Building Legacy Now

Working within the startup community in Grand Rapids, at GR Current we’re deciphering the DNA of local entrepreneurs and investors. Identifying risk tolerance, industry strengths and core values help us structure an identity profile. In West Michigan, giving back is not just something nice to do; it’s something that we as a community just do. And we do it a lot.

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Along with the startup community, we're working with others as well on what's called “impact investing.” There’s a fair amount of confusion about what impact investing actually represents. Is it investment, philanthropy or both? Simply put, impact investing is the disbursement of capital expecting a financial return, but the success of the investment is also dependent upon achieving a social goal. If the investment is not successful in reaching both goals, then it’s not considered a successful investment. Simply, impact investing is an innovative way for socially conscious individuals and organizations to invest their capital to improve their communities, while earning a return that meets their financial goals.

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Take Goodwill Industries,  for example, whose mission is to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals by helping people through the “power of work.” It's no surprise that they have decided to headquarter in Grand Rapids. In 2013, their operation of gently used clothing resale and employment services generated more than $5 billion in revenue. In the same period, Goodwill was able to assist over 260,000 people, the size of Grand Rapids proper, find a job. “Doing good” as part of a business model can be very profitable and socially impactful.

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Making money and doing good is not a new concept, and certainly not unique to Grand Rapids, yet the two ideas seem to coexist strongly in our city. When chatting with individuals that are new to the startup life, we remind them that Grand Rapids is not Silicon Valley, and that GR Current is not Shark Tank. We take pride in building our own startup culture, unique to our strengths and values. It’s not just a sense of pride; we have to build according to our blocks, as ignoring these differences can be detrimental in building a successful company.

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With this in mind, we remind individuals to think about their “exit strategy.” In our culture, many business leaders know that an important part of a complete exit strategy includes building legacy, for themselves and their families, rather than just thinking about their next venture or investment.

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Think of all those hospitals, concert halls, pavilions and even markets with family names on them. Legacy is part of our exit strategy, and there is a way to build legacy and profit. A few years back,Cascade Engineering, led by Fred Keller, decided to restructure his engineering firm to a B-corp model. This would allow passing his personal values onto his company after him or his family’s involvement, by decree.

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It is common practice to think of exit strategies, as this helps churn new ideas and funnel more capital into the startup ecosystem. In places like Silicon Valley, the goal is to be acquired by Google or Facebook or offered a deal by competitors to stop business altogether. Not so here.

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The successful exit is a rare unicorn here, but it’s not surprising, as it’s hard to be successful and hard to leave the baby you worked so hard to make. Building legacy into the way we build companies plays to our identity. And it’s being noted.

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Currently, The Grand Rapids Community Foundation, in partnership with corporate partners, Local First, The Johnson Center for Philanthropy and startup incubators like GR Current, are thinking of ways to help foster impact investment in our community, with the hope that giving back to the village that helped develop successful companies is integrated into the mission of our startups. Similarly, with a younger philanthropic population, giving to endowments with a future impact scenario is no longer something that drives donors. We want impact now. Impact investment is therefore a great method to double-dip our dollars, and museums and foundations are taking note.

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As we move forward in building the future of the Grand Rapids startup community, we hope to pioneer more ways to impact society and have a solid financial return. As a concept, impact investment is a relatively new form of growing startups, as data and standards are still in their infancy.

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We view this as an opportunity to lead initiatives for the rest of the country to follow. With that start of our Xcelerate project, a business accelerator that focuses on hardware, software and social impact companies, we hope to strengthen the power of socially minded entrepreneurs and investors.

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The future is ours to craft, and retooling in the philanthropic and investment space is here for the taking.

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Read original story by Felip Ballesteros here

Holland Nonprofits to Host Local Food Celebration

The Holland Farmers Market and Local First are once again partnering together to host “Gather: A Celebration of Local Food” from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, at Windmill Island Gardens.

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Attendees will get the opportunity to experience the best of local food on the lakeshore at this cocktail party-style dinner. More than 15 local restaurants, caterers and beverage purveyors will be on hand for the event, serving small plates featuring fresh ingredients from Holland Farmers Market vendors.

