.

The jams contained the titular ingredients in addition to sugar, lemon, and pectin. Everything but the pectin and the liquor are organic.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

We asked Skoog about the cost, and she explained that after booth fees, application fees, licensing fees, commercial-kitchen rental fees, insurance, organic and local ingredients (when possible), time spent making and packaging the jam by hand and driving all over town to sell, she is doing this primarily to invent and enchant. You can buy Smuckers at a warehouse store for pennies on the ounce, only slightly more expensive than pilfering packets from your local diner. But Serious Jam brings whimsy, thoughtfulness, and quality that you just won’t find in a commercial product.

Even if you find the cost prohibitive for your daily bread, these jams would make a lovely occasional treat or a beautiful gift for another jam lover in your life.

Serious Jam is available at Honey & Rye Bakehouse in St. Louis Park, Rustica Bakery, and the local section of Williams-Sonoma Ridgedale.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Heavy Table Hot Five: Sep. 30-Oct. 6

hotfive-flames

Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

shepherd-song-green-keyline

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

1-new - oneMaple Caramel from the St. Croix Chocolate Company
Despite its cheerfully exotic location in Marine on Saint Croix, the St. Croix Chocolate Company can throw down with the best of anything in the greater metro area. We appreciate their artful take on chocolate that mixes first-rate product with stunning visual effects (like sculptural bars modeled on clay tiles). Case in point: the skillfully painted, leaf-shaped chocolates containing a subtle but truly soulful maple caramel that arrived in a hand-painted dark chocolate pumpkin to promote Caramelpalooza on Oct. 15. The chocolate shop’s pear caramel was also an edible work of art — rarely have fruit and chocolate had such a civil conversation.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from Twitter by James Norton]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

2-new - twoFresh Ginger at Mill City Farmers Market
Fresh ginger is back at the Mill City Farmers Market. You can find the spicy, fragrant rhizome at the Stone’s Throw and Seven Songs booths. This ginger is both more tender and hotter than the grocery-store version and is perfect for crystallizing. This year, the farmers have also grown galangal and turmeric, similarly hard-to-cultivate (in Minnesota, at least) plants in the ginger family.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - threeHarvest Moon Latte at Peace Coffee
The Harvest Moon Latte goes something like this: Seasonally fresh squash (rotated by the week depending on what’s best) is roasted and pureed with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and then that base is drowned in steamed milk and finally topped with a shot of espresso. The squash is mellow, gently earthy, and present without being overpowering, and it’s a great upgrade to the lazy pumpkin-spiced everything that currently rules our world.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new fourBanh Chao Quay from Ha Tien
The Banh Chao Quay at Ha Tien, a Vietnamese-by-way-of-St. Paul spin on a classic Chinese doughnut, is a modern miracle. Graced with a lightly crisp exterior and a chewy, tender interior that directly recall a classic beignet, this pastry — plus a bit of powdered sugar and some coffee — would make a lovely breakfast for three to four people, for $1.59. And it’s kind of marvelous to look at, too.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #1 | Submitted from Instagram by James Norton]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveBagels from Baker’s Field Flour
The bagels from Baker’s Field Flour (found at the Mill City and Northeast farmers markets) are a wonderful way to start the day. The plain bagel is far from flavorless. The natural leavening gives it a tang akin to sourdough, and it’s also got a pleasantly nutty whole-grain undertone. Cream cheese optional (but why not?).
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Abrothecary at Mill City Farmers Market

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Bone broth is having a bit of a moment (although one could reasonably ask if there has ever been a time when bone broth wasn’t a critical part of cooking), with a nod not only toward better flavor but possibly toward better nutritional content. When bones are simmered slowly over a long period of time, the flavor of a broth deepens. Many also believe that bone broth has additional health benefits, although there isn’t currently any research to support those claims.

Into this moment comes Abrothecary, the brainchild of Andrew Ikeda. Ikeda is chef-owner at Lake & Irving and a butcher at Lowry Hill Meats. He’s formed this broth and soup venture, which is scheduled to be at the Mill City Farmers Market every other week throughout the season (the link lists the dates).

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

A recent visit to the Mill City Market found a selection of four broths as well as pesto. We opted to try the free-range chicken broth ($8) and the ramen broth ($10), sold in containers that held a little over two cups. The chicken broth was rich and golden and smooth in flavor. It would be excellent as a base for a vegetable soup or as a cooking liquid for pasta or veggies, or even as a poaching liquid for more chicken. This is not a broth that was prepared using shortcuts or cheats.

