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.