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 “One thing that is cool about the event … is that it's the first event where local spirits will be served on Windmill Island,” said Samantha Vanderberg, marketing manager for Local First. “Both Coppercraft Distillery and New Holland Brewing Co. will be serving specialty cocktails. There are also some interesting collaborations between businesses here because many of the restaurants are sourcing ingredients from farmers market vendors.”

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 A cash bar will be available, featuring specialty pours from Coppercraft Distillery, Fenn Valley Vineyards, New Holland Brewing and Virtue Cider.

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“We are so excited to partner with Local First and our event sponsors to bring Gather to the community again this year,” said Kara de Alvare, marketing coordinator for the Holland Farmers Market. “It’s a perfect opportunity for us to highlight the quality and variety of products grown by our hard-working farmers right here in West Michigan while showcasing the culinary talents of our local chefs along the lakeshore.”

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The island gardens are another great feature of the event, she said.

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Guests can sample a variety of dishes, while touring the gardens and enjoying live music courtesy of singer and guitarist Drew Behringer.

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A mini pop-up market will take place, where guests can purchase products from Holland Farmers Market vendors, including fruits and vegetables, flowers, chocolates and kettle corn.

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“Local First and the Holland Farmers Market have been working for years to grow the local food movement along the lakeshore,” Vanderberg said. “Gather will provide a space to celebrate this movement, commune together over dinner and support the continued efforts of our organizations to develop strong local food systems here.”

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Advance tickets for the fundraiser are required and are available for $30 each at gather-lakeshore.eventbrite.com. All proceeds from the event will benefit programming at the Holland Farmers Market and Local First.

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Read original story here

Cooking a CSA Share from Groundswell Community Farm

Last Wednesday evening I stopped by Fulton Street Farmers Market to pick up a CSA share from Groundswell Community Farm. In the share I received kale, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, zucchini, celery, lettuce, broccoli, melon, carrots, and cucumbers. Epitomizing the abundance that a Michigan summer harvest can offer a CSA member, this share left me with a full fridge and exorbitant options for simple, healthy meals.

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When I first got my share I sat down and thought through my meals for the week. I accounted for the quantity of each vegetable I had received and thought through which vegetables would spoil fastest in order to create a rough outline of how to use the share most effectively. Planning out my meals makes it much easier to think through how to use every vegetable and ensure that I have all of the ingredients I need for dishes ahead of cook time.

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I decided to start with vegetable tacos, using plenty of summer squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. This recipe was really simple and left me with plenty of food to share. While I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast I wanted to make a quick salad for lunch so I chopped up a cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and walnuts and tossed them in a bowl with the lettuce. It was easy, quick, and extremely fresh. For dinner, I decided to roast up the potatoes with kale. This is a meal that I usually save for colder months but I had all of the ingredients available and it sounded too good to pass up. Crisp kale and seasoned potatoes pair extremely well together and this dish reminded me that there is something to be yearned for in winter cooking. For my next breakfast, I sliced up the melon and ate it with my cereal and coffee. It was the first melon I had all season and it was incredibly flavorful, I savored every bite!

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I had a camping trip planned for the weekend so I made sure to chop up plenty of raw veggies, including broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and celery. The raw veggies served as a great snack in the car and on the hiking trails. For lunches, I wanted to make one of my favorite childhood recipes, celery succotash. I found a spin on the recipe that incorporated squash and zucchini along with the classic celery, tomatoes, and onions, so I tried it out. It was light, refreshing, and full of nutrients, a perfect meal for camping.

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Cooking this share provided me with several wonderful meals and encouraged me to celebrate all that can be grown during peak season in Michigan. 

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Veggie Breakfast Tacos

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Ingredients

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  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into 2-inch long, thin strips
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced into 2-inch long, thin strips
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, membranes removed and chopped
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 6 eggs, scrambled
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
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Preparation

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To make the veggie filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons olive until shimmering. Add onions and a dash of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, stir, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, yellow squash and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is softened and cooked through but not mushy, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and squeeze the juice of ½ of a lime over the veggies. Season to taste with salt, stir to combine, then set the pan aside.

