cooking up connections


Julia Child once said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” I think that that the same could be said about any gathering without food. The vegetable stand and cooking demonstrations at this year’s Growing Up Healthy evenings in the Park really spiced up the events. Whether we were revving up the generator to blend up Green Machine Smoothies and Watermelon Popsicles or using the camp stove to saute some spicy Swiss chard, our cooking demonstrations drew a crowd of kids and adults.

Sharing food facilitates in sharing stories and memories and helps to foster more community connectedness. Taste added texture to memories that were made this summer and each time we revisit those flavors will conjure those summer memories. Knowing this brings a smile to my face. Although time passes and summer becomes fall, even in the dead of winter, summer is just a Peanut Stir-Fry or a Zucchini bread recipe away.

This summer has been a blast and this week is my Bon Voyage. I leave Rice County for my next adventure, a semester program on the the US/Mexico Borderlands. The Farmer to Family Program will continue without me throughout the Fall with help from Carleton Students and Growing Up Healthy. More updates are to come!


¡tengo tomate!

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Each week, someone comes up to the stand eagerly asking ¿Dónde estás los tomates? Where are the tomatoes? And I kindly explain how they are not ripe yet because these vegetables are from a farm nearby and it is not warm enough here and I promise them they will come in the next few weeks. This week, we got our first dozen tomatoes and excitement ensued.

This desire for the tomato before it ripens highlights a drawback in my goal to vend local produce to Latino and Somali communities in Rice County. Seasonal produce has many positives — It connects you to the land you reside on. It is fresh and the nutrients are more potent. The veggies that we vend from SEEDs farm thrive in a diverse ecosystem, with healthy soil, and lots of love from happy farmers. However, seasonality is inconsiderate of tradition and culture, especially for people from very different climates.

In Mexico, Somalia or Kenya tomatoes may be available for a much longer portion of the year. The corn may taste different. Los jalapeños, mas picante. Traditional recipes contain flavors that muster up memories, a flavor that cannot be accomplished if you substitute kale for collard greens or if the organic celery is too small and fibrous. New memories can be made and new dishes added but in the battle over space in the refrigerator and on the dinner table traditional food usually trumps seasonality. Grandma’s recipe is always the go-to for satisfying hungry tummies while Mom’s new creation is received with less excitement.

I seek to find a healthy compromise in the battle between the seasonal and the traditional. I’ve got some Somali and Mexican cookbooks and I’d like to experiement with flavor combinations and seasonal substitutions that can be made to hit the sweet spot. The kohlrabi with lime and Tajín was a successful example and this week’s kale and mango salad had mixed reviews. With curious, hungry customers more success is sure to come. And, as the season heats up, more tomatoes are sure to come too.

Mango Kale Salad – Ensalada de col rizado y mango


1 bunch kale (black kale is especially good), stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons honey
Black pepper
1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
Small handful toasted pepitas ( pumpkin seeds), about 2 rounded tablespoons


In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve.

1 manojo de col rizado, los tallos quitados, cortado finamente

1 limón

¼ taza aceite de oliva


2 cucharaditas miel

1 mango

¼ taza de pepitas


En un tazón grande, añada el col, medio limón, poquito de aceite, y poquito de sal. Da un masaje al col por 2-3 minutos.

Aderezo: Batir medio limón con miel y pimiento. Añadir ¼ taza de aceite de oliva.

Mézcla el col rizado con el aderezo, el mango, y las pepitas.

Zucchini Bread, 3 ways


This week at the market we shredded up zucchini and created 3 types of zucchini bread to share with the families;

Savory Zucchini & Cheddar Bread

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

-makes one loaf-

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 5-inch (8-cup) loaf pan. Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Add and toss to separate and coat with flour:

1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini
1 1/4 cups shredded extra-sharp local Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of chopped onions or shallots
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Whisk together in another bowl:

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons warm melted butter

Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and lightly mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Pan de Cheddar y Calabacín

-hace un pan de molde

Ponga una de la repisas en el centro del horno. Precaliente el horno a 350 grados. Ponga un poco de aceite en un contenedor de 9×5 pulgadas que sea para hacer pan. Bata junto en un bol grande:

