Archive | Winter 2011

lastBite

THE LAST BITE: I AM FROM

I AM FROM

BY SETH BRENNEMAN
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID JOHNSON

I am from local food,
From the fresh smell of a garden and picking tomatoes.
I am from the local meals on the table
And the smoky smell of the green egg.
I am from the kitchen making scrambled eggs
And from a fresh, green salad on the table with homemade dressing.
I am from a medium steak doused in A1 sauce (to his mom’s dismay)
I am from farmers and nice restaurants.
I am from a Dallas Cowboys jersey, sitting in front of the TV after church.
I am from athletics and basketball
my dad standing under the basket telling me what to do.
I am from the court and trying to practice my form,
shooting over and over to perfect my shot.
I am from an orchard with the red and yellow apples,
From the smoke and the sound of the four-wheeler.
I am from sitting in the motor home hours on end, different states and swimming in the ocean.
I am from family on Christmas and playing football in the snow-covered yard
with my uncles and cousins.
I am from my imagination in the backyard playing in
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weather

THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL…BUT THE GREENS ARE SO DELIGHTFUL

BY KAREN GEISER

In December, when most gardeners are taking a rest from horticultural pursuits, there are a few die-hards still trekking through the snow to glean fresh food from the garden. When the first killer frost hits in the fall, it is not a signal for me to clean out the garden, oil up the hoe and wait for spring planting. Rather, I start preparing my trowel and taste buds for the next season of growing: winter! Our family has been eating fresh greens from the garden, all winter, for the past 10 years. By adding cold frames and educating ourselves about plants that are cold-hardy, we can extend the gardening season into the winter months, even here in the northern states.

A cold frame is basically any structure that protects your plants from the elements. It can be something as simple as an old window on cement blocks, or as elaborate as a glass greenhouse. In my garden there are “low tunnels” created with wire produce hoops covered with plastic, along with a hodge-podge of other structures, many built from salvaged supplies. White plastic barrel halves are some of my favorite cold frames, as they are easy to … Read More

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liquid

LIQUID ASSETS: 18 VODKA

FROM GRAIN TO GLASS


Good vodka cannot be rushed,
and the secret is
in the distilling
and the final, human touch.

BY BOB JOHNSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID JOHNSON

Sit down to talk with Steve Ross, creator of 18 Vodka in Mishawaka, and you’re struck at first by his smile. The man can’t stop smiling. As he gestures toward his huge, copper, mushroomshaped still, as he explains the processes underway in his two-story distilling tower, as he shows you the handmade bagger that receives the hundreds of pounds of rye he grinds himself … he can’t stop smiling.

It’s the smile of a man who loves what he’s doing. A lucky man. Steve has been distilling 18 Vodka in the rear of his do-it-yourself framing store since 2008. While his staff helps artists and hobbyists frame their paintings and posters, he’s back in the still room tinkering, tweaking, tasting, bringing the human touch to an age-old craft.

The result is a smooth, cool libation that defies the traditional take on a drink many of us dilute as quickly as possible with fruit juice or vermouth. 18 Vodka has a character that can only be described as “crisp.” It is fresh and … Read More

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liquidVodka

PENNE WITH VODKA SAUCE

This recipe is courtesy of Zach Lucchese, chef at Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant in Elkhart, Indiana. It’s great with chicken, Italian sausage, shrimp or mushrooms.

1 pound penne pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 ounces Prosciutto Di Parma, diced
¼ cup vodka
24 ounces crushed plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons oregano, chopped
5–6 basil leaves, chopped
1½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup Parmesan or Pecorino
Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 6 cups of salted water to boil. Add penne pasta and cook 8–10 minutes until al dente. Drain, reserving pasta water.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté onion, garlic and diced prosciutto until onion is translucent.

Deglaze pan with vodka, then add crushed tomatoes, oregano, 4–5 chopped basil leaves and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 9–10 minutes. Sauce should be a bright pink to orange-ish color.

Add Parmesan cheese and cooked penne to the sauce. Simmer for 1–2 minutes, adding 1–2 tablespoons reserved pasta water to bring sauce to desired thickness.

Serve in bowls garnished with chopped basil and Parmesan.… Read More

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giftChocolate

LOCAL GIFT GUIDE

LOCAL GIFT GUIDE

This holiday season, give your
loved ones a taste of their own terroir.

BY PAULA BARTHOLOME AND VICTORIA BRENEMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID JOHNSON

A GIFT OF CHOCOLATE NIRVANA

Nestled just off US 30 in Pierceton, Indiana, Weckmuller Fine Chocolates is the perfect shop to find gifts for the chocolate lover on your list. They offer delectable mounds of milk, dark and white chocolate confections—each hand-dipped in the store—and truffles filled with real fruit purée. A customer favorite is the horchata truffle, a dark chocolate base studded with chili pepper flakes and natural chili oil. They also make fudge, peppermint and cinnamon bark and a number of sugarfree items. New this year are six gift baskets, one loaded with Indiana fruit, maple syrup, honey, nuts and chocolates. All are on display at weckmuller.com or in the store at 118 N. First St, Pierceton, Indiana. —VB

PHILANTHROPIC GIFTS

Soup of Success is a program of Church Community Services that offers a wide variety of “edible” gifts for the holidays. You can purchase their ready-made gift baskets or individually purchase their soup, cookie and dip mixes. Soup of Success products are all handpackaged by women from Elkhart County who are … Read More

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playing

EDIBLE TRADITIONS: PLAYING THE MARKET


A look at the South Bend Farmers Market sometime in the first
half of the 20th century. The building was constructed in 1928.