The ramen broth, we were told, was all you’d need to make a bowl of homemade ramen. Just add noodles and whatever protein and vegetables you choose. This turned out to be correct. The broth came out of the container as a solid, gelatinous lump that quickly melted down into a golden-brown aromatic broth with light touches of garlic and ginger. Combined with a few other ingredients, such as fresh ramen, mushrooms, pork belly, and a poached egg, it was hearty and comforting, if not as exciting as the offerings at places like Ramen Kazama.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

But one thing that gave us pause was the price. A recipe on the Mill City Market’s website for a risotto that is said to feed eight to 10 people calls for five cups of broth. Assuming two cups or just slightly more per container, you’d need to buy three containers of chicken broth — that’s $24. Even assuming that you could store one cup for another use, you’ve spent $20 for broth for your risotto, and you still need to purchase the other ingredients.

Are these broths high quality? Absolutely. Are they worth the price? That depends. Some would argue that the time involved in creating a broth like this at home makes the Abrothecary product well worth the price. People who routinely do slow-simmered, long-cooking broths themselves may think harder about taking the plunge.

Heavy Table Hot Five: May 27-June 2

hotfive-flames

Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

shepherd-song-green-keyline

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

1-new - oneBasque Scramble at Victor’s 1959 Café
The Basque Scramble at Victor’s 1959 Café is a great start to the day. Scrambled eggs topped with a hearty portion of sauteed peppers, chorizo, ham, and onions — robust and flavorful without any mouth-burning heat. Be sure to upgrade to the soft, chewy Cuban toast with guava jelly, and order a strong, smooth Cafe Cubano to wash it down.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Ruthie Young / Heavy Table
Ruthie Young / Heavy Table

2-new - twoLocatelli Doughnut at Mucci’s Italian
This is a doughnut for the connoisseur and the curious alike. A lightly frosted, cakey ring is topped with a sprinkling of Locatelli Romano cheese, making it the first successful sweet-and-savory doughnut we’ve seen since the bacon-with-dessert craze was in full swing. This is also the “chef’s favorite,” and for $2.50 a go, it’s pretty hard to turn down. Get to Mucci’s early; donuts are sold on Saturdays and Sundays only, from 8 a.m., and they tend to be gone before noon.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Ruthie Young]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

3-new - threeThe Rose Street Pastry at Rose Street Patisserie and Patisserie 46
John Kraus created a roselike confection to celebrate the opening of his Rose Street Patisserie in Linden Hills. Underneath a raspberry-jam glaze are layers of white chocolate mousse, raspberry gelée, hazelnut praline, and almond dacquoise, all resting on a sablé cookie base. The hemispherical pastry is ringed by a spiral of tinted white chocolate that evokes the flower, and a real rose petal rests at the North Pole.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new fourRhubarb Crisp from Rhubarb Renaissance
’Tis the season for harvesting the living daylights out of your garden’s rhubarb while it’s tender and plentiful. We chop and freeze a good eight to 12 cups of it every year to have on hand for pies (or whatever) and make crisps whenever the need arises. The recipe from Kim Ode’s Rhubarb Renaissance is our favorite: mix four cups of chopped rhubarb with a half cup of sugar and two tablespoons of flour in a baking dish. Then blend a stick of butter, a cup of flour, a packed cup of brown sugar, a cup of old-fashioned oats, and a pinch of salt, and add that topping to the fruit. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350ºF, and you’re left with one of the best crisps imaginable: a buttery, crunchy exterior, tender fruit in balance with the topping, and a good sweet-tart balance.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by James Norton]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

5-new -fivePasta Ingredients From the Mill City Farmers Market
What to do with bags of fresh produce from an early-spring farmers market? Make fresh tagliatelle with morels and hazelnuts. Our ingredient list included eggs from Sunshine Harvest, morels from Prairie Hollow, green garlic from Stone’s Throw, toasted hazelnuts from Hazelnut Valley, Burr Oak sheep cheese from Shepherd’s Way (and also foraged ramps and tarragon from our herb garden … and, we sheepishly admit, a little creme fraiche from Vermont).
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