3 tazas de harina multiuso

4 cucharitas de levadura en polvo

1 cucharita de sal

½ cucharita de bicarbonato


Añada y mezcle para separar y cubrir con harina:

1 taza de calabacín rallado

1 ¼ tazas de queso Cheddar rallado

¼ taza de cebolla o chalote picada

3 cucharones de albahaca fresca


Bata juntos en otro bol:

2 huevos grandes

1 taza de leche

4 cucharones de mantequilla derretida

Añada los ingredientes mojados a los secos y mezcle hasta que los ingredientes estén un poco mojados. No mezcle demasiado; la masa no debería ser regular. Hornee hasta que un tenedor metido en el centro salga limpio, 55 a 60 minutos. Deje enfriar en una repisa por 5 a 10 minutos antes de sacarlo del molde.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Yields 2 loaves

3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 9×5-inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, brown sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the grated zucchini. Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder in 3 batches, mixing until the batter becomes uniform. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing and serving.


Pan de chocolate y calabacín

Salen dos moldes de esta receta

3 huevos grandes

1 taza aceite de vegetal

1 ½ tazas de azúcar moreno

2 cucharitas de extracto de vainilla

3 tazas de calabacín rallado

1 cucharon de canela

½ de nuez moscada

1 cucharita de bicarbonato

½ cucharita de levadura en polvo

¾ cucharita de sal

2 ½ tazas de harina multiuso

½ taza de cocoa en polvo

1 ½ tazas de chips de chocolate o nueces (opcional)

Precaliente el horno a 350 grados F (175 grados C). Ponga aceite en dos molde de pan de 9×5 pulgadas.

En un bol grande, bata los huevos, el aceite de vegetal, el azúcar, y el extracto de vainilla hasta que estén bien combinados. Mezcle el calabacín. Mezcle la canela, la nuez moscada, el bicarbonato, la levadura en polvo, y la sal. Meta la harina y el polvo de cocoa en 3 diferentes instalaciones, mezclando hasta que la masa este regular. Mezcle los chips de chocolate.

Divida la masa en partes iguales y ponga en los moldes preparados. Hornee por 50 o 60 minutos. Deje que el pan se enfrié por 10 minutos antes de sacarlo del molde.

Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 loaf


  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated (about 2½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • (optional) ¾ cup walnuts or chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, and grated zucchini.
  3. In another bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Add in vanilla.
  5. Bake for 60-65 minutes. Cool on rack.
  6. Enjoy!

Pan de calabacín

Hace un molde


3 huevos

¾ taza de azúcar

½ de aceite de vegetales

½ taza de puré de manzana

2 calabacines, rallados

1 cucharita de vainilla

3 tazas de harina multiuso

1 cucharita sal

1 cucharita bicarbonato

1 cucharita levadura en polvo

1 cucharita canela


  1. Precaliente el horno a 350 grados F. Ponga papel de pergamino en un molde
  2. En un bol grade, combine huevos, azúcar, aceite, pure, y calabacín
  3. En otro bol combine harina, sal, bicarbonato, levadura en polvo, y canela
  4. Mezcle gradualmente los ingredientes mojados a los secos hasta que estén combinados. Añada vainilla
  5. Hornee por 60-65 minutos


Kohlrabi… ¿como jicama?

At Tuesday’s market kohlrabi was transformed from an alien vegetable to a crunchy treat. We sliced up raw kohlrabi and served it with lime juice, chili powder, and salt which is a common seasoning combination in Latin America. It was enjoyed by the moms and their kids. It was a big success in taking a vegetable that was extremely foreign, some may call it hip, and translating it in a practical way for a Latino palate.


That night for our cooking demo we made a simple recipe of sauteed zucchini and summer squash. Here is the recipe:

Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash – Sofrito de calabacín y calabaza amarilla


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick half moons (seeds removed if necessary)
  • 2 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch thick half moons (seeds removed if necessary)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat butter and olive oil together and saute zucchini and summer squash, tossing frequently, until tender with lots of golden brown edges.
  2. A minute or two before removing from the heat, add salt and pepper; stir well to combine.  Makes 4 servings.


