Friday, October 1, 2010

Celebrating Minnesota Harvests

Minnesota’s most well-known food product is probably wild rice. I have to confess that it took me a while to get used to the dark, crunchy fare, but now eat it on a regular basis. One of my favorite ways to have Wild Rice is in creamy soup with chicken. Mmmmmm. Last night, however, I was at an event that celebrated other Minnesota grown goodies and raised money for a great cause!

The Minnesota Horticultural Society hosted a wine, cheese, and apple tasting at one of the local garden centers. Over 100 of us attended! The proceeds support the Hort Society’s “Garden in a Box” program, which helps low income families grow their own produce at home. Considering there is a waiting list for the boxes, I’m thrilled with the turnout!

The wines were from St. Croix Vineyard in Stillwater, MN. (I had sampled some of these wines at “the Fair” this year and was glad to have the chance to sample a few others.) It’s still amazing to me that we can grow wine grapes in our climate!

The apples were from Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake (a suburb of St. Paul). I’m a really fussy apple person -- kind of a “find one you like and stick with it gal” but I tried every apple they brought with them and liked every one! Not one mushy mealy flat bite in the bunch! We got to try HoneyCrisp, Honey Gold, Cortland (my fave of the evening), SweeTango, and Keepsake, which was described as the kind of apple you could break a tooth on! It was, indeed, a hard, crisp apple.

And, the cheese was from Shepherd’s Way Farm in Northfield. The couple who owns/runs the farm has sheep and all the cheese is made from sheep’s milk. I didn’t try the “Big Woods Blue” because it’s my single most reliable migraine trigger, but I did try the Friesago, which seemed a lot like a cheddar to me, and the Hidden Falls, a brie-like delicacy made from both sheep and cow milk.

I thought this was a creative way to showcase some Minnesota Grown produce and to raise money for a great cause. I’m glad I had the chance to participate!

Oh, and, I found out that my favorite apple, the Regent, will be at the stands on Saturday! Woo Hoo! I see a trip to the orchard in my future!

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