Heavy Table Hot Five: June 12-18

hotfive-flames

Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

1-new - oneBacon Bratwurst at the Chef Shack Ranch
The craft of bratwurst has been elevated to an art at Chef Shack Ranch; the eatery’s bacon brats are savory and richly flavored without being greasy or heavy, and they snap pleasantly without being tough. These sausages are what we want summer to taste like.
[ Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton, from an upcoming episode of The Weekend Starts Now]

Paige Latham / Heavy Table
Paige Latham / Heavy Table

2-new - twoFried Turkey Gizzards at Nighthawks
The texture of the fried turkey gizzards at Nighthawks is creamy enough to melt like foie gras while remaining somewhat meaty and hearty under the batter. Bright dill ranch perfectly cuts the richness of the little bites. Though the portion is beyond fair for $5, you’ll want more when the bowl is empty. And again in the morning.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #1 | Submitted by Paige Latham]

Courtesy of GYST
Courtesy of GYST

3-new - threeThe Morty Slider at Gyst
A couple of slices of mortadella, cheese, and a swipe of Dijon on a warm, soft roll with cornichons on the side. Three bites of pure bliss. If they sold them by the Crave Case, they could install a 24 / 7 drive-through window and clean up. For a tiny, cheap sandwich, it’s assembled more impeccably than most $16 sandwiches anywhere else in town. Simple, delicious, unimprovable.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Peter Sieve]

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table
Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table

4-new fourTap Dancer Cold Press Coffee at Sebastian Joe’s
This spring I found a coffee that changed not only my morning drink routine but my route to work. Sebastian Joe’s brews up vats of its Tap Dancer cold press and serves it on tap at its Uptown location. (Cold press, but not on tap is available at Linden Hills.) It’s strong (I finally wised up and ordered it half-strength after a few jittery days), rich, and has just enough bite — for people who actually like the flavor of coffee.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by Tricia Cornell]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveCheese and Radish Sandwich Made From Fixings From the Mill City Farmers Market
The perfect summer lunch, with a trio of goodies from the Mill City Farmers Market: Salty Tart baguette, Singing Hills Dairy goat cheese, and Loon Organics radishes. Tangy, chewy, satisfying.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Heavy Table Book Signing at Mill City Farmers Market

secret-atlas-325This Saturday’s Mill City Farmers Market welcomes the Sustainable Farming Association‘s annual GrazeFest series event, featuring a book signing of the Heavy Table’s The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food. The book includes a chapter written by Jason Walker entitled “Open Arms, Open Farms” that highlights several SFA farms, including Living Song Farm. Both Walker and Jerry Ford (co-owner of Living Song) will be at the farmers market to sign copies of the book, in which maps and illustrations complement journalistic essays that take readers deep into the history, culture, and gastronomy of the Upper Midwest.
The event runs from 8am-1pm.

SFA’s Mary Jane Miller will be cooking on stage with food from the market as well as grass-fed beef from Living Song Farm. There’ll be a family-friendly SFA booth with a few kid-centric freebies, 2-for-1 Garlic Festival coupons, and plenty of SFA folks on hand. Plus the vibrant market itself, with its 60-plus vendors, is always worth the trip.
If you’re interested in learning more or purchasing the “Secret Atlas” – which includes SFA members’ Living Song Farm, GrassStain Farm, Lakeside Prairie Farm, and Round River Farm, as well as a wide array of other essays on Upper Midwestern food – visit the Heavy Table’s bookstore.

Simple Earth Hops Harvest Details and Morning Roundup

A fight to allow food- and drink-themed restaurant and bar murals in Minneapolis; Zimmern’s take on the upcoming State Fair fare; a local poutine roundup; details on the Simple Earth Hops Harvest Brewfest in Dodgeville, WI; local craft shandy maker (granted, “craft” and “shandy” seem to be at loggerheads) Tonka donates its profits to fight invasive species; a profile of Aussie’s Kebabs; a taste test of Spam’s new flavors; a WACSO sketch from Mill City Farmers Market; and The Heavy Table reports on the new Summit Unchained #10 (Abbey Ale) and smorrebrod at The Bachelor Farmer for Sunday brunch.

New Food Truck and July 18 Tweet Rodeo

@MCFarmersMkt is looking for volunteer help on July 23 and August 20, Brasa Rotisserie in St. Paul will serve garlic prawns roasted with garlic butter after 5pm this evening, @UptownDiner offers free ice cream today with the order of a burger, and @commonroots recommends that you check out the new food truck @SaucyBurts.