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To scramble the eggs: Scramble the eggs in a bowl with a few dashes of hot sauce, a sprinkling of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Scramble over medium-low heat until the eggs are lightly set. Fold in the tomatoes and transfer the scrambled mixture to a bowl.

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To prepare the tacos: Warm each corn tortilla in a pan over medium heat, flipping occasionally. Transfer warmed tortillas to a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep them warm. Top each tortilla with scrambled eggs, followed by veggies, and garnish with a sprinkle of jalapeño, feta and cilantro. Finish with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and/or salsa.

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Recipe adapted from Kate Taylor

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Simple Summer Salad

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Ingredients

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  • 2 sliced tomatoes
  • 1 bag of lettuce
  • 1 sliced cucumber
  • ½ onion
  • 1 cup walnuts
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Preparation

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Chop up tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Mix all ingredients into a large bowl, crumble walnuts on top, and enjoy!

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Roasted Kale & Potato Skillet

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Ingredients

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  • 1 bag kale
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 red or gold potatoes, sliced very thinly
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • sea salt & ground pepper
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Preparation

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Heat 2 T of the olive oil in large skillet. Add onion and kale; sauté kale until wilted, adding garlic toward end of sauté. In 12″ cast iron skillet, add 2 T olive oil to cover bottom of skillet. Layer the following in this order: Seasoned potatoes, seasoned kale, seasoned potatoes, and then seasoned kale. Drizzle olive oil generously over top of ingredients, pressing down firmly into skillet. Sprinkle more salt & pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until potatoes are done and kale and potatoes begin to brown & crisp.

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Recipe adapted from Family Savvy

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I simply enjoyed the melon with breakfast.

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Summer Succotash Salad

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Ingredients

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  • 2 cups beans
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • ½ stalk celery, very finely chopped
  • ½ cup very thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
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Preparation

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Place beans in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 30 minutes for fresh beans. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn, onion, squash and zucchini and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl of beans. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour.

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When the beans and vegetables are cool, stir in tomatoes, celery and basil. Whisk vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing is creamy and well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the succotash and toss to coat.

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Recipe adapted from Eating Well

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Finally, I chopped up the remaining veggies to eat raw while camping. Raw vegetables are incredibly easy to prepare and are delicious, especially in the middle of the growing season!

Tomatoes

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Coming in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, tomatoes are a unique and delicious seasonal treat. Tomatoes are currently in peak season so it's the perfect time for canning and preserving them in order to enjoy the taste of summer during colder months.

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How to Prepare:

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Wash tomatoes in cold water before use. Slice tomatoes vertically for salads and sandwiches to prevent the juice and seeds spilling out. To remove skins, dunk whole tomatoes in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, lift out with slotted spoon, and remove skins. 

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How to Store:

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Hold tomatoes at room temperature for up to 1 week, longer if still ripening. Do not refrigerate. Damaged tomatoes will deteriorate quickly, as will cut tomatoes. Underripe tomatoes will continue to ripen stored out of the sun at 60-75 degrees.

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Tomatoes can be frozen whole. Core tomatoes, place on a cookie sheet, and freeze. When solid, place in zip-lock freezer bag and replace in freezer. Remove only as many tomatoes as you need at a time. Thawed tomatoes are appropriate only for cooking or purees. Salsa, sauces, and purees also freeze well. 

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How to Cook:

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Tomatoes are extremely versatile. You can saute, bake, broil, grill, or eat them raw.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Skewers with Mint and Lime

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Ingredients

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  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups 1-inch watermelon cubes (about ¼ of a 3-lb. watermelon)
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, cubed
  • 2-½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 36 (3-inch) wooden skewers
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Preparation

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Gently toss together tomatoes and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill 30 minutes to 1 hour. Thread 1 tomato piece, 1 watermelon cube, and 1 feta cube onto a skewer, and place in a serving bowl. Repeat with remaining skewers. Drizzle with remaining marinade, and serve immediately.