1 cucharada mantequilla

1 cucharada aceite de vegetal o oliva

2-4 calabacín o calabaza amarilla o una mezcla, cortada en medias lunas

sal y pimiento


  1. En un grande sartén, cocina la mantequilla y aceite y añadir las calabazas. Mezcla frecuentemente hasta que el color está marrón dorado.
  2. Pizca con la sal y el pimiento. Si quieres, puede poner un poquito de queso duro, como parmesana, a la encima también.

We also made watermelon popsicles with the kiddos!

Watermelon-Mint Popsicles with Blueberries


  • 6 heaping cups diced seedless watermelon (or remove the seeds)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries


  1. In a blender, puree watermelon along with sugar, lime juice, and salt until smooth.
  2. Add mint and blend briefly to finely mince the mint and get it mixed in.
  3. Pour puree into popsicle molds. (You should be able to make at least 10, but it will depend on the size of your molds.)
  4. Freeze until hard.


Helados de Sandia, Menta, y Arándano


  • 6 tazas de sandia sin semillas
  • 3 cucharadas azúcar
  • 1 cucharada jugo de limón
  • Pizca de sal
  • 1 cucharada menta cortado
  • ½ taza arándano


  1. En la liquadora, puree la sandia con azúcar, jugo de limón, y sal hasta que esta suave.
  2. Añadir la menta y puree más.
  3. Poner el liquido en el molde. Hecha como 10 helados.


We finished the night with a piñata to say goodbye to Roberto who has been helping out at all the park events this summer. The kids loves it and we all sang the Piñata Song —

Dale, dale, dale,
No pierdas el tino;
Porque si lo pierdes
Pierdes el camino.

Ya le diste una,
Ya le diste dos;
Ya le diste tres,
y tu tiempo se acabó.

Go, go, go,
Don’t lose your aim;
Because if you lose it
You will lose the path.

You hit it once
You hit it twice
You hit it three times
And your time is finished.

Smooth as a smoothie

Tonight was another exciting evening in the park. We set up the vegetable stand and cooking station then the families started rolling in. On the stand tonight was lettuce, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, green onions, beets, bok choy, and the highlight of the evening — garlic scapes. I recalled years ago when my family tried out a CSA share and found those green whips inside and were at a loss for what to do. I think we wound up hitting eachother with them, and then placing them in our fridge where they slowly wilted and lost their verdant shade of green.

Tonight, I did not want our customers to be equally puzzled. It turns out, there are a lot of things you can do with garlic scapes. With a flavor between onion and garlic they are a two for one deal. Sauteed with vegetables – great. In an egg scramble — great. In stir fry or fried rice — awesome. Tonight, we made pesto and munched it down with some savory spanish tortas.

Here is the recipe:

Summer Scape Pesto
Makes just under 1 1/2 cups
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pinch salt
In a food processor, blend together chopped scapes, cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and salt
Notes: For a thinner sauce, add more olive oil. I like the thicker consistency because it makes a great spread for sandwiches or to mix in with farm fresh eggs.

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And for the kiddos, we ate spinach that we hid in a delicious green smoothie. Before concocting the smoothie, I asked the kids, “How many of you have had spinach before?” About two of them raised their hands. I asked if they wanted to try spinach and NO one raised their hand. They slowly warmed up to the idea. We all worked together to get the ingredients right in the smoothie and they slurped it right up — they couldn’t have loved the spinach more. Hopefully now they will try it in other things too.

Green Machine Smoothies

1 banana, frozen*
1 mango, diced and frozen*
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
1 large handful of spinach

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
*If the fruit it not frozen first, add a handful of ice.

Truckin’ vegetables

Since the Monday’s in the Park is no longer meeting with the Somali community in Faribault this summer we decided to bring our veggies directly to their neighboorhood. We loaded up the truck with vegetables and our trusty slip of paper with 10 names and phone numbers. When we arrived we started calling people and the word spread fast. We sold 8 bags of veggies and had many others speculating. They were very thankful that we came and we were so glad to have found to many happy customers. We will be loading up the truck again next week. IMG_4149

We’re cooking now..