Amy Goetz of Bramblewood Treats

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

Editor’s Note: Bramblewood Treats is now closed.

A classically trained opera singer, Amy Goetz says she wasn’t “diva enough” to pursue a lifetime musical career. And the owner of local favorite Bramblewood Treats is certainly taking a very un-diva turn this year, voluntarily downsizing her business to take care of her ailing parents — and rediscover her love of getting her hands dirty in the process.

Goetz’s buttery shortbread, based on her Nova Scotian great-grandmother Viola Hadley Kirk’s recipe, have been her livelihood for 16 years. Sold at upscale grocery stores and gourmet foods markets throughout the Twin Cities, as well as various farmers markets, the delightfully dense treats made the transition from her mother’s kitchen to a commercial one years ago when she enlisted the help of a co-packer to produce larger quantities of her family’s beloved cookie. But Goetz found that bigger isn’t always better — the co-packer’s decision last year to use new equipment that made the shortbread more brittle and crumbly led her to discontinue their partnership and re-examine her business plan.

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

“I always had this idea that going big was the thing to do, but you have to give things up, and sometimes you give up the thing you love the most,” she says. “It’s my great-grandmother’s recipe. I can’t sell it without selling a piece of my soul.”

When her mother and stepfather were then each diagnosed with cancer three months apart, her decision to scale back became obvious. She halted production through the busy holiday season and had even planned to cancel her table at St. Paul’s annual Scottish Ramble in February when the event organizer told Goetz she could participate for free and sell whatever stock she had on hand. And then when her mother suggested that Goetz bake her new inventory in the cozy, brass-accented Tangletown kitchen where the business started, the pieces started coming together again.

“I felt myself pull back together. I started this to bake and share treats, not go into business,” Goetz says.

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

So for 2011, Goetz’s game plan is simple: Sell her home-baked signature shortbread, along with cream scones, coconut macaroons, hand-rolled caramels, fudgy brownies, and sweet popcorn, at the Mill City and White Bear Lake farmers markets while keeping her wholesale business on hold. Thanks to the state’s “pickle bill” for non-perishable food items, Goetz can sell the treats that are baked in her mother’s kitchen as long as she discloses their origin. This allows her to be available to help her parents and still churn out enough baked goods — one pan at a time — two or three days each week to keep her fans full of shortbread.

“This home is very meaningful. My parents were married here. I live in White Bear Lake now, but I grew up in South Minneapolis and it’s my favorite part of the Twin Cities,” she says.

A $5 Trader Joe’s Wine Scoop and Morning Roundup

Kudos for Spoonriver crepes at Mill City Farmers Market, good $5 wine at Trader Joe’s that you probably haven’t heard of, the story of Harvest Moon Co-op, a photo of 40 years of Star Tribune Taste sections, and a review of Boulevard Amber Ale.

Save the Garlic: Volunteers Needed at Swede Lake Farms

Garlic hanging in a barn at Swede Lake Farms
Photo Courtesy Deanna Stanchfield

If you’ve been to the Kingfield or Mill City farmers markets this summer, you’ve likely met the folks of Swede Lake Farms and Global Garlic, Deanna Stanchfield and Scott Jentink, who are there selling the veggies and garlic they bring in from their 50-acre farm in Watertown, MN.

On Saturday, July 17, their fields were caught in the severe storms that hit Western Hennepin County and the deluge that came afterward. Many of their crops were affected, but none so much as the garlic, which has a short harvest window in the best of circumstances. The Swede Lake garlic is now waterlogged and in danger of rotting in the ground. It needs to be picked immediately.

Stanchfield estimates that of the 70,000 heads they planted, they have about half left to pick and quite a bit more than that to sort and hang — and, like many small farms, not enough hands to get the work done as quickly as necessary.

So what can you do?

Stanchfield is looking for volunteers who can come out to the farm — which is about 30 minutes outside Minneapolis — and help get the garlic out of the fields and into dry storage. Jobs include picking, sorting, bunching, and hanging. She is used to working with many hands and promises a well-oiled machine.

The details:
When: Monday, July 26 and Tuesday, July 27
Time: Daytime or evening

Contact:
Thu-Fri contact Deanna Stanchfield at 952.955.3990
Sat-Sun contact either Deanna or Scott Jentink at the farm, 612.750.2553