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Courtesy of Southern Living

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Grilled Tomato Melts

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Ingredients

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  • 3 large tomatoes (about 8 oz. each) or a variety of smaller tomatoes (about 1-½ lb. total)
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers, shredded (1-½ cups)
  • 1 small green, yellow, purple, or red sweet pepper, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each tomato into 4 slices, about ½ inch thick. If using smaller tomatoes, halve each one. For each of 4 servings, arrange 3 tomato slices, overlapping slightly, in a foil-lined, 15x10x1-inch baking pan. (Or, if using smaller tomatoes, arrange in a single layer in a foil-lined,15x10x1-inch baking pan.) Sprinkle with shredded cheese, finely chopped pepper, and toasted almonds. Bake about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

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Carefully lift with large metal spatula to individual plates, allowing excess juices to drain off. To prepare on a grill, arrange ingredients as above in a shallow disposable foil pan. In a grill with a cover arrange medium-hot coals around the edge of the grill; test for medium heat above the center of the grill. Place the pan with the tomatoes in the center of the grill rack. Grill, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. 

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Recipe courtesy of Midwest Living

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Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Herbs

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Ingredients

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  • 4 cups water
  • 10 ounces farro (about 1-½ cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • ½ sweet onion chopped
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh chives
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
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Preparation

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Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool. Add the tomatoes, onion, chives, and parsley to the farro, and toss to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

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Tomato, Squash, and Red Pepper Gratin

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Ingredients

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  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • 1-½ cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 pound yellow squash, cut into ¼-inch thick slices (about 3-½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
  • 1-½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 ounces aged Gruyère cheese, shredded (about ¾ cup)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1-½ ounces French bread baguette, torn
  • 1 (12-ounce) beefsteak tomato, seeded and cut into 8 slices
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes. Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes. Add squash and garlic; cook 4 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Stir in quinoa, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, cheese, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined.

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Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place bread in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until toasted. Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture. Top evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until topping is browned. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil.

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Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light

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Classic Roasted Salsa

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Ingredients

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  • 2 large tomatoes (1-½ pounds)
  • 1 medium white onion, halved
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
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Preparation

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Heat broiler, with rack in top position. Place tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and garlic in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until vegetables are blistered and slightly softened, rotating sheet and flipping vegetables frequently, 6 to 8 minutes (garlic may need to be removed earlier if it is browning too quickly). Discard garlic skins. In a food processor, pulse garlic and vegetables until coarsely pureed. Add lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Transfer salsa to a bowl and stir in cilantro.

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Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Event Gathers Foodies at Iconic Location

A historic location will be the setting for a gathering of some of the lakeshore’s best food and beverage providers.

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The second annual “Gather: A Celebration of Local Food” is moving to iconic Windmill Island in Holland.

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The Holland Farmers Market, a market featuring more than 75 local vendors, and Local First, an organization advocating and supporting locally owned businesses, are hosting the event from 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 25, at Windmill Island Gardens, 1 Lincoln Ave.

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The event

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The two organizations are partnering to showcase the best of local food from approximately 15 participating lakeshore restaurants in a cocktail-party, roaming dinner environment. Participants will have an opportunity to not only sample the small plates made by local chefs, featuring ingredients sourced directly from vendors at the Holland Farmers Market, but also taste specialty cocktails and wines prepared in West Michigan.

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The different distilleries, wineries, and breweries participating in the event and representing the lakeshore include Coppercraft Distillery, Holland; Fenn Valley Vineyards, Fennville; New Holland Brewing, Holland; and Virtue Cider, Fennville.

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The event also features a small pop-up market for individuals to purchase local produce and products, live music from singer and guitarist Drew Behringer and the chance to tour the gardens on Windmill Island.

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This is the first event held on the island where local spirits will be served.

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“The city of Holland granted an experimental ordinance change to allow spirits to be served on Windmill Island in addition to beer and wine,” Vanderberg said in a written statement. “Gather will be the first event piloting the concept of serving local spirits on the island.”

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All proceeds from the event will support programming at Local First and the Holland Farmers Market. For those interested in attending the event, tickets are $30 per person and must be purchased in advance of the fundraising event. Tickets are available online at www.gather-lakeshore.eventbrite.com.

