My disclaimer - I'm from the Duluth area, so I'm familiar with the name, the product, and parts of Locally Laid's story already. I was there for the SMy disclaimer - I'm from the Duluth area, so I'm familiar with the name, the product, and parts of Locally Laid's story already. I was there for the Super Bowl commercial voting. I noticed when the eggs started hitting store shelves. I read the articles in the paper. What this book did was fill in the names, faces, and the journey behind the chickens.
Oh my gosh, and what a journey it was - perhaps still is.
What I REALLY appreciated was the brutal honesty in what it took to get this enterprise off the ground. Going from vision to reality. I've read too many blogs (and no, LoLa's not one of them - I admit I didn't even think to see if they had a blog) daydreaming about how starting and owning one's own business (be it agricultural based, a book store, a yarn store, a bakery, etc) is nothing but rainbow farting unicorns because you own the business. Um...no. No golden horned equines in owning your own business, only piles of shitty paperwork and long hours.
And what they - Jason - found out was Reality can be a real Bitch. Kudo's to the Amundsen's, their volunteers, their staff, their families and the supporters for sticking it out and bringing the heartache, the tears, the worry, and eventually, the success, to the world.
A second part of the story was a look at where does a middle size agriculture business fit in, in today's society? Is there even a niche for something like LoLa? Is it sustainable? Locally Laid has yet to stand the trials of time to answer some of those, but the direction they are moving in seems viable and doable. It will be interesting to watch.
A third aspect to this book was in good part, history. How we went from a very agrarian based society to massive factory-farms and the impact that has had not only on our food production, but on the economic fabric of society. Some of this I've read before, such as the poultry industry "contracting" with folks to raise chickens to specs, but at a non-sustainable cost to the individual or family. And, some was new.
I am, however, somewhat disappointed that after 300+ pages discussing the importance of keeping things local, that the author chose to go with a major publishing house and not a local publisher such as On-Word Bound books http://https://www.facebook.com/OnWor... Bound books After all the support the community gave LoLa, it would have been nice to have seen that reciprocated. And, who knows (other than the author)? Maybe it was and a deal wasn't possible, but I do hope she at least tried.
Overall, a book balanced between the personal journey, a loose history of the nations food production, and what it takes to turn eggs into a business. Recommended.
PS - Coming back to add, Grain Belt has not been made in Minneapolis since 1975. It's been produced by August Schell Brewing Co out of New Ulm, MN, since the early 2000's. Before that by and the second Minnesota Brewing Co, St. Paul (1991-2001) and Heilman Brewing Co, LaCrosse, WI (1975-1990)....more
I am a HUGE slow cooker fan. I use my slow cookers/crockpots two-three times a week. I use them for breakfast, lunches, suppers, beans; I've made soupI am a HUGE slow cooker fan. I use my slow cookers/crockpots two-three times a week. I use them for breakfast, lunches, suppers, beans; I've made soups, stews, lasagna, roast pork/turkey/chicken, and oatmeal. The only thing I haven't done with my slow cooker is dye my own yarn, but apparently you can do that as well with a bit of koolaid.
But I digress, I first saw a recommendation for this cook book in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Dinner in the Slow Cooker (Jan 15, 2014). It was accompanied by a couple of recipes that shouted "try me!". So I did. I liked both of them. So I bought the book.
What has really grabbed my fancy with this cook book is the layout. The authors give ingredient lists for 3 sizes of crock pots, NOT just one: 2-3 quart, 4-5 quart, and 6-8 quart size. Very handy for those of us with only one or two people in a household. I love the recommendations and tibits that accompany each recipe, perhaps a bit of background, how-to, or whatever. I really like the difficulty ratings: "not much", "a little", "moderate", "a lot" - which correlates to just how much chop and plop or hands on is expected of a person.
From what I've made so far (and it's been about 1 recipe a week), these are down to earth recipes that cover a wide variety of tastes and flavors. You can go simple with a Minestrone Soup, or get your fancy on with Braised Oxtails (which I haven't tried). And, as with a wide variety of tastes and flavors, there come a range of ingredients; some accessible to me, some not. Which is fine. There are so many recipes to choose from.
And even though I've been using a slow cooker for years, I've learned a thing or two, such as: some dishes aren't meant to be cooked all day - like most chicken dishes. Save those for the weekend. A great meal can be prepped mid afternoon and be ready by dinner time.
I will also admit that I tend to be a bit loosey-goosey with my recipes - they are guidelines, not absolutes - I will sub vegetables, spices, and meats without much thought. So far, not a problem with the recipes presented in this book.
Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart or stomach. Contents contain raunchy language, diatribes against perceived and actual sins committed,Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart or stomach. Contents contain raunchy language, diatribes against perceived and actual sins committed, admissions of the darkest kind, confessions enough to make a chef blush, and talk about lots and lots of food - some of it even illegal.
The book is laid out in an essay format, each chapter receiving it's own particular topic. Each topic flows in a somewhat linear fashion, but not infrequently is the reader bounced back to the past, to days when Bourdain was a line cook, or running Les Halles, or globetrotting for A Cooks Tour or No Reservations. The reader is also treated to flash forwards, to insights and tidbits on how life changing it can be to suddenly have a daughter.
One chapter may be a rant against McDonalds and the brilliance of marketing the corporations have latched onto in using children to part parents from their money. The next chapter may be a look at Bourdains "Hero's" (Jamie Oliver) and "Villain's (St. Alice). He may pontificate on how it was a huge disservice to all kids (and thus future adults) when administrations took away home ec in schools. The next chapter may be talking about Korean hot-pot, eating sushi in Japan, or Thai food.
