Black Star Farms Harvest Dinner Series

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHarvest often concludes with a social celebration of the season. It’s a time to remember the energy and hard work that has been poured into the fields, while recognizing that success is based on the whim of Mother Nature. Growers gratefully honor the harvest of the season by sharing their food with others. Growers, like the Inn at Black Star Farms.

Their Harvest Dinner essentially began eight years ago with the introduction of the annual “Morels in May” event. Over the last few years, farmers in our region have continued to make strides in extending their season and providing us with local harvests year-round. In an effort to educate the public and raise awareness of our northern Michigan agricultural community, the Black Star Farms Harvest Dinner became a monthly series in March 2013. Each Harvest Dinner focuses on one or two items that are truly distinctive to that particular month. Those items are highlighted along with the chef’s creativity in each course that’s prepared. Continue reading

Left Foot Charley’s Swiss Family Dinner

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Left Foot Charley, located at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, is one of Michigan’s first urban wineries. What makes LFC unique is that they have a collective of 18 growers throughout Northern Michigan. The grapes are transported from the various small-scale vineyards to the winery, where they are  transformed into award-winning wines. Just 1 mile from Downtown Traverse City, Left Foot Charley is bustling with activity and bursting at the seems with grapes during the harvest season. Continue reading

The Fourth Annual Edible Art Show: Traverse City, MI

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The Farmers Market at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is more than just a place to pick up your week’s worth of groceries. Its a community gathering place; an event, more than simply a grab and go shopping experience. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I manage the Farmer Market operations at The Village which includes marketing and developing events throughout the course of the year. The local community has supported our market for over four years now and in the hope to give back to that community, we host a monthly “Give-Back Market Date.”

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Fondant Flowers by Old Hundredth Farm

The “Give Back Market Date”  is held on the Second Saturday of each month and this month’s “Give Back” event was the Annual Edible Art Show, benefiting the Father Fred Foundation. Saturday, March 9th was the fourth annual Edible Art Show and the Edible Entries were some of the best to date.

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The Father Fred Foundation is a local organization whose mission is to “listen to the community needs, care for the distressed, the poor, the hungry and the suffering, and share resources in a loving and respectful manner.”

The Foundation and its local food pantry accepts no state or federal funding, but instead relies entirely on the care and generosity of our local community.  The Edible Art Show at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons Farmers Market is an annual event that raises money for this incredible organization and the members of our local community in need.

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The Edible Art Masterpieces are created by our Farmers Market Vendors and the “Village People,” a name that refers to the residents and merchants that make up the Village Community. Members of the public in attendance are the official judges, and money is raised by The Father Fred Foundation through ticket sales. Tickets are placed in the respective bag for your favorite Edible Art Entry. You can vote as many times as you like, purchasing as many tickets as you’d like and the winners are determined by the highest number of ticket votes collected.

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Paul Murray with his edible wheatgrass hat

This year we raised over $280 dollars for the Father Fred Foundation through the efforts of the Edible Art Show. None of it would be possible without the generous support of our public judges and the creative efforts of the “Edible” Artists.

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Winners in each category of the Edible Art Show received a beautiful trophy, this year the “Golden Pear.” The Golden Pear trophies were made of a piece of brick from the “Traverse City State Hospital” built in 1885, the site which is now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

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The Winners of each Category were:

Best in Show- Diana Jelenek from Spring Hollow Farm with the “Chick-a-Saurus”

Best Farm Vendor– Kim Norton from Confections by Kim with “Keeping us Safe”

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Best Village MerchantMichigan Farm Market with “The Green Tractor”

Best Village Resident– Kristen Messner with “Haiku”

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I’m so grateful to have received such incredible edible entries, and for the support of our local community coming together to raise funds for this great cause. The Edible Art show is always the second Saturday in March so if you’ve never been, mark your calendars for next year!

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“The Fruit Mouse” by Boss Mouse Cheese and

“Pleasanton Loafers” made from loaves of Pleasanton bread by Fred Lortet

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Stephanie Wiitala and Family from Black Star Farms, created this

creative collection of  friendly edible creatures!

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I put together an edible art piece of my own, and  called it “1,2,3…Zucchini!”

With two Zucchinis, some toothpicks and a half of a tomato, the zucchini camera was born! I was far from being a “winner”, in terms of votes, but it was an absolute blast to create and I’ll certainly be dreaming up something new for next year’s Art Show.