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The partnership

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Samantha Vanderberg, marketing manager at Local First, said the organization and the Holland Farmers Market have been working together for years to grow the local food movement along the lakeshore.

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“Gather will provide a space to celebrate this movement, commune together over dinner, and support the continued efforts of our organizations to develop strong local food systems here,” said Vanderberg.

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Other sponsors include United Federal Credit Union, Worksighted and Zeeland Farm Services, according to a press release.

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Kara de Alvare, marketing coordinator for the Holland Farmers Market, said the market is excited to partner with Local First and the event sponsors to bring Gather to the community again this year.

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“It’s a perfect opportunity for us to highlight the quality and variety of products grown by our hard-working farmers right here in West Michigan, while showcasing the culinary talents of our local chefs along the lakeshore,” said de Alvare. “We’re also thrilled everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Windmill Island Gardens during this year’s event.”

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Participating businesses

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  • Alpen Rose Restaurant, Holland
  • Baker Events by Gilmore Catering, Holland
  • Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant, Holland
  • CityVu Bistro, Holland
  • Coppercraft Distillery, Holland
  • Distinctive Dining, Saugatuck
  • Fenn Valley Vineyards, Fennville
  • Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, Holland
  • JK’s Bakehouse & Deli, Holland
  • Lemonjello’s Coffee, Holland
  • Marzec Chocolates, Holland
  • New Holland Brewing Co., Holland
  • Relish, A Personal Chef Service, Holland
  • Salt and Pepper Savory Grill & Pub, Holland
  • Salt of the Earth, Fennville
  • Wicks Park Bar & Grille, Saugatuck
  • Virtue Cider & Catering, Fennville
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Read original story here

Cooking a CSA Share from the Sustainable Agriculture Project at GVSU

Last Wednesday, I took home a CSA share from the Sustainable Agriculture Project at GVSU. I have been working as an intern at the SAP for almost three years, so it goes without saying that I am no stranger to cooking with our produce. It was a unique experience, however, to be able to receive an entire CSA share from our farm. As employees we often only get to cook whatever is not sold at market, so it was a real treat to have a taste of what being one of our CSA members is like. Throughout the week, I experimented with some new recipes, and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of curating a number of SAP inspired dishes.

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This week I made five different recipes with my share, including a kale smoothie, zucchini pancakes, roasted garlic, cucumber salad, and a veggie pasta salad. Unfortunately, extenuating circumstances helped me to choose my first recipe. My fridge was on the fritz and had frozen some of my kale, so I was not eager to eat it raw. This prompted me to look up kale smoothie recipes. I found one with cherries and having had frozen cherries from Rasch Cherry Farm last month, I thought this would be the perfect recipe to try. Next, I found a zucchini pancake recipe from a book called Food Matters and it was delicious. I love this recipe because you can easily substitute a wide range of veggies for the zucchini. I whipped up some spicy avocado sauce on the side and it was an extremely tasty way to enjoy zucchini.

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Over the weekend I went to an outdoor potluck. I decided that a cold cucumber salad and veggie pasta salad would suit the evening well considering how warm it was outside. While my friend and I were chopping and preparing the veggies for these recipes we found ourselves ravenous so we roasted up the two bulbs of garlic, spread it on toast, and sprinkled some sea salt on top for a snack. This is an extremely simple and delectable way to enjoy garlic. We followed a recipe for the cucumber salad but could not find a recipe for the pasta salad that suited our ingredients so we just chopped up all the veggies that were left in the share, roasted them, and mixed them together with pasta. Both of these dishes were a hit at the potluck and they provided a quick way to use up the rest of my share.

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Overall, cooking this share helped me to be intentional about eating seasonal, healthy dishes and encouraged me to cook every day. Whenever cooking produce that I helped to grow, I feel a deeper connection to my food. Cooking this share was a rewarding experience and helped me to better understand the sense of connectivity that CSA members experience to their food, the SAP, and our community.

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Cherry Vanilla Green Smoothie

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Ingredients

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  • 1 cup kale
  • 2 cups frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 1 medium banana
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • water for consistency
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Preparation

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Place all ingredients in a blender and blend. Add water – if needed – for consistency.

