Make your own sprouter: a great project for kids

Spring is around the corner and soon we’ll have some fresh veggies. While you wait, why not grow your own right on your kitchen counter? (What could be more local than that?) Sprouting seeds is a quick (and cheap) way to add some fresh food to your diet.

Here’s how to make an easy seed sprouter out of recycled materials.

What you’ll need:

  • Mason jar with matching ring (and lid, for tracing)
  • plastic lid from a food container (like a large yogurt container)
  • hole puncher that creates small holes
  1. Trace the jar lid onto the plastic lid. Cut out the circle that you made.
  2. Use the hole puncher to make holes all over the plastic circle. Punch carefully so that you don’t overlap the holes.
  3. Fit the plastic lid into the metal ring.
  4. Twist it on your jar and voila! You have now made a homemade seed sprouter.

Add your seeds of choice to the bottom of the jar and allow to soak, covered in water, for about 8 hours. After that, you’ll need to rinse and drain your seeds twice a day. (Use that handy lid that you made to drain out the water completely.)

A couple of weeks ago, I helped my class to make sprouters. Each student made one, and we sprouted  mung beans, which I just picked up in the bulk aisle. When I tried it at home, it took 3 tablespoons of seeds and about 5 days to grow enough sprouts to fill the jar.  At school, we soaked our seeds on Monday and had enough to eat for lunch on Friday. The room was a little cooler, so the sprouts were not as plump as when I grow them at home, but they were definitely edible.

  • For information on different seeds that can be sprouted, try here.
  • What can you do with your sprouts? How about egg rolls or homegrown fried rice?

Many thanks to D. who helped my class stir fry up our sprouts for lunch!

Gather Some Friends for a ‘Bee’

Wintertime tempts you to stay in your house and be reclusive and lazy. All the more reason to look for excuses to invite a bunch of friends over for some productive fun. Gather them together for a good-old fashioned food ‘bee!’

What’s a food bee, you ask? Think of it as a way to share the workload of food production. Everyone works a little bit and goes home with a lot of diverse, ready-to-be-made meals for their freezers. For once, wikipedia said it best:

A bee, as used in quilting bee, working bee or spelling bee, is an expression used together with another word to describe a gathering of peers to accomplish a task or to hold a competition. Especially in the past, the tasks were often major jobs, such as clearing a field of timber or raising a barn, that would be difficult to carry out alone. It was often both a social and utilitarian event. Jobs like corn husking or sewing, could be done as a group to allow socialization during an otherwise tedious chore. Such bees often included refreshments and entertainment provided by the group.

Awhile ago, a few of us gathered together to have a ravioli bee. Some of us had made ravioli before and some were novices. We all agreed, though, that it would be a very good thing to have freezers full of ravioli this winter. (It came in handy when, after a prolonged, island-wide power outage, more than one of us confessed to breaking out the ravioli and boiling it on top of the woodstove.) Ravioli is a good way to preserve food in nice, ready to eat packages. Boil a little water and and you have a gourmet dinner ready five minutes later on a busy night.

How to have a ravioli bee:

  1. Gather the people and pick the place. Encourage interested friends to pick a good day and time. This may mean many emails and calendar checks, but eventually, you’ll find a slot that works. Schedule yourself ample time to get the job done. Persuade the friend with the most counter space to invite everyone over. Think about how many stations you need and how many people can reasonably work in a kitchen together.
  2. Assess the available ingredients. Decide on your fillings. For our bee, everyone arrived with fillings completed. You probably want to have fillings that use diverse ingredients, so that everyone goes home with a variety.
  3. Check equipment. What will you need at each station? We worked in pairs, one person rolling and one person filling. At each of three stations we had: pasta roller, pastry crimper, cutting boards, small bowl with water, small bowl with flour, cloth for fingers, baking sheets lined with parchment (to hold completed ravioli).
  4. Make your dough. We arrived with dough completed and ready to roll, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t make your dough more than a half hour ahead of time or it may dry out. You can easily make your dough balls at your station before you begin rolling.
  5. Roll and fill. Be sure to seal your ravioli well, eliminating all the air. Lay each one out on the parchment-covered baking sheet. Flash freeze if space is available or cover with plastic wrap until you can take them home to freeze.
  6. Freeze and label. You’ll have so many different types of ravioli, you’ll need to keep them straight! A good idea is to label the parchment paper with a permanent marker, as you lay out your ravioli.

Here are a few recipes to inspire you. Check here for ravioli formation tips.

Cheese Ravioli

Make homemade ricotta. Season with white pepper and salt to taste. Add fresh herbs like parsley or oregano, if you like.

