From the first moments we conceived of Soul Farm, food was important. Not just healthy, or vegetarian, although that is certainly a goal! But, our real goal is to create meals that keep us connected to our immediate ecosystem, the Midwest. We believe that importing exotic foods to the midwest from around the globe is not as good for our planet as us eating food grown right here. As many ingredients as possible are sourced from local farms, even though it requires a little more legwork and time. We consider it time well spent.
Here are little menu cards created by Mary Ann, Soul Farm’s chef. As you can see, we used ingredients from several local farms in this recent dinner.
Mary Ann, our chef, was one of the founders of the Twin Cities Farmer’s Market, and also ran a CSA for several years, so she knows about the effort it takes to produce high quality, chemical free food. Here she is at the Market buying food for Soul Farm, and visiting with Joe Reever of Hollyhock Hills Farm. (Joe is one of our favorite farmers!)
I can’t help but get into the action sometimes. I think my specialty is going to be beverages; I love making homemade lemonade, switchels, and shrubs, or drinking vinegars. Shrubs are nice because they are like sodas with a kick, and for grown-ups who are trying to skip alcohol, they can do the trick.
You can make shrubs from most any kind of fruit, and even vegetables, although I’ve only really experimented with cucumbers on that score. You mix fruit with sugar, let it macerate, and add some good vinegar. You can experiment with different vinegars and flavorings. Even though there is a good amount of sugar, the syrup you end up with is very concentrated, and it takes a very little bit combined with a good dose of carbonated water to make a super refreshing drink!
It seems that my other important contribution to the Soul Farm menu will be homemade ice cream. At our past farm day we packed the maker together as a group, and by the time the dinner was ready, we had the most wonderful Rhubarb Strawberry ice cream to share. I put the Rhubarb first in the name, cause there was quite a bit of rhubarb in it, grown by yours truly. It was a big hit, even among (and maybe especially among) folks with a suspicion of rhubarb.
Another thing people love is the way we set our table; mismatched, vintage china. Everyone admires their pattern at their spot, and because they are all different, I think folks feel super special. Mary Ann makes some sweet flower arrangements grown in her own garden.
This is a photo of our very first Farm-to-Table dinner, and it was the most fun ever!