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Recipe courtesy of Tammy Kresge

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Zucchini Pancakes

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Ingredients

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  • 3 cups of grated zucchini
  • ½ small onion, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup white or whole wheat flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive or vegetable oil or butter for greasing the pan
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Preparation

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Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Grate the zucchini by hand or with the grating disk of a food processor. Mix together the zucchini, onion, egg, and ¼ cup of flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a little more flour if the mixture isn’t holding together. Put a little butter or oil in a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, drop in spoonfuls of the batter, using a fork to spread the zucchini into an even layer, then press down a bit. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. (Transfer finished pancakes to the oven until all are finished.) Cook, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Recipe courtesy of Food Matters by Mark Bittman

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Roasted Garlic

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Ingredients

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  • large heads of garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut top 1/4 inch off heads of garlic to expose cloves. Place garlic in small baking dish. Add oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Turn garlic cut side up. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until garlic skins are golden brown and cloves are tender, about 55 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic cloves from skins.

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Recipe courtesy of Epicurious

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Cucumber Salad

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Ingredients

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  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
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Preparation

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Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Dress with vinegar and oil, salt and pepper, to your taste.

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Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

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SAP CSA Veggie Pasta Salad

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Ingredients

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  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced
  • 1 bunch small turnips, diced
  • 1 bunch small radishes, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, sauteed
  • 12 ounces pasta of your choice, cooked, drained, and cooled
  • 3 T. Bragg’s amino acids
  • ½ cup vegetables broth
  • ¼ t. sea salt
  • ½ t. ground black pepper
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Preparation

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Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss chopped peppers, turnips, radishes, and onions with 2 T. of olive oil until all pieces are coated. Spread vegetables evenly on a roasting pan and roast for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are roasted, toss them in a large bowl with the cooked pasta, sauteed swiss chard, braggs amino acids, vegetable broth, salt, and pepper. Then add your favorite spices and enjoy!

Zucchini

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At this point in the season, we have all likely eaten our fair share of zucchini! As we continue to see it in our CSA shares, gardens, and farmers markets for a few more weeks, now is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes. Zucchini is a summer squash that is available from mid to late summer. Seeing that it does not have great storability, it is considered a seasonal treat associated with the bounty of summer. Enjoy it while you can!

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How to Prepare:

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Simply rinse off zucchini, there is no need to peel it. Just cut off the stem and the rest can be prepared either by being choped into cubes, shredded, sliced, halved, or grated.

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How to Store:

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Refrigerate zucchini in hydrator drawer for up to 3-4 days. For longer term storage, freeze zucchini puree in airtight containers for use in winter soups, and grated zucchini for use in breads and muffins.

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How to Cook:

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Zucchini can be eaten raw, broiled, steamed, fried, grilled, sauteed, or stir-fried.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Corn and Zucchini Salad with Feta

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Ingredients

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  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 small zucchini (about 1½ lb.), thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 8–10 zucchini blossoms, torn into large pieces (optional)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)
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Preparation

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Cook corn in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright yellow and tender, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool. Cut kernels from cobs and place in a large bowl. Add zucchini, zucchini blossoms, if desired, basil, parsley, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with feta.

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Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

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Zucchini Bread

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Ingredients

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  • 1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium-sized)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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Preparation

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Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8×4-inch loaf pans. Grate the zucchini. Trim the stem and root-end from the zucchinis and grate them on a box grater. You should end up with about 3 cups of shredded zucchini. Squeeze the shredded zucchini. Gather the zucchini in a clean kitchen towel or several layers of cheese cloth and squeeze to press out as much moisture from the zucchini as possible. Combine the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Mix the batter.