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Thank you to all the Artists and our Public Judges, every edible entry was unique and creative, and your efforts were absolutely appreciated! The Edible Art show is always one of my favorite events at our Indoor Farmers Market and I’m looking forward to celebrating next year’s Fifth Annual event with another successful fundraiser and many more edible masterpieces on display. Remember…

You ART what you EAT

love,

tricia

Farm Fête 2013: Suttons Bay, MI

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I’ve been a part of the Farm Fête Gala Committee for the past few months; planning, organizing and collecting auction items to raise money for the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City. The fundraising event is held annually with a different theme to each Gala and this year, the local farm-to-table emphasis caught my eye. I was able to connect with the Museum and meet a new group of passionate individuals who support and make this incredible facility possible, all for the children of our community.

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The day of the event, as everything came together, I was able to support the Museum in my own way by offering to be the Gala’s roaming photographer and capture the night, the setting, and the incredible people who made it all possible.

There were numerous silent auction packages, each carefully selected by the Gala planning committee and donated by generous members of the community. By numerous, I mean at least 5 long banquet tables piled high with anything from books and dresses for toddlers, to CSA shares, composting services and SUP paddle board rentals.

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After mingling, with delicious Black Star Farms wines and hors d’oeuvres like fresh radishes stuffed with herbed cream cheese, the sold out gala of about 140 people made their way to the dinning room for dinner and live auctions. Guests were able to continue and monitor their must-have silent auction items in the other room, but as soon as dinner was served very few people chose to leave their seat.

The evening’s menu was developed by Chefs Jonathan Dayton and Stephanie Wiitala with local and seasonal produce in mind. The chefs gather greens from farmers in the area like Nic Welty, owner of 9 bean rows, whose produce storage facilities are housed right onsite at Black Star Farms. The Inn, which regularly serves an incredible morning breakfast, can also pick farm fresh eggs from the Black Star Farms’ chickens just outside in the barns.

As a gal who regularly eats with my eyes before taking my first bite I snapped a picture of the delectable fare served throughout the course of the evening, so “dig in” as you scroll thru!

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Roasted beet and pear salad, candied marcona almonds, goat cheese, spring greens, verjus vinaigrette

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Vegetarian entrée: Grilled potato and Autumn vegetable napolean , tomato confit, parsley oil

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Coffee and red wine braised beef short ribs, fromage blanc baked polenta, wilted arugula, crisp leeks

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Warm Apple Pie tart, Vanilla Bean whippecrème, Riesling caramel and spun sugar

As the courses kept coming, Executive Director, John Noonan and Board President, Ellen Fred stepped up to the podium to address the Gala attendees. Ellen began the live bidding for the night by raising funds for the +Plus Membership that I spoke of in my previous post. Bidding began with the announcement that a $3,000 match was pledged by many of the generous former board members of the museum before the Gala began that night. As I mentioned before, the +Plus Membership ranked high in importance for me that night and I, along with many others, was incredibly awestruck and encouraged when nearly $4,000 was raised immediately for the Membership Program in addition to the match of $3,000. Ultimately, over $6,900 was raised for Museum scholarships to those of our community in need.

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At the end of the night, after a series of incredible Live Auction packages were auctioned off and the numerous silent auction items were given to the highest bidder, the Gala raised over $35,000 for the Great Lakes Children’s Museum!

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The event was fantastic; both successful in raising funds for the Museum and in gathering passionate, generous members of the community around the table to share a delicious farm fresh meal. I spent the night savoring the flavors of the feast made by the talented staff at Black Star Farms and roaming around with my camera in hand snapping photos of the smiling faces all around me. You can check out the selection of photos from the night here, and for those who attended the event you may notice some familiar faces pictured in the upcoming issue of Bay LIFE North Magazine.

Cheese!

love,

tricia

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum: Traverse City, MI

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Children are explorers, they’re creators, dreamers and learners. In a place like the Great Lakes Children’s Museum these qualities are not only encouraged but strongly developed. From InterActive StoryTime to Food Art & Tie Dye, The Museum creates fun activities with the opportunity for children to build skills adaptable to their lives today and the future ahead of them.

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The Great Lakes Children’s Museum annual fundraiser Farm Fête, will be held this upcoming Saturday, February 23rd. In order to make the event accesible to more couples and guests the price was reduced this year to $50 for a complete farm-to-table dinner and access to a group of incredible live & silent auction items benefitting the Museum.

The farm-to-table dinner will take place at the beautiful Inn at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, celebrating our grand agricultural region while honoring the Museum as a special place here in Traverse City that is devoted to our community’s future, the children.

