Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eating Local

Sometimes it bothers me that I don’t blog much about Wisconsin and Milwaukee-area foods. Problem is, I rarely eat out and I rarely buy local during the non-farmer’s market season. When I do shop local, though, I go the whole nine yards.

Case in point:

The Gingergold apples are from Barthel Fruit Farm, 12246 N. Farmdale Rd., Mequon, Wis.

The tomatoes (the most delicious I've had) are from Witte's Vegetable Farm, 10006 Bridge Rd., Cedarburg, Wis.

Go get 'em, Wisconsinites.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Corn Chowder

Are you ready for fall? I’m not ready for fall. Oh, I still like apples, pumpkins and cider. I’m craving borsch and other hot soups. But I like late-summer sun and in-season tomatoes even better. We had a cold summer in Wisconsin this year. An interminable wait for tomatoes. So I think I’ll hold off on the borsch for a little while. You understand.

Instead, I can offer a recipe for corn chowder. It’s a hot soup, but it’s based on late-summer, farmer’s market ingredients. Call it a gentle preview of fall.

This soup is a quicker version of this corn chowder recipe. In a soup pot, sauté some chopped onions, minced celery and a couple of small, peeled and diced potatoes in olive oil and butter on medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Add the kernels from two large cobs of corn; add ¼ tsp. each of sage and thyme; add kosher salt and ground pepper to taste. Sauté 5 more minutes.

Add 3 cups of milk; bring to a simmer (don’t boil); and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, sauté a small, diced red pepper with some diced bacon or fatty ham until the pepper’s soft. Take the soup off the heat; puree about 1/3 of it in a blender or food processor. Add back to soup pot; add red pepper and ham. Salt to taste. Serve with chopped scallions. A bit of crumbled feta is nice, too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Product Review: Kefir

It’s been a while since I’ve done a product review; so here’s a product I recommend wholeheartedly: kefir. A kind of cultured milk that tastes a lot like plain yogurt, kefir is very popular in Russia and Eastern Europe (it probably originated in the Caucauses or Turkey). It’s usually eaten with a little sugar, jam or fruit, as a snack or a light meal. I also like it with cereal.

Kefir has all sorts of health benefits—in Russia, it’s said to be good for digestion; in the U.S., it's praised for its probiotic qualities. You can buy kefir at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or any Russian or Eastern European grocery store. I’ve tried various brands, and they’re all pretty similar. In Russia, I liked the brand “Prostokvashino” for its slightly carbonated kefir.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Recipe

Again, I'm missing in action. Yet I do have a Russian recipe to share with you this week. It's called "eating at your parents' house." That's right! You decide you don't feel like cooking and go eat at your parents', who surely live nearby (if not with you). This is incredibly popular among young Russian people from Moscow to Brooklyn. Go ahead and try it! Borsch and kotleti are probably on the menu.
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