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Toss the zucchini and any extras (nuts, raisins, chocolate chips) in the flour mixture. Pour the liquids over top. Gently stir and fold just until no more flour is visible. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans. Bake the loaves for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The finished loaves should have a golden-brown crust. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn

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Cold Tomato Summer Vegetable Soup Recipe

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Ingredients

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  • 6 fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped seeds removed (cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out seeds into a sieve over a bowl to catch the juice, use the juice, discard the seeds)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 zucchini, chopped fine
  • ½ medium sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups tomato juice (in addition to the juice made when you squeezed the tomatoes above)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or pinch of dry)
  • 1-½ cups vegetable broth
  • Hot sauce if needed
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Preparation

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Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use the additional tomato juice to thin the soup to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste. This recipe is better when eaten the next day.

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Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes

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Zucchini Pancakes

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Ingredients

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  • 3 cups of grated zucchini
  • ½ small onion, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup white or whole wheat flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive or vegetable oil or butter for greasing the pan
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Preparation

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Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Grate the zucchini by hand or with the grating disk of a food processor. Mix together the zucchini, onion, egg, and ¼ cup of flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a little more flour if the mixture isn’t holding together. Put a little butter or oil in a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

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When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, drop in spoonfuls of the batter, using a fork to spread the zucchini into an even layer, then press down a bit. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. (Transfer finished pancakes to the oven until all are finished.) Cook, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Recipe courtesy of Food Matters by Mark Bittman

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Pesto Stuffed Zucchini

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Ingredients

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  • 2 cups of day old cubed bread
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 very large zucchini (about 2 pounds), otherwise known as a baseball bat zucchini
  • ¼ cup prepared basil pesto
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Salt
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Preparation

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In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium to medium high heat. Add the slightly dry cubed bread, toss to coat at least some of the sides in a little butter. Lay out in a single layer cook, without moving the croutons, until one side is lightly browned, then toss and let cook a little more so a few more sides get a little brown. Remove from pan and let cool to touch. 

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While the croutons are browning, heat a small skillet on high. Add the pine nuts and cook until they begin to brown. When they start to brown, remove them from the pan into a small bowl. Place the croutons and Mozzarella in a medium bowl. Toss with the pesto. Add the grated Parmesan, chopped cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and then toss some more.

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Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes

Authentic Local Beverages to Quench Your Thirst at Gather

Join Local First and the Holland Farmers Market at the second annual Gather: A Celebration of Local Food. Guests will have the opportunity to pair beverages from Coppercraft Distillery, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Virtue Cider, and New Holland Brewing Co with their roaming dinner. 

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Coppercraft Distillery will be providing handcrafted premium spirits from grain to glass using authentic ingredients grown by local farmers. Established in 2012 by Walter Catton and Mark Fellwock, the dream to create premium small-batch spirits by hand using local ingredients became a reality. The copper still used at Coppercraft allows distillers to create spirits with complexity and character, delivering a superior product to the local community. 

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Established in 1973, the family owned and operated vineyard and winery complex, Fenn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines from grapes grown along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Fenn Valley was the first in Michigan to utilize sterile bottling in order to avoid the use of pasteurization or preservatives. Guests at Gather will have the opportunity to experiencing their pure Michigan-made wines on the evening of August 25.

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Michigan-based craft cider company Virtue Cider partners with local family farms to find the highest quality heirloom apples for their product. Founder Gregory Hall’s devotion to producing ciders that combine old world farmhouse styles with modern craft fermentation and aging techniques creates an unforgettable experience. Virtue Cider preserves a local connection with every cider made, partnering with area farmers in their second, third, and fourth generations. 

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New Holland Brewing Co. exists to enhance their customer’s quality of life by providing the most remarkable experience possible and by empowering an artistic approach in all aspects of their craft. Their mission to improve the lives of craft consumers everywhere can be experienced in their diverse, balanced collection of beer and spirits featured at this year at Gather. 

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Mark your calendars for the second annual Gather, as we celebrate all the Lakeshore has to offer and enjoy delicious beverages from these remarkable businesses. For more information on the event, including ticket purchasing head to our event page.

Gursha Flavors Traditional Ethiopian Cuisine with Community Enrichment

A cozy storefront in the Towne and Country Shopping Mall opens to an aromatic kitchen and scrumptious cuisine. Kasahun Behareselase, owner and cook at Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant, has transformed his space on the northwest corner of Kalamazoo and 44th Street into a kaleidoscope of traditional Ethiopian flavors.