Meat Ravioli

1. Heat olive oil. Dice and sauté any combination of celery, carrot, onion, and garlic until soft and fragrant.
2. Add 1 pound of ground beef and cook, stirring often until brown.
3. Deglaze with 1/2 c. white wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add about 1 cup of stock and boil until liquid is nearly gone (about 15 minutes.)
5. Cool mixture slightly.
6. In a food processor combine: meat mixture, 1 egg, 1/4 breadcrumbs, and 1/4 c. parmesan. Mix until it’s “thick like paste.” Add in about 1/4 c. finely chopped parsley (or other fresh herbs of your choosing.)

Other recipes that we made and liked:

Squash Ravioli
Chard Ravioli
Chanterelle Ravioli (“Dry saute” chanterelles to make the puree and use it as a filling.)

Doughs:

Use any traditional pasta dough recipe for ravioli. You want it to be strong and supple.

Here are some alternative doughs, if you have differing dietary needs:

Pasta dough (without white flour)
4 oz semolina
4 1/2 oz whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 T olive oil
1/2 c water

Incorporate as in traditional dough.

Sourdough Pasta Dough

2 c flour whole wheat bread flour
1/2 c sourdough starter
1/2 t salt
1-2 T olive oil
enough water to get desired

Incorporate as in traditional dough and allow to proof, wrapped in plastic, over night.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first ravioli bee and provided recipes. And especial thanks to G., who coined the term ‘ravioli bee.’

Mid-Summer Improvements

Chard frog says: "Eat local."

We are excited to share some improvements to Small Potatoes!

We now have an index of Seasonal Recipes.  Loosely organized according to season, it can help you find the various recipes and tips we’ve posted.

Also new is our Bookshelf page.  We are of the opinion that one can never have too many books. We’ve narrowed it down, though, to the titles which we continue to go back to time and again. As we’re constantly learning, we’ve also updated our About Us page.

We hope these improvements will make it easier for you to find great ways to eat locally.  As always, thanks for being part of our journey!

How to Survive Holiday Travel (and still eat well)

I travel with food. It started out with a loaf of tasty bread made for a road trip, a few bags of specially blended trail mix, maybe a bag of oatmeal cookies. Now that eating consciously "crazy" stormis such a part of our life, we just automatically think about where our next meal is coming from when we leave our kitchen far behind. Maybe it’s obsessive, but I think it’s just practical. And we were sure glad that we had a roast chicken sandwich with us when after two buses, one ferry, a shuttle, and a good samaritan with an suv, we found ourselves sitting on the floor of the Seattle airport among the thousands of other stranded travelers.

How to avoid fighting for whatever is left in the airport vending machine
Prepare and pack:

  • 1 roast chicken, breast meat sliced
  • 1 loaf of good homemade bread
  • carrots, washed and peeled
  • apples
  • homemade bagel chips
  • biscotti (one scrumptious recipe suggestion )
  • hazelnuts for energy
  • homemade granola and some of those little rectangles of organic milk that don’t need to be refrigerated (Horizon?)
  • one Theo chocolate bar (for emergencies)

A few tricks will help keep your food fresh and your stomach happy.
-Don’t
pack anything that is too smelly. You’ll be tired of smelling it by day three. (Ahem…no garlic in the bread next time, please.)
-Slice the bread ahead of time and freeze it. Make your sandwich right on these frozen slices. This will keep your meat chilled and it will be defrosted by the time you want to eat it.
-Biscotti is the world’s best cookie. It can be made way ahead of time and travels really well. (And what is better than a dessert that can also pose as breakfast?)

Good Food: The Movie

Last night, we joined a crowd of about one hundred people at the Lynwood Theatre to view Good Food. Filmmakers were on hand to talk about the film and their motivation. Sound Food had a table of resources spread out and worked hard to encourage the Treehouse Cafe next door to serve up a delicious locally-topped pizza.

I left the movie with a very positive feeling. I didn’t necessarily learn any new information, but it was inspiring to get a close look at some of the farmers who are working so hard to bring conscientious food options to their communities. The film emphasized stewardship of the land and presented a case-study of successful organic farming in the Pacific Northwest. The filmmakers expressed a hope that the success of the farmers here would inspire endeavors in other parts of the country.

Good Food presented a look at a wide variety of farms. We were happy to see our favorite meat vendor, Skagit River Ranch, make an appearance in the film. We were intrigued to learn about the Bluebird Grain Farms. (Anybody want to go in on an order? We can get a discount if we order a whole pallet. We only need to commit to 1800 pounds of flour…)

Good Food plays again at the Lynwood tonight at 5:00 and has several other screenings in WA. The filmakers hope to bring it to television, for a wider audience.

Treehouse Cafe is serving up a delicious pizza topped with Tani Creek’s tomatoes, Laughing Crow onions, and Port Madison cheese.