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As a part of the Gala planning committee I’ll be attending Farm Fête this year and I’m thrilled to be involved in an event that is not only for a great cause but celebrates the local food and agriculture of our region. The menu, an ode to the incredible offerings in Northwest Michigan even at the heart of winter, will consist of the following courses:

The Menu                                                                                                                              

Focaccia with whipped butter

Roasted beet and pear salad, candied marcona almonds, goat cheese, spring greens, verjus vinaigrette

Coffee and red wine braised beef short ribs, fromage blanc baked polenta, wilted arugula, crisp leeks

Vegetarian entrée: Grilled potato and Autumn vegetable napolean , tomato confit, parsley oil

Warm Apple Pie tart, Vanilla Bean whippecrème, Riesling caramel and spun sugar

Each course paired with Black Star Farms wine

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My involvement with the event  has allowed me to help in the development of this local food celebration as well as gain insight into programs the Children’s Museum offers the community that the public might not be fully aware of. One specifically, that truly interests me the most is the +Plus Program. The program “assists children, families and educators for whom admission costs pose a significant obstacle to attending the museum.”  In addition to raising funds for the general operations of the Museum, the Farm Fête event will strive to raise money for the +Plus Program, ultimately providing more museum scholarships to those of our community in need.

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I’m looking forward to a successful event on Saturday and I encourage those of you who are interested in attending to register for the Farm Fête event here, tickets are still available but we’re filling up quickly!

You can make a donation to the +Plus Program even if you’re unable to attend the event by calling the Museum at 231-932-4526

Ride among the ‘Waves of Wonder’

love,

tricia


NMCs Festival of Foods: Traverse City, MI

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Once on campus at Northwest Michigan College, a winding wooded path led me to the Oleson Center. It was there, tucked away in the snow covered trees, that I attended NMC’s Fifth Annual Festival of Foods.  Last week prior to the event, I posted here about my conversations with Julie Doyal who plans the Festival of Foods on behalf of NMC’s Extended Education Program. She was absolutely right, when she spoke of the vibrant personalities she chose to lead the individual sessions. I found myself laughing out loud at the jokes and insightful witty comments the chefs would make, while totally enthralled in their demonstrations and engaging conversation.

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Each session I attended was completely different than the one prior, but the common thread was a passionate friendly chef leading the demonstration and the variety of helpful tips & tricks I learned along the way.  There is no way I could transpose all the details; the smells, tastes and incredible inviting atmosphere of the Festival of Foods, because experiencing it yourself is the only way you’ll truly understand. However, I kept track of the numerous CHEFS TIPS that were shared throughout the four sessions I attended and now I’d like to share them with you.

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Session 1: ‘Breakfast on the Farm’ with Jonathan Dayton & Stephanie Wiitala

These two demonstrators are both from The Inn at Black Star Farms. Jon is the Executive Chef and Stephanie is a Pastry Chef, with her own “bun in the oven” as she put it. Their chemistry in life and in the kitchen is both obvious and entirely endearing. As the Inn is a year-round bed & breakfast, these two were the perfect pair to lead my first morning session.

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Tips:

-Nothing compares to a Farm Fresh Egg! (SO true)

-How can you tell the difference between an old & new egg?

An old egg will float in water, while a newer egg will sink.

-Take all your ingredients out before you start to cook, that way you have everything at your fingertips while you’re preparing the ingredients and you know you’re not missing any important components.

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Stephanie’s Easy & “Forgivable” Quiche Dough:

4 c flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 lb butter chopped into fine bits, 1 egg, 3/4 cream

Combine & roll out to desired thickness

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Session 2: ‘The Secret of Fresh Salsa’ with Fresia Granados

Fresia is a fiery passionate chef from Costa Rica who studied at NMC and fell in love with Northern Michigan. She works as a personal chef and its evident that she excels in all avenues of cooking in addition to holding a deep appreciation for fresh flavorful ingredients.

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Tips:

-the acids in lime juice are better than lemon juice, so let your diced tomatoes “marinate” in a fresh-squeezed lime juice

-adding a sweet component like plantains or pineapple will really add depth to your salsa

-How do you keep cilantro fresh in the refrigerator?

wash the cilantro and divide a “bunch” into three separate sections, wrap each section in paper towel and put into an air tight plastic bag. The cilantro should stay just as fresh as the day you bought it, for a little over a week.

-after combining all your ingredients you’ll have juice pooling at the bottom of the bowl, strain your salsa and pour this strained juice into a container. Then, use it to make the most fresh and delicious Bloody Mary you’ll ever have.

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Session 3: ‘Vegetarian Tarts’ with Cheryl Janz

Cheryl is new to Traverse City, but she and I have already connected because of her delicious baked goods she sells at local area Farmers Markets. She teaches quite a few culinary classes through the NMC Extended Education program and actually has one coming up shortly on February 20th about Gluten Free Cooking. This will be a  fabulous resource for those who may be interested in making the Gluten-free change in their diet, or simply learning more.

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Tips:

-If you eat something that is too spicy for you, drinking a glass of milk (any dairy) will eliminate the spice

-The same rule applies with making a balanced dish, if you have eggplant with a lot of spice, pair it with a ricotta cheese filling to balance the flavors

-How do you pick the perfect eggplant?

Find one that is both firm and a similar size throughout, rather than skinny up top and wide on the bottom.

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Session 4: ‘Cooking without a Recipe’ with Eric Patterson & Jen Blakeslee

Eric and Jen are co-owners of The Cook’s House in Traverse City, a restaurant praised throughout the region with an incredible commitment to fresh &  local ingredients. They’ve also co-authored their own cookbook called Cook’s House: The Art & Soul of Sustainable Cuisine. The two chef’s are obviously an incredible pair in the kitchen and our session, the last of the afternoon, was full of laughs and a trio of incredible eats.

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Tips:

-The most important ingredient in the kitchen is salt, the second is an onion

-Learn to cook without a recipe by picking up random produce and forcing yourself to use those ingredients in a dish

-Make every ingredient justify itself, don’t just add it, the ingredient needs to make the dish better

-“Mouthfeel” is crucial in every dish; the contrast between sweet & spicy, hot & cold, crunchy & soft adds depth and balance to the dish

-Should I grill a fish with the skin on or off?

Generally, with a round fish you should keep the skin on and with a flat fish you shouldn’t eat the skin.

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Within an hour, the chefs prepared this delicious collection of dishes and endless helpful tips about cooking without a recipe

Parsnip Soup with Fromage Blanc

Whitefish with a Radish Garnish and Seared Romaine

Grand Mariner Parfait with Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle and a Vanilla Bean Foam

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I truly enjoyed this past Saturday I spent at the Festival of Foods. The sessions were informative and fun, and the food… incredible.

I’ve already found myself remembering the tips I learned as I’m cooking something new, and I hope they’ll be helpful for you too.

Do you have any quick kitchen tips? Please share!

Thank you chefs, Julie Doyal & Northern Michigan College, you made this event one to remember!

love,

tricia

Interested in Cooking Classes?

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There’s only about a week left before the Festival of Foods, an event led by Northwest Michigan College in Traverse City. It’s a day of “demonstrations & food discovery” where NMC’s Culinary School, local area chefs, artisans & business owners host workshops to engage, educate and instruct interested foodies. The day is organized in such a way that you can design your own Festival of Foods experience. With 16 seminars available, you get to choose four that are the most interesting to you. This year’s workshops range from knife skills & kitchen gadgets to cooking without a recipe or making your own fresh pasta. All sessions are demonstration-based immersing participants in the subject at hand and involving all of your senses. The sessions can be as small as 10 people and as large as 40 depending on the size of the space & interest in the specific session. I spoke with Julie Doyal, who organizes the event to find out more about how the Festival began and what goes into planning each individual workshop.

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Next Saturday February 9th, will be the Festival of Food’s 5th Annual event.  NMC’s Culinary Program used to be housed in the Oleson Center, where the the festival takes place and after they moved to the Hagerty Center six years ago that space was renovated for the Extended Education Classes. Festival of Foods is an event that provides culinary instruction and resources itself, but is also a way to introduce participants to the type of learning offered in the year-round Extended Education Culinary Class. The difference is that Festival of Foods is demonstration based where as the year-round culinary classes are hands on 3 hour sessions limited to a group of 16 people. The Festival of Foods event allows participants to get a taste of the sessions, sampling four of the 16 workshops for just $69. The full day (10 AM – 3 PM) involves 4 hours of demonstration workshops and endless opportunities for mingling with other foodies. Julie says its the personal touch, the relationships built during that day that make the event so great. While you’re engaging in sessions with skilled teachers your also getting to hear the story of the person behind the food. Julie looks for session leaders that certainly have a passion for food, but that also have an engaging personality and a excitement for what they cook and eat.

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The hardest part, Julie says,  is that people love the event so much, she has to top it year after year! She keeps things interesting by offering different sessions, and the public response continues to be both positive and supportive. Pre-registrations for the event were well received this year and there is only one week left to register! I for one will be attending the Festival of Foods and I’m simply giddy to learn more about the sessions I chose. Of course I’ll spill the details of my experience and share it with you all after the event, but if you want to enjoy it first hand sign up here to attend!

Never stop learning!

love,

tricia