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Kasahun first learned to craft Ethiopian dishes at a restaurant in Chicago. Since December 2013 he has offered his twist on traditional fare at Gursha. The menu is packed with well-loved dishes for fans of Ethiopian food. Stews and curries featuring berbere, mitmita, cardamom and chickpeas are presented on injera, a delicious sourdough flatbread that serves as an edible platter and utensil.

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On a recent lunch visit, my group and I enjoyed multiple vegetable sides and a few meat dishes on a large round of injera. The generously seasoned and slow-cooked offerings had a bit of noticeable heat, and were a perfect challenge for those of us who regularly enjoyed spicy food. The sweet, wooden smell of roasting coffee wet our palates for strong traditional coffee—available for $3 per person, and free for parties of six or more. Served hot in a pot called a jebena, velvet grounds darkened the bottom of our empty cups.

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Gursha means “to feed each other.” An Amharic word literally meaning “mouthful,” Gursha takes its name from the traditional Ethiopian practice of diners literally feeding one another across the table. My lunch group and I didn’t quite elevate our experience to that level of authenticity, but we found plenty to rave about and point-out to each other, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

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Gursha not only celebrates traditional cuisine, but also, Kasahun says, “feeding each other in other ways.” Easter and Christmas celebrations nourish the Ethiopian community in Grand Rapids by remembering the taste of old traditions. Often a coffee ceremony is held and party-goers dress in traditional clothing while enjoy doro wat and with other homemade delicacies. By preserving these community practices Kasahun hopes to perfect traditional cuisine, and gain more customers. If you would like to visit Gursha it is open 9am – 10pm Monday through Saturday, and 1pm – 10pm on Sunday. You can find the restaurant at 4301 Kalamazoo Ave SE in Grand Rapids.

Steps to Start “Eating Local” – Six through Ten

Last week we talked about some of the ways that we can begin to approach local eating. As was mentioned, it can be a bit daunting to navigate this journey, especially when we are constantly receiving conflicting information about how our food choices affect our health. That being said, it is important to have resources and farmers available who can walk you through ways that you can uphold your personal values in your purchasing decisions. It is important to remember that every small change you make in your shopping habits has the potential to make a difference in our food system and that asking questions is the best way to understand the local food movement. To continue assessing the ways we can rethink our approach to food, let's look towards steps six through ten of Lauri McKean's “10 Easy Steps to Incorporate More Local and Seasonal Food into Your Diet.” 

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6. Plan for the winter–and do not despair when it arrives.  

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With a little planning and some work in the summer, you can enjoy local foods all winter long. It is relatively easy to can your own tomatoes, pickles, and jams, and even easier to put some food away in a freezer or store squash and root crops in a basement. Some area stores and co-ops also carry locally grown crops, such as apples, beets celeriac, sprouts, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, turnips, and rutabagas, throughout much of the winter.

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7. Learn how to substitute.  

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This is a great way to incorporate unfamiliar foods into your diet while enjoying your favorite dishes. For example, substitute the long-storing celeriac root for celery in the winter. Try baking with local honey or maple syrup instead of cane sugar, which is grown in southern climates and uses large amounts of chemicals. Winter salads can have wonderful flavor and color with local sprouts and grated winter vegetables rather than lettuce shipped from California. Treat recipes as a starting point from which ideas can be generated, instead of something that must be followed exactly.

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8. Buy fewer convenience foods.  

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Convenience foods, in general, are more expensive excessively packaged, and less fresh and nutritious than food you prepare at home. Additionally, the ingredients in these convenience foods are seldom locally grown or organic.

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9. Encourage your favorite restaurants to consider purchasing produce from local farmers.

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In West Michigan there are many restaurants working towards incorporating more local produce into their dishes. This is for the most part a consumer driven movement, thus it is important for consumers to continue to encourage our restaurants to take further steps to purchase locally sourced products and ensure that we hold them accountable for doing so by supporting restaurants that support our growers.

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10. Enjoy it all.

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Enjoy the tastes, the challenge, the relationships you develop with producers, and the knowledge that you are doing something good for yourself and the earth.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini