In The Kitchen · Meals

Local Crate via Linden Hills & Wedge Co-ops

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In my mind, a local co-op should be a staple in your grocery shopping repertoire. Better yet, become an owner in a co-op! Not only will you get amazing deals by being an owner, but you’ll play an integral part in supporting local farmers and purveyors of locally sourced foods. It’s the next best thing to being able to shake hands with the farmer who feeds you – a luxury we don’t always have in the metropolitan area.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have a large offering of co-ops smattered amongst them and I love stopping at each on of them as often as possible. When two great ones in Minneapolis reached out to partner, I immediately jumped at the chance to help promote their offerings.

Wedge and Linden Hills both believe that access to healthy foods promotes strong communities. Not only that, but they work tirelessly to engage in the community, supporting the people who live there with various activities and CSA programs. I absolutely love their goal to encourage education and activism on sustainability, health and nutrition related issues. This is speaking my love language, right here!

One of their partners is Local Crate, which are chef inspired meal kits with as many locally sourced and sustainable ingredients as possible. The kits these co-ops offer change seasonally and meals can be viewed on their site.

(click here for a list of their summer offerings.)

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What you’ll find inside the crate are easy to follow step by step directions and
pre-portioned ingredients. From start to finish, you can expect to create a chef
inspired meal for two in under 30 minutes.

As much as I adore creating nutritious meals for my family, having little to think about with meal prep or ingredients every now and again is a welcomed retreat in the kitchen. The meal highlighted below was a Roasted Chicken Shawarma Bowl with Tzatziki, of which my husband and I devoured during a mid-week date night at home.

What I really love (as much as the beautiful ingredients and easy to follow instructions) is that you can create a meal at home with ingredients you may not feel comfortable buying in a large quantity at the store before tasting.

The meal kits are also perfect for the novice or advanced home chef alike.

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If you’ve never made Chicken Shawarma – buying the various seasonings in bulk for a dish may feel intimidating. Yet with these meal kits, it’s all included inside and allows you to create a dish that may feel completely outside your comfort zone worry free.

On the other hand, the well seasoned at home cook can also enjoy a night where they can “take a night off” and simply enjoy the ease and comfort of preparing a meal without all the planning and shopping beforehand.

Whatever your skill level in the kitchen – do yourself a favor and head to one of these
co-ops, pick up a Local Crate meal and some other locally sourced goodies, pour yourself a glass of wine…and let the fun begin!

Cheers, from my kitchen dinner table (via Wedge, Linden Hills and Local Crate) to yours!

 

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*This post was sponsored by Wedge and Linden Hills Co-Ops,
but the reviews and opinions are all my own.
In The Kitchen · Sauces

Brandy Vanilla

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If there’s one “secret” I’ve never forgotten that my grandma shared with me, it was to always add a little more vanilla into any recipe than it called for when baking. I often spent a good majority of my summers in my grandma’s cozy, apple decorated kitchen in North Minneapolis playing cribbage, baking + holding onto every word she spoke. Her laugh was contagious and her heart poured out love to anyone and everyone she met, often via something delicious from her oven.

One day while baking chocolate chip cookies, my cousin and I elbow deep in the batter (because that was the best way to mix it, after all) my grandma looked at me and said, “Julia – two things make recipes better. The first is to always cook or bake with love. If it comes from your heart, the food will reflect that. It doesn’t have to be fancy, the love will make it special. The second is to add another pour of vanilla than the recipe calls for.”

I’ve since told these very same words of advice to my daughters when we bake together. My four year old knows these tricks and even blows kisses into every ingredient.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may recall this Christmas I received a gift that moved me beyond words. Every year my grandma would make a batch of homemade vanilla. The last year of her life (12 years ago) we each received a bottle for Christmas. My brother saved his, aged it & split it three ways for himself, my mom and me to share. It was the most selfless + thoughtful gift. I’ve already used it once, but plan to save it for special recipes or occasions.

In honor of her memory – I’m sharing the recipe with you. It makes the most flavorful vanilla and is worth the wait during the aging process. As with a fine wine, the longer you age it, the better it becomes. Enjoy, friends!

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Ingredients:

  • 750 ML bottle of Brandy (My grandma used Christian Brothers)
  • 3-4 Madagascar vanilla beans, split
  • Clean glass liter bottle with a stopper (you can find these at any craft store or IKEA.)

Method:

  1. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla beans down the middle + place them in the liter bottle.
  2. Pour the brandy into the liter bottle + close. Gently swirl the bottle.
  3. Store in a dark closet, gently swirling every month + return to the closet. Age a minimum of 12 months before using.

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In The Kitchen

Gatherhaus Interviews Girl Meets Kitchen

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Image by Studio Laguna Photography

It’s a rarity in life to find myself rendered speechless. Anyone who knows me would no doubt attest to the validity of this statement. The freedom of expression vibe is pretty strongly engrained in my bones; I am Scandinavian, after all!

I had the absolute pleasure of being asked by the two creative minds behind Gatherhaus, Katrina + Danielle to come into my kitchen last week to interview me about Girl Meets Kitchen. I was humbled beyond words to have been asked and the morning quickly crept into midday while we chatted & ate at my kitchen table. The article left me speechless…well I guess not for too long since I am writing about it here.

For those new to Gatherhaus, it is “the enchanting reality of bringing these rare and beautiful pieces together. People, places, art, and food that inspire us and make us chase after dreams of deep, rich community and fulfillment.” Check out the site + subscribe to their updates: Gatherhaus

These women ooze creativity. Katrina is a highly skilled photographer (partnered with her husband, John) in the Twin Cities Studio Laguna Photography, (she also photographed our wedding!) and Danielle collaborates on more creative ventures than I could keep track of while also running a business out of her home. Both women have a passion for all things local, sustainable, creative + have the most amazing hearts. They are mothers, wives, successful business women with a drive to pay it forward & keep rooted in their communities. Did I mention insanely artistic? Because, wow.

I was honored to have been asked to highlight Girl Meets Kitchen. It was done in such a succinct way and captured my journey through food perfectly. It encompassed everything I feel when I am able to share my recipes in person or over the internet. Thank you, ladies for the company + laughter we shared. It won’t be our last get together!

You can read the article at Gatherhaus Interview – Girl Meets Kitchen.

 Thanks for stopping by, and happy cooking from my kitchen to yours!

~Julia