At Tuesday’s in the Park this evening, we brought out the camp stove and got cooking. We wanted to cook with a vegetable that is unfamiliar to many — swiss chard. We decided to make a simple dish of sauteed spicy swiss chard. We brought out the camp stove, wok, and got chopping.


A chopping team.


Sauteeing swiss chard on the camp stove.


Sampling our spicy creation.


Here is the recipe:


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 sliced jalapenos
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


Separate stems and leaves from Swiss chard. Chop leaves and dice stems small. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add chard stems, minced peeled fresh ginger, and jalapeno slices; cook until stems soften, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add chard leaves, cover, and cook until wilted, 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until tender, 4 minutes.

Taken from Everyday Food, January 2010

The moms really liked it and they were surprised. The kids who tasted it couldn’t really handle the heat. It was had a really nice kick. The demo helped them to warm up to the swiss chard, after sampling it we sold a few more bundles.

With the kids, we made a parfait with vanilla yogurt, nectarines, and granola. They helped us chop nectarines then layer the parfaits. They gobbled it up and came back asking for more. A successful and yummy snack.

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Monday Market

With lettuce, swiss chard, beets, arugula, green onions, and basil in tow we headed to Faribault for Monday’s in the Park. Somali families slowly trickled in. The kids came first, ready for games and snacks and curious about the vegetable stand. They all got a taste of the spicy arugula, some spat it out while others asked for more. They ran off and played games, moving back towards the food when their appetite kicked in.

We then gathered them together to make their own snack mix recipe, choosing 2 grains (granola, chex cereal, gold fish, or pretzels), 1 nut (almonds or peanuts), and 1 or 2 fruits (raisins, dried pinapples, or banana chips). They were a rowdy croudy, pushing eachother around for their chance to measure, pour, mix, and EAT. Although the main message – how to make a balanced snack – may have been diluted by their high energy the snack was happily gobbled up.

Towards the end of the evening, we prepared samples of a tossed salad with lemon garlic vinaigrette and the moms came around to the stand to check out the vegetables. We sold 12 bag fulls to the moms who were excited to see this nice fresh produce – especially the swiss chard and basil. They are eager for the rest of the season, already asking about tomatoes, melons, and peppers.


Monday’s in the Park Mobile Market Stand.


Timmy and I ready to sell.


Teaching how to make a balanced snack with grains, protein, and fruits .


Emily listening to snack mix requests.


What was left of the vegetables after the evening.


A sample of some swiss chard.

First market evening

photo 3

Picking up the vegetables at SEEDs farm.


Farmer to Family Vegetable stand.

After being rained out on Monday, the first Mobile Market Vegetable Stand occurred last night at Tuesday’s in the Park at Dresden Hill Park last night. The vegetables available on this early summer evening were lettuce, spinach, green onions, chives, rhubarb, basil, and snap peas. For a cooking demo, we made a simple cilantro lime vinaigrette for a nice summertime salad. Here is the recipe:


Cilantro Lime Viniaigrette


1 cup packed cilantro, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, Pinch of minced garlic

1 taza cilantro, ½ taza aceite de olive, ¼ taza jugo de limón, ¼ taza jugo de naranja, ½ cucharadita sal, ½ cucharadita de pimiento, pinza de ajo cortado


  1. Puree cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, orange juice, salt, pepper and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth
  2. (En Español) Puré cilantro, aceite de oliva, jugo de limón, jugo de naranja, sal, pimiento y ajo en una licuadora hasta que quede suave.


Cedar Summit Dairy Organic cream for ice cream in a bag.


Leah Eby, coordinator of Growing Up Healthy, running around with the kids.


Happily scooping up their ice cream in a bag.


The children fill these events with energy. Throughout the evening, kids came by the market curious about what was for sale and left with a snap pea to sample. After running around all night, they started asking for a snack and  it was time to make ice cream.

A simple recipe for ice cream in a bag:

A simple recipe: Put 1/2 cup cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla into a 1 quart bag and seal. Place that bag in a gallon sized bag and fill with 2 cups of ice and 1/4 cup salt. Seal and shake for 5-10 minutes.

It was a fun-filled evening, with ice cream shaking all over the park and smiles all around.

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