Yet somehow it all flows together.
My complaints with the book lie in the continual confessions of his past life. Yes, yes, the reader understands that you are recovering druggie in the first 5 chapters. By chapter 10, the reader doesn't need to be reminded of it yet again. Then Bourdain goes on to describe a weekend of debauchery on some rich island in the Caribbean or some such place and oh, how awful it was. Cry me a river. The shock value has grown numb. The writing style, the wit and the acid tongue can carry the story alone with out the continual pulpit confessions.
A few references may not entirely make sense if you haven't read at least one of his other books (A Cooks Tour, Kitchen Confidential, The Nasty Bits, No Reservations), or are otherwise familiar with his history at Food Network and the Travel Channel. And, in case you think I am...exaggerating a bit, about any of what I've written above, please go read the warning again.
Recommended if you want to hear about the food industry as it is, not how it's presented through the Food Network. ...more
This was a very quick and interesting read - I finished it in a couple of days. Judith Jones is the editor who brought the world Anne Frank’s Diary anThis was a very quick and interesting read - I finished it in a couple of days. Judith Jones is the editor who brought the world Anne Frank’s Diary and Mastering the Art of French Cooking and many other well known cookbooks in the 1950s, 60's and 70's. She was there to ride the wave of French cooking and good home cooking in general and eventually international cooking in America at a time when jello molds and cream of mushroom casserole’s were a standard.
Jones doesn't dwell too long on any one particular chef or author, but keeps the story lively by keeping to the highlights. We are introduced to her passion for French food (or perhaps I should say good food) as a young woman in France in the late 40's early 50's, how she came to be an editor for Knopf and her quest to cook well.
While I enjoyed the book, a couple items did manage to irritate me: at times I found the tone a bit condescending - if you didn’t aspire to cook French, then you really aren't a true cook. If you are from the Midwest, you really just don't know how to cook - after all, Midwesterners only eat out of cans and apparently this was proven on a trip to rural Iowa and Minnesota. Well excuuuusseee us Midwesterners for not living in NYC. Her writing style, while enjoyable to follow, often had small holes where some item of information was left wanting and would either be provided later or not at all.
Other than that, I found the book to be a neat look at the history of the cookbook, how influential a small group of people (Judith Jones, Alfred Knopf, Julia Child, Mariann Cunningham, James Beard and others) were in shaping the course of appetites in America. This book also dovetails very nicely with My Life in France by Julia Child, as the histories overlap....more
I loved this book and read it in two days. It's not so much about her life before she met Paul and moved to Paris, as it is about her adventures onceI loved this book and read it in two days. It's not so much about her life before she met Paul and moved to Paris, as it is about her adventures once she arrived in Paris and the subsequent years.
I think this is a good lead in to the book: My 10th Muse. ...more
I've been working my way through an HP Lovecraft book and needed something a bit different. I finished this in a day.
Premice of the book is Ruth acceI've been working my way through an HP Lovecraft book and needed something a bit different. I finished this in a day.
Premice of the book is Ruth accepts a job with the NY Times as a restaurant critic. Her and her family leave LA and head back to her hometown. However, unlike LA, the restaurant scene in NY is on the watch for her and she discovers she must go out in disguse when reviewing and rating a restaurant. We follow Ruth as she invents Chloe, Brenda, Molly and others. I liked this book better than her first two books, but I couldn't really tell you why. Something just clicked in her writing this time. My only complaint was the stories were not in cronological order, which I would have prefered rather than the bouncing around she did. ...more
More of a how-to and a dictionary of cooking terms than a sit-down-and-read book. Tho the Husband did read it from cover to cover in one sitting. A goMore of a how-to and a dictionary of cooking terms than a sit-down-and-read book. Tho the Husband did read it from cover to cover in one sitting. A good reference for the kitchen. ...more
This was an amazing book. Pollen takes the reader on a food adventure that is thought provoking, disturbing and quietly challenges they way we all looThis was an amazing book. Pollen takes the reader on a food adventure that is thought provoking, disturbing and quietly challenges they way we all look at the meal in front of us - all without being obnoxious or righteous.
The book begins simply enough in an Iowa cornfield as Pollen breaks down the history of corn and the future of this simple grain. He deftly weaves this into how we eat this product and what it’s doing to us and agriculture. From Iowa we travel with him as he visits his steer (#534) in the Colorado fields and in the feedlot of Kansas (Nebraska?).
The middle portion of the books moves into sustainable agriculture at its finest as he spends a week at Polyface farm. As a person familiar with farms, Polyface was amazing. Pollen starts the week on his stomach in a field examining the soil, he helps to move the cows from pasture to pasture, he assists in moving the chicken pens and describes they symbiotic relationship between the chickens and the cows. He talks about the rabbit and chicken house and the symbiotic relationship that exists there, he describes the cow barn in the spring and how the pigs turn 3 feet of cow muck, hay and fermented corn into black compost. And Pollen contrasts and compares “conventional farming” with this picture of “sustainable farming”.
In the third segement, Pollen has moved to California and examines what it means morally and ethically to be a vegetarian (giving up meat for a month). He has also decided to make a meal completely from those items he has grown, foraged and hunted himself.
This book is presented in such a down to earth matter that the reader can’t help but start to question how their food arrived on the table. Pollen doesn’t pontificate. He doesn’t raise his fist and pump it toward the sky and tell us we are all Bad People for Eating Meat. He doesn’t bombard us with anthropormophisism or silly sentiment. He took himself on a quest, shown us what he found, and I appreciated that more than anything.
Has this changed how I view my eating habits? You bet it has. Even more surprising, it changed the husbands. ...more