A century old and going strong,
farmers
mart blends past and present

BY JANE AMMESON
PHOTOS BY DAVID JOHNSON

Back in 1917, Ross Sawyer opened a small meat company, Sawyer’s Packing House, in the even smaller town of Wakarusa, Indiana.

“My great-grandfather started the business because he thought there was a need to supply small stores with high-quality meats and sausages,” says Joe Sawyer as he stands behind the counter of Sawyer Meats at the South Bend Farmers Market. “We started selling here about the same time the market opened.”

Indeed, there’s a look of the old-fashioned here, with several vintage display cases (the real thing, not something new made to look old) filled with a myriad of bacons—applewood, cherrywood and double-smoked Pennsylvania—as well as sausages, cheeses and homemade ham salad. Sawyer Meats continues to sell fresh meats although their meat packing plant closed in the 1940.

“We still buy locally,” says Sawyer, noting that the fourth-generation company still sells ring bologna using a family recipe dating back to 1931. “It’s just part of our tradition.”

Heritage … Read More

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girasol

EDIBLE TRADITIONS: GIRASOL

South Bend’s Pupusería

BY MAYA PARSON
PHOTOS BY DAVID JOHNSON

Luz Ferrufino wraps every tamal she makes at Girasol, her small South Bend restaurant, in a piece of dark green banana leaf. The banana leaf wrapper, traditional to Central American tamales, imparts a subtle grassy flavor to the melt-in-your-mouth corn filling studded with chunks of tender chicken and vegetables.

Growing up on a farm in northeastern El Salvador, Luz remembers that her mother would harvest banana leaves for making tamales right outside the family’s front door. Her family also grew vegetables and raised chickens, pigs and cows. Her mother made cheese to sell in the city. Almost everything was grown or made at home. “We did buy sugar and chocolate,” she admits, “because those we didn’t grow ourselves.”

Today, Luz buys banana leaves and other “exotic” ingredients, like the buds of the loroco vine used to flavor Girasol’s trademark dish, her savory stuffed cornmeal patties—pupusas—from vendors in Chicago. Girasol’s beans are imported directly from El Salvador, as are the ingredients for her Salvadoran-style horchata, a sweet drink with a rich, nutty flavor made with the toasted seeds of the Central American jícaro or calabash tree. (If you’ve only tried Mexican-style … Read More

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girasolRecipe

CHEESE PUPUSAS

1 dozen (3–4 servings)

CURTIDO (CABBAGE SLAW)

1/2 medium-size head green cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, grated
4 cups boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon powdered dried oregano
2–4 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
2–4 tablespoons water

Mix cabbage and carrot in large bowl. Pour boiling water over vegetables, let soak for 1 minute, then drain.

Mix drained vegetables with salt, pepper, oregano and equal parts vinegar and water.

Cool in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or for several hours.

While slaw cools, prepare filling and masa.

FILLING

Note: Cheese pupusas are traditionally made with quesillo (a Central American cheese similar to mozzarella), which can be difficult to find. If you can get your hands on some, by all means use it! A good substitute is a mixture of:

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup queso fresco, available at major groceries and Hispanic markets.
(If queso fresco is unavailable, 1½ cups mozzarella cheese can be used.)

MASA (DOUGH)

3 cups Maseca (instant masa), available at major groceries (in the Hispanic foods section) and at Hispanic markets
1 and 3/4 cup water, approximately
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons … Read More

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confessions

EDIBLE TRADITIONS: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER GINGERBREAD BOY

BY STEVE BRENNEMAN
PHOTOS BY DAVID JOHNSON

Christmas time at our house was pretty simple. We didn’t go on extended Florida vacations. We didn’t get loads of expensive presents like my kids get—but we still looked forward to Christmas more than any other time of the year.

Looking back on that time of my life, I learned a couple things that are only recently sinking in: Simple is wonderful. Quality over quantity … always.

We had some unique family traditions that involved these things. We made hard candy on a special table with a marble top. We decorated a live Christmas tree with a variety of ornaments that we had made in years past. And we always made gingerbread men.

My mom would mix up the dough and then roll it out for us. That was the hard part. The dough tasted wonderful—not too sweet and yet with the perfect balance of ginger, cinnamon and butterscotch. Decorations for the gingerbread men included bright white icing, Red Hots, silver BBs and a few colored sugars. My mom wanted us boys (there were four of us) to be involved and would let us use the cookie cutter and then decorate the … Read More

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