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From the Seasonal Kitchen (07/25/2010)
by Caroline van Schaik

In preparing to take sheep to market this week, I realize I might take a moment to address the area’s perfect terrain for raising such lean 4-legged friends on a grass diet. Most of the lamb one finds in the U.S. now comes from abroad but in fact, we have access to excellent lamb right here in the Driftless region. Much of it is at least partially raised on grass, and the more grass the better – for our human health (less fat and calories, healthful fatty acids, lots of vitamin E, etc.) right along with the wildlife habitat, erosion control, and water quality improvements made when our hilly landscape is under perpetual vegetation. It is available nearby at certain farmers markets and Bluff Country Co-op. This is lean meat, especially when fed 100% grass – take care to sear in those juices when pan-frying chops and go easy on the grill with lamb burgers. Meatballs made with ground lamb, chopped mint, a little diced onion, an egg, a bit of salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg dress up spaghetti any night of the week and make for a sustainable table year round – when the mint mildews over (about now on our farm), replace it with basil or parsley.

Also in local markets now (and perhaps your home garden) are fresh beans: green ones, of course, and also Red Burgundy beans that turn green in boiling water and yellow wax varieties. The latter two are best when the color hasn’t fully arrived – keep a close and daily eye, as they turn quickly! You want snappy pods and a minimally developed seed inside for all fresh beans. These summer staples are easy to prepare, take kindly to a diversity of flavors, and are rich in protein and carbohydrates. When parboiled, they freeze well for winter casseroles, but right now, eat them right out of the pan!

Garlicky Green Bean Stir-Fry

NOTE: The original recipe makes 25 servings so here is the gist of the preparation for down-sizing as needed. Cooking times are approximate - the beans should still have a little crunch at the end of the cooking process.

Fresh green beans

Vegetable oil

Chopped garlic

Yellow onion, sliced



Oyster sauce

Clean the beans. Heat oil in a lidded pan and quickly stir-fry the garlic and onions for 20 seconds or so. Add the beans and salt; stir-fry for a few minutes, then add a splash of water and cover the pan. Let the beans steam for a few more minutes, then add the oyster sauce and stir another minute or two to evenly coat everything in the pan.

From “Cooking from the Heart – the Hmong Kitchen in America” by Sami Scripter and Sheng Yang

Soupe au Pistou

NOTE: Pesto in Italy is pistou in Provence and this soup is a variation on minestrone by any name. Despite the heat, soup works as a light but filling supper. And speaking of lamb, a leftover roast lamb bone adds something special to this broth.

1 pound fresh shell beans (1 cup shelled)

1 onion, quartered

Herbs, peppercorn etc. garni bag

1 pound green beans

2 green zucchini

2 yellow summer squash

2 tomatoes

¼ pound orzo or similar pasta


6 cloves garlic

2 cups basil leaves

Parmesan cheese or similar

Olive oil

Cook the shelled beans for about 30 minutes in 2 quarts of salted water with the onion and bouquet garni. Cut the beans and squash into bite sizes. Chop the tomatoes (peel and seed if desired). Drain the beans when they are tender and save the broth. Remove and discard the garni and onion. Bring the bean broth back to a boil, then lower the heat, season with salt, add the green beans and then the squashes. When the broth is back to a simmer, add the shell beans and tomatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding liquid as desired. When the pasta is cooked, taste for seasoning and let this sit for an hour before reheating to serve. The pistou is placed in each bowl of soup; more Parmesan cheese is good.


Puree the garlic and pound in the basil leaves to make a paste. Add a small handful of Parmesan cheese and thin with some olive oil.

From “Chez Panisse Vegetables” by Alice Waters

Watercress Salad Dressed with Pork

NOTE: Hmong watercress is in the market these days, as is local pork - here’s a way to eat them together.

2 large bunches of fresh watercress

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

¼ pound very lean ground pork

1 Tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and dry the watercress in a spinner or towels. Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the pork until it is fully cooked. Season with the fish sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour the meat and oil over the watercress and toss – serve immediately.

From “Cooking from the Heart – the Hmong Kitchen in America” by Sami Scripter and Sheng Yang

This column of good eating is brought to you by members and friends of the Winona County EDA Local Foods Committee and UM Master Gardeners.  Questions or comments?  Contact us: elrs2626@hotmail.com.



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