On February 9th, 14 people gathered at the Conscious Carnivore (http://www.conscious-carnivore.com/) on University Avenue in Madison to learn about the history and practices of the business from owner Bartlett Durand.
We were greeted at the large community table, next to a sunny window, with fruit, croissants, coffee, and seasonal cheddar cheese (Spring and Winter) from Otter Creek Organic Farm (http://www.ottercreekorganicfarm.com/).
The cheeses started off the discussion. Otter Creek is owned and operated by Bartlett’s father-in-law, Gary Zimmer. It is a sustainable, organic, pastured dairy farm. We discussed the nuances of flavor that change with the seasons, the grasses, the fat content of the milk.
The philosophy behind Conscious Carnivore is “Respect for every animal, on four feet or two”. CC sources meat from small Wisconsin and Iowa farms. They are rated as Organic, Grass fed, or Grandpa’s Way—relating back to how family farms were run before industrialization. Bartlett doesn’t shy away from any questions or discussions. Many regular customers stopped in during our visit. It is a convivial atmosphere that harkens back to when shopkeepers knew all their customers by name. The large table serves as a gathering space as well. Beer and wine are available, as is coffee. You can sit and sip and talk with friends. There are baskets of toys and coloring books for children as well.
Another tenet of the business is that nothing goes to waste. A popular sausage from Black Earth Meats (http://www.blackearthmeats.com/), the Offal Tasty is also available at the shop. There are meats brined and ready for crockpots as well, but no prepared foods. The shop offers a variety of classes, and always has recipes on hand or advice on how to prepare the different cuts of meat.
Did you know that Madison is a hub for local honey? There’s even a Wisconsin Honey Producers Association, established way back in 1964 by Wisconsin beekeepers to protect the local honey market, educate consumers, and conduct research to protect the honey industry from environmental changes. The Dane County Beekeepers Association is another great source for information about local beekeeping and honey production.
Purchasing local honey supports local beekeepers and is of course a delicious way to incorporate local food into your diet. Honey has health benefits galore, and is a great alternative to refined sugars.
Here are a few options for purchasing local honey in Madison:
Iron Works Café offers honey in 8 oz. bottles from The Goodman Youth Farm. Proceeds support the beekeeping program at the Youth Farm and the Seed To Table alternative high school program at the Goodman Community Center.
Bee Charmer, from the Brooklyn area, offers honey for sale at the Dane County summer farmers’ market and online.
Honey Kurt from the Blue Mounds/Mount Horeb area offers honey purchases by phone at 608-277-0251.
Willy Street Co-op offers white clover Gentle Breeze Honey from Mt. Horeb in the bulk (as well as in jars). You can also buy Gentle Breeze online here.
On Saturday, January 11th, Urban Market Forage visited The African and American Market on East Johnson Street. Madison Eats founder and African dance teacher Otehlia Cassidy was our guide for this wonderful outing.
The shop seems smaller from the outside, but inside, 2 rooms are filled to the brim: canned goods from several African countries, beans, pulses, grains, pots and pans, halal meats, imported snacks and sodas, beauty products, woven bags, traditional African clothing, colorful shoes and jewelry.
Owner Miriam Diallo hails from Guinea, West Africa, but ran a shop in Brooklyn, NY for many years before settling in Madison about a decade ago. She and her equally charming husband, Mohammad, have customers from all over the African continent, but also others who have traveled in Africa and are looking to reconnect. For anyone with no connection, but an interest in learning more, they are more than happy to share their knowledge with all who walk through the door. P.S. fight off that dry Wisconsin winter skin with a tub of pure shea butter!
Thank you to Otehlia for her time and experience, and also for providing us with this classic West African recipe. Enjoy!
Branden Byers is a fermentation generalist willing to try and taste anything and everything fermented (with a special place in his heart for heirloom yogurts). He is the host of a weekly program called FermUp – The Fermented Food Podcast. Any health benefits of fermented foods are a welcome side-effect, but it is the taste, experimentation, and DIY fun that inspires Branden’s enthusiasm for fermented foods. You can learn more about Branden and his fermented ideas at fermup.com.
Trevor will be leading the sourdough course. Trevor has been baking sourdough bread for many years and is passionate about experimenting and teaching others the joy of sourdoughs. He is on the board of Slow Food Madison and has taught about both east (injera) and west sourdough bread making at Madison Food Camp.
Madeline Hartjes is an avid herbal enthusiast who discovered kombucha five years ago and eagerly began making her own. She blends each batch with nutrient rich and gently medicinal herbs to maximize the health benefits of drinking kombucha. Madee drinks her own home-brew daily, and finds that it quenches her thirst, clears her head, and always satisfies any random cravings. When not brewing she can be found mixing drinks at the Heritage Tavern, or spending time with her fiancé and their 18 month old baby boy.
Sourdough dog treats – Trevor submitted these notes: A great way to use up extra starter! I use whole wheat, corn, and oat flours, a couple of eggs, grated carrot or squash, and a scoop of peanut butter if I’m feeling generous. Stir together with enough water to form a stiff dough and ferment overnight. When ready to bake, roll to about 3/4″ thickness and use a biscuit cutter to cut into shapes. Place biscuits onto sheet pans and bake at 350F for half an hour or so. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the biscuits dry out thoroughly in the warm oven.
What to get for the person who has everything? Something edible, of course. Here in Madison we enjoy some of the best ingredients and artisan products in the world, and they conveniently make perfect gifts for friends near and far. To get those gears rolling, here’s a list of just some of our favorite local food artisans (sadly we can’t list them all!). Happy Holidays, and happy gifting!
Slow Food Madison recently collaborated with local food preservers Laura Purdy and John Binkley to host Madison’s first food swap – an event where people trade and barter their homemade/handmade/homegrown products. These events have taken off in popularity in many other parts of the country, and we’re excited to see it starting in Madison!
We talked to Laura about food swaps, her thoughts on the first one, which happened Monday, November 11 at Goodman Community Center.
What is a food swap?
A Food Swap is an event where members of the community come together to trade homemade, homegrown, and foraged food with one another. Attendees directly trade the items that they bring as a way to diversify the foods in their pantries and make connections with other members of the local food community. Attendees are welcome to bring as many or as few items as they would like, although the more you bring the more opportunity you have to bring home something new.
What inspired you to start a food swap, where did you hear about it?
I am relatively new to the world of food preserving. In fact, this summer was only my second year of putting up the harvest but when I try something new I tend to go all in. My partner is an organic vegetable farmer and owner of Equinox Community Farm, so I had a cornucopia of produce to work with. Long story short, in the fall I ended up with about 2 bookshelves full of canned items and I tried about 50-60 recipes from 6 different canning books. I ended up staring at my collection and wishing there was a way I could end up with less of this stuff (who needs 15 pints of curried cauliflower pickles?) and more of the food that I wasn’t skilled at making. Thank goodness for the internet. I follow quite a few canning related blogs and food swap information was popping up here and there. I did a lot of reading and decided that it would be a perfect fit for my needs and I was sure there were others out there in the same predicament as myself.
Why are people interested in food swaps? What benefit do they have?
I think that food swaps appeal to people in a variety of ways, which explains why our first event was so popular. People who experiment with food tend to love talking about food and sharing their food. A food swap is a perfect forum for doing both of those things. For example, I had the opportunity to taste and take home some fermented ginger ale. I have little experience with fermented food and this was a great introduction. There were also flavor combinations and ingredients that I had never heard of before, so I not only came away with new items I came away with a whole bunch of new ideas and a wealth of food preservation experts to consult with in the future.
What are the difficulties in starting a food swap? Are there any tricky legalities you need to be aware of?
I did a lot of reading online when I was setting up the food swap. Food Swap Network is a great resource with information on hosting food swaps, downloadable templates, and links to other swap websites. I also looked up a few Wisconsin Statutes regarding certain food products. Food swaps must be private events, which is why people must sign up and sign in to the events. Private events are exempt from the food and health safety codes that public events must adhere to. (It’s like a potluck among acquaintances vs a public event that serves food.) We also had people sign a disclaimer that stated they used proper food handling methods and that they do not hold the hosts, the venue, or other participants liable. It may seem like overkill, but we want to make sure that we do our best to make everyone safe and allow for many more food swaps to occur in the future.
What is your vision/plan for food swaps in Madison?
I definitely believe that there is room to grow for the food swap here in Madison and space for more people to get involved. However I do want to be careful that we continue to foster the personal relationships and trust that makes food swaps so successful and so valuable. I’m not sure what that sweet spot will end up being, but I’m ready to tweak both the event size and frequency in order to find something that works well for everyone involved. And ultimately, if the response and enthusiasm is huge, I am definitely willing to help new food swaps get started. There is such an abundance of food creativity in this area that I see the potential for a multitude of local food swaps centered around different communities.
How do you feel about the food swap that just happened? Any fun stories?
I was truly blown away by what was brought to our first food swap. Canned zucchini that tasted like pineapple. Kefir. Home-cured bacon. Caramel sauce. Fruit butters. Dried herbs. Homemade soap. Elderberry syrup. Jelly melon. So many different types of pickles. I could go on and on. And the best part of it was how much everyone valued what other people had made. People who didn’t can things were delighted to receive someone’s tomato sauce. We ended up trading a whole bunch of sweet potatoes for a whole bunch of goat milk soap. Everyone went home feeling richer than when they came, where else can you experience that? The biggest complaint I heard was that attendees wished they had brought more things for trading. If that isn’t a huge success, I don’t know what is.
What advice do you have for a wanna-be food swapper?
First, keep your eyes and ears open for future events. I anticipate that they will continue to fill up quickly so you want to be tapped in to your local food organizations like Slow Food Madison. Play to your strengths, but also don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations. If you make great pies, try a twist on a classic (maple pecan pie, instead of just pecan pie for example). Some of the most popular items at the food swap were the unexpected ones. Use items that are in season, and local if appropriate. It will connect you even more to the food community and most likely save you money. And of course, make sure that you adhere to the appropriate food handling techniques especially with things like canning. I’m more than happy to answer any questions and direct people to resources if they want aren’t sure where to start.
Thanks, Laura, and thanks to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for information about future swaps.
This month's trip was to 4 & 20 Bakery & Cafe, 4and20bakery.com, located
at 305 N. 4th Street, for a special class in crust and pie making.
This wonderful small cafe is located across the street from East High School
next to Milio's. It has served delicious coffee, breakfasts and lunches
for the past 2 years and has become somewhat of a neighborhood center with
its relaxed atmosphere and tasty food. The cafe has been a site for several
students from the Work-Learn program at East.
We were warmly greeted by Evan and Mandy, two of the three owners of
the cafe, (Scott is the 3rd). Evan's previous experience includes being
sous chef for L'Etoile and Mandy was bakery manager for Monty's Blue Plate
Diner. They told us about their business and general philosophy.
Besides using seasonal and locally grown foods, they also do some foraging
for wild edibles, do some of their own curing of meats and make all of their
After providing the participants with cups of tea, Mandy began her
demonstration. Afterwards she cut into a pie that she had made earlier and
shared it with us. Yum!!
Pie Crust Recipe for 1 Double Crust Pie:
3 C. Flour
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 C. vegetable shortening
Put dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and shortening and
pulse until consistency of coarse cornmeal
3/4 C. ice water
1 T. apple cider vinegar
Process until mixture comes together in ball.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 7 days.
4 C. fresh or frozen peaches
2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. cornstarch
1 t. cinnamon
Mix together dry ingredients, add fruit and mix together.
Fill pie crust and add top crust.
Spritz with water and sprinkle top with white sugar
Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours until bottom crust is cooked.
* Roll pie crust between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.
* Use glass pie plate to monitor browning of bottom crust
* Trim top crust with scissors
* Roll up excess crust before crimping
* Check after 45 minutes to 1 hour and cover top with aluminum foil
when it is properly browned
We'd like to thank Evan and Mandy for their generosity in opening
4 & 20 Bakery Cafe to us for this special event and to Scott for helping
set this up. This was a great opportunity to learn about pie making
before the holiday season!
On September 20th, a baker’s dozen of early birds showed up at Madison Sourdough for our latest Urban Market Forage. David Lohrentz, who is co-owner with baker Andrew Hutchinson, presented us with sweet treats as he discussed the history of MSD and his own personal history that led him to this business.
MSD’s philosophy is Craft. Nourish. Community. All that and more was evident at our visit. A wonderful selection of breads using top grade flours, including heritage wheat varieties being grown again in Wisconsin after a long absence; delightful pastries made by the aptly named Pierre; a bustling café filled with regulars enjoying a delicious breakfast.
Bakers rotate through the bakery from middle of the night to middle of the afternoon. Height and strong arms are important characteristics for successfully loading and unloading the enormous oven. Though the work is precise and demanding, there was a lot of good cheer on display